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 16, 1833.
I. Sess. 1, May 16, 1833.—The King's Commission to the Right Honourable Lord Belhaven.
II. Sess. 1, May 16, 1833.—His Majesty's Letter to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
William, R., &c.
III. Sess. 3, May 17, 1833.—The General Assembly's Answer to the King's most gracious Letter.
May it please your Majesty, &c.
IV. Sess. 5, May 20, 1833.—The General Assembly's Loyal and Dutiful Address to the King.
May it please your Majesty,
We, your Majesty's most loyal and dutiful subjects, the ministers and elders of the Church of Scotland, beg leave to avail ourselves of our annual meeting in General Assembly, to approach the throne with the assurance of our most cordial and affectionate attachment to your Majesty's person and family; and to express to your Majesty our most sincere and heartfelt congratulations on your providential escape from the daring and treasonable attack which was made upon your Majesty's sacred person since the last Assembly of this National Church. We have felt, in common with all other classes of your Majesty's faithful subjects, the utmost abhorrence of that most audacious act; and we now embrace the earliest opportunity that the constitution of this Assembly has afforded, of recording our unanimous sentiments, along with those of the nation at large.
That Almighty God may long preserve your Majesty to reign over a loyal, happy,
and religious people, and that the royal sceptre may descend in your Illustrious
House, with undiminished splendour, to the latest posterity, are,
May it please your Majesty, the united prayers of the Ministers and Elders of the Church of Scotland, met in General Assembly.
Signed in our name, in our presence, and by our appointment,
John Stirling, Moderator.
V. Sess. 9, May 24, 1833.—Declaratory Enactment and Recommendation as to Colonial Churches.
The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland did, and hereby do, enact and declare, That it is proper and expedient for ordained ministers of the Church of Scotland connected with fixed congregations in any of the British Colonies, to form themselves, where circumstances permit, into Presbyteries and Synods, adhering to the Standards of this Church, and maintaining her for of worship and government.
That no minister should be received as a member of any such Presbytery or Synod, when first formed, who has not been ordained by a Presbytery of this Church; that no minister of this Church should be afterwards received as a member who does not come specially recommended from the Presbytery by which he was ordained, or in which he has last resided; and that no probationer of this Church should receive ordination from any such Presbytery, except on his producing extract of licence, with a testimonial of his good character, from the Presbytery or Presbyteries within whose bounds he has resided, down to the time of his leaving Scotland.
That it is not expedient for such Presbyteries, in the present state of education in the Colonies, to exercise the power of licensing Probationers; but that licentiates of the Church of Scotland, who shall be ordained by any such Presbytery to particular charges in the manner above described, shall remain in full communion with the Church of Scotland, and retain all the rights and privileges which belong to licentiates or ministers of this Church; and that members of congregations, under the charge of ministers so ordained, shall, on coming to Scotland, be admitted to Church privileges, on the production of satisfactory certificates of their religious and moral character, from the minister and session of the congregation to which they have severally belonged.
And the Assembly earnestly recommend to all ministers and probationers of this Church, who remove to those Colonies in which such Presbyteries are constituted, to put themselves under the inspection of the Presbytery of the bounds within which they may reside; and, in the event of their returning to this country, to produce testimonials from such Presbytery or Presbyteries of their character and conduct during their absence.
The General Assembly further named a standing committee to correspond with such Churches in the Colonies, for the purpose of giving advice on any question with regard to which they may choose to consult the Church of Scotland, and affording them such aid as it may be in the power of the committee to give in all matters affecting their rights and interests.
VI. Sess. 10, May 25, 1833.—Declaratory Enactment as to Parliamentary Churches.
The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland did, and hereby do, enact and declare, That the whole districts in Scotland, now or to be hereafter provided with places of worship and ministers, in terms of the Acts 4th Geo. IV. c. 79, and 5th Geo. IV. c. 90, shall be, and are hereby, from and after this date,erected into seperate parishes quoad sacra and to that effect are hereby declared to be disjoined and separated from the parishes of which they at present constitute a part. And the General Assembly further enact and declare, that all ministers, already inducted or settled as ministers within the said districts, or who shall hereafter be inducted and settled in the same, shall be and are hereby authorised to exercise and enjoy, within their respective districts, the whole powers and privileges now competent to parish ministers of this Church, and that as fully and freely in every respect, and without molestation or interference, as if their respective districts had been ordinary parishes, and they had been regularly inducted as ministers thereof. Moreover, the General Assembly hereby declares, that the said ministers are and shall be constituent members of all Presbyteries, Synods, Church Courts, and Judicatories whatsoever, and shall enjoy every privilege, as fully and freely, and with equal powers, as parish ministers of this Church; hereby enjoining and requiring all Presbyteries, Synods, Church Courts, and Judicatories, within whose bounds the said churches are or shall be situated, to receive and enrol the said ministers as members thereof, and put them, in all respects, on a footing of Presbyterian equality with the parish ministers of this Church, giving, granting, and committing to the said ministers the like powers and authority, and privileges, now pertaining by law to parochial ministers of this Church, within their respective bounds.
VII. Sess. 10, May 25, 1833.—Commission of the General Assembly to certain Ministers and Ruling Elders for discussing Affairs referred to them.
The General Assembly, &c.
VIII. Sess. 10, May 25, 1833.—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.
The General Assembly, &c.
IX. Sess. ult., May 27, 1833.—Acts relative to the Attendance of Students of Divinity on the Classes of Church History and Hebrew.
The General Assembly, with consent of a majority of the Presbyteries of this Church, hereby enact and ordain,
I. That every student of divinity shall, on application to be taken on trials before any Presbytery, produce a certificate or certificates of having regularly attended the class of Church History, during two of the sessions which he claims to be considered as sessions of regular attendance at the Divinity Hall, if such a class exist in the University or Universities at which he has prosecuted his theological studies.
II. That every student of divinity shall henceforth attend the Hebrew class, in one or other of the Universities during two of the sessions which he claims to be considered as sessions of regular attendance at the Divinity Hall; and that the certificate or certificates of such attendance shall in every case be required by Presbyteries before receiving students of divinity on trials: it being understood, that a senior and junior class are taught by every Professor of Hebrew at separate hours.
X. Sess. ult., May 27, 1833.—Overture on the Form of Process.
XI. Sess. ult., May 27, 1833. Overture and Interim Act relating to Students residing beyond the Bounds of this Church, before their entrance on the Study of Divinity.
XII. Sess. ult., May 27, 1833.—Report of the Committee appointed by the General Assembly for Classing Returns relative to Schools.
The Committee appointed to examine the Returns as to the Examination of Schools beg leave to report,
1. That returns have been received from thirty-two Presbyteries, bearing that the
schools in all the parishes within their bounds have been examined during the past
III. That returns have been received from twenty-five Presbyteries, bearing that the
schools, in a greater or less proportion, of the parishes in their bounds have been examined, viz.:—
And that in some of these returns, reasons are assigned for these being no reports as to some of the schools, which appear satisfactory to the committee.
III. That it appears that there are twenty-two Presbyteries who have sent no returns this year, and that of these, Kirkwall and Wigton have sent none for the last five years, and Cairston, Caithness, Chanonry, Dunkeld, Forres, Glasgow, Inverary, Stirling, and Tain, none for the last six. It seems, therefore, extremely desirable that measures should be adopted by the Assembly to obtain complaince with their instructions from all the Presbyteries of the Church, and especially from those which have of late habitually neglected them.
IV. That considerable irregularity still exists in the manner in which these reports are made up, which might in a great measure be obviated by the use of the schedules printed by order of the Assembly. These schedules have not been used in twentyfive of the returns this year transmitted, and of these, returns from Langholm and Turriff are simply Hamilton consists of lengthened separate reports from the various and that from Hamilton consists of lengthened separate reports from the various parishes; a mode which, if in any degree generally practised, would vastly increase the labours of the committee appointed to examine the annual returns, and which, besides, does not afford so clear a view of the state of education in the district. It may be added, that in no fewer than fourteen of the returns, either date or signature, or both, are wanting.
V. That great care and attention seem to have been bestowed on the preparation of many of these returns, of which those from Brechin, Cupar, Mull, St Andrews, Aberdeen, Ayr, Kirkcaldy, and the Tron Church and St Stephen's parishes in Edinburgh, may be particularly noticed; and that a gratifying indication is abundantly exhibited of the advantages that result from a faithful discharge of the duties of Presbyteries in examining the seminaries of education within their respective bounds. In many of the reports it is stated, that religious instruction is well attended to in the schools, and, particularly, that the Scriptures are daily read, the Church Catechisms regularly taught, and the schools opened with prayer; and while these circumstances are not adverted to in the other reports, the committee have, at the same time, no reason to believe that any Presbytery is unmindful of these most important points, in its inquiry into the manner in which the schools under its superintendence are conducted.
VI. In reference to the complaints which were in former years made by the Presbytery of Mull, regarding the conduct of some of the teachers employed in their bounds, by the Edinburgh Gaelic School Society, the committee are happy to observe, that the proceedings adopted by last Assembly have had the effect of re moving, in a great degree, the grounds of complaint on the part of the Presbytery. At the same time, it is stated in the report, that two of the teachers, while they abstain from publicly exhorting as before, "still refuse to attend the stated ministration of ordinances," and that the Society have "intimated, that they have no rule prescribing to their teachers an attendance on ordinances."
VII. That in Irvine, in consequence of the school having been recently attached to a chartered academy, there is now no parochial school, a want which seems likely to be in some degree supplied in Cupar, by the munificent bequest of the late Dr Andrew Bell for the foundation of a school in that place. A copy of that part of Dr Bell's will which contains the bequest has been transmitted, along with the report, from the Presbytery of Cupar. In Largs, Presbytery of Irvine, the parish school has been shut up, without any reason being assigned to the Presbytery, except that the scholars had disappeared.
VIII. That the only other circumstances mentioned in the returns, which it appears
to the committee necessary to notice in their report, are, that in Glenshiel, Presbytery
of Lochcarron, there is no school-house; that in Cupar Presbytery a teacher in the
parish of Kettle declined to submit to the examination of the Presbytery; that in the
Presbytery of Irvine, and parish of Kilbirnie, there are two teachers whose characters
and conduct are described as in various respects objectionable; that in Nesting, Presbytery of Burravoe, the station of the parochial school has been most injudiciously
altered last year, so as to reduce the scholars from 68 to 19; and that in the Presby
tery of North Isles, Lady Parish, and the united parishes of Cross, Burness, and
North Ronaldshay, have only one centrical school supported by the heritors, instead
of separate parochial schools, an arrangement manifestly defective, and at variance
with the law, while the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge,
not very consistently with its rules, (but probably from a desire to supply a glaring
defect,) has established a school in Lady Parish, and two in North Ronaldshay. In
regard to some of these objectionable facts, it may, perhaps, only be necessary for the
Assembly to recommend to the different Presbyteries to exercise the prudence and
zeal which have formerly, in similar circumstances, happily conduced to the great end
of affording moral and religious instruction to the rising generation.
(Signed) John Cook, Convener.
XIII. Sess. ult., May 27, 1833.—Act appointing the Diet of the next General Assembly.
The next General Assembly of this National Church is to be holden at Edinburgh, on Thursday, the 22d day of May 1834.
Collected and extracted from the Records of the General Assembly, by
John Lee, Cl. Eccl. Scot.
Note 1.—The General Assembly of 1833 had under their consideration certain Overtures on the system
of National Education in Ireland. The following appears in the Abridgment on this subject:—"The General Assembly called for the Overtures on the system of National Education lately introduced
in Ireland. The Overtures from the Synod of Aberdeen, the Presbytery of Haddington, the Synod of
Moray, the Presbytery of Dingwall, and the Presbytery of Alford, were then read. The following motion
was made and seconded:—That the General Assembly, being convinced that the only sure foundation of
sound morality and useful knowledge is to be found in the revealed Word of God, are of opinion that no
countenance from the government of this realm ought to be bestowed on any system of National
Education, of which instruction in the Holy Scriptures does not form an essential part: That they have
observed with much regret and disappointment, that a system of National Education is still maintained in Ireland, in which no adequate provision is made for the daily reading of the entire Word of God,
in the authorised version, without note or comment; and that they feel it incumbent upon them, as representing a branch of the Protestant Church, to petition Parliament against any further countenance being
given to such a system. Another motion was made and seconded. That as the petitions of the last General
Assembly expressed the decided and unanimous opinion of the Church of Scotland, that any scheme for the
education of the people of Ireland ought to secure the daily use of the Scriptures in the authorised Protestant version, without note or comment, as part of the regular instruction of the scholars in a daily Bible
class, for all Protestant children, and all others desirous to avail themselves of that privilege, in order that
they may thus become acquainted with the whole truths and doctrines of our holy religion, the General Assembly, retaining the same opinion, and earnestly and fervently trusting that full effect will be given to it
by the Legislature, do not, however, feel themselves called upon at present again to petition Parliament on
the subject. It was agreed that the state of the vote should be, First or Second Motion; and the roll being
called, and votes marked, it carried First Motion, by a majority of 162 to 59. The General Assembly accordingly appointed a committee to prepare a petition to both Houses of Parliament, and to report."—Ed. 1843.
Note 2.—Overtures on the Settlement of Parishes were also this year discussed.—"The General Assembly called for the Overtures relating to the Settlement of Parishes, including the Overtures on Calls and the Overtures on Patronage. The Overture from the Synod of Moray anent the Settlement of Ministers in Vacant Parishes, and several other Overtures, having been read, the General Assembly proceeded to the consideration of the Overtures on Calls. It was move and seconded. That the General Assembly, having maturely weighed and considered the various Overtures now before them, do find and declare, that it is, and has been ever since the Reformation, a fixed principle in the law of this Church, that no minister shall be instruded into any pastoral charge contrary to the will of the congregation; and considering that doubts and misapprehensions have existed on this important subject, whereby the just and salutary operation of the said principle has been impeded, and in many cases defeated, the General Assembly further declare it to be their opinion, that the dissent of a majority of the male heads of families resident within the parish, being members of the congregation, and in communion with the Church at least two years previous to the day of moderation, whether such dissent shall be expressed with or without the assignment of reasons, ought to be of conclusive effect in setting aside the presentee, (under the patron's nomination,) save and except where it is clearly established by the patron, presentee, or any of the minority, that the said dissent is founded in corrupt and malicious combination, or not truly founded on any objection personal to the presentee, in regard to his ministerial gifts or qualifications, either in general or with reference to that particular parish; and in order that this declaration may be carried into full effect, that a committee shall be appointed to prepare the best measure for carrying it into effect accordingly, and to report to the next General Assembly. Another motion was made and seconded, That the General Assembly declare, that in all cases in which a person is presented to a vacant parish, it is, by the law of the Church, sanctioned by the law of the land, competent for the heads of families in full and regular communion with the Church to give into the Presbytery within the bounds of which the vacant parish lies, objections of whatever nature against the presentee, or against the settlement taking place; that the Presbytery shall deliberately consider these objections; that if they find them unfounded, or originating from causeless prejudices, they shall proceed to the settlement; but if they find that they are well founded that they reject the presentation, the presentee being unqualified to receive it; it being competent to the parties to appeal from the sentence if they see cause. The Assembly further appoint a committee to prepare regulations, in conformity to this deliverance, for the guidance of Presbyteries in the settlement of parishes, and report to the next General Assembly. After long reasoning, the motions were put to the vote and it was agreed that the state of the vote should be, First or Second Motion; and the roll being called, and votes marked, it carried Second Motion, by a majority of 149 to 137. Therefore, the General Assembly declare and find in terms of the Second Motion. From this judgement Mr Samuel Martin dissented in his own name, and in name of all who should adhere to him."—Ed. 1843.
Note 3.—A discussion also took place on Patronage. The following is the notice of it:—
"The General Assembly called for the Overtures on Patronage, which were read, and several members heard on the subject. It was moved and seconded, That the General Assembly do now empower and direct the Commission to make due application to the King and Parliament for redress of the grievance of Patronage, in case a favourable opportunity for so doing shall occur during the subsistence of the present Commission. Another motion was made and seconded, That it is the opinion of this Assembly, that after the proceedings which have already taken place in regard to the question of Calls, it is unnecessary and inexpedient to adopt at present any further proceeding in reference to Patronage. And the vote being called for, it was agreed that the state of the vote shall be, First or Second Motion; and the roll being called, and votes marked, it carried Second Motion, by a majority of 134 to 33. And, therefore, the General Assembly find in terms of the Second Motion. From this judgment the following members entered their dissent:—Mr Alexander Clark, James Bridges, Esq., Dr Welsh. Mr Macuaughton, W. Howison Crawfurd, Esq., Mr W. Ross Taylor, W. F. Hunter Lawrie, Esq., and A. Johnston, Esq."—Ed. 1843.