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admonish, to rebuke, to suspend, or exclude from the sacraments, those who are found to deserve censure; to concert the best measures for promoting the spiritual interests of the congregation; and to appoint delegates to the higher judicatories of the church.
VII. The pastor has power to convene the session when he may judge it requisite ;" and he shall always convene them when requested to do so by any two of the elders. The session shall also convene when directed so to do by the presbytery.
VIII. Every session shall keep a fair record of its proceedings; which record shall be, at least once in every year, submitted to the inspection of the presbytery.
IX. It is important that every church session keep a fair register of marriages; of baptisms, with the times of the birth of the individuals baptized; of persons admitted to the Lord's table, and of the deaths, and other removals of church members.
s 1 Thess. v. 12, 13. And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves. See also 2 Thess. iii. 6, 14, 15. Cor. xi. 27 to the end.
Acts xv. 2, 6. When therfore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders, about this question.-And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.
Acts. xx. 17.
OF THE PRESBYTERY.
I. THE Church being divided into many separate congregations, these need mutual counsel and assistance, in order to preserve soundness of doctrine, and regularity of discipline, and to enter into common measures for promoting knowledge and religion, and for preventing infidelity, error, and immorality." Hence arise the importance and usefulness of presbyterial and synodical assemblies."
II. A presbytery consists of all the ministers, and one ruling elder from each congregation, within a certain district.
III. Every congregation, which has a stated
▾ The church of Jerusalem consisted of more than one, as is manifest both before and after the dispersion, from Acts vi. 1, 6. Acts ix. 31. Acts xxi. 20. Acts ii. 41, 46, 47, and iv. 4. These congregations were under one presbyterial government, proved from Acts xv. 4. xi. 22, 30. Acts xxi. 17, 18. Acts vi. That the church of Ephesus had more congregations than one, under a presbyterial government, appears from Acts xix. 18, 19, 20. 1 Cor. xvi. 8, 9, 19, compared with Acts xviii. 19, 24, 26. Acts xx. 17, 18, 25, 28, 30, 31, 36, 37. Rev. ii. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.
w 1 Tim. iv. 14. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Acts xv. 2, 3, 4, 6, 22.— And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.— And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.
pastor has a right to be represented by one elder; and every collegiate church by two or more elders, in proportion to the number of its pastors.
IV. Where two or more congregations are united under one pastor, all such congregations shall have but one elder to represent them.
V. Every vacant congregation, which is regularly organized, shall be entitled to be represented by a ruling elder in presbytery.
VI. Every elder not known to the presbytery, shall produce a certificate of his regular appointment from the church which he repre
VII. Any three ministers, and as many elders as may be present belonging to the presbytery, being met at the time and place appointed, shall be a quorum competent to proceed to business.
VIII. The presbytery has power to receive
Acts xv. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. 1 Cor. xiv. 26, 33, 40.Let all things be done unto edifying ;-for God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.-Let all things be done decently and in order.
y Acts xiv. 26, 27. And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled. And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles. Compared with Acts xi. 18. When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto
and issue appeals from church sessions and references brought before them in an orderly manner; to examine and license candidates for the holy ministry; to ordain, instal, remove, and judge ministers; to examine and approve or censure the records of church sessions; to resolve questions of doctrine or discipline seriously and reasonably proposed; to
z Acts xv. 5, 6, 19, 20. But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees, which believed, saying, that it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.-Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: but that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.
a Acts xviii. 24, 27. And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus.-And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him. Compared with Acts xix. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.
b 1 Tim. iv. 14. Neglect not the gift that is in thee which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Acts xiii. 2, 3. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul, for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them they sent them away.
Acts xv. 28. For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burdens than these necessary things. 1 Cor. v. 3.
d Acts xv. 10. Now, therefore, why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? Compared with Gal. ii. 4, 5.
condemn erroneous opinions which injure the purity or peace of the church; to visit particular churches, for the purpose of inquiring into their state, and redressing the evils that may have arisen in them; to unite or divide congregations, at the request of the people, or to form or receive new congregations, and in general to order whatever pertains to the spiritual welfare of the churches under their care. g
IX. It shall be the duty of the presbytery to keep a full and fair record of their proceed
e Acts xv. 22, 23, 24. Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren and they wrote letters by them after this manner: The apostles, and elders, and brethren, send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch, and Syria, and Cilicia: forasmuch as we have heard that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law; to whom we gave no such commandment.
f Acts xx. 17. And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. Acts vi. 2. Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Acts xv. 30. So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch; and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle.
Eph. vi. 18. Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.-Phil. iv. 6. Be careful for nothing: but in every thing by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.