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 20, 1841.
I. Sess. 1, May 20, 1841.—The Queen's Commission to Lord Belhaven.
II. Sess. 1, May 20, 1841.—Her Majesty's Letter to the General Assembly.
III. Sess. 3, May 22, 1841.—The General Assembly's Answer to the Queen's most gracious Letter.
IV. Sess. 4, May 24, 1841.—The General Assembly's Address of Congratulation to the Queen on the Birth of the Princess-Royal.
May it please your Majesty,
We, your Majesty's dutiful and loyal subjects, the ministers and elders met in the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, gladly avail ourselves of this earliest opportunity of expressing to your Majesty our cordial congratulations on the birth of the Princess-Royal—an event which has diffused universal joy throughout the nation, as tending at once to increase your Majesty's domestic comfort, to maintain the stability of the British throne, and to secure the great interests, civil and sacred, which, by the favour of Divine Providence, have been long incorporated with our happy constitution.
It is our earnest prayer that your Majesty, with your Royal Consort and the infant Princess, may be enriched with the grace of God which bringeth salvation, that peace and truth may be multiplied to your souls, and that, after many years of felicity and honour, you may be exalted to an inheritance of glory and blessedness in heaven.
Given at Edinburgh, this 24th day of May 1841, by your Majesty's most
faithful, obedient, and loyal subjects, the Ministers and Elders of
this National Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
Robert Gordon, Moderator.
V. Sess. ult., May 31, 1841.—Commission of the General Assembly to certain Ministers and Ruling Elders for discussing Affairs referred to them.
VI. Sess. ult., May 31, 1841.—Commission to some Ministers and Ruling Elders for the Reformation of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, and for Managing her Majesty's Royal Bounty.
VII. Sess. 2, May 21, 1841.—Act on the Conversion of the Jews.
The General Assembly having heard the Report of the Committee for the Conversion of the Jews, approve of the same; agree to the appointment of Dr Keith, convener of the committee, and sanction the address proposed to be sent to the Jewish people. The General Assembly farther appoint the following ministers and elders, viz., the ministers of the Presbyteries of Edinburgh and Glasgow, &c.; to be a committee, of which Dr Keith shall be convener, with former powers, and with power to appoint sub-committees; and, particularly, with power to take all necessary steps for preparing and sending missionaries to the stations most promising; and the Assembly, considering the acceptance with which this Scheme has been received, and the blessing which has hitherto attended it, record their gratitude to Almighty God, and renew their recommendation, that collections be made throughout the Church for this very interesting object, and that all ministers remember the cause of God's ancient people in the services of the sanctuary; and that special prayer be made for the Divine blessing on the steps now taken by the Church of Scotland.
VIII. Sess. ult., May 31, 1841.—Overture anent Attendance on the Latin Class.
Whereas the Church of Scotland has, ever since the Reformation, considered the learned languages as an essential part of the education of those intended for the ministry, but has hitherto required evidence only as to attainments in Greek and Hebrew, although it is of much moment that a thorough acquaintance with Latin should also be obtained, the General Assembly enact, that no student shall be admitted into any of the Divinity Halls unless he shall produce to the Professor or Professors of Divinity, and to the Presbytery within whose bounds he resides, a certificate of having attended the Latin class in some University for at least one session, and made satisfactory proficiency as a Latin scholar.
IX. Sess. ult., May 31, 1841.—Act Appointing a Day of Humiliation, Thanksgiving, and Prayer.
The General Assembly, having considered the overtures for a day of humiliation in connection with the present circumstances of the Church, and also of thanksgiving for mercies received, did, and hereby do, appoint Thursday, the 22d day of July next, to be set apart for a day of fasting and humilition, on account of the sins and shortcomings of the people and Church,—thanksgivings for mercies vouchsafed,—and prayer and supplication for the Divine blessing on the ordinances of grace, and for restoration of peace in the Church; and did, and hereby do, nominate the Mo derator, Principal Lee, Dr Hill, Dr Makellar, and Mr Candlish, a committee to prepare a Pastoral Address relative to this matter; Mr Candlish to be convener.
Dearly Beloved Beethren,—Grace be unto you, and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. It hath seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to invite and call all the flock over the which the Holy Ghost hath made us overseers, to join with us in devoting to the solemn exercises of humiliation, of thanksgiving, and of prayer, a convenient day, which, in virtue of the authority committed to us by our King and Head, we have set apart for that holy end. And in the near prospect of that day, we do earnestly and affectionately exhort you all to give yourselves much to meditation, to the searching of your own hearts, and the consideration of the ways of the Lord; that by the working of his good Spirit in you, you may be humbled under His mighty hand,—acknowledging, at the same time, with all thankfulness, that, in the midst of deserved wrath, he hath remembered mercy,—and that you may be moved to cry unto the Lord, when the fast is sanctified, and the solemn assembly called; when the elders and all the people are gathered into the house of the Lord your God.
That the Lord hath a controversy with us on account of our sins, even those who are least accustomed to discern the signs of the times must plainly see; and it becometh us to confess that he is righteous, while we, with our fathers, have done iniquity. We may not be able to detect, with infallible certainty, the immediate causes of the Lord's controversy with us, having no express revelation regarding it, such as, in the days of the prophets, was wont to be vouchsafed by their mouth to the ancient Church, when suffering under the just anger of the Lord. Nevertheless, by the help of the unchanging Word of God—meeting with the testimony of conscience, and the course of Providence—we may obtain a measure of light sufficient to guide us amid manifold perplexities, and, in the day of our trial, to teach us heavenly wisdom.
In this inquiry we must judge, not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. The troubles and perils of an external nature in which our beloved Church is involved, being connected, in respect of time, and partly also in the way of natural consequence, with particular measures adopted, or with a particular line of conduct followed,—this might seem to be the mark and token of God's disapprobation of what has been done, and of his holy displeasure against his Church on account of it. Mere human and earthly wisdom might so interpret the ways of the Lord. But not such is the interpretation warranted by his Word, and by the recorded experience of his Church in all former ages. On the contrary, we are taught to believe that severe chastisements may fall on God's people, not in the day of their backsliding and death, but in the day of their revival; and that while, undoubtedly, as to the purpose of God, they suffer for their sins, in so far as second causes are concerned, they may suffer for well-doing. There may be a false peace, and a respite from suffering more ominous than the heaviest blow. "Why should ye be stricken any more?" is God's terrible word to a people revolting more and more. To what purpose should the rod be applied, when there is no sound part on which it may take effect? But if any, having once departed from their first love, are now repenting and doing their first works, it may be good for them to be afflicted; and with returning grace, fatherly discipline may be joined, that former sins may be remembered, and the renewed soul may be humbled and purged. We presume not to say how far this may be so, in reference to our beloved Church and her present trials. We judge not her recent actings by their apparent consequences; nor can we determine, by that test, how far the things which have been done have been pleasing to her great Head. To the law and to the testimony is the only appeal. But thus far we may venture to affirm, that if at any time the Church of God, or any branch of it, be found in the attitude of redressing tolerated wrong, and discharging neglected duty, repairing the breaches of former generations, and girding the loins for earnest labour in the Lord's cause; and if, in the very doing of this good work, and even in consequence of its being done, trouble and danger come,—so far from thinking that any strange thing has befallen them, they who thus suffer are still called upon to testify that the Lord is righteous, and that all his ways are just and true. Especially may this testimony be borne by the Church of our fathers, which once and again has been taught to know that a time of reformation and revival may very shortly go before a time of trial, and that, in the providence of Him whose ways are not as our ways, this may tend the more, in the end, to His own glory, and the peace and prosperity of His believing people.
At the same time, while thus we are fully persuaded that as we may not pronounce others, when they suffer, to be sinners more than ourselves, so neither are we to regard our own suffering as a conclusive proof that in any particular point we have been doing wrong; we would ever bear in mind, that it should, at all events, move us to a diligent search after sin. That the steps recently taken by the Church, seeking, in all good faith, to be guided by the will of the Lord Jesus, should have issued in results so distressing, and, in many instances, so little to be expected, is not an evidence of what has been done being sinful. But assuredly it is a demonstration that the Lord sees much sin in us. Why is there not more agreement of mind and heart in the Church herself, in reference to the measures which are occasioning so much alarm,—more seeing eye to eye,—more of the consent and concord of brethren dwelling together in unity? Why, instead of conciliating, as might have been anticipated, have these measures estranged and alienated the more our brethren, whose forefathers left us on this very quarrel, and handed down a solemn testimony against the opposite actings of the Church, which they ever denounced as her most grievous sins and defections? And why, instead of increased stability and security imparted to our possession of our temporal privileges and advantages, do we find them all put in imminent jeopardy, many great and powerful foes ranged against us, and new difficulties from day to day arising, amid which we are more and more every day shut up to the necessity of crying, "Help, Lord; for vain is the help of man?"
These things are manifest evidences of there being some accursed thing in the midst of us,—some root of bitterness,—some blot cleaving to our hands,—some unstedfastness in the covenant of the Lord,—on account of which he is prolonging his controversy with us. And they loudly call for the searching of our ways, and the humbling of our hearts before him.
Especially, and above all, is this seen to be required, when we consider, not the outward estate of our Church merely, but her inward, spiritual condition, and how it fares with the cause and the work of the Lord throughout our favoured land.
We have reason, indeed, to bless God, who hath given us not a few tokens for good,—in the increase of the faithful and lively preaching of the Gospel among us, and in the awakening of a more zealous interest and concern for the glory of God and the conversion of souls. We thankfully acknowledge the sovereign grace of our Lord, who has enabled so many of his servants, in our day, to declare fully and affectionately the whole counsel of his peace, and who has put it into our hearts to care for the multitudes at home and abroad, whether our brethren or strangers, whether Jews or Gentiles, who are far from God, and perishing for lack of knowledge.
But, alas, for the result of this love and of these labours! In a certain measure, we doubt not, the Spirit has been poured out from on high. There have been portions of the vineyard refreshed and gladdened by the heavenly rain, and souls have been won to Christ. Far be it from us to despise the day of small things. But who among us can shut his eyes to the sad truth, that the Spirit of the Lord is straitened—that even where the means of grace are most abundant and most pure, the fruit of righteousness and peace is but scanty and precarious? Even among the people who know the joyful sound, it cannot be said that the signs of spiritual life are such as ought to satisfy the spiritual mind. Amid many serious professions, many salutary convictions and impressions, many works of faith and labours of love, we cannot but confess and mourn over a lamentable want of sound and enlightened views—of accurate and extensive knowledge respecting the system of divine truth, and the interpretation of the Word of God. And still more we deplore the absence of that uncompromising decision of character, and that high-toned and heavenly elevation of principle and of aim, which ought to distinguish the followers of Jesus, and by which the world might be rebuked and reclaimed. The low standard by which devotedness to God, and separation from the world, are too generally measured and estimated; the facility with which the name of true godliness is given and assumed; the wide prevalence of formality and lukewarmness; the rare examples among us of remarkable attainments in self-denial, in humility, in zeal, and love, and the extent to which these have almost ceased to be expected; the manifold inconsistencies of those who seem to be walking with God, their partaking in other men's sins, and the frequent instances of their conformity to an evil world;—all combine to impress the sad conviction, that if there be really spiritual life in the Church at all, it is but as the bruised reed and the smoking flax;—and that a new infusion of vital heat and of power from above is greatly needed, to brace and nerve anew the Christianity of our day, and fit it for the final struggle with the mustering hosts of the Prince of Darkness.
And turning our eye from the professing Church of Christ in our land, to the state of society at large, we cannot but be moved to sigh and to cry for all the abominations that are done in the midst thereof. How many thousands of our countrymen are beyond the reach of all the ordinary means and influences of grace, and how few care for their souls! Multitudes every where forsake the assembling of themselves together, and never hear the glad tidings of salvation. The Sabbath is profaned, in too many instances, by ordinary labour; in other cases, by idleness, the neglect of ordinances, and the haunting of scenes of dissipation and riot. Need we dwell on the melancholy progress of intemperance—checked, indeed, as we would hope, in some measure, by the efforts of late made against it—but still, it is to be feared, maintaining its ground, and likely to defy all the plans and exertions of men, unless the Lord himself, by his Word and Spirit, interpose? The relaxation of morals—the loose ideas too commonly entertained on the subject of offences against the law of chastity—the vitiating and corrupting influences to which the young are exposed, in the crowded state of our manufacturing population—the increase of profanity, and profligacy, and crime; these are evils which it may well make the heart sick to contemplate. And the alarm is greatly heightened by the bold avowal, in many quarters, of principles striking at the root of all religious faith, and all social decency and order, and the industrious dissemination of these principles in every insidious form, fitted to leaven the minds of the uninstructed and unsettled among the people. The condition of the poor, also, suffering too frequently under privations such as it could scarcely be conceived possible that a Chritian country could tolerate, or that human nature could endure—exposed to the ravages of disease, the contamination of vice, and temptations to crime, hard, in their circumstances, to be resisted—is forcing itself on the notice of the community, and cannot but draw the eye of Him who makes their cause peculiarly his own. That means have been partially adopted for the remedy of these social grievances, in accordance with the will of God, is a cause of thankfulness to him. That these means have been so inadequate, is matter of reproach and blame to the Church and to the country.
If, now, God is visiting us for such things as these, it cannot be thought strange. Nor need we wonder when we see old institutions shaken, and threatening signs gathering all around upon the earth—distress of nations, with perplexity, men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming upon the earth. Nay, when these things begin to come to pass, the Lord's people may look up and lift up their heads; for their redemption draweth nigh. But the land is called to mourn. And we, especially, who are set to be witnesses for God, whether as united in one body under Christ our Head, or as individuals occupying the several stations in which God has placed us, should be constrained to search and try our ways, and to turn with our whole hearts unto the Lord.
As a Church, we desire that with one accord we should bow before our God, and reverently inquire what there may be in our conduct, or in our state, justly offensive to him. If we have been seeking to do His will in our public actings, has there been enough of prayer for His guidance, and consultation of His holy Word? Has there been entire singleness of eye? Has there been a due measure of humiliation and repentance?—sufficient searching after the old paths, and sufficient recognition of old pledges and obligations? May not carnal wisdom have mixed itself too much in our proceedings? And whereas we are not all at one in the measures taken, may not this want of unanimity be in part ascribed to the absence of that spirit of meekness and of self-distrust which should have brought us all far nearer to Him who alone can lead us in the way of righteousness and of peace? If, again, we have been moved and enabled to set on foot various schemes of Christian benevolence, for extending the blessings of education and the means of grace at home; for supplying the spiritual wants of our countrymen in the Colonies; and for sending forth missionaries to teach the heathen, and to testify to the Jews;—have we duly given God the glory, and taken shame and guilt to ourselves? Have we not been puffed up? Has there not been boasting and selfconfidence? And have we not been tempted, forgetting our neglect in time past, and greatly over-rating our services now, to look upon the little we have done—little in comparison with what we might, with what we ought to have done—with what other churches have done, and are doing—as if it gave us some claim on the favour of God, or some security against the visitation of his wrath? And, once more, if God, in some blessed instances, has been pleased to pour out his Spirit, and to give signal testimony to the Word of his grace, how have such dispensations been improved? Has not the unbelief of some dishonoured the work of the Lord? and the passing wonder of others appeared to limit his power? What serious expectation of similar awakenings has been generally called forth? What earnest longings after them? Has it not been regarded as a strange thing that the preaching of the Gospel should, at any time, simultaneously prick the consciences of hundreds and of thousands, making them, with one accord, cry out in agony, What must we do to be saved? Have not such scenes been found to minister, not to godly edifying, but to vain excitement? And while God has been giving us specimens, here and there, of what he is still able and willing to do, for converting sinners and quickening his own people, have we, in any corresponding measure, enlarged our hearts in seeking his blessing? Have we not, on the contrary, grieved his Holy Spirit, so that he is straitened still?
We entreat pastors and elders to inquire if the Gospel has been faithfully preached, and the fruit of preaching duly waited for and gathered in? How is discipline administered, for warning the unruly, winning back the erring, rebuking the profane, and guarding the purity of the house and ordinances of God? What care is taken of the young? What sympathy shown to the poor and the sick? What pains taken to instruct the ignorant, to edify and comfort believers, to deal affectionately with those who are forsaking their own mercies? What consultation is there of the pastor with the elders, respecting the condition of the flock, and the means by which the Lord's cause may be advanced, and souls may prosper more? What prayer together? What wrestling with God apart? Does the keeper of the vineyards of others keep his own? What are the labours of his study? What the exercises of his closet?
You who are the parents and heads of families, we exhort to consider well the trust committed to you, as having the care of the lambs of the flock, and what the Church has a right to expect from you, through whose instrumentality she should be daily receiving new sons and daughters, to be as plants for the garden of the Lord, and corner-stones polished for his palace. The things which you have heard and known, and your fathers have told you, are you not hiding from your children? Are you showing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and his strength, and the wonderful works which he hath done? Do you speak in your households of God's favour to our Church in days gone by, and of the worthies whom he raised up—names once familiar to our very babes—and of the holy cause in which they testified, and suffered, and died? Is parental discipline more relaxed, and the master's rule in his household less cheerfully acknowledged than of old? What prayer is made in your dwellings? what praises ascend on high? what catechising is there of your children and domestics? what care to imbue their minds with the form of sound words, and to interest their hearts in the love of Jesus? what tender dealing with the conscience? what anxious longing for the conversion of their souls? If in these things there be neglect and sin, can it be matter of wonder that so many of our youth, as they grow up, should enter into life with little attachment to the Church of their fathers, and little interest in her well-being?—ignorant of her value, careless of her institutions, unacquainted with all that she has been honoured to do for the Lord in this land, and all that the Lord has been pleased to do for her.
To those who hold a more private station in the Church, we would address a word of counsel and of persuasion. Let every one of you look to himself, and to his own case. The Lord is manifestly sifting his people. He will separate the precious from the vile. This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke and blasphemy. Temptations and trials abound; and as it is the last time, when antichrist is to come,—and even now already there are many antichrists,—so may it be expected that principles and professions are to be severely tested, and put to a searching proof. Are you prepared,—are you preparing.—for the evil to come? Have you an unction from the Holy One, and do you know the truth? Is your religion such as will not merely shine in the summer's sun, but stand the winter's blast? Amid causes of offence abounding on every side, amid the external troubles and the internal disorders and contentions of the Church, your faith may be apt to fail, and the world may seize its advantage for regaining its hold over you. You are urgently called to examine yourselves, whether you have received, or are seeking, grace sufficient for the crisis in which you are to act. And see if there be not,—in your unstedfast walk with God,—in your occasional weariness of his service,—in the restraining of private prayer, and the withholding of an open testimony for God,—something which may in part bring home personally to you the sin and suffering of the Church at large, and constrain you, above all, to fear lest your own souls be not in health.
Finally, brethren, we beseech you all, with one accord, to pray for the Church and the land, that the Lord may arise and give deliverance. And let your chief anxiety be, not that deliverance come speedily, but that, when we are delivered, it may be the doing of the Lord alone, that His may be all the glory. And, meanwhile, let us wait patiently upon him. Let us turn unto the Lord with our whole hearts. Let us adore his justice in visiting us for our sins. Let us gratefully acknowledge his goodness in turning away from us deserved judgments, and overruling evil for good. In his recent dealings with us he has not unfrequently disappointed our fears,—so that, amid things which might have occasioned bitterness, and wrath, and schism in our Assemblies, unlooked-for tokens of conciliation have appeared. Let us earnestly return and seek the Lord,—that He who has the hearts of all men in his hands, and who ordereth all our ways, may cause unity and peace to prevail, and may give help in the time of need. Let us pray for the outpouring of his Holy Spirit, and the revival of his gracious work. Let our desire be, that while he chastens, he may greatly quicken us; and that, in the end, it may be manifest to all, that our safety cometh from the Lord. Now may God himself, even the Father, bless us; and may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be upon us all.—Amen.
X. Sess. ult., May 31, 1841.—Overture and Interim Act, with Regulations for carrying into effect the Act of Assembly, May 29, 1835, on the Calling of Ministers.
XI. Sess. ult., May 31, 1841.—Standing Order on the Forms of Commissions.
The General Assembly called for the Report of the Committee on the Forms of Commissions, which was given in by Mr Dunlop, the convener, and read. The General Assembly approve of the Report, and did, and hereby do, declare and order in terms thereof, and direct the same to be inserted among the public Acts of this Church, the tenor whereof follows:—
1. Your committee would recommend that a copy of the Act, 1839, anent representative elders, together with a copy of the form of certificate approved by the General Assembly, 1840, and also of this report, if approved of by the Assembly, be transmitted to every minister of this Church, and that the Assembly declare that no certificates will henceforth be received, or held a fulfilment of the Act above mentioned, unless exactly agreeing with the form aforesaid; it being specially attended to, that it is the certificate itself, and not an extract from the minutes of Session, that must be lodged along with the commission.
2. In regard to the attestation by Presbyteries of the commissions of representatives from burghs, the committee, considering that the requiring of the attestation of the Presbytery is additional to, and corroborative of, that of the Session, would recommend the Assembly to declare, that, on the one hand, Presbyteries are entitled to attest such commissions, although there be no certificate produced to them from the Session to which the commissioner belongs, that he is bona fide an acting elder, provided they have other sufficient grounds of information as to his truly being so; and, on the other hand, that such certificate, when produced to them, while it ought not to be disregarded except on the strongest grounds, it is not to be holden as necessarily conclusive as to the qualification of the party in this respect.
3. Your committee would suggest, that all commissions should be desired to be
transmitted to the Agent for the Church at least one week before the meeting of the
Assembly, and that those so transmitted should be revised, so far as regards the regularity of the commission in point of form, by a meeting of the Procurator, Clerks,
and Agent of the Church, and that their report as to the commissions being correct,
should supersede the passing the same under the review of the usual revising committee; while as to commissions which these parties may find to be objectionable in
form, that they should at once be remitted to the Committee on disputed and objected Commissions.
A. Dunlop, Convener.
XII. Sess. ult., May 31, 1841.— Standing Order anent the Visiting of Synod-Books.
The General Assembly called for the Report of the Committee for Visiting the Synod-Books, which was given in and read. The Assembly approve of the report, and observing, in a few instances, that no notice is taken of inquiry having been made by the Synods at the several Presbyteries of collections having been made within their bounds for the different Schemes of the Church, did, and hereby do, direct that, in future, all such omissions, with other remarks of the visitors, shall be printed in the Acts of the Assembly.
XIII. Sess. ult., May 31, 1841.—Act recommending Collections for the five Schemes of the General Assembly.
XIV. Sess. ult., May 31, 1841.—Overture on the Eldership.
XV. Sess. ult., May 31, 1841.—Act appointing a Special Commission to co-operate with the Presbyteries within whose bounds certain Vacant Parishes are situated, in settling and superintending the same, and for other purposes therein mentioned.
The General Assembly, having taken into their consideration the state of the parishes herein after mentioned, and the necessity of making some special provision for the settlement and superintendence thereof, and for the ordering of certain other matters after mentioned, resolve, for this purpose, to appoint a Special Commission, to the effect and with the powers herein after set forth; and they accordingly did, and hereby do, appoint Dr Robert Gordon, their Moderator, &c.; to be commissioners to cooperate with the several Presbyteries within whose bounds are situated the following parishes, viz.:—Huntly, Keith, Glass, Mortlach, Rhynie, Cairnie, Botriphnie, and Marnoch, in the Presbytery of Strathbogie; Auchterarder, in the Presbytery of Auchterarder; Lethendy and Kinloch, in the Presbytery of Dunkeld; Muckairn, in the Presbytery of Lorn; and the new parish of Stewarton, in the Presbytery of Irvine,—in the settlement and superintendence of the said parishes, and the making provision for the supply of the ordinances of religion, and the exercise of discipline, and the ordering of allecclesiastical matters therein; empowering and instructing the said commissioners to advise and direct the said respective Presbyteries in all their proceedings thereanent, and enjoining the said Presbyteries, as they are hereby enjoined, to conform themselves to such advice and directions; and with full power to the said commissioners, in the event of their deeming it necessary, of themselves, to do and perform, in relation to the premises, every act which the respective Presbyteries might have done and performed; and the said commissioners are farther empowered, in the event of any interference by the Civil Courts with the exercise of the spiritual jurisdiction and discipline of the Church by these or any other Presbyteries of the Church, and of their being applied to by such Presbyteries, to advise and direct such Presbyteries in regard to their proceedings; or if the said commis sioners shall deem it necessary, of themselves, to do and perform whatever it might have been competent for the said Presbyteries to have done and performed. And they are also instructed and empowered to advise with the Procurator in regard to legal processes in dependence, touching the questions connected with the matters regarding the parishes herein before mentioned, or any others that may be similarly situated; and the said commissioners are hereby empowered to choose their moderator and clerk: And the General Assembly appoint the said commissioners to hold their first meeting at Edinburgh, in the Presbytery Hall, on the 2d of June, at twelve o'clock, with power to hold meetings thereafter at such times and places as they shall see fit, and with power to their moderator at any time to summon meetings of the said commissioners, pro re nata, on five days' notice to each of the commissioners.