Acts of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland 1638-1842. Originally published by Edinburgh Printing & Publishing Co, Edinburgh, 1843.
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The Principal acts of the solemne general assembly of the kirk of scotland, indicted by the king's makestie, and conveened at Glasgow, the 21 of november, 1638.
It were long, neither do we now intend, to represent, what, in the beginning, by the mercies of our God and the ministerie of his faithfull servants, was the Reformation of this Kirk; what purity of doctrine and worship; what order, what authority, and what unity continued for many years, by the prayers and labours of Ministers and Prosessours; what novations and corruptions have been introduced upon us of late, in the time of our division and defection, by such as have ever been enemies to the crosse of Christ, and who have minded earthly things; how manyfold and how comfortable experience we have at this time of the care and compassions of our Lord and Saviour, preventing the utter ruine of religion, and the horrible vastation of this Kirk, by looking upon the afflictions of his people, by hearing their grones, mocked by the world; and by moving the heart of our gracious and dread Soveraigne, the King's Majestie, to conveen a free nationall Assemblie, for redressing the wrongs done to religion, and what undeniable testimonies and notable manifestations of the divine presence and assistance of Christ, have accompanied this meeting and whole work. "Whoso is wise, and observeth these things, will see the lovingkindnesse of the Lord."
For the present, it seemed necessarie that such of the Acts and Constitutions of the Assemblie as are of most generall concernement should be published in print; the correct writing of so manie copies as were called for not beeing possible to be exped in due time, and the Kirk having resolved upon this course in former times, which, had it been keeped, our defection, through the almost invincible ignorance of the proceedings of this Kirk, had not proven so dangerous and deplorable.
In these Acts and Constitutions special regard was had to our nationall Confession of Faith, as it was at first and diverse times after professed, and is now of late sworn and subscribed, that all men's mindes, who delight not to cavill, might rest satisfied in the true meaning thereof, found out by the diligent search of the ecclesiastick registers. Our care was also rather at this time to revive and bring to light former laudable acts, then to make anie new acts, reflecting as little as might be upon the Reformation of other Kirks, and choosing to receive our directions from our own Reformation, approven by the ample testimonie of so manie forein Divines; according to the example of the venerable Assemblie at Dort, where speciall caution was, that the 30 and 31 article of the Confession of the Belgick Kirks, touching ecclesiastick order, should not be examined by strangers, there being a difference touching that point amongst reformed Kirks. So manie as were present can beare witnesse that all the members of the Assemblie were manie times called on, and required to propone their doubts, and to give their judgements of everie article, before it was inacted, that everie one might receive satisfaction, and from the full perswasion of his minde, might give his voice; wherein the unanimitie and harmonie was the more admirable, that manie parting from their pre-conceived opinions, which had possessed their mindes, did most willinglie receive the light, which did now unexpectedly appear from the records of the Kirk.
That this extract shall stop the mouthes of the malicious is more than we can promise, or should be expected. We know there be some incendiaries, who would, with great joy and content of minde, seek their lost penny in the ashes of this poore Kirk and kingdome; and we have already found, that our labours, and the grounds whereupon we have proceeded, before they be seen, are misconstrued by so many as findes their hopes blasted, and are come short of thier earthly projects; but our comfort is, that we have walked in the truth of our hearts, as in the sight of God. That the adversaries of the Kirk have not transformed themselves into angels of light, nor can say they are doing God service, but are seen in their colours, and do seek themselves, and that so many as have erred before, not knowing the order and constitutions of this Kirk, will, as obedient children to their mother, speaking plainly and powerfully of old, and now, after long silence, opening her mouth again, and uttering her minde in a free Assembly, hear her voice, and with that reverence that beseemeth under the supreme Majestie of Christ, obey her directions, that being all of one minde, peace may be upon us, and upon the Kirk of God; and the God of peace and love may be with us.
Act Sess. 6, Glasgow, November 27, 1638. Act for trying the Registers.
The testimonie of the committy, for tryall of the Registers, subscribed with their hands, being produced, with some reasons thereof in another paper, and publickly read, my Lord Commissioner professed that it had resolved him of sundry doubts, but desired a time to be more fully resolved.
The Moderatour desired that if any of the Assembly had any thing to say against the said testimonie for the books, that they would declare it, and finding none to oppon, yet he appointed the day following, to any to object any thing they could say; and if then none could object, the Assembly would hold the Registers as sufficiently approven.
Act Sess. 7, November 28. Act approving the Registers.
Anent the report of the Assemblie's judgement of the authority of the books of Assembly, the Moderatour having desired that if any of the Assembly had any thing to say, they would now declare it, otherwise they would hold all approven by the Assembly.
The Commissioner his Grace protested that the Assemblie's approving these books, or any thing contained in them, be no wayes prejudiciall to his Majestie, nor to the Archbishops and Bishops of this kingdome, or any of their adherents, because he had some exceptions against these books. My Lord Rothes desired these exceptions to be condescended on, and they should be presently cleared, and protested that these books should be esteemed authentick and obligatorie hereafter.
The whole Assemblie all in one voice approved these books, and ordained the same to make faith in judgement, and outwith in all time comming, as the true and authentick Registers of the Kirk of Scotland, conform to the testimonie subscribed by the Committie, to be insert with the reasons thereof in the books of Assembly: Whereof the tenour followeth:—
We, under-subscribers, having power and commission from the General Assembly now presently conveened and sitting at Glasgow, to peruse, examine, and cognosce, upon the validity, faith, and strength of the books and registers of the Assembly under-written, to wit: A register beginning at the Assembly holden the twentie day of December, 1560, and ending at the fourth Session of the Assembly holden the twenty-eight of December, 1566.
Item, another register beginning at the General Assembly holden the second day of June, 1567, and ending at the fourth Session of the Assembly holden at Perth the ninth day of August, 1572, which register is imperfect and mutilate in the end, and containeth no leaf nor page after that page which containeth the said inscription of the said fourth Session, which two registers bears to be subscribed by John Gray, scribe.
Having carefully viewed, perused, and considered the saids registers, and every one of them, and being deeply and maturely advised as in a matter of greatest weight and consequence, do attest before God, and upon our conscience declare to the world and this present Assembly, that the saids foure registers above expressed, and every one of them, are famous, authentick, and good registers, which ought to be so reputed and have publick faith in judgement and outwith, as valid and true records in all things, and that the said fifth and greatest book, beginning at the Assembly 1560, and ending 1590, being margined by the hand-writs of the Clerk and reviser of the registers, cognosced and tryed, and agreeable to the other foure registers, in what is extant in them, ought also to be free of all prejudice and suspicion, and received with credit. And in testimonie of our solemne affirmation, we have subscribed these presents with our hands.
Reasons prooving the Five Books and Registers produced before the Assembly to be authentick.
The books now exhibited unto us under-subscribers, which we have revised and perused by commission from the Generall Assembly, are true registers of the Kirk: to wit, five volumes, whereof the first two contain the Acts of the Assembly from the year of God 1560 to the year 1572, all subscribed by John Gray, clerk. The third from the year of God 1574 to the year 1579. The fourth from the year of God 1586 to the year 1589, at which time Master James Richie was clerk, who hath frequently written upon the margine of the saids two last books, and subscribed the said margine with his hand-writing. And the fifth book, being the greatest volume, containing the Acts of the Generall Assembly from the year of God 1560 to the year 1590, which agreeth with the foresaids other foure books and registers, in so far as is extant in them, and further recordeth what is wanting by them, passing by what is mutilate in them, and which, with the two volumes produced by Master Thomas Sandilands, from the year 1590 to this present, maketh up a perfect register.
I. For the first two volumes subscribed by John Gray, albeit it be not necessar in such antiquitie to proove that he was clerk, seeing he designes himself so by his subscription, yet the same is manifest by an act mentioned in the third book, in the time of Master James Richie, who succeeded him in the said office, and his handwrit was acknowledged by sundry old men in the ministery.
II. The uniformitie of his subscriptions through both volumes, evident by ocular inspection, above the ordinarie custome of most famous notars, delivers the same from all suspicion, in facto tam antiquo.
IV. It is constant by the universal custome of this kingdome, that all registers are transmitted from one keeper to his successour, and so comming by progresse and succession from the first incumbent to the last possessour, are never doubted to be the registers of that judicatorie whereof the last haver was clerk; and, therefore, it is evident that these books, comming successively from John Gray, Master James Richie, and Master Thomas Nicolson, who were all clerks to the Assembly, into the hands of Master Robert Winrame, who was constitute clerk-depute by the said Master Thomas Nicolson, (as his deputation, here present to show, will testifie,) are the undoubted registers of the Assembly; likeas Alexander Blair succeeded the said Master Robert in his place of clerkship to the assignations and modifications of ministers' stipends; and during Master Robert his lifetime was his actual servant, and so had the said books by progresse from him, which the said Alexander is readie presently to testifie.
V. The two registers of Master James Richie, albeit not under his own hand, yet are frequently margined with his own hand-writ, and the same marginal additions subscribed by him, which hand-writ is seen and cognosced by famous men, who knoweth the same, and is evident, being compared with his several writings and subscriptions yet extant.
VII. Master Thomas Sandilands, in name of his father, who was late clerk, by dimission of Master Thomas Nicolson, hath produced a volume, which proveth the saids two registers of Master James Richie to be sufficient records; because that same volume is begun by that same hand, whereby the said Master James Richie his registers are written, and is subscribed once in the margine by Master James Richie his hand, and is followed forth, and continued in the same book by Master Thomas Nicolson, who succeeded him in the place, and was known by most men here present to be of such approven worth and credit, that he would never have accomplished a register which had not been famous and true; and whereof the hand-write had not then been known to him sufficiently.
VIII. That register produced by Mr Thomas Sandilands, and prosecuted by Master Thomas Nicolson, proves the first part of that register to be true and famous, and that first part being by ocular inspection of the same hand-writ with Master James Richie's registers, and subscribed in the margine with the same hand-writ, proveth Richie's two books to be good records, and Richie's registers doth approve Gray's books, by the Act of Assembly before written; specially considering the same hath come by progresse and succession of clerks in the hands of Alexander Blair, now living, and here present.
IX. The compts anent the thirds of benefices between the Regent for the time and the Assembly, in the second volume, p. 147, are subscribed by the Lord Regent's own hand, as appeareth; for it is a royall-like subscription, and there is no hand-writ in all the book like unto it, and beareth not sic subscribitur, which undoubtedly it would do, if it were a coppie.
X. Master James Carmichell was commanded by the General Assembly 1595, Sess. 9, in the book produced by Master Thomas Sandilands, to extract the generall acts forth of their books; and it is evident that these books are the same which he perused for that effect, because he hath marked therein the generall acts with a crosse, and hath designed the act by some short expression upon the margine, which is cognosced and known to be his hand-writ by famous and worthy persons; which is also manifest by the said Master James his band and subscription, written with his own hand, in the last leafe of the said books; as also acknowledged in the said book, produced by Mr. Thomas Sandilands, wherein the said Master James Carmichell granteth the receipt of these, with some other books of the Assemblie's.
XI. The registers produced are the registers of the Assembly, because, in anno 1586, the Assembly complaineth that their registers are mutilate; which hath rela tion to Richie's third book, which is Jacerat and mutilate in divers places, without any interveening of blank paper, or any mention of hic deest.
XII. If these were not principall registers, the enemies of the puritie of God's worship would never have laboured to destroy the same; which notwithstanding they have done, as appeareth by the affixing and battering of a piece of paper upon the margine, anent a condition of the commission not to exceed the established discipline of this Kirk, subscribed by the clerk, book 3, p. 147. And the blotting out the certification of the excommunication against Bishop Adamson, book 4, p. 30, who, in his recantation, generally acknowledgeth the same; but which, without that recantation, cannot be presupponed to have been done, but by corrupt men of intention to corrupt the books, which were not necessary, if they were not principall registers.
XIII. In the Assembly 1586, the Church complained upon the Chancelour his retention of their registers, and desired they might be delivered to their clerk, which accordingly was done; as a memorandum before the beginning of the first book, bearing the redeliverie of these foure books to Master James Richie, clerk, proporteth, which clearly evinceth that these foure books are the registers of the Assembly.
XIV. The said fifth book and greatest volume is also marked on the margine with the hand-writ of the said Mr James Carmichell, (which is cognosced,) who was appointed to peruse the books of the Assembly, as said is, and would not have margined the same by vertue of that command, nor extracted the generall acts out of it, if it were not an approbation thereof as an authentick and famous book.
XV. The said fifth volume doth agree with the other foure books in all which is extant in them, and marketh the blanks, which are lacerate and riven out of the same; and compleateth all what is lacking in them.
XVI. In the Book of Discipline pertaining to Master James Carmichell, subscribed by himself and Master James Richie, there are sundry acts and passages quotted out of the said fifth great volume, saying, It is written in such a page of the book of Assembly, which agreeth in subject and quottations with the said fifth book, and cannot agree with any other; so that Master James Carmichell, reviser of the Assembly books, by their command, would not alledge that book, nor denominate the same a book of the Assembly, if it were not an authentick famous book.
XVII. Though the corrupt nature of man hath been tempted to falsifie particular evidents, yet it hath never been heard that any whole register hath ever been counterfeited; neither can it bee presupponed that any will attempt that high wickednesse, seeing the inducements answerable to that crime can hardly be presupposed.
XVIII. It is certain, and notour to all these who are intrusted with the keeping of the publick records of the kingdome, that the same are never subscribed by the clerk, but only written and filled up by servants, and most frequently by unknown hands, yet they and the extracts thereof make publick faith, and the same are uncontrovertedly authentick registers; and when the most publick registers of the kingdome shall be seen, and compared with these registers of the Assembly, it shall be found that these other registers of the most soveraigne judicatories ever unsubscribed, are more incorrect, oftner margined, scored, and interlined, made up by greater diversitie of unknown hand-writs, than these books of the Assembly, which, by speciall Providence, are preserved so entire, that, in the judgement of any man acquainted with registers, they will manifestly appear at the very sight to be true, famous, and authentick.
XIX. The fame and credit of ancient registers in this kingdome is so much reverenced, that if any extract be different or disconforme from the register, that extract, albeit subscribed by the person who, for the time, had been of greatest eminence in the trust of registers, will be rectified conforme to the register, and have no force, so far as it debordeth therefrom; although the registers be written with an obscure, unknown hand, and unsubscribed.
Act Sess. 12, December 4. The six late pretended Assemblies condemned.
Anent the report of the committie for trying the six last pretended Assemblies, they produced in writ sundrie reasons clearing the unlawfulnesse and nullitie of these Assemblies, which were confirmed by the registers of the Assembly, the books of Presbyteries, the King's Majestie's own letters, and by the testimonie of divers old reverend ministers standing up in the Assembly, and verifying the truth thereof. The Assembly, with the universall consent of all, after the serious examination of the reasons against every one of these six pretended Assemblies apart, being often urged by the Moderatour to informe themselves throughly, that without doubting, and with a full perswasion of minde, they might give their voices, declared all these six Assemblies of Linlithgow, 1606 and 1608, Glasgow, 1610, Aberdeen, 1616, St Andrews, 1617, Perth, 1618; and every one of them, to have been from the beginning unfree, unlawfull, and null Assemblies, and never to have had, nor hereafter to have, any Ecclesiasticall authoritie, and their conclusions to have been and to bee of no force, vigour, nor efficacie; prohibited all defence and observance of them, and ordained the reasons of their nullitie to be insert in the books of the Assembly; whereof the tennour followeth:
Reasons annulling the pretended Assembly holden at Linlithgow, 1606.
I. From the indiction of it. It was indicted the 3d of December, to bee kept the 10th of December, and so there was no time given to the Presbyteries far distant, neither for election of Commissioners, nor for preparation to those who were to be sent in Commission. The shortnesse of the time of the indiction is proved by the Presbyterie books of Edinburgh, Perth, and Hadingtoun, &c.
II. From the want of a lawfull calling, to these who went to that meeting, seeing they were not at all elected by their Presbyteries, but were injoyned to come by the King's letters. This also is proved by the foresaids books of the Presbyteries, and by his Majestie's letters.
III. From the nature of that meeting, which was only a private meeting or convention for consultation to be taken by some persons of sundry estates written for, as the King's letters and the Presbyterie books do acknowledge.
IV. From the power of these ministers who were present, their Presbyteries did limitate them, First, That they should give no suffrages in that meeting as a Generall Assembly. Secondly, That they agree to nothing that may any wayes be prejudiciall to the acts of the Generall Assemblies, or to the established discipline of the Kirk. Thirdly, That they should not agree to resolve or conclude any question, article, or mater whatsoever, the decision whereof is pertinent and proper to a free Generall Assembly. Fourthly, If any thing be concluded contrary thereunto, that they protest against it. These limitations are clear by the Presbyterie books.
VI. The next pretended Assembly at Linlithgow, 1608, doth acknowledge the Assembly, whereof Master Patrick Galloway was Moderatour, to have been the last immediate Assembly preceeding it selfe, and that Assembly whereof he was Moderatour was the Assembly holden at Haly-rood-house, 1602; so they did not acknowledge that meeting at Linlithgow, 1606, for any Assembly at all. This is clear by the registers of the Assembly, 1608, in the entrie thereof.
Reasons for annulling the pretended Assembly at Linlithgow, 1608.
I. Manie of the voters in that pretended Assembly had no lawfull commission from the Kirk, to wit, forty-two noble men, officers of estate, counsellours, and barrons, also the bishops, contrare to the act of Dundie, 1597, and one of their caveats. The noble men were as commissioners from the King, the bishops had no commission at all from the Presbyteries, for every Presbyterie out of which they came had their full number of commissioners besides them, as the register of the Assemblie beareth.
II. In a lawfull Assembly there should be none but Commissioners from Presbyteries, Burghs, and Universities, and but three ministers at most, with one elder, Commissioners from every Presbyterie, according to the act made at Dundie, 1597. But in that pretended Assembly there were foure ministers from the severall Presby teries of Edinburgh and Cowper, five from the Presbyterie of Arbroth, as the roll of the said pretended Assembly beareth; whereas there were no ruling elders sent from Presbyteries, according to the Book of Policie and act of Dundie.
Reasons for annulling the pretended Assembly at Glasgow, 1610.
I. The Commission of the pretended Commissioners to that meeting was null. 1. Because the election of them was not free, seeing they were nominate by the King's Letters, as the Presbyterie books of Edinburgh, Perth, and Hadingtoun, declare. And the Bishop of St Andrews, in his letter to some Presbyteries, required them to send such Commissioners as the King had nominate, assuring them that none other would be accepted. This the Bishop's letter, registrat in the Presbyterie books of Hadingtoun, doth cleare. 2. And whereas there were no ruling elders sent from the Presbyteries to that pretended Assembly, as the roll of Commissioners sheweth, yet there were moe ministers from sundrie severall Presbyteries then three, as five from Brechen, five from Arbroth, five from Kirkcubright, seven from the Presbytery of Argyl, foure from the Presbyterie of Cowper, foure from Linlithgow, foure from Pasley, foure from Hammiltoun, foure from Drumfreis, foure from Dunkell, as the register of that Assembly beareth.
II. There were thirtie voters of noblemen and barrons, beside the pretended Bishops, who had no commission from any Presbyterie. In the fourth Session of this pretended Assembly, it is plainly said, That the noble men and barrons came to it by the King's direction.
III. The voting of the commissioners was not free; for, by the King's letter to the Assembly, they were threatned, and it was declared that their consent was not needfull to any act to be made there: The King might doe it by his own power, yet they were allured to vote by a promise that their good service in so doing should be remembred and rewarded thereafter.
IV. The principall acts which were made were set down verbatim in the privie conference, which chiefly consisted of the King's Commissioners and pretended Bishops, and only read to be ratified in the Assembly.
Reasons for annulling the pretended Assembly at Aberdene, 1616.
II. The indiction of that pretended Assembly was but twentie dayes before the holding of it; so that the Presbyteries and Burghes could not be prepared for sending their commissioners; which caused the absence of many Presbyteries and fourtiefoure Burghes.
III. There were twentie-five noblemen and gentlemen voters without commission from the Kirk. Mr William Struthers voted for the Presbyterie of Edinburgh, yet had no commission therefrom: The commission being given by that Presbyterie to other three, as the said commission, registrat in the books of the Presbytery, beareth; and whereas there should be but one commissioner from every burgh, except Edinburgh, to the Assembly, at this pretended Assembly there were two commissioners from Glasgow, two from Cowper, two from St Andrews; whereas there were no ruling elders having commission from their Presbyteries at that Assembly.
IV. When the acts of that pretended Assembly were written, the Bishop of St Andrews, with his own hand, did interline, adde, change, vitiate, direct to be extracted or not extracted as he pleased, as the scrolls themselves seen doe show; wherefore the clerk did not registrat the acts of that Assembly in the books of Assemblies, as may be easily seen by the blank in the register left for them remaining unfilled.
The nullitie of the pretended Assembly at Saint Andrews, 1617.
Reasons for annulling the pretended Assembly holden at Perth, 1618.
I. The Assembly was indicted but twentie dayes before the holding of it; and all parties requisit received not advertisement, as appeareth by their absence. The untimous indicting of it is cleared by Presbyterie books.
V. There were nineteen noblemen and barrons, eleven bishops, that had no commission from the Kirk. Whereas the act for constitution of Assemblies ordaineth every burgh to have but one commissioner, except Edinburgh, which may have two, (Act at Dundie, 1597;) yet in that pretended Assemblie, Perth had three commissioners, Dundie had two, Glasgow had two, and St Andrews had two: Of the burghes there were thirtie-six absent, and for ruling elders, there were none at all with commission from their Presbyteries. All these things are cleared by the records of that pretended Assemblie.
VI. The commissioners from some Presbyteries exceeded their number prescribed in the Act at Dundie, 1597; for the Presbyterie of Arbroth were foure commissioners, and foure for the Presbyterie of Aughterardour, besides these that were heard to vot having no commission at all, and some who had commission were rejected, and were not enrolled, but others put in their place without commission.
VII. The pretended Bishops did practise some of the articles to be concluded there before the pretended Assembly in Edinburgh, St Andrews, and other cathedrall churches, by keeping festivall dayes, kneeling at the communion. Thus their voices were prejudged by their practise of these articles before condemned by the Kirk, and therefore they should have been secluded from voicing.
VIII. In all lawfull Assemblies the voicing should be free, but in this pretended Assembly there were no free voicing; for the voicers were threatned to voice affirmative, under no lesse pain nor the wrath of authoritie, imprisonment, banishment, deprivation of ministers, and utter subversion of the state: Yea, it was plainly professed, that neither reasoning nor the number of voices should carie the matter away, which is qualified by the declaration of many honest, old, reverend brethren of the ministery now present.
IX. In all lawfull Assemblies, the grounds of proceeding were, and used to be, the Word of God, the Confession of Faith, and acts of former Generall Assemblies. But in this pretended Assembly, the ground of their proceeding in voicing was the King's commandment only, for so the question was stated: "Whether the five articles, in respect of his Majestie's commandement, should passe in act or not," as the records of that pretended Assembly beareth. Where it is declared, that for the reverence and respect which they bear unto his Majestie's royall commandements, they did agree to the foresaids articles.
Act Sess. 13, December 5, 1638. Against the unlawful Oathes of Intrants exacted by the Prelates.
The six Assemblies immediately preceeding, for most just and weightie reasons above specified, being found to be unlawfull and null from the beginning, the Assembly declareth the oathes and subscriptions exacted by the prelates of intrants in the ministerie all this time bypast (as without any pretext of warrand from the Kirk, so for obedience of the acts of these null Assemblies, and contrare to the ancient and laudable constitutions of this Kirk, which never have been nor can be lawfully repealled, but must stand in force) to be unlawfull, and no way obligatorie. And in like manner declareth, that the power of Presbyteries, and of Provinciall and Generall Assemblies, have been unjustly suppressed, but never lawfully abrogate. And, therefore, that it hath been most lawfull unto them, notwithstanding any point unjustly objected by the Prelats to the contrare, to admit, suspend, or deprive ministers respective within their bounds, upon relevant complaints sufficiently proven; to choose their own Moderatours, and to execute all the parts of ecclesiasticall jurisdiction, according to their own limits appointed them by the Kirk.
Act Sess. 14, December 6, 1638. Condemning the Service Book, Book of Canons, Book of Ordination, and the High Commission.
I. The Assembly having diligently considered the Book of Common Prayer, lately obtruded upon the reformed Kirk within this realme, both in respect of the manner of the introduction thereof, and in respect of the matter which it containeth, findeth that it hath been devised and brought in by the pretended prelats without direction from the Kirk, and pressed upon ministers without warrand from the Kirk, to be universally received as the only forme of divine service, under all highest paines, both civill and ecclesiasticall; and the book it self, beside the popish frame and forms in divine worship, to containe many popish errours and ceremonies, and the seeds of manifold and grosse superstition and idolatrie. The Assembly, therefore, all in one voice, hath rejected and condemned, and by these presents doth reject and condemne the said book, not only as illegally introduced, but also as repugnant to the doctrine, discipline, and order of this reformed Kirk, to the Confession of Faith, constitutions of Generall Assemblies, and acts of Parliament establishing the true religion; and doth prohibite the use and practice thereof, and ordaines Presbyteries to proceed with the censure of the Kirk against all such as shall transgresse.
II. The Assembly also taking to their consideration the book of Cannons, and the manner how it hath been introduced, findeth that it hath been devised by the pretended prelats without warrand or direction from the Generall Assembly, and to establish a tyrannicall power in the persons of the pretended bishops over the worship of God, men's consciences, liberties, and goods; and to overthrow the whole discipline and government of the Generall and Synodall Assemblies, Presbyteries, and Sessions formerly established in our Kirk.
Therefore, the Assembly, all in one voice, hath rejected and condemned, and by these presents doth reject and condemne, the said book, as contrare to the Confession of our Faith, and repugnant to the established government, the Book of Discipline, and the acts and constitutions of our Kirk, prohibits the use and practise of the same; and ordains Presbyteries to proceed with the censure of the Kirk against all such as shall transgresse.
III. The Assembly, having considered the book of consecration and ordination, findeth it to have been framed by the prelats, to have been introduced and practised without warrand of authority, either civill or ecclesiasticall; and that it establisheth offices in God's house which are not warranded by the Word of God, and are repugnant to the discipline and constitutions of our Kirk; that it is an impediment to the entire of fit and worthie men to the ministry, and to the discharge of their dutie after their entrie, conforme to the discipline of our Kirk. Therefore, the Assembly, all in one voice, hath rejected and condemned, and by these presents doe reject and condemne, the said book, and prohibits the use and practise of the same, and ordaines Presbyteries to proceed with the censure of the Kirk against all such as shall transgresse.
IV. The Generall Assembly, after due tryall, having found that the Court of High Commission hath been erected without the consent or procurement of the Kirk, or consent of the estates in Parliament, that it subverteth the jurisdiction and ordinarie judicatories and Assemblies of the Kirk, Sessions, Presbyteries, Provinciall and Nationall Assemblies; that it is not regulate by lawes civill or ecclesiasticall, but at the discretion and arbitrement of the commissioners; that it giveth to ecclesiasticall persons the power of both the swords, and to persons meerly civill the power of the keys and Kirk censures. Therefore, the Assembly, all in one voice, hath disallowed and condemned, and by these presents doth disallow and condemne, the said court, as unlawfull in it selfe, and prejudiciall to the liberties of Christ's Kirk and kingdome, the King's honour in maintaining the established lawes and judicatories of the Kirk; and prohibits the use and practise of the same, and ordaines Presbyteries to proceed with the censures of the Kirk against all such as shall transgresse.
After the serious discussing of the severall processes in many Sessions, from Sess. 14, (which are in the Clerk's hands, and needeth not here to be insert,) the following sentences were solemnly pronounced, after sermon by the Moderatour, in the Assembly of Glasgow, Sess. 20, December 13, 1638.
Sentence of Deposition and Excommunication against Mr John Spottiswood, pretended Archbishop of St Andrews; Mr Patrick Lindsay, pretended Archbishop of Glasgow; Mr David Lindsay, pretended Bishop of Edinburgh; Mr Thomas Sidserfe, pretended Bishop of Galloway; Mr John Maxwell, pretended Bishop of Rosse; Mr Walter Whytfoord, pretended Bishop of Brechen.
The Generall Assembly having heard the lybels and complaints given in against the foresaids pretended bishops to the Presbyterie of Edinburgh, and sundry other Presbyteries within their pretended dyocies, and by the saids Presbyteries referred to the Assembly to be tryed; the saids pretended bishops being lawfully cited, oftentimes called, and their procuratour, Doctour Robert Hammiltoun, and not compearing, but declining and protesting against this Assembly, as is evident by their declinatour and protestation given in by the said Doctour Robert Hammiltoun, minister at Glasfoord; which, by the acts of Assembly, is censurable with summar excommunication; entered in consideration of the said declinatour, and finding the same not to be relevant, but, on the contrare, to be a displayed banner against the setled order and government of this Kirk; to be fraughted with insolent and disdainfull speeches, lies, and calumnies, against the lawfull members of this Assembly; proceeded to the cognition of the saids complaints and lybels against them; and, finding them guiltie of the breach of the cautions agreed upon in the Assembly holden at Montrose anno 1600, for restricting of the minister voter in Parliament from incroaching upon the liberties and jurisdiction of this Kirk, which was set down with certification of deposition, infamie, and excommunication, specially for receiving of consecration to the office of Episcopacie, condemned by the Confession of Faith, and acts of this Kirk, as having no warrand nor foundament in the Word of God; and by vertue of this usurped power, and power of the high commission, pressing the Kirk with novations in the worship of God, and for sundrie other haynous offences and enormities, at length expressed and clearly proven in their processe, and for their refusall to underly the tryall of the reigning slander of sundrie other grosse transgressions and crymes laid to their charge: Therefore, the Assembly, moved with zeal to the glorie of God and purging of his Kirk, hath ordained the saids pretended bishops to be deposed, and by these presents doth depose them, not only of the office of Commissionarie to vote in Parliament, Councell, or Convention, in name of the Kirk, but also of all functions, whether of pretended Episcopall or ministeriall calling, declareth them infamous: And likewise ordaineth the saids pretended bishops to be excommunicate, and declared to be of these whom Christ commandeth to be holden by all and every one of the faithful as ethnicks and publicanes; and the sentence of excommunication to be pronounced by Mr Alexander Henderson, Moderatour, in face of the Assembly, in the High Kirk of Glasgow; and the execution of the sentence to bee intimat in all the Kirks of Scotland, by the pastours of every particular congregation, as they will be answerable to their Presbyteries and Synods, or the next Generall Assembly, in case of the negligence of Presbyteries and Synods.
The Generall Assembly, having heard the lybels and complaints given in against the foresaids pretended Bishops of Aberdeen and Dumblane, to the Presbytery of Edinburgh, and sundry Presbyteries within their pretended dyocies, and by the saids Presbyteries referred to this Assembly to be tryed: The saids pretended Bishops being lawfully cited, often-times called, and not compearing, proceeded to the cognition of the complaints and lybels against them, and finding them guiltie of the breach of the cautions agreed upon in the Assembly holden at Montrose, anno 1600, for restricting the minister voter in Parliament from encroaching upon the liberties and jurisdictions of this Kirk, which was set down with certification of deposition, infamie, and excommunication, specially for receiving consecration to the office of Episcopacie, condemned by the Confession of Faith, and acts of this Kirk, as having no warrand nor foundament in the Word of God; and by vertue of this usurped power, and power of the high commission, pressing the Kirk with novations in the worship of God, and for sundry other haynous offences and enormities, at length expressed, and clearly proven in their processe, and for their refusall to underly the tryall of the reigning slander of sundry other grosse transgressions and offences laid to their charge: Therefore, the Assembly, moved with zeal to the glorie of God and purging of the Kirk, hath ordained the saids pretended Bishops to be deposed, and by these presents doth depose them, not only of the office of Commissionary to vot in Parliament, Councell, or Convention, in name of the Kirk, but also of all functions, whether of pretended Episcopall or ministeriall calling, declareth them infamous: And likewise ordains the saids pretended Bishops to be excommunicate, and declared to be of these whom Christ commanded to be holden by all and every one of the faithfull as ethnicks and publicans, and the sentence of excommunication to be pronounced by Mr Alexander Henderson, Moderatour, in face of the Assembly, after sermon, in the High Kirk of Glasgow; and that the execution of the sentence be intimat in all the Kirks within this realme, by the pastours of every particular congregation, as they will be answerable to their Presbyteries and Synods, or the next Generall Assembly, in case of the negligence of Presbyteries and Synods.
Sentence of Deposition against Master John Guthry, pretended Bishop of Murray; Mr John Grahame, pretended Bishop of Orknay; Mr James Fairlie, pretended Bishop of Lismoir; Mr Neil Cambell, pretended Bishop of Isles.
The Generall Assembly having heard the lybels and complaints given in against the foresaids pretended Bishops, to the Presbyterie of Edinburgh, and sundry Presbyteries within their dyocies, and by the saids Presbyteries referred to this Assembly to be tryed: The saids pretended Bishops being lawfully cited, often-times called, and not compearing, proceeded to the cognition of the complaints and lybels against them; and finding them guiltie of the breach of the cautions agreed upon in the Assembly at Montrose, anno 1600, for restricting of the minister voter in Parliament from incroaching upon the liberties and jurisdictions of this Kirk, which was set down with certification of deposition, infamie, and excommunication; and especially for receiving consecration to the office of Episcopacie condemned by the Confession of Faith, and acts of this Kirk, as having no warrand nor foundament in the Word of God, and by vertue of this usurped power, and power of the high commission, pressing the Kirk with novations in the worship of God; and for their refusall to underly the tryall of the reigning slander of sundrie other grosse transgressions and offences laid to their charge: Therefore, the Assembly, moved with zeal to the glorie of God and purging of this Kirk, ordaines the saids pretended Bishops to be deposed, and by these presents doth depose them, not only of the office of Commissionarie to vote in Parliament, Councel, or Convention, in name of the Kirk, but also of all functions, whether of pretended Episcopall or ministeriall calling: And likewise, in case they acknowledge not this Assembly, reverence not the constitutions thereof, and obey not the sentence, and make not their repentance, conforme to the order prescribed by this Assembly, ordaines them to be excommunicated, and declared to bee of these whom Christ commandeth to be holden by all and every one of the faithfull as ethnicks and publicanes; and the sentence of excommunication to be pronounced upon their refusall, in the Kirks appointed, by any of these who are particularly named, to have the charge of trying their repentance or impenitencie, and that the execution of this sentence be intimate in all the Kirks within this realme, by the pastours of every particular congregation, as they will be answerable to their Presbyteries and Synods, or the next Generall Assembly, in case of negligence of the Presbyteries and Synods.
The Generall Assembly having heard the complaint and lybel given in against Mr Alexander Lindsay, pretended Bishop of Dunkell, to the Presbytery of Edinburgh, and sundry Presbyteries of his pretended dyocie, and by the Presbyteries referred to this Assembly to be tryed, the said pretended Bishop being lawfully cited, oftentimes called, and not compearing, but by a letter of excuse submitting himself to the Assembly, proceeded to the cognition of the complaint and lybell it selfe against him, and finding him guiltie of the breach of the cautions agreed upon in the Assembly holden at Montrose, anno 1600, for restricting the minister voter in Parliament from encroaching upon the liberties and jurisdictions of this Kirk, which was set down with certification of deposition, infamie, and excommunication, especially for receiving consecration to the office of Episcopacie, condemned by the Confession of Faith and acts of this Kirk, as having no warrand nor foundament in the Word of God, and by vertue of this usurped power, and power of the high commission, pressing the Kirk with novations in the worship of God: Therefore, the Assembly, moved with zeal to the glory of God and purging of this Kirk, hath ordained the said Mr Alexander to bee deposed, and by these presents deposeth him, from the pretended Episcopall function, and from the office of Commissionarie to vote in Parliament, Councell, or Convention, in name of the Kirk, and doth suspend him from all ministeriall function: And providing he acknowledge this Assembly, reverence the constitutions of it, and obey this sentence, and make his repentance conforme to the order prescribed, continueth him in the ministerie of St Madoze: And, likewise, if he acknowledge not this Assembly, reverence not the constitutions of it, and obey not the sentence, and make his repentance conforme to the order prescribed by this Assembly, ordains him to be excommunicat, and declared to bee one of those whom Christ commandeth to bee holden by all and every one of the faithfull as an ethnick and publicane; and the sentence of excommunication to be pronounced, upon his refusall, in the Kirks appointed, by one of these who are particularly named to have the charge of trying his repentance or impenitencie; and that the execution of this sentence be intimate in all the kirks within this realme by the pastours of every particular congregation, as they will be answerable to their Presbyteries and Synods, or the next Generall Assembly, in case of the negligence of Presbyteries and Synods.
The Generall Assembly having heard the lybell and complaint given in against Mr John Abernethie, pretended Bishop of Cathnes, to the Presbytery of Edinburgh, and sundry Presbyteries within his dyocie, and by the saids Presbyteries referred to this Assembly to be tryed, the said pretended Bishop being lawfully cited, often-times called, and not compearing, but by his letter of excuse upon his sicknesse, proceeded to the cognition of the complaint and lybell it selfe against him, and finding him guiltie of the breach of the cautions agreed upon in the Assembly holden at Montrose, anno 1600, for restricting the minister voter in Parliament from encroaching upon the liberties and jurisdictions of this Kirk, which was set down with certification of deposition, infamie, and excommunication, specially for receiving consecration to the office of Episcopacie, condemned by the Confession of Faith and acts of this Kirk, as having no warrand nor foundament in the Word of God, and by vertue of his usurped power, and power of the high commission, pressing the Kirk with novations in the worship of God: Therefore, the Assembly, moved with zeal to the glorie of God and purging of this Kirk, hath ordained the said Mr John to be deposed, and by these presents deposeth him, from the pretended Episcopall function, and from the office of Commissionary to vote in Parliament, Councel, or Convention, in name of the Kirk, and doth suspend him from the ministeriall function: And providing he acknowledge this Assembly, reverence the constitutions of it, and obey the sentence, and make his repentance conforme to the order prescribed by this Assembly, will admit him to the ministerie of a particular flock: And, likewise, in case he acknowledge not this Assembly, reverence not the constitutions of it, and make his repentance conforme to the order prescribed by this Assembly, ordains him to be excommunicate, and declared to be one of these whom Christ commandeth to bee holden by all and every one of the faithfull as an ethnick and publicane; and the sentence of excommunication to be pronounced, upon his refusall, in the kirks appointed, by one of these who are particularly named to have this charge of trying his repentance or impenitencie; and that the execution of this sentence be intimat in all the kirks within this realme, by the pastours of every particular congregation, as they will be answerable to their Presbyteries and Synods, or the next Generall Assembly, in case of the negligence of Presbyteries and Synods.
Act of the Assembly at Glasgow, Sess. 16, December 8, 1638, declaring Episcopacie to have been abjured by the Confession of Faith, 1580, and to be removed out of this Kirk.
The Assembly, taking to their most grave and serious consideration, first, The unspeakable goodnesse and great mercy of God, manifested to this nation, in that so necessarie, so difficult, and so excellent and divine work of reformation, which was at last brought to such perfection that this Kirk was reformed, not only in doctrine and worship, but also, after many conferences and publick reasonings, in divers nationall Assemblies, joyned with solemne humiliations and prayers to God, the discipline and government of the Kirk, as the hedge and guard of the doctrine and worship, was prescribed according to the rule of God's Word, in the Book of Policie and Discipline, agreed upon in the Assembly 1578, and insert in the register 1581, established by the acts of Assemblies, by the Confession of Faith, sworn and subscribed, at the direction of the Assembly, and by continuall practise of this Kirk. Secondly, That by men's seeking their own things, and not the things of Jesus Christ, divers novations have been introduced, to the great disturbance of this Kirk, so firmly once compacted, and to the endangering of religion, and many grosse evils obtruded, to the utter undoing of the work of reformation, and change of the whole forme of worship and face of this Kirk. Thirdly, That all his Majestie's subjects, both ecclesiasticall and civil, being, without consent of the Kirk, commanded to receive with reverence a new Book of Common Prayer, as the only forme to be used in God's publick worship, and the contraveeners to be condignely censured and punished, and after many supplications and complaints, knowing no other way for the preservation of religion, were moved by God, and drawne by necessitie, to renew the Nationall Covenant of this Kirk and kingdome, which the Lord since hath blessed from heaven, and to subscribe the Confession of Faith, with an application thereof, abjuring the great evils wherewith they were now pressed, and suspending the practise of all novations formerly introduced, till they should bee tryed in a free Generall Assembly. Lastly, That some of his Majestie's subjects, of sundrie ranks, have, by his Majestie's commandement, subscribed and renewed the Confession of Faith, without the former application, and that both the one and the other subscribers have subscribed the said Confession of Faith in this year, as it was professed, and according to the meaning that it had in this kingdome when it was first subscribed, 1581, and afterward; the Assembly, therefore, both by the subscription of his Majestie's High Commissioner, and of the Lords of Secret Councel, September 22, 1638, and by the acts of Councel, of the date foresaid, bearing that they subscribed the said Confession, and ordaining all his Majestie's liedges to subscribe the same, according to the foresaid date and tennour, and as it was then professed within this kingdome; as likewise, by the protestation of some of the Senatours of the Colledge of Justice, when they were required to subscribe, and by the many doubtings of his Majestie's good subjects, especially because the subscribers of the Confession, in February 1638, are bound to suspend the approbation of the corruptions of the government of the Kirk till they be tryed in a free Generall Assembly; finding it proper for them, and most necessary and incumbent to them, to give out the true meaning thereof, as it was at first professed, that all his Majestie's subjects, in a matter so important as is the publick Confession of Faith, so solemnely sworn and subscribed, may be of one minde and one heart, and have full satisfaction to all their doubts, and that the posteritie afterward may be fully perswaded of the true meaning thereof, after earnest calling upon the name of God, so religiously attested in the said Confession, have entered into a diligent search of the registers of the Kirk, and books of the Generall Assembly, which the greatest part of the Assembly had not seen before, and which, by the speciall providence of God, were preserved, brought to their hands, and publickly acknowledged to bee authentick, and have found that in the latter Confession of the Kirk of Scotland: We professe, that we deteste all traditions brought into the Kirk without or against the Word of God, and doctrine of this reformed Kirk. Next, we abhorre and deteste all contrarie religion and doctrine, but chiefly all kinde of Papistry, in generall and particular heads, as they were then damned and confuted by the Word of God and Kirk of Scotland, when the said Confession was sworn and subscribed, anno 1580 and 1581, 1590 and 1591. Thirdly, That we deteste the Roman Antichrist his worldly monarchie and wicked hierarchie. Fourthly, That we joyn ourselves to this reformed Kirk in doctrine, faith, religion, and discipline, promising and swearing, by the great name of God, that we shall continue in the doctrine and discipline of this Kirk, and defend the same, according to our vocation and power, all the dayes of our life.
But so it is that Episcopall government is abhorred and detested, and the government by ministers and elders, in Assemblies, Generall and Provinciall, and Presbyteries, was sworn to and subscribed in subscribing that Confession, and ought to be holden by us, if we adhere to the meaning of the Kirk when that Confession was framed, sworn to, and subscribed; unto which we are obliged by the nationall oath and subscription of this Kirk, as is evident by the acts of Generall Assemblies, agreed upon both before, at, and after the swearing and subscribing of the said Confession, in the years above mentioned, and the Book of Policie, agreed upon in the Assembly which was holden at Edinburgh, the twentie-foure of April and twentiefoure of October, anno 1578, insert in the register of the Kirk, by ordinance of the Assembly holden at Glasgow, 1581, and to be subscribed by all ministers that then did bear, or thereafter were to bear, office in this Kirk, by ordinance of the Assembly, holden the fourth of August at Edinburgh, 1590, and at Edinburgh, the second of July, 1591, but specially in the 2d, 3d, 4th, 6th, 7th, and 11th chapters of the said book.
The bishops being tollerat from the year 1572 till the Assembly holden in August 1575, and all this time the Assembly being wearied with complaints made against them, did enter in search of the office itselfe, and did agree in this, that the name of a bishop is common to every one of them that hath a particular flock, over which he hath a particular charge, as well to preach the word as to minister the sacraments.
At the next Assembly, which was holden in April 1576, such bishops were censured as had not taken them to a particular flock. In the Generall Assembly conveened in April, the year of God 1578, Sess. 4, intimation was made as followeth:—
"For so much as the heads of the policie being concluded and agreed upon in the last Assembly, by the most part of the brethren, certain of the brethren had some difficulty in the head de Diaconatu, whereupon farther reasoning was reserved to this Assembly; it is therefore required, if any of the brethren have any reasonable doubt or argument to propone, that he be ready the morrow, and then shall be heard and resolved." In the 6th Sess. April 26, according to the ordinance made the day before, all persons that had any doubt or argument to propone were required to propone the same; but none offered to propone any argument on the contrare.
In the Assembly holden at Edinburgh in October 1578, it was showen by the Moderatour thereof to the noblemen who were present, viz., my Lord Chancelour, the Earle of Montrose, my Lord Seaton, and my Lord Lindsay, "what care and study the Assembly had taken to entertain and keep the puritie of the sincere Word of God, unmixed with the inventions of their own heads, and to preserve it to the posteritie hereafter; and seeing that the true religion is not able to continue nor endure long, without a good discipline and policie, in that part also have they imployed their wit and studie, and drawn forth, out of the pure fountain of God's Word, such a discipline as is meet to remain in the Kirk."
In the same Assembly, the speciall corruptions were set down, which they craved such of the bishops as would submit themselves to the Assembly to remove, with promise, that if the Generall Assembly shall finde farther corruptions in the said estate than hitherto are expressed, that they be content to be reformed by the said Assembly, according to the Word of God, when they shall be required thereto. "First, That they be content to bee pastors and ministers of one flock; that they usurpe no criminall jurisdiction; that they vote not in Parliament in name of the Kirk, without commission from the Kirk; that they take not up, for the maintenance of their ambition and riotousnesse, the emoluments of the Kirk, which may sustain many pastours, the schools, and the poore, but be content with reasonable livings according to their office; that they claim not to themselves the titles of lords temporall, neither usurpe temporall jurisdictions, whereby they are abstracted from their office; that they empyre not above the particular elderships, but be subject to the same; that they usurpe not the power of the Presbyteries."
The question being proponed by the Synod of Louthian, in the Assembly holden in July 1579, anent a generall order to be taken for erecting of Presbyteries in places where publick exercise is used, untill the time the policie of the Kirk be established by a law, it is answered, "The exercise may be judged to be a Presbyterie." In the Assembly holden at Dundie, in July 1580, Sess. 4, the office of a bishop was abolished by a particular act, as appeareth by the tennour of the act following:—
"For so much as the office of a bishop, as it is now used and commonly taken within this realme, hath no sure warrand, authoritie, nor good ground in the Scriptures, but is brought in by the foly and corruptions of man's inventions, to the great overthrow of the Kirk of God, the whole Assembly of the Kirk, in one voice, after libertie given to all men to reason in the matter, none opponing himself in defending the said pretended office, findeth and declareth the said pretended office, used and termed as is above said, unlawfull in the selfe, as having neither foundament, ground, nor warrand, in the Word of God, and ordaineth that all such persons as brook, or shall brook hereafter, the said office, shall be charged simply to dimit, quite, and leave off the same, as an office whereunto they are not called of God; and such like, to desist and cease from all preaching, ministration of the sacraments, or using any way the office of pastours, while they receive de novo admission from the Generall Assembly, under the pain of excommunication, to be used against them, wherein if they be found disobedient, or contradict this act in any point, the sentence of excommunication, after due admonition, to be execute against them."
In the same Assembly, holden anno 1580, Sess. 10, this article was appointed to be proponed to the King and Councel, that the Book of Policie might be established by an act of Privie Councel, while a Parliament be holden, at which it might be confirmed by a law.
"Anent the act made in the Assembly holden at Dundie, against bishops, because some difficultie appeared to some brethren to arise out of the word [office] contained in the said act, what should be meaned thereby, the Assembly, consisting, for the most part, of such as voted, and were present in the Assembly at Dundie, to take away the said difficultie, resolving upon the true meaning and understanding of the said act, declare that they meaned wholly to condemne the whole estate of bishops, as they are now in Scotland, and that the same was the determination and conclusion of the Assembly at this time, because some brethren doubted whether the former act was to be understood of the spirituall function only, and others alledged that the whole office of a bishop, as it was used, was damnable, and that by the said act the bishops should be charged to dimit the same; this Assembly declareth that they meaned wholly to condemne the whole estate of bishops, as they were then in Scotland, and that this was the meaning of the Assembly at that time."
The King's Commissioner presented to this Assembly the Confession of Faith, subscribed by the King and his houshold not long before, together with a plot of the Presbyteries to be erected, which is registrate in the books of the Assembly, with a letter to be directed from his Majestie to the noblemen and gentlemen of the countrey, for the erection of Presbyteries, consisting of pastours and elders, and dissolution of prelacies, with an offer to set forward the policie untill it were established by Parliament. The King's letter, subscribed by his hand, to the noblemen and gentlemen, was read in open audience of the whole Assembly.
"For as much as travels have been taken in the framing of the Policie of the Kirk, and diverse suits have been made to the magistrat for the approbation thereof, which yet have not taken the happie effect which good men would wish, yet that the posteritie may judge well of the present age, and of the meaning of the Kirk, the Assembly hath concluded, that the Book of Policie, agreed to in diverse Assemblies before, should be registrat in the acts of the Kirk, and remaine therein ad perpetuam rei memoriam; and the coppies there of to be taken to every Presbytery; of which book the tennour followeth," &c.
"Anent the Confession of Faith lately set forth by the King's Majestie, and subscribed by his highnesse, the Assembly, in one voice, acknowledgeth the said Confession to be a true, christian, and faithfull Confession, to bee agreed unto by such as truly professe Christ, and have a care of religion; and the tennour thereof to be followed out efoldly as the samine is laid out in the said proclamation," wherein that discipline is sworn to.
In the Generall Assembly, holden at Edinburgh in October, 1581, Sess. 10, Mr Robert Montgomery is accused for teaching that discipline is a thing indifferent. Sess. 23, the Assembly gave commission to the Presbyterie of Stirling to charge Mr Robert Montgomerie to continue in the ministerie of Stirling, and not to medle with any other office or function of the Kirk; namely, in aspyring to the Bishoprick of Glasgow, against the Word of God and acts of the Kirk, under the pain of excommunication.
In the same Assembly, it is acknowledged that the estate of bishops is condemned by the Kirk; commission for erection of moe Presbyteries was renewed; and a new ordinance made for subscribing the Confession of Faith, and to proceed against whatsoever persons that would not acknowledge and subscribe the same.
In the Assembly, holden in April, 1582, there was a new commission for erection of Presbyteries where none was as yet erected. Mr Robert Montgomerie, pretending to be Bishop of Glasgow, was ordained to be deposed and excommunicat, except hee gave evident tokens of repentance, and promise to superseed; which he did not; and therefore he was excommunicat shortly after, according to the ordinance of this Assembly.
In the Generall Assembly, holden at Edinburgh, 1582, the Generall Assembly gave commission to some Presbyteries to try and censure such as were called bishops, for the great slander arising by their impunitie. Commission was given at this Assembly to present some articles to the councel and estates, for approving and establishing, by their authoritie, the Presbyteries, the Synodall and Generall Assemblies. In the 19th Sess. the Assembly declared that no bishop may sit upon the councell in name of the Kirk.
In the Assembly, holden anno 1586, these two articles were agreed upon:—First, "It is found that all such as the Scripture appointeth governours of the Kirk, to wit, pastours, doctours, and elders, may conveen to the Generall Assemblies, and vote in ecclesiasticall matters. Secondly, There are foure office-bearers set down to us by the Scriptures; to wit, pastours, doctours, elders, and deacons; and the name of bishop ought not to be taken as it hath been in time of Papistrie, but is common to all pastours and ministers."
In the Assembly holden anno 1587, Sess. 8, It was ordained that the admission of Mr Robert Montgomerie by the Presbyterie of Glasgow, suppose to the temporalitie of the bishoprick only, be undone and annulled with all possible diligence, to the effect slander might be removed from the Kirk. In Sess. 15, Mr Robert Pont shewed the King's presentation to the Bishoprick of Cathnes, and desired the judgement of the Assembly. The Assembly, in their letter to the King's Majestie, declared that they judged the said Mr Robert to be a bishop already, according to the doctrine of St Paul: But as to that corrupt estate or office of these who have been termed bishops heretofore, they found it not agreeable to the Word of God, and that it hath been damned in diverse Assemblies before.
In the instructions given to such as were appointed to wait upon the Parliament, it was ordained in the same Assembly, Sess. 17, That they be carefull that nothing be admitted prejudiciall to the liberties of this Kirk, as it was concluded according to the Word of God in the Generall Assemblies preceeding the year 1584, but precisely to seek the same to bee ratified in the Assembly holden in March 1589, where the articles were made for subscribing the Confession of Faith with the generall band, it was ordained as followeth:—
"For so much as the neighbour Kirk in England is understood to bee heavily troubled, for maintaining of the true discipline and government; whose grieves ought to move us: Therefore the Presbytery of Edinburgh was ordained to comfort the said Kirk in the said matter."
In the Assembly holden 1590, when the Confession of Faith was subscribed universally de novo, a ratification of the liberties of the Kirk, in her jurisdiction, discipline, Presbyteries, Synods, and Generall Assemblies, and an abrogation of all things contrarie thereunto, was ordained to be sought both of the Councel and Parliament. In the next session it was ordained that the Book of Discipline, specially the controverted heads, should be subscribed by all Ministers that bear, or hereafter was to bear, office in this Kirk, and that they be charged by the Presbyteries, under the pain of excommunication: Seeing the Word of God cannot be keeped in sincerity, unlesse the holy discipline be preserved. The Presbyteries were ordained to get a coppie under the clerk's hand; there were sundrie coppies subscribed by the Ministers in the Presbyteries yet extant, as Hadingtoun, Dumfermling, &c., produced before the Assembly.
In the Assembly, 22d May 1592, Sess. 2, these articles were drawen up:—"That the acts of parliament made 1584, against the discipline, libertie, and authoritie of the Kirk, be annulled, and the samine discipline, whereof the Kirk hath been in practise, precisely ratified. That abbots, pryors, and other prelats pretending the title of the Kirk, be not suffered in time comming." In the 11 Session the number of the presbyteries were given up, and insert in the Parliament immediatly following. The 5th of June 1592, The libertie, discipline, and jurisdiction of the true Kirk, in her Sessions, Presbyteries, Synodall and Generall Assemblies, is largely ratified, as the samine was used and exercised within this realme, and all the acts contrary thereto abrogat: The King's prerogative declared not to be prejudiciall to the same priviledges grounded upon the Word of God, the former commissions to bishops, 1584, rescinded, and all ecclesiastical matters subjected to presbyteries, according to the discipline of this Kirk. Anno 1595, The Book of Policie, with other acts, is ratified, and ordained to be printed.
It was also cleared that Episcopacie was condemned in these words of the Confession, HIS WICKED HIERARCHIE. For the Popish Hierarchie doth consist of Bishops, Presbyters, and Deacons, that is, baptizing and preaching Deacons; for so it is determined in the Councel of Trent, in the 4 chapter, De sacramento ordinis, cant. 6. (fn. 1) Si quis dixerit in ecclesia Catholica non esse hierarchiam divina ordinatione institutam, quæ constat ex episcopis presbyteris et ministris, anathema sit. Bellarmine, likewise, in his book De Clericis, cap. 11, saith, That there are three Hierarchies in the militant Kirk: The first of Bishops, the second of Priests, the third of Deacons, and that the deacons are also princes, if they be compared with the people. This proposition following, Hierarchia ecclesiastica constat ex pontifice, cardinalibus, archiepiscopis, episcopis, et regularibus, was censured by the Facultie of Theologie in the University at Paris as followeth, In ista prima propositione enumeratio membrorum hierarchiæ ecclesiasticæ seu sacri principatus, divina ordinatione instituti est manca et redundans atque, inducens in errorem contrarium determinationi sacræ Synodi Tridentinæ: The proposition was defective, because it pretermitted the presbyters and deacons; it was censured as redundant, because it made the hierarchie to consist of the Pope, Cardinals, Archbishops, and Regulars; the Pope is not within the hierarchie; primats, metropolitanes, and archbishops, but as they are bishops. Furthermore, this hierarchie is distinguished in the Confession from the Pope's monarchie. And howbeit this hierarchie be called the Antichrist's Hierarchie, yet it is not to distinguish betwixt the hierarchie in the Popish Kirk and any other as lawfull: But the hierarchie, wheresoever it is, is called his, as the rest of the Popish corruptions are called his: To wit, Invocation of Saints, Canonization of Saints, Dedication of Altars, &c., are called his, not that there is another lawfull canonization, invocation, or dedication of altars; whatsoever corruption was in the Kirk, either in doctrine, worship, or government, since the mystery of iniquitie began to work, and is retained and maintained by the Pope, and obtruded upon the Kirk by his authority, are his. A passage also out of the history of the Councell of Trent was alledged, where it is related that the Councell would not define the hierarchie by the seven orders: We have in our Confession of Faith the manifold orders set apart and distinguished from the hierarchie, but as it is set down in the canon above cited: We have in the Book of Policie, or Second Booke of Discipline, in the end of the second chapter, this conclusion agreed upon. Therefore, all the ambitious titles invented in the kingdom of Antichrist, and in his usurped Hierarchie, which are not of one of these foure sorts, to wit, Pastours, Doctours, Elders, and Deacons, together with the offices depending thereupon, in one word ought to be rejected.
All which and many other warrands being publickly read, and particularly at great length examined, and all objections answered in face of the Assembly, all the members of the Assembly being many times desired and required to propone their doubts and scruples, and every one being heard to the full, and, after much agitation, as fully satisfied, the Moderatour at last exhorting every one to declare his minde, did put the matter to voicing in these termes: Whether, according to the Confession of Faith, as it was professed in the year 1580, 1581, and 1590, there be any other Bishop but a pastour of a particular flock, having no preheminence not power over his brethren, and whether by that Confession, as it was then professed, all other Episcopacie is abjured, and ought to bee removed out of this Kirk. The whole Assembly most unanimously, without contradiction of any one, (and with the hesitation of one allanerly,) professing full perswasion of minde, did voice that all Episcopacie different from that of a pastour over a particular flock, was abjured in this Kirk, and to be removed out of it. And therefore prohibites, under ecclesiastical censure, any to usurpe, accept, defend, or obey the pretended authoritie thereof in time comming.
Act Sess. 17, December 10, 1638. The Assembly at Glasgow declaring the Five Articles of Perth to have been abjured, and to bee removed.
The Assembly remembring the uniformity of worship which was in this Kirk before the Articles of Perth, the great rent which entered at that time, and hath continued since, with the lamentable effects that it hath produced, both against pastours and professours, the unlawfullnesse and nullitie of Perth Assembly already declared by this Assembly, and that in the necessarie renewing of the Confession of Faith in February 1638, the practise of novations introduced in the worship of God was suspended till they should be determined in a free Generall Assembly; and that in the same year, at his Majestie's command, some had subscribed the Confession of Faith as it was professed when it was first subscribed: For these causes, the Assembly entered into a diligent tryall of the foresaid articles, whether they be contrare to the Confession of Faith as it was meaned and professed in the year 1580, 1581, 1590, and 1591. And findeth that first in generall, in the Confession of Faith we professe, "We willinglie agree in our consciences to the forme of religion, of a long time openly professed by the King's Majestie and whole body of this realme, in all points, as unto God's undoubted truth and verity; grounded only upon his written Word, and therefore abhor and deteste all contrary religion and doctrine, but chiefly all kinde of papistrie in generall and particular heads, even as they were then damned and confuted by the Word of God and Kirk of Scotland, and in speciall, the Romane Antichrist, his five bastard sacraments, with all rites, ceremonies, and false doctrine, added to the ministration of the true sacraments without the Word of God, his cruel judgement against infants departing without the sacrament, his absolute necessitie of baptisme; and, finally, we deteste all his vain allegories, rites, signes, and traditions brought into the Kirk, without or against the Word of God, and doctrine of this true reformed Kirk, to the which we joyne ourselves willingly in doctrine, faith, religion, discipline, and use of the holy sacraments, as lively members of the same in Christ our Head, promising and swearing," &c. And that these five articles are contrarie to the religion then professed, were confuted by the Word of God and Kirk of Scotland, or are rites and ceremonies added to the ministration of the true sacraments, without the Word of God, or nourish the Popish judgement against infants departing without the sacrament, or absolute necessitie of baptisme, or rites, signes, and traditions brought into the Kirk, without or against the Word of God, and doctrine of this true reformed Kirk.
And next, in particular, concerning festivall dayes, findeth that, in the explication of the first head of the First Book of Discipline, it was thought good that the feasts of Christmas, Circumcision, Epiphanie, with the feasts of the Apostles, Martyres, and Virgine Mary, bee utterly abolished, because they are neither commanded nor warranded by Scripture, and that such as observe them be punished by civill magistrats. Here utter abolition is craved, and not reformation of abuses only; and that because the observation of such feasts hath no warrand from the Word of God. In the Generall Assembly, holden at Edinburgh, anno 1566, the large Confession of Helvetia was approved, but with speciall exception against the same five dayes, which are now urged upon us. It was not then the popish observation only, with the popish opinion of worship and merit, which was disallowed, (for so the reformed Kirk in Helvetia did not observe them,) but simpliciter all observation. For this end was read a letter in Latine, sent at that time by some of our divines to certaine divines in these parts to this purpose. In the Assembly holden 1575, in August, complaint was made against the ministers and readers beside Aberdene, because they assembled the people to preaching and prayers upon certane festivall dayes, so that preaching and prayers upon festivall dayes was judged rebukable. It was ordained likewise, that complaint bee made to the Regent upon the town of Drumfreis, for urging and convoying a reader to the Kirk, with tabret and whistle, to read prayers, all the holy dayes of Christmas, upon the refusall of their own reader. Among the articles directed by this Assembly to the Regent, it was craved that all holy dayes heretofore keeped holy, beside the Lord's day, such as Yoole day and saints' dayes, and such others, may bee abolished, and a certain penaltie appointed for banqueting, playing, feasting upon these dayes. In the Assembly holden in April, anno 1577, it was ordained that the visitors, with the advice of the Synodall Assembly, should admonish ministers preaching or ministrating the Communion at Easter, or Christmas, or other like superstitious times, or readers reading, to desist under the paine of deprivation. In the ninth head of the First Book of Discipline, the reason is set down against Easter Communion. "Your honours are not ignorant how supersticiously the people run to that action at Pascheven; as if the time gave vertue to the sacrament, and how the rest of the whole year they are carelesse and negligent, as if it appertained not to them, but at that time only." And for this reason, other times were appointed by that book for that holy action. In the Assembly holden 1596, begun in March 1595, at which time the covenant was renewed, superstition and idolatrie breaking forth in observing festivall dayes, setting out of bone-fires, singing carols, are reakoned amongst the corruptions which were to be amended; and the pulpits did sound from time to time against all shew of observing any festivall day whatsoever, except the Lord's day.
Concerning kneeling at the Communion, findeth that in the Confession of Faith prefixed before the Psalmes, and approved by our Kirk in the very beginning of the Reformation, we have these words—"Neither in the ministration of the Sacraments must we follow men, but as Christ himself bath ordained, so must they be ministred." In the large Confession of Faith, chap. 23, it is required as necessary, for the right ministration of the Sacraments, that they bee ministred in such elements, and in such sort as God hath appointed, and that men have adulterate the Sacraments with their own inventions, so that no part of Christ's action abideth in the originall puritie. The judgement of our reformers, who drew up the large Confession, was by cleare evidents shewed to be contrary to this gesture in the act of receiving the Sacrament. In the order of celebrating the Lord's Supper, prefixed before the Psalmes in meeter, "sitting and distributing by the communicants" are joined; as likewise by the second head of the First Book of Discipline, as nearest to Christ's own action, and to his perfect practise, and most convenient to that holy action, and all inventions devised by man are condemned, as alterations and accusations of Christ's perfect ordinance. Ministers were enjoyned by act of Assembly, in December 1562, to observe the order of Geneva, that is, the English Kirk at Geneva, (where Master Knox had been sometime minister,) in the ministration of the Sacraments. This act was renewed in the Assembly holden in December 1564, where ministers are referred to the order set down before the Psalmes for ministration of the Sacraments; which is all one with the former, for that was the order of the English Kirk at Geneva.
In the Parliament holden anno 1567, it was declared that whosoever did not participate of the Sacraments, as they were then publickly administrat in this reformed Kirk, ought not to be reputed members of this Kirk. The act for the King's oath at his coronation, to maintain the due administration of the Sacraments, as they were then ministred, anno 1567, was ratified anno 1581; at which time the short Confession, adhering to the use of the Sacraments in the Kirk of Scotland, was subscribed, as also, anno 1592, after the second subscription to the Confession of Faith. In the Parliament 1572, an act was made against such as did not participat of the Sacraments as they were then rightly ministered; but the gesture of kneeling in the act of receiving putteth the ministration of the Sacrament used in this Kirk out of frame, whereby it is clear that whatsoever gesture or rite cannot stand with the administration of the Sacraments as they were then ministred, and were ministered ever since the reformation till the year 1618, must bee condemned by our Kirk, as a rite added to the true ministration of the Sacraments without the Word of God, and as a rite or tradition brought in without or against the Word of God, or doctrine of this reformed Kirk.
Concerning Confirmation, the Assembly findeth it to be comprehended in the clause of the Confession, where the five bastard sacraments are condemned. And seeing Episcopacie is condemned, imposition of hands by Bishops falleth to the ground. And in all the acts for catechising or examination before admission to the communion, no inkling of imposition of hands.
Concerning the administration of the Sacraments in private places, or private baptisme and private communion, findeth that, in the Book of Common Order set down before the Psalmes, it is said,"that the Sacraments are not ordained of God to be used in private corners, as charmers and sorcerers use to doe, but left to the congregation." In the Assembly holden at Edinburgh in October, anno 1581, the same year and Assembly that the Confession of Faith was subscribed, it was ordained, "that the Sacraments be not administred in private houses, but solemnly according to good order hitherto observed." The Minister of Tranent was suspended at that time, for baptizing an infant in a private house; but confessing his offence, he was ordained to make his publick repentance in the Kirk of Tranent before he be released. Another minister was to be tried and censured for baptizing privately, and celebrating the Communion upon Pasch-day, at the Assembly holden in October 1580. Which acts and censures make manifest that our Kirk abhorred whatsoever fostered the opinion of the necessitie of Baptisme, and giving of the Sacrament as a viaticum.
All which, and many other acts, grounds, and reasons, being at length agitated, and, with much mature deliberation, pondered, and libertie granted to every man to speak his minde, what could be said further for the full satisfaction of all men.
The matter was put to voicing in these words, "Whether the Five Articles of Perth, by the Confession of Faith, as it was meaned and professed in the year 1580,1581, 1590, 1591, ought to be removed out of this Kirk?" The whole Assembly all in one consent, one onely excepted, did voice that the Five Articles above specified were abjured by this Kirk in that Confession, and so ought to be removed out of it; and, therefore, prohibiteth and dischargeth all disputing for them, or observing of them, or any of them, in all time comming, and ordains Presbyteries to proceed with the censures of the Kirk against all transgressours.
Act Sess. 21, December 17, 1638. Restoring the Judicatories of the Kirk.
Concerning Kirk Sessions, Provinciall and Nationall Assemblies, the Generall Assembly considering the great defection of this Kirk, and decay of religion, by the usurpation of the Prelates, and their suppressing of ordinarie judicatories of the Kirk, and clearly perceiving the benefit which will redound to the religion by the restitution of the said judicatories; remembering also that they stand obliged, by their solemne oath and covenant with God, to return to the doctrine and discipline of this Kirk, as it was profest 1580, 1581, 1590, 1591, which in the Book of Policie, registrat in the books of the Assembly, 1581, and ordained to bee subscribed, 1590, 1591, is particularly exprest, both touching the constitution of the Assemblies, of their members, ministers, and elders, and touching the number, power, and authority of these members in all matters ecclesiasticall.
The Assembly findeth it necessar to restore, and, by these presents, restoreth all these Assemblies unto their full integritie in their members, priviledges, liberties, powers, and jurisdictions, as they were constitute by the foresaid Book of Policie.
Act Sess. 23, 24, December 17, 18. Reviving and ratifying several former Acts, &c.
Anent the report of the committie appointed for considering what constitutions were to be revived or made of new, they proponed the overtures following, which were read and allowed by the whole Assembly, or by them referred to the consideration of the severall Presbyteries.
I. Anent Presbyteries which have been erected since the year 1586, it seemeth needfull that they bee ratified by an act of this Generall Assembly, and that other Presbyteries shall be erected where they shall be found needfull, and especially now in the Synod of Lismore, according to the particular note given thereanent.
II. Anent the keeping of Presbyteriall meetings, it is thought fit that they be weekly, both in sommer and winter, except in places farre distant, who, during the winter season, (that is, between the first of October and the first of April,) shall be dispensed with for meeting once in the fourteen dayes, and that all absents be censured, especially those who should exercise and adde, according to the act of Assembly 1582, at St. Andrews, April 24, Sess. 12, and that some controverted head of doctrine bee handled in the Presbyterie publickly, and disputed among the brethren every first Presbyterie of the moneth, according to the act of Assembly holden at Dundie, 1598, Sess. 12.
III. Anent the visitation of particular Kirks within Presbyteries, it is thought expedient that it be once every year, wherein a care is to be had, among other things necessary, that it bee tryed how domestick exercises of religion be exercised in particular families, and to see what means there is in every parish in landward for catechising and instructing the youth.
IV. Anent the visitation of Kirks, Schooles, and Colledges, it is thought meet that the act of Assembly, holden at Edinburgh the 25 of June 1565, Sess. 2, be put in execution, that the Minister of the Parochin, the Principall, Regents, and Professours within Colledges, and Masters and Doctors of Schooles, be tryed concerning the soundnesse of their judgement in matters of religion, their abilitie for discharge of their calling, and the honesty of their conversation, as the act of Assembly at Edinburgh, June 21, 1567, Sess. 3, and the act of Assembly holden at Montrose, 1595, Sess. 9, do import; and this visitation of colledges to be by way of commission from the General Assembly.
V. Anent None-residents; it is thought necessary that every Minister be obliged to reside in his own parochin at his ordinarie manse, for the better attending of the duties of his calling, conforme to the acts of Assemblies, viz., act of Assembly at Edinburgh, March 24, 1595, Sess. 7; as also act at Edinburgh, December 25, 1563, Sess. 5; and Assembly at Edinburgh, December 25, 1565, Sess. 4; Assembly at Edinburgh, March 6, 1572, Sess. 3.
VI. Anent the planting of Schools in Landward, the want whereof doth greatly prejudge the grouth of the Gospel, and procure the decay of religion. The Assembly giveth direction to severall Presbyteries for the setling of schooles in every landward parochin, and providing of men able for the charge of teaching of the youth, publick reading and precenting of the psalme, and catechising of the common people, and that means be provided for their intertainment in the most convenient manner that may be had, according to the abilitie of the parochin.
VII. Anent the late admission of Ministers by Presbyteries, and the choise of Moderatours, according to the ancient power of the said Presbyteries, the Assembly declareth they had power to doe the same, and ratifieth that what hath been done of late of that kinde upon warrantable grounds, that hereafter it be not called in question.
VIII. Anent the competencie of Presbyteries and parochins, that some proportion may be keeped both anent the number and distance of place, it would seem expedient that this Generall Assembly should appoint a Commission for every shyre where there is such necessitie, that the particular parochins and presbyteries within the bounds bee duely considered, and overtures be these of the same commission given in to the Provinciall Synods, and by them to the Generall Assembly, that there they may be advised and ratified.
IX. Anent the entrie and conversation of Ministers, it is expedient that the act of Assembly holden at Edinburgh, March 24, 1595, (fn. 2) Sess. 7, be ratified, and put in execution in every Presbyterie, and to that end that they get a coppie thereof under the clerk's hand, whereof the tennour followeth.
Act Sess. 7, March 26, of the Assembly at Edinburgh, 1596. (fn. 2)
"Concerning the defections in the ministerie, the same being at length read out, reasoned, and considered, the brethren concluded the same, agreeing therewith; and in respect that, by God's grace, they intend reformation, and to see the Kirk and ministery purged, to the effect the worke may have better successe, they think it necessar that this Assembly be humbled, for wanting such care as became in such points, as is set down; and some zealous and godly brethren in doctrine, lay them out for their better humiliation; and that they make solemne promise before the Majestie of God, and make new covenant with him for a more carefull and reverent discharge of their ministerie. To the which effect was chosen Mr John Davidson; and Twesday next, at nine houres in the morning, appointed, in the new Kirk, for that effect, whereunto none is to resort but the ministrie: the forme to be advised the morne in privie conference.
"Forasmuch as, by the too sudden admission and light tryall of persons to the mi nistrie, it cometh to passe that many scandals fall out in the persons of ministers, it would bee ordained in time comming, that more diligent inquisition and triall be used of all such persons as shall enter into the ministrie.
"As specially these points: That the intrant shall be posed upon his conscience, before the great God, (and that in most grave manner,) what moveth him to accept the office and charge of the ministrie upon him.
"That it be inquired, if any, by solistation, or moyen, directly or indirectly, prease to enter in the said office; and if it be found that the solister be repelled, and that the Presbyterie repell all such of their number from voting in the election or admission as shall be found moyeners for the soliciter, and posed upon their conscience to declare the truth to that effect.
"Thirdly, Because by presentations, many forcibly are thrust into the ministery, and upon congregations, that utter thereafter that they were not called by God: It would be provided that none seeke presentations to benefices without advice of the Presbyterie within the bounds whereof the benefice is; and if any doe in the contrarie, they to be repelled as rei ambitus.
"That the tryall of persons to be admitted to the ministrie hereafter consist not only in their learning and abilitie to preach, but also in conscience, and feeling, and spirituall wisedome, and namely in the knowledge of the bounds of their calling, in doctrine, discipline, and wisedome, to behave himselfe accordingly with the diverse ranks of persons within his flock, as namely with Atheists, rebellious weak consciences, and such other, wherein the pastorall charge is most kythed, and that he be meet to stop the mouthes of the adversaries; and such as are not qualified in these points to be delayed to further tryall, and whill they be found qualified. And because men may be found meet for some places who are not meet for other, it would be considered, that the principall places of the realme be provided by men of most worthie gifts, wisedome, and experience, and that none take the charge of greater number of people nor they are able to discharge: And the Assembly to take order herewith, and the act of the provinciall of Louthian, made at Linlithgow, to be urged.
"That such as shall bee found not given to their book and studie of Scriptures, not carefull to have books, not given to sanctification and prayer, that studie not to bee powerfull and spirituall, not applying the doctrine to corruptions, which is the pastorall gift, obscure and too scholastick before the people, cold, and wanting of spirituall zeal, negligent in visiting of the sick and caring for the poore; or indiscreet in choosing of parts of the word not meetest for the flock, flatterers and dissembling at publick sins, and specially of great personages in their congregations, for flattery, or for fear, that all such persons bee censured, according to the degree of their faults, and continuing therein, bee deprived.
"That such as be slothfull in the ministration of the Sacraments and irreverent, as prophaners receiving the cleane and uncleane, ignorants and senselesse prophane, and making no conscience of their profession in their calling and families, omitting due tryall or using none, or light tryall, having respect in their tryall to persons, wherein there is manifest corruption; that all such be sharply rebuked, and if they continue therein, that they be deposed.
"And if any bee found a seller of the Sacraments, that hee bee deposed simpliciter: And such as collude with slanderous persons in dispensing and overseeing them for money, incurre the like punishment. That every Minister be charged to have a Session established of the meetest men in his congregation, and that Discipline strike not only upon grosse sins, as whoredome, bloodshed, &c., but upon sins repugnant to the Word of God, as blasphemie of God, banning, profaning of the Sabbath, disobedient to parents, idle, unruly ones, without calling, drunkards, and such like deboshed men, as make not conscience of their life and ruling of their families, and specially of education of their children, lying, slandering, and backbiting, and breaking of promises; and this to be an universall order throughout the realme, &c., and such like as are negligent herein, and continue therein after admonition, be deposed.
"That none falling in publick slanders be received in the fellowship of the Kirk, except his minister have some appearance and warrand in conscience that hee hath both a feeling of sin, and apprehension of mercie, and for this effect, that the mini ster travell with him by doctrine, and private instruction, to bring him hereto, and specially in the doctrine of repentance, which being neglected, the publick place of repentance is turned in a mocking.
"Dilapidation of benefices, dimitting of them for favour or money, that they become laick patronages, without advise of the Kirk, and such like interchanging of benefices, by transaction and transporting of themselves by that occasion, without the knowledge of the Kirk, precisely to be punished: Such like, that setting of takes without the consent of the Assembly, be punished according to the acts; and that the dimitters in favours for money, or otherwise, to the effect above written, bee punished as the dilapidators.
"That such as are light and wanton in their behaviour, as in gorgeous and light apparell, in speech, in using light and prophane companie, unlawfull gaming, as dancing, carding, dycing, and such like, not beseeming the gravitie of a pastour, bee sharply and gravely reproved by the Presbyterie, according to the degree thereof: and continuing therein after due admonition, that hee bee depryved, as slanderous to the Gospel.
"That Ministers being found swearers, or banners, prophaners of the Sabbath, drunkards, fighters, guiltie of all these, or any of them, be deposed simpliciter; and such like, lyars, detracters, flatterers, breakers of promise, brawlers, and quarrellers, after admonition continuing therein, incurre the same punishment.
"That Ministers given to unlawfull and incompetent trades and occupations for filthie gain, as holders of ostleries, taking of ocker beside conscience and good lawes, and bearing worldly offices in noblemen's and gentlemen's houses, merchandise, and such like, buying of victuals, and keeping to the dearth, and all such worldly occupations, as may distract them from their charge, and may be slanderous to the pastorall calling, be admonished and brought to the acknowledging of their sins, and if they continue therein, to be deposed.
"That Ministers not resident at their flocks be deposed, according to the acts of the Generall Assembly, and lawes of the realme; otherwise the burthen to be laid on the Presbyteries, and they to be censured therefore.
"That the Assembly command all their members, that none of them await on the court and affairs thereof, without the advice and allowance of their Presbyterie. Item, That they intend no action civill without the said advice, except in small matters: and for remeding of the necessitie, that some Ministers hath to enter in plea of law, that remedie bee craved, that short processe bee devised, to bee used in Ministers' actions.
"That Ministers take speciall care in using godly exercises in their families, in teaching of their wives, children, and servants, in using ordinarie prayers, and reading of Scriptures, in removing of offensive persons out of their families, and such like other points of godly conversation, and good example, and that they, at the visitation of their Kirks, try the Ministers' families in these points foresaid, and such as are found negligent in these points, after due admonition, shall be adjudged unmeet to govern the house of God, according to the rule of the Apostle.
"That Ministers in all companies strive to be spirituall and profitable, and to talke of things pertaining to godlinesse, as namely of such as may strengthen us in Christ, instruct us in our calling, of the means how to have Christ's Kingdome better established in our congregations, and to know how the Gospel flourisheth in our flocks, and such like others the hinderances and the remeeds that we finde, &c., wherein there is manifold corruptions, both in our companying with ourselves and with others; and that the contraveeners thereof be tryed, and sharply be rebuked.
"That no Minister be found to countenance, procure, or assist a publick offender challenged by his own Minister, for his publick offence, or to bear with him as though his Minister were too severe upon him, under the pain of admonition and rebuking.
X. Anent the defraying of the expenses of the commissioners to the Generall Assembly, referreth and recommendeth the same unto the particular presbyteries, and especially to the ruling elders therein, that they may take such courses whereby, according to reason and former acts of Assemblies, the commissioners' expenses to this Assembly, and to the subsequent, may be born by the particular parochins of every presbyterie, who sendeth them in their name and to their behalf, and for that effect, that all sort of persons able in land or moneys proportionally may bear a part of the burthen, as they reap the benefit of their paines.
XI. Anent the repressing of Poperie and superstition. It seemeth expedient that the number and names of all the Papists in this kingdome be taken up at this Assembly, if it may be conveniently done, and if not, that it be remitted to the next Provinciall Assemblies, that it may appear what grouth Poperie hath had and now hath through this kingdome, what Popish priests and Jesuits there are in the land; and that all persons of whatsoever state and condition be obliged to swear and subscribe the Confession of Faith, as it is now condescended upon by this Generall Assembly; that they frequent the Word and Sacraments in the ordinar dyets and places; otherwise to proceed against them with the censures of the Kirk, and that children be not sent out of the countrey without licence of the Presbyteries or Provinciall Synods of the bounds where they dwell.
XII. Anent order to be taken that the Lord's Supper be more frequently administrat both in burgh and landward then it hath been in these years bygone. It were expedient that the act at Edinburgh, December 25, 1562, Sess. 5, bee renewed, and some course bee taken for furnishing of the elements, where the minister of the parish hath allowance only for once in the year.
The Assembly referreth this to the consideration of Presbyteries, and declareth that the charges be rather payed out of that dayes collection, then that the congregation want the more frequent use of the sacrament.
XIII. Anent the entrie of ministers to the ministrie; the Assembly thinks expedient that the act holden at St. Andrews, April 24, 1582, Sess. 7, touching the age of twenty-five years, be renewed, and none to be admitted before that time, except such as for rare and singular qualities shall be judged by the Generall or Provinciall Assembly to be meet and worthie thereof.
XIV. Anent mercats on Monday and Saturday within burghs, causing intollerable profanation of the Lord's day, by carying of loads, bearing of burthens, and other work of that kinde; it were expedient for the redresse thereof, that the care for restraining of this abuse be recommended by the Assembly unto the severall burghs, and they to bee earnestly entreated to finde out some way for the repressing of this evil, and changing of the day; and to report their diligence thereanent to the next Generall Assembly.
XV. Anent the profaination of the Sabbath-day in landward, especially for want of divine service in the afternoone; the Assembly ordaineth the act of Assembly holden at Dundie, July 12, 1580, Sess. 10, for keeping both dyets, to be put in execution.
XVI. Anent frequenting with excommunicat persons; the Assembly ordaineth that the act at Edinburgh, March 5, 1569, Sess. 10, to wit, "that these who will not forbear the companie of excommunicat persons after due admonition, be excommunicat themselves, except they forbear," to be put in execution.
XVII. Whereas the Confession of the Faith of this Kirk, concerning both doctrine and discipline, so often called in question by the corrupt judgement and tyrannous authoritie of the pretended prelats, is now clearly explained, and by this whole Kirk represented by this Generall Assembly concluded, ordained also to bee subscribed by all sorts of persons within the said Kirk and kingdome; the Assembly constitutes and ordaines, that from henceforth, no sort of person, of whatsoever quality and degree, be permitted to speak or write against the said Confession, this Assembly, or any act of this Assembly, and that under the paine of incurring the censures of this Kirk.
XVIII. Anent voicing in kirk-sessions; it is thought expedient that no minister moderating his session shall usurpe a negative voice over the members of his session, and where there is two or more ministers in one congregation, that they have equall power in voicing, that one of them hinder not the reasoning or voicing of any thing whereunto the other minister or ministers, with a great part of the session, inclineth, being agreeable to the acts and practise of the Kirk, and that one of the ministers, without advice of his colleague, appoint not dyets of communion nor examination, neither hinder his colleague from catechising and using other religious exercises as oft as he pleaseth.
XIX. Since the office of a diocesane or lordly bishop is alluterly abjured, and removed out of this Kirk, it is thought fit that all titles of dignitie, savouring more of Poperie than of Christian libertie, as chapters, with their elections and consecrations, abbots, pryors, deans, arch-deacons, preaching deacons, chanters, sub-chanters, and others having the like title, flowing from the Pope and Canon law only, as testifieth the Second Book of Discipline, bee also banished out of this Reformed Kirk, and not to bee usurped or used hereafter under ecclesiasticall censure.
XX. Anent the presenting either of pastours or readers, and schoolmasters to particular congregations; that there be a respect had to the congregation, and that no person be intruded in any office of the Kirke contrare to the will of the congregation to which they are appointed.
XXI. Anent mariage without proclamation of bans, which being in use these years bygone, hath produced many dangerous effects; the Assembly would discharge the same, conforme to the former acts, except the Presbyterie in some necessarie exigents dispense therewith.
XXII. Anent the Buriall in Kirks; the Assembly would be pleased to consider anent the act of Assembly at Edinburgh, 1588, Sess. 5, if it shall be put in execution, and to discharge funerall sermons as savouring of superstition.
XXIII. Anent the tryall of expectants before their entrie to the ministrie; it being notour that they have subscribed the Confession of Faith now declared in this Assembly, and that they have exercised often privatly and publickly, with approbation of the Presbyterie, they shall first adde and make the exercise publickly, and make a discourse of some common head in Latine, and give propositions thereupon for dispute, and thereafter be questioned by the Presbyterie upon questions of controversie and chronologie, anent particular texts of Scripture, how they may be interpreted according to the analogie of faith, and reconciled, and that they be examined upon their skill of the Greek and Hebrew, and that they bring a testificat of their life and conversation from either colledge or presbyterie where they reside.
XXIV. The Assembly having considered the order of the Provinciall Assemblies given in by the most ancient of the ministrie within every province, as the ancient plateforme thereof, ordained the same to be observed contorme to the roll, registrat in the books of Assembly, whereof the tennour followeth.
The Order of the Provinciall Assemblies in Scotland, According to The Presbyteries Therein Contained.
All the Kirks of the North-West Isles, viz., Sky, Lewes, and the rest of the Isles, which were lyable to the Diocie of the Isles, except the South-West Isles, which are joyned to the Presbyteries of Argyll— to meet the first time at Skye, the second Twesday of May.
It is remembred, that of old, the Synodall Assemblies that were nearest to others had correspondence among themselves, by sending one or two commissioners mutually from one to another, which course is thought fit to be keeped in time comming; viz., the Provincials of Louthian, and Mers, &c.; the Provincials of Drumfreis, Galloway, Glasgow, and Argyll; the Provincials of Perth, Fyfe, and Angus, &c.; the Provincials of Aberdein and Murray; the Provincials of Rosse, Caithnes, and Orknay. The commissioners for correspondence amongst the Synodals to be a minister and a ruling elder.
The Assembly recommendeth to the severall Presbyteries the execution of the old acts of Assemblies, against the break of the Sabbath-day, by the going of milles, saltpans, salmond-fishing, or any such like labour, and to this end revives and renews the act of the Assembly, holden at Halyrudehouse, 1602, Sess. 5, whereof the tennor followeth:—
"The Assembly, considering that the conventions of the people, specially on the Sabbath-day, are verie rare in many places, by distraction of labour, not only in harvest and seed-time, but also every Sabbath, by fishing, both of whyte fish and salmondfishing, and in going of milles: Therefore, the Assemblie dischargeth and inhibiteth all such labour of fishing, as well whyte fish as salmond fish, and going of milles of all sorts upon the Sabbath-day, under the paine of incurring the censures of the Kirk. And ordains the commissioners of this Assemblie to meane the same to his Majestie, and to desire that a pecuniall paine may be injoyned upon the contraveiners of this present act."
Act Sess. 24, December 18, 1638. Against Ministers who acquiesce not in the Sentence of Deposition.
The Assembly, considering the great necessity of purging this land from bygone corruptions, and of preserving her from the like in time coming, ordaineth the Presbyteries to proceed with the censures of the Kirk, to excommunication, against those Ministers, who, being deposed by this Assembly, acquiesces not to their sentences, but exercise some part of their Ministeriall function, refuseth themselves, and withdraw others from the obedience of the Acts of the Assembly.
Act Sess. 25, December 19, 1638. Against the civill Places and Power of Kirkmen.
The Generall Assembly, remembering that among other clauses of the application of the Confession of Faith to the present time, which was subscribed in Februarie 1638, the clause touching the civill places and power of Kirkmen was referred unto the tryall of this Assembly, entered into a serious search thereof, especially of their sitting on the bench, as Justices of Peace, their sitting in Session and Councell, their ryding and voting in Parliament; and considering how this vote in Parlament was not at first sought nor requyred by this Kirke, or worthy men of the ministerie, but being obtruded upon them, was disallowed, for such reasons as could not well be answered, (as appeareth by the conference, holden at Halyrudehouse, 1599, which, with the reasons therein contained, was read in the face of the Assembly,) and by plurality of voices not being able to resist that enforced favour, they foreseeing the dangerous consequences thereof, in the Assembly at Montrose, did limitate the same by many necessare cautions; considering also the protestation made in the Parlament, 1606, by commissioners from Presbyteries, and Provinciall Assemblies, against this restitution of Bishops to vote in Parlament, and against all civill offices in the persons of pastors, separate unto the Gospell, as incompatible with their spirituall function, with the manifold reasons of that protestation from the Word of God, ancient Councels, ancient and moderne divines, from the doctrine, discipline, and Confession of Faith of the Kirk of Scotland, which are extant in print, and were read in the audience of the Assembly: Considering also, from their own experience, the bad fruits and great evils which have been the inseparable consequents of these offices, and that power in the persons of pastors separate to the Gospell, to the great prejudice of the freedome and libertie of the Kirk, the jurisdiction of her Assemblies, and the powerfull fruits of their spirituall ministrie; the Assembly most unanimously in one voice, with the hesitation of two allanerly, declared, that as, on the one part, the Kirk and the ministers thereof are oblidged to give their advise and good counsell in matters concerning the Kirk, or the conscience of any whatsomever, to his Majestie, to the Parlament, to the Councell, or to any member thereof, for their resolutions from the Word of God; so, on the other part, that it is both inexpedient and unlawful in this Kirk for pastors separate unto the Gospell to brook civil places and offices, as to be Justices of Peace, sit and decerne in Councell, Session, or Exchecker, to ryde or vote in Parlament, to be judges or assessors in any civill judicatorie: And, therefore, rescinds and annuls all contrarie Acts of Assembly, namely, of the Assembly holden at Montrose, 1600; which being prest by authority, did rather for an interim tolerat the same, and that limitate by many cautions, for the breach whereof the prelats have been justly censured, then in freedome of judgement allow thereof, and ordaineth the Presbyteries to proceed with the censures of the Kirk against such as shall transgresse herein in time comming.
Act Sess. 26, December 20, 1638. Repressing the Licentiousness of the Press to the prejudice of the Kirk.
The Assembly, considering the great prejudice which God's Kirk in this land hath sustained these years bypast, by the unwarranted printing of lybels, pamphlets, and polemicks, to the disgrace of religion, slander of the gospell, infecting and disquyeting the mindes of God's people, and disturbance of the peace of the Kirk; and remembring the former acts and custome of this Kirk, as of all other Kirks, made for restraining these and the like abuses, and that nothing be printed concerning the Kirk and religion except it be allowed by these whom the Kirk intrusts with that charge; the Assembly unanimously, by vertue of their ecclesiasticall authority, dischargeth and inhibiteth all printers within this kingdome to print any act of the former Assemblies, any of the acts or proceedings of this Assembly, any Confession of Faith, any protestations, any reasons pro or contra anent the present divisions and contraversies of this time, or any other treatise whatsoever which may concerne the Kirk of Scotland, or God's cause in hand, without warrand subscribed by Mr. Archbald Johnston, as clerk to the Assembly and advocate for the Kirk; or to reprint, without his warrand, any acts or treatises foresaids, which he hath caused any other to print, under the paine of ecclesiasticall censures, to be execute against the transgressours by the severall Presbyteries, and in case of their refusall, by the severall Commissiones from this Assembly; whereunto also we are confident the honourable judges of this land will contribute their civill authority; and this to be intimat publickly in pulpit with the other generall acts of this Assembly.
Act Sess. 26, December 20, 1638. Against such as acknowledge not this Assembly.
The Generall Assembly ordaineth all Presbyteries and Provinciall Assemblies to conveen before them such as are scandalous and malicious, and will not acknowledge this Assembly, nor acquiesce unto the acts thereof; and to censure them according to their malice and contempt, and acts of this Kirk; and where Presbyteries are refractarie, granteth power unto the severall Commissions to summond them to compear before the next Generall Assembly to be holden at Edinburgh, the third Wedinsday of Julie, to abide their tryall and censure.
Act Sess. 26, December 20, 1638. Appointing Presbyteries, Burghs, Universities, as also Kirk Sessions, to have a Copy of the Acts of the Assembly.
The Assembly, considering the acts and practise of this Kirke in her purest times, that the Commissioners of every Presbyterie, Burgh, and Universitie, were both ordained to take, and really did take, from the clerk, the whole general acts of the Assembly subscribed by the clerk, whereby they might rule and conforme their judicatorie themselves, and all persons within their jurisdictions, unto the obedience thereof; considering the great prejudices we have lately felt out of ignorance of the acts of Assembly; considering also the great necessity in this time of reformation, beyond any other ordinarie time, to have an extract thereof, the Assembly ordaineth be this present act, that all Commissioners from Presbyteries, Burghes, and Universities, presently get under the clerk's hand an index of the acts, till the acts themselves be extracted, and thereafter to get the full extract of the whole generall acts, to be insert in their Presbyterie books, whereby all their proceedings may be regulate in time coming. Likeas the Assembly recommendeth unto every Kirk Session, for the preservation of their particular paroch from the re-entrie of the corruptions now discharged, and for their continuance in the Covenant, anent doctrine, worship, and discipline now declared, to obtain an extract of these acts, especially if they be printed, seeing their pryce will no wayes then be considerable, as the benefite both of the particular parish and the interest of the whole Kirk, in the preservation thereof from defection, is undenyable, seeing Presbyteries are composed of sundry parochins, and so must be affected or infected as they are, as Provinciall and Generall Assemblies are composed of Presbyteries, and so must be disposed as they are.
Act Sess. 26, December 20. In the Assembly at Glasgow, 1638, concerning the Confession of Faith renewed in Februar 1638.
The Assembly, considering that for the purging and preservation of religion for the King's Majestie's honour, and for the publick peace of the Kirk and kingdome, the renewing of that nationall Convenant and oath of this Kirk and kingdome, in Februar 1638, was most necessare, likeas the Lord hath blessed the same from heaven with a wonderfull successe for the good of religion, that the said Covenant suspendeth the practise of novations already introduced, and the approbation of the corruptions of the present government of the Kirk, with the civill places and power of kirkmen, till they be tryed in a free Generall Assembly; and that now, after long and serious examination, it is found that by the Confession of Faith the Five Articles of Perth and Episcopall governement are abjured, and to be removed out of this Kirk, and the civill places and power of kirkmen are declared to be unlawfull: The Assembly alloweth and approveth the same in all the heads and articles thereof, and ordaineth that all Ministers, Masters of Universities, Colledges, and Schooles, and all others who have not already subscribed the said Confession and Convenant, shall subscribe the same, with these words prefixed to the subscription, viz., The article of this Covenant, which was at the first subscription referred to the determination of the Generall Assembly, being now determined at Glasgow, in December 1638, and thereby the Five Articles of Perth, and the government of the Kirk by Bishops, being declared to be abjured and removed, the civill places and power of kirkmen declared to be unlawfull, we subscrive according to the determination of the said free and lawfull Generall Assembly holden at Glasgow; and ordaineth, ad perpetuam rei memoriam, the said Covenant, with this declaration, to be insert in the registers of the Assemblies of this Kirk, Generall, Provinciall, and Presbyteriall.
Act Sess. 26, December 20, 1638. Concerning the subscribing the Confession of Faithe lately subscribed by his Majestie's Commissioner, and urged to be subscribed by others.
Seeing the Generall Assembly, to whom belongeth properly the publick and judiciall interpretation of the Confession of Faith, hath now, after accurat tryall, and mature deliberation, clearly found that the Five Articles of Perth, and the governement of the Kirk by Bishops, are abjured by the Confession of Faith, as the same was professed in the year 1580, and was renewed in this instant year, 1638; and that the Marques of Hammiltoun, his Majestie's Commissioner, hath caused print a declaration, bearing that his Majestie's intention and his own, in causing subscribe the Confession of Faith, is no wayes to abjure but to defend Episcopall government; and that by the oath and explanation set down in the act of Councel, it neither was nor possibly could be abjured, requyring that none take the said oath, or any other oath, in any sense which may not consist with Episcopall governement; which is directly repugnant to the genuine and true meaning of the foresaid Confession, as it was professed in the year 1580, as is clearly now found and declared by the Generall Assembly: Therefore, the Generall Assembly doth humbly supplicate that his Majestie may be graciously pleased to acknowledge and approve the foresaid true interpretation and meaning of the Generall Assembly, by his royall warrand to his Majestie's Commissioner, Councell, and subjects, to be put in record for that effect, whereof we are confident, after his Majestie hath received due information from this Kirk, honoured with his Majestie's birth and baptisme, which will be a royall testimonie of his Majestie's piety and justice, and a powerfull meane to procure the heartie affection and obedience of all his Majestie's loyall subjects; and in the meanetime, least any should fall under the danger of a contradictorie oath, and bring the wrath of God upon themselves and the land, for the abuse of his name and covenant, The Assembly, by their ecclesiasticall authority, prohibiteth and dischargeth, that no member of this Kirk swear or subscribe the said Confession, so far wreasted to a contrare meaning, under paine of all ecclesiasticall censure, but that they subscribe the Confession of Faith renewed in Februar, with the declaration of the Assembly set down in the former act.
Act Sess. 26, December 20, 1638. Concerning yearly Generall Assemblies.
The Assembly, having considered the reasons lately printed for holding of Generall Assemblies, which are taken from the light of nature, the promise of Jesus Christ, the practise of the holy Apostles, the doctrine and custome of other reformed Kirks, and the liberty of this nationall Kirk, as it is expressed in the Book of Policie, and acknowledged in the act of Parlament 1592, and from recent and present experience, comparing the lamentable prejudices done to religion through the former want of free and lawfull Assemblies, and the great benefite arysing to the Kirk from this one free and lawfull Assembly, finde it necessary to declare, and hereby declares, that by divine, ecclesiasticall, and civill warrands, this nationall Kirk hath power and liberty to assemble and conveen in her yearly Generall Assemblies, and oftener, pro re nata, as occasion and necessity shall require: Appointeth the next Generall Assembly to sit at Edinburgh the third Weddinsday of Julie 1639; and warneth all Presbyteries, Universities, and Burghes, to send their commissioners for keeping the same; giving power also to the Presbyterie of Edinburgh, pro re nata, and upon any urgent and extraordinarie necessity, (if any shall happen before the diet appointed in Julie,) to give advertisement to all the presbyteries, universities, and burghes, to send their commissioners for holding an occasionall Assembly. And if, in the meanetime, it shall please the King's Majestie to indict a Generall Assembly, ordaineth all presbyteries, universities, and burghes, to send their commissioners for keeping the time and place which shall be appointed by his Majestie's proclamation.
Act Sess. 26, December 20. Ordaining an humble Supplication to be sent to the King's Majestie.
The Assembly, from the sense of his Majestie's pietie and justice, manifested in the publick indiction of their solemne meeting for the purging and preservation of religion, in so great an exigent of the extreame danger of both, from their fears arising out of experience of the craftie and malicious dealing of their adversaries in giving sinistrous informations against the most religious and loyall designes and doings of his Majestie's good subjects, and from their earnest desire to have his Majestie truely informed of their intentions and proceedings from themselves, who know them best, (which they are confident will be better beleeved, and find more credite with his Majestie, then any secret surmise or private suggestion to the contrarie,) that they may gaine his Majestie's princely approbation and ratification in the ensuing Parliament to their constitutions, hath thought meet and ordaineth, that an humble supplication be directed to his Majestie, testifying their most heartie thankfulnesse for so royall a favour as at this time hath refreshed the whole Kirk and kingdome, stopping the way of calumnie, and humbly supplicating for the approbation and ratification forsaid: That truth and peace may dwell together in this land, to the increase of his Majestie's glorie, and the comfort and quietnesse of his Majestie's good people: This the Assembly hath committed, according to the articles forsaid, to be subscribed by their moderatour and clerk in their name. The tennour whereof followeth:—
Most Gracious Soveratigne,
We, your Majestie's most humble and loyall subjects, the commissioners from all the parts of this your Majestie's ancient and native kingdome, and members of the Nationall Assembly, conveened at Glasgow by your Majestie's speciall indiction, considering the great happinesse which ariseth both to Kirk and commonwealth by the mutuall embracements of religion and justice, of truth and peace, when it pleaseth the Supreame Providence so to dispose that princely power and ecclesiasticall authoritie joyne in one, do, with all thankfulnesse of heart, acknowledge, with our mouthes doe confesse, and not only with our pennes, but with all our power are readie to witnesse unto the world, to your Majestie's never dying glorie, how much the whole kingdome is affected, and not only refreshed but revived, with the comfortable sense of your Majestie's pietie, justice, and goodnesse, in hearing our humble supplications for a full and free Generall Assembly: and remembring that for the present a more true and reall testimonie of our unfained acknowledgement could not proceed from us, your Majestie's duetifull subjects, then to walke worthie of so royall a favour, it hath been our greatest care and most serious endevour, next unto the will of Jesus Christ, the great King of his Kirk, redeemed by his own bloud, in all our proceedings, joyned with our hearty prayers to God for a blessing from heaven upon your Majestie's person and government, from the first houre of our meeting, to carie ourselves in such moderation, order, and loyaltie, as beseemed the subjects of so just and gracious a King, lacking nothing so much as your Majestie's personall presence; with which had we been honoured and made happie, we were confident to have gained your Majestie's royall approbation to our ecclesiastick constitutions and conclusions, knowing that a truly Christian minde and royall heart inclined from above to religion and piety, will at the first discern, and discerning be deeply possessed with the love of the ravishing beautie and heavenly order of the house of God—they both proceeding from the same Spirit. But as the joy was unspeakable, and the hopes lively, which from the fountaines of your Majestie's favour did fill our hearts, so were we not a little troubled when wee did perceive that your Majestie's Commissioner, as before our meeting he did endevour a prelimitation of the Assembly in the necessarie members thereof, and the matters to bee treated therein, contrarie to the intention of your Majestie's proclamation indicting a free Assembly, according to the order of this Kirk and laws of the kingdome, so, from the first beginnings of our sitting, (as if his Lordship had come rather to crosse nor to countenance our lawfull proceedings, or as we had intended any prejudice to the good of religion or to your Majestie's honour—which God knoweth was far from our thoughts,) did suffer nothing, although most necessarie, most ordinarie, and most undenyable, to passe without some censure, contradiction, or protestation: And after some dayes' debating of this kinde, farre against our expectation, and to our great griefe, did arise himself, commanded us, who had laboured in every thing to approve ourselves to God, and to his Lordship, as representing your Majestie's person, to arise also, and prohibited our further meeting by such a proclamation, as will bee found to have proceeded, rather from an unwillingnesse that we should any longer sit, then from any ground or reason, which may endure the tryall either of your Majestie's Parliament or of your own royall judgement, unto which if (being conveened by indiction from your Majestie, and sitting now in a constitute Assembly) we should have given place, the Kirk and kingdome, contrare to your Majestie's most laudable intentions, manifested in former proclamations, and contrarie to the desires and expectation of all your Majestie's good people, had been in an instant precipitate in such a world of confusions and such depths of miserie as afterward could not easily have been cured. In this extreamitie we made choise rather of that course which was most agreeable to your Majestie's will, revealed unto us after so many fervent supplications, and did most conduce for the good of religion, your Majestie's honour, and the weill of your Majestie's kingdome, then to give way to any sudden motion tending to the ruine of all; wherein wee are so far from fearing the light, least our deeds should be reproved, that the more accuratly that we are tryed, and the more impartially our using of that power which God Almighty and your sacred Majestie, his vicegerent, had put in our hands for so good and necessarie ends, is examined, we have the greater confidence of your Majestie's allowance and ratihabition; and so much the rather, that being in a manner inhibited to proceed in so good a work, we doubled our diligence, and endevoured more carefully then before, when your Majestie's Commissioner was present, in every point falling under our consideration, to walke circumspectly, and without offence, as in the sight of God, and as if your Majestie's eyes had been looking upon us, labouring to proceed according to the Word of God, our Confession of Faith and Nationall Oath, and the laudable constitutions of the lawfull Assemblies of this Kirk; and studying rather to renew and revive old acts made for the reformation of religion in the time of your Majestie's father, of happie memorie, and extant in the records of the Kirk, which Divine Providence hath preserved, and at this time brought to our hands, then either to allow of such novations, as the avarice and ambition of men, abusing authoritie for their own ends, had without order introduced; or to appoint any new order which had not been formerly received and sworn to bee reteined in this Kirk. In all which the members of the Assembly found so clear and convincing light to their full satisfaction, against all their doubts and difficulties, that the harmonie and unanimitie was rare and wonderfull, that we could not have agreed upon other constitutions except wee would have been found fighting against God. Your Majestie's wise and princely minde knoweth that nothing is more ordinary then for men when they doe well to bee evil spoken of, and that the best actions of men are many times misconstrued and misreported. Balaam, although a false prophet, was wronged; for, in place of that which hee said, "The Lord refuseth to give me leave to go with you," the princes of Moab reported unto Balak that Balaam refused to go with them. But our comfort is, that Truth is the daughter of Time, and although calumnie often starteth first and runneth before, yet veritie followeth her at the heels, and possesseth herself in noble and royall hearts, where base calumnie cannot long finde place. And our confidence is, that your Majestie, with that worthie king, will keep one eare shut against all the obloquies of men; and with that more wise king, who, when he gave a proofe that the wisedome of God was in him to doe judgement, would have both parties to stand before him at once, that hearing them equally, they might speed best, and go out most chearfullie from his Majestie's face, who had the best cause. When your Majestie's wisedome hath searched all the secrets of this Assembly, let us be reputed the worst of all men, according to the aspersions which partialitie would put upon us; let us be the most miserable of all men, to the full satisfaction of the vindictive malice of our adversaries; let us by the whole world bee judged of all men the most unworthie to breath any more in this your Majestie's kingdome, if the cause that we maintaine and have been prosecuting shall be found any other but that we desire that the majestie of God, who is our fear and our dread, be served, and his house ruled according to his owne will; if we have not caried along with us in all the sessions of our Assemblie a most humble and loyall respect to your Majestie's honour, which next unto the honour of the living God lyeth nearest our hearts; if we have not keeped ourselves within the limits of our reformation without debording or reflecting upon the constitution of other reformed Kirks, unto which wee heartily wish all truth and peace, and by whose sound judgement and Christian affection we certainly look to be approven; if we have not failed rather by lenitie then by rigour in censuring of delinquents, never exceeding the rules and lines prescribed and observed by this Kirk, and if (whatsoever men minding themselves suggest to the contrary) the government and discipline of this Kirk, subscribed and sworn before, and now acknowledged by the unanimous consent of this Assembly, shall not bee found to serve for the advancement of the kingdome of Christ, for procuring all duetifull obedience to your Majestie in this your kingdome, and great riches and glorie to your crown, for peace to us, your Majestie's loyall subjects, and for terrour to all the enemies of your Majestie's honour and our happinesse; and if any act hath proceeded from us, so farre as our understanding could reach, and humane infirmitie would suffer, which being duely examined according to the grounds laid by your Majestie's father, of everlasting memory, and our religious progenitours, and which religion did forbid us to infringe, shall merit the anger and indignation wherewith wee are so often threatned. But on the contrare, having sincerely sought the glorie of God, the good of religion, your Majestie's honour, the censure of impietie, and of men who had sold themselves to wickednesse, and the re-establishment of the right constitution and government of this Kirk, farre from the smallest appearance of wronging any other reformed Kirk, we humbly beg, and certainly expect, that from the bright beames of your Majestie's countenance shining on this your Majestie's own kingdome and people, all our stormes shall bee changed in a comfortable calme and sweet sunshine, and that your Majestie's ratification in the ensuing Parliament, graciously indicted by your Majestie's proclamation to bee keeped in May, shall setle us in such a firmnesse and stabilitie in our religion as shall adde a further lustre unto your Majestie's glorious diademe, and make us a blessed people under your Majestie's long and prosperous reigne; which we beseech Him who hath directed us in our affaires, and by whom kings reigne, to grant unto your Majestie, to the admiration of all the world, the astonishment of your enemies, and comfort of the godly.
Collected, visied, and extracted forth from the Register of the Acts of the
Assembly, by me, Mr A. Jhonston, clerk thereto, under my signe and
(S. S.) A. Jhonston, Cls. Eccl.
Edinburgh, the 12th of January 1639.