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 general assembly, convened at Edinburgh, May 19, 1831.
I. Sess. 1, May 19, 1831.—The King's Commission to Robert Montgomery Lord Belhaven produced, and ordered to be recorded.
II. Sess. 1, May 19, 1831.—The King's most gracious Letter to the General Assembly, presented to them by his Majesty's Commissioner.
Right Reverend and Well-beloved, we greet you well.—Highly sensible of the firm adherence which your former meetings have uniformly shown to the succession of the Crown of this realm in our Family, and knowing their attachment to the Protestant faith, and to the general interests of religion and sound morality, we most willingly sanction with our royal authority your present Assembly; and we gladly avail ourselves of this first opportunity of giving you the assurance of our fixed purpose to continue to the Presbyterian Church of Scotland the same countenance and support which it has received from our royal ancestors, and to maintain it in the full possession of all its rights and privileges, as by law established.
We are persuaded that you will manifest, in the whole course of your proceedings, during the present Assembly, and enlightened and well-tempered zeal in the cause of true religion and good morals, and that your conduct will be distinguished, by that moderation, candour, and wisdom, which are essentially necessary for giving effect to your counsels.
We commit with confidence to your pastoral care the interests of the Church of Scotland, earnestly hoping that you will be enabled to promote the great object which we have always at heart—the happiness and welfare of our people.
We have thought fit to appoint our right trusty and well-beloved Robert Montgomery Lord Belhaven to be the Representative of our royal person in this Assembly, being well assured of his zealous attachment to the Church of Scotland, and of his ability and earnest wish to discharge faithfully the high and important duties with which he is entrusted. And we are persuaded that this choice will be acceptable to you.
III. Sess. 3, May 21, 1831.—The General Assembly's Answer to the King's most gracious Letter.
Most Gracious Sovereign,
We, the members of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, have received with sentiments of the profoundest respect and warmest gratitude, the gracious letter with which your Majesty has condescended to honour us on this occasion.
Nothing can yield us greater satisfaction than the assurance so graciously conveyed, that your Majesty—highly sensible of the firm adherence which former Assemblies have uniformly shown to the succession of the Crown of this realm in your Majesty's illustrious Family, and knowing our attachment to the Protestant faith, and to the general interests of religion and sound morality—most willingly sanctions, with your royal authority, our present Assembly. It is also peculiarly gratifying to us, that your Majesty has been pleased to give us the assurance of your fixed purpose to continue to the Church of Scotland the same countenance and support which it has received from your royal ancestors, and to maintain it in the full possession of all its rights and privileges, as by law established.
It will be our most earnest endeavour to manifest, in the whole course of our proceedings during this Assembly, an enlightened and well tempered zeal in the cause of true religion and good morals; and we trust that, by the blessing of God, our conduct will evince that moderation, candour, and wisdom, which are essentially necessary for giving effect to our counsels.
Entrusted as we are with the religious interests of the Church of Scotland, we will anxiously labour, under Providence, to assist in promoting the great objects which we know your Majesty has always at heart—the happiness and welfare of your people.
The appointment of a Commissioner so well recommended as Lord Belhaven, by his loyalty, by his hereditary attachment to the Church of Scotland, and by the interest he has personally taken in the proceedings of former Assemblies, is most acceptable to us; and we are confident that, from his ability and earnest wish to discharge faithfully the high and important duties committed to him, we shall receive the most effectual co-operation and support.
The royal donation of L. 2000, for the propagation of Christian knowledge in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, we accept with the liveliest gratitude, as a pledge of your Majesty's anxiety to promote the extension of pure religion; and we shall apply it with all fidelity to the pious purpose for which it is bestowed.
That Almighty God may bless your Majesty, your Royal Consort, and all the
members of the Royal Family;—that He may ever direct and prosper your Majesty's
government;—and that He may maintain, till the latest ages, the national blessings
we now enjoy, are the fervent prayers of,
May it please your Majesty, your Majesty's most faithful, most loyal, and most obedient subjects, the Ministers and Elders of this General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
IV. Sess. 3, May 21, 1831.—The General Assembly's Address to the King on his Accession to the Throne of these Realms.
May it please your Majesty,
We, your Majesty's faithful subjects, the ministers and elders of the Church of Scotland, met in this General Assembly, cordially approving of the conduct of the Commission of the last General Assembly, in having conveyed to the throne those sentiments of respect and attachment which are so justly due to your Majesty's person and government, and which are universally felt by the members of this National Church, embrace with alacrity the earliest opportunity which our annual meeting affords, of expressing our condolence on the death of our late illustrious King, and our congratulations on your Majesty's auspicious elevation to the sovereignty of the United Kingdom.
The retrospect of the many signal advantages which we enjoyed under the government of your Majesty's royal brother, during a series of the most eventful years in the history of our land, while it excites our gratitude to the Supreme Governor among the nations, cannot fail to revive the sorrowful impressions with which all of us contemplated an event most afflicting to your Majesty and the Royal Family, and deplored as a heavy public calamity throughout the whole extent of the British Empire.
It is with no common emotions of delight that we recognize in your Majesty the son of a venerable Monarch, who, in the course of a reign of almost unprecedented duration, was eminently distinguished by his pure faith and fervent charity—by his vigilance and firmness in the most difficult times—by the mild lustre of his domestic virtues—by his reverence for the laws and constitution of this happy country—and by the bright combination of virtuous qualities which engaged the veneration and love of his subjects;—and we gladly anticipate from your Majesty the same fidelity and zeal in fulfilling the arduous duties of your elevated station—the same resolute adherence to every honourable purpose—the same generous encouragement of every pious and beneficent undertaking—and the same countenance, protection, and favour to the Church of Scotland, for the defence of whose rights and privileges the most solemn pledge was given in the first act of your Majesty's administration.
We beg leave most earnestly to express the high value which we attach to the assurances of your Majesty's determination to preserve inviolate our ecclesiastical establishment, which, under the fostering care of Divine Providence, has had the felicity of enjoying complete security, ever since the period when the British Crown was transferred to your Majesty's Illustrious Family—a family to which the members of this Church have uninterruptedly maintained the most stedfast fidelity. Highly as we estimate the benefits derived from the constitution, under which it is our happiness to live, we feel the sacred obligation of exemplifying and inculcating, along with that fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom, the duty of honouring the King, and submitting to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, "as free, and not using liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God."
That the Lord God Almighty, whose kingdom ruleth over all, may give your Majesty length of days, riches, and honour;—that He may establish your throne in righteousness;—that He may eminently bless our gracious Queen, and all the Royal Family;—that He may impart to you in rich abundance the consolations and hopes of the Gospel;—and that, after a long and prosperous reign, He may receive you to the glories and felicities of the heavenly kingdom, are the earnest prayers of, May it please your Majesty, your Majesty's most faithful, most loyal, and most obedient subjects, the Ministers and Elders of this General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
V. Sess. 3, May 21, 1831.—The General Assembly's Address to the Queen on his Majesty's Accession to the Throne.
May it please your Majesty,
We, his Majesty's loyal and faithful subjects, the ministers and elders of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, gladly seize the first occasion which our meeting has afforded us, of congratulating your Majesty on the auspicious accession of our beloved Sovereign, and on the unmingled satisfaction felt by every loyal and patriotic heart, in hailing your Majesty as the partaker of his throne.
While we rejoice in believing that your Majesty, though not insensible of the value of the distinction of sharing the dignity and soothing the cares of a great Monarch, and commanding the deference of an admiring nation, is still more earnest in seeking the honour which cometh from God only, we render thanks to the Supreme Disposer of events, who has been pleased to exalt to a station so conspicuous, a Princess who has already been distinguished as a pattern of personal and conjugal excellence, and who is acknowledged to be most happily qualified to adorn the lofty circle in which she moves, and to diffuse amongst all classes of his Majesty's subjects the influence of a conversation becoming the Gospel.
That Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, may ever guide and
guard your Majesty;—that He may enrich your soul with the fruits of the Spirit,
and make you exceeding glad with his salvation;—and that, when the fashion of the
world shall have passed away, your Majesty may receive the crown of life, which the
Lord hath promised to them that love him, are the fervent prayers of,
May it please your Majesty, your Majesty's most faithful, most obedient, and most devoted servants, the Ministers and Elders met in this National Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
VI. Sess. 9, May 28, 1831.—Commission of the General Assembly to certain Ministers and Ruling Elders for discussing Affairs referred to them.
VII. Sess. ult., May 30, 1831.—Commission to some Ministers and Ruling Elders for the Reformation of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, and for Managing his Majesty's Royal Bounty.
VIII. Sess. ult., May 30, 1831.—Overture and Interim Act relating to Students residing beyond the Bounds of this Church, before their entrance on the Study of Divinity.
IX. Sess. ult., May 30, 1831.—Overture and Interim Act relative to the Attendance of Students of Divinity on the Class of Hebrew.
X. Sess. 9, May 30, 1831.—Report concerning Schools.
The General Assembly called for the Report of the Committee for classing Returns of the Examination of Schools, which was given in by Dr Dickson, the Convener, and read. The General Assembly approve of the Report, and authorise the insertion thereof among the printed Acts.
Your Committee beg leave to report,
I. That regular returns concerning all the public or parochial, and in many instances also the private schools within their bounds, have been received from the following Presbyteries:—
II. That returns, of which some are very nearly, but others very far from complete,
have been received from the following Presbyteries:—
III. That to the equal surprise and regret of your committee, they find, from examining the returns of the former years, that none whatever have been received during the last four years from the following Presbyteries, who, in the opinion of your committee, ought to be peremptorily enjoined to send up returns to next General Assembly:—
IV. That, in regard to the returns which your committee have reported as being complete, except as to the examination of private schools, while they are aware that it may be difficult for Presbyteries within whose bounds large towns, such as Kilmarnock, Greenock, Paisley, &c., are situated, to examine all such schools every year, they would suggest the propriety of at least the number of such schools, and of the children attending them, with the kind of instruction received in them, being annually reported; it being most desirable that as full a view as possible of the whole provision for education throughout Scotland be annually laid before the Assembly; and not only should female and charity and Sunday schools be included in such returns, but those of the General Assembly's Committee, the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge, the Gaelic School Society, and other similar institutions; with the number and state of which, though they may be reported separately to the committees or societies to which they more particularly belong, it is of no small importance that the Church also be made acquainted.
V. That in a considerable number of instances, even the returns that may be regarded as complete in one view, are often extremely defective in another; some of them, though reporting the number and kind of schools, giving no statement whatever as to the manner in which they are taught, or whether the Scriptures and Church Catechisms are regularly used in them; others omitting to report whether the teachers have qualified to Government or not, and some stating merely, in the most general terms, that the schools within the bounds have been examined during the year, without saying a single word more respecting them.
These defects should be carefully avoided in future, and with this view, your committee would especially recommend that all the Presbyteries be strictly enjoined to employ the last printed schedules prepared by the Assembly for the very purpose of securing complete as well as regular returns; instead of continuing to use the older schedules, and still less of being satisfied, as some of them most improperly are, with making their returns on the back of the Commissions of their representatives to the Assembly. In every case, too, the returns should be attested by the Moderator or Clerk of the Presbytery.
VI. That school–houses appear to be still wanting in the Abbey Parish of Paisley, and the West Parish of Greenock, though these are landward parishes; and that there is still no report from the Presbytery of Lewis, as to a school—house being pro vided for the parish of Lochs.
VII. That your committee regret to find the complaint made to last Assembly by the Presbytery of Mull, respecting the irregular conduct of some of the Gaelic School Society teachers, renewed this year.
VIII. That in all cases, and these are not a few, in which teachers who have not yet qualified to Government, but who have expressed their willingness to do so, your committee would suggest that the Presbyteries be instructed to direct them to apply without delay for that purpose to the proper authorities.
IX. That as the number of returns this year is still by no means so great as, in
consequence of the special injunction of Assembly, 1829, on the subject, might reasonably have been expected, and as many of them were so late of being sent up or
delivered to the clerks, that the committee have found the due examination of them
to be attended with much difficulty and inconvenience, from want of sufficient time,
they consider it of essential importance, that that injunction be renewed by the present Assembly, with the view of securing a greater number of returns next year, and
of putting it into the power of the committee who may then be appointed to class
them, to make out a fuller digested statement of the interesting and useful information, which, there can be little doubt, will be contained in them.
David Dickson, Convener.