The Form of Government


Sugg's Creek, Wilson County, Tennessee, October 9, 1814


THE SYNOD OF CUMBERLAND, judging it expedient to ascertain and fix the system of union, and the form of government and discipline of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in these United States, under their care; have thought proper to lay down by way of introduction, a few of the general principles by which they have heretofore been governed, and which are the ground-work of the following plan. This, it is hoped, will, in some measure, prevent those rash misconstructions, and uncandid reflections, which usually proceed from an imperfect view of any subject; as well as make the several parts of the system plain, and the whole plan perspicuous and fully understood.

The Synod are unanimously of opinion:

I. That "God alone is Lord of the conscience; and hath left it free from the doctrine and commandments of men, which are in any thing contrary to his word, or beside it in matters of faith or worship." Therefore they consider the rights of private judgment, in all matters that respect religion, as universal and unalienable. They do not even wish to see any religious constitution aided by the civil power, further than may be necessary for protection and security, and at the same time equal and common to all others.

II. That in perfect consistency with the above principle of common right, every christian church, or union, or association of particular churches, is entitled to declare the terms of admission into its communion, and the qualifications of its ministers and members, as well as the whole system of its internal government, which Christ hath appointed: That, in the exercise of this right, they may, notwithstanding, err, in making the terms of communion either too lax or too narrow; yet, even in this case, they do not infringe upon the liberty or the rights of others, but only make an improper use of their own.

III. That our blessed Savior, for the edification of the visible church, which is his body, hath appointed officers, not only to preach the gospel, and administer the sacraments, but also to exercise discipline, for the preservation both of truth and duty; and that it is incumbent upon these officers, and upon the whole church, in whose name they act, to censure, or cast out the erroneous and scandalous; observing in all cases, the rules contained in the word of God.

IV. That truth is in order to goodness; and the greater touchstone of truth, its tendency to promote holiness; according to our Savior's rule, "by their fruits ye shall know them." And that no opinion can be either more pernicious or more absurd than that which brings truth and falsehood upon a level, and represents it as of no consequence what a man's opinions are. On the contrary, they are persuaded, that there is an inseparable connection between faith and practice, truth and duty. Otherwise it would be of no consequence either to discover truth, or to embrace it.

V. That while under the conviction of the above principle, they think it necessary to make effectual provision, that all who are admitted as teachers, be sound in the faith; they also believe, that there are truths and forms with respect to which men of good characters and principles may differ: and in all these, they think it the duty, both of private christians and societies, to exercise mutual forbearance towards one another.

VI. That though the character, qualifications and authority of church officers, are laid down in the holy scriptures, as well as the proper method of their investiture and institution, yet the election of the persons to the exercise of this authority, in any particular society, is in that society.

VII. That all church power, whether exercised by the body in general, or in the way of representation by delegated authority, is only ministerial and declarative; -- That is to say, that the holy scriptures are the only rule of faith and manners; that no church judicatory ought to pretend to make laws to bind the conscience, in virtue of their own authority: and that all their decisions should be founded upon the revealed will of God. Now, though it will easily be admitted, that all synods and councils may err, through the frailty inseparable from humanity, yet there is much greater danger from the usurped claim of making laws, than from the right of judging upon laws already made, and common to all who profess the gospel; although this right, as necessity requires in the present state, be lodged with fallible men.

VIII. Lastly, That if the preceding scriptural and rational principles be steadfastly adhered to, the vigor and strictness of its discipline will contribute to the glory and happiness of any church. Since ecclesiastical discipline must be purely moral or scriptural in its object, and not attended with any civil effects, it can derive no force whatever, but from its own justice, the approbation of an impartial public, and the countenance and blessing of the great Head of the Church universal.


-- Introduction

CHAPTER I: Of the Church


Section I: Jesus Christ, who is now exalted far above all principality and power,(1) hath erected in this world a kingdom, which is his church.(2)

Section II: The universal church consists of all those persons, in every nation, together with their children, who make profession of the holy religion of Christ, and of submission to his laws.(3)

Section III: As this immense multitude cannot meet together, in one place, to hold communion, or to worship God, it is reasonable and warranted by scripture example, that they should be divided into many particular churches.(4)

Section IV: A particular church consists of a number of professing christians, with their offspring, voluntarily associated together for divine worship, and godly living, agreeably to the holy scriptures;(5) and submitting to a certain form of government.(6)


CHAPTER II: Of the Officers of the Church


Our blessed Lord, at first, collected his church out of different nations,(7) and formed it into one body,(8) by the mission of men endued with miraculous gifts, which have long since ceased.(9) The ordinary and perpetual officers in the church are, Bishops or Pastors,(10) the representatives of the people, usually styled Ruling Elders,(11) and Deacons.(12)


CHAPTER III: Of Bishops or Pastors


The pastoral office is the first in the church, both for dignity and for usefulness. The person who fills this office hath, in scripture, obtained different names expressive of his various duties.(13) As he has the oversight of the flock of Christ, he is termed bishop.(14) As he feeds them with spiritual food, he is termed pastor.(15) As he serves Christ in his church, he is termed minister.(16) As it is his duty to be grave, and prudent, and an example of the flock, and to govern well in the house and kingdom of Christ, he is termed presbyter or elder.(17) As he is the messenger of God, he is termed the angel of the church.(18) As he is sent to declare the will of God to sinners, and to beseech them to be reconciled to God through Christ, he is termed ambassador.(19) And as he dispenses the manifold grace of God, and the ordinances instituted by Christ, he is termed steward of the mysteries of God.(20)


CHAPTER IV: Of Ruling Elders


Ruling elders are properly the representatives of the people, chosen by them for the purpose of exercising government and discipline, in conjunction with pastors or ministers.(21) This office has been understood, by a great part of the protestant reformed churches, to be designated in holy scriptures, by the title of governments; and of those who rule well, but do not labor in the word and doctrine.(22)


CHAPTER V: Of Deacons


The scriptures clearly point out deacons as distinct officers in the church,(23) whose business it is to take care of the poor, and to distribute among them the collection which may be raised for their use.(24) To them also may be properly committed the management of the temporal affairs in the church.(25)


CHAPTER VI: Of Ordinances in a Particular Church


The ordinances established by Christ, the head, in a particular church, which is regularly constituted with its proper officers,(26) are prayer,(27) singing praises,(28) reading,(29) expounding(30) and preaching the word of God;(31) public solemn fasting and thanksgiving,(32) catechizing,(33) making collections for the poor, and other pious purposes,(34) exercising discipline,(35) and blessing the people.(36)


CHAPTER VII: Of Church Government and the Several Kinds of Judicatories


Section I: It is absolutely necessary that the government of the church, be exercised under some certain and definite form;(37) and we hold it to be expedient and agreeable to scriptures, and the practice of the primitive christians, that the church be governed by congregational, presbyterial, and synodical assemblies. In full consistency with this belief, we embrace, in the spirit of charity, those christians who differ from us in opinion or in practice on these subjects.(38)

Section II: These assemblies ought not to possess any civil jurisdiction, nor to inflict any civil penalties.(39) Their power is wholly moral or spiritual, and that only ministerial and declarative.(40) They possess the right of requiring obedience to the laws of Christ; and of excluding the disobedient and disorderly from the privileges of the church. To give efficiency, however, to this necessary and scriptural authority, they possess the powers requisite for obtaining evidence and inflicting censure: They can call before them any offender against the order and government of the church: They can require members of their own society, to appear and give testimony on the cause: but the highest punishment to which their authority extends, is to exclude the contumacious and impenitent from the congregation of believers.(41)


CHAPTER VIII: Of The Congregational Assembly, or Judicatory,
Usually Styled the Church Session



Section I: The church session consists of the minister, or ministers,(42) and elders of a particular congregation.  In a vacant congregation, the elders alone shall form the session when a minister cannot conveniently attend, and shall be convened when any two elders shall concur in calling them together.

Section II: The church session is competent to the spiritual government of the congregation;(43) For which purpose, they have power to inquire into the knowledge and christian conduct of the members of that church;(44) to call before them the offenders and witnesses, being members of their own society, and to introduce witnesses from other societies or denominations, or elsewhere, when it may be necessary to bring the process to issue; and when they can be procured to attend, to admonish, to rebuke, to suspend, or exclude from the sacraments, those who are found to deserve the censure of the church;(45) to concert the best measures for promoting the spiritual interests of the congregation, and to appoint delegates to the higher judicatories of the church.(46)

Section III: The minister hath a right to convene the session when he may judge it requisite.(47) And he ought in all cases to convene them when required by any two or more of the elders.

Section IV: We think it proper that every church session keep a fair register of births, of baptisms, of marriages, of persons admitted to the Lord's table, of deaths in the society, and of other removals.


CHAPTER IX: Of The Presbyterial Assembly


Section I: The church being divided into many separate congregations, these need mutual counsel and assistance, in order to preserve soundness of doctrine, and regularity of discipline; and to enter into common measures for the promoting of knowledge and religion, and for the preventing of the encroachments of infidelity and error.(48) Hence arise the importance and usefulness of presbyterial and synodical assemblies.(49)

Section II: A presbytery consists of all the ministers, and one ruling elder from each congregation, within a certain district.

Section III: Every congregation, which has a settled pastor, has a right to be represented in presbytery, by one elder; and every collegiate church by two or more elders, in proportion to its ministers. Where there are two or more congregations united under one pastor, all such congregations shall have but one elder to represent them.

Every congregation that has not a settled minister, consisting of thirty members in communion or more, and is willing to support the gospel according as God has prospered them, shall be entitled to be represented by a ruling elder in this judicatory. And where there are two or more such congregations united, and in their united capacity, are of the description aforesaid, then such united congregations may be represented by one elder.

Every elder, not known to the presbytery, shall produce a certificate of his regular appointment from the church which he represents.(50)

Section IV: Any three ministers, and as many elders as may be present belonging to the presbytery, being met at the time and place appointed, shall be a judicatory, competent to the dispatch of business; notwithstanding the absence of the other members.(51)

Section V: The presbytery have cognizance of all things that regard the welfare of the particular churches within their bounds, which are not cognizable by the session.(52) They have also the power of receiving and issuing appeals from the sessions, and references brought before them in an orderly manner; of examining and licensing candidates for the gospel ministry;(53) of ordaining, settling, removing or judging ministers;(54) of examining, and approving or censuring the records of the sessions; of resolving questions of doctrine or discipline, seriously and reasonably proposed;(55) of condemning erroneous opinions, that injure the purity or peace of the church;(56) of visiting particular churches, to inquire into their state, and redress the evils that may have arisen within them;(57) of uniting, or dividing congregations, at the request of the people, and of ordering whatever pertains to the spiritual concerns of the churches under their care.(58) And it shall be the duty of the presbyteries to report to the synod, licensures, ordinations, the dismissing or receiving of members, and the removal of members by death.

Section VI: The presbytery shall meet on their own adjournment: and when any emergency shall require a meeting, sooner than the time to which the judicatory stands adjourned, the moderator shall, with the concurrence, or at the request of two ministers and two elders, the elders being of different congregations, call a meeting of the presbytery, by a circular letter sent to every minister, and to the session of every vacant congregation having a right to send a representative to the judicatory, in due time previous to the meeting; which time shall be ascertained and recorded by each presbytery, and shall not be less than ten days, and nothing shall be transacted, at such special meeting, besides the particular business for which the judicatory has been thus convened.

Section VII: At each meeting of the presbytery, a sermon shall be delivered, if convenient; and every particular session shall be opened and concluded with prayer. The roll shall be called, and the meeting recorded by the clerk, who shall enter the names of the members present, and also of those ministers who are absent.



Of the Synodical Assembly (59)


Section I: The Synod is the highest judicatory of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and shall represent in one body all the particular churches of this denomination, until two thirds of the Presbyteries composing said Synod shall concur with the Synod to constitute more Synods, or a General Assembly; and shall bear the style and title of the Cumberland Synod of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in the United States of America.

Section II: The Synod shall consist of all the bishops (or ordained ministers) belonging to the several presbyteries under their care, with as many elders from different congregations. That is, it shall be the duty of each minister to bring with him an elder to sit in Synod.

Section III: Any ten or more of these members, one half of whom shall be ministers, being met on the day and at the place appointed, shall be competent to form a Synod and to proceed to business.

Section IV: The Synod shall admit and judge of appeals regularly brought up from the presbyteries; give their judgment on all references or ecclesiastical cases made to them; to review the presbytery books; to redress whatever has been done by presbyteries contrary to order; take effectual care that presbyteries observe the constitution of the church; make such regulations for the benefit of their whole body, and of the presbyteries and churches under their care, as shall be agreeable to the word of God.

Section V: The Synod shall constitute the bond of union, peace, correspondence and mutual confidence among all our churches.

Section VI: To the Synod also belongs the power of consulting, reasoning, and judging in all controversies respecting doctrine and discipline; of reproving, warning, or bearing testimony against error in doctrine or immorality in practice in any church or presbytery; of corresponding with other churches; of putting a stop to schismatical contentions and disputations; and, in general, of recommending and attempting reformation of manners, and of promoting charity, truth and holiness through all the churches; and of erecting new presbyteries when they judge it necessary.


Section VII: Before any regulations proposed by the Synod to be established as standing rules, shall be obligatory on the churches, it shall be necessary to transmit them to all the presbyteries, and to receive the returns of at least a majority of the presbyteries in writing, approving thereof.

Section VIII: The Synod shall meet on its own adjournment; have power to compel the attendance of its members, and shall meet at least once in every year; and on the day of meeting, if there be not a quorum to do business, those who have attended may adjourn from day to day until a competent number shall have met.

Section IX: The Synod shall not infringe upon the liberties and privileges with which the constitution invests the several presbyteries of our church; but may censure, dissolve or divide any presbytery or presbyteries, for acting contrary to order, or violating the constitution of the church.


CHAPTER XI: Of Electing and Ordaining Ruling Elders and Deacons


Section I: Having defined the officers of the church, and the assemblies by which it shall be governed, it is proper here to prescribe the modes in which ecclesiastical rulers shall be ordained to their respective offices.


Section II: Every congregation shall elect persons to the office of ruling elder, and to the office of deacon, or either of them, in the mode most approved and in use in that congregation.(60)


Section III: When any person shall have been elected to either of these offices and shall have declared his willingness to accept thereof, he shall be set apart in the following manner.

Section IV: The minister shall propose to him, in the presence of the congregation, the following questions, viz:

1. Do you believe the scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be the word of God, the 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 approve of the government and discipline of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, as exercised in these United States.

4. Do you accept the office of ruling elder (or deacon, as the case may be,) in this congregation, and promise faithfully to endeavor to perform all the duties thereof, as God may enable you?


After having answered these questions in the affirmative, he shall be set apart, by prayer, to the office of elder, (or deacon, as the case may be:) and the minister shall give him and the congregation, an exhortation suited to the occasion.


CHAPTER XII: Of Licensing Candidates, or Probationers, to Preach the Gospel


Section I: The holy scriptures require that some trial be previously had of those who are to be ordained to the ministry of the gospel, that this sacred office may not be degraded, by being committed to weak or unworthy men,(61) and that the churches may have an opportunity to form a better judgment respecting the talents of those by whom they are to be instructed and governed. For this purpose, presbyteries shall license probationers, to preach the gospel; that after a competent trial of their talents, and receiving from the churches a good report, they may, in due time, ordain them to the pastoral office.(62)

Section II: It is proper and requisite, that candidates, applying to the presbytery to be licensed to preach the gospel, produce satisfactory testimonials of their good moral character, and of their being regular members of some particular church. And it is the duty of the presbytery, for their satisfaction with regard to the real piety of such candidates, to examine them respecting their experimental acquaintance with religion, and the motives which influence them to desire the sacred office,(63) and their internal call to this important work:(64) and it is recommended that the candidate be required to produce, before he be licensed, testimonials of his having received, at least, a good English education: because it is highly reproachful to religion, and dangerous to the church, to entrust the holy ministry to weak and ignorant men.(65)

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 him a written discourse on some common head of divinity, from time to time, at successive sessions, till they shall have obtained satisfaction, as to his piety and aptness to teach in the churches.

Section III: That the most effectual measures may be taken to guard against the admission of insufficient men into the sacred office, the presbytery is required to enjoin it upon all candidates to exercise their gifts in public exhortation among the churches, and also carefully to examine them on revealed theology, before they are licensed.

Section IV: Before the presbytery proceed to license the candidate, the moderator shall require of him the following engagements, viz:

1. Do you believe the scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be the word of God, the 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 this presbytery, or to any other presbytery of this church, in the bounds of which you may be?

Section V: 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 the authority which he hath given to his church for its edification, we do license you to preach the gospel, where 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 form, viz.


At the day of the Presbytery of having received testimonials in favor of of his good moral character; 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 aptness to teach; as to his experimental acquaintance with religion; as to his internal call to the work of the ministry; and as to his proficiency in divinity; the presbytery, did and do hereby 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 do hereby 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 God in his providence may cast his lot.


Section VI: When any candidate shall, by the permission of his presbytery, remove without its limits, an extract of this record, accompanied with a presbyterial recommendation signed by the clerk, shall be his testimonials to the presbytery under whose care he shall come.


CHAPTER XIII: Of the Ordination of Bishops or Evangelists (66)


Section I: As ordination, or setting apart to the whole work of the gospel ministry by the imposition of hands, is investing the probationer with as high an ecclesiastical office, as is recognized by this church; the presbyteries are required to be careful to ordain none till they are fully satisfied with their qualifications for so important a work.

Section II: No presbytery shall feel bound to ordain a probationer, because he has long been licensed, or to detain him at all, if they judge him unqualified for ordination.

Section III: But when any licentiate or probationer, shall have preached to the satisfaction of the presbytery; and one or more respectable congregations shall have petitioned for his ordination, then the presbytery may appoint a day for the purpose of ordaining him on the principles, and agreeably to the rules that follow, viz:

Section IV: Trials for ordination shall consist of a careful examination as to his (the probationer's) acquaintance with experimental religion -- his internal call to the ministry -- his knowledge of natural and revealed theology -- of philosophy -- of astronomy -- of geography -- of English grammar and ecclesiastical history;(67) as to his knowledge of the constitution, the rules and principles of the government and discipline of the church; together with such written or extempore discourse, founded on the word of God, as to the presbytery shall seem proper.

Section V: The presbytery being fully satisfied with his qualifications for the sacred office, and the day appointed for ordination being come, and the presbytery convened, a member of the presbytery, previously appointed to that duty, shall preach a sermon adapted to the occasion. The same or another member appointed to preside in this business, shall afterwards briefly recite from the pulpit, in the audience of the people, the proceedings of the presbytery preparatory to this transaction; he shall point out the nature and importance of the ordinance, and endeavor to impress the audience with a proper sense of the solemnity of the transaction.


Then addressing himself to the candidate, he shall propose to him the following questions, viz:


1. Do you believe the scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be the word of God, the 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 approve of the government and discipline of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church?

4. Do you promise subjection to your brethren in the Lord?

5. Have you been induced by the Holy Ghost, as far as you know your own heart, to seek the office of the holy ministry from love to God, a desire to do his will, to promote his glory in the gospel of his Son, and the salvation of your fellowmen?

6. Do you promise to be zealous and faithful, as God may enable you, in maintaining the truths of the gospel, and the purity and peace of the church, whatever persecution or opposition may arise unto you on that account?

7. Do you engage, through grace, to be faithful in the discharge of public and private duties, as a christian minister, endeavoring to be exemplary in your walk and conversation, before the flock of God, and before the world?


Section VI: The candidate having answered these questions in the affirmative, the moderator or some other person appointed for the purpose, shall require him to kneel down, in the most convenient place; then the presiding bishop shall, by prayer, and with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery, according to the apostolic example, solemnly ordain him to the holy office of the gospel ministry. Prayer being ended, he shall rise from his knees; and the minister who presides shall first, and afterwards all the members of the presbytery in their order, take him by the right hand, saying, in words to this purpose:


We give you the right hand of fellowship, to take part in this ministry with us.


After which, the minister presiding, or some other appointed for the purpose, shall give a solemn charge in the name of God, to the newly ordained bishop and shall then, by prayer, recommend him to the grace of God and his holy keeping; and finally, after singing a psalm or hymn, shall dismiss the congregation with the usual blessing. And the presbytery shall duly record the transaction.



Of A Minister Settling And Removing


No minister, either ordained or licensed, shall take the charge of any congregation or congregations, as their stated pastor, without the consent of the presbytery.

And when such consent is obtained, either party shall be liable to censure that do not perform their engagements agreeably to their mutual agreement. And when such union does take place between a pastor and the people, it shall not be dissolved, only by mutual consent, or the consent of the presbytery -- which consent either party shall obtain by application, and offering sufficient reasons why it should be.

CHAPTER XV: Of Missions


Experience having taught that the itinerant plan is the best to supply vacancies with the word and ordinances, and to plant new churches, it is recommended to the presbyteries, to devise and adopt such measures as will be best calculated to promote that end. Each presbytery ought, if practicable, to keep one or more missionaries constantly employed, exclusive of short missions and other supplies granted to vacant congregations.


And the synod may also, of their own knowledge, send missions to any part to plant churches, or to supply vacancies:


Provided always, that such missions be made with the consent of the parties appointed.


CHAPTER XVI: Moderators


Section I: It is equally necessary in the judicatories of the church, as in other assemblies, that there should be a moderator or president, that the business may be conducted with order and dispatch.

Section II: The moderator is to be considered as possessing, by delegation from the whole body, all authority necessary for the preservation of order; for convening and adjourning the judicatory; and directing its operations according to the rules of the church. He is to propose to the judicatory every subject for deliberation that comes before them. He may propose what appears to him the most regular and speedy way of bringing any business to an issue. He shall prevent the members from interrupting each other; and require them, in speaking, always to address the chair. He shall prevent a speaker from deviating from the subject, and from using personal reflections. He shall silence those who refuse to obey order. He shall prevent members who attempt to leave the judicatory, without leave obtained from him. He shall, at a proper season, when the deliberations are ended, put the question and call the votes. If the judicatory be equally divided, he shall possess the casting vote. If he be not willing to decide, he shall put the question a second time; and if the judicatory be again equally divided, and he decline to give his vote, the question shall be lost. In all questions he shall give a concise and clear state[ment] of the object of the vote; and the vote being taken, shall then declare how the question is decided. And he shall likewise be empowered, on any extraordinary emergency, to convene the judicatory, by his circular letter, before the ordinary time of meeting.

Section III: The pastor of the congregation shall always be the moderator of the church session; except when, for prudential reasons, it may appear advisable that some other minister should be invited to preside, in which case the pastor may, with the concurrence of the session, invite such other minister as they may see mete, belonging to the same presbytery, to preside in that affair. In this judicatory, therefore, the moderator is continual; but in the vacancy of any church, the moderator shall be the minister sent to them by the presbytery; or invited by the session to preside on a particular occasion. In congregations, where there are colleagues, they shall, when present, alternately preside in the session.

Section IV: The moderator of the presbytery shall be chosen from year to year, or at every meeting of the presbytery, as the presbytery may think best. The moderator of the synod [1805: "and of the general assembly,"] shall be chosen at each meeting of these judicatories: and the last moderator present shall open the meeting with a sermon and shall hold the chair until a new moderator be chosen.


CHAPTER XVII: Of Privilege


It shall be the privilege of any member of a judicatory to speak, in his proper order, to any question, with leave from the moderator. The moderator shall give leave to the person who first rises; but if two or more members are judged to have risen at the same time; the moderator shall determine which shall speak first. Any member shall have a right to propose any question relative to the business of the church, or to the interest of religion, and to have it put to vote: provided, only, that his motion be seconded by another member. If any member conceive his privilege to be unjustly controlled by the moderator, he may appeal to the judicatory, who shall determine the point of privilege by a vote, and the moderator and member must submit to the suffrage of the judicatory.




Every judicatory shall choose a clerk, to record their transactions, whose continuance shall be during pleasure. It shall be the duty of the clerk, besides recording the transactions, to preserve them carefully; and to grant extracts from them, whenever properly required; and such extracts, under the hand of the clerk, shall be considered as authentic vouchers of the fact which they declare, in any ecclesiastical judicatory, and to every part of the church.


CHAPTER XIX: Vacant Congregations Assembling for Public Worship


Considering the great importance of weekly assembling the people, for the worship of God; in order thereby to improve their knowledge; to confirm their habits of worship, and their desire of the public ordinances; to augment their reverence for the most high God, and to promote the charitable affections which unite men most firmly in society -- it is recommended that every vacant congregation meet together, on the Lord's day, at one or more places, for the purpose of prayer, singing praises, and reading the holy scriptures, together with the works of such approved divines, as the presbytery within whose bounds they are, may recommend, and they may be able to procure: and that the elders or deacons be persons who shall preside, and select the portions of scripture, and of other books to be read; and to see that the whole be conducted in a becoming and orderly manner.(68)


Form of Process


Sugg's Creek, Wilson County, Tennessee, October 9, 1814 *

CHAPTER I. With regard to scandals or offenses that may arise in our churches, we agree to observe the following rules of proceeding:


1. Inasmuch as all baptized persons are members of the church, they are under its care; and when they have arrived at the years of discretion, they are bound to perform all the duties of church members.

2. No accusation shall be admitted as the foundation of a process before an ecclesiastical judicatory, but where such offenses are alleged, as appear, from the word of God, to merit the public notice and censure of the church. And in the accusation, the times, places, and circumstances, should be ascertained, if possible; that the accused may have an opportunity to prove an alibi; or extenuate, or alleviate his crime.

3. No complaint or information, on the subject of personal and private injuries, shall be admitted, unless those means of reconciliation, and of privately reclaiming the offender, have been used which are required by Christ, Matthew 8:15-16. And, in all cases, the ecclesiastical judicatories, in receiving accusations, in conducting processes, or inflicting censures, ought to avoid, as far as possible, the divulging offenses, to the scandal of the church; because, the unnecessary spreading of scandal hardens and enrages the guilty, grieves the godly, and dishonors religion. And if any private Christian shall industriously spread the knowledge of an offense, unless in prosecuting it before the proper judicatories of the church, he shall be liable to censure, as an uncandid slanderer of his brother.

4. When complaint is made of a crime, cognizable before any judicatory, no more shall be done at the first meeting, unless by consent of the parties, than to give the accused a copy of each charge, with the names of the witnesses to support it; and a citation of all concerned, to appear at the next meeting of the judicatory, to have the matter fully heard and decided. Notice shall be given to the parties concerned, at least ten days previously to the meeting of the judicatory.

5. The judicatory, in many cases, may find it more for edification, to send some members to converse, in a private manner, with the accused person, and if he confess guilt, to endeavor to bring him to repentance, than to proceed immediately to citation.

6. When an accused person, or a witness, refuses to obey the citation, he shall be cited a second and a third time: and if he still continue to refuse, he shall be excluded from the communion of the church, for his contumacy, until he repent.

7. No crime shall be considered as established by a single witness, unless there be strong corroborating circumstances, or inferential proof.

8. The oath or affirmation, to be taken by a witness, shall be administered by the moderator,(69) and shall be in the following or like terms: "I solemnly promise, in the presence of the omniscient and heart-searching God, that I will declare the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, according to the best of my knowledge, in the matter in which I am called to witness, as I shall answer it to the great Judge of quick and dead."

9. The trial shall be open, fair and impartial. The witnesses shall be examined in the presence of the accused; or at least after he shall have received due citation to attend; and he shall be permitted to ask any questions tending to his own exculpation.

10. No witness afterwards to be examined, shall be present during the examination of another witness on the same case.

11. The testimony given by the witnesses, must be faithfully recorded, and read to them, for their approbation or subscription.

12. The judgment shall be regularly entered on the records of the judicatory, and the parties shall be allowed copies of the whole proceedings, if they demand them. and, in case of references, or appeals, the judicatory appealed from shall send authentic copies of the whole process to the higher judicatories.

13. The person found guilty, shall be admonished, rebuked, or excluded from the church-privileges, as the case shall appear to deserve; and this only till he give satisfactory evidence of repentance.

14. The sentence shall be published only in the church or churches which have been offended. Or, if it be a matter of small importance, and it shall appear most for edification not to publish it, it may pass only in the judicatory.

15. Such gross offenders as will not be reclaimed by the private or public admonitions of the church, are to be cut off from its communion, agreeable to our Lord's direction, Matthew 18:17, and the apostolic injunction respecting the incestuous person, I Corinthians 5:1-5. But as this is the highest censure of the church, and of the most solemn nature, it is not to be inflicted, without the advice and consent of at least the presbytery under whose care the particular church is, to which the offender belongs; or the advice of a higher judicatory, as the case may appear to require.

16. All processes in cases of scandal, shall commence within the space of one year after the crime shall have been committed, unless it shall have become recently flagrant.

17. When any member shall remove from one congregation to another, he shall produce proper testimonials of his church-membership, before he be admitted to church-privileges; unless the church to which he removes, has other satisfactory means of information.


CHAPTER II: Of Process Against a Bishop or Minister.


As the success of the gospel, in a great measure, depends upon the credit and good report of its ministers, each presbytery ought, with the greatest attention, to watch over all their members; and be careful to censure them, when necessary, with impartiality; either for personal crimes, which they may commit in common with other men; or those that are vocational, arising from the manner in which they may discharge their important office.

1. Process against a gospel minister shall always be entered before the presbytery of which he is a member. And, in case it shall be found that the facts with which he shall be charged, happened without the bounds of his own presbytery, they shall send notice to the presbytery within whose bounds they did happen, and desire that presbytery, either (if within convenient distance) to cite the witnesses to appear at the place where the trial began; or, if otherwise, to take the examination themselves: and transmit an authentic record of their testimony. Always giving due notice to the accused person of the time and place of such examination.

2. Nevertheless, in case of a minister being supposed to be guilty of any crime, or crimes, and at such a distance from his usual place of residence, as that the offence is not likely to become otherwise known to the presbytery to which he belongs, it shall, in such case, be the duty of the presbytery within whose bounds the facts shall have happened, after satisfying themselves that there is probable ground of accusation, to send notice to the presbytery of which he is a member: who are to proceed against him, and to take the proof by commission, as above directed.

3. Process against a gospel minister shall not be entered upon, unless some person, or persons, undertake to make out the charge, or when common fame so loudly proclaims the scandal, that the presbytery find it necessary to prosecute and search into the matter, for the honor of religion.

4. As the success of the gospel greatly depends on the unblemished character of its ministers, their soundness in the faith, and holy and exemplary conversation; and, as it is the duty of all Christians to be very cautious in taking up an ill report of any man, it is especially so of a minister of the gospel. If, therefore, any man know a minister guilty of a private censurable fault, he should warn him in private. But if he persist in it, or it become public, he should apply to some other bishop of the presbytery, for his advice in the matter.

5. When complaint is laid before the presbytery, it must be reduced to writing; and nothing farther is to be done at the first meeting, unless by consent of parties, than giving the minister a full copy of the charges, with the names of the witnesses annexed thereto; and citing all parties, and their witnesses, to appear and be heard at the next meeting; which meeting shall not be sooner than ten days after such citation.

6. At the next meeting of the presbytery, the charges must be read to him, and his answers heard. If it appear necessary to proceed further, the presbytery ought to labor to bring him to confession. And if he confess, and the matter be base and flagitious; such as drunkenness, uncleanness, or crimes of a higher nature, however penitent he may appear, to the satisfaction of all, the presbytery must, without delay, suspend him from the exercise of his office, or depose him from the ministry; and appoint him a due time to confess, publicly, before the congregation offended, and to profess his repentance.

7. The prosecutor shall be previously warned, that, if he fail to prove the charges, he must himself be censured, as a slanderer of the gospel ministry, in proportion to the malignity, or rashness, that shall appear in the prosecution.

8. If a minister, accused of atrocious crimes, being three times duly cited, shall refuse to attend the presbytery, he must be immediately suspended. And if, after another citation, he still refuse to attend, he shall be deposed as contumacious.

9. If the minister, when he appears, will not confess, but deny the facts alleged against him; if, on hearing the witnesses, the charges appear important and well supported, the presbytery must, nevertheless, censure him; and suspend or depose him, according to the nature of the offence.

10. Heresy and schism may be of such a nature as to infer deposition: but errors ought to be carefully considered, whether they strike at the vitals of religion, and are industriously spread; or whether they arise from the weakness of the human understanding, and are not likely to do much hurt.

11. A minister, under process for heresy, or schism, should be treated with christian and brotherly tenderness. Frequent conferences ought to be held with him, and proper admonitions administered. Yet, for some more dangerous errors, suspension becomes necessary. But the synod should be consulted in such cases.

12. If the presbytery find, on trial, that the matter complained of amounts to no more than such acts of infirmity as may be amended, and the people satisfied; so as little or nothing remains to hinder his usefulness; they shall take all prudent measures to remove the offence.

13. A minister deposed for scandalous conduct, may not be restored, even on his deepest sorrow for sin, without some time of eminent and exemplary, humble and edifying conversation to heal the wound made by his scandal.

14. As soon as a minister is deposed, his congregation shall be declared vacant.


Directory for the Worship of God


Sugg's Creek, Wilson County, Tennessee, October 9, 1814 *

THE SCRIPTURE WARRANT for what is specified in the various articles of this directory, will be found at large in the Confession of Faith, in the places where the same subjects are treated in a doctrinal form.

CHAPTER I: Of Sanctification of the Lord's Day


Section I: It is the duty of every person to remember the Lord's day; and to prepare for it before its approach. All worldly business should be so ordered, and seasonably laid aside, as that we may not be hindered thereby from sanctifying the Sabbath, as the holy scriptures require.

Section II: The whole day is to be kept holy to the Lord; and to be employed in the public and private exercises of religion. Therefore it is requisite, that there be an holy resting, all the day, from unnecessary labors, and an abstaining from those recreations, which may be lawful on other days; and also as much as possible, from worldly thoughts and conversation.

Section III: Let the provisions, for the support of the family on that day, be so ordered, that servants or others be not improperly detained from the public worship of God; nor hindered from sanctifying the Sabbath.

Section IV: Let every person and family, in the morning, by secret and private prayer, for themselves and others, especially for the assistance of God to their minister, and for a blessing upon his ministry, by reading the scriptures, and by holy meditation: prepare for communion with God in his public ordinances.

Section V: Let the people be careful to assemble at the appointed time; that, being all present at the beginning, they may unite with one heart, in all the parts of public worship: and let none unnecessarily depart till after the blessing be pronounced.

Section VI: Let the time after the solemn services of the congregation in public are over, be spent in reading; meditation; repeating of sermons, catechizing, religious conversation; prayer for a blessing upon the public ordinances; the singing of psalms, hymns or spiritual songs; visiting the sick; relieving the poor; and in performing such like duties of piety, charity and mercy.


CHAPTER II: Of the Assembling of the Congregation

And their Behavior During Divine Service


Section I: When the time appointed for public worship is come, let the people enter the church and take their seats, in a decent, grave and reverent manner.

Section II: In the time of public worship, let all the people attend with gravity and reverence; forbearing to read any thing except what the minister is then reading or citing; abstaining from all whisperings; from salutations of persons present, or coming in; and from gazing about, sleeping, smiling, and all other indecent behavior.


CHAPTER III: Of the Public Reading of the Holy Scriptures


Section I: The reading of the holy scriptures, in the congregation, is a part of the public worship of God, and ought to be performed by the ministers and teachers.

Section II: The holy scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, shall be publicly read from the most approved translation in the vulgar tongue, that all may hear and understand.

Section III: How large a portion shall be read at once, is left to the discretion of every minister; he may, when he thinks it expedient, expound any part of what is read; always having regard to the time, that neither reading, singing, praying, preaching, or any other ordinance, be disproportionate the one to the other; nor the whole rendered too short or too tedious.


CHAPTER IV: Singing of Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs


Section I: It is the duty of Christians to praise God by singing psalms, or hymns, publicly in the church, as also privately in the family.

Section II: In singing the praises of God, we are to sing with the spirit, and with the understanding also; making melody in our hearts unto the Lord. It is also proper, that we cultivate some knowledge of the rules of music, that we may praise God in a becoming manner with our voices, as well as with our hearts.

Section III:(70) The proportion of the time of public worship to be spent in singing, is left to the prudence of every minister: but it is recommended that more time be allowed for this excellent part of divine service, than has been usual in most of our churches.


CHAPTER V: Of Public Prayer


Section I: After singing a psalm, or hymn, it is proper that before sermon there should be a full and comprehensive prayer.


First, Adoring the glory and perfections of God as they are made known to us in the works of creation; in the conduct of Providence, and in the clear and full revelation he hath made of himself in his written word.

Second, Giving thanks to him for all his mercies of every kind; general and particular, spiritual and temporal, common and special; above all, for Christ Jesus, his unspeakable gift, and the hope of eternal life through him.

Third, Making humble confession of sin, both original and actual; acknowledging, and endeavoring to impress the mind of every worshiper with a deep sense of the evil of all sin, as such; as being a departure from the living God; and also taking a particular and affecting view of the various fruits which proceed from this root of bitterness -- as, sins against God, our neighbor, and ourselves; sins in thought, in word, and in deed; sins secret and presumptuous; sins accidental and habitual. Also, the aggravations of sin, arising from knowledge, or the means of it; from distinguishing mercies; from valuable privileges; from breach of vows, &c.

Fourth, Making earnest supplication for the pardon of sin, and peace with God, through the blood of the atonement, with all its important and happy fruits; for the spirit of sanctification, and abundant supplies of the grace that is necessary to the discharge of our duty; for support and comfort under all the trials to which we are liable, as we are sinful and mortal; and for all temporal mercies, that may be necessary in our passage through this vale of tears. Always remembering to view them as flowing in the channel of covenant love, and intended to be subservient to the preservation and progress of the spiritual life.

Fifth, Pleading from every principle warranted in scripture; from our own necessity; the all-sufficiency of God; the merit and intercession of our Savior, and the glory of God, in the comfort and happiness of his people.

Sixth, Intercession for others, including the whole world of mankind; the kingdom of Christ, or his church universal; the church or churches, with which we are more particularly connected; the interest of human society in general, and in that community to which we immediately belong; all that are invested with civil authority; the ministers of the everlasting gospel; and the rising generation; with whatever else, more particular, may seem necessary or suitable to the interest of that congregation where divine worship is celebrated.

Section II: Prayer after sermon ought generally to have a relation to the subject that has been treated of in the discourse; and all other public prayers, to the circumstances that gave occasion for them.

Section III: It is easy to perceive that, in all the preceding directions, there is a very great compass and variety; and it is committed to the judgment and fidelity of the officiating pastor, to insist chiefly on such parts, or to take in more or less of the several parts, as he shall be led to by the aspect of providence; the particular state of the congregation in which he officiates; or the disposition and exercise of his own heart at the time. -- But we think it necessary to observe, that although we do not approve, as is well known, of confining ministers to set or fixed forms of prayer for public worship, yet it is the indispensable duty of every minister previously to his entering on his office, to prepare and qualify himself for this part of his duty, as well as for preaching. He ought, by a thorough acquaintance with the Holy Scriptures, by reading the best writers on the subject; by meditation, and by a life of communion with God in secret, to endeavor to acquire both the spirit and the gift of prayer. -- Not only so, but when he is to enter on particular acts of worship, he should endeavor to compose his spirit, and to digest his thoughts for prayer, that it may be performed with dignity and propriety, as well as to the profit of those who join in it; and that he may not disgrace that important service by irregular or extravagant effusions.


CHAPTER VI: Of the Preaching the Word


Section I: The preaching of the word being an institution of God for the salvation of men, great attention should be paid to the manner of performing it. -- Every minister ought to give diligent application to it; and endeavor to prove himself a workman that needeth not to be ashamed; rightly diving the word of truth.

Section II: The subject of a sermon should be some verse, or verses, of scripture; and its object, to explain, defend, and apply some part of the system of divine truth; or to point out the nature, and state the bounds and obligation of some duty. A text should not be merely a motto, but should fairly contain the doctrine proposed to be handled. It is proper also that large portions of scripture be sometimes expounded, and particularly improved, for the instruction of the people in the meaning and use of the sacred oracles.

Section III: The method of preaching requires much study, meditation and prayer. -- Ministers ought, in general, to prepare their sermons with care; and not to indulge themselves in loose, extemporary harangues, nor to serve God with that which cost them naught. -- They ought, however, to keep to the simplicity of the gospel: expressing themselves in language agreeable to the scripture, and level to the understanding of the meanest of their hearers, carefully avoiding ostentation, either of parts or learning. -- They ought also to adorn, by their lives, the doctrine which they teach; and to be examples for believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

Section IV: As one primary design of public ordinances is to pay social acts of homage to the most high God, ministers ought to be careful not to make their sermons so long as to interfere with, or exclude the more important duties of prayer and praise; but preserve a just proportion between the several parts of public worship.


Section V: The sermon being ended, the minister is to pray, and return thanks to Almighty God; then let a psalm or hymn be sung: a collection(71) raised for the poor, or other purposes of the church: and the assembly dismissed with the apostolic benediction.


CHAPTER VII: Of the Administration of Baptism


Section I: Baptism is not to be unnecessarily delayed; nor to be administered, in any case by any private person, but by a minister of Christ, called to be the steward of the mysteries of God.

Section II: It is usually to be administered in the church, in the presence of the congregation.

Section III: After previous notice is given to the minister, the child to be baptized is to be presented, by one or both the parents signifying their desire that the child may be baptized.

Section IV: Before baptism, let the minister use some words of instruction, respecting the institution, nature, use, and ends of this ordinance: Shewing,


That it is instituted by Christ; that it is a seal of the righteousness of faith; that the seed of the faithful have no less a right to this ordinance, under the gospel, than the seed of Abraham to circumcision, under the Old Testament; that Christ commanded all nations to be baptized; that he blessed little children, declaring that of such is the kingdom of heaven;

that we are, by nature, sinful, guilty, and polluted, and have need of cleansing by the blood of Christ, and by the sanctifying influences of the Spirit of God.

The minister is also to exhort the parents to the careful performance of their duty: requiring,

That they teach the child to read the word of God; that they instruct it in the principles of our holy religion, as contained in the scriptures of the Old and New Testament; an excellent summary of which we have in the confession of faith of this church, and in the catechism,

which are to be recommended to them, as adopted by the church, for their direction and assistance in the discharge of this important duty; that they pray with and for it; that they set an example of piety and godliness before it; and endeavor, by all the means of God's appointment, to bring up their child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.


Section V: Then the minister is to pray for a blessing to attend this ordinance; after which, calling the child by its name, he shall say,


I baptize thee, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.


As he pronounces these words, he is to baptize the child with water, by pouring or sprinkling it on the face of the child, without adding any other ceremony: and the whole shall be concluded with prayer.

Although it is proper that baptism be administered in the presence of the congregation, yet there may be cases when it will be expedient to administer this ordinance in private houses, of which the minister is to be the judge.


CHAPTER VIII: Of the Administration of the Lord's Supper


Section I: The communion, or supper of the Lord, is to be celebrated frequently; but how often, may be determined by the minister and the eldership of each congregation, as they may judge most for edification.

Section II: The ignorant and scandalous are not to be admitted to the Lord's supper.

Section III: It is proper that public notice should be given to the congregation, at least the sabbath before the administration of this ordinance; and that, either then, or on some day in the week, the people be instructed in its nature, and a due preparation for it; that all may come in a suitable manner to this holy feast.

Section IV: When the sermon is ended, the minister shall shew,


That this is an ordinance of Christ; by reading the words of institution, either from one of the evangelists, or from I Corinthians 11 chapter, which, as to him may appear expedient, he may explain and apply: that it is to be observed in remembrance of Christ, to shew forth his death till he come; that it is of inestimable benefit, to strengthen his people against sin; to support them under troubles; to encourage and quicken them in duty; to inspire them with love and zeal; to increase their faith and holy resolution; and to beget peace of conscience, and comfortable hopes of eternal life.


He is to warn the profane, the ignorant and scandalous, and those that secretly indulge themselves in any known sin, not to approach the holy table. On the other hand, he shall invite to this holy table such as, sensible of their lost and helpless state by sin, depend upon the atonement of Christ for pardon and acceptance with God; such as, being instructed in the gospel doctrine, have a competent knowledge to discern the Lord's body; and such as are determined to lead a holy and godly life.

Section V: The table, on which the elements are placed, being decently covered, the bread in convenient dishes, and the wine in cups, and the communicants orderly and gravely sitting around the table, (or in seats before it,) in the presence of the minister: let him set the elements apart, by prayer and thanksgiving.

The bread and wine being thus set apart by prayer and thanksgiving, the minster is to take the bread, and break it, in view of the people, saying, in expressions of this sort,

Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the same night in which he was betrayed, having taken bread, and blessed and broken it, gave it to his disciples, as I, ministering in his name, give this bread unto you; saying {here the bread is to be distributed} Take, eat; this is my body, which is broken for you; this do in remembrance of me.


After having given the bread, he shall take the cup and say,


After the same manner our Savior also took the cup; and, having given thanks, as hath been done in his name, he gave it to his disciples, saying, {while the minister is repeating these words, let him give the cup,} This cup is the New Testament in my blood, which is shed for many for the remission of sins: drink ye all of it.


The minister himself is to communicate, at such time as may appear to him most convenient.

The minister may, in a few words, put the communicants in mind,


Of the grace of God, in Jesus Christ, held forth in this sacrament; and of their obligation to be the Lord's; and may exhort them, to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith they are called; and as they have professedly received Christ Jesus the Lord, that they may be careful so to walk in him; and to maintain good works.


It may not be improper for the minister to give a word of exhortation also to those who have been only spectators, reminding them,


Of their duty; stating their sin and danger, by living in disobedience to Christ, in neglecting this holy ordinance; and calling upon them to be earnest in making preparation for attending upon it, at the next time of its celebration.


Then the minister is to pray and give thanks to God,


For his rich mercy, and invaluable goodness, vouchsafed to them in that sacred communion; to implore pardon for the defects of the whole service; and to pray for the acceptance of their persons and performances, for the gracious assistance of the Holy Spirit, to enable them, as they have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so to walk in him; that they may hold fast that which they have received, that no man take their crown; that, their conversation may be as becometh the gospel; that they may bear about with them, continually, the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be manifest in their mortal body; that their light may so shine before men, that others, seeing their good works, may glorify their Father who is in heaven.


The collection for the poor, and to defray the expense of the elements, may be made after this, or at such other time as may seem meet to the eldership.

Now let a psalm or hymn be sung, and the congregation dismissed, with the following or some other gospel benediction:


Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.


Section VI: As it has been customary to observe a fast before the Lord's supper; to have sermon on Friday, Saturday, and Monday; and to invite two or three ministers on such occasions; and as these seasons have been blessed to many souls, and may tend to keep up a stricter union of ministers and congregations; we think it not improper, that they who choose it, may continue in this practice.


CHAPTER IX: Of the Admission of Persons to Sealing Ordinances


Section I:  Children, born within the pale of the visible church, and dedicated to God in baptism, are under the inspection of the church; and are to be taught to read, and repeat the catechism, and the Lord's prayer.

They are to be taught to pray, to abhor sin, to fear God, and to obey the Lord Jesus Christ. And when they have come to the years of discretion, if they be free from scandal, appear sober and steady, and to have sufficient knowledge to discern the Lord's body,(72) they ought to be informed, it is their duty and their privilege to come to the Lord's supper.

Section II: The years of discretion, in young christians, cannot be precisely fixed. This must be left to the prudence of the eldership. The officers of the church are the judges of the qualifications of those to be admitted to sealing ordinances; and of the time when it is proper to admit young christians to them.

Section III: Those who are to be admitted to sealing ordinances, shall be examined, as to their knowledge, piety, and faith in Jesus Christ.

Section IV: When unbaptized persons apply for admission into the church, they shall, after giving satisfaction with respect to their knowledge and piety, or experimental religion, thereupon be baptized.


CHAPTER X: Of the Mode of Inflicting Church Censures


Section I: The power which Christ hath given the rulers of his church, is for edification, and not for destruction. As, in the preaching of the word, the wicked are, doctrinally, separated from the good; so, by discipline, the church authoritatively makes a distinction between the holy and the profane. In this she acts the part of a tender mother, correcting her children only for their good; that every one of them may be presented faultless in the day of the Lord Jesus.

Section II: When any member of the church shall have been guilty of a fault, deserving censure, the judicatory shall proceed with all tenderness and restore their offending brother in the spirit of meekness; considering themselves, lest they also be tempted. Censure ought to be inflicted with great solemnity; that it may be the means of impressing the mind of the delinquent with a proper sense of his danger while he stands excluded from the privileges of the church of the living God, and that, with the divine blessing, it may lead him to repentance.

Section III: When the judicatory has resolved to pass sentence, suspending a member from the church privileges, the moderator shall address him to the following purpose:


Whereas you are guilty {by your own confession, or convicted by sufficient proof, as the case may be,} of the sin of {here mention the particular offense} we declare you suspended from the sacraments of the church; till you give satisfactory evidence of the sincerity of your repentance.

To this shall be added such advice, admonition, or rebuke, as may be judged necessary; and the whole shall be concluded with prayer to Almighty God, that he would follow this act of discipline with his blessing. We judge it prudent, in general, that such censures be inflicted in the presence of the judicatory only; but, if any church think it expedient to rebuke the offender publicly, this solemn suspension from the sacraments may be in the presence of the congregation.

Section IV: After any person hath been thus suspended from the sacraments, it is proper that the minister and elders, and other Christians, should frequently converse with him, as well as pray for him in private, that it would please God to give him repentance. And it may be requisite, likewise, particularly on days preparatory to dispensing of the Lord's supper, that the prayers of the church be offered up for those unhappy persons who, by their wickedness, have shut themselves out from this holy communion.

Section V: When the judicatory shall be satisfied, as to the reality of the repentance of any offender, he shall be admitted to profess his repentance; and be restored to the privileges of the church. Which restoration shall be declared to the penitent in the presence of the session, or of the congregation, and followed with prayer and thanksgiving.

Section VI: When any offender has been, with the advice of the presbytery, {as directed in the form of government, &c.,} adjudged to be cut off from the communion of the church, it is proper that the sentence be publicly pronounced against him.

Section VII: The design of excommunication is, to operate upon the offender as a means of reclaiming him; to deliver the church from the scandal of his offense; and to inspire all with fear by the example of his punishment.

The minister shall, at least two Lord's days before the excommunication, give the congregation a short narrative of the several steps which have been taken with respect to their offending brother; and inform them, that it has been found necessary to cut him off from their communion.

On the day appointed for that purpose, the minister, after the sermon is ended, shall, in the presence of the congregation, pronounce his sentence in the following or like form:

He shall begin by shewing the authority of the church to cast out unworthy members, from Matthew 18:15-18; I Corinthians 5:1-5; and shall briefly explain the nature, use, and consequences of this censure; warning the people to avoid all unnecessary intercourse with him who is cast out. Then he shall say,


Whereas, A.B. hath been, by sufficient proof, convicted of {here insert the sin} and after much admonition and prayer, obstinately refuseth to hear the church, and hath manifested no evidence of repentance; therefore, in the name and by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, I pronounce him to be excluded from the communion of the church.


After which, prayer shall be made that the blessing of God may follow his ordinance for the conviction and reformation of the excommunicated person, and for the establishment of all true believers.

Section VIII: When one who hath been excommunicated shall be so affected with his state as to be brought to repentance, and to desire to be re-admitted to the privileges of the church; the session, having obtained sufficient evidence of his sincere penitence, shall, with the advice and concurrence of the presbytery, restore him. In order to which, the minister shall, on two Lord's days previous thereto, inform the congregation of the measures which have been taken with the excommunicated person, and of the resolution of the session to receive him again to the communion of the church.

On the day appointed for his restoration, when the other parts of divine service are ended, before pronouncing the blessing, the minister shall call upon the excommunicated person, and propose to him, in the presence of the congregation,(73) the following questions:


Do you, from a deep sense of your great wickedness, freely confess your sin, in thus rebelling against God, and refusing to hear his church? and do you acknowledge that you have been, in justice and mercy, cut off from the communion of saints? Answer: I do.

Do you now voluntarily profess your sincere repentance and deep contrition, for your sin and obstinacy; and do you humbly ask the forgiveness of God, and of his church? Answer: I do.

Do you sincerely promise, through divine grace, to live in all humbleness of mind and circumspection; and to endeavor to adorn the doctrine of God our Savior, by having your conversation as becometh the gospel? Answer: I do.


Here the minister shall give the penitent a suitable exhortation, addressing him in the bowels of brotherly love, encouraging and comforting him. Then he shall pronounce the sentence of restoration in the following words:


Whereas you, A.B., have been shut out from the communion of the faithful, but have now manifested such repentance as satisfies the church: in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by his authority, I declare you absolved from the sentence of excommunication formerly denounced against you; and I do receive you into the communion of the church, that you may be a partaker of all the benefits of the Lord Jesus, to your eternal salvation.


The whole shall be concluded with prayer, and the people dismissed with the usual blessing.


CHAPTER XI: Of the Solemnization of Marriage


Section I: Marriage is not a sacrament; nor peculiar to the church of Christ. It is proper that every commonwealth, for the good of society, make laws to regulate marriage; which all citizens are bound to obey.

Section II: Christians ought to marry in the Lord; therefore it is fit that their marriage be solemnized by a lawful minister, that special instruction may be given them, and suitable prayers made, when they enter into this relation.

Section III: Marriage is to be between one man and one woman only; and they are not to be within the degrees of consanguinity or affinity, prohibited by the word of God.

Section IV: The parties ought to be of such years of discretion as to be capable of making their own choice; and if they be under age or live with their parents, the consent of the parents, or others under whose care they are, ought to be previously obtained, and well certified to the minister, before he proceeds to solemnize the marriage.

Section V: Parents ought neither to compel their children to marry contrary to their own inclinations, nor deny their consent, without just and important reasons.


Section VI: Marriage is of a public nature. The welfare of civil society, the happiness of families, and the credit of religion, are deeply interested in it. Therefore the purpose of marriage ought to be sufficiently published a proper time, previously to the solemnization of it. It is enjoined on all ministers to be careful that, in this matter, they neither transgress the laws of God, nor the laws of the community: and that they may not destroy the peace and comfort of families, they must be properly certified with respect to the parties applying to them, that no objections lie against their marriage.

Section VII: Marriage must always be performed before a competent number of witnesses, and at any time except on a day of public humiliation. And we advise that it be not on the Lord's day. And the minister is to give a certificate of marriage, when required.

Section VIII: When the parties present themselves for marriage, the minister is to desire if there is any person present, who knows any lawful reason, why these persons may not be joined together in the marriage relation, that they will now make it known, or ever after hold their peace. No objections being made,

The minister shall then proceed to give them some instruction, from the scriptures, respecting the institution, and the duties of this state, shewing --


That God hath instituted marriage for the comfort and happiness of mankind, in declaring a man shall forsake his father and mother, and cleave unto his wife; and that marriage is honorable in all; that he hath appointed various duties, which are incumbent upon those which enter into this relation; such as a high esteem and mutual love for one another; bearing with each other's infirmities and weaknesses, to which human nature is subject in its present lapsed state; to encourage each other under the various ills of life; to comfort one another in sickness; in honesty and industry to provide for each other's temporal support; to pray for and encourage one another in the things which pertain to God, and to their immortal souls; and to live together as heirs of the grace of life.


Then the minister shall cause the bridegroom and the bride to join their hands, and shall pronounce the marriage covenant, first to the man in these words:


You, take this woman, whom you hold by the hand, to be your lawful and married wife, and you promise, and covenant, in the presence of God and these witnesses, that you will be unto her a loving and faithful husband, until you shall be separated by death.


The bridegroom shall express his consent, by saying, "Yes, I do."


Then the minister shall address himself to the woman in these words:


You, take this man, whom you hold by the hand, to be your lawful and married husband, and you promise, and covenant, in the presence of God and these witnesses, that you will be unto him a loving, faithful and obedient(74) wife, until you shall be separated by death.


The bride shall express her consent, by saying, "Yes, I do."


Then the minister is to say:


I pronounce you husband and wife, according to the ordinance of God; whom, therefore, God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.


After this, the minister may exhort them in a few words, to the mutual discharge of their duty.

Then let him conclude with a prayer suitable to the occasion.

Let the minister keep a proper register of the names of all persons whom he marries, and of the time of their marriage, for the perusal of all whom it may concern.


CHAPTER XII: Of the Visitation of the Sick


Section I: When persons are sick, it is their duty, before their strength and understanding fail them, to send for their minister, and to make known to him, with prudence, their spiritual state; or to consult him on the concerns of their precious souls. And it is his duty to visit them, at their request, and to apply himself, with tenderness and love, to administer spiritual good to their immortal souls.

Section II: He shall instruct the sick out of the scriptures, that diseases arise not out of the ground, nor do they come by chance, but that they are directed and sent by a wise and holy God, either for correction of sin, for the trial of grace, for improvement in religion, or for other important ends; and that they shall work together for good to all those who make a wise improvement of God's visitation, neither despising his chastening hand, nor fainting under his rebukes.

Section III: If the minister finds the sick person to be grossly ignorant, he shall instruct him in the nature of repentance and faith, and the way of acceptance with God, through the mediation and atonement of Jesus Christ.

Section IV: He shall exhort the sick to examine himself, to search his heart, and try his former ways, by the word of God; and shall assist him, by mentioning some of the obvious marks and evidences of sincere piety.

Section V: If the sick shall signify any scruple, doubt or temptation, under which he labors, the minister must endeavor to resolve his doubts, and administer instruction and direction, as the case may seem to require.

Section VI: If the sick appear to be a stupid, thoughtless and hardened sinner, he shall endeavor to awaken his mind, to arouse his conscience, to convince him of the evil and danger of sin; of the curse of the law, and the wrath of God due to sinners; to bring him to an humble and penitential sense of his iniquities; and to state before him the fullness of the grace and mercy of God, in and through the glorious Redeemer; the absolute necessity of faith and repentance, in order to his being interested in the favor of God, or his obtaining everlasting happiness.

Section VII: If the sick person shall appear to have knowledge, to be of a tender conscience, and to have been endeavoring to serve God in uprightness, though not without many failings and sinful infirmities; or if his spirit be broken with a sense of sin, or through apprehensions of the want of divine favor; then it will be proper to administer consolation and encouragement to him, by setting before him the freeness and riches of the grace of God, the all-sufficiency of the righteousness of Christ, and supporting promises of the gospel.

Section VIII: The minister must endeavor to guard the sick person against ill grounded persuasions of the mercy of God, without a vital union to Christ; and against unreasonable fears of death and desponding discouragements; against presumption upon his own goodness and merit, upon the one hand, and against despair of the mercy and grace of God in Christ Jesus, on the other.

Section IX: In one word, it is the minister's duty to administer to the sick person instruction, conviction, support, consolation or encouragement, as his case may seem to require.

At a proper time, when he is most composed, the minister shall pray with him and for him.

Section X: Lastly, the minister may improve the present occasion to exhort those about the sick, to consider their mortality; to turn to the Lord and make their peace with him; in health to prepare for sickness, death and judgment.


CHAPTER XIII: Of the Burial of the Dead


Section I: When any person departs this life, let the corpse be taken care of in a decent manner; and be kept a proper and sufficient time before interment.

Section II: When the season for the funeral comes, let the dead body be decently attended to the grave, and interred. During such solemn occasions, let all who attend, conduct themselves with becoming gravity, and apply themselves to serious meditation or discourse; and the minister, if present, may exhort them to consider the frailty of life, and the importance of being prepared for death and eternity.


CHAPTER XIV: Of Fasting and of the Observation of the Days of Thanksgiving


Section I: There is no day under the gospel commanded to be kept holy, except the Lord's day, which is the christian sabbath.

Section II: Nevertheless, to observe days of fasting and thanksgiving, as the extraordinary dispensations of divine providence may direct, we judge both scriptural and rational.

Section III: Fasts and thanksgivings may be observed by individual Christians; or families in private; by particular congregations; by a number of congregations contiguous to each other; by the congregations under the care of a presbytery, or by all the congregations of our church.

Section IV: It must be left to the judgment and discretion of every Christian family to determine when it is proper to observe a private fast or thanksgiving; and to the church session to determine for particular congregations: and to the presbyteries or synod to determine for larger districts. When it is deemed expedient that a fast or thanksgiving be general, the call for them must be judged of by the synod.

And if, at any time, the civil power should think it proper to appoint a fast or thanksgiving, it is the duty of the ministers and people of our communion, as we live under a christian government, to pay all due respect to the same.

Section V: Public notice is to be given a convenient time before the day of fasting or thanksgiving comes, that persons may so order their temporal affairs, that they may properly attend to the duties thereof.

Section VI: There shall be public worship upon all such days; and let the prayers, psalms, portions of scripture to be read, and sermons, be all in a special manner adapted to the occasion.

Section VII: On fast days, let the minister point out the authority and providences calling to the observation thereof; and let him spend a more than usual portion of time in solemn prayer, particular confession of sin, especially the sins of the day and place, with their aggravations, which have bought down the judgments of heaven. And let the whole day be spent in deep humiliation and mourning before God.

Section VIII: On days of thanksgiving he is to give the like information respecting the authority and providences which call to the observance of them; and to spend a more than usual part of the time in the giving of thanks, agreeable to the occasion, and in singing psalms or hymns of praise.

It is the duty of people on these days to rejoice with holy gladness of heart; but let trembling be so joined with our mirth that no excess or unbecoming levity be indulged.


CHAPTER XV: The Directory for Secret and Family Worship


Section I: Besides the public worship in congregations, it is the indispensable duty of each person alone in secret, and of every family by itself in private, to pray to and worship God.

Section II: Secret worship is most plainly enjoined by our Lord. In this duty every one, apart by himself, is to spend some time in prayer, reading the scriptures, holy meditation, and serious self-examination. The many advantages arising from a conscientious discharge of these duties, are best known to those who are found in the faithful discharge of them.

Section III: Family worship, which ought to be performed by every family, ordinarily morning and evening, consists of prayer, reading the scriptures, and singing praises.

Section IV: The head of the family, who is to lead in this service, ought to be careful that all members of his household duly attend; and that none withdraw themselves unnecessarily from any part of family worship; and that all refrain from their common business while the scriptures are read, and gravely attend to the same, no less than when prayer or praise is offered up.

Section V: Let heads of families be careful to instruct their children and servants in the principles of religion. -- Every proper opportunity ought to be embraced for such instruction. But we are of opinion, that the sabbath evenings, after public worship, should be sacredly preserved for this purpose. Therefore we highly disapprove of paying unnecessary private visits on the Lord's day; admitting strangers into the families, except when necessity or charity requires it; or any other practices, whatever plausible pretenses may be offered in their favor, if they interfere with the above important and necessary duty.

1. 1 Ephesians 1:20-21 -- When he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come. Psalm 68:18 -- Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive; thou hast received gifts for men; yet for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them.

2. 2 Psalm 2:6 -- Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. Daniel 7:14 -- There was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away and his kingdom, that which shall not be destroyed. Ephesians 1:22-23 -- And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.

3. 3 Revelation 5:9 -- And hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation. Acts 2:39 -- For the promise is unto you, and your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. I Corinthians 1:2, compared with II Corinthians 9:13.

4. 4 Galatians 1:21-22 -- Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia; and was unknown by face unto the churches of Judea which were in Christ. Revelation 1:4,20 -- John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come: and from the seven spirits which are before his throne. The mystery of the seven stars, which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches. See also Revelation 2:1.

5. 5 Acts 2:41,47 -- Then they that gladly received his word, were baptized; and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. Praising God, and having favor with all the people. -- And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be save. I Corinthian 7:14 -- For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the husband, else were your children unclean; but now they are holy. Acts 2:39; Mark 10:14, compared with Matthew 19:13-14, and Luke 18:15-16.

6. 6 Hebrews 8:5 -- Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God, when he was about to make the tabernacle; for, See, (saith he) that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount. Galatians 6:16 -- And as man as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

7. 1 Psalm 2:8 -- Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possessions. Revelation 7:9 -- After this, I beheld, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the Lamb clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.

8. 2 I corinthians 10:17 -- For we being many, are one bread and one body; for we are all partakers of that one bread. See also Ephesians 4:16: Colossians 2:19.

9. 3 Matthew 10:1 -- And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease, etc.

10. 4 I Timothy 33:1 -- If a man desire the office of bishop, he desireth good work. Ephesians 4:11-12 -- And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.

11. 5 I Timothy 5:17 -- Let the elders that rule well, be counted worthy of double honor.

12. 6 Philippians 1:1 -- To all the saints in Christ Jesus, which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.

13. 1 Romans 11:13.

14. 2 Acts 20:28 -- Take heed therefore, unto yourselves, and to all the flock over the which the Holy Ghost hath made your overseers, (bishops) to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

15. 3 Jeremiah 3:15 -- And I will give you pastors according to my heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding. I Peter 5:2-4.

16. 4 I Corinthians 4:1 -- Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. II Corinthians 3:6 -- Who also hath made us able ministers of the New Testament.

17. 5 I Peter 5:1 -- The elders which are among you, I exhort, who am also an alder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed. See also Titus 1:5; I Timothy 5:1,17,19.

18. 6 Revelation 2:1 -- Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write. Revelation 1:20 -- The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches. See also revelation 3:1,7; Malachi 2:7.

19. 7 II Corinthians 5:20 -- Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us; we pray you, in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. Ephesians 6:20.

20. 8 Luke 12:42 -- Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? I Corinthians 4:1-2 -- Moreover, it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

21. 1 I Timothy 5:17 -- Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine. Romans 12:7-8; Acts 15:25.

22. 2 I Corinthians 12:28 -- And God hath set some in the church; first, apostles; secondly, prophets; thirdly, teachers; after that miracles; then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. See letter a.

23. 1 Philemon 1:1; I Timothy 3:8-15.

24. 2 Acts 6:1-2 -- And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God and serve tables.

25. 3 Acts 6:3,5-6 -- Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. And the saying pleased the whole multitude, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanon, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicholas, a proselyte of Antioch, whom they set before the apostles; when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.

26. 1 I Corinthians 14:26,33,40 -- Let all things be done unto edifying. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. Let all things be done decently and in order.

27. 2 Acts 6:4 -- but we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. I Timothy 2:1.

28. 3 Colossians 3:16 -- teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. Psalm 9:11; Ephesians 5:19; also Colossians 4:16.

29. 4 Acts 15:21; Luke 4:16-17.

30. 5 Titus 1:9 -- Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. Acts 10:42 -- He commanded us to preach unto the people. See also Acts 28:23; Luke 24:47; II Timothy 4:2; Acts 9:20.

31. 6 Matthew 28:19-20 -- Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, etc. and Mark 16:15-16; I Corinthians 11:23-26 -- For I have received of the Lord, that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread: and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat; this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the New Testament in my blood; this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come. Compared with I Corinthians 10:16.

32. 7 Luke 5:35 -- But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days. Psalm 1:14 -- Offer unto God thanksgiving, and pay thy vows unto the Most High. Philippians 4:6 -- In every thing, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known unto God. See I Timothy 2:1; Psalm 95:2.

33. 8 Hebrews 5:12 -- For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again, which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.

34. 9 I Corinthians 16:1-4 -- Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Gallatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gathering when I come. And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem. And if it be mete that I go also, they shall go with me. Galatians 2:10 -- Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.

35. 10 Hebrews 13:17 -- Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls as they that must give account; that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. I Thessalonians 5:12-13 -- And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves.

36. 11 II Corinthians 13:14 -- The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen. Ephesians 1:2 -- Grace be to you, and peace from god, our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

37. 1 Ezekiel 43:11-12 -- Show them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the goings-out thereof, and the comings-in thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the laws thereof, and write it in their sight, that they may keep the whole form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and do them. This is the law of the house.

38. 2 Acts 15:5-6 -- but there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees, which believed, saying, that it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.

39. 3 Luke 12:13-14 -- And one of the company said unto him, Master speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? John 18:36 -- My kingdom is not of this world.

40. 4 Acts 15:1-32.

41. 5 Matthew 18: 15-20 -- Moreover, if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee; thou hast gained thy brother. but if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church; but if, he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven, &c. I Corinthians 5:4-5 -- In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, where ye are gathered together, and my spirit with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one to Satan, for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

42. 1 I Corinthians 5:4 -- In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus Christ.

43. 2 Hebrews 13:17 -- Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves; for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief; for that is unprofitable for you. I Thessalonians 5:12-13 -- And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves. I Timothy 5:17 -- Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine.

44. 3 Ezekiel 34:4 -- The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and cruelty have ye ruled them.

45. 4 I Thessalonians 5:12-13 -- And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And, be at peace among yourselves. II Thessalonians 3:6,14-15 -- Now, we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition, which ye received from us. And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet, count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. I Corinthians 11:27 to the end.

46. 5 Acts 25:26 -- Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

47. 6 Acts 20:17 -- And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.

48. 1 Acts 20:17 -- And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. 6:1,6 -- And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. -- Whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. 8:1 -- And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem: and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 21:20 -- And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law.

49. 2 I Timothy 4:14 -- Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Acts 15:2,4,6 -- When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem, unto the apostles and elders, about this question. And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.

50. 3 Acts 15:1-6 -- And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. I Corinthians 14:26,33,40. -- How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. Let all things be done decently and in order.

51. 4 Acts 11:18 -- When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.

52. 5 Acts 15:5-6,19-20 -- But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter, &c.

53. 6 I Timothy 4:14 -- Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.

54. 7 Acts 15:28 -- For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things. I Corinthians 5:3 -- For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed.

55. 8 Acts 15:10 -- Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? Galatians 2:4-5 -- And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.

56. 9 Acts 15:22-24 -- Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia: Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment.

57. 10 Acts 20:17 -- And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. Acts 6:2 -- Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Acts 15:30 -- So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle.

58. 11 Ephesians 6:18 -- Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints. Philippians 4:6 -- Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

59. * In adapting the Form of Government of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. for the use of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, the Cumberland Synod's Chapter X, "Of the Synodical Assembly," combines the wording of Chapters X and XI of the 1805 edition of the Presbyterian Form of Government which dealt successively with the Synod and the General Assembly. In order to produce the most meaningful comparison, the Presbyterian Chapter X is here omitted and the comparison is made with Chapter XI, "Of the General Assembly."

Note: For this reason, the numbering of later chapters compared will not coincide. The relevant chapter of the Presbyterian Form of Government, although generally not indicated in the text, will always be one or more numbers higher than the relevant chapter from the Cumberland Presbyterian Form of Government. The text of two notes included in the Presbyterian Form of Government, but omitted in the Cumberland Presbyterian, are given below.

The first, appended to the heading of the chapter, "Of the Synodical Assembly," reads: "As the proofs already adduced in favor of a presbyterial assembly in the government of the church are equally valid in support of a synodical assembly (since a synod is only a larger presbytery) it is unnecessary to repeat the scriptures to which reference has been made under Chapter IX ["Of the Presbyterial Assembly"], or to add any other."

The second, appended to the heading of the chapter, "Of the General Assembly," reads: "The radical principles of presbyterian church government and discipline are;--That the several different congregations of believers, taken collectively, constitute one church of Christ, called emphatically the church;--that a larger part of the church, or a representation of it, should govern a smaller, or determine matters of controversy which arise therein;--that in like manner, a representation of the whole should govern and determine in regard to every part and to all the parts united, that is, that a majority shall govern: And, consequently, that appeals may be carried from lower to higher judicatories, till they be finally decided by the collected wisdom and united voice of the whole church. For these principles and this procedure, the example of the apostles and the practice of the primitive church is considered as authority--See Acts 15:1-2,4,6 and from the 2nd to the 29th verses; also Acts 16:14 and the proofs adduced under the three last chapters [i.e. those on the session, presbytery, and synod]."

60. a I Corinthians 14:40 -- Let all things be done decently and in order.

61. a Acts 6:5-6 -- And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. I Timothy 3:6 -- Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. II Timothy 3:2 -- For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy.

62. b I Timothy 3:7 -- Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. John 3:12 -- If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?

63. c Romans 2:21 -- In connection with the letter a. -- Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?

64. d I Corinthian 9:16 -- For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! Hebrews 5:4 And no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. Jeremiah 20:9 Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.

65. e I Timothy 3:6 -- Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. II Timothy 2:2 -- And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

66. * The parallel chapter (XIII) in the Presbyterian Form of Government appends this note to the chapter heading regarding the first eight sections which have no parallel in the Cumberland Presbyterian Form of Government: "The contents of the first eight sections of this chapter and of several other parts of the form of government, especially the whole of the fifteenth chapter [fourteenth in the C.P. Form], do not, it is apprehended, need to be explicitly and directly supported by the words of scripture. They relate to those circumstances and arrangements inthe order of God's house, which, though useful to be specified in a formula of church government, are and must be left, in a great measure, to human prudence, assisted by some general directions of scripture."

67. * In addition to these branches of literature which are indispensable, it is earnestly recommended to the presbyteries to use their best exertions to promote and encourage, among their candidates, the acquiring of a complete knowledge of the original languages, especially the Greek scriptures, the utility of which to a godly minister, is hereby unequivocally declared.

68. * Here follows in the Presbyterian Form of Government, Chapter XXII: Of Commissioners to the General Assembly, which necessarily have no parallel in the Cumberland Presbyterian.

69. * In vacant congregations, the presiding elder of the session on business, shall administer the oath when a minister is not present.

70. ** Chapter IV in the Presbyterian Directory for the Worship of God.

71. * The session is to judge when it is expedient to make collections.

72. * That is, to be converted or regenerated.

73. * If it appear most expedient to the session to receive the confession of the excommunicated in the judicatory alone, and then have the transaction published to the congregation, they may do so. This footnote is not contained in the Presbyterian Directory for the Worship of God.

74. * The obligation to obedience, only extends to commands lawful and reasonable. This footnote is not contained in the Presbyterian Directory for the Worship of God.