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 principall acts of the generall assembly, met occasionally at Edinburgh, January, 1645.
Sess. 2, Die Jovis, January 23, 1645, post meridiem.—The Letter from the Commissioners at London to the Generall Assembly.
Right Honourable, Reverend, and beloved in the Lord,
As we are not without the knowledge, so are we not without the feeling, of the distresses of our native countrey, and of the troubles of our dear brethren, specially that the hand of the Lord is stretched out against you, not only by invasion from without, of the basest of the children of men, but also by the unnaturall treachery of some within, who have dealt perfidiously in the Covenant and cause of God: "They hisse and gnash the teeth, they say, We have swallowed her up; certainly this is the day that we looked for; we have found, we have seen it: the Lord … hath caused thine enemy to rejoyce over thee, he hath set up the horn of thine adversaries." Yet (saith the Lord, who is "thy Maker and thy husband, the Lord of Hosts is his name, and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel,) … for a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee; for this is as the waters of Noah, … the Covenant of my peace shall not be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee." When the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid, the Priests and Levites sung together in praising and giving thanks to the Lord, "Because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever." And we hope at this time, upon the coming of our Reverend brethren, and the sight of that which they bring with them, the noise of the shout of joy shall be louder than the noise of the weeping of the people. This we may say, that not many years ago many of us would have been content to have losed our lives, that we might have obtained that which the Lord, if not in a miraculous, yet in a marvellous and mercifull Providence, hath brought to passe in this iland in these dayes, which many before us have desired to see, and have not seen. God forbid that it should seeme a small thing in your eyes which is done here already, as it is expressed in a paper from the Parliament, and letters from the Assembly. Ye are best acquainted with the tentations and difficulties which ye meet with there, which are also very sensible unto us; and when we consider how the Lord hath carried on his work here at the first taking of the Covenant, and since, against much learning and contradiction, against much policie, power, and all sorts of opposition, (such as reformation useth to encounter,) we are ravished with admiration of the right hand of the Almighty. For our part, we may confidently avouch in the sight of God, and before you, whom next unto God we do respect and reverence, and to whom, as your servants, we are accomptable, that in all our proceedings we had first of all the Word of God before our eyes for the rule—and for our patern the Church of Scotland, so much as was possible—and no lesse (if not more) then if all this time since we parted from you we had been sitting in a Nationall Assembly there, and debating matters with our brethren at home. Where we were not able to get every thing framed to our minde, we have endeavoured, as much as we could, to preserve our own reformation and practice, of which our brethren will give you accompt in the particulars, we hope, to your satisfaction. That an uniformitie in every thing is not obtained in the beginning, let it not seem strange. The levelling of the high mountain of Prelacie, the laying aside of the Book of Common Prayer, the Directory of Worship, concluded in both Houses of Parliament, and the principal propositions of Church government passed in the Assembly, all of them according to the Solemne League and Covenant, the greatest of all, are three or foure witnesses to prove that the Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad, and which make us "like them that dream;" and we are sure, that not onely the reformed Kirks, but the Papists will say, the Lord hath done great things for them.
All that we desire is, 1. That the Directory of Worship may be returned by our
brethren with all possible expedition, that it may be published here, and put in practice, as that which is extreamely longed for by the good people, and will be a remedy
of the many differences and divisions about the worship of God in this kingdome,
especially in this place. If there be any thing in it that displeaseth, let it be remonstrate upon irrefragable and convincing reason, otherwise ye will in your wisedome
give approbation to it. 2. If there be any particular differences among some brethren,
which are not determined, but passed over in silence in the Directory, and yet hinted
at in the letter from the Assembly, we hope that in your wisedome ye will so consider of them, that they may be layde aside in due time, and that in the mean while,
till the Directory be concluded and put in practice, there be no trouble about them,
for that were as snow in summer, and rain in harvest. We know nothing of that
kinde that all of us who love unitie, order, and edification, may not perfectly agree
in, without scandall or disturbance: And we beseech the Lord to keep that Kirk free
of such sects and monsters of opinions, as are daily set on foot and multiplied in this
kingdome, through the want of that church government by Assemblies, which hath
preserved us, and we hope, through the blessing of God, shall cure them. 3. Because
nationall Assemblies cannot frequentlie conveene, we humbly desire that such a
Commission may be settled, as we may at all occasions, til the work be finished, have
our recourse unto, for our direction and resolution; for we know both our own weaknesse and the greatnesse of the work, wherein we can promise no more but to be
faithfull in obeying your commandments, as in the sight of God, whom with our
souls we pray to grant you his Spirit to guide you into all truth. And thus continue
Your humble and faithfull servants,
Worcester House, January 6, 1645.
The Letter from the Synode of Divines in England to the Generall Assembly.
Right Honourable, Right Reverend, and dearly Beloved in the Lord Jesus, "As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far countrey." We, your brethren, yet remaining in the furnace of affliction, and still labouring in the very fire, have at length, by the good hand of God upon us, attained so far toward the mark at which we all aime, that we shall now send you by two of your reverend and faithfull commissioners, Mr Robert Baillie and Mr George Gillespie, (our much honoured brethren,) some good news of that great work after which your zeal for truth and peace hath so much thirsted, and for which you "have not loved your lives unto the death."
Our progresse therein hath not been so expeditious as was desired and expected. This, unto such as either know not or consider not the weight and greatnesse of the work, nor the manifold difficulties which have occurred to obstruct our proceedings in this day of darknesse and calamity, (too sad to be expressed,) hath been like unto "hope deferred, which makes the heart sick." Howbeit, we trust, that when their desire (namely, that which we have prepared, and are further in travell with) shall come unto them, it will be, through God, a tree of life, as, to our great comfort and encouragement, we already perceive it to be to both the Honourable Houses of Parliament.
Touching the severall papers brought to us from your honourable and reverend commissioners, by the hands of the committee appointed to treat with them in matters of religion, (one of the papers being given in the 10th of November 1643, concerneth the severall sorts of Church-Officers and Assemblies; another, bearing date the 24th of January 1643, concerneth Congregationall Elderships, and Classical Presbyteries; the other, being presented the 15th of August last, representeth the necessity of making greater speed in setling the intended uniformity in religion, according to the late solemne Covenant,) we hold it our duty, in regard both of the arct and inseparable union which the Lord hath happily and seasonably made between you and us, and of your indefatigable and inestimable labour of love to this afflicted kingdom, to give your Lordships and the rest of that Venerable Assembly some brief account.
Concerning one Confession of Faith, and forme of Catechisme, we make no question of a blessed and perfect harmony with you. The publick doctrine held out by our Church to all the world, (especially when it shall be reviewed, which is in great part done,) concurring so much with yours, may assure you of your heart's desire in those particulars, so soon as time and opportunity may give us liberty to perfect what we have begun.
The chief reason of laying aside the review of our publick doctrine, after the happy and much desired arrivall of your reverend commissioners here, was, the drawing up and accelerating of a Directory for Worship, and of a Forme of Church Government; in both of which we stood at a greater distance from other reformed churches of Christ, and particularly from yours, (which we very much honour,) with whom our solemne sacred Nationall Covenant requireth us to endeavour the nearest conjunction and uniformity, that we, and our posterity after us, may, as brethren, live in faith and love, and the Lord may delight to dwell in the midst of us.
Nor have our labours therein been frustrate; for we have perfected and transmitted a Directory for Worship to both Houses of Parliament, where it hath received such acceptance that it is now passed in both the Honourable Houses of Parliament; which we hope will be to the joy and comfort of all our godly and dear brethren in all his Majestie's kingdoms and dominions.
We have not advised any imposition which might make it unlawfull to vary from it in any thing; yet we hope all our reverend brethren in this kingdom, and in yours also, will so far value and reverence that which, upon so long debate and serious deliberation, hath been agreed upon in this Assembly, (when it shall also passe with you, and be setled as the common Publick Directory for all the Churches in the three kingdoms,) that it shall not be the lesse regarded and observed. And albeit we have not expressed in the Directory every minute particular which is or might be either laid aside or retained among us, as comely and usefull in practice; yet we trust that none will be so tenacious of old customs, not expressely forbidden, or so averse from good examples, although new, in matters of lesser consequence, as to insist upon their liberty of retaining the one or refusing the other, because not specified in the Directory; but be studious to please others rather then themselves.
We have likewise spent divers moneths in the search of the Scriptures to finde out the minde of Christ concerning a Forme of Church Government, wherein we could not but expect the greatest difficulty. For our better progresse herein wee have, with all respect, considered the severall papers of your honourable and reverend commissioners touching this head, and do with all thankfulnesse acknowledge their great zeal, judgement, and wisdom expressed therein; as also the excellent assistance and great furtherance of your reverend commissioners in this great work, which now, through God's goodnesse, is very near to a period also.
In pursuit whereof we made a strict survey and scrutinie of every proposition, that we might finde it agreeable to and warranted by the Word of God, in a method of our own, without resting upon any particular modell or frame whatsoever already constituted. What we have performed, and how farre we have proceeded therein, we leave to the information of your reverend commissioners, who have been eye and ear witnesses of all that hath past, and we doubt not but you will shortly receive a satisfactory answer from hence, so soon as it shall be passed in the Honourable Houses of Parliament.
And now, right honourable and right reverend brethren, let it not seem grievous that we have thus long delayed the satisfying of your earnest and just expectation. It is the lot of Jerusalem to have her walls built in troublous times, when there are many adversaries. Nor let it offend, that (albeit we acknowledge the many great and inestimable expressions of your love, zeal, and helpfulnesse, unto us every way in the day of our distresse, to be beyond all that we can in words acknowledge) we professe plainly to you, that we do most unwillingly part with those our reverend and dear fellow-labourers, your commissioners, whom now you have called home to render an account of their imployment here; which hath been so managed both by them and the rest of their honourable and reverend colleagues as deserveth many thanks, and all honourable acknowledgement, not onely from us, but from you also.
Give us leave to adde, that the long experience we have had of the great sufficiency, integrity, and usefulnesse of them all, in the great work of Christ, our common Lord and Master, inforceth us (next to our greatest sute, for the continuance of your fervent prayers) to be earnest suiters, not onely for the continuance of these excellent helpers, Mr Alex. Henderson, and Mr Sam. Rutherfurd, yet remaining with us, but also for the speedy return hither of our reverend brethren that are now going hence, for the perfecting of that work which yet remains. And this sute, we trust, you will the rather grant, because of the great and joint concernment of both Churches and kingdoms in these matters.
Now, the Spirit of wisdom and of all grace rest upon you in all your great consultations; as at all times, so especially now, when you shall be gathered together in the name of the Lord Jesus, for the further building up and polishing of his Church; and cause the fruit of all your labours to be to the praise and glory of God, and the comfort and rejoycing of the hearts of all the Israel of God: He reward all our dear brethren of that sister Church and Nation manifold into their bosome all the labours, love, and sufferings which they have afforded, and still do cheerfully continue, for our sakes and the Gospel's, in this distracted and bleeding kingdome—suppresse all commotions and bloody practices of the common enemy, in both, yea, in all the three kingdoms—set up the Throne of Jesus Christ, and make all the kingdoms to be the Lord's, and our Jerusalem to be a praise upon earth, that all that love her and mourn for her may rejoyce for joy with her, and may suck and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolation.
Subscribed by your most loving brethren, and fellow-labourers in the
work of the Lord, in the name of this whole Assembly,
William Twisse, Prolocutor.
Cornelius Burges, Assessor.
John White, Assessor.
Henry Robrough, Scriba.
Adoniram Byfield, Scriba.
Westminster, January 6, 1644.
Sess. 5, January 28, 1645, post meridiem, Die Martis.—Approbation of the Proceedings of the Commission of the two preceding Assemblies.
The Generall Assembly, having heard the report of the committee appointed to consider and examine the proceedings of the Commissioners of the two last Generall Assemblies, viz., of the Assemblies held in Edinburgh in the yeers 1643 and 1644; and after mature deliberation, and serious consideration thereof, finding that the whole acts, proceedings, and conclusions of the said Commissioners, contained in a book and register subscribed by Master Andrew Ker, their clerk, and by Master George Leslie, moderator, and Master William Jaffray, clerk to the said committee, declare much wisedome, diligence, vigilancie, and commendable zeal; and that the saids Commissioners have orderly and formally proceeded in every thing according to their commissions: Do, therefore, ratifie and approve the said whole acts, proceedings, and conclusions of the Commissioners of the two Assemblies aforesaid.
Sess. 10, February 3, 1645, Die Lunæ, post meridiem.—Act of the Generall Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland, for the Establishing and putting in Execution of the Directory for the Publick Worship of God.
Whereas an happy unity and uniformity in religion amongst the Kirks of Christ in these three kingdoms, united under one Soveraigne, hath been long and earnestly wished for by the godly and well-affected amongst us—was propounded as a main article of the large treaty, without which band and bulwark no safe, well-grounded, and lasting peace could be expected—and, afterward, with greater strength and maturity, revived in the Solemne League and Covenant of the three kingdomes, whereby they stand straitly obliged to endeavour the neerest uniformity in one forme of Church Government, Directory of Worship, Confession of Faith, and Forme of Catechising—which hath also, before and since our entring into that Covenant, been the matter of many supplications and remonstrances, and sending commissioners to the King's Majestie, of declarations to the Honourable Houses of the Parliament of England, and of letters to the Reverend Assembly of Divines, and others of the ministerie of the Kirk of England—being also the end of our sending commissioners, as was desired from this Kirk, with commission to treat of uniformitie in the foure particulars afore mentioned, with such committees as should be appointed by both Houses of the Parliament of England, and by the Assembly of Divines sitting at Westminster—and, beside all this, it being, in point of conscience, the chief motive and end of our adventuring upon manifold and great hazards, for quenching the devouring flame of the present unnaturall and bloody warre in England, though to the weakning of this kingdome within itself, and the advantage of the enemy which hath invaded it, accounting nothing too dear to us, so that this our joy be fulfilled: And now this great work being so far advanced, that a Directory for the Publick Worship of God in all the three kingdomes being agreed upon by the Honourable Houses of the Parliament of England, after consultation with the divines of both kingdomes there assembled, and sent to us for our approbation, that being also agreed upon by this Kirk and kingdome of Scotland, it may be, in the name of both kingdomes, presented to the King, for his royall consent and ratification. The Generall Assembly having most seriously considered, revised, and examined the Directory afore mentioned, after severall publick readings of it, after much deliberation, both publickly and in private committees, after full liberty given to all to object against it, and earnest invitations of all who have any scruples about it to make known the same, that they might be satisfied, do unanimously, and without a contrary voice, Agree to and Approve the following Directory, in all the heads thereof, together with the preface set before it; and doth require, decerne, and ordain, that, according to the plain tenour and meaning thereof, and the intent of the preface, it be carefully and uniformly observed and practised by all the ministers and others within this kingdome whom it doth concerne; which practice shall be begun upon intimation given to the severall Presbyteries from the Commissioners of this Generall Assembly, who shall also take speciall care for the timeous printing of this Directory, that a printed copy of it be provided and kept for the use of every kirk in this kingdome; also that each Presbyterie have a printed copy thereof for their use, and take speciall notice of the observation or neglect thereof in every congregation within their bounds, and make known the same to the Provinciall or Generall Assembly, as there shall be cause. Provided alwayes, that the clause in the Directory, of the administration of the Lord's Supper, which mentioneth the communicants sitting about the table, or at it, be not interpreted, as if in the judgement of this Kirk it were indifferent and free for any of the communicants not to come to and receive at the table; or as if we did approve the distributing of the elements by the minister to each communicant, and not by the communicants among themselves. It is also provided, that this shall be no prejudice to the order and practice of this Kirk in such particulars as are appointed by the Books of Discipline and Acts of Generall Assemblies, and are not otherwise ordered and appointed in the Directory.
Finally, the Assembly doth, with much joy and thankfulnes, acknowledge the rich blessing and invaluable mercy of God, in bringing the so much wished for uniformity in religion to such a happy period, that these kingdoms, once at so great distance in the form of worship, are now, by the blessing of God, brought to a neerer uniformity than any other reformed Kirks, which is unto us the return of our prayers, and a lightning of our eyes and reviving of our hearts, in the midst of our many sorrows and sufferings, a taking away in a great measure the reproach of the people of God, to the stopping of the mouthes of malignant and disaffected persons, and an opening unto us a door of hope, that God hath yet thoughts of peace towards us, and not of evill, to give us an expected end. In the expectation and confidence whereof we do rejoyce, beseeching the Lord to preserve these kingdomes from heresies, schismes, offences, prophanenesse, and whatsoever is contrary to sound doctrine and the power of godlinesse, and to continue with us, and the generations following, these his pure and purged ordinances, together with an increase of the power and life thereof, to the glory of his great name, the enlargement of the kingdom of his Son, the corroboration of peace and love between the kingdoms, the unity and consent of all his people, and our edifying one another in love.
Sess. 14, February 7, 1645, post meridiem.—Overtures for advancement of Learning, and good Order in Grammar Schools and Colledges.
I. That every grammar school be visited twice in the year by visitors, to be appointed by the Presbyterie and Kirk-session in landward parishes, and by the towncouncell in burghs, with their ministers; and where universities are, by the universities, with consent alwayes of the patrons of the school, that both the fidelitie and diligence of the masters, and the proficiencie of the schollers in pietie and learning may appear, and deficiencie censured accordingly; and that the visitors see that the masters be not distracted by any other employments which may divert them from their diligent attendance.
II. That for the remedie of the great decay of poesie, and of abilitie to make verse, and in respect of the common ignorance of prosodie, no schoolmaster be admitted to teach a grammar school, in burghs or other considerable paroches, but such as after examination shall be found skilfull in the Latine tongue, not only for prose, but also for verse; and that after other trials to be made by the ministers, and others depute by the Session, town, and paroch for this effect, that he be also approven by the Presbyterie.
III. That neither the Greek language nor logick, nor any part of philosophie, be taught in any grammar school or private place within this kingdom to young schollers, who thereafter are to enter to any colledge, unlesse it be for a preparation to their entrie there; and, notwithstanding of any progresse any may pretend to have made privately in these studies, yet, in the colledge he shall not enter to any higher classe then that wherein the Greek language is taught, and being entred shall proceed orderly through the rest of the classes, untill he finish the ordinary course of four years; unlesse after due triall and examination, he be found equall in learning to the best or most part of that classe to which he desires to ascend, by overleaping a mid classe, or to the best or most part of those who are to be graduat, if he supplicate to obtain any degree before the ordinary time; and also, that there be found other pregnant reasons to move the Faculty of Arts to condescend thereto. And otherwise, that he be not admitted to the degree of Master of Arts.
IV. That none be admitted to enter a student of the Greek tongue in any colledge, unlesse after triall he be found able to make a congruous theame in Latine; or at least, being admonished of his errour, can readily shew how to correct the same.
V. That none be promoved from an inferiour classe of the ordinary course to a superiour, unlesse he be found worthy, and to have sufficiently profited; otherwise, that he be ordained not to ascend with his condisciples, and if he be a burser, that he lose his burse; and namely, it is to be required, that those who are taught in Aristotle be found well instructed in his text, and be able to repeat in Greek, and understand his whole definitions, divisions, and principall precepts, so far as they have proceeded.
VI. Because it is a disgrace to learning, and hinderance to trades and other callings, and an abuse hurtfull to the publick, that such as are ignorant and unworthy be honoured with a degree or publick testimony of learning; that, therefore, such triall be taken of students, specially of magistrands, that those who are found unworthy be not admitted to the degree and honour of Masters.
VII. That none who have entred to one colledge for triall or studie be admitted to another colledge, without the testimoniall of the masters of that colledge wherein he entred first, both concerning his literature and dutifull behaviour, so long as he remained there; at least untill the masters of that colledge from whence he cometh be timely advertised, that they may declare if they have any thing lawfully to be objected in the contrary. And that none be admitted, promoved, or receive degree in any colledge, who was rejected in another colledge for his unfitnesse and unworthinesse, or any other cause repugnant to good order, who leaves the colledge where he was, for eschewing of censure, or chastising for any fault committed by him; or who leaves the colledge because he was chastised, or for any other grudge or unjust quarrell against his masters.
VIII. That none of those who may be lawfully received in one colledge, after he was in another, be admitted to any other classe, but to that wherein he was or should have been in the colledge from whence he came, except upon reasons mentioned in the third article preceding.
IX. That at the time of every Generall Assembly, the Commissioners directed thereto from all the universities of this kingdom meet and consult together for the establishment and advancement of pietie, learning, and good order, in the schools and universities, and be carefull that a correspondence be kept among the universities, and so farre as is possible an uniformitie in doctrine and good order.
The Generall Assembly, after serious consideration of the Overtures and Articles above written, approves the same, and ordains them to be observed, and to have the strength of an act and ordinance of Assembly in all time coming.
To the Honourable and High Court of Parliament, The humble Petition of the Generall Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland.
According to the constant and commendable practice of the Generall Assemblies of this Kirk, we judge it incumbent to us, Right Honourable, when the displeasure of the Almighty, and the extream danger of this Kirk and kingdome is so undenyably demonstrate to the eyes of the whole world, by the invasion, increase, and successe of these barbarous Irishes, and treacherous countreymen joyned with them; not onely out of conscience of the trust committed unto us, to proceed with the censures of the Kirk against these who have joyned or shall happen to joyn themselves with these enemies of God and his cause, to appoint a solemne fast and humiliation through the kingdom, and to give warning to all the ministers and members of this Kirk of the dangers and duties of the time; but also, out of respect to your Honours, "who judge not for man, but for the Lord; who is with you in the judgement, and standeth in the congregation of the mighty," humbly to present your Honours with our thoughts and desires concerning the duties which the exigency of this time expecteth from your hands.
The impunity of known incendiaries and malignants, as, by the course of Divine Providence, (permitting those who have formerly escaped the hand of justice to be the prime instruments of our present troubles,) it is held forth for a cause of the wrath which yet burneth more and more; so hath it been acknowledged before God, in our publick humiliations, to be a maine cause of God's controversie with the land, and an accession to the guiltinesse of the cruelty, villany, and other mischiefs committed by them and their followers; and to lye still under the guilt after solemne confession were an high provocation of God, and an heavy aggravation of our sinne; and, on the one part, doth grieve the godly, discourage their hearts, and weaken their hands; on the other part, doth harden them who are already engaged, to persist in their unnaturall and bloudy practices—heartneth others, who have not hitherto avowed their malignancy, openly to declare themselves—and is laid hold upon by the disaffected, who lye in wait to finde occassion, as fitting to work the people to an unwillingnesse of undergoing necessary burthens imposed for publick good.
Although the Lord hath shewn unto us great and sore troubles, and our heart may be broken with reproach, shame, and dishonour, put upon us by the vilest among men; yet hath he made known unto us the power of his working amidst these manifold troubles, bringing forward the much desired work of uniformity in worship and government to a greater perfection then was expected, (as your Honours and we did see the other day with joy of heart,) which is a testimony from heaven, that the Lord hath not left us in the fiery furnace, but dwelleth still in the midst of the burning bush, and should rouze up our drouping spirits to follow God fully, and quicken our slownesse to hasten and "help the Lord against the mighty." In delay, there is perill of strengthening the arme of the intestine enemie, making faint the hearts of our neighbours and friends, and disabling us for reaching help unto those who are wrestling, against much opposition, to perfect the work of reformation. The reproach under which we lye almost buried, should be so farre from retarding proceedings, that it should intend the spirit into a higher degree of desire, and expede the hand to speedier action for vindicating our own name, and "that Name which is above all names," from the daily "reproach of the foolish."
May it therefore please your Honours, in the zeal of the Lord, to proceed with some speedy course of justice against such persons as are known to have joyned themselves, either actually in arms, or by their counsell, supplies, encouragements, have strengthened the hands of the bloody enemies, whereby a cause of the controversie shall be removed, the land cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, the cruell and crooked generation disheartned, the fainting hearts of the godly refreshed, and their feeble knees strengthened; and cheerfully and unanimously to resolve upon, and put in execution, all lawfull and possible wayes of speedy and active pursuing and extirpating these barbarous and unnaturall enemies within the kingdom; whereby your thankfulnesse to God for promoving his owne work, and your endeavours of uniformity, shall be testified—your sense of the dishonour of this nation, and of the danger of delay expressed—and your conscience of the oath of God upon you manifested. We are confident of your Honours' conscience and care, onely we exhort you in the Lord to unite your spirits, and accelerate your counsels and endeavours; and pray the Lord of Hosts to prosper your enterprises, according to the engagement of his name, interest of his work, and necessity of his people, to his own glory, the establishment of the King's throne in righteousnesse, the comfort of his saints, and the conversion or confusion of enemies. "Be of good courage, and behave your selves valiantly, for our people, and for the cities of our God." "Arise, and the Lord be with you."
Overtures propounded by the Committee appointed by this Venerable Assembly, for ordering of the Bursars of Theologie, and maintaining of them at the Schools of Divinitie.
IV. And where the Presbyteries are fewer in number, that they joyne with other Presbyteries, to make up their number; and the superplus of the number to be ordered and disposed by the Presbyteries and Synods; and that their books bear records thereof.
VI. That the said maintenance be collected by the Moderatour of every Presbyterie by equall divided portions, and the one-half to be brought into the Winter Synod, and given to the said bursars, and the other half at the Summer Synod, to be sent unto them; and that the severall Synods take an exact compt hereof, and see that all be rightly done, and that their books bear the report hereof to the Generall Assembly.
VII. That the time of bursars' abode at the Schools of Divinity exceed not foure years; which being expired, or in case before the expiring of the said time any be removed, either by death, or by some calling to a particular charge, another be presented to the said benefit.
VIII. That in case any prove deficient in payment of the said maintenance for the time to come, that it shall be carefully exacted by the Synods, and sent over to the Generall Assembly, to be disposed upon by them as they shall finde expedient, that no person may have benefit in their slacknesse and neglect.
IX. That all bursars of Theologie bring sufficient testimonies yearly from the Universities where they are bred, of their proficiencie and good behaviour; and that they be also ready to give a proof of their labours at the severall Synods, if it shall be re quired. And if they be found deficient, that they be denuded of the said benefit, and others more hopefull placed in their rooms.
The Generall Assembly approves these Overtures above written, and ordains the same to be observed in all time coming. And that Presbyteries (who have not already done it) begin and enter to the maintaining of their bursars, in manner foresaid, in this present year 1645. And recommends to Presbyteries to make choice of such for the burse as are of good report, inclined to learning, and have past their course of Philosophie; and to try their qualification before they send them to the Universities.
The Opinion of the Committee for keeping the greater Uniformitie in this Kirk, in the practice and observation of the Directory in some Points of Publick Worship.
I. It is the humble opinion of the Committee for regulating that exercise of reading and expounding the Scriptures read upon the Lord's day, mentioned in the Directory, that the Minister and people repair to the Kirk half an hour before that time at which ordinarily the Minister now entreth to the publick worship; and that that exercise of reading and expounding, together with the ordinary exercise of preaching, be perfected and ended at the time which formerly closed the exercise of publick worship.
II. In the administration of Baptisme it will be convenient that that sacrament be administred in face of the Congregation, that what is spoken and done may be heard and seen of all, and that it be administred after the sermon, before the blessing.
2. That there be no reading in the time of communicating, but the minister making a short exhortation at every table, that thereafter there be silence during the time of the communicants' receiving, except onely when the minister expresseth some few short sentences, suitable to the present condition of the communicants in the receiving, that they may be incited and quickned in their meditations in the action.
3. That distribution of the elements among the communicants be universally used; and for that effect, that the bread be so prepared that the communicants may divide it amongst themselves, after the minister hath broken and delivered it to the nearest.
8. That before the serving of the tables there be only one sermon delivered to those who are to communicate, and that in the kirk where the service is to be performed. And that in the same kirk there be one sermon of thanksgiving after the communion is ended.
9. When the parochiners are so numerous that their paroch kirk cannot contain them, so that there is a necessity to keep out such of the paroch as cannot conveniently have place, that in that case the brother who assists the minister of the paroch may be ready, if need be, to give a word of exhortation in some convenient place appointed for that purpose, to those of the paroch who that day are not to communicate; which must not be begun untill the sermon delivered in the kirk be concluded.
10. That of those who are present in the kirk where the communion is celebrate none be permitted to go forth whill the whole tables be served and the blessing pronounced, unlesse it be for more commodious order, and in other cases of necessity.
11. That the minister who cometh to assist have a speciall care to provide his own paroch, lest, otherwise, while he is about to minister comfort to others his own flock be left destitute of preaching.
12. That none coming from another paroch shall be admitted to the communion without a testimoniall from their own minister; and no minister shall refuse a testimoniall to any of his paroch who communicates ordinarily at their own paroch kirk, and are without scandall in their life for the time. And this is no wayes to prejudge any honest person, who occasionally is in the place where the communion is celebrate; or such as by death, or absence of their own minister, could not have a testimoniall.
IV. It is also the judgement of the committee, that the ministers bowing in the pulpit, though a lawful custome in this Kirk, be hereafter laid aside, for satisfaction of the desires of the reverend Divines in the Synod of England, and for uniformity with that Kirk, so much endeared to us.
Sess. 16, February 10, 1645, post meridiem.—Act of the Generall Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland, approving the Propositions concerning Kirk Government and Ordination of Ministers.
The Generall Assembly, being most desirous and solicitous, not only of the establishment and preservation of the form of kirk government in this kingdome, according to the Word of God, Books of Discipline, Acts of Generall Assemblies, and Nationall Covenant, but also of an uniformity in kirk government betwixt these kingdomes, now more straitly and strongly united by the late Solemne League and Covenant; and considering, that as in former times there did, so hereafter there may arise, through the neernesse of contagion, manifold mischiefs to this Kirk from a corrupt form of government in the Kirk of England: Likeas the precious opportunity of bringing the Kirks of Christ, in all the three kingdoms, to an uniformity in kirk government, being the happinesse of the present times above the former; which may also, by the blessing of God, prove an effectuall meane, and a good foundation to prepare for a safe and wellgrounded pacification, by removing the cause from which the present pressures and bloodie wars did originally proceed. And now, the Assembly having thrice read, and diligently examined the propositions (hereunto annexed) concerning the Officers, Assemblies, and Government of the Kirk; and concerning the Ordination of Ministers, brought unto us as the results of the long and learned debates of the Assembly of Divines sitting at Westminster, and of the treaty of uniformity with the Commissioners of this Kirk there residing; after mature deliberation, and after tymous calling upon, and warning of all who have any exceptions against the same, to make them known, that they might receive satisfaction, doth Agree to, and Approve the propositions aforementioned, touching kirk government and ordination; and doth hereby authorize the Commissioners of this Assembly, who are to meet at Edinburgh, to agree to and conclude, in the name of this Assembly, an uniformitie betwixt the Kirks in both kingdoms in the aforementioned particulars, so soon as the same shall be ratified, without any substantiall alteration, by an ordinance of the Honourable Houses of the Parliament of England; which ratification shall be timely intimate and made known by the Commissioners of this Kirk residing at London. Provided alwayes, that this act shall be no wayes prejudiciall to the further discussion and examination of that Article which holds forth, that the Doctor or Teacher hath power of the administration of the Sacraments as well as the Pastor; as also of the distinct rights and interests of Presbyteries and People in the Calling of Ministers—but that it shall be free to debate and discusse these points, as God shall be pleased to give further light.
The propositions of Government and Ordination, mentioned in the preceding act, are not to be here printed; but after the ratification thereof by the Parliament of England, they are to be printed by warrant of the Commissioners of this Assembly.
Sess. 18, February 12, 1645, post meridiem.
The Generall Assembly, after mature deliberation, having found it most necessary that this whole nation be timely warned and duly informed of their present dangers, and the remedies to be used, and duties to be done, for preventing and removing thereof; doth ordain this Warning to be forthwith printed and published, and sent to all the Presbyteries in this kingdom, as also to the Presbyteries that are with our armies.—And that each Presbyterie, immediately after the receipt hereof, take speedy course for the reading of it in every congregation within their bounds, upon the Lord's day, after the forenoon's sermon, and before the blessing; and that they give account of their diligence herein to the Commissioners of the Generall Assembly, who have hereby power and warrand to try and censure such as shall contemne or slight the said Warning, or shall refuse or neglect to obey this ordinance.
The cause of God in this kingdom, both in the beginnings and progresse of it, hath been carried through much craft and mighty opposition of enemies, and through other perplexities and dangers, God so disposing, for the greater glory of his manifold and marvellous wisdome and his invincible power, and for our greater tryall.
These dangers, both from without and from within, together with the remedies thereof, have been from time to time represented and held forth, in the many publick supplications of this Kirk and kingdom to the King, and in their many declarations, remonstrances, letters, acts, and other publick intimations; particularly, by a necessary Warning published by the Commissioners of the Generall Assembly in January 1643; and by the remonstrance of the same commissioners to the Convention of Estates in July thereafter, concerning the dangers of religion, and the remedies of these dangers; which warning and remonstrance at that time had, by the blessing of God, very good and comfortable effects. And now, the Generall Assembly itself, being by a speciall providence, and upon extraordinary occasions, called together, while God is writing bitter things against this land in great letters, which he that runs may read—and knowing that we cannot be answerable to God nor our own consciences, nor the expectation of others, if from this chief watch-tower we should give no seasonable warning to the city of God; while we think of these things, "for Sion's sake we will not hold our peace, and for Jerusalem's sake we will not rest;" trusting that God will give, though not to all, yet to many, a seeing eye, a hearing ear, and an understanding heart; for "who is wise, and he shall understand these things, prudent, and he shall know them; for the wayes of the Lord are right, and the just shall walk in them; but the transgressors shall fall therein," and "the wicked shall do wickedly, and none of the wicked shall understand."
That which we principally intend, is to hold forth (so farre as the Lord gives us light) how this nation ought to be affected with their present mercies and judgements; what use is to be made of the Lord's dealings, and what is required of a people so dealt with.
Had we been timely awaked, and taken warning, either from the exemplary judgements of other nations, or from God's threatnings by the mouths of his servants amongst our selves; or from our owne former visitations, and namely, the sword, threatned and drawn against us, both at home and from abroad, but at that time, through the forbearance of God, put up in the sheath again, we might have prevented the miseries under which now we groane. But the cup of trembling before taken out of our hands, is again come about to us, that wee may drink deeper of it; and although, when these bloody monsters, the Irish rebels, together with some degenerate, unnaturall, and perfidious countreymen of our own, did first lift up their heads, and enter this kingdome in a hostile way, it was looked upon as a light matter, and the great judgement which hath since appeared in it, not apprehended; yet now we are made more sensible, that they are "the rod of God's wrath, and the staffe in their hand," which hath stricken us these three times, is "his indignation." He "hath shewed his people hard things, and made us to drink the wine of astonishment." Take we, therefore, notice of the hand that smiteth us; "for affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground. There is no evill in the city" nor countrey "which the Lord hath not done;" he it is that "formeth the light, and createth darknesse; who maketh peace, and createth evill;" he it is that hath given a charge to the sword, "so that it cannot be still;" he it is that hath his other "arrows ready upon the string to shoot at us," the pestilence and famine.
In the next place, let us apply our hearts to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdome, and the reason of things, and to understand the language of this present judgment, and God's meaning in it; for though the Almighty "giveth not an accompt of any of his matters," and hath "his way in the sea, and his path in the deep waters," which cannot be traced; yet he is pleased, by the light of his Word and Spirit, by the voice of our own consciences, and by that which is written and ingraven upon our judgement, as with the point of a diamond and a pen of iron, to make known in some measure his meaning unto his servants. "God hath spoken once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth not;" therefore, now hath he made this rod to speak aloud the third time, that we may "hear the voice of the rod, and who hath appointed it;" that which the rod pointeth at is not any guilt of rebellion or disloyaltie in us, as the sons of Belial do slander and belye the Solemne League and Covenant of the three kingdoms, which we are so farre from repenting of, that we cannot remember or mention it without great joy and thankfulnesse to God, as that which hath drawn many blessings after it, and unto which God hath given manifold and evident testimonies; for no sooner was the Covenant begun to be taken in England, but sensibly the condition of affairs there was changed to the better; and though a little before, the enemy was coming in like a flood, yet as soon as the Spirit of the Lord did lift up the standard against him, from that day forward the waters of their deluge did decrease.
And for our part, our forces sent into that kingdom, in pursuance of that Covenant, have been so mercifully and manifestly assisted and blessed from heaven, (though in the mids of many dangers and distresses, and much want and hardship,) and have been so farre instrumentall to the foyling and scattering of two principall armies; first, the Marquesse of Newcastle his army; and afterward, Prince Rupert's and his together; and to the reducing of two strong cities, York and Newcastle, that we have what to answer the enemy that reproacheth us concerning that businesse, and that which may make iniquitie it self to stop her mouth. But which is more unto us than all victories, or whatsomever temporall blessing, the reformation of religion in England, and uniformity therein between both kingdoms, (a principal end of that Covenant,) is so far advanced, that the English Service-Book, with the Holy-Dayes, and many other ceremonies contained in it, together with the Prelacy, the fountain of all these, are abolished, and taken away by ordinance of Parliament, and a Directory for the Worship of God in all the three kingdoms agreed upon in the Assemblies, and in the Parliaments of both kingdoms, without a contrary voice in either; the government of the Kirk by Congregational Elderships, Classical Presbyteries, Provincial and National Assemblies, is agreed upon by the Assembly of Divines at Westminster, which is also voted and concluded in both Houses of the Parliament of England: And what is yet remaining of the intended uniformitie is in a good way; so that, let our lot fall in other things as it may, "the will of the Lord be done." In this we rejoyce, and will rejoyce, that our Lord Jesus Christ is no loser, but a conquerour; that his ordinances take place, that his cause prevaileth, and the work of purging and building his temple goeth forward, and not backward. Neither yet are we so to understand the "voice of the rod" which lyeth heavy upon us, as if the Lord's meaning were to pluck up what he hath planted, and to pull down what he hath builded in this kingdom, to have no more pleasure in us, to remove our candlestick, and to take his kingdom from us; nay, before that our God cast us off, and the "glory depart from Israel," let him rather consume us by the sword, and the famine, and the pestilence, so that he will but keep his own great name from reproach and blasphemy, and own us as his people in covenant with him. But "now there is hope in Israel concerning this thing," we will beleeve "that we shall yet see the goodnesse of the Lord in the land of the living:" We will not cast away our confidence of a blessed peace, and of the removing of the scourge and casting it in the fire, when the Lord hath by it performed "his whole work upon Mount Sion and Jerusalem," much more will wee be confident of the continuance of the blessings of the Gospel, "that glory may dwell in our land." "This is the day of Jacob's trouble, but he shall be saved out of it:" And the time is coming, when a new song shall be put in our mouths, and we shall say, "This is our God; we have waited for him, and he hath saved us." Though the Lord smite us, it is the hand of a father, not of an enemy; he is not consuming us, but refining us, that we may come forth as gold out of the fire. "We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despaire; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast downe, but not destroyed." We know assuredly there is more mercy in emptying us from vessel to vessel, then in suffering us to settle on our lees, whereby our taste should remain in us, and our sent not be changed.
These things premised, we come to the true language of this heavy judgement, and to the reall procuring causes thereof. "For the transgression of Jacob is all this, and for the sins of the house of Israel." God is hereby shewing to great and small in this land their work and their transgression, that they have exceeded. "He openeth also their eare to discipline, and commandeth that they return from iniquity." We leave every congregation in the land, every family in every congregation, and every person in every family, to examine their own hearts and wayes, and to mourn for congregationall, domesticall, and personall sinnes: Cursed shall they be who have added fuell to the fire, and now bring no water to extinguish it, who had a great hand in the provocation, and bear no part in the humiliation.
Let every one commune with his own conscience, and repent of his, even his wickednesse, and say, What have I done? We shall here touch only the nationall sinnes, or at least more publick ones then those of a family or congregation, which we also intend for chief causes of a publick fast and humiliation. If, among our nobles, gentrie, and barons, there have been some studying their own private interests more then the publick, and "seeking their own things more then the things of Christ, or oppressing and defrauding the poorer sort and the needie, because it was in the power of their hand;" and if, among our ministrie there have been divers time-servers, "who have not renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, whose hearts have not been right before God, nor stedfast in his Covenant," who have been secretly haters of the power of godlinesse, and of mortification; shall not God search all this out? "who will bring to light the hidden things of darknesse, and will make menifest the counsels of the hearts." In these also leaving all men to a judging and searching of themselves, there are many other provocations which are apparent in all or many of this nation, from which, "though they wash with nitre, and take much sope," yet they cannot make themselves clean. "Because of these the land mourneth," and at these the sword striketh.
As, first, The contempt, neglect, and disesteem of the glorious Gospel; our unbelief, unfruitfulnesse, lukewarmnesse, formality, and hardnesse of heart, under all the means of grace; our not receiving of Christ in our hearts, nor seeking to know him and glorifie him in all his offices. The power of godlinesse is hated and mocked by many to this day, and by the better sort too much neglected, and many Christian duties are not minded; as, "the not speaking of our own words, nor finding of our own pleasure upon the Lord's day;" holy and edifying conference, both on that day, and at other occasions; the instructing, admonishing, comforting, and rebuking one another, as Divine Providence ministreth occasion. In many families, almost no knowledge nor worship of God to be found; yea, there are among the ministers who have strengthened the hearts and hands of the profane more then of the godly, and have not taken "heed to the ministrie which they have received of the Lord to fulfill it."
Next, God hath sent the sword to avenge the quarrell of his broken Covenant; for, beside the defection of many of this nation under the Prelats from our first nationall Covenant, a sinne not forgotten by God, if not repented by men as well as forsaken; our latter vows and Covenants have been also foully violated, by not contributing our uttermost assistance to this cause, with our estates and lives; by not endeavouring with all faithfulnesse, the discovery, triall, and condigne punishment of Malignants and evil instruments; yea, by complying too much with those who have not onely born armes, and given their personall presence and assistance, but also drawn and led on others after them in the shedding of our brethren's blood; therefore is our sinne made our punishment, and "we are filled with the fruit of our own wayes." These horns now push the sides of Judah and Jerusalem, because the carpenters, when they ought and might, did not cut them off; and yet to this day the course of justice is obstructed. The Lord himself will execute justice if men will not. But, above all, let it be deeply and seriously thought of, that our Covenant is broken by the neglect of a reall reformation of our selves and others under our power; let every one ask his own heart what lust is mortified in him, or what change wrought in his life since, more then before the Covenant? Swearing, cursing, profanation of the Lord's day, fornication, and other uncleannesse, drunkennesse, injustice, lying, oppression, murmuring, repining, and other sorts of prophanenesse, still abound too much both in the countrey and in our armies; yea, there is no reformation of some members of publick judicatories, which is a great dishonour to God, and a foul scandall to the whole nation.
Thirdly, We have not glorified God according to the great things which he hath done for us, nor made the right use of former mercies; since he loved us, (a nation not worthy to be beloved,) he hath made us precious and honourable, but we have not walked worthy of his love: We "waxed fat and kicked," "forsaking God who made us, and lightly esteeming the rock of our salvation." And this great unthankfulnesse filleth up our cup.
Fourthly, Notwithstanding of so much guiltinesse, we did send forth our armies, and undertake great services presumptuously, without repentance, and making our peace with God, like the Children of Israel, who, trusting to the goodnesse of their cause, minded no more, but "which of us shall goe up first."
It is now high time, under the feeling of so great a burden, both of sinne and wrath, to humble our uncircumcised hearts, to put our mouth in the dust, if so be there may be hope, to wallow our selves in ashes, to clothe our selves with our shame as with a garment; to justifie God's righteous judgements, to acknowledge our iniquitie, to make our supplication to our Judge, and to seek his face, that he may pardon our sinne, and heal our land. The Lord roareth, and shall not his children tremble? The God of glory thundereth, and "the Highest uttereth his voice, hailstones and coales of fire;" who will not fall down and fear before him? The fire waxeth hot, and burneth round about us, and shall any sit still and be secure? The storm bloweth hard, and shall any sluggard be still asleep? This is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and of blasphemy; who will not take up a lamentation? Let the watchmen rouze up themselves and others, and strive to get their own and their people's hearts deeply affected, and even melted before the Lord: Let every one turn from his evill way, and cry mightily to God, and give him no rest till he repent of the evill, and smell a savour of rest, and say, " It is enough." He hath not said to the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain. Wee do not mourne as they that have no hope, but we "will bear the indignation of the Lord, because wee have sinned against him, untill he plead our cause, and execute judgement for us." And what though our candles be put out? so that our sun shine: What though our honour be laid in the dust? so that God work out his own honour, yea, our happinesse out of our shame. In vain have we trusted to the arm of flesh; in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel. No flesh must glory before him, but "he that glorieth must glory in the Lord."
These duties of humiliation, repentance, faith, amendment of life, and servant prayer, though the principall, yet are not all which are required at the hands of this nation, but men of all sorts and degrees must timely apply themselves to such other resolutions and actions, as are most suteable and necessary at this time; which that all may the better understand, and be excited and encouraged to act accordingly, let it be well observed, that the present state of the controversie and cause is no other but what hath been formerly professed before God and the world, that is, the reformation and preservation of religion, the defence of the honour and happinesse of the King, and of the authority of the Parliament, together with the maintenance of our lawes, liberties, lives, and estates. We are not changed from our former principles and intentions, but these who did fall off from us to the contrary party have now made it manifest, that these were not their ends when they seemed to joyn with us; "Therefore are they gone out from us, because they were not of us." And as our cause is the same, so the danger thereof is not lesse, but greater then before, and that from two sorts of enemies. First, from open enemies, we mean those of the Popish, Prelaticall, and Malignant faction, who have displayed a banner against the Lord and against his Christ in all the three kingdoms, being "set on fire of hell," and by the speciall inspiration of Satan, who is full of fury, because he knowes he hath but a short time to reigne. The cockatrice before hatched is now broken forth into a viper. The danger was before feared, now it is felt—before imminent, now incumbent—before our division, now our destruction is endeavoured—before the sword was fourbished and made ready, now the sword "is made fat with flesh, and drunk with bloud," and yet it hungreth and thirsteth for more. The Queen is most active abroad, using all means for strengthening the Popish, and suppressing the Protestant party; insomuch, that Malignants have insolently expressed their confidence, that her journey to France shall prove a successfull counsell, and that this island, and particularly this kingdome, shall have a greater power to grapple with, before the next summer, then any which yet we have encountred with. The Irish rebels have offered to the King to send over a greater number into both the kingdomes. The hostile intentions of the King of Denmark, if God be not pleased still to divert and disable him, do plainly enough appear from his own letters, sent not long since to the estates of this kingdome. In the mean time, the hellish crue, under the conduct of the excommunicate and forefaulted Earle of Monstrose, and of Alaster MacDonald, a Papist and an outlaw, doth exercise such barbarous, unnaturall, horrid, and unheard of cruelty, as is above expression; and (if not repressed) what better usage can others, not yet touched, expect from them, being now hardened and animated by the successe which God hath, for our humiliation and correction, permitted unto them; and if they shall now get leave to secure the Highlands for themselves, they will not onely from thence infest the rest of this countrey, but endeavour a diversion of our forces in England, from the prosecution of the ends expressed in the Covenant of the three kingdoms, toward which ends, as their service hath been already advantageous, so their continuance is most necessary.
The second sort of enemies from which our present dangers arise, are secret Malignants and Dis-Covenanters, who may be known by these and the like characters—their slighting or censuring of the Publick Resolutions of this Kirk and State—their consulting and labouring to raise jealousies and divisions, to retard or hinder the execution of what is ordered by the publick judicatories—their slandering of the Covenant of the three kingdomes, and expedition into England, as not necessary for the good of religion or safety of this kingdome, or as tending to the diminution of the King's just power and greatnesse—their confounding of the King's honour and authority, with the abuse and pretence thereof, and with commissions, warrants, and letters, procured from the King by the enemies of this cause and Covenant, as if we could not oppose the latter without encroaching upon the former—their whetting of their tongues to censure and slander those whom God hath honoured as his chief instruments in this work—their commending, justifying, or excusing the proceedings of James Grahame, some time Earle of Montrose, and his complices—their conversing or intercommuning, by word or writ, with him, or other excommunicate Lords, contrary to the nature of that ordinance of Christ, and to the old Acts of Generall Assemblies—their making merry, and their insolent carriage, at the news of any prosperous successe of the Popish and Malignant armies in any of these kingdomes—their drawing of parties and factions, to the weakning of the common union—their spreading of informations that uniformitie in religion and the presbyteriall government is not intended by the Parliament of England—their endeavours, informations, and sollicitations, tending to weaken the hearts and hands of others, and to make them withhold their assistance from this work.
Let this sort of bosome enemies, and disaffected persons, be well marked, timely dis covered, and carefully avoided, lest they infuse the poyson of their seducing counsels into the mindes of others; wherein let ministers be faithfull, and Presbyteries vigilant and unpartial, as they will answer the contrary to God, and to the Generall Assembly, or their commissioners.
The cause and the dangers thereof being thus evidenced, unlesse men will blot out of their hearts the love of religion and the cause of God, and cast off all care of their countrey, lawes, liberties, and estates, yea, all naturall affection to the preservation of themselves, their wives, children, and friends, and whatsoever is dearest to them under the sun, (all these being in the visible danger of a present ruine and destruction,) they must now or never appear actively, each one stretching himself to, yea, beyond his power. It is no time to dally, nor go about the businesse by halfes, nor by almost, but altogether zealous: "Cursed be he that doth the work of the Lord negligently, or dealeth falsly in the Covenant of God." If we have been so forward to assist our neighbour kingdomes, shall we neglect to defend our own? Or shall the enemies of God be more active against his cause than his people for it? God forbid. If the work, being so far carried on, shall now miscarry and fail in our hands, our own consciences shall condemne us, and posterity shall curse us; but if we stand stoutly and stedfastly to it, the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in our hands, and all generations shall call us blessed.
Let ministers stir up others, by free and faithfull preaching, and by admonishing every one of his duty, as there shall be occasion; and if it shall be the lot of any of them to fall under the power of the enemy, let them, through the strength of Christ, persevere in their integrity, choosing affliction rather then sin, glorifying God, and not fearing what flesh can do unto them.
Let our armies beware of ungodlinesse and worldly lusts, living godly, soberly, and righteously, avoyding all scandalous carriage, which may give occasion to others to think the worse of their cause and Covenant; and remembring that the eyes of God, angels, and men, are upon them: Finally, renouncing all confidence in their own strength, skill, valour, and number, and trusting only to the "God of the armies of Israel," who hath fought, and will fight for them.
Let all sorts, both of high and low degree in this kingdome, call to minde their Solemne Covenants, and pay their vows to the Most High; and, namely, that article of our first Covenant, which obligeth us not to stay not hinder any such resolution as by common consent shall be found to conduce for the ends of the Covenant, but by all lawfull means to further and promove the same; which lyeth as a bond upon people's consciences, readily to obey such orders, and willingly to undergo such burdens as by the publick and common resolution of the Estates of Parliament are found necessary for the prosecution of the war; considering that the enemy cannot be suppressed without a competent number of forces, and forces cannot be kept together without maintenance, and maintenance cannot be had without such publick burdens; which, however, for the present not joyous but grievous, yet it shall be no grief of heart afterwards, even unto the common sort, that they have given some part of their necessary livelihood for assisting so good a work. It is far from our thoughts that the pinching of some should make others superfluously to abound. It is rather to be expected of the richer sort that they will spare and defalk, not only the pride and superfluity both of apparell and diet, but also a part of their lawfull allowance in these things, to contribute the same as a free-will offering, beside what they are obliged to by law or publick order, after the example of godly Nehemiah, who, for the space of twelve years, while the walls of Jerusalem were abuilding, did not eat the bread of the governour, that he might ease by so much the people's burthens and bondage.
In our last Covenant there is another article, which (without the oblivion or neglect of any of the rest) we wish may be well remembred at this time, namely, that we shall assist and defend all that enter into this League and Covenant, in the maintaining and pursuing thereof, and shall not suffer our selves, directly or indirectly, by whatsoever combination, perswasion, or terror, to be divided and withdrawne from this blessed union and conjunction, whether to make defection to the contrary part, or to give our selves to a detestable indifferency or neutrality in this cause: According to which article, men's reality and integrity in the Covenant will be manifest and demonstrable, as well by their omissions as by their commissions; as well by their not doing good as by their doing evil: "He that is not with us is against us, and he that gathereth not with us scattereth." Whoever he be that will not, according to publick order and appointment, adventure his person, or send out these that are under his power, or pay the contributions imposed for the maintenance of the forces, must be taken for an enemie, Malignant, and Covenant-breaker, and so involved both into the displeasure of God and censures of the Kirk, and no doubt into civil punishments also, to be inflicted by the State.
And if any shall prove so untoward and perfidious, their iniquitie shall be upon themselves, and they "shall bear their punishment." Deliverance and good successe shall follow those who, with purpose of heart, cleave unto the Lord, and whose hearts are upright toward his glory. When we look back upon the great things which God hath done for us, and our former deliverances out of several dangers and difficulties, which appeared to us insuperable, experience breeds hope; and when we consider, how, in the midst of all our sorrows and pressures, the Lord our God hath given us a naile in his holy place, and hath lightned our eyes with the desireable and beautiful sight of his own glory in his temple, we take it for an argument that he hath yet "thoughts of peace," and a purpose of mercy toward us; "though for a small moment he hath forsaken us, yet with great mercies he will gather us." He hath lifted up our enemies, that their fall may be the greater, and that he may cast them downe into desolation for ever. Arise, and let us be doing; "the Lord of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge."
Act against Lykwakes.
Whereas the corrupt custome of lykwakes hath fostered both superstition and profanitie through the land, this present Assembly discharges the same in time comming; and appoints Presbyteries to take speciall care for trying and censuring the transgressors of this act within their severall bounds.
Act recommending to Sessions to have the printed Acts of Assemblie.
The Generall Assembly, considering how necessar it is that every session in a parish have the Acts of the Assembly for their use, doth therefore seriously recommend to every parish and session to buy the printed Acts of the Assembly: And ordains Presbyteries to crave account hereof from every minister, before their going to Provinciall Assemblies: And likewise, that every Provinciall Assembly crave account from Presbyteries in their trials, if every session be so provided, and that they try the diligence of Presbyteries and ministers used for that effect.
Sess. Ult., February 13, 1645, post meridiem.—Act for censuring the Observers of Yule-day, and other superstitious dayes, especially if they be Schollars.
The Generall Assembly, taking to their consideration the manifold abuses, profanitie, and superstitions, committed on Yule-day, and some other superstitious dayes following, have unanimously concluded, and hereby ordains, That whatsoever person or persons hereafter shall be found guilty in keeping of the foresaid superstitious dayes, shall be proceeded against by Kirk censures, and shall make their publick repentance therefor in the face of the congregation where the offence is committed: And that Presbyteries and Provinciall Synods take particular notice how ministers try and censure delinquents of this kinde, within the severall parochines. And because schollars and students give great scandal and offence in this, that they (being found guilty) be severely disciplined and chastised therefor by their masters: And in case the masters of Schools or Colledges be accessorie to the said superstitious profanitie, by their connivance, granting of libertie of vacance to their schollars at that time, or any time thereafter, in compensation thereof, that the masters be summoned by the ministers of the place, to compeir before the next ensuing Generall Assembly, there to be censured according to their trespasse; and if schollars (being guilty) refuse to subject themselves to correction, or be fugitives from discipline, that they be not received in any other schoole or colledge within the kingdom.
Act for encouragement of Schollars to Professions in Schooles.
In respect of the paucitie of men fit and willing to professe Divinitie in the schooles, by reason that few frame their studies that way, the Generall Assembly thinks it fit, that the Provincials diligently consider and try who, within their bounds, most probably may be for a profession in the schooles, and report their names to the following Generall Assembly, that such may be stirred up and encouraged by the Generall Assembly to compose and frame their studies, that they may be fit for such places.
Act for restraining Abuses at Pennie Brydals.
The Generall Assembly, considering the great profanitie and severall abuses which usually fall forth at pennie brydals, proving fruitful seminaries of all lasciviousnesse and debaushtrie, as well by the excessive number of people conveened thereto, as by the extortion of them therein, and licentiousnesse thereat, to the great dishonour of God, the scandall of our Christian profession, and prejudice of the countrey's welfare: Therefore, they ordain every Presbyterie in this kingdome to take such speciall care for restraining these abuses flowing from the causes foresaid, as they shall think fit, in their severall bounds respectivè; and to take a strict accompt of every minister and session of their obedience to the ordinance of the Presbyterie thereanent, at the visitation of every parish kirk in their bounds.
Act discharging Deposed Ministers to be reponed to their former places.
The Generall Assembly, considering the manifold prejudices redounding to the Kirk in generall, and private congregations in particular, through the restoring of ministers once deposed to the same places wherein they formerly served; as also, how derogatorie it would prove to the weight of that sentence of deposition; Do therefore ordain, that no minister deposed shall be restored again into that place where formerly he served.
Renovation of the Commission for the Publick Affairs of the Kirk.
The Generall Assembly; taking to their consideration that, in respect the great work of uniformitie in religion in all his Majestie's dominions is not yet perfected, (though by the Lord's blessing there is a good progresse made in the same,) there is a necessity of renewing the commissions granted formerly for prosecuting and perfecting that great work; doe, therefore, renew the power and commission granted for the publick affairs of the Kirk by the Generall Assembly, held in St Andrews in the year 1642, upon the fifth day of August, post meridiem, Sess. 12th; and by the Generall Assembly, held in Edinburgh in the year 1643, upon the 19th day of August, Sess. ult.; and by the late Generall Assembly, held at Edinburgh in the year 1644, upon the third of June, Sess. 6, to the persons afternamed, viz., Mr Andrew Ramsay, Mr Alexander Henderson, Mr Robert Douglas, Mr William Colvil, Mr William Bennet, Mr George Gillespie, Mr John Oswald, Mr Mungo Law, Mr Robert Lawrie, Mr John Adamson, Dr John Sharp, Mr George Leslie, Mr Andrew Fairfowle, Mr David Calderwood, Mr Andrew Blackhall, Mr James Fleeming, Mr Robert Ker, Mr John Macghie, Mr John Dalyell, Mr Andrew Stevenson, Mr Robert Lauder, Mr James Robertson, Mr Patrick Sibbald, Mr Robert Carson, Mr Alexander Spittall, Mr Alexander Dickison, Mr James Smith, Mr John Gibbison, Mr James Symson, Mr Ephraim Melvill, Mr Alexander Somervell, Mr Robert Eliot, Mr George Bennet, Mr Robert Blair, Mr David Forret, Mr Arthur Mortoun, Mr Samuel Rutherfurd, Dr Alexander Colvill, Mr Andrew Bennet, Mr James Wedderburn, Mr Walter Greg, Mr John Moncreiff, Mr John Smith, Mr Frederick Carmichael, Mr Patrick Gillespie, Mr John Duncan, Mr James Sibbald, Mr Robert Bruce, Mr John Hume, at Eccles, Mr Mungo Dalyell, Mr Alexander Kinneir, Mr Thomas Ramsay, Mr William Turnbull, Mr James Guthrie, Mr Thomas Donaldson, Mr William Jameson, Mr David Fletcher, Andrew Dunkison, Mr Robert Murray, Mr David Weemes, Mr John Hall, Mr John Freebarin, Mr David Drummond, at Creiff, Mr George Murray, Mr Henry Guthrie, Mr Robert Wright, Mr Andrew Jaffray, Mr Bernard Sanderson, Mr Alexander Tran, Mr Thomas Chalmers, Mr Andrew Lawder, Mr Hugh Henderson, Mr John Levingstoun, Mr James Blair, Mr James Bonar, Mr John Burne, Mr John Bell, Mr Hugh Mackale, Mr Matthew Birsbance, Mr David Elphingstoun, Mr David Dickson, Mr George Young, Dr John Strang, Mr Robert Baillie, Mr Patrick Sharp, Mr Robert Birnie, Mr Evan Camron, Mr George Symmer, at Meigle, Mr Andrew Fleck, Mr Patrick Lyon, Mr John Lindsay, Mr Sylvester Lammie, Mr George Fogo, Mr David Strachan, Mr Andrew Cant, Mr William More, Mr William Davidson, Mr John Paterson, Mr William Jaffray, Mr Thomas Mitchell, Mr George Cummin, Mr Joseph Brodie, Mr William Lawder, Mr David Rosse, Mr Ferquhard Makclennan, ministers; and Archibald Marquesse of Argyle, John Earle of Crawfurd-Lindsay, Alexander Earle of Eglintoun, William Earle of Glencarne, John Earle of Cassils, Charles Earle of Dumfermlings, James Earle of Tullibardin, John Earle of Lauderdale, James Earle of Annandale, William Earle of Lothian, James Earle of Queenesberry, William Earle of Dalhousie, William Earle of Lanerik, Archbald Lord Angus, Vicount of Arbuthnet, James Viscount of Frendraught, Alexander Lord Garleis, James Lord Johnstoun, John Lord Yester, John Lord Balmerino, Alexander Lord Balcarras, John Lord Loure, John Lord Barganie, Sir Patrick Hepburn of Wauchtoun, Sir John Hope of Craighall, Sir Archbald Johnstoun of Waristoun, Sir David Hume of Wedderburn, Frederick Lyon of Brigtoun, Sir Alexander Areskine of Dun, Alexander Fraser of Phillorth, Sir William Baillie of Lammingtoun, Haddin of Glennegies, Sir Thomas Ruthven of Freeland, James Macdougall of Garthland, Sir Alexander Murray of Blackbarronie, William Drummond of Rickartoun, Sir William Scot of Hardin, Sir Andrew Ker of Greenhead, Sir William Stuart of , Sir Alexander Shaw of Sauchie, Alexander Brodie of that Ilk, Mr George Hume of Kimmerjame, Sir John Smith, Mr Alexander Colvill, Justice Depute, John Binnie, Archibald Sydserf, Laurence Henderson, James Stuart, Gilbert Sommervell, John Semple, Mr Robert Barclay, Patrick Leslie, James Law, Mr Robert Cuninghame, George Gardin, William Glendunning, elders. And for discharging the said commission, appoints the persons aforesaid, or any ninteene of them, whereof fifteen shall be ministers, to meet at Edinburgh upon the 14th of this moneth of February, and upon the second Wednesday of May, August, November, and of February next to come, and upon any other day, or in any other place, they shall think meet; giving unto them full power and commission to do all and every thing for prosecuting, advancing, perfecting, and bringing the said work of uniformity in religion, in all his Majestie's dominions, to an happy conclusion, conforme to the former commissions granted by the said Assemblies thereanent; and, further, renewes to the persons aforenamed the power contained in the act of the said Assembly, 1643, intituled, "A Reference to the Commission anent the persons designed to repair to the Kingdom of England;" as also the power contained in two severall acts of the said late Assembly, 1644, Sess. 6, made "Against secret Disaffecters of the Covenant," and "For sending Ministers to the Army;" with full power to them to treat and determine in the matters aforesaid, and in all other matters referred unto them by this Assembly, as fully and freely as if the same were here particularly expressed, and with as ample power as any commission of former Generall Assemblies hath had or been in use of before; they being always for their whole proceedings countable to and censurable by the next Generall Assembly.
Renovation of the Commission to the Persons appointed to repair to the Kingdom of England for prosecuting the Treaty of Uniformitie in Religion.
The Generall Assembly, taking to their consideration that the treaty of uniformity in religion in all his Majestie's dominions is not yet perfected, though by the Lord's blessing there is a good progresse made in the same, Do, therefore, renew the power and commission granted to the persons formerly nominate by the two preceding Assemblies, and by their Commissioners sitting at Edinburgh, for prosecuting the said treatie of uniformitie with the Honourable Houses of the Parliament of England, and the Reverend Assembly of Divines there, or any committees appointed by them; giving unto them full power to do all and every thing which may advance, perfect, and bring the said treatie to an happy conclusion, conforme to the former commissions granted to them thereanent.
The Generall Assemblie's Answer to the Right Reverend the Assembly of Divines in the Kirk of England.
Right Reverend, and welbeloved in the Lord Jesus,
Amidst the manifold troubles in which this kingdome hath been involved, and under which it still laboureth, we greatly rejoyced when it was testified unto us by our reverend brethren, and under your hands in your letter, and these papers by them presented to us from you, what progresse you had made in the much desired work of uniformitie; and acknowledge that the same hath comforted us concerning our work and toile of our hands, and seemeth to us as an olive branch, to prognosticate the abating of the waters which overflow the face of the earth.
When we consider that you have walked in pathes unusuall, which have not been haunted by travellers there as the publick way, though pointed out as the good old way by the reformed Kirks, we do not wonder that you have carefully adverted, in every step, to set foot upon sure ground. When we behold that strong and high tree of Episcopacie so deeply rooted by continuance of time, not lopped of the branches, and the "stumpe of the root left in the earth, with a band of iron and brasse," but pluckt up by the roots; we do confesse that the carpenters, though prepared, have a hard task, requiring time to hew it down and root it up. And when we call to minde how much the Service-Book hath been cryed up, as the only way of God's worship, how many thereby have had their wealth, and how difficill it is to forgoe the accustomed way, we admire the power and wisdom of the good God who hath prospered you in your way, and led you this length, through so many straits, and over so many difficulties, in so troublous a time.
We do for our part not only admit and allow, but most heartily and gladly embrace the Directory of Worship, as a common rule for the kirks of God in the three kingdoms, now more straitly and firmly united by the Solemne League and Covenant; and we do all, in one voice, blesse the Lord, who hath put it in the hearts, first, of the reverend, learned, and pious Assembly of Divines, and then of the Honourable Houses of Parliament, to agree upon such a Directory as doth remove what is none of Christ's, and preserve the purity of all his ordinances, together with uniformity and peace in the Kirk; only we have thought necessary to declare and make known that the clause in the Directory for the administration of the Lord's Supper, which appointeth the table to be so placed that the communicants may orderly sit about it, or at it, is not to be interpreted as if, in the judgement of this Kirk, it were indifferent for any of the communicants not to come to and receive at the table; or as if we did approve the distributing of the elements by the ministers to each communicant, and not by the communicants among themselves; in which particulars, we still conceive and beleeve the order and practice of our own Kirk to be most agreeable and sutable to the Word of God, the example of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the nature of that heavenly feast and table. Neverthelesse, in other particulars, we have resolved and do agree to do as ye have desired us in your letter—that is, not to be tenacious of old customs, though lawfull in themselves, and not condemned in this Di rectory, but to lay them aside for the nearer uniformitie with the Kirk of England, now nearer and dearer to us than ever before; a blessing so much esteemed, and so earnestly longed for among us, that rather than it faile on our part, we do most willingly part with such practices and customs of our own as may be parted with safely, and without the violation of any of Christ's ordinances, or trespassing against scripturall rules or our solemne Covenants.
We do, in like manner, agree to and approve the propositions touching kirk government and ordination; and have given power to our commissioners who are to meet in Edinburgh, to agree to and conclude in our name an uniformitie therein, betwixt the kirks in both kingdoms, so soon as the same shall be, without any substantiall alteration, ratified by an ordinance of the Honourable Houses of the Parliament of England, according to our act of approbation sent to our commissioners with you.
As for the returning of our commissioners, though the counsel and assistance of our reverend brethren might be of good use to us in these difficult times, and their particular stations and imployments importune the stay of these who are come unto us, and the returne of these who stay with you; yet, preferring the publick good, and looking upon the profit that may redound unto all by their continuing with you, we have satisfied your desire, and renewed their commission; praying God they may (as we are confident they shall) prove answerable to our trust, and to your expectation.
Concerning one Confession of Faith and Forme of Catechisme, we apprehend no great difficultie; and to that which remains to be perfected in the matter of kirk government we do beleeve, and both you and we know by experience, that there is no word impossible with our God. "He that hath begun a good work among you, will also perform it" of his good pleasure. Go on, in the Lord your strength, and "the Spirit of truth lead you in all truth; the God of all grace and peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting Covenant," and by him "hath called us unto his eternall glory," "make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you," and by you, and among you, "that which is well pleasing in his sight," "stablish, strengthen, settle you," "through Jesus Christ our Lord."
To the king's most excellent majestie, the humble remonstrance of the generall assembly of the Kirk of Scotland, met at Edinburgh the 13th day of February 1645.
As our record is on high, and our consciences within us bear us witnesse, so the many former supplications and remonstrances to your Majestie from this Kirk and kingdome, our solemne Covenants, and the whole course of our proceedings from time to time, in the prosecution of this cause, do make known to the world, and we trust also to your own conscience, our loyaltie and faithfull subjection, and how far our intentions are from the diminution of your Majestie's just power and greatnesse; and, although the successe of many of our humble addresses to your Majesty hath been such as did frustrate our desires and hopes, yet this hath not blotted out of our hearts our loyaltie, so often professed before God and the world; but it is still our souls' desire, and our prayer to God for you, that your self and your posterity may prosperously reigne over this your ancient and native kingdome, and over your other dominions: And now, as we have published a solemn and free Warning to the Noblemen, Barons, Gentlemen, Burrows, Ministers, and Commons of this kingdome, concerning the present affliction of this nation, and their sins procuring the same; so, when we call to minde, that God accepteth not the persons of men, and that the great est are not to be winked at in their sins, we assure our selves that the best and most reall testimony which we can give at this present, of the tendernesse and uprightnesse of our affection to your Majestic's true happinesse, is this our humble and faithfull representation of your Majestie's great and growing dangers, and the causes thereof; of which, if we should be silent, our consciences would condemne us, and "the stones themselves would immediatly cry out."
The troubles of our hearts are enlarged, and our fears increased in your Majestie's behalf, perceiving that your people's patience is above measure tempted, and is like a cart pressed down with sheaves, and ready to break, while as beside many former designes and endeavours to bring desolation and destruction upon us, (which were—and we trust all of that kinde shall be—by the marvellous and mercifull providence of God discovered and disappointed,) our countrey is now infested, the blood of divers of our brethren spilt, and other acts of most barbarous and horrid cruelty exercised, by the cursed crew of the Irish rebels, and their complices in this kingdome, under the conduct of such as have commission and warrant from your Majestie. And, unlesse we prove unfaithfull both to God and to your Majestie, we cannot conceale another danger, which is infinitely greater than that of your people's displeasure: Therefore, we, the servants of the Most High God, and your Majestie's most loyall subjects, in the humility and grief of our hearts, fall down before your throne, and in the name of our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, who shall judge the world in righteousnesse, both great and small, and in the name of this whole nationall Kirk, which we represent, we make bold to warn your Majestie freely, that the guilt which cleaveth fast to your Majesty and to your throne is such as, (whatsoever flattering preachers or unfaithfull counsellours may say to the contrary,) if not timely repented, cannot but involve yourself and your posterity under the wrath of the ever living God, for your being guiltie of the shedding of the blood of many thousands of your Majestie's best subjects—for your permitting the masse, and other idolatry, both in your own family and in your dominions—for your authorizing, by the Book of Sports, the profanation of the Lord's day—for your not punishing of publick scandals, and much profanenesse in and about your court—for the shutting of your eares from the humble and just desires of your faithfull subjects—for your complying too much with the Popish party many wayes, and, namely, by concluding the cessation of armies in Ireland, and your embracing the counsels of those who have not set God nor your good before their eyes—for your resisting and opposing this cause, which so much concerneth the glory of God, your own honour and happinesse, and the peace and safetie of your kingdomes—and for what other causes your Majesty is most conscious, and may best judge and search your own conscience, (nor would we have mentioned any particulars, if they had not been publike and knowne.) For all which it is high time for your Majesty to fall down at the footstool of the King of Glory, to acknowledge your offence, to repent timely, to make your peace with God through Jesus Christ, (whose blood is able to wash away your great sinne,) and to be no longer unwilling that the Son of God reign over you and your kingdoms in his pure ordinances of church government and worship. These things if your Majesty do it shall be no grief of heart unto you afterward; a blessing is reserved for you, and you shall finde favour with God, and with your people, and with all the churches of Christ: But if your Majesty refuse to hearken to this wholesome counsell, (which the Lord forbid,) we have discharged our own consciences; we take God and men to witnesse that we are blamelesse of the sad consequences which may follow, and we shall wait upon the Lord, who, "when he maketh inquisition for blood, will not forget the cry of the humble." In the mean while, beseeching your Majesty to take notice that we are not staggering or fainting through diffidence of the successe of this cause and Covenant of the three kingdoms, unto which, as God hath already given manifold testimonies of his favour and blessing, so it is our stedfast and unshaken confidence that this is the work and cause of God, which shall gloriously prevail against all opposition, and from which, with the assistance of the grace of God, we shall never suffer our selves to be divided or withdrawn, but shall zealously and constantly, in our severall vocations, endeavour with our estates and lives the pursuing and promoving thereof.
That which we have concluded concerning uniformity in religion between both kingdoms, is to be humbly offered to your Majestie from the Commissioners of this kingdom for your royall consent and ratification. Although your Majestie was not pleased to vouchsafe us the presence of your Commissioner, according to the supplication of the commissioners of the preceding Generall Assembly, yet we have proceeded with as much respect to your Majestie's honour, and as much remembrance of our duty, as if your royall person had been present in the mids of us: And we shall still continue our prayers for you, that God would graciously incline your heart to the counsels of truth and peace, and grant unto your Majestie a long and happy reign, that we may live under you a peaceable and quiet life, in all godlinesse and honestie.
The Assemblie's Answer to their Commissioners at London.
Reverend and beloved Brethren,
These sweet fruits of your long continued labours in the work of the Lord entrusted to you, brought to us at this time by these two of your number, whom you were pleased to send, were received by us with no small joy and rejoycing, as being, in great part, the satisfaction of our souls' desire, in that so much longed for, so much prayed for happy uniformitie of these kirks and kingdoms; and an evident demonstration to us that the Lord hath not, even in this time of his seen and felt displeasure, so covered himself with the cloud of his anger, that our prayers should not passe through.
The great and main difficulties through which the Lord hath carried this work, as we do acknowledge, ought mainly to be made use of for the praise and glory of his power, who is the great worker of all our works for us; so your overcoming of them is to us no small demonstration of your zeal, wisdom, and faithfulnesse, which, without great injurie, both to the Lord the prime worker, and to you his instruments, we cannot but acknowledge, hath been much manifested in the whole managing of this work in your hands.
The full answer to all the particulars you write of in your letters, we leave to the relation of those that come from you, and are now appointed to return to you; and as with much thankfulnesse we acknowledge your fidelity in what ye have done already, so we have again renewed your commission for the continuance of your imployment there, for the perfecting of the work so happily begun; for the furthering whereof, as we shall not be wanting in our prayers to God for his blessing upon your labours, so, for your help and assistance, we have appointed a commission to sit at Edinburgh, to which at all occasions you may have your recourse, as the exigence of the work shall require.
How satisfactory that Directory of Worship, presented to us by our brethren from you, was to us, we leave it rather to their relation at their return, being ear and eye witnesses to the manifold expressions of our joy and gladnesse, then offer to represent it to you in a letter. The act herewith sent, and ordained to be prefixed unto the Directory, will sufficiently declare our hearty approbation of it. Our judgement also concerning the propositions of Government and Ordination, and our earnest desire to have the work of uniformity promoved and perfected in that particular also, will appear to you by the other act which herewith you will receive. Our zeal and desire to have that work fully closed with so much harmonie as becometh the work of God, will appear to you in our resolution and answer to that particular, in the point of excommunication, concerning which you write.
These particular differences hinted at in the Assemblie's letter, for uniformitie with that Kirk so much endeared to us, we have resolved to lay aside, and have taken course for preserving harmonie amongst our selves, whereof our brethren will give you more particular account. Anent your desire of Mr Alexander Henderson his attending the treatie, we are confident ere this you have received our resolution.
Amidst the many difficulties wherewith it pleaseth the Lord to presse us, as we thought it necessar to publish and send forth a Warning to all sorts of persons in this Kirk and kingdom, concerning the present affliction of this nation, and their sins procuring the same; so we thought it incumbent to us in duty, as the best testimony which we can give at this present to his Majesty, to remonstrate unto him faithfully the great and growing dangers his Majesty is now under, and the causes thereof. This remonstrance we have sent to you, to be presented to his Majesty, by such means, and at such time, as you who are there upon the place shall judge fittest.
And now, dear brethren, go on with cheerfulnesse in the work of the Lord. Let no discouragement or opposition make your heart to faint, or your hands wax feeble. Perswade your self the Lord's hand shall still be made known toward his servants, and his indignation against his enemies. Remember the work is his, who useth not to begin, but also to make an end, and is abundantly able to supply all your need, according to the riches of his glory. Be confident, therefore, of this thing, that he who hath begun this good work by you, will also, in due time, accomplish it to his own praise. To his gracious assistance we heartily recommend you.
Postscript.—It is earnestly desired that the Directorie for Worship be sent to Ireland, and that you recommend to the Honourable Houses of the Parliament to think upon the best way for the establishment and practice of it in that kingdom. And that the like course may be taken with the government, and other parts of the uniformity, so soon as they shall be agreed upon.