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The Historical Development of the Book of Church Order

Chapter 13 : The Presbytery

Paragraph 7 : On the Obigations Required of Ministers

13-7. The Presbytery shall cause to be transcribed, in some convenient part of the book of records, the obligations required of ministers at their ordination, which shall be subscribed by all admitted to membership, in the following form:
I, __________________, do sincerely receive and subscribe to the above obligation as a just and true exhibition of my faith and principles, and do resolve and promise to exercise my ministry in conformity thereunto.

[DIGEST:1979* [M7GA, 7-41, p. 103, originally "14-7"]

BACKGROUND & COMPARISON:
1. PCA 1973, 14-6, Adopted text, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, p. 134
2. Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, 14-6, Proposed text, p. 14-15
3. PCUS 1933, XV-§75
4. PCUS 1925, XV-§75
The Presbytery shall cause to be transcribed, in some convenient part of the book of records, the obligations required of Ministers at their ordination, which shall be subscribed by all admitted to membership, in the following form, namely: "I, A.B., do sincerely receive and subscribe to the above obligation as a just and true exhibition of my faith and principles, and do resolve and promise to exercise my ministry in conformity thereunto."

PCUS 1879, V-4-5

The Presbytery shall cause to be transcribed, in some convenient part of the book of records, the obligations required of Ministers at their ordination, which shall be subscribed by all admitted to membership, in the following form, viz: "I, A.B., do ex animo receive and subscribe the above obligation as a just and true exhibition of my faith and principles, and do resolve and promise to exercise my ministry in conformity thereunto."

PCUS 1869 draft, V-4-6
The Presbytery shall cause to be transcribed in some convenient part of the book of records, the obligations required of Ministers at their ordination, which shall be subscribed by all admitted to membership in the following form, viz: “I, A. B., do ex animo receive and subscribe the above obligations, as a just and true exhibition of my faith and principles, and do resolve and promise to exercise my ministry in conformity thereunto.”

PCUS 1867 draft, V-4-6
The presbytery shall cause to be transcribed in some convenient part of the book of records, the obligations required of ministers at their ordination, which shall be subscribed by all admitted to membership in the following form, viz: “I, A. B., do ex animo receive and subscribe the above obligations, as a just and true exhibition of my faith and principles, and do resolve and promise to exercise my ministry in conformity thereunto.”


COMMENTARY:
F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order
, on Chapter V, section IV, paragraph 5:
76.—V. The Presbytery shall cause to be transcribed, in some convenient part of the book of records, the obligations required of Ministers at their ordination, which shall be subscribed by all admitted to membership, in the following form, viz: "I, A.B., do ex animo receive and subscribe the above obligation as a just and true exhibition of my faith and principles, and do resolve and promise to exercise my ministry in conformity thereunto."
These obligations are the first seven questions in paragraph 119, the eighth being a question for installation only.
All persons admitted to the communion in this Church are required to promise to behave according to the principles of the faith and practice of this Church. All officers are required to profess acceptance of the standards of doctrine and government, and to promise faithfulness in office; and, in the case of Ruling Elders and Ministers, special emphasis is laid upon soundness in the faith as a qualification. (Par. 44; cf. par. 48.) In addition to this, Ministers are required to make this subscription, which involves two special particulars: they here profess that the affirmations and promises made at their ordination are a just, as well as a true exhibition of their faith and principles; and they further promise to exercise their ministry in conformity thereunto. It is conceivable that a man might sincerely answer all the questions in the affirmative, and yet not be able to say that they are a just exhibition of his principles. And it might come about that one who sincerely answered these questions in the affirmative at his ordination would not be able to do so at his transition to another Presbytery. In such case, he could not subscribe. Here emerge two questions.
If, for this or any reason, a Minister refuses to subscribe as here required, is he a member of the Presbytery to which he has come? No; his admission is not completed until he subscribes, any vote to admit him being really a vote to admit him upon his subscribing. Strictly, a Minister who has been approved on examination should not be enrolled as a member until he subscribes.
If a Minister, after his subscription, changes his convictions, so that he cannot sincerely make the affirmations that he made at his ordination, what ought he to do? It is the doctrine of the Form of Government that he ought not to change his mind; and, therefore, it does not belong to an exposition of it to answer the question. Whether the courts should treat such a change as an offence, should be answered under paragraph 152 of the Rules of Discipline.
Here belongs the consideration of the question whether the Church should require such a subscription as a condition of admission to the ministry. That turns upon the question whether this requires more than Christ requires. Are the faith and principles which He teaches, and to which He commands all His ministers to conform their ministry, justly exhibited in the affirmations required by the Form of Government at ordination? And this question is reserved for discussion where those affirmations are required. But the requiring of promise and subscription is a prudential means, permissible if nothing is required beyond what Christ requires.


Chapter Index [links are to Paragraph 1 in each chapter]:
FoG..
1
2
3.
4
5.
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
I. King & Head of Church
.§1.
§4
§5
RoD
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
II. Preliminary Principles
§1
§2
§3
§4
§5
§6
§7
§8
DfW
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
[FoG = Form of Government ; RoD = Rules of Discipline ; DfW = Directory for Worship]

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