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Answ. Many of our members have married with unawakened persons. This has produced bad effects; they have been either hindered for life, or have turned back to perdition.
Quest. 2. What can be done to discourage this?
Answ. 1. Let every preacher publicly enforce the apostle's caution, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers." 2 Cor. vi, 14.
2. Let all be exhorted to take no step in so weighty a matter, without advising with the most serious of their brethren.
Quest. 3. Ought any woman to marry without the consent of her parents?
Answ. In general she ought not. Yet there may be exceptions. For if, 1. A woman believe it to be her duty to marry: if, 2. Her parents absolutely refuse to let her marry any Christian: then she may, nay, ought to marry without their consent. Yet even then a Methodist preacher ought not
to be married to her.
We do not prohibit our people from marrying persons who are not of our Church, provided such persons have the form, and are seeking the power, of godliness; but we are determined to discourage their marrying persons who do not come up to this description.
OF BRINGING MINISTERS AND MEMBERS TO TRIAL, AND OF INSOLVENCIES, AND THE SETTLEMENT OF DISPUTES.
Of the Trial of a Bishop.
Quest. 1. To whom is a Bishop amenable for his conduct?
Answ. To the General Conference, who have power to expel him for improper conduct, if they see it necessary.
Quest. 2. What provision shall be made for the trial of a Bishop, if he should be accused of immorality in the interval of the General Conference?
Answ. If a Bishop be accused of immorality, three Travelling Elders shall call upon him, and examine him on the subject; and if the three Elders verily believe that the Bishop is guilty of the crime, they shall call to their aid two Presiding Elders from two districts in the neighbourhood of that where the crime was committed, each of which Presiding Elders shall bring with him two Elders, or an Elder and a Deacon. The above-mentioned nine persons shall form a Conference, to examine into the charge brought against the Bishop: and if two-thirds of them verily believe him to be guilty of the crime laid to his charge, they shall have
authority to suspend the Bishop till the ensuing General Conference, and the districts shall be regulated in the mean time as is provided in ch. iii, § 3, and ch. iv, §§ 1, 2; but no accusation shall be received against a Bishop except it be delivered in writing, signed by those who are to prove the crime; and a copy of the accusation shall be given to the accused Bishop.
Of the Method of Proceeding against accused Travelling Ministers or Preachers.
Quest. 1. What shall be done when an Elder, Deacon, or preacher, is under report of being guilty of some crime expressly forbidden in the word of God, as an unchristian practice, sufficient to exclude a person from the kingdom of grace and glory?
Answ. 1. In the interval of the Annual Conference, let the Presiding Elder, in the absence of a Bishop, call as many travelling ministers as he shall think fit, at least three: and, if possible, bring the accused and the accuser face to face and cause a correct record of the investigation to be kept and transmitted to the Annual Conference. If the person be clearly convicted, he shall be suspended from all ministerial services and Church privileges until the ensuing Annual Conference, at which his case shall be fully considered and determined. But if the accused be a Presiding Elder, the preachers
must call in the Presiding Elder of the neighbouring district, who is required to attend and preside at the trial.
If the accused and accuser cannot be brought face to face, but the supposed delinquent flees from trial, it shall be received as a presumptive proof of guilt; and out of the mouth of two or three witnesses he shall be condemned. Nevertheless, even in that case, the Annual Conference shall reconsider and determine the whole matter.
And if the accused be a superannuated preacher, living out of the bounds of the Conference of which he is a member, he shall be held responsible to the Annual Conference within whose bounds he may reside, who shall have power to try, acquit, suspend, locate, or expel him, in the same manner as if he were a member of said Conference.
2. If the charge be preferred at the Conference, the case may be referred to a committee, in the presence of a Presiding Elder, or a member appointed by the Bishop in his stead, who shall cause a faithful record of the proceedings and testimony to be laid before the Conference; on which, with such other evidence as may be admitted, the case shall be decided.
Quest. 2. What shall be done in cases of improper tempers, words, or actions.
Answ. The person so offending shall be reprehended by his senior in office. Should a second transgression take place, one, two, or three ministers or preachers, are to be
taken as witnesses. If he be not then cured, he shall be tried at the next Annual Conference, and, if found guilty and impenitent, shall be expelled from the connexion, and his name so returned in the Minutes of the Conference.
Quest. 3. What shall be done when a member of an Annual Conference fails in business, or contracts debts which he is not able to pay?
Answ. Let the Presiding Elder appoint three judicious members of the Church to inspect the accounts, contracts, and circumstances of the supposed delinquent, and if, in their opinion, he has behaved dishonestly, or contracted debts without the probability of paying, let the case be disposed of according to the answer of question one of this section.
Quest. 4. What shall be done with those ministers or preachers who hold and disseminate, publicly or privately, doctrines which are contrary to our articles of religion?
Answ. Let the same process be observed as in case of gross immorality: but if the minister or preacher so offending do solemnly engage not to disseminate such erroneous doctrines in public or in private, he shall be borne with, till his case be laid before the next Annual Conference, which shall determine the matter.
Quest. 5. What shall be done when a travelling minister is accused of being so unacceptable, inefficient, or secular, as to be no longer useful in his work?