« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
after dealing with him privately and obtaining no satisfaction, propose to submit the matter for trial to an ecclesiastical council, mutually chosen ; and if he shall refuse, the brother who has been aggrieved and has dealt with him in private, may proceed to bring his complaint before a regular council chosen by himself from Congregational churches. If in any case the offending minister, having been duly notified, shall refuse to appear before said council; the council are authorized to act on the case, and may pass sentence upon the offender for scandalous contempt, and for any offence of which they find him guilty, and may, in their own behalf, and in behalf of Congregational churches, withdraw fellowship from him.
It is held as a settled principle, that every Congregational minister, is really under the watch and care of the Congregational denomination, and that no one can evade this inspection by neglecting to unite himself with an association, or by refusing to acknowledge that he is, under God, responsible to his brethren, and liable to be called to account by them for heresy or immorality.
17. Every candidate for the ministry shall, during the time of his being a candidate, be under the watch and care of the association that gave him his license to preach, and liable to be dealt with by them for any heresy or misdemeanor.
18. No person shall appear as advocate for another before any ecclesiastical council, who is not a pastor or a member of a Congregational church. The council itself when it shall judge it expedient, may designate one of its own members, or a member or pastor of another church, to examine witnesses, and in other ways to afford necessary aid to one or both parties during a trial.
19. When it is desired by either of the parties calling a mutual council, the council may admit oaths to be administered to the witnesses.
20. If, in any case in which a mutual council is proposed, according to the foregoing articles, the party to whom the proposal is made shall refuse such council, it shall be deemed an irregularity, and the party proposing it, shall have the right to choose a council himself for the trial of the case,-it being his duty to take special care to select a council free from prejudice and partiality,
We are aware that there are many cases which occur in relation to ecclesiastical concerns, for which no provision is made in the imperfect manual which we have prepared. We repeat it therefore, that what we have done is not intended as a complete manual to be adopted by the churches. We intend only to set out the business, leaving it to be carried forward and finished by those to whom it belongs, and in the way which they shall judge expedient. And if by our instrumentality the churches and ministers of our order may be induced to enter on a serious consideration of the principles of Congregationalism, and to do what is necessary to carry those principles into effect, and thus to promote the peace and prosperity of our denomination ; our labor, which we undertook by the request of our brethren, will not be in vain. It has not entered into our thoughts, that Congregational ministers, by choosing us as a committee, delegated any power or right to us, except that of doing what we could to serve the cause of Congregationalism. And we repeat it, that we do not consider what we now publish as having any more authority than the publication of any other individual. It belongs to the churches with their pastors to act in the case, and their acts will be valid.
It has appeared to us in every point of view expedient, that the whole of the Platform and Confession of Faith, adopted by the Puritan Fathers, should be annexed to the preceding publication, so that ministers and churches may see in one view what Congregationalism was, and what we hope it will, for substance, continue to be. The Synod of 1643 approved and consented to the Westminster Confession of Faith, except what relates to church government. The Synod which met, 1680,
adopted the Savoy Confession, which is almost entirely the same as the Westminster Confession. And this is the Confession of Faith, which has, from that time to the present, been published with the Platform. Only a few extracts from the preface to the Platform, published in 1648, are here inserted. The whole preface is long, and relates chiefly to the proper adjustment of questions and difficulties which arose between Congregational and Presbyterial churches. But the short preface to the Confession of Faith, adopted by the Synod of 1680, is here given entire.
And now, dear brethren, let us keep in mind, that in all we do or attempi to do in regard to the various subjects presented in the foregoing report, we act under the eye of Him who is the Redeemer and Head of the church, and that it is our sacred duty to seek his honor and to do his will. And let us cherish that spirit of love, which seeketh not her own, which is not easily provoked, and thinketh no evil ; which beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. And in this spirit let us unitedly labor and pray for the peace and prosperity of Christ's kingdom. And may grace and mercy
from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be ever with you.
In behalf of the Committee,
Jan. 1, 1846.