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The institution was founded by Rev. Gideon Blackburn, D. D., who, in the year 1838, conveyed to a Board of Trustees several thousand acres of land, for the purpose of founding "an institution of learning, the object of which shall be to promote the general interests of education, and to qualify young men for the office of the gospel ministry." The institution was located at Carlinville, Ill.
The trustees were incorporated in the year 1857 by the Legislature of Illinois, with the name of "The Blackburn Theological Seminary," and at about the same time an academic department was established. In A. D. 1867, the institution was organized as a university, and the following year its corporate name was changed by the Legislature to that of "Blackburn University." The Board consists of thirteen members, who must be residents of the State of Illinois. At least nine of this number must "be chosen from among persons who are regular members of the Presbyterian Church; and if any trustee thus chosen shall, at any time, cease to be a regular member of the Presbyterian Church, he shall, ipso facto, cease to be a trustee."
Every professor appointed in the theological department, also every professor in the collegiate department, whose professorship shall include mental or moral science or metaphysics, and also the president of the university, are required, before they can enter upon the duties of their office, to subscribe their names to the following declaration:
"I do hereby avow my sincere belief in the Bible as the word of God, and in the system of doctrines contained in the Westminster Confession of Faith as the system which accords with the word of God; and I do solemnly pledge myself, in all my duties as an instructor and officer in Blackburn university, never knowingly to teach anything in conflict with such system of doctrines."
Every other professor or instructor in any department is required also to affirm his "belief in the Bible as the word of God."
Thus every department of instruction is secured from all danger from infidel teachings.
In view of these facts, your Committee gladly commend the Blackburn university to the Presbyterian Church, and recommend that it be recog nized and reported as one of the institutions in connection with the General Assembly. Adopted.-1872, p. 65.
7. Limitations of the Time within which the Assembly may exercise its Veto in the Election of a Professor.
That the Assembly declare that the true meaning of the act subjecting the election of a professor to the veto of the Assembly is that such election be reported to the next General Assembly thereafter; and if not vetoed by that Assembly, the election shall be regarded as complete, according to the plan ratified by the Assembly of 1870; see Minutes, pp. 64, 65, 148.-1871, p. 581.
IV. Because it is highly reproachful to religion and dangerous to the Church to entrust the holy ministry to weak and ignorant men, the Presbytery shall try each candidate as to his knowledge of the Latin language and the original languages in which the holy Scriptures were written. They shall also examine him on the arts and sciences, on theology, natural and revealed, and on ecclesiastical history, the sacraments and church government. And in order to make
trial of his talents to explain and vindicate, and practically to enforce the doctrines of the gospel, the Presbytery shall require of him1. A Latin exegesis on some common head in divinity.
2. A critical exercise, in which the candidate shall give a specimen of his taste and judgment in sacred criticism, presenting an explication of the original text, stating its connection, illustrating its force and beauties, removing its difficulties and solving any important questions which it may present.
3. A lecture or exposition of several verses of Scripture; and, 4. A popular sermon.
[On the waiving a liberal education in certain cases, see above, III., 3, a, b.]
V. These, or other similar exercises, at the discretion of the Presbytery, shall be exhibited until they shall have obtained satisfaction as to the candidate's piety, literature and aptness to teach in the churches. The lecture and popular sermon, if the Presbytery think proper, may be delivered in the presence of a congregation.
That the Presbyteries be required to see that the candidates for licensure be well versed in the Catechisms and well furnished with Scripture proof texts. Adopted.-1868, p. 654, O. S.
VI. That the most effectual measures may be taken to guard against the admission of insufficient men into the sacred office, it is recommended that no candidate, except in extraordinary cases, be licensed unless, after his having completed the usual course of academical studies, he shall have studied divinity at least two years under some approved divine or professor of theology.
1. Effort to Extend the Time of Study to Three Years.
a. On motion, Resolved, That it be recommended to the several Presbyteries of this Church to consider whether it would be proper to extend the time necessary for young men to apply to the study of divinity before they be taken on trials to three years at least, and to send up a report of their opinion to the next General Assembly.-1792, p. 60. [No action of Presbyteries is reported.]
Rule of a Lower Judicature Unconstitutional.
b. The records (of the Synod of New York and New Jersey) were approved, except a vote of that Synod by which they determine it to be constitutional for that Synod to enact, "That, in future, candidates who have the gospel ministry in view be required to attend to the study of divinity at least three years before licensure," which vote was determined by the Assembly to be unconstitutional.-1792, p. 59.
c. Overture Sent Down, but not Adopted.
Overture No. 6 was taken up, viz.: Requests from several Presbyteries that the sixth section of chapter xiv. of our Form of Government might
be sent down to the Presbyteries to be so altered as to read "to study theology at least three years, etc." The overtures were read, and it was resolved that the proposed alteration be sent down as an overture to the Presbyteries, and that the Presbyteries be required to send up their answer to this overture in writing to the next General Assembly.-1835, p. 475. [To this overture, in 1836, thirty-five answered in the affirmative and twenty in the negative. Not a majority. The overture was again referred to the Presbyteries, and in 1837 fifty-two Presbyteries reported in favor and thirty-eight against. Still not a majority, and the matter was dropped.— 1836, p. 276; 1837, p. 438.]
2. Full Term of Three Years Urgently Recommended.
a. Resolved, That this Assembly entirely concur in the opinion expressed in the report of the Board of Directors of the theological seminary at Princeton, that it is highly important that theological students continue the full time of three years in the seminary, and complete the whole course of studies prescribed in the plan.-1834, p. 437.
b. Resolved, 1. That this Assembly do approve of the resolution passed by the Board of Directors at their late meeting, with a view of securing the attendance of students during a full course of theological instruction in our seminary.
Resolved, 2. That the Assembly notice with regret the prevalence of what they deem a serious evil, not only to the seminary, but to the Church at large, in the number of students who annually leave the institution before the prescribed course of studies is completed. And they do earnestly recommend to the students, if practicable, to continue the full time prescribed in the plan.-1826, p. 179.
e. Resolved, That in the opinion of this house it is in general highly inexpedient for candidates for the ministry to apply for licensure at such a period of their course of study as would prevent them from finishing the three years' plan of studies adopted and approved by former Assemblies.-1843, p. 187, O. S.
3. A Pledge to a Three Years' Course not Unconstitutional. Resolved, That the General Assembly are deeply impressed with the importance of a thorough course of theological study, and would earnestly recommend to their Presbyteries to elevate the standard of education, and that the rule of the Board of Education does not conflict with the Constitution when it prescribes the time of study, inasmuch as the Constitution makes two years the shortest time allowed to complete the course of theological study, but does not prescribe the maximum.—1844, p. 375, O. S.
VII. If the Presbytery be satisfied with his trials, they shall then proceed to license him in the following manner: The moderator shall propose to him the following questions, viz.:
1. Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the word of God, and only infallible rule of faith and practice? 2. Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith of this Church as containing the system of doctrine taught in the holy Scriptures?
3. Do you promise to study the peace, unity and purity of the Church?
4. Do you promise to submit yourself in the Lord to the government of this Presbytery, or of any other Presbytery in the bounds of which you may be called?
VIII. The candidate having answered these questions in the affirmative, and the moderator having offered up a prayer suitable to the occasion, he shall address himself to the candidate to the following purpose: "In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by that authority which he hath given to the Church for its edification, we do license you to preach the gospel wherever God in his providence may call you, and for this purpose may the blessing of God rest upon you and the Spirit of Christ fill your heart! Amen." And record shall be made of the licensure in the following or like form, viz.:
At very of
of his having gone through a regular course of literature, of his good moral character, and of his being in the communion of the Church, proceeded to take the usual parts of trial for his licensure; and he having given satisfaction as to his accomplishments in literature, as to his experimental acquaintance with religion, and as to his proficiency in divinity and other studies, the Presbytery did, and hereby do, express their approbation of all these parts of trial; and he having adopted the Confession of Faith of this Church, and satisfactorily answered the questions appointed to be put to candidates to be licensed, the Presbytery did, and hereby do, license him, the said to preach the gospel of Christ as a probationer for the holy ministry within the bounds of this Presbytery or wherever else he shall be orderly called.
Is it right for a clerk of Presbytery, in recording the licensure of a candidate, to use any other form than that prescribed in the book?
Answered in the affirmative. See above: "And record shall be made of the licensure in the following or like form."—1866, p. 54, O. S.
IX. When any candidate for licensure shall have occasion, while his trials are going on, to remove from the bounds of his own Presbytery into those of another, it shall be considered as regular for the latter Presbytery, on his producing proper testimonials from the former, to take up his trials at the point at which they were left and conduct them to a conclusion in the same manner as if they had been commenced by themselves.
X. In like manner, when any candidate, after licensure, shall, by the permission of his Presbytery, remove without its limits, an extract of the record of his licensure, accompanied with a presbyterial recommendation, signed by the clerk, shall be his testimonials to the Presbytery under whose care he shall come.
XI. When a licentiate shall have been preaching for a considerable time and his services do not appear to be edifying to the churches, the Presbytery may, if they think proper, recall his license.
1. Limitation of the Time to which a License shall Extend to Four Years.
Overture No. 19, from the Synod of Philadelphia, asking the Assembly to define more explicitly the relations of Presbyteries to their licentiates. Also No. 20, from the Presbytery of Philadelphia, North, and No. 21, from the Presbytery of Northumberland, on the same subject.
The Committee recommend the Assembly to adopt the following rules: 1. Every license to preach the gospel shall expire at the end of the period of four years, unless the candidate holding the same shall, before the expiration of that time, be called to permanent labor in the work of the Church. But the Presbytery under whose care such licentiate may be may, in its discretion, extend his license for the period of one year.
2. The Presbyteries are enjoined to take the oversight of their licentiates and their vacant churches, bringing in the one for the supply of the other, and, through the Home Missionary Committees of the Synods to which the Presbyteries belong, to seek to introduce their candidates to the widest fields of labor, and to furnish them full opportunity of practically showing their fitness for the Christian ministry. Adopted.-1872, p. 87.
2. The above Rule does not Abridge the Power of the Presbyteries to License in Extraordinary Cases.
The Standing Committee on the Polity of the Church reported— 1. A memorial from the Presbytery of Columbus, asking this General Assembly to define the action of the last General Assembly "in limiting the term of licensure (min., p. 87) as not referring to the cases of laymen who are licensed with a view of their higher usefulness, and not with a view to ordination."
The Committee recommend this minute as an answer, viz.: The General Assembly cannot sanction the practice of licensure as a means to attain a higher measure of usefulness merely, without aiming to reach ordination, as this would be virtually to make two grades of preaching officers. But the rules adopted by the last Assembly, to which the memorial refers, should not be construed as abridging the power and discretion of the Presbyteries to license probationers "in extraordinary cases." Form of Government, xiv., vi.
Adopted.-1873, p. 524.
3. Licentiates Belong to the Laity, and are Subject to the Session.
a. The Committee to whom was recommitted Overture No. 1, viz.: The question at what period of their preparatory course are candidates for the Christian ministry to be considered as dismissed from the jurisdiction of the session and transferred to the Presbytery? made a report, which, being read and amended, was adopted, and is as follows, viz. :
Whereas, It appears necessary, in order to preserve the purity of the Church, and uniformity of procedure in the judicatories under the care of the General Assembly, that the manner of administering discipline to candidates and licentiates for the gospel ministry, should be distinctly spe cified; therefore,