• Church of Scotland Assembly

Chapter 03

 

How the Persons that bear Ecclesiastical Functions are Admitted to their Office.

1. Vocation or Calling is common to all that should bear office in the Church, which is the lawful way by which qualified persons are promoted to any spiritual office within the Church of God: without this lawful Calling it was never permissible (lawful) to any person to meddle with any function ecclesiastical.

2. There are two sorts of Calling, one extraordinary, by God himself immediately, as was (that) of the Prophets and Apostles, which in Churches established, and already well-reformed, has no place.

3. The other Calling is ordinary, which, besides the Calling of God and inward testimony of a good conscience, has the lawful approbation and outward judgment of men, according to God's Word and order established in his Church. None ought to presume to enter in any office ecclesiastical, without he have this testimony of a good conscience before God, who only knows the hearts of men.

4. This ordinary and outward Calling has two parts; election and ordination. Election is the choosing out of a person or persons most suitable (best qualified) to the vacant office by the judgment of the Eldership and consent of the Congregation to whom the person or persons are to be appointed. The qualities in general requisite in all them who should bear charge in the Church, consist in soundness of religion and godliness of life, according as they are sufficiently set forth in the Word.

5. In this ordinary election, it is to be eschewed (shunned) that no person be intruded into any of the offices of the Church contrary to the will of the Congregation to whom they are appointed, or without the voice of the Eldership. None ought to be intruded or placed in the ministry in places already planted, or in any place that is not vacant, for any worldly respect; and that which is called the benefice ought to be nothing else than the stipend of the ministers that are lawfully called.

6. Ordination is the separation and sanctifying (consecrating) of the person appointed to God and his Church, after he is well-tried and found qualified. The ceremonies of ordination are fasting, earnest prayer, and imposition of hands of the Eldership.

7. All these, as they must be raised up by God, and by him made able for the work whereto they are called; so ought they to know their message to be limited within God's Word, without the which bounds they ought not to pass. All these should take the titles and names only (lest they be exalted and puffed up in themselves) which the Scriptures give unto them, as those which import labour, travail, and work; and are names of offices and service, and not of idleness, dignity, worldly honour or pre-eminence, which by Christ our Master is expressly reproved and forbidden.

8. All these office-bearers should have their own particular flocks amongst whom they exercise their charge, and should make residence with them, and take the inspection and oversight of them, every one in his vocation. And, generally, these two things ought they all to respect, the glory of God and edifying of his Church, in discharging their duties in their Calling.

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