PCA HISTORICAL CENTER
Archives and Manuscript Repository for the Continuing Presbyterian Church


The Historical Development of the Book of Church Order

Preface to the Book of Church Order

I. King and Head
of the Church
II. Preliminary Principles
III. The Constitution Defined

Section 2 : The Preliminary Principles
Paragraph 8 : Of Spiritual Force

1. Lastly, that, if the preceding scriptural and rational principles be steadfastly adhered to, the vigor and strictness of its discipline will contribute to the glory and happiness of any church. Since ecclesiastical discipline must be purely moral or spiritual in its object, and not attended with any civil effects, it can derive no force whatever but from its own justice, the approbation of an impartial public, and the countenance and blessing of the great Head of the church universal.

Background and Comparison :
PCA 1973, Adopted text, as printed in the Minutes of General Assembly, page 128
Lastly, that, if the preceding scriptural and rational principles be steadfastly adhered to, the vigor and strictness of its discipline will contribute to the glory and happiness of any church. Since ecclesiastical discipline must be purely moral or spiritual in its object, and not attended with any civil effects, it can derive no force whatever but from its own justice, the approbation of an impartial public, and the countenance and blessing of the great Head of the church universal.

Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, Proposed text, Preface, Preliminary Principles, paragraph 2
Lastly, that, if the preceding scriptural and rational principles be steadfastly adhered to, the vigor and strictness of its discipline will contribute to the glory and happiness of any church. Since ecclesiastical discipline must be purely moral or spiritual in its object, and not attended with any civil effects, it can derive no force whatever but from its own justice, the approbation of an impartial public, and the countenance and blessing of the great Head of the church universal.

PCUS 1879
PCUS 1869 draft
and
PCUS 1867 draft
[we have not located printed editions of the PCUS Constitution which include the Preliminary Principles. Reportedly the first edition, printed in 1861, did include the Principles, but we have been unable to locate subsequent editions with this material included.]


COMMENTARY :
Hodge, J. Aspinwall, What Is Presbyterian Law? (Philadelphia, 1882, pp. 27) :
VIII. What is the eighth principle?
"The vigor and strictness of its discipline will contribute to the glory and happiness of any Church."
How can this be shown?
"Since ecclesiastical discipline must be purely moral or spiritual in its object, and not attended with any civil effects, it can derive no force whatever, but from its own justice, the approbation of an impartial public, and the countenance and blessing of the great Head of the Church universal." It is not the exercise of human power, but the application of divine laws. It is enforce by appeal to the infallible word of God and to Christ the great Head of the Church. Its object is to secure to the Church sound doctrine, godly living, encouragement to the well-doing and correction to the erring.


Chapter Index [links to Par. 1 of 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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