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vice; nor on other presbyters, without the advice of a Presbytery.
3. When a minister is deposed, his congregation is immediately to be declared vacant.
4. Deposition doth not necessarily draw after it the censure of excommunication.
1. Excommunication is the judicial excision of an offender, from the visible chvrch of Christ, and a pronouncing him to belong to the kingdom of Salan.e
2. Heinous violations of the law of God in practice, and such errors in principle as unhinge the Christian profession, are the only scandals for which the sentence of excommunication shall be passed.
3. Even on those enormous scandals, except they be accompanied with aggravations of peculiar atrocity, this dreadful censure is not to be pronounced till gentler means have failed.
4. When private members or officers, not being ministers of the word, fall into such scandals, the Session is to proceed as in the prosecution of other public scandals ; and having brought the matter to a public admonition and suspension from sealing ordinances, is to refer the case, and all proceedings therein, to the Presbytery.
5. The Presbytery, when there is no appeal, shall resume the process where the Session left it, unless there appear such defects in the Sessional proceedings, or in the proof of the libel, as shall call for a revision; and having fully considered the scandal libelled, the steps taken in the prosecution of it, and the subsequent carriage of the offender, shall give their decision respecting the censure of excommunication.
6. The censure being passed, a Presbyterial warrant for the intimation of it shall be directed to the moderator of the aforesaid Session; or, if the congregation be vacant, to some other minister/
7. At the time appointed for this purpose, the minister, having briefly explained the nature, necessity, and. end of church censures, shall relate the steps of the process in order, shewing the church's faithfulness and tenderness to the offender; his obdurate impenitence under all the en
t Appendix I. No. 17. / Appendix I. No. 19.
deavours used to reclaim him; and the duty of cutting him entirely off from the fellowship of the faithful, "as the only remaining mean* of bringing him to repentance.
8. The minister then repeating the Presbyterial warrant for the censure he is about to intimate, is to call upon the congregation to join with him in imploring the Lord's blessing on this terrible ordinance, that it may be effectual, both to recover the offender, and to edify others.
9. Prayer being ended, the minister is, with great gravity and solemnity, to intimate the censure, declaring the scandalous person, in the name, and by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, cut off from the fellowship of the church, and delivered unto Satan, for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
10. After this intimation of the censure, all the members of the congregation are to be warned that the person cast out of the church is no longer a brother; and are to be exhorted and enjoined to shun all intercourse or conversation with him that can be avoided. Nevertheless, excommunication dissolveth not the bonds of natural or civil relations, nor exempteth from the duties belonging to them.
Of the Penitence and Restoration of Offenders.
1. OUR Lord Jesus hath committed to the officers of his church, the power not only of inflicting censures, but of repealing them, and admitting returning offenders to the communion and the privileges of his people.
2. As persons are censured not for the want of saving grace, but for outward scandal; so, the penitence required to warrant their restoration is not a really gracious and saving change, but such as will remove the scandal for which they are censured.
3. It is not, however, every verbal profession of contrition, nor every promise of amendment, nor even a partial reformation, that is to be judged satisfying. "V
4. Such persons as, from time to time, profess their sorrow for their sin, and yet live in the practice of it, are doubly scandalous; as they not only dishonour God by their crime, but mock him by their hypocrisy.
S. Professions of repentance, accompanied by those circumstances, which are admitted in other cases to be good evidences of Moral Seriousness, such as freeness, gravity, and apparent humility, in confession of sin, and of the justice of the censure ; using the proper means for attaining the desired end; abstaining from such things as may render a profession suspected; and persevering in diligence and circumspection—such professions are to be deemed satisfactory, and warrant a release from censure.
6. An offender may exhibit such tokens of repentance as should induce a Judicatory to forbear censure other than admonition. But this principle is to be applied with great caution in cases where no penitence is evinced, nor any confession made, before the fact is fully proved.
7. Where a person is under process tor a higher censure, his penitence, on conviction, may be so far satisfying as to require a milder one. Thus, the penitence of a person under process for excommunication, may render it proper to proceed no farther than suspension.
8. The carriage of an offender may be such as that a Judicatory may not have freedom to inflict the censure to which the process would natively lead; nor yet to dismiss him altogether with a gentler one. In these cases it may be proper to censure more lightly than was at first intended, and in the mean time to stay process. This, it is to be observed, does not terminate the prosecution, but merely suspends it; and in the event of an offender's relapse into his scandal, leaves all that was done formerly in full force; and the Judicatory resumes the process in that stage of it in which it was suspended. Provided, however, that if a suspended process be not resumed, on account of the scandal again breaking out in one year, it shall be considered as finally closed.
9. Offenders are to be restored by the same authority which censured them.
10. No public censure is to be removed, but in virtue of public satisfaction. For private censures, nothing more than private satisfaction shall be exacted.
11. When an offender, who hath been excommunicated, is desirous of re-admission into the church of Christ, he is to lay his request before the Presbytery by whom the censure was passed; and if they, after close and faithful dealing with his conscience, and a careful inquiry into the tenor of bis conversation since censure, be satisfied with his professions of repentance; that the scandal hath been in a good measure done away by his edifying behaviour; and that there is no danger of reviving it by acceding to hit request; they are to absolve and restore him, and order his absolution- and restoration to be intimated to the congregation.
12. The day appointed for this purpose is to be previously intimated from the pulpit: when it arrives, the offender is to appear before the congregation, and to make a solemn profession of his sense of bis misery in being shut out from the fellowship of the saints—of the justice of the censure passed upon him—of his contrition for his sin in dishonouring God; in grieving the hearts of his people, aad causing the profane to blaspheme—of his unfeigned desire to flee for pardon to the blood of Christ—and of his resolution, through grace, henceforward to study to adorn the doctrine of God the Saviour.
13. This profession being finished, the minister is briefly to unfold the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ towards the returning sinner; and, having read the Presbyterial warrant, e is to call upon the congregation to join with bim in "praising the Lord for blessing the censure inflicted by "his church; and in praying that he would mercifully ac"cept this person, who, for his great sin, and for his con"tempt of all admonition, was cut off from His People; "that he would, by His Holy Spirit, give him the grace of "unfeigned repentance; would pardon bim freely through "the righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ, and would "grant him increase in all godliness; that Satan may be "bruised under his feet, the name of our Lord Jesus mag"nified, the church edified, and himself saved with an "everlasting salvation."
14. After prayer, the minister shall declare the absolution ;h accompanying it with an exhortation to the person absolved, to double watchfulness in his Christian profession. He is also to exhort the members of the congregation to receive their brother in the spirit of meekness and ot love; rejoicing in his recovery, and endeavouring to strengthen him in the'good ways of God.
15. Deposed officers, especially ministers, who have also been debarred by suspension or excommunication from sealing ordinances, may often be restored to the latter, when
g Appendix I. No. 80. /* Appendix I. No. 18.
it would be highly injudicious to reinstate them in their offices.
16. An officer, deposed for scandalous conduct, may not be restored, even on the most convincing evidence of deep sorrow for his sin, without some time of eminent and exemplary, humble and edifying conversation, to heal the wound made by his scandal.
17. No scandal, which hath been removed by satisfaction, shall ever be the ground of any other process; nor is the person restored ever to be upbraided with it, either by church-officers or private members. Such as transgress is this respect shall be accounted scandalous, and treated accordingly.
1. A declinature is the refusal of a person under process5 to submit to trial by a particular Judicatory.
2. When a person, in order .to evade a process, or without assigning any just reason, declines the authority of his proper Judicatory,, such a declinature is not only unwarrantable, but contumacious; and is not to impede the process,, unless it be referred to the nest higher Judicatory.
&. If a Judicatory betray unfairness or partiakty j; if they,, before full investigation, by any judicial act, prejudge the cause; if, in conducting the process, they claim- to decideon subjects of which they have Bo cognizance, or otherwise act illegally ;, if they permit members who-are nearly related to, or who are at personal variance with, either of the parties; or who have themseWes been active as parties; still to sit in judgment after being duly challenged; in all these' cases a declinature is warrantable.
4. It is not, however, to be supposed, that even a lawful declinature quashes a process. It only removes it te> another Judicatory; and if the declinature be not accompanied with an appeal to the superior Judicatory,- the parry; is to be cited thither by the Judicatory which; he declined,.