CHAPTER XVI. Of synods.

The Cambridge Platform (1648)

Chapter 16: Of Synods
1. Synods orderly assembled, and rightly proceeding according to the pattern, Acts 15, we acknowledge as the ordinance of Christ: and though not absolutely necessary to the being, yet many times, necessary to the well-being of churches, for the establishment of truth, and peace therein.
2. Synods being spiritual and ecclesiastical assemblies, are therefore made up of spiritual and ecclesiastical causes. The next efficient cause of them under Christ, is the power of the churches, sending forth their elders, and other messengers; who being met together in the name of Christ, are the matter of a synod: and they in arguing, debating and determining matters of religion according to the word, and publishing the same to the churches whom it concerneth, do put forth the proper and formal acts of a synod; to the conviction of errors, and heresies, and the establishment of truth and peace in the churches, which is the end of a synod.
3. Magistrates have power to call a synod, by calling to the churches to send forth their elders and other messengers, to counsel and assist them in matters of religion: but yet the constituting of a synod is a church act, and may be transacted by the churches, even when civil magistrates may be enemies to churches and to church assemblies.
4. It belongeth unto synods and councils, to debate and determine controversies of faith, and cases of conscience; to clear from the Word holy directions for the holy worship of God, and good government of the church; to bear witness against maladministration and corruption in doctrine or manners in any particular church, and to give directions for the reformation thereof: not to exercise church-censures in way of discipline, nor any other act of church-authority or jurisdiction: which that presidential synod did forbear.
5. The synods directions and determinations, so far as consonant to the Word of God, are to be received with reverence and submission; not only for their agreement therewith (which is the principal ground thereof, and without which they bind not at all): but also, secondarily, for the power whereby they are made, as being an ordinance of God appointed thereunto in his Word.
6. Because it is difficult, if not impossible, for many churches to come altogether in one place, in all their members universally: therefore, they may assemble by their delegates or messengers, as the church of Antioch went not all to Jerusalem, but some select men for that purpose. Because none are or should be fit to know the state of the churches, nor to advise of ways for the good thereof than elders; therefore, it is fit that in the choice of the messengers for such assemblies, they have special respect into such. Yet inasmuch as not only Paul and Barnabas, but certain others also were sent to Jerusalem from Antioch, Acts 15, and they were come to Jerusalem, not only the apostles and elders, but other brethren also do assemble, and meet about the matter, therefore synods are to consist both of elders, and other church members, endued with gifts, and sent by the churches, not excluding the presence of any brethren in the churches.