« PreviousContinue »
and to preserve the uniformity and purity of doctrine, may deem it proper to require of us a farther explanation of our sentiments respecting any particular article of the Confession of Faith, the Catechism, or the explanation of the National Synod, we do hereby promise to be always willing and ready to comply with such requisition, under the penalty above mentioned; reserving however to ourselves the right of an appeal, whenever we shall conceive ourselves aggrieved by the sentence of the Consistory, the Classis, or Particular Synod ; and until a decision is made upon such appeal, we will acquiesce in the determination and judg. ment already passed."
Upon subscribing the aforesaid formula, a certificate, signed by the President, shall be given to the candidate; and the Synod, or Classis, before which the examination is held, shall fix a day for his ordination, and name at least three Ministers to attend, and assist at the same.
ART. XIII. The ordination shall be conducted with proper solemnity. A sermon suited to the occasion shall be preached by him who is named the moderator for that purpose; and the promises, directions, explanations of duty, with the laying on of hands, shall be agreeably to the form for that end expressly made and adopted.
Every Minister must consider himself as wholly devoted to the Lord Jesus Christ in the service of the Church ; and shall faithfuHy fulfil the obligations of his call, in preaching, catechising, and visiting his flock; and be instant in season and out of season ; and by word and example always promote the spiritual welfare of his people.
All the Ministers and Elders, regularly deputed, shall punctually attend the judicatories of which they are members; and for repeated neglect shall be subject to a reprimand, or such other censure as shall be judged proper; and their respective congregations are to consider themselves bound to afford them the opportunity of attendance.
Ministers, who by reason of old age, or habitual sickness and infirmities, either of mind or body, are not capable of fulfiling the duties of the ministry, may, upon application, and sufficient proof of such incapacity being made to the Classis, be declared emeriti, and be excused from all further service in the Church during such infirmity ; reserving however to them, the ti tle, rank, and character, which before such declaration they enjoyed. In all such cases, the Classis shall make it a condition previous to any Minister's becoming emcritus, that the congregation enter into stipulations, obliging them to a reasonable, and annual support to their pastor who has grown old, or become sick and infirm in their service,
Ministers declared emeriti, shall be amenable to the judicatories to which they belong : but they may not proceed to the administration of the sacraments, or celebration of marriage, while they continue emeriti, unless expressly permitted by the Classis.
All Ministers of the gospel are equal in rank and authority; all are Bishops, or Overseers in the Church; and all are equally Stewards of the mysteries of God. No superiority shall therefore be ever claimed, or acknowledged by one Minister over another, nor shall there he any lords over God's heritage in the Reformed Dutch Churches.
II. PROFESSORS OF THEOLOGY.
THE distinction between the first and second office in the church, that is, between the Ministers of the word and Teachers of Theology, is founded in the nature of the respective offices.
The former are those, who by preaching and ruling, instruct, and govern the church; and are, as such, denominated pastors or shepherds of the flock: the latter are those who are set apart only to teach and defend the truths of the gospel, and for that reason, are excused from fulfiling the pastoral duties. This distinction was noted in the early ages of the christian church. It was attended to at the Reformation, and was productive of important benefits, especially with respect to the education of candidates for the holy ministry. The Reformed Dutch Church, perseveres in preserving the same distinction, and determines that the instructing, and preparing
* Pastores ac doctores. Assentior Ambrosio, qui hæc quoque munera distinguit; nam_ratio pörum firma est quæ Hieronymum, et Augusti num movit ut confunderent, nempe, quia copula duntaxat est interjecta. Fateor tamen Doctorum nomen late patere, ut I Cor. xii. Sed tamen apparet aliquod fuisse discrimen, quod in isto Compendio videtur vix; locus esse synonymis. Doctoris igitur munus fuit verbum Domini fidel-, iter explicare, et veluti Scholam ecclesiasticam regere, ut sincera doctrina dogmatum, et veræ interpretationes in ecclesia retinerentur, sicut docuit Alexandriæ Origines, ut explicatur Niceph. lib. Eccles. hist. v. Cap. 14. At Pastorum (qui et Episcopi dicebantur, ut 1 Pet. iii.) munus longe latius patebat, niinirum verbo et oratione vacare, et Ecclesiam sibi commissam modis omnibus tueri : Ex quibus etiam satis perspicitur hæc duo munera perpetua esse oportere in Ecclesia Dei. Beza in Ens. ad Ephes, vi. 11.
youth for the service of the sanctuary, shall not be left indiscriminately to every Minister, or any individual who may choose to assume that office.
Professors of Theology, have, as such, no power, jurisdiction, or government whatever in the church; but as they are Ministers who preach occasionally, they are entitled, when they stand in connection with any congregation, equally with other Ministers, to administer the sacraments, and to a seat and voice in ecclesiastical Asemblies.
As it is of the last importance that Professors of Theology should be sound in the faith, possess abilities to teach, and have the confidence of the churches, they shall always, for the greater security, be chosen and appointed by a majority of votes in the General Synod only. To prevent as far as possible the unhappy consequences of partiality, haste, or undue influence in obtaining an office of such consequence to the church, a nomination of one, or more candidates shall be previously made, upon which the Synod shall fix a day when they will proceed to an election; provided that no appointment of a professor in Theology shall ever be made on the same day in which he is nominated.-An instrument certifying the appointment, and specifying the duties of the office, shall be signed in the presence of the General Synod, by the president thereof, and by him be given, in the name of the church, to the
No Professor of Theology shall be permitted to officiate, until he shall have subscribed the following formirla, viz.
CWE the underwritten, Professors of sacred Theology in the Reformed Dutch Church, by this our subscription, uprightly, and in good conscience before God, declare, that we heartily believe, and are persuaded, that all the articles and points of doctrine contained in the Confession and Catechism of the Reformed Dutch Churches, together with the explanation of some points of the said doctrine, made in the national Synod, held at Dordrecht, in the year 1619, do fully agree with the word of God. We promise therefore, that we will diligently teach, and faithfully defend the aforesaid doctrine; and that we will not inculcate or write, either publicly or privately, directly or indirectly, any thing against the same. As also, that we reject not only all the errors which militate against this doctrine, and particularly those which are condemned in the above mentioned Synod; but that we are disposed to refute the same ; openly to oppose them, and to exert ourselves in keeping the church pure from such errors. Should it nevertheless, hereafter happen, that any objections against the doctrine might arise in our minds, or we entertain different sentiments, we promise that we will not, either publicly or privately propose, teach, or defend the same, by preaching or writing, until we have first fully revealed such sentiments to the General Synod, to whom we are responsible; that our opinions may in the said General Synod receive a thorough examination, being ready always cheerfully to submit to the judgment of the General Synod, under the penalty, in case of refusal, to be censured by the said Synod. And whenever the General Synod, upon sufficient grounds of suspicion, and to preserve the uniformity and purity of doctrines, may deem it proper to demand from us a more particular explanation of our sentiments respecting any article of the aforesaid confession, catechism or explanation of the national Syn