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: DISCIPL I N E.
yo accusation or process is admissible before an TV ecclesiastical judicatory bat when offences are alledged which, agreeably to the word of God, de
serve the censure of the church. Nor shall any com1. plaint of a private nature be noticed, unless the rules
prcscribed by the Lord Jesus, Mat. xviii, have been strictly followed. Neither shall complaint in cases of scandal be admitted, unless such complaints are brought forward within the space of one year and four months, after the crime fhall be alledged to have been committed; excepting, when it shall appear that unavoidable impediments prevented the bringe ing an accusation sooner.
To establish an accusation against any inember of the church, the testimony of more than one witness
is required. Their testimony shall be given under a solemn declaration upon the faith and credibility of a Christian, or of an oath taken before a magidrate, at the discretion of the judicature. Every trial, in all judicatories, from the highest to the lowest, shall be deliberate and impartial. The sum of the evidence shall be faithfully minuted. The sentence fall always be entered at large on the records. And all the parties fall immediately be allowed copies of the testimony and sentence, and of the whole proceedings, if they demand the same.
Ministers of the gospel must be an example to believers, and much of their success will usually depend upon their good character, and their holy walk and conversation. Their conduct must therefore be watched over with great attention, and their crimes punished with impartiality and severity. In admitting accusations against a minister, the rule prescribcd by the Apostle, 1 Tim. v, 19, shall always be ob. ferved ; and accufers must come forward openly to support the charge, unless where common fame has rendered a scandal fo notorious, that the honour of religion shall require an investigation.
ART. LXXII.. When it is said (Art. 79 of the Church Orders) that ministers guilty of atrocious crimes shall be sus. pended from the exercise of their office by the con. listory, until theyare tried by the classis, it is only intended, that in certain public and notorious offences, which would render the appearance of a minister in the pulpit, in such a situation, highly offensive ; it shall be the duty of the consistory, in order to prevent scandal, to fiut the door against such criminal, and refer him to be tried by the classis, as soon as possible. The proceedings of the consistory in such cases, is at their peril, and is not to be considered as a trial, but
only a prudent interference, and binding over the - person accused to the judgment of his peers,
The forms and proceedings in the respective judi. catories shall always be, as far as possible, agreeable to established precedents and usages. In cases which appear to be new and difficult it is recommended to the lower judicatories to refer their difficulties to the higher, for direction; and to the bigher, as well as to the lower to proceed with peculiar deliberation, and always agreeable to the word of God, and the
ordinances and conftitution of the reformed Dutch 1 - Church,
Respe&ing these explanatory articles, the general Synod declare that they contain the principal out-lines of the practice of their church; agreeably to which the ecclefiaftical ordinances of the national Synod, held at Dordrecht, in the years, 1618, and 1619, and which were folemnly and formally recognised and adopted, at the convention, held at New-York, in the year, 1771, are proceeded upon, and executed. And the general Synod further declare, that these articles are to be considered as subjected to fach additional explanations and alterations as shall be found necessary to throw light upon any article of the church orders of the Synod of Dordrecht aforesaid, or be judged proper to remove any doubts or difficulties. With this express provision, however, that no alterations, or explanations fhall ever be nade, but by previous recommendations from the general Synod to the respective classes, and the consent of a majority of the same to such proposed alterations, or explanations, together with the final determination and refolation of the general Synod for the time being.
The preceding Explanatory Articles were ratified in the General Synod, held at New-York, the joth day of O&tober, 1792, and were Signed,
SOLOMON FRÆLIGH, Præses,