Acts: 1837

Pages 1068-1075

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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In this section

The principal acts of the general assembly, convened at Edinburgh, May 18, 1837.

I. Sess. 1, May 18, 1837.—The King's Commission to Lord Belhaven.

Gulielmus, &c.

II. Sess. 1, May 18, 1837.—His Majesty's Letter to the General Assembly.

William, R., &c.

III. Sess. 3, May 20, 1837.—The General Assembly's Answer to the King's most gracious Letter.

May it please your Majesty, &c.

IV. Sess. ult., May 29, 1837.—Commission of the General Assembly to certain Ministers and Ruling Elders for discussing Affairs referred to them.

The General Assembly, &c.

V. Sess. ult., May 29, 1837.—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.

VI. Sess. 6, May 24, 1837.—Act in favour of India Missions.

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland did, and hereby do, nominate and appoint the ministers of the Presbytery of Edinburgh, and the following elders, who are members of Assembly, viz., James Stark, Esq., &c.; to be a committee of this Assembly for the propagation of the Gospel in foreign parts, and for managing the funds subscribed and given for that purpose, with the whole powers conferred by former Acts of Assembly, and with power also to appoint sub-committees; and particularly, a sub-committee of their number, consisting of nine, for more effectually furthering the great end in view. Of the general committee, nine are hereby declared to be a quorum; and of the sub-committee to be appointed, three are hereby declared to be a quorum. The committee shall hold stated monthy meetings for dispatch of business in the Presbytery Hall, or other suitable place, on the first Monday of every month, at two o'clock, with power always to adjourn as shall be needful; and to meet on all occasions when urgent business shall demand. And the said general committee are hereby enjoined and required, by themselves, and through their sub-committee, to attend to the instrucations and regulations formerly approved by the General Assembly for the propagation of the Gospel abroad; with power to make and carry into effect such farther regulations, and the measures adopted, them may seem most beneficial, such farther regulations, and the measures adopted, to be submitted to next Assembly; and the said general committee are hereby appointed to report their diligence, and that of their sub-committee, in calling forth the benevolence and support of the Christian public of Scotland, their prudence in the expenditure of the funds obtained, and generally their management, and the success and extent of their operations in foreign parts. The General Assembly renew their former recommendations to the ministers throughout the Church, that they continue their exertions in aid of the funds of the mission, and earnestly recommend that in every parish there be a collection yearly on behalf of this important cause; and that one minister in every Presbytery be appointed to receive contributions, and transmit them to the treasurer.

VII. Sess. ult., May 29, 1837.—Overture and Interim Act, with Regulations for carrying into effect the Act of Assembly, May 29, 1835, on the Calling of Ministers. (fn. 1)

Whereas the General Assembly have declared, enacted, and ordained, in terms of their Act, passed into a Law of the Church on the 29th May 1835, on the subject of the Calling of Ministers; and whereas it is necessary, for regulating the forms of proceeding under that Act, that some precise and definite rules should be laid down, the General Assembly do, therefore, with the consent of a majority of the Presbyteries of this Church, declare, enact, and ordain, that the following directions and regulations shall be observed:—


1. That at the first meeting of any Presbytery after a vacancy occurring in any parish, or on any application regularly brought before the Presbytery for the appointment of an assistant and successor, the Presbytery shall ascertain that a roll of the members of the kirk-session and male heads of families, being members of the congregation, and communicants in the church, has been completed in the manner herein after directed; and that, if such a roll has been made, they shall proceed to purge the same, by striking off the names of all persons who shall be ascertained to be dead, or to have ceased to be members of the congregation, or to be under Church censures.

2. That in case a roll has not been so completed, they shall, at that meeting, appoint one of their number to act as moderator, with the elders of the parish, to constitute a kirk-session, or, where there are no elders, two or more of their own number, to act as a kirk-session, in making up a roll in terms of the regulations hereby enacted, and shall ordain the said roll, duly attested, to be produced to them at their next meeting, or any special meeting to be appointed for that purpose.

3. That in no case shall the day for moderating in the call be appointed until the roll shall have been completed, and purged to the satisfaction of the Presbytery.

4. That in order to ascertain definitively the persons entitled, at any particular time, to give in dissents, every kirk-session which has not already made up a roll, in conformity with the enactment of last General Assembly, shall, within three months of the rising of this present General Assembly, make up a roll of the members of the kirk-session, and of the made heads of families who are members of the congregation, and in country parishes resident within the same, and who are, at the date thereof, and have been for at least twelve months previous thereto, in full communion with the church; but declaring, that, in the special case where new churches have been erected ecclesiastically, persons who are heritors or tenants, having a legal right to sittings in the original parish church, and who continue to be members of that congregation, shall be entered on the roll of the said original church, though resident in that part of the parish which has been disjoined from it. And, lest any doubts should arise as to who are heads of families, it is hereby declared, that the term includes unmarried men and widowers, as well as married men, provided, they occupy houses of which they are proprietors or tenants, and eldest sons when their fathers are deceased, provided they are of the age of twenty-one years or upwards, and reside in the same house with their mothers, they being always in full communion with the Church.

5. That the roll so made up shall be open to inspection, in the hands of the sessionclerk, by any parishioner or member of the congregation, for the space of one week, of which notice shall be given from the pulpit, and thereafter shall be authenticated by the moderator and session-clerk, and then transmitted to the Presbytery; and after being inspected by the Presbytery, and countersigned on each page by the moderator, shall be returned to the kirk-session, and form part of its record for the foresaid purposes.

6. That the said roll shall be revised and re-adjusted, in conformity with rule fourth, immediately after the occasion of dispensing the sacrament of the Lord's Supper in the parish, which shall have last preceded the 22d of November in each year, and shall be open for inspection in the same manner as before, and shall be re-transmitted to the Presbytery before the expiry of the second week of December.

7. That the said list or roll, as last revised before the vacancy in the parish, or before any application, as aforesaid, for the appointment of an assistant and successor, where a roll has been duly made up, revised, and authenticated, after being examined and purged, as above provided, or the roll made up immediately after such vacancy or application, where none had been made before, shall be the only roll for determining the persons entitled to be reckoned in any dissents to be offered against the admission of any presentee to be minister, in the moderating in a call; but it shall still be the duty of the Presbytery to remove from the said roll the names of all persons who may have died, removed from the parish, or who are under Church censures, previous to the time appointed for moderating in the call.


For Admitting Dissents.

1. That when a presentation shall be received by the moderator of a Presbytery, he shall, within two days after it comes to his hand, call a meeting of Presbytery, to take place not less than eight, nor more than twelve, days from the date of such intimation; provided that no meeting of Presbytery shall have been already fixed to take place within three weeks; and that if such meeting has been appointed, he shall merely give notice that the presentation has been received, and will be laid on the table at that meeting.

2. That when any Presbytery shall be prepared to appoint a day for moderating in a call to the person presented, they shall appoint one of their own number to preach in the church of the parish on a day not later that the second Sabbath thereafter; that he shall on that day intimate, from the pulpit, that the person presented will preach in that church on the first convenient Sabbath, so as it be not later than the third Sabbath after such intimation, and also on some other Sabbath; and that he shall, at the same time, intimate, that on another day to be fixed, not later than the next Friday after the day last appointed for the presentee to preach, the Presbytery will proceed, within the said church, to moderate in a call to such person to be minister of the said parish in the usual way; but that the Presbytery, if they deem it expedient, may appoint the presentee to preach oftener than twice, provided that the day for moderating in the call be not more than six weeks after that on which it was appointed.

3. That on the day appointed for moderating in the call the Presbytery shall, in the first instance, proceed in the same manner in which they were in use to proceed before the passing of the Act of Assembly, 1835, anent Calls.

4. That if there shall not be dissents by a major part of the persons standing on the roll, made up and regulated in manner herein before directed, and if no special objections be made, the Presbytery shall sustain the call, and proceed to the trials and settlement of the presentee according to the rules of the Church.

5. That if dissents are tendered by any of the persons whose names stand on the roll above referred to, such dissents shall either be personally delivered in writing by each of the persons dissenting separately, or taken down from his oral statement by the Moderator or Clerk of the Presbytery; but that no person shall be entitled so to dissent who shall have previously petitioned the patron for the appointment of the person presented, it being always open to him to state special objections at the proper time.

6. That if the dissents so lodged do not amount in number to the major part of the persons standing on the roll, and if there be no special objection requiring consideration stated, the Presbytery shall sustain the call, and proceed to the trials and settlement according to the rules of the Church.

7. That if it shall be found that dissents have been lodged by an apparent majority of the persons on the said roll, the Presbytery shall adjourn the proceedings to another meeting, to be held at some place within the vacant parish, not less than ten free days, nor more than fourteen, thereafter; and that it shall be competent to the patron or presentee, or any person duly authorised to act in their behalf, or to any member of Presbytery, as soon as the day of the said adjourned meeting shall be appointed, to require, by a notice given apud acta, all or any of the persons dissenting, to appear at the meeting so appointed, and then and there to declare, in terms of the Act of Assembly, 1835, viz.:—"That he is actutual by no factious or malicious motives, but solely by a conscientious regard to the spiritual interest of himself or the congregation;" and that if any person having so dissented shall fail to attend at the said meeting, or shall refuse to declare in the terms required, the name of such person shall be struck off the list of persons dissenting: And, in order that the notice thus appointed to be given apud acta may be effectual, the Presbytery shall, in the commencement of the proceedings, give intimation that all persons who may intend to dissent must remain till the termination of the proceedings of the day; and that, whether they remain or not, the notice, if ultimately given, shall be held as having been duly given apud acta. Provided also, that if, from any cause, the proceedings of the said first meeting for moderating the call shall not be completed on that day, the notice apud acta shall still be competent and effectual as soon as the Presbytery shall appoint the second day of meeting.

8. That it shall not be competent to receive any dissents, except such as shall be duly given in at the meeting for moderating in the call, as above provided; but it shall be competent to any person who may have lodged a dissent at that meeting, to withdraw such dissent at any time before the Presbytery shall have given judgment on the effect of the dissents.

9. That in case the Presbytery shall, at the said second meeting, at last find that there is not a majority of persons on the roll dissenting, and if no special objections be stated, they shall sustain the call, and proceed to the trials and settlement according to the rules of the Church: But if the Presbytery shall find that there is a major part of the persons on the roll dissenting, they shall reject the person presented, so far as regards the particular presentation, and the occasion of that vacancy in the parish; and shall, within two days thereafter, intimate this their determination to the patron, the presentee, and the elders of the parish.

For receiving Special Objections.

10. That if, at the meeting for moderating in the call, dissents by a majority on the roll shall not be stated, and if any special objections to the settlement of the person presented, of whatever nature such objections may be, shall then be stated to the Presbytery by any person entitled to object by the general laws of the Church; and if such objections appear to be deserving of deliberate consideration or investigation, the Presbytery shall delay the farther proceedings in the settlement till another meeting, to be then appointed, not later than eight days thereafter, and give notice apud acta to all parties concerned then to attend, that they may be heard.

11. That if the special objections so stated affect the moral character or the doctrine of the presentee, so that, if they were established, he would be deprived of his licence, or of his situation in the Church, the objectors shall proceed by libel, and the Presbytery shall take the steps usual in such cases.

12. That if the special objections relate to the insufficiency or unfitness of the presentee for the particular charge to which he has been appointed, the objectors shall not be required to become libellers, but shall simply deliver, in writing, their specific grounds for objecting to the settlement, and shall have full liberty to substantiate the same; upon all which the presentee shall have an opportunity to be fully heard, and shall have all competent means of defence. That the Presbytery shall then consider these special objections, and if it shall appear that they are not sufficient, or not well-founded, they shall proceed to the settlement of the presentee according to the rules of the Church: But if the Presbytery shall be satisfied that the objector or objectors have established that the presentee is not fitted, usefully and sufficiently, to discharge the pastoral duties in that parish, then they shall find that he is not qualified, and shall, within two days thereafter, intimate the same to the patron; it being always in the power of the different parties to appeal from the sentence pronounced by the Presbytery, if they shall see cause.

13. That the Presbytery shall not receive such special objections in any case until after it has been finally ascertained whether there are dissents by a majority of the persons on the roll; but it shall always be competent, as soon as this is ascertained, to state special objections.


1. That if the Presbytery shall have rejected the presentee, and if the patron shall give a presentation to another person within the time limited by law, the proceedings shall again take place in the same manner as above laid down, and so on, in regard to successive presentations within the time.

2. That if no presentation shall be given within the limited time to a person from whose settlement a majority on the roll do not dissent, or who shall not be excluded in consequence of special objections, the Presbytery shall then supply the vacancy, tanquam jure devoluto.

3. That cases of settlement by the Presbytery jure devoluto shall not fall under the operation of the regulations in this and the relative Act of Assembly, but shall be proceeded in according to the general laws of the Church applicable to such cases. But every person who shall have been previously rejected in that parish, shall be considered as disqualified to be inducted into that parish on the occasion of that vacancy.

4. That, in case any appeal shall be taken against any judgment or proceeding of the Presbytery, previous to the time when they are prepared either to proceed to the settlement, or to declare the presentee to be disqualified and reject the presentation, such appeal shall not sist procedure; but the Presbytery, if they resolve to proceed to the settlement, shall delay doing so till the appeal be disposed of; and if they reject the presentee, it shall be still competent to him to discuss the merits of any appeal which may have been duly entered.


Application of this Act, and renewal of former Acts.

1. That in the districts of Orkney and Zetland, the Synod of Glenelg, and the Synod of Argyle, the number of days appointed by this Act with regard to meetings, and for other purposes, may, if it be thought expedient by the Presbytery, be made double the number above provided, or any other number not less than that prescribed in the above regulations.

2. That the regulations in this Act shall be applied to all cases of vacancies in which the Presbytery has not already appointed a day for moderating in the call; but the General Assembly hereby renew and continue the Interim Act with regulations, enacted and transmitted by last Assembly, in regard to all cases in which the day for moderating in the call may have been already appointed, and also the Interim Act of Assembly, 1835, as to all cases previously falling under it; declaring these Acts to be still in force as to all such cases respectively, but no others.

3. That the Presbyteries of the Church are hereby enjoined to use all diligence to see that the regulations hereby laid down are duly observed and followed out; and also to use their utmost endeavours to bring about harmony and unanimity in congregations, and be at pains to avoid every thing which may excite or encourage unreasonable exceptions in people against a worthy person, who may be proposed to be their minister.

The General Assembly transmit the above Overture and Regulations to Presbyteries for their consideration; and, in the mean time, they convert the same into an Interim Act.

The General Assembly, in transmitting this revised and amended Overture, &c. (Same as last year.)

VIII. Sess. ult., May 29, 1837.—Act anent the Annual Examination of Students of Divinity.

The General Assembly, on the report of the Committee for classing Returns to Overtures, pass into a Standing Law the Overture anent the Annual Examination of Students of Divinity, which has received the approbation of a majority of the Presbyteries.

Whereas it is of primary importance to the interest of religion in the Church, that those who are preparing for the office of the ministry should be in every respect well qualified for that office, and that the Church should have every possible evidence of their being so, before they are licensed to preach the Gospel as probationers; and whereas it would evidently tend to promote these important objects to place them, as much as possible, during the whole period of their theological studies, under the superintendence of the Presbyteries at whose hands they have the prospect of receiving licence; the General Assembly enact and ordain, that every Student of Divinity be examined by the Presbytery within whose bounds he resides, not only previous to his being first enrolled as a Student of Divinity, and again, in certain cases, in the third year of his attendance at the Hall, but that he be examined every year; and that he be required to produce to the Professor of Divinity every session of his attendance at the Hall, a certificate from the Presbytery of his having been examined by them on the progress made by him in his studies, and of the Presbytery's satisfaction with the same, as well as a certificate of his good moral character from the minister of the parish, before he can be enrolled.

IX. Sess. ult., May 29, 1837.—Act for the Examination of Students on the Catechetical Standards of the Church.

The General Assembly, with the consent of the Presbyteries of the Church, as re ported by the Committee for classing Returns to Overtures, enacts and ordains as follows:—

Whereas it is of great importance that all who are about to enter upon a course of study, with a view to the exercise of the holy ministry, should possess a good general knowledge of the truths of Scripture; and whereas the Act of Assembly, 1827, by which students are appointed to be examined by their respective Presbyteries, previous to their enrolment as Students of Divinity, merely specifies "literature, science, and philosophy, particularly Greek and Latin," as the subjects of examination; it is enacted and ordained by the General Assembly, that all students, previous to their first enrolment at the Divinity Hall, shall likewise be examined by their respective Presbyteries upon their knowledge of the Christian religion, as it is exhibited in the Catechetical Standards of the Church; and shall produce to the Professors of Divinity under whom their studies are to be conducted, certificates from their Presbyteries, bearing that they have passed such examination in a satisfactory manner.

X. Sess. ult., May 29, 1837.—Overture on New Churches.

(Overture of last year amended and re-transmitted.)

XI. Sess. ult., May 29, 1837.—Overture on the Appointment and Ordination of Professors of Theology.


XII. Sess. ult., May 29, 1837.—Act requiring Synod Clerks to send up their Books.

The General Assembly enjoin the clerks of the several Synods, whose books have not been produced to this Assembly, to send them up to the Commission in August; and the Assembly give power to the Commission to revise and attest the said books.

XIII. Sess. ult., May 29, 1837.—Act recommending Collections for the Four Schemes of the General Assembly.

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, considering the obligation which lies on this Church to promote, to the utmost extent of the means wherewith God hath entrusted them, the progress of the Gospel of Christ among their own people, their brethren in the colonies, and the heathen throughout the world; and considering farther, how greatly their efforts have been impeded from a want of due arrangements for properly collecting the contributions of their several congregations, and confiding in their liberality and Christian zeal, were fit occasions regularly presented to them for contributing to the advancement of the four great Schemes now prosecuted by the Church, earnestly recommend to all the ministers of this Church to make collections on behalf of each of these objects, viz., (1.) The Church Extension Scheme; (2.) Colonial Churches; (3.) Education; (4.) Foreign Missions. And the Assembly direct, that, within eight days after each collection, every minister shall transmit to the clerk of his Presbytery a return of the amount of the collection in his parish, specifying whether it is the fruit of a collection for one of the said ob jects alone, or for two or more, and which of the said objects; and that the said clerk shall communicate to the committees of Assembly for the several Schemes a statement of the whole returns within his Presbytery; and that the said committees shall annually report, jointly to the Assembly, the collections of the several Presbyteries for each of the said objects: And the Assembly, appoint every minister, on the Sabbath immediately preceding that on which each collection is to be made, to give due intimation thereof from the pulpit, accompanied with such information on the object of the collection as he may deem fitting: Farther, the General Assembly strongly recommend, that in all parishes, but especially in those in which circumstances may render a separate collection for each of the four objects inexpedient, parochial subscriptions, by means of parochial associations or otherwise, be promoted and encouraged, the funds collected to be appropriated to the several objects, in such proportions as the contributors shall appoint, and failing any appointment by them, as shall be directed by the minister and session; and that all Presbyteries of the Church adopt the measure already beneficially carried into execution in several parts of the country, and of which the Assembly highly approve, of appointing a yearly meeting of Presbytery, of which due intimation shall be given in all the parish churches within its bounds, and which the public shall be invited to attend, in order to afford to every minister of the Presbytery an opportunity of stating what has been done within his parish in furtherance of the said objects, and to give to the persons present, by means of addresses, by one or two of the members specially appointed for that purpose, such information as to the progress of Christianity, at home and abroad, as may be best calculated to arouse the benevolence of the Christian public, and to maintain their interest in the prosperity of the said objects. And the Assembly earnestly urge on their faithful people seriously to consider the duty of contributing liberally towards the advancement of Christ's cause, according to the ability wherewith God has blessed them: And, finally, the General Assembly appoint the minister of every parish within the bounds of this Church to read this Act from the pulpit on the first Sabbath of July next to come, or where there is no service on that day, or where it is the communion Sabbath, on the first Sabbath thereafter.

XIV. Sess. ult., May 29, 1837.—Overture, &c.


XV. Sess. ult., May 29, 1837.—Act annexing the new Church of Fullarton, Half-way Irvine, to the Presbytery of Irvine.

The General Assembly, on the Report of the Committee on New Churches, annex to the Presbytery of Irvine the parish, quoad sacra, called Fullarton, Half-way Irvine.

XVI. Sess. ult., May 29, 1837.—Act appointing the Diet of the next General Assembly.

The next General Assembly of this National Church is appointed to be holden at Edinburgh, on Thursday, the 17th of May 1838.

Extracted from the Records of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, by
John Lee, Cl. Eccl. Scot.


  • 1. The following is the notice respecting the transmission of this Overture and Interim Act;—"The Report on the Regulations in reference to the Overtures and Interim Acts relating to the Calling of Ministers was given in by Lord Moncreiff and read. It was moved and seconded, That the words after 'provided,' in the 8th regulation, under the second head, shall be omitted. It was also moved and seconded, That the Assembly approve of the report of the Committee as amended, and transmit the regulations to the Presbyteries, convert them into an Interim Act, renew the Committee on these regulations, and enjoin Presbyteries to transmit their suggestions as to these regulations to that Committee, on or before the 1st of March, that the whole may be deliberately considered, and a report made to the next Assembly. A vote being taken, the second motion was carried by a majority of 115 to 76."—Ed. 1843.