Acts and Proceedings of the General Assemblies of the Kirk of Scotland, 1560-1618. Originally published by [s.n.], Edinburgh, 1839.
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A. D. M.D.LXXIX
The Generall Assemblie conveinit at Edinburgh, in the New Kirk, and begun the 7 of Julij 1579: Quherein ther was present the Commissioners of Countreys, Provinces, Townes and Vniversities.
Exhortatioun made be David Fergusone. Leits, Mrs Andro Hay, Thomas Smeitoun and Johne Duncansone: be pluralitie of votes the said Mr Thomas was chosin Moderatour hac vice, [who desired certain of the brethren to concurr, and give their advice to him in matters to be handled at this Convention,] at whose desyre the Laird of Dunne, Mrs Johne Row, Andro Melvill, Androw Hay, James Lowsone, Robert Pont, David Fergusone, John Greig, [and the Minister of Dundie] were appointit Assessours, [to conveen every day with him, at 7 hours in the morning, in Mr James Lowsons gallrie, and at two after noon, and to continue so, till the end of the Assembly.]
In face of the Assemblie, Mr Johne Duncansone, the Kings Majesties Minister, presentit his Hienes letter direct to the Assemblie, quhilk was red and humblie receivit, and ordained to be registrat in the Register of the Kirk, quherof the tenour followes:
Richt trustie and welbelovit, We greit ȝou heartlie weill. Vnderstanding of ȝour present Assemblie at Edenburgh, and for the rumours that passes of some things to be intreatit among ȝou, that may seime prejudiciall to that good ordour of the government of the Kirk and ecclesiasticall policie heirtofoir lang travellit in and hopeit for, We have takin occassion to shew our mynd in this behalfe to the Minister of our awin house and some vthers of ȝour awin number happening to be present with Vs, quhom in this cause We have thought meitest to vse as our awin mesfingers to carie our letter, quherby We heartlie desyre ȝou and effectuouslie admonisch ȝou, that in this our ȝoung age, the tyme beand subiect to so many difficulties and impersectiouns, to bestow ȝour common care and good will to intertaine peace and quyetnes in Gods feare and our due obedience; forbearing any proceiding at this tyme, that may touch matters heirtofoir not concludit be our lawis or receivit in practise: But quhatevir in the former conferences tuiching the policie of the Kirk, was remittit to be reasoned and decydit be our Estates in Parliament, let it so rest without prejudging the same with any of ȝour conclusiouns at this tyme, since our Parliament now so shortlie approaches, and that We are weill pleasit [and content,] that before the same sick matters as are not ȝet fully reasonit, may be farther consultit vpon and prepared to passe in forme of laws, and the meitest for that worke to be expreslie imployit therin; to the end that the things conferrit and aggreit vpon may be presentit to our Estates, to be approvit in our said Parliament, and due execution to follow thereon for the advancement of Gods true religioun, and the repose of ȝou and vthers our good subjects, the members of the Kirk of God within this realme: And for this cause, that ȝe will not only be the authors and perswaders of commoun peace and concord amongst all of ȝour awin function, but amongst all vthers our subjects, asweill generallie as in the particular kirks quher ye travell, that some men ovir bussie to worke the contrair effects, may find themselves dissapointit; and that our haill estate, be ȝour example, may be rather dis posit [to conforme] themselves to a godlie and a peaceable course of living, quhilk we are assured salbe pleasing to God, and to Vs wilbe most acceptable, as ȝe may perswade ȝour selves of our willing inclinatioun to sett fordwart this actioun according to Gods will and word, with all the diligence and good meanes that may be vsed: And so looking to be informed of the successe of this our reasonable requeist and admonition, We commit ȝou to the protectioun of God. At our Castell of Stirling, the 5 day of July 1579. Sic subscribitur James Rex.
Directit To our trustie and welbelovit the Ministers and vthers of the Kirk presentlie assemblit at Edenburgh.
[The Commissioners of Countries being removed for triall, it was laid to John Clappertons charge, That he had simpliciter refused the commission of the Assembly, and had used no visitation: He answered, That he had not simpliciter refused the commission, but in terms had declared ost to the Assembly, that he might not bear the charge for good reasons which were not heard, granting alwayes he had not made visitation; first, Because he found no concurrence in the Countrey; be reason of the ruine of kirks which he could not get repaired, albeit he had letters to that effect, because he durst not execut the same; 8dly, Nemo in sua patria propheta, therefor a stranger would doe more good in these places nor he being native in these bounds.
Mr Peter Watson was accused for not visiting the bounds committed to him; and that being informed how Mr Gilbert Broun, Abbot of New Abbey, and Mr Ninian Dalyel had intised the people within these bounds to papistrie, and yet made no tryal thereof; 3dly, That there yet stands an high altar in the New Abbay. He grants he had visit only within six miles to Dumfries, the rest of the country being destitut of Ministers through deposition of many, some be the Generall Assemblie, some be the Synodal; grants, that the monument of idolatrie yet standeth; as for Mr Gilbert and Ninian, they were to be called before the present Assembly.
Anent the complaint made upon Mr Thomas Cranston, Minister at Libertoun, That he had left his flock there, departed from them to another kirk, and taken up the living of the interim: The Assembly, in respect of his absence, gives commission to the Commissioner that shall be appointed over Edinburgh, and that part of Edinburgh, with assistance of the Minister of Edinburgh, to call the said Mr Thomas befor them, and to cognosce upon the said complaint, and to put order thereto, as effeirs.
Anent the complaint made upon John Sinclair, Vicar of Boltoun, That having purchased a presentation of the said benefice, after that he had required Mr David Lindsay, Commissioner for the bounds, where the said benefice lieth, to give him collation thereof; being refused be him be reason of the acts of the Kirk, purchased a new presentation to the Bishop of Sanct Andrews to the same effect, with charges to him, under the paine of horning, to give him collation, at whose hand be an Atturney he received collation; as alswa institution by Atturneyes, who brake up the kirk doors, as was alledged, and entered be force therein: The Generall Assembly, after calling of the said John, ordained him to produce his presentation, collation and institution of the said benefice before them the morn to be considered.
Anent the ordinance of the last Assembly concerning Mr John Colvils non residence: The Assembly committs the execution of the said ordinance to the Commissioner for the bounds where the kirk lyeth, with the assistance of the brethren of his Exercise; and that the samen be execute with all diligence, as they will answer to the Kirk.
Anent the Reader of Edelston, alledged not placed be any Commissioner of the Kirk: The Assembly found, That the Commissioner of that Countrey have tryal of his qualities and life; and if he find him able to serve the cure, to admitt him, and cause him to be booked; otherwise to reject him, and discharge him of his office. C.]
Touching the Epistle presentit be Alexander Arbuthnot to be presixt to the Byble: The brether hes desyrit the Moderatour and his Assessours to reid and consider the same, together with the Calender to be presentit be Mr Robert Pont, and to give thair judgements therof the morne.
[Mr. Ninian Dalyell, Schoolmaster of Dumfreis, compeared, and was accused, That he had privilie professed papistrie, and had corrupted the youth with erroneous doctrine in sundrie points; and, namely, that he had alledged, that the sacrament cannot be ministred but be a priest, had affirmed the reality of the sacrament, the visibility and succession of the Kirk, and other like heads: He answered, That he had never affirmed such heads, and craved only reasoning and conference upon the visibility and succession of the Kirk: As to the rest he doubted not.
Mr Gilbert Broun was accused, That having participat of the sacrament in Sanct Andrews, subscribed the articles there, and yet had made apostacy again: It was therefore ordained, be vertue of the said admission, he should underly the censures of the Kirk. C.]
Anent the buriall of the bodie of the Erle of Athoill of good memorie: The Kirk thoght meit to direct from the Assemblie Mr Johne Row and Johne Durie [to the Lords] to desyre of them, that all superstitioun be avoidit therat; quho reportit that they had made information to thair Honours, That the brute was of some superstitious rites, quhilk were prepared for the buriall, as a whyt crosse in the mort claith, lang gownes with stroupes, and torches; quher ansuer was, That it was not a crosse, and grantit the gownes, and denyit the torches; alwayes desyrit the Kirk to direct two to sie, if sick things as was prepared were superstitious, and they sould be reformit: according quherto were immediatlie [sent to them] David Fergusone, John Brand and Johne Durie, to declare, The Kirk thoght the crosse and the stroupes superstitious and ethnick lyke, and desyrit them to remove the same; quho returnit with ansuer, That the Lords sould cause cover the mort claith with black velvett, and the stroupes sould be removit.
Anent the act made in the last Assemblie concerning the suspensioun of Visitors fra giving collatioun of benefices to any person by the Ministers serving actually at the Kirks, quher the saids benefices lyis: The Assemblie ordaines the said act to stand in full effect and strenth quhill the nixt Assemblie, quher the matter beand newlie proponit, may be farther resolvit.
The brether thoght good, that the late conference, haldin at Stirling be sick as the King appointit therto, sould be red, sein and conserrit with the Booke of Policie, to sie quherin the said conference aggries with the conclusioun already of the Kirk.
Concerning the doubt made vpon the second article of the said cap.: The Kirk explaines that article, and declares, it is vnderstood both of the Particular Presbytrie and Generall Kirk.
The fourth article is thoght plaine enough.
Aggriet to the delatione containit in the sixt article.
The nint article, the Kirk thinks good it stand as it is in the Booke.
And the twelve sicklyke.
18, The Kirk eiks to the work government this word, discipline.
The tent article to remaine vnalterit.
The Kirk present willit [their brethren, to wit,] Mrs Andro Melvill, Andro Hay, Johne Craig, William Christesone and the Laird of Lundie to conveine in the place of the Assemblie, and to visite the ansuer givin in be Mr Patrick Adamsone, to the removeing of the corruptions in the Estate of Bischops, and to give thair judgement thervpon the morne.
[Anent the apostacie and defection of Mr Ninian Dalyell, Master of the Grammar School of Dumfries, from the true religion of Jesus Christ prosessed be him before, and corrupting the youth of his school with papistrie, confessed in presence of this Assemblie:] The Assemblie, [after good deliberation, and] weyand the apostasie of Mr. Niniane Dalyell Master of the Grammar School of Dumfries, deposit him simpliciter from the functioun of the Ministrie in tyme comeing, and suspends him from teaching the schoole and ȝouth, quhill as good experience be had of them of his good lyfe and behaviour, as they have of his defectioun [and apostacie;] and, in the meane tyme, ordaines ane of the Doctours in the schoole, if he be sound in religioun, to teach the schoole of Dumfreis [during that tyme;] and farder ordaines him publicklie, in face of the haill Assemblie, to consesse his offence, and therafter to passe to the towne of Dumfreis, and vther parts of the countrey quher he hes abused the simple peiple; and lykewayes publicklie in presence of the Commissioner consesse the same, revokeand the saids errours, and professand the contrair, craveing God and his Kirk pardon therfoir, and that immediatlie after his and the Commissioners hame passing, vnder the paine of excommunication.
[Anent the commission given to the Ministers of Edinburgh, and certain other brethren and their collegues, concerning the charging of Mr Patrick Adamson to remove the corruptions of the state of Bishops in his person, and tryal of certaine complaints made upon him; and also concerning Mr. Robert Hammilton, as the commission given in the last Assembly beareth: The Generall Assemblie, after publick reading of the process led be the said brethren, and of the particular answer made be the said Mr. Patrick to every head of the said corruption, as alsua after reasoning had be Mr James Martin, Master of Salvators Colledge, Commissioner for the University, with the said Mr. Robert, in one voice give power and commission to the said brethren, Commissioners of before, to goe foreward in the said commission given to them in the said last Assemblie, and to charge him yet to remove the particular corruptions, whereunto he had not agreed yet in his answer; and if he refuseth, to execute their former commission in all points: As likeways gives power and commission to their said brethren to summond the said Mr. Patrick to compear before them in Edinburgh, at a reasonable day, with convenient deiligence, and to charge him with the particular offences following, to wit, That he having submitted him to the Assembly of the Kirk, immediately after his submission, past and voted in Parliament; secondly, That he had given collation to John Sinclar of the Vicarage of Bolton, having no power of Visitation; thirdly, That he had agreed to all the heads of the Policie, except four, and yet came against the samen; fourthly, Had caused remove Mr Alexander Jerdan from the kirk of Monymaill, being his own kirk; fifthly, Had commanded a Reader in Fife resign the manse and kirk land to another: and upon all these several heads to receive his several answers, to be reported again to the next Assemblie. C.]
Anent the Bischops or Commissioners of Countreyes that absents themselves from Generall Assemblies at the tyme appointit: The Kirk hes ordainit the act made the 12 of August 1575, to be execute against them; and namely against Sanct Androes, Murray and Aberdein, all absent; and the said act not only to be vnderstand of Bischops haveand office of Visitatioun appointit to them be the Kirk, but sick also as hes not the said office.
[Anent the commission given to Mr. David Weemes to charge Mr James Boyd called Bishop of Glasgow, to remove the corruptions of the state of a Bishop in his person, &c.: For shewing his diligence in this behalf, the said Mr. David produced an act subscribed with his hand, dated at Glasgow the 8th day of June 1579, where he willingly agreed to the act of the Assembly, made at Stirling the day of 1578, to wit, According to the duty of all faithfull Pastors he submitts himself in all points. C.]
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Anent Jesuites remaining in the countrey: The Assemblie present hes vottit and concludit, That the Commissioners of Provinces take tryall, and diligentlie inquyre, if any sick persons resort within the bounds of thair office; and if any be found, to charge [and command] them straitlie to give consessioun of thair faith, revocke thair errours, subscryve the articles of religioun presentlie establisehit be the mercy of God, within this realme; and if they refuse, to proceid with the sentence of excommunication agains them, besyd the civill punishment to be askit of the Kings Hienes; and that this act be execute agains Mr. Johne Hay.
Ordaines a supplicatioun to be made to the King and his Counsell, That good ordour may be taking with the Vniversitie of Sanct Androes, and the corruptioun reformed and tane away; and to that effect, that his Hienes and his Counsell wald direct some wife, godly and learned men to considder the estate [thereof,] and direct letters charging the Masters and Regents of the said Vniversitie to produce to sick as his Grace [and Counsell] sall nominat, with the brether estir specifeit, in name of the Kirk, viz. Mrs Robert Pont, Johne Row, Andro Hay, Andro Melvill, Thomas Smei toun and Thomas Buchannan, Ministers, the foundatiouns of thair Colledges to be sein and considderit be them. To the quhilk brether the Kirk for thair pairt gives commission to concurre with the Kings Majesties Commissioners, to take ordour [with,] and redresse all such corruptiouns and defaults as appertaines to the Kirk, and in so farre as they may doe.
Master Niniane [Dalyell] produceit to the Assembly his opinion concerning the heids of the religioun quhilk are in contraversie, subscrivit with his hand, aggrieing in all points with the opinion and judgement of the Kirk; protestand before God, that, for no favour nor feare of flesche, he affirmed the doctrine conteinit therin; but is alwayes myndit to die and live in the same.
[Anent the Commissioners over Provinces: Seeing the brethren travell for the most part upon their own expenss, and thereby the Kirks are not so carefully visited as duty requireth; therefor the Assembly thought meet, That in the supplication to be given in to the Kings Majestie and Council, be desired to make reasonable provision for them, either out of the thrids of the benefices, or the two parts; whose names elected till the next Assembly followes:—
The Generall Assemblie gives full power and commissioun to [thair honourable brether,] the Lairds of Lundie, Braid, Elphingstoun, Carnel, Bargany, Careltoun, Abbotshall, Cessurd, Colderknowes, Patrick Kynninmont, with the Commissioners appointit over the whole Provinces within this realme, be the said Assemblie, Mrs Robert Pont, James Lowsone, Johne Craig, Johne Duncansone, Ministers [of Christs Evangell,] Andro Melvill, Alexander Arbuthnot, with sick as sall have commissioun and be direct from the Burrowis, or to the maist pairt of the said number, To conveine [and assemble] quher it sall happin the Parliament to be haldin, two dayes befor the halding therof, and ther advyse, conceive and forme sick heids and articles as they sall think meit to be proponit therto, in name of the Kirk, for the weill and manteinance of Gods glorie, and Policie of the Kirk of God; to desyre with all humilitie, and effectuously to crave the samein to be grantit; to conserre and reason ther vpon the saids heids, and sick as salbe proponit ther, sicklyke and as the said Assemblie might doc, if they were present, firme and stabill &c.
The General Assemblie gives full power and commissioun to thair lovit brethren, Johne Erskine of Dun, Johne Duncansone, [Minister of the Kings Majesties house,] Andro Hay, Johne Craig, Thomas Smeitoun, Ministers [of Christs Evangel,] and Andro Melvill, Principall of the College of Glasgow, to passe to the Kings Majestie and Counsell to Striveling, with convenient expeditioun, and to present vnto his Hienes and Counsell sick heids, articles and complaints as are givin and already delyverit to them be the Kirk; with humble instance and reverence to crave and receive ansuer therof, and therin to travell effectuouslie and with diligence; and namely to make sute for the reformation of the Vniversitie of Sanct Androes, and that tyme may be appointit therto; quherof the said Assemblie willed thair brether to make due advertisement vnto sick as the said Assemblie hes namit for thair part: and quhat heiranent beis done to report againe to the nixt Assembly; frame and stable haldand and for to hald quhatsoevir thair said brether in the premisses righteouslie leids to be done.
[The tenor of the Articles to be presentit to the Kings Majestie be the Commissioners of the Kirk of Scotland, conveined in the Generall Assembly thereof, at Edinburgh the 14 day of July 1579. C. &. B.]
1. The Kirk craves [of the Kings Majestie, that because many young scholars are sent out of this realme to Paris, and other Universities professing papistrie, wherethrough the youth of this realme is corrupted be pestilent poprie, in place of godly virtur,] That the Kings Majestie wald make generall prohibitioun, that none of the inhabitants of this realme send thair children to Paris, or any vther Vniversitie or Towne professing papistrie, vnder sick paines as his Hienes and his Counsell sall thinke expedient; [to the end, that the youth of this countrey be not brought up on Papistical superstition and idolatrie contrar to Christs religion.]
2. [The Assembly craveth of his Hienes, that becaus it is thought meet the University of Sanct Andrews be reformed,] That his Hienes wald cause and compell the Provests and Masters of the Colledges of the Vniversitie of Sanct Androes to [produce and] exhibite the erectiouns and foundations of the Colledgis within the said Vniversitie, to be considderit be his Hienes and sick as his Grace sall appoint; also that the saids foundations may be sichtit, and reformation made theranent, as effeirs.
3. Because some Jesuites, are presently within this countrey, That ordour may be takin with them, as effeirs, [seeing they are the pestilent dregs of most detestable idolatrie.]
4. Because ane Minister is not sufficient to awaite at all tymes vpon his Grace and his Hienes house, to preach, exhort, admonisch, and preserve persyte discipline within the same; therfor the Kirk craves, That his Hienes wilbe content to name any vther Minister within this realme, of best qualities, to be joynit with Johne Duncansone, [his Hienes Minister for the present,] that they may both be mutuall consent awaite vpon his Grace and the haill ministrie of his house.
5. That because in the last conference, haldin at Striveling be his Graces command, concerning the Policie of the Kirk, certaine articles theranent remaines ȝet vnresolved and referred to farder conference; therefor the Kirk craves at his Majestie, That persons vnspottit with sick corruptions as are desyrit to be reformit, may be nominat be his Majestie to proceid in the farther conference of the said Policie; and tyme and place to be appointit for that effect.
6. Because the Kirk vnderstands that his Majestie, be advyse of his Secreit Counsell, direct letters oftentymes to stay the executioun of the acts of the Generall Assemblie; as also summounds Ministers to take tryall of excommunication pronouncit be them according to the word of God, and discipline of the Kirk; stayes the producting of the same, as the Commissioners of the Kirk in particular will declare: That therfor his Majestie heirafter wald suffer the acts of the Generall Assemblie to be put in executioun; and namelie that excommunication beand pronouncit, may have the dew executioun, without controlling therof befor his Majestie and Secreit Counsell.
[Questions proponit be the Synodall Assemblie of Lowthian to the Generall Assemblie; and the answers of the Assemblie thereto. C. & B.]
[Questio. In the first,] In respect of great inconveniences that hes insewit, and daylie does infew be Readers in vseing thair office, the haill brether hes inhibite all Readers from ministring the sacraments and solemnization of marriage, permitting nothing vnto them but proclamatioun of the bands, and simple reiding of the text; desyring ane vniforme ordour to be establishit be the acts of the Generall Assemblie through all provinces.
Responsio: So many Reidars as the Commissionars and Synodall Assemblies finds vnmeit to solemnize marriage, to be inhibite be them.
[Q. Secondly, Craveth of the Generall Assemblie an universal order to be established concerning Ministers, as the Synodall Assemblie of Lothian hath concluded already, That every Minister shall await every Sabbath day at that kirk, where he is bound to make residence; and the supporting of other Kirks to be only on work days: and the Commissioners of every province in their visitation, to accuse the Ministers controveeners of the samen.
Answer: Alloweth this order for Lothian. C.]
[Q. Thirdly,] In respect that sundrie brether beys thair ministrie, hes particular benefices, quherby the Kirks quher thair benefices lyis are diffapoyntit of service, That ane vniforme ordour may be tane, that men may serve either at the kirk quher thair benefices lyes, or provision be made for the same.
Answer: Aggrcit heirto.
[Q. Fourthly, A general order to be taken, for erecting of Presbyteries in places quher publick Exercise is vsed, vnto the tyme the Police of the Kirk be established be law. C. & B.]
Answer: The Exercise may be judgit a Presbyterie.
[Questions proponed be the Synodall Assemblies of Sanct Andrews to the General Assemblies; and the answers of the Assemblie thereto. C.]
[Q. In the first, The brethren of the said Assemblie require,] If any aught or may be suffered to reid within the Kirk in tyme of necessitie, without admission, although they be elders or deacons.
Responsio: Negatur simpliciter.
[Q. Item] If all the Kirks have not the same equall power to marrie on ane oulk day, by the Sabboth, haveand ane sufficient number, [and] joynand preaching therto, as certain particular Kirks already practises the same.
Responsio: It is aggreeit that they may marrie on seriall dayes.
[Q. Item,] What ordour salbe put to them that bydes from the Communioun, alledging invy that they beare towards thair neighbours, the cause therof; and vthers that will neither speake, salute, nor beare familiar companie with their neighbours, beand requyrit be their Ministers, and will not obey, Aught they to be admittit.
Responsio: Ordaines the persons lyand vnder invy to be admonischit; and the vthers not to be sufferit without reconciliatioun and testificatioun of brotherly love.
[Q. Last,] What aught to be done to sick persons that, after admonition, will passe to May playis; and speciallie elders and deacons, and vthers quha beares office in the Kirk.
Responsio: They aught not to be admittit to the sacrament without satisfaction; in speciall elders and deacons.
[A certain married man slandereth himself of adultery with another mans wife: the woman denyeth the fact, but granteth that he intised her sundry tymes thereto. Item, the woman slandereth the man, that he perswaded her to put doun her own husband, to goe out of the countrey with him, promising, as she alledged, to doe the like with his wife: The man grants that he intised her to go with him out of the countrey: but denieth that he perswaded her to doe any evil to her husband: of which shamefull alledgances no small troubles are raised; and the Kirk heavily slandered.
Answer: Referres this question to be farther tryed in all circumstances, be the Commissioner of the Country, the Minister of the parish, and other Ministers next adjacent, such as the Commissioner shall convocat, at what time and place it shall seem best to them; and that both parties in the interim be debarred a sacra cœna. C.]
[Q. Becaus there are some Ministers that will not solemnize marriage, but only upon Sunday; and other some use the samen upon oulk dayes, whereof ariseth no small slander among the people: we crave an universal order to be keeped, either to appoint the Sunday precisely, or that all days be alyke after due proclamation. C. & B.]
Ansuer: Bands beand thrie severall Sonday is lausullie proclaimit, the marriage may be any day of the oulk solemnizat, swa that a sufficient number of witnes be present.
Q. What ordour salbe tane with these persons that passes to a popish priest to be married, their bands not beand proclaimed: Sall they be esteimed as married [persons;] and if not, quhat discipline salbe vsit against them.
Ansuer: This conjuction is no marriage, and therfor ordaines the persons to be callit befor their particular Assemblies and satisfie as fornicatours; and vpon new proclamation to be married according to the ordour of the reformit Kirk; and the papist priest to be punischit.
[The Assemblies] ordaines the Commissioners of Countreyes and their assessours to try within their bounds, sick of the Ministrie as hes pluralitie of benefices and offices, and to inquyre the reasons therof: to be reportit be them to the nixt Generall Assemblie, with their names that bruiks the saids benefices and offices, that the Kirk may take ordour for remeeding thereof.
Anent the act made anent the apparrel of the Ministers and thair wyves: Ordaines the same to be put to execution in all points, according to the tenour therof.
[To the right excellent, right high and mighty Prince James the sixth King of Scots, your humble subjects, the Commissioners of the Kirks of your realme, with grace and peace, with a prosperous reigne, from God the Father, through our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Our duty craveth at all occasions to hold your Hienels in remembrance of things pertaining to the advancement of Gods glory, and weale of his Kirk, wherewith is joyned the preservation of your estate, and whole body of this common wealth; for above the common fort of Princes, who, for the most part, are either enemies of the true religion, or else think that the medling therewith troubleth their estate, and are greatly moved, with the wicked Herod, when they hear the wife men seeking for Christ to adore him as a King, Ye are of Gods loving mercy called to this honour and dignity, to be a maintainer of Gods eternal truth, and mutually to be maintained be the same in lyke sort, that in all troubles and commotions, that any tyme thir twelve years past have disquieted your common weale, two things have ever been annexed together, and made, as it were, one quarrell and one cause, to wit, the maintainance of Christs Evangel, and defence of your royal estate; so that for the most part, they that have been enemies to the right religion, have been enemies lykwise to your authority and crown; and be the contrary, the most servant favourers of Gods truth have ever been found most faithfull subjects unto your Majestie, and maintainers of your welfare and estate: and in this respect no doubt hath the Eternal, at many tymes, when matters appeared almost desperat in mens eyes, granted marvelous success, and notable victories to these who sustained your quarrell against the greater forces, creasty and bold interprises of the adversaries of the same; who although many of them outwardly professed the same religion, yet if their attempts had come to effect, they should have been the moyen to suppress the same, and to erect superstition and idolatrie again in place thereof, which our God would not suffer, but rather fought be his own power against them, as well for preservation of his truth revealed of his great mercy among us, as of your Hieness person and estate, to be advancer thereof in tyme to come; which indeed, Sir, is no small honour unto you, to have Gods cause and yours so linked together, and is an evident token and testimony, that so long is your princely estate able to stand in all stability, how long the purity of religion and liberty of Christs Kirk shall be carefully keeped and maintained be you. Then if oft tymes Priences have done many things for their friends and confederats, and namely such as have been with them in lyke danger and hazard of tyning and woning, how meekle more shall it become your Hieness to refuse no travells for the cause of Christs Kirk and true religion, presently so mixed with your own estate, that both have the self same friends and unfriends, and are both appearand to abide together the like danger, to fall or to stand: Herefor we were meekle to be blamed, and worthy to be accused of neglecting our duty, if wee should not from tyme to tyme, as opportunity beis offered, stirr up and labour to promove your good mind in so worthy and necessarie a cause; which is farther and farther to advance the liberty of the Gospel, and spiritual bigging of the Kirk of God, by whom Ye are promoted and maintained in this your princely estate, to be mutually to your power a promoter and maintainer of his glory; and specially now, when as being conveened in our Generall Assembly, this holy book of God, called the Bible, newly imprinted, was brought before us, the printer thereof, Alexander Arbuthnet, a man who hath taken great paines and travells worthie to be remembered in this behalf, and desired to be dedicated to your Highness, with a convenient preface in our common Scotish languages, wee could not ommitt nor neglect the occasion offered to doe the same; exhorting you most earnestly, Sir, to consider to what place your God called you, and to remember diligently how the setting forth and authorizing of this book chiefly pertaineth to your charge. Truth it is, that the godly men of the nation of England, for the most part banished from their country for the Gospels cause, and conveened at Geneva, who did faithfully and learnedly translate this book out of the pure fountains of the Hebrew and Chaldaick and Greek tongues, ought to have their own praise for their labours bestowed to the common weale of them that speak our language; yet forsameckle as things once well begunne crave and require great diligence to preserve them from decay, after that with great labours they have been brought to perfection; and great part of the honour of advancing this work pertaineth unto you, be whose authority it was of a certain tyme bypast ordained, That this holy book of God should be set forth, and printed of new within your own realme, to the end that in every parish kirk there should be at least one thereof keeped, to be called the Common Book of the Kirk, as a most meet ornament for such a place, and a perpetual register of the word of God, the fountain of all true doctrine, to be made patent to all the people of every congregation, as the only right rule to direct and governe them in matters of religion, as also to confirm them in the truth received, and to reforme and redress corruptions, wheresoever they may creep in; certainly wee have great occasion both to glorify the goodness of God toward this countrey, and also highly to extoll and commend your Hieness most godly purpose and enterprise. O! what difference may be seen between thir dayes of light, when almost in every privat house the book of Gods law is read and understood in our vulgar language, and the age of darkness, when scarcely in a whole city, without the cloisters of monks and friers, could the book of God once be found, and that in a strange tounge of Latine, not good, but mixed with barbaritie, used and read be few, and almost understood and exponed be none; and when the false named Clergie of this realm, abusing the gentle nature of your Hieness most noble goodshir of worthy memory, made it a capital crime to be punished with the fire, to have or read the New Testement in the vulgar language; yea, and to make them to all men more odious, as if it had been the detestable name of a pernicious sect, they were named New Testamentars. Verily, wee should weigh thir matters aright: men should neither so advance the time past, neither yet accuse this present age, when this only spiritual comfort of Gods word ought justly to be preferred to all the vain worldly wealth of the years past before; but rather with most thankfull hearts praise and extoll the infinite goodness of our God, who hath accounted us worthy to whom he should open such an heavenly treasure, and raised up the heroical spirits of Princes, and namely of your Grace, for the out setting of the same: Wherefore seeing it hath pleased the goodness of our God to shew such favour and benevolence toward your Hienes and this your country, that now the truth of the Evangel is freely, truely and sincerely preached throughout all places under your subjection; of every duty the next care and study ought to be, how this divine work may more and more be furthered and performed, and also maintained and continued, that the purity of religion may long tyme remain among us, to the comfort of this present age, and all prosteritie to come; and so meekle the rather, that the negelecting of this point in other places hath been occasion, that most notable and happy beginings have often tymes not taken such end and success as appearantly might have followed, if the like provision had been made for continuance, as paines and travells were taken for planting of true religion. But as the errors of others may make us circumspect, so should the rare and singular benefits of God, lately shewed to this realm, encourage your Hieness and your whole subjects in hope, that this notable and excellent work of the spiritual edifying of the house of God shall take good success and happy end in your hands; for since the tyme it pleased God to devolve the government of this realme, and care of establishing his Kirk, in your person, being then but an infant of tender age, continualy such success hath followed, that not without just cause the minds of many are crected in that expectation, that God shall some day use you as an instrument to perform greater things for the wellfare of his Kirk, than either wee will presently utter, or be natural reason can be made probable. Wee ommitt now to speak how miraculously the truth of Gods word was first sowen in this countrey be seeble and weak instruments; or largely to delate how mercifully things were brought to pass, without great inconvenience, or cruel bloodshed; and how the liberty of the Evangel hath been so graciously granted to us without any extreme harme and damnage, which other great and potent nations thir many years, with great troubles, and fearfull battells, to the great loss of their lives and goods, have long soght for, and yet never fully obtained. Neither mind wee at this present to declare how wonderfully your Grace hath been preserved even from your conception and birth to this day; how happily factions and controversies concerning your royal estate have been settled and extinguished; and shortly, how many notable works, above all worldly expectation, interprised in your most happy name, have been brought to luckie end and good effect; the favour and blessing of God continually following them with better success than wee durst either hope for or desire. Thir things, and many other things more particular, (the ample discourse whereof wee remitt unto histories,) as they testify to us the bountifull goodness of God, both toward your Majestie and this realme, so ought they stirr up all hearts to thankfulness, and chearfully encourage you to pass foreward in this great work of reformation of religion, and building of the spiritual temple of the Lord, the foundation whereof being already laid by publick and universal preaching of true doctrine throughout the whole realme: It resteth, that the work may be prosecut, and the building brought to a good perfection, by establishing of discipline, and meet policie in the Kirk of God, not taken out of the cifterns of mens traditions, but of the pure fountains of Gods holy word; which thing wisely begun in your Hieness name, be your first Regent of godly memory, and ordained be act of Parliament to be followed furth, hath been diligently pressed for from tyme to tyme; but specialy now since the acceptation of the government in your own person, when as not only most lovingly and willingly Ye did receive the Book of Policie of the Kirk, offered by them who were direct to your Majestie in name of the Generall Kirk; but also was very carefull to find out men meet for conference upon the heads of the same, lamenting for the rarity of such kind of persons as were desired to conferre thereupon; and hath appointed divers times and places, where such conferences in your name and at your commandment have been had, not without fruit, and agreement in many heads to be passed in laws, but with expectation of greater things after to follow upon farther conference, pro vyding such men be appointed thereto, as your Hieness wished, and wee most earnestly crave; whereunto wee doubt not of your own good will, as of before; for it should be but travell lost, whatsoever hath been bestowed therein, if the work shall not be followed furth, and brought to good ishue and good end; whereunto wee exhort your Grace most effectuously, for nothing can be found more proper, where in a christian Prince of such expectation as you are, should give a true proof of the good and found affection which he beareth to the advancement of Gods glory and the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Truth it is, that Sathan ceaseth not, neither will cease hereafter to object many and great impediments to the hinderance of this godly enterprise of bringing the spiritual building of the house of God to perfection, which wee always are in good hope, (adjoyning thereto our continual prayers,) your good and heroick zeal shall overcome, albeit not without some hard difficulty, and weariesom letts even of them who ought of duty to put their hands to this work. We read in this book how many and difficile impediments were offered to Zerobabell and the Jews, to stopp the bigging and repairing the Temple of Jerusalem; some tyme they were expressly countermanded be the edicts of the great Monarch; some times by the threatnings of their adversaries round about them; some tymes by domestical enemies, hypocrits, crasty worldings, and oppressors of their brethren; yet against all thir the prophet opponed the command of God, and promise of his assistance to perform the work. The lyke or rather greater impediments be objected this day against the spiritual building of Gods house. The kings and great monarchs of the earth threaten wrack and destruction to all them that shall medle with this work. The false named kirkmen, that pretend to be biggers up, demolished, and, if they had power, would cast doun all to the ground, as their wicked conspiracy concluded at Trent doth specifie. In what coldness the former zeal of may is now changed; yea, what carelesness of matters of religion in all Estates, it may more than evidently appear. The insatiable covetousness of every one to apply and appropriat to themselves the common rents of the Kirk, doth over truely declare what conscience men have, and specially the greatest (whose ancessors lived more honourably upon their own,) to be manifest transgressors indeed of that religion, which, in word to their shame, boldly they profess. And last of all, the manifest corruption of our lives in all Estates, and licentious and godless living of the multitude, the impunity of some, and wickedness, the cruell and unnatural murthers, hainous and detestable incests, adulteries, forceries, and many such like enormities, with the oppression and contempt of the poor, almost universal corruption of justice and judgements, and many other evils which overslow this common wealth, bear evident witness how slender and small success hitherto followed the reformation of religion within this realm, and doe provock the judgments of God, alace over fore against us: And yet none of these impediments, nay not they all conjoyned together, should discourage your Hieness to gue forward in this godly work once begun; but the hope of Gods assistance, who is able to move heaven and earth, when pleases him, the promises of his presence and grace, and the happy end to follow, ought rather to inflame and raise up your royal heart more constantly to fight and overcome all the letts that fathan and his craftie supports can devise. It appears well that God hath chosen you as a singular instrument, to be a pattern and ensample to all other princes of your tyme, in offering you so fair occasions to put the Kirk of God to full liberty, to purge it from corruption to establish such decent and comely policie within the same as his word craveth, and to provide for the long during and perpetuity thereof; seeing it hath pleased him to make your Grace, from your tender youth head, to be brought up in the true knowledge and fear of his name, to make the true doctrine of the Gospel in perfect unitie, without any schism or controversie, to be plainly and peaceably published through all the bounds of your dominions: and finally, to make this policie of the Kirk to be humblie and earnestly craved to be established be your Highness, be the most part of the true subjects of your realme. Such peculiar occasions ought not to be ommitted, remembring how all kings are commanded to embrace and kiss the Son of God, and to be nourishers of his Kirk: Therefore against all impediments propone and oppone the earnest zeal of David, who could take no rest, nor sleep to his eyes, till he had found the place, where the Lord should have his resting place amongst the people. Call for the wisdom of Solomon to endue your Grace with a spirituall spirit, as well as in the outward policie, as in advancing the spirituall policie of his Kirk; imitat the servant faith of Jehosaphat putting his whole trust in the Lord, and believing his prophets; the diligence of Jehoash, in repairing the house of the Lord; follow godly Ezekias, in rooting out all monuments of idolatrie, and depending firmly upon the Lord; the faithfull young Josiah, in making the book of the law of God, a long time doun smored, and keeped in silence, yea utterly tint and forgotten, to be publickly read, accepted be the people, and recommended to the posterity. To such diligence as this did the prophets Haggai, Zachariah, and Malachi exhort the princes of the Jews: And shortly, such godly interprises have made the great Constantine, the gentle Gratian, the godly Theodose, and such others, to be worthy of eternal memorie and commendation: Neither is it enough to begin well, as did some kings of Judah, and afterwards fainted in their proceedings; but here chiefly is required constancie and preserverance without shriking, till things be brought to a good order and stable estate: neither ought your grace only look how meekle is done, but rather how meekle resteth unreformed; ever thinking, that great diligence is required to goe foreward, and great attendance to be given, that things may abide and continually increase, till they come to due perfection. This is a matter worthie to your royal heart, a purpose proper for the exercise of the vivacity of your divine and high ingyne: this is a most fair field to run in, and exercise the course of your youth; and a thing most meet to make known, what ought to be the principal study of a christian prince; declaring how neither wee your natural subjects, neither the godly and fatithully of forrain nations, have in vain so long looked for some notable and excellent work to proceed from your Majesties authority, for promoting of Gods glory, and establishing of his true religion; the which no doubt shall be an exceeding honour, and perpetual renoune that shall follow your Hieness. All other glory at last shall decay, and all commendation that resulteth of other princely acts, either is not of long endurance, or hath commonly mixed therewith such things as be also worthy of blame; but the honour of this act shall indure for ever, and shall be fully approved be him, whose judgments can no ways be but equall and right, who is the eternal Lord of Lords, and King of Kings; whom, with most humble hearts and instant prayers, we besek to bless your Majestie with continual and daily increase of his aboundant blessings as well spiritual as temporal; and to maintain in wealth and prosperity your princely estate, to the praise and glory of his holy name, your assured salvation, comfort and quietness of this countery, the overthrow of the power of Sathan, and advancement of the kingdom of Jesus Christ. From Edinburgh, in our Generall Assembly, the tenth day of July 1579.
The nixt Assembly to be the second Tuesday of July nixt to come, in Dundie. The haill brether present warnit thereto.