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must be made to the Classis, and leave be first requested and obtained, before their former connections can be dissolved.
HE Reformed Dutch Church holds the middle station between two extremes. On the one hand, she denies all superiority of one Minister of Christ over another; and on the other, considers independent, unconnected congregations, as unsafe and inconvenient. In order therefore to unite both council and energy, for the promotion of the spiritual interests of the church, consistent with the liberty and dignity of the Gospel Dispensation, her government is administered by Classes and Synods. A Classis consists (Art. 41. Church Orders) of all the Ministers, with each an Elder, and one Elder from every vacant congregation within a particular district. In this Assembly, an immediate representation of all the churches within those limits is formed; and a power of regulating the common measures for promoting religion, preventing error, and preserving peace within such district is lodged.
To constitute a Classis are required at least three Ministers and three Elders.
Classes are invested with the power of approving or disapproving calls, and of ordaining or deposing Ministers, or dismissing them when called elsewhere. They have cognizance of whatever respects the welfare of their particular churches, for the management of which the Consistories may be incompetent. To the Classes also appertain the receiving and determining all ap
peals from consistorial adjudications, as well as all cases respecting either Ministers or people which may arise within their jurisdiction, and are regularly brought before them : The forming new congregations, and determining the boundaries, when contested hetween congregations already formed ; the continuing combinations, or the dissolution or change of the same, as may be requested by the people, or be judged necessary among the respective congregations.
Among the proper powers of Classes, that of examining students of Theology for their becoming candi-, dates for the ministry, and of candidates for their be.coming Ministers, is very important, and must always be attended to with great prudence, zeal, and fidelity. This power (which for certain reasons, has hitherto been exercised only by the Synod,) shall, agreeably to the government and discipline of the church, for the future, be also exercised by the respective Classes.
It shall be left to the discretion of every student in Theology, to apply either to the Synod or to any Classis he may choose, for examination. But a candidate who has received a call, must be examined hy the Classis under whose jurisdiction the church that has made the call is placed; unless such candidate should prefer being examined by the Synod.
At every examination of a student or candidate by a Classis, two of the Deputati Synodi shall be present, who shall see that the examination is performed with strictness, propriety, and justice. That the Deputati may obtain proper and timely notice, it shall be the duty of the president of the last preceding Classis, upon application being made to bim for an examination, to send immediate information to the Deputati, and com
municate the time and place when and where the same is to be held, in such manner that the Deputati shall be notified at least two weeks before such examination.
Every Classis shall keep a book, in which the forins of subscriptions for candidates and Ministers of the gospel are fairly written, which those who are examined and approved, shall respectively subscribe in the presence of the Classis. It shall also be the duty of every Classis, annually to report to the Synod, all persons who have been examined and licensed, as well as those who have been ordained; and also, all removals of Ministers from one place to another, or by death, which may have happened within the jurisdiction of such Classis, since the last session of Synod.
Whenever the examination of a candidate for the Ministry, the approbation of a call, or any other ordinary business which could not be transacted at the stated meeting, shall render an extraordinary meeting of the Classis necessary, it shall be the duty of the president of the last Classis, upon application being made to him for that purpose, to call by circular letters the members together. And, whenever two Ministers and two Elders belonging to the Classis shall, upon any occasion, request in writing, under their hands, an extraordinary meeting, the president of the last Classis may not refuse calling the same; provided that the expenses attending all extraordinary meetings of the Classis shall be always supported by the person or congregation, at whose request, or for whose benefit, such session is held.
Once every year the Classis shall direct what shall be deemed necessary and practicable with regard to
the visitation of the churches, within their respective jurisdictions, and report the same to the Synod. For the more uniform and proper execution of this import- . ant duty, such particular questions and inquiries as shall be agreed upon, in any General Synod for that purpose, shall be inserted in the book of records of every Classis, and by the visitors be faithfully proposed to the Minister, Elders, and Deacons of every corgregation in their respective visitations.
III. PARTICULAR SYNODS.
A PARTICULAR Synod consists of a delegation of two Ministers and two Elders from a number of Classes, (Church Orders, Art. 47.) and constitutes a representation of all the particular churches within those respective Classes.
Synods have power to receive and determine all appeals and referenoes properly brought from the Classes; and to take original cognizance of such cases as are not merely local, and which in their consequences are supposed to affect the general welfare of the church.
Notwithstanding the power of examination is conferred upon the Classes, the Particular Synods, (until it be otherwise determined in the General Synod) will continue, as heretofore, to examine and license; and it shall still remain in the choice of any student in Theology, or of any candidate who has received a call, to be examined by the Synod : but with this express declaration, that the examinations held by any Classis, and the certificate given by the president of a
Classis, shall be considered as equally proper, authen, tic and valid, as those done and conferred by a Synod.
A copy of the minutes of every session of the Classis, held since the last session of Synod, shall, at the opening of the Synod, be produced and laid upon the table for the inspection of the members. The reports of each Classis, respecting the candidates, Ministers, ordinations, and removals made within their jurisdictions, shall not only be mentioned in the minutes of the Synod, but be regularly inserted hy the scriba of the Synod, in a register preserved for that purpose by the Synod.
When any particular business cannot be finished at the annual session of Synod, or when any matter is foreseen to claim their attention, which ought to be dispatched before the next usual time of meeting, it shall be in the power of Synod to adjourn to any future day, and hold an extraordinary session. Whenever also two of the Deputati Synodi shall represent to the president of the last Synod, the necessity of calling an extraordinary Synod, and shall in writing request him so to do, it shall be the duty of such president, by circular letters to the members of the last Synod, to suminon an extra session, for the express purpose suggested by the Deputati; which business, and no other whatever, shall then be transacted.
The Particular Synods shall continue to exchange every year a copy of their Acts with the Synod of North-Holland, and express in their letters the desire of the Reformed Church in America, to preserve a connection, and cultivate a correspondence, which they highly esteem, and have found to be beneficial.