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Resolved, 1. That as the word of God and the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church recognize the distinction of laity and clergy, and a sys tem of procedure in discipline in some respects diverse, as the one or the other of these orders of men is concerned, it becomes the judicatories of the Church to guard against the violation of this principle in the administration of discipline.
2. That although candidates and licentiates are in training for the gos pel ministry, and in consequence of this are placed under the care of Presbyteries, and in certain respects become immediately responsible to them, yet they are to be regarded as belonging to the order of the laity till they receive ordination to the whole work of the gospel ministry.
3. That it follows, from the last resolution, that when candidates for the gospel ministry are discovered to be unfit to be proceeded with in trials for the sacred office, it shall be the duty of the Presbytery to arrest their progress, and if further discipline be necessary, to remit them for that purpose to the sessions of the churches to which they properly belong, and that when licentiates are found unworthy to be permitted further to preach the gospel, it shall be the duty of the Presbytery to deprive them of their license, and if further discipline be necessary, to remit them for that purpose to the sessions of the churches to which they properly belong.
4. That in order to ensure the proper effect of discipline in the performance of the duties which severally belong to sessions and Presbyteries, it will be incumbent on church sessions, when they shall see cause to commence process against candidates or licentiates, before Presbytery has arrested the trials of the one or taken away the licensure of the other, to give immediate notice to the moderator of the Presbytery to which the candidates or licentiates are amenable that such process has been commenced, to the intent that the impropriety may be prevented of an individual proceeding on trials or continuing to preach, after committing an offence that ought to arrest him in his progress to an investiture with the sacred office; and when Presbyteries shall enter upon an investigation, with the view of stopping the trials of a candidate or taking away the license of a licentiate, the session to which such candidates or licentiates are amenable shall be immediately informed of what the Presbytery is doing, that the session may if requisite commence process and inflict the discipline which it is their province to administer.-1829, pp. 263, 264.
b. But may Solemnize Marriage if Authorized by Law.
Resolved, That while our Form of Government does not recognize licentiates as ministers of the gospel, yet this Assembly do not consider them as violating any rules of the Church by solemnizing marriages in those States where the civil laws expressly authorize them to do it.-18 14, p. 377.
OF THE ELECTION AND ORDINATION OF BISHOPS OR PASTORS AND EVANGELISTS.
I. WHEN any probationer shall have preached so much to the satisfaction of any congregation as that the people appear prepared to elect a pastor, the session shall take measures to convene them for this purpose; and it shall always be the duty of the session to convene them, when a majority of the persons entitled to vote in the case shall, by a petition, request that a meeting may be called.
1. Steps to be taken by a Vacant Congregation looking to the Election of a Pastor.
The business left unfinished in the morning was resumed, and after a full discussion of the subject, the motion to sustain the appeal of the session of the Third Presbyterian Church in this city from the decision of the Synod of Philadelphia, affirming a decision of the Presbytery of Philadelphia, by which the Presbytery directed the said session, within twenty days from the date of their decision, or after the final determination of the case, to convene the congregation for the purpose of electing a pastor, was determined in the affirmative; and Dr. Green, Dr. Neill and Mr. Richards were appointed a Committee to prepare a minute stating the principles on which the Assembly sustained the appeal.
The Committee appointed to prepare a statement of the principles and grounds upon which the Assembly sustained the appeal of the session of the Third Presbyterian Church in this city reported, and their report, being read and amended, was adopted in the words following, viz.:
That both to prevent misapprehension and to aid the congregations and judicatures of this Church in deciding on any similar cases that may arise, the Assembly therefore declare,
I. That in vacant congregations which are fully organized the session of each congregation are to determine, under their responsibility to the higher judicatures, when the congregation are prepared to elect a pastor, as directed in the Form of Government of this Church, chap. xv., sec. i.
II. That it is the duty of the session, when a congregation is vacant, to use their best endeavors to promote the settlement of a pastor in the same, in the speediest manner possible, consistently with the peace, order and edification of the congregation; and it is the privilege of the people, or of any portion of them, to complain to the Presbytery when they think that the session, after being suitably requested, neglect or refuse to convene the congregation to elect a pastor.
III. That it belongs to the Presbyteries to take cognizance of the proceedings of sessions and congregations in the important concern of settling pastors, and to adopt the most effectual measures on the one hand to prevent all undue delay by the session or the people, and on the other to prevent all precipitancy in the settlement of any minister or the adoption of any system of proceedings in the congregation inconsistent with 'he real and permanent edification of the people.
IV. That by the due and discreet observance of these principles by all
concerned it will be found that, so far from the session of a congregation having it in the r power to deprive a majority of a congregation of their right to make an election of a pastor when sought in an orderly and Christian manner, or to keep a congregation unsettled for an indefinite length of time, the rights of the people will be most effectually secured, and their precious and inalienable privilege of choosing their own pastor will be exercised by them in the shortest period which their own real benefit will permit.
V. That the conviction of this Assembly that the foregoing obvious. and constitutional principles had not been duly adhered to in the case before them, that the congregation had not proceeded with a suitable respect to the session, and that the Presbytery did not adopt the most suitable measure when they advised and directed the session to convene the congregation in twenty days, has led the Assembly to sustain this appeal as the measure most constitutional, best calculated on the whole to do justice to all the parties concerned, and to point the way to the most speedy settlement of the unhappy differences and disorders which have so long existed in the particular congregation immediately concerned.-1814, pp. 559, 560.
II. When such a meeting is intended, the session shall solicit the presence and counsel of some neighboring minister to assist them in conducting the election contemplated, unless highly inconvenient on · account of distance; in which case they may proceed without such assistance.
[For answer to the question who may moderate a session, see under Form of Government, chap. ix., sec. iv., 2, a, b, c.]
III. On a Lord's day, immediately after public worship, it shall be intimated from the pulpit that all the members of that congregation are requested to meet on ensuing, at the church or
usual place for holding public worship; then and there, if it be agreeable to them, to proceed to the election of a pastor for that congregation.
IV. On the day appointed, the minister invited to preside, if he be present, shall, if it be deemed expedient, preach a sermon; and after sermon he shall announce to the people that he will immediately proceed to take the votes of the electors of that congregation for a pastor, if such be their desire, and when this desire shall be expressed by a majority of voices, he shall then proceed to take votes accordingly. In this election no person shall be entitled to vote who refuses to submit to the censures of the Church regularly administered, or who does not contribute his just proportion according to his own engagements or the rules of that congregation to all its necessary expenses.
a. Who may Vote in the Election of a Pastor.
Agreed that none shall be allowed to vote for the calling of a minister but those that shall contribute for the maintenance of him, and that the major vote of these shall be determinative.-1711, p. 24.
[As adopted by the Synod in 1788, the margin for the direction of the presiding minister read, "The minister shall receive the votes of none but regular members, and who punctually pay toward the support of the Church." This was stricken out in the revision of 1820.]
b. Right of Voting not limited to Communicants unless expressly so Declared. [In sustaining a complaint of R. J. Breckenridge, D. D., et al., "against the Synod of Kentucky in its action limiting the right of voting in the election of a pastor to communicating members of the Church," the Assembly-]
Resolved, That the complaint be sustained; but the Assembly in this judgment does not intend to condemn a practice prevalent in some of our congregations in which the right of voting for pastor is confined to communicants.-1863, p. 71, O. S.
c. Overture Confining the Vote to Communicants not Adopted. Overture No. 3, being an overture from the Presbytery of Saline, "in favor of the enactment of a law requiring that in the election of pastors, none be permitted to vote except communicants in good and regular standing;" also," that when any candidate is before a church, the church shall determine whether he shall be called to the pastorate before any other candidate shall be heard."
The Committee recommend for answer: That, in regard to the first point, the enactment of such a law would prohibit a usage quite extensive among the churches, founded upon an interpretation of the present law which has heretofore been sanctioned by the General Assembly. It is, therefore, deemed inexpedient upon the application of a single Presbytery to recommend such alteration in the Form of Government. In regard to the second point it need only be said that the authority asked for is now possessed by each congregation, and may be exercised or not at its pleasure; while to make such exercise binding by positive law would deprive all congregations of a present liberty the use of which seems wisely left to their discretion.
The report was adopted.-1867, p. 320, O. S.
V. When the votes are taken, if it appear that a large minority of the people are averse from the candidate who has a majority of votes, and cannot be induced to concur in the call, the presiding minister shall endeavor to dissuade the congregation from prosecuting it further. But if the people be nearly or entirely unanimous, or if the majority shall insist upon their right to call a pastor, the presiding minister, in that case, after using his utmost endeavors to persuade the congregation to unanimity, shall proceed to draw a call in due form, and to have it subscribed by the electors, certifying at the same time in writing the number and circumstances of those who do not concur in the call; all which proceedings shall be laid before the Presbytery, together with the call.
VI. The call shall be in the following, or like form, namely The congregation of being, on sufficient grounds, well satisfied of the ministerial qualifications of you
having good hopes from our past experience of your labors that your ministrations in the gospel will be profitable to our spiritual interests, do earnestly call and desire you to undertake the pastoral office in said congregation; promising you, in the discharge of your duty, all proper support, encouragement and obedience in the Lord. And that you may be free from worldly cares and avocations, we hereby promise and oblige ourselves to pay to you the sum of in regular quarterly (or half yearly or yearly) payments during the time of your being and continuing the regular pastor of this church. In testimony whereof we have respectively submitted our names this day of
Attested by A. C., moderator of the meeting.
1. Early Action.-Glebe and Parsonage Recommended. a. That in every congregation a Committee be appointed, who shall twice in every year collect the minister's stipend and lay his receipts before the Presbytery preceding the Synod, and at the same time that ministers give an account of their diligence in visiting and catechising their people.
The Synod recommends that a glebe, with a convenient house and necessary improvements, be provided for every minister.-1766, p. 359.
b. As it appears the interest of religion is in danger of suffering greatly at present from the many discouragements under which the ministers of the gospel labor from the want of a sufficient support and liberal maintenance from the congregations they serve, the Synod appoint a Committee to take this matter into consideration and report thereon to the next Synod.
Ordered, That Drs. Witherspoon, Ewing and Spencer be a Committee for this purpose.-1782, p. 495.
Said Committee brought in their report, which was read and considered; whereupon,
Ordered, That Drs. Witherspoon and Spencer, with Mr. S. Smith, be a Committee to prepare a draught of a pastoral letter to the congregation under the inspection of Synod, as also to prepare some resolves to be passed by Synod and accompany said letter, the whole to be brought in to-morrow morning.-1783, p. 499.
[The letter was brought in, amended and ordered to be published.]
2. Adequate Provision to be Urged.
a. [The Assembly enjoins it upon all the Presbyteries] "that they will endeavor, as far as the state of society in different parts of our Church will permit, to withdraw the ministers of the gospel from every worldly avocation for the maintenance of themselves and families, that they may devote themselves entirely to the work of the ministry; and that for this end they labor to convince the people of the advantage that will accrue to themselves from making such adequate provision for the support of their teachers and pastors, that they may be employed wholly in their sacred calling; and in those places where it may be found prudent and practicable, that they devise means to have the contracts between congregations and pastors examined in the Presbyteries at stated periods, inquiries instituted with regard to the reciprocal fulfillment of duties and