The following quote is from James Bannerman. I came across it in a comment from John Muether at De Regno Christi:
“The Church may in all such cases [testing a doctrinal view; trying an officer] take directly the Word of God itself as the standard to rule its decision, or may take a human confession drawn up in explanation of the Word of God as the standard to rule its decision.
In both instances it is ultimately the Church’s judgment of what the Word of God says in the matter that guides and determines the decision,–that judgment in the one case being formed directly by an examination of the Word at the moment, and in the other case being formed by the help of its own previous examination of the same Word embodied in the confession.
In the one way the Church, for the purpose of deciding each particular case, examines the Scriptures afresh, and according to the examination pronounces judgment; in the other way, the Church has recourse for aid to the result of its former examination of the Scriptures, and according to the record of that examination pronounces judgment.
In both instances the judgment rests on the same foundation,–on the footing of what, in the opinion of the Church, is the meaning of the Word of God as bearing upon the matter submitted to its decision.”