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evidence is not given under oath. The whole Council decides by vote on all questions of law or procedure, as also on the final question of acquittal or conviction. If the charge, or charges, involve several specifications, a distinct vote is taken on each specification, as well as on the general charge. If the case require deposition from the ministry, the Council, by vote, first withdraws from the offender that which the ordaining Council conferred—viz., the public recognition of his divine call to the ministerial office, and of his authority to exercise among the churches the functions of that office-and then advises the church to divest him of that which he received from it-viz., his pastoral office, his license, and his membership. A church which should depose its pastor without the concurring act of a Council would, indeed, silence him in that church, but it could not withdraw from him that which the ordaining Council had conferred; and the church so deposing him would have no right to complain if other churches continued to recognize him as a minister and permitted his exercise of the functions of the office among them.
4. Council for the settlement of difficulties in a church. This has two forms—the mutual and the ex-parte. A Council is mutual when both parties to the controversy unite in calling it; it is ex-parte when one of the parties refuses to unite in its call, or to submit the case to its consideration. An ex-parte Council should never be called if it is possible to secure a mutual one, nor should such a Council consent to act until it has used all proper means to induce both parties to present their case; for this is evidently desirable, in order to a just decision on the matter in controversy. But if, after due effort and patience, one of the parties still refuses to unite in the submission of the case, the vindication of character or the cause of
public justice may justify an ex-parte procedure. The decision of such a Council will have such moral weight as its character and the fulness and fairness of its investigation of the case may give it. The power of a Council, whether mutual or ex-parte, is wholly advisory : it investigates and gives advice. Usually that advice is, and ought to be, accepted by the parties calling it, since, in matters of difference, no Council ought ordinarily to be called unless the parties are prepared to abide by its decision. But such decision is in no sense an ecclesiastical decree to be enforced : it cannot set aside or modify the act of a church. It is advice voluntarily sought and accepted.
BENEVOLENT OR MISSIONARY SOCIETIES. When Christ ascended he left the command, Go ye
into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature ; but, apart from the local church and its simple agencies, he instituted no general organizations through which this command should be fulfilled. These, therefore, have been left to the wisdom of the churches, as they may be guided by the indications of Providence and the general principles of the gospel. Hence, organizations have arisen, in different departments of Christian work, through which the churches are sending the gospel to the world. Such are the societies for home and foreign missions, for ministerial and general Christian education, for Bible and religious book and tract publication and circulation, and for Sunday-school and charitable work. The constitutions of these societies differ. Some are composed only of delegates from churches; others, only of members made such by the payment of a specified sum; and others combine both these forms of membership. The officers are a president, one or more vice-presidents. a treasurer, a corresponding and a recording secretary, and a board of directors, to whom, in the intervals between the meetings of the body, the management of its work is committed.
These organizations are plainly a legitimate development of the beneficent spirit of Christianity, seeking the evangelization of the world; for only through comprehensive combination of effort can the gospel be carried throughout the world. The Christian spirit, therefore, will prompt to their hearty, generous support. But they are not like the church, of divine constitution. Hence, 1. They are purely voluntary: no church may require its members to belong to them, or to contribute to the ad of the gospel through them. It may, and should, discipline a member for covetousness if he in no way gives for the work of evangelization, but it may not prescribe the channel through which he shall give for this object. 2. They possess no ecclesiastical power: they are simply agencies through which the voluntary activities of the churches are put forth and combined for the evangelization of the world.
VI. THE CHURCH IS IN THINGS TEMPORAL SUBJECT TO THE STATE, BUT IN THINGS SPIRITUAL INDEPENDENT OF IT AND SUBJECT ONLY TO CHRIST.
Christ declared, My kingdom is not of this world, and commanded, Render, therefore, unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's, and unto God the things that are God's. He thus for ever separated the church from the state, and assigned to each its own distinct and independent sphere. The relations of the church to the state may be thus expressed : 1. The church is in things temporal subject to the state, under obligation to seek its welfare, to pray for its rulers, and to obey its laws, except when these contravene the requirements of God; in this case the church is bound to
obey the higher authority of God, and to submit, if necd be, to the penalties of human law (Matt. xvii. 24-27; xxii. 21; Acts iv. 19, 20; xiii. 1-3; xvi. 13-17; 1 Tim. ii. 1, 2; Tit. iii. 1; 1 Pet. ii. 13–17). 2. The church is in things spiritual independent of the state. It is formed under authority from Christ, and owes supreme allegiance to him. Its doctrines, ordinances, officers, discipline, and worship are under the authority of God's word, and for these it is accountable only to God. 3. Every man has the natural right to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience, unrestricted by human law, provided that in so doing he does not interfere with the similar right of every other man nor work injury to society. This right of worship, like every other natural right, the state is under obligation to protect, but may not restrict; hence, it can enjoin no prescribed form of worship or doctrine, nor can it rightfully impose taxes for the support of such form. The conscience is absolutely free as it respects coercion from human law, and is subject only to the law of God. This principle of soul-liberty, maintained alone" by Baptist churches through ages of persecution, has at last found full recognition in the United States, and is steadily advancing to similar recognition in all the nations of the world. 4. The church, in the management of its secular affairs, conforms to the laws of the government under which it exists. These laws differ in different States, and even in the same State there are optional forms of civil relation which a church may adopt. The best legal advice, therefore, should be sought when organizing a church, so as to ensure its proper legal status, and thus fully secure its property. The civil relation of the church has three forms in this country: (a.) The church, as a church, acts in a civil capacity, managing its own temporal affairs, and is recognized in law as a
body corporate with all legal powers. Such recognition is in some States granted by general laws; in others, it is a privilege conceded by special charter. The Episcopal, the Reformed, and other churches have in New York such charters. (6.) The male members of a church, of legal age, organize themselves as a religious society, and thus become a body corporate, legally capable of holding property and of transacting all the business of such a society. This also is done in some places under general law of the State, in others under special charter obtained. (c.) A body is organized under a general law of incorporation and known as the Society, composed of such persons of legal age as are pew-holders, or regular attendants on the worship of the church and contributors to its support. The executive power of this body is lodged in a board of trustees. The Society has the legal control of the property, the power to fix the salary of the pastor, and to determine all other expenses of worship. Ordinarily, a majority of the Society, as well as of the board of trustees, are members of the church, and the affairs of the church are thus practically in its own hands. This, however, has not always been the case, and the result has sometimes proved disastrous. A special law for Baptist churches has lately been enacted in New York which is supposed to guard against this danger.*
* See this law, called the “Centennial Trustee Law,” published by New York Examiner; also, “A Digest of Ecclesiastical Laws of New York,” in Manual of Plymouth Church, Brooklyn; an article of Dr. H. M. Storrs on "The Relation of Church and Parish,” in Congregational Quarterly, 1860, vol. ii.; and Dexter's Congregationalism, pp. 206-213.