Of Synods and Councils.
I. For the better government,
and further edification of the church, there ought to be such assemblies as
are commonly called Synods or Councils.a
a Acts 15:2,4,6.
II. As magistrates may lawfully
call a synod of ministers, and other fit persons, to consult and advise with,
about matters of religion;b
so if magistrates be open enemies to the church, the ministers of Christ, of
themselves, by virtue of their office, or they, with other fit
persons upon delegation from their churches, may meet together in such
b Isa. 49:23; 1 Tim.
2:1,2; 2 Chron. 19:8 to the end; 2 Chron. chap. 29, 30; Matt. 2:4,5; Prov.
III. It belongs to synods and
councils ministerially to determine controversies of faith, and cases of
conscience; to set down rules and directions for the better
ordering of the publick worship of God, and government of his
church; to receive complaints in cases of mal-administration, and
authoritatively to determine the same: which decrees and
determinations, if consonant to the word of God, are to be received with reverence
and submission, not only for their agreement with the word, but also for the
power whereby they are made, as being an ordinance of God, appointed thereunto
in his word.d
15:15,19,24,27-31; Acts 16:4; Matt. 18:17-20.
IV. All synods or councils,
since the apostlesí times, whether general or particular, may err, and many
have erred; therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith or
practice, but to be used as a help in both.e
e Eph. 2:20; Acts
17:11; 1 Cor. 2:5; 2 Cor. 1:24.
V. Synods and councils are to
handle or conclude nothing but that which is ecclesiastical; and are not to
intermeddle with civil affairs, which concern the commonwealth,
unless by way of humble petition, in cases extraordinary; or by way
of advice for satisfaction of conscience, if they be thereunto required by the
f Luke 12:13,14;
Confession of Faith (index)