1786 Charter of Compact, Independent Christian Church

1786 Charter of Compact, Independent Christian Church, Gloucester, Massachusetts

Charter of Compact.

The 1786 basis of church government for the Independent Christian Church, Gloucester, Massachusetts.

1. That there be a stated annual meeting of the Society on the second Wednesday in April every year, for the purpose of choosing a select committee, whose power shall be as hereafter defined, and that there be at the same time a clerk chosen to this Society.

2. That there be funds provided by voluntary subscription for the purpose of supporting a teacher or teachers of Piety, Religion, and Morality, and for the purpose of assisting poor and distressed brethren.

3. The powers of the Compact are to extend, to the calling of a meeting or meetings of the Society, when they shall think proper, or on request of five of the Society.

4. They have the power to admit new subscribers: they shall likewise acquaint the Clerk of their proceedings in order that he may keep a regular record.

5. The Clerk shall record the transactions both of the society and committee, in a book open to the inspection of any one.

6. The Clerk shall be Treasurer of the Society, and shall regularly report both of the reception and distribution of monies to the Compact at every annual meeting.

7. All who shall subscribe and not punctually pay, shall be exempt from the privledges of the Charter of Compact, and the Compact shall have discretionary power to remit subscriptions on reasonable representations made to them.

8. The Subscriptions shall be made to the Clerk, which will render useless the office of a Collector.

9. Subscriptions shall be opened at the annual meetings, and continue at those periods, unless any circumstances shall require them more frequently.

10. All Subscribers shall have an equal vote.

11. All questions shall be determined by two thirds by the present members, and seven shall constitute a meeting.

12. Every member or Subscriber shall have a free liberty to withdraw his name from this Charter whenever shall see fit.

13. Whereas the the privlege of choosing one’s own religion is inestimable, in order to maintain that privlege unimpaired, in case of any person associating with us shall suffer persecution from an unlawful exercise of power, we do agree and resolve to afford all legal measures of extricating him from difficulty, and of enabling him to enjoy that freedom which is held forth in the Constiution.

14. And be it universally known, that we who have set our names to the Charter of Compact for the purposes heretofore names, are composed of and belong to the Independent Christian Society, in ____, commonly called Universalists. As christians we acknowledge no Master but Christ Jesus, and as disciples we profess to follow no guide in spiritual matters but his word and spirit; as dwellers in this world we hold ourselves bound to yield obedience to every ordinance of man for God’s sake, and we will be obedient subjects to the powers that are ordained of God in all civil cases; but as subjects of that King whose kingdom is not of this world, we cannot acknowledge the right of any human authority to make laws for the regulation of our consciences in spiritual matters. Thus as a true independent Church of Christ, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, we mutually agree to walk together in Christian fellowship, building up each other in our most holy faith, rejoicing in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and determining by his grace no more than to be entangled by any yoke of bondage. As disciples of the meek and lowly Jesus, we resolve as fae as in us lieth to live peaceably with all men, yet as believers, living godly in Christ Jesus, we expect to suffer as much persecution as the laws of the country we live in admit of. But we resolve by the grace of God, none of these things shall move us to act inconsistantly with our character as Christians.

We will as much as possible avoid vain jangling and unnecessary disputation; and should we be reviled, endeavour in patience to possess our souls. As an Independent Church of Christ, thus bound together by the cords of love, and uniting together in his name, we mutually agree to meet together to worship our divine Lord and Master, as circumstances shall or may reqire, that we may the more effectually shew forth his praise who hath called us out of darkness into his marvellous light, we resolve to pay a serious regard to all his exhortations, admonitions and instructions given to us by the spirit of God in the epistles distated to our holy apostles. We will by the grace of God, in word and deed, endeavour to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour, as children of one Father, and members of one head who are united together in Church fellowship, bound by the love of our dear Saviour.