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CONSTITUTION

OF THE

CHURCHES OF CONNECTICUT,

COMMONLY CALLED

THE SAYBROOK PLATFORM.

The churches of Connecticut were represented in the general synod at Cambridge, in 1648, and adopted the Platform of Discipline there recommended. According to this rule they professed to walk, for the next sixty years. Many, however, were not entirely satisfied with the Cambridge Platform, as it “ made no provision for the general meeting of ministers, or for their union in associations, or in consociations.” Some closer bond of union among churches and ministers seems to have been early and generally desired. In 1668, an act passed the legislature of the colony, authorising several of the ministers to meet at Saybrook, to devise some general plan of church communion and discipline. This

to have been the first step, towards forming a religious constitution.” In 1703, there was a general synod of the churches in the colony, to give their consent to a Confession of Faith. After examining and adopting the Westminster and Savoy Confessions, "they also drew up certain rules of ecclesiastical union in discipline, as preparatory to another general synod which they had in contemplation. In May, 1708, the legislature passed an act, requiring the ministers and churches to meet and form an ecclesiastical constitution. The apprehensions and wishes of the assembly will, in the best manner, be discovered by their own act, which is in the words following:

appears

"This assembly, from their own observation, and the complaint of many others, being made sensible of the defects of the discipline of the churches of this government, arising from the want of a more explicit asserting of the rules given for that end in the holy scriptures ; from which would arise a permanent establishment among ourselves, a good and regular issue in cases subject to ecclesiastical discipline, glory to Christ, our head, and edification to his members; hath seen fit to ordain and require, and it is by the authority of the same ordained and required, that the ministers of the several counties in this government shall meet together, at their respective county towns, with such messengers, as the churches to which they belong shall see cause to send with them, on the last Monday in June next; there to consider and agree upon those methods and rules for the management of ecclesiastical discipline, which by them shall be judged agreeable and conformable to the word of God, and shall, at the same meeting, appoint two or more of their number to be their delegates, who shall all meet together at Saybrook, at the next commencement to be held there; where they shall compare the results of the ministers of the several counties, and out of and from them, to draw a form of ecclesiastical discipline, which, by two or more persons delegated by them, shall be offered to this court, at their session at New-Haven, in October next, to be considered of and confirmed by them : and the expense of the above mentioned meetings shall be defrayed out of the public treasury of this colony.

A true copy of the record,

“ Test. ELEAZER KIMBERLY, Secretary." f. “According to the act of the assembly, the ministers and churches of the several counties convened, at the time appointed, and made their respective drafts of discipline, and chose their delegates for the general meeting at Saybrook, in September.

The ministers and messengers chosen for this council, and its result, will appear from their minutes."

“At a meeting of delegates from the councils of the several counties of Connecticut colony, in New-England, in America, at Saybrook, Sept. 9th, 1708,

PRESENT, From the council of Hartford county :-The Rev. Timothy Woodbridge, Noadiah Russell, and Stephen Mix. Messenger, John Haynes, Esq.

From the council in Fairfield county :The Rev. Charles Chauncey and John Davenport. Messenger, deacon Samuel Hoyt.

From the council in New-London county :The Rev. James Noyes, Thomas Buckingham, Moses Noyes, and John Woodward. Messengers, Robert Chapman, deacon William Parker.

From the council of New Haven county :The Rev. Samuel Andrew, James Pierpont, and Samuel Russell.

The Rev. James Noyes and Thomas Buckingham being chosen moderators. The Rev. Stephen Mix and Jolin Woodward being chosen scribes.

In compliance with an order of the general assembly, May 13th, 1708, after humble addresses to the throne of grace for the divine presence, assistance, and blessing upon us, having our eyes upon the word of God and the constitution of our churches, We agree that the confession of faith owned and assented unto by the elders and messengers assembled at Boston, in New-England, May 12th, 1680, being the second session of that synod, be recommended to the honorable general assembly of this colony, at the next session, for their public testimony thereunto, as the faith of the churches of this colony.*

10*

We agree also, that the heads of agreement assented to by the united ministers, formerly called presbyterian and congregational, be observed by the churches throughout this colony.t.

And for the better regulation of the administration of church discipline, in relation to all cases ecclesiastical, both in particular churches and councils, to the full determining and executing the rules in all such cases, it is agreed,

I. That the elder, or elders of a particular church, with the consent of the brethren of the same, have power, and ought to exercise church discipline, according to the rule of God's word, in relation to all scandals that fall out within the same. And it may be meet, in all cases of difficulty, for the respective pastors of particular churches, to take advice of the elders of the churches in the neighborhood, before they proceed to censure in such cases.

II. That the churches which are neighboring to each other, shall consociate, for mutual affording to each other such assistance as may be requisite, upon all occasions ecclesiastical. And that the particular pastors and churches, within the respective counties in this government, shall be one consociation, (or more, if they shall judge meet,) for the end aforesaid.

III. That all cases of scandal, that fall out within the circuit of any of the aforesaid consociations, shall be brought to a council of the elders, and also messengers of the churches within the said circuit, i. e. the churches of one consociation, if they see cause to send messengers, when there shall be need of a council for the determination of them.

* The same that is printed in this volume.--Editor.

| The heads of agreement here referred to were adopted by the Presbyterians and Congregationalists in England, about the year 1690. They are printed in this volume.-Editor.

IV. That, according to the common practice of our churches, nothing shall be deemed an act or judgment of any council, which hath not the act of the major part of the elders present concurring, and such a number of the messengers present, as makes the majority of the council : provided that if any such church shall not see cause to send any messengers to the council, or the persons chosen by them shall not attend, neither of these shall be any obstruction to the proceedings of the council, or invalidate any of their acts.

y. That when any case is orderly brought before any council of the churches, it shall there be heard and determined, which, (unless orderly removed from thence,) shall be a final issue ; and all parties therein concerned shall sit down and be determined thereby. And the council so hearing, and giving the result or final issue, in the said case, as aforesaid, shall see their determination, or judgment, duly executed and attended, in such way or manner, as shall, in their judgment, be most suitable and agreeable to the word of God.

VI. That if any pastor and church doth obstinately refuse a due attendance and conformity to the determination of the council, that hath the cognizance of the case, and determineth it as above, after due patience used, they shall be reputed guilty of scandalous contempt, and dealt with as the rule of God's word in such case doth provide, and the sentence of non-communion shall be declared against such pastor and church. And the churches are to approve of the said sentence, by withdrawing from the communion of the pastor and church, which so refused to be healed.

VII. That, in case any difficulties shall arise in any of the churches in this colony, which cannot be issued without considerable disquiet, that church, in which they arise, (or that minister or member aggrieved with them,) shall apply themselves to the council of the consociated churches of the circuit, to which the said

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