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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.
IV. Nevertheless, in case of a minister being supposed to be guilty of a crime, or crimes, 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 either send and take the testimony themselves, by a commission of their own body, or request the other presbytery to take it for them, and transmit the same, properly authenticated.
V. Process against a gospel minister shall not be commenced, unless some person or persons undertake to make out the charge; or unless common fame so loudly proclaims the scandal, that the presbytery find it necessary, for the honour of religion, to investigate the charge.
VI. As the success of the gospel greatly depends upon the exemplary character of its ministers, their soundness in the faith, and holy conversation; and as it is the duty of all Christains to be very cautious in taking up an
ill report of any man, but especially of a minister of the gospel; therefore, if any man knows a minister to be guilty of a private, censurable fault, he should warn him in private. But if the guilty person persist in his fault, or it become public, he who knows it should apply to some other bishop of the presbytery for his advice in the case.
VII. The prosecutor of a minister 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 malignancy or rashness that shall appear in the prosecution.
VIII. When complaint is laid before the presbytery, it must be reduced to writing; and nothing further 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; 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.
IX. When a member of a church judicatory is under process, it shall be discretionary with the judicatory whether his privileges of deliberating and voting, as a member, in other matters, shall be suspended until the process is finally issued, or not.
X. At the next meeting of the presbytery, the charges shall be read to him, and he shall
be called upon to say whether he is guilty or 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, if the way be clear for the purpose, appoint him a due time to confess publicly before the congregation offended, and to profess his penitence.
XI. If a minister accused of atrocious crimes, being twice duly cited, shall refuse to attend the presbytery, he shall be immediately suspended. And if, after another citation, he still refuse to attend, he shall be deposed as contumacious.
XII. If the minister, when he appears, will not confess; but denies the facts alleged against him; if, on hearing the witnesses, the charges appear important, and well supported, the presbytery must, nevertheless, censure him; and admonish, suspend, or depose him, according to the nature of the offence.
XIII. 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 injury.
XIV. 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. For some more dangerous errors, however, suspension may become ne
XV. 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 that little or nothing remains to hinder his usefulness, they shall take all prudent measures to remove the offence.
XVI. A minister deposed for scandalous conduct, shall not be restored, even on the deepest sorrow for his sin, until after some time of eminent and exemplary, humble and edifying conversation, to heal the wound made by his scandal. And he ought in no case to be restored, until it shall appear, that the sentiments of the religious public are strongly in his favour, and demand his restoration.
XVII. As soon as a minister is deposed, his congregation shall be declared vacant.
I. JUDICATORIES ought to be very careful and impartial in receiving testimony. All per
sons are not competent as witnessess; and all who are competent are not credible.
II. A competent witness is one who ought to be admitted and heard. The competency of a witness may be affected by his want of the proper age; by a want of any of the senses' essential to a knowledge of the matter which he is called to establish; by weakness of understanding; by infamy of character; by being under church censure for falsehood or perjury; by nearness of relationship to any of the parties; and by a variety of considerations which cannot be specified in detail.
III. Where there is room for doubt with regard to any of these points, either party has a right to challenge witnesses; and the judicatory shall candidly attend to the exceptions, and decide upon them.
IV. The credibility of a witness, or the degree of credit due to his testimony, may be affected by relationship to any of the parties; by deep interest in the result of the trial; by general rashness, indiscretion, or malignity of character; and by various other circumstances; to which judicatories shall carefully attend, and for which they shall make all proper allowance in their decision.
V. A husband or wife shall not be compelled to bear testimony against each other in any judicatory.
VI. The testimony of more than one witness is necessary in order to establish any charge;