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but also to explain in what manner the said rules are exeouted, consistent with the local circumstances of said church :
THEREFORE, the General Synod of the Reformed Dutch Church in America, held at New-York, in October, 1792, have caused the practice of their church to be comprised in the following EXPLANATORY ARTICLES, agreeably to which, the Rules of Church Government of the said National Synod of Dordrecht, are applied and executed :
1. OF THE OFFICES IN THE CHURCH.
1. MINISTERS OF THE WORD.
O person can be chosen or called to be a Minis
a candidate for the ministry.
A candidate for the ministry is one, who, after finishing his Theological studies, has submitted to a public examination; and, upon being found well qualified, is licenced to preach the gospel, and permitted to accept a call in any congregation.
Whoever applies to be examined for becoming a candidate in the ministry, must produce to the Synod, or Classis to which the application is made, the following authentic documents : 1. A diploma, or certificate of his having passed through a regular course of studies in some College or respectable Academy. 2. A certificate of his having been a member in full communion of the Reformed church, at least two years. And 3. A testimonial, under the hand and seal of a Professor of Theology, declaring such student to have studied Theology with him (or with some person expressly authorised for that purpose by the General Synod,) for the space of at least two years ; and recommending said student as well qualified for becoming a candidate in the holy ministry.
In the examination, strict attention is paid to the attainments of the student, not only in the original languages of the sacred scriptures, and in composition, and his method of sermonizing; but he is especially examined respecting his knowlege in Theology, his orthodoxy, his piety, and his views in desiring to become a preacher of the gospel.
Whoever, upon examination, shall be approved by the Synod or Classis, must, before he is licenced, attest his adherence to the doctrines of the gospel, by subscribing the following formula, viz.
66 WE the underwritten, testify, that the Heidelbergh Catechism, and the confession of the Netherland Churchies; as also the Canons of the National Synod of Dordrecht, held in the years 1618 and 1619, are fully conformable to the word of God. We promise moreover, that as far as we are able, we will, with all faithfulness, teach and defend both in public and private, the doctrines established in the standards aforesaid. And, should ever any part of these doctrines appear to us dubious, we will not divulge the same to the people, nor disturb the peace of the church or of any community, until we first communicate our sentiments to the ecclesiastical judicatories under which we stand, and subject ourselves to the counsel and sentence of the same."
After subscribing the aforesaid formula, the candidate is entitled to a certificate, or testimonial, signed
by the President of the Synod, or Classis, before whom the examination is held, containing a license to preach the Gospel, and recommending his person and services to the Churches.
- A candidate for the ministry is permitted only to preach the word, but he may not under any pretence whatever, administer the sacraments ; nor ean he be a delegate to represent a Church in any ecclesiastical Assembly.
Every candidate for the ministry is to consider himself under the immediate direction of the Synod, and the Classis which examined him, and is to visit such congregations, and preach in those places to which the Synod, or Classis shall send him : but if no particular directions are given, he may preach at his own discretion in any congregation that shall invite him.
Upon receiving a call from any particular congregation, a candidate is allowed time to consider the propriety of bis accepting it. If more than one call is before him at the same time, he may determine which he will prefer; but if there be only one, it is expected he will not finally refuse the same, before having first referred his difficulties to the Synod, or Classis, and obtained proper advice.
A candidate who has accepted a call, must offer himself to be examined for his becoming a Minister. In this final examination, besides a repetition of his previous trials in composition and sermonizing, the original languages of the sacred scriptures, and his knowledge of Theology, as well didactic as polemic; he is interrogated respecting the nature, and administration of the sacraments, the duties of the ministry, and his knowledge of ecclesiastical history, and of church government.
Upon giving satisfaction in the examination, the candidate subscribes the following formula, viz.
“ WE the underwritten, Ministers of the word of God, residing within the bounds of the Classis of N. N. do hereby sincerely, and in good conscience before the Lord, declare by this our subscription, that we heartily believe and are persuaded, that all the articles and points of doctrine contained in the Confession and Catechism of the Reformed Dutch Church, together with the explanation of some points of the aforesaid doctrine made in the national Synod, held at Dordrecht, in the year 1619, do fully agree with the word of God. We promise therefore, diligently to teach, and faithfully to defend the aforesaid doctrine, without either directly or indirectly contradicting the same by our public preaching or writings. We declare moreover, that we not only reject all errors that militate against this doctrine, and particularly those which are condemned in the above mentioned Synod; but that we are disposed to refute and contradict them, and to exert ourselves in keeping the Church pure from such
And if hereafter any difficulties, or different sentiments respecting the aforesaid doctrine should arise in our minds, we promise, that we will neither publicly nor privately, propose, teach or defend the same, either by preaching or writing, until we have first revealed such sentiment to the Consistory, Classis, and Synod, that the same may be there examined; being ready always, cheerfully to submit to the judgment of the Consistory, Classis, or Synod, under the penalty, in case of refusal, to be ipso facto suspended from our office. And further, if at any time the Consistory, the Classis, or Synod, upon sufficient grounds of suspicion,