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made to them; to review the records of presbyteries, and approve or censure them; to redress whatever has been done by presbyteries contrary to order; to take effectual care that presbyteries observe the constitution of the church; to erect new presbyteries, and unite or divide those which were before erected; generally to take such order with respect to the presbyteries, sessions, and people under their care, as may be in conformity with the word of God and the established rules, and which tend to promote the edification of the church; and, finally, to propose to the general assembly, for their adoption, such measures as may be of common advantage to the whole church.
V. The synod shall convene at least once in each year; at the opening of which a sermon shall be delivered by the moderator, or, in case of his absence, by some other member; and every particular session shall be opened and closed with prayer.
VI. It shall be the duty of the synod to keep full and fair records of its proceedings, to submit them annually to the inspection of the General Assembly, and to report to the Assembly the number of its presbyteries, and of the members and alterations of the presbyteries
* OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY.
I. The General Assembly is the highest judicatory of the Presbyterian Church. It shall represent, in one body, all the particular churches of this denomination; and shall bear the title of THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
II. The General Assembly shall consist of an equal delegation of bishops and elders from each presbytery, in the following proportion; viz. each presbytery consisting of not more than twenty-four ministers, shall send one minister and one elder; and each presbytery consisting of more than twenty-four ministers, shall send two ministers and two elders; and
* The radical principles of Presbyterian church government and discipline are :—That the several different congregations of believers, taken collectively, constitute one church of Christ, called emphatically the church ;—that a larger part of the church, or a representation of it, should govern a smaller, or determine matters of controversy which arise therein ;—that, in like manner, a representation of the whole should govern and determine in regard to every part, and to all the parts united; that is, that a majority shall govern: and consequently that appeals may be carried from lower to higher judicatories, til they be finally decided by the collected wisdom and united voice of the whole church. For these principles and this procedure, the example of the apostles, and the practice of the primitive church, is considered as authority. See Acts xv. to the 29th verse; and the proofs adduced u the last three chapters.
in the like proportion for every twenty-four ministers in any presbytery: and these delegates, so appointed, shall be styled, Commissioners to the General Assembly.
III. Any fourteen or more of these cominissioners, one half of whom shall be ministers, being met on the day, and at the place appointed, shall be a quorum for the transaction, of business.
IV. The General Assembly shall receive and issue all appeals and references which may be regularly brought before them from the inferior judicatories. They shall review the records of every synod, and approve or censure them: they shall give their advice and instruction in all cases submitted to them in conformity with the constitution of the church; and they shall constitute the bond of union, peace, correspondence, and mutual confidence, among all our churches.
V. To the General Assembly also belongs the power of deciding in all controversies respecting doctrine and discipline; of reproving, warning, or bearing testimony against error in doctrine, or immorality in practice, in any church, presbytery, or synod; of erecting new synods when it may be judged necessary; of superintending the concerns of the whole church ; of corresponding with foreign churches, on such terms as may be agreed upon by the Assembly and the corresponding body; of suppressing schismatical contentions and disputations; and, in general, of recommending and attempting reformation of manners, and the promotion of
charity, truth, and holiness, through all the churches under their care.
VI. Before any overtures or regulations proposed by the Assembly to be established as constitutional rules, shall be obligatory on the churches, it shall be necessary to transmit them to all the presbyteries, and to receive the returns of at least a majority of them, in writing, approving thereof.
VII. The General Assembly shall meet at least once in every year. On the day appointed for that purpose, the moderator of the last Assembly, if present, or in case of his absence, some other minister, shall open the meeting with a sermon, and preside until a new moderator be chosen. No commissioner shall have a right to deliberate or vote in the Assembly, until his name shall have been enrolled by the clerk, and his commission examined, and filed among the papers of the Assembly.
VIII. Each session of the Assembly shall be opened and closed with prayer. And the whole business of the Assembly being finished, and the vote taken for dissolving the present Assembly, the moderator shall say from the chair,“By “ virtue of the authority delegated to me, by “the church, let this General Assembly be dis“solved, and I do hereby dissolve it, and re“quire another General Assembly, chosen in " the same manner, to meet at 66 on the day of
A. D. after which he shall pray and return thanks, and pronounce on those present the aposto.ic benediction.
OF ELECTING AND ORDAINING RULING ELDERS
I. HAVING defined the officers of the church, and the judicatories by which it shall be governed, it is proper here to prescribe the mode in which ecclesiastical rulers should be ordained to their respective offices, as well as some of the principles by which they shall be regulated in discharging their several duties.
II. Every congregation shall elect persons to the office of ruling elder, and to the office of deacon, or either of them, in the mode most approved and in use in that congregation. (1) But in all cases the persons elected must be male members in full communion in the church in which they are to exercise their office.
III. When any person shall have been elected to either of these offices, and shall have declared his willingness to accept thereof, he shall be set apart in the following manner:
IV. After sermon, the minister shall state, in a concise manner, the warrant and nature of the office of ruling elder or deacon, together with the character proper to be sustained, and the duties to be fulfilled by the officer elect: having done this, he shall propose to the canlidate, in the presence of the congregation, the following questions -viz.
(1) 1 Cor. xiv. 40. Let all things be done decently, and in order.