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member in order to conviction, is in case of private offences to be performed according to the rule in Matt. xviii. 15, 16, 17, and in case of public offences openly before the church, as the honor of the gospel, and the nature of the scandal shall require : and, if either of the admonitions take place for the recovery of the fallen person, all further proceedings in a way of censure are thereon to cease, and satisfaction to be declared accordingly.
3. When all due means are used, according to the order of the gospel for the restoring an offending and scandalous brother, and he, notwithstanding remains impenitent, the censure of excommunication is to be proceeded unto; wherein the pastor and other elders (if there be such) are to lead and go before the church; and the brotherhood to give their consent in a way of obedience unto Christ, and to the elders, as over them in the Lord.
4. It may sometimes come to pass that a church member, not otherwise scandalous may sinfully withdraw, and divide himself from the communion of the church to which he belongeth : in which case, when all due means for the reducing him, prove ineffectual, he having thereby cut himself off from that church's communion; the church may justly esteem and declare itself discharged of any further inspection over him.
Of communion of Churches. 1. We agree that particular churches ought not to walk so distinct and separate from each other, as not to have care and tenderness towards one another. But their pastors ought to have frequent meetings together, that by mutual advice, support, encouragement, and brotherly intercourse, they may strengthen the hearts and hands of each other in the ways of the Lord.
2. That none of our particular churches shall be
subordinate to one another, each being endued with equality of power from Jesus Christ. And that none of the said particular churches, their officer or officers, shall exercise any power, or have any superiority, over any other church or their officers.
3. That known members of particular churches constituted as aforesaid, may have occasional communion with one another in the ordinances of the gospel, viz. the word, prayer, sacraments, singing of psalms, dispensed according to the mind of Christ : unless that church, with which they desire communion, hath any just exception against them.
4. That we ought not to admit any one to be a member of our respective congregations, that hath joined himself to another, without endeavors of mutual satisfaction of the congregations concerned.
5. That one church ought not to blame the proceedings of another, until it hath heard, what that church charged, its elders or messengers, can say in vindication of themselves from any charge of irregular or injurious proceedings.
6. That we are most willing and ready to give an account of other church proceedings to each other, when desired ; for preventing or removing any offences, that may arise among us. Likewise we shall be ready to give the right hand of fellowship, and walk together according to the gospel rules of communion of churches.
Of Deacons and ruling Elders. We agree, the office of a deacon is of divine appointment, and that it belongs to their office to receive, lay out, and distribute the church's stock to its proper uses, by the direction of the pastor, and brethren, if need be. And whereas divers are of opinion, that there is also the office of ruling elders, who labor
with I none ficers,
not in word and doctrine; and others think otherwise ; we agree that this difference make no breach among
Of occasional meeting of Ministers, &c. 1. We agree that in order to concord, and in other weighty and difficult cases, it is needful and according to the mind of Christ, that the ministers of several churches be consulted and advised with about such matters.
2. That such meetings may consist of smaller or greater numbers, as the matter shall require.
3. That particular churches, their respective elders and members, ought to have a reverential regard to their judgment, so given, and not dissent therefrom without apparent grounds from the word of God.
VII. Of our demeanor towards the Civil Magistrate. 1. We do reckon ourselves obliged continually to pray for God's protection, guidance, and blessing upon the rulers set over us.
2. That we ought to yield unto them not only subjection in the Lord, but support, according to our station and abilities.
3. That if at any time, it shall be their pleasure to call together any number of us, to require an account of our affairs, and the state of our congregations, we shall most readily express all dutiful regard to them herein.
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Of a Confession of Faith. As to what appertains to soundness of judgment in matters of faith, we esteem it sufficient that a church acknowledge the scriptures to be the word of God, the
perfect and only rule of faith and practice, and own either the doctrinal part of those commonly called the articles of the church of England, or the confession or catechisms, shorter or larger compiled by the assembly at Westminster, or the confession agreed on at the Savoy, to be agreeable to the said rule.
Of our Duty and Deportment towards them that are not in Communion
1. We judge it our duty to bear a christian respect to all Christians, according to their several ranks and stations, that are not of our persuasion or communion.
2. As for such as may be ignorant of the principles of the christian religion, or of vicious conversation, we shall in our respective places, as they give opportunity, endeavor to explain to them the doctrine of life and salvation, and to our utmost persuade them to be reconciled to God.
3. That such who appear to have the essential requisites to church communion, we shall willingly receive them in the Lord, not troubling them with disputes about lesser matters. As we assent to the aforementioned heads of agreement,
so we unanimously resolve as the Lord shall enable us to practice according to them.