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 at edinburgh, junii 3, 1646.
Sess. 2, Edinburgh, Junii 4, 1646.—The King's Letter to the Assembly, presented by Mr Robert Douglas, Minister at Edinburgh.
Right trusty and wel-beloved, we greet you well. Having lately written to our Houses of Parliament at Westminster, and the Commissioners from our kingdom of Scotland at London, and likewise to the Committees of Estates of that our kingdom, shewing our great sense and grief for the sad effects which have flowed from the unhappy differences betwixt us and our subjects, with our reall resolutions to comply with the desires of our Parliaments of both kingdoms, and those entrusted by them for settling of truth and peace in all our dominions: And now being informed of your meeting, we have thought fit hereby (since we could not conveniently send a Commissioner) to give you the same assurances; and withal, that it shall be our constant endeavour to maintain religion there as it is established in doctrine, worship, and church government, and leave no good means unassayed for settling an universall peace in that our native and ancient kingdom, with the reformation of religion, and settling peace in England and Ireland: And after the return of an answer to our late message to our Houses of Parliament here, we shall more particularly acquaint you or your Commissioners with our further resolutions. In the mean time, we seriously recommend our selves and the distracted condition of our kingdoms, to your most earnest prayers to God in our behalf, expecting from you faithfulnesse in your severall charges and callings, with that loyaltie and obedience which becometh the ministers of the Gospel. We bid you very heartily farewell. From Newcastle, the 28th of May, 1646.
Sess. 4, Junii 6, 1646, ante meridiem.—Act concerning the Registers and Acts of Provinciall Assemblies.
The Assembly recommends to Provinciall Assemblies that hereafter they cause read all their acts before the dissolving of every Assembly; and that their registers be written formally, and in a good hand-writing, with the severall leafes or pages thereof marked by ciphers, according to their number.
Sess. 7, Junii 11, 1646, ante meridiem.—Act concerning the Publike Satisfaction of Married Persons for Fornication committed before Marriage.
The Generall Assembly, understanding that in many places the publike scandals of fornication committed before marriage are not taken notice of and removed by publike confession, according to the order of this Kirk; therefore, for remedie thereof, do ordain, that all married persons under publike scandall of fornication committed before their marriage, (although the scandal thereof hath not appeared before the marriage,) shall satisfie publikely for that sin committed before their marriage, their being in the estate of marriage notwithstanding, and that in the same manner as they should have done if they were not married.
Sess. 10, Junii 13, 1646, ante meridiem.—Ordinance for Excommunication of the Earle of Seafort.
The Generall Assembly, having taken to their serious consideration that perfidious band made and contrived lately in the North, under the name of An humble Remonstrance against our Nationall Covenant, and the League and Covenant of the Three Kingdoms; which tendeth to the making of division and fomenting of jealousies within this and between both kingdoms, to the prolonging of these unnaturall warrs, to the impeding of the intended uniformitie in religion, and to the subversion of all the happie ends of our Covenants. And finding that George Earle of Seafort hes not only most perfidiously himself subscribed the said wicked band, contrary to his solemne oaths in the Covenants aforesaid, and most arrogantly owned the same, under his owne hand-writing, in his letters to the Committee of Estates, and to the Commissioners of the preceding Assemblie; but also hes seduced and threatned others to subscribe that divisive band, and to joyne with him in prosecution of his treacherous and wicked designes, therein masked with the pretences of religion and libertie, boasting also the pursuance of that his remonstrance against all deadly the opposers thereof, whether King or Parliament. And having also considered another wicked and treacherous band of union which the said Earle formerly entred into with that excommunicate rebell James Grahame, after the sentence of forfalture and the dreadfull sentence of excommunication were pronounced against him, obligeing himself therein, under solemne oaths, to joyne with that forfaulted rebell against this kirk and kingdome, and to oppose all their publike resolutions for pursuance of the happie ends of our said Covenants. All which, with his vile reproachfull aspersions, and most false calumnies against this Kirk and State, and their publike and lawfull endeavours and resolutions, with his other wicked and perfidious practices, at length discovered in the proclamation of the Committee of Estates, and the declaration of the Commission of the Assembly against the said perfidious band and remonstrance, being gravely pondered and considered; together with his base treachery to the Estates, being intrusted by them with ample commission, and encouraged and enabled for discharging thereof, with mony, ammunition, and arms, in a good measure; notwithstanding whereof, contrary to that great trust reposed in him, it is notor that not only he did not joyne with the forces raised for the defence of this kingdome, but rather, on the contrary, actually joyning himself and his forces with that excommunicate rebel, James Grahame, and these unnatural bloody rebels, his followers, did beleager Innernesse, a towne garrisoned by the Estates for the defence of that part of the country. And the Assembly having also found that fair means have been used for reclaiming of the said Earle from that wicked and perfidious course, by publike declarations and proclamations, and particular letters sent to himself from those that had power in that behalf; and that notwithstanding thereof, and of summonds direct against him, to answer to the premisses, often called, he doth not appear, but still remains obstinate in his wicked courses; and, after mature deliberation, having found his frequent fearfull and grosse perjuries, his perfidious and wicked conspiracies, by band and oath, with the publike enemies of this kirk and kingdom, and his other treacherous and wicked practises, so contemptuously and pertinaciously persisted into, to be haynous offences against God, and high contempt of all ecclesiastical and civil authority: Therefore, the Assembly, moved with the zeal of God, do, without a contrary voice, decerne and ordain the said George Earle of Seafort to be summarly excommunicate, and declared to be one whom Christ commandeth to be holden by all and every one of the faithfull as an ethnik and publicane, and appoints the sentence of excommunication to be pronounced by Mr Robert Blair, Moderator, in the East Kirk of this citie, upon the next Lord's day, being the 14th of this moneth; and that thereafter publike intimation be made thereof upon a Sabbath day, before noone, in all the kirks of this kingdom, so soon as advertisement shall come unto them.
Enormities and Corruptions observed to be in the Ministery, with the Remedies thereof.
The first and main sin, reaching both to our personall carriage and callings, we judge to be, not studying how to keep communion and fellowship with God in Christ, but walking in a naturall way, without imploying of Christ, or drawing vertue from him, to inable us unto sanctification, and preaching in spirit and power.
9. Some so great strangers to Scripture, that except in their publike ministerie, though they read many things, yet they are little conversant in the Scripture, and in meditation thereof—a dutie incumbent to all the people of God.
1. Corrupt entry into the ministrie in former times, and following the course of defection, though forsaken, yet never seriously repented; as also present entring into the ministery as to a way of living in the world, and not as to a spirituall calling.
2. Helping in and holding in of insufficient and suspected men, who favour the things of this life, and keeping the door straiter on them whom God hath sealed then upon these who have lesse evidence of the power of grace and holinesse.
4. Silence in the publike cause, not labouring to cure the disaffection of people, not urging them to constancie and patience in bearing of publike burdens, nor to forwardnesse in the publike cause, whereby Malignants are multiplied; yea, some are so grosse herein, that even in publike fasts little or nothing is to be heard from them sounding this way.
5. Some account it a point of wisdome to speak ambiguously; some incline to justifie the wicked cause, uttering words which favour of disaffection, and all their complaining of the times is in such a way as may steal the hearts of people from liking of good instruments in this work, and consequently from God's cause; yea, some reading publike orders are ready to speak against them in their private conference.
6. Idlenesse, either in seldome preaching, as once in the Lord's day—or in preparation for publike duties, not being given to reading and meditation; others have but fits of paines, not like other tradesmen, continually at their work.
7. Want of zeal and love to the conversion of souls, not being weighted with the want of successe in reclaiming of sinners, nor searching in themselves the cause of not profiting, preaching ex officio, not ex conscientia officii.
9. Lifelesnesse in preaching, not studying to be furnished by Christ with power, and so the ordinance of God reacheth not to the conscience; and heereto belongeth the not applying of the doctrine unto the auditory and times.
10. The indiscreet curing of the indiscretion of pious people and ministers, whereby godlinesse hath gotten a deep wound, and profanitie hath lifted up the head, contrary to that wise and gracious order set foorth in the Generall Assemblie holden at Edinburgh, 1641.
1. First, That Presbyteries make great conscience to have all vacant places within their several bounds filled with godly and able men, where ever they be to be found; and that under pretence of being a helper, or second to another, none be taken in but such as are able for the same charge.
2. Whereas it is known, that private tryall in Presbyteries are for the most part perfunctorious, the brethren are hereby exhorted to be more serious and faithfull heerein, as they will be answerable to Christ, the Chief Shepherd; and, in a way previous thereto, that brethren be free in loving admonition one of another secretly, from time to time; and that whosoever keeps not the Presbyterie or Synod, after grave admonitions, may come under further censures.
3. That accuracie be used at visitation of kirks, and that the elders, one by one, (the rest being removed,) be called in, and examined, upon oath, upon the minister's behaviour in his calling and conversation.
4. That course be taken to divide congregations in parts, and, by the help not only of elders in their severall parts, but of neighbors also, the evils and neglects of persons and families may be found out and remedied.
5. That every minister be humbled for his former failings, and make his peace with God, that the more effectually he may preach repentance, and may stand in the gap, to turne away the Lord's wrath; runing between the porch and the altar, sighing and crying for all the abominations of the land.
6. Speciall care would be had that all ministers have their conversation in heaven, mainly minding the things of God, and exercising faith for drawing life out of Jesus Christ, the fountain of life, arming themselves thereby with power against the contagion and wickednesse of the world.
8. It is also very necessary for every minister that would be fruitfull in the work of the Lord, to bring home the Word of God to his own heart and conscience by prayer and meditation, both before and after publike ordinance.
9. Use would be made of the roll of the parish, not onely for examination, but also for considering the several conditions and dispositions of the people, that accordingly they may be admonished, and particularly prayed for by the ministers in secret.
10. It is very expedient that ministers have more communing among themselves, for their mutuall stirring up and strengthning of their hands in the Lord's work, and rectifying of these who are not incorrigible.
11. That ministers in all sorts of companie labour to bee fruitfull, as the salt of the earth seasoning them they meet with, not only forbearing to drink healths, (Satan's snare, leading to excesse,) but reproving it in others.
13. As at all times, so specially now, when the Lord is calling us all to an account, it becomes the ministers of Christ, with all diligence and faithfulnesse, to improve their ministerie to the utmost, to be instant in season and out of season; yea, even frugally to imploy their time in private, in reading of and meditating on Scripture, that the Word of God may dwell plentifullie in them.
14. That the providing the armies with ministers be preferred to any congregation, and these who are appointed to attend the same and are deficient, be, without delay, severelie censured, according to the act of the Generall Assembly; and that all ministers, not only in publike pray for our armies, specially these that are to encounter with the bloody enemie within the land, but also continually bear them up before the Lord, that their lives being reformed, their hearts and hands may be strengthned, and their undertaking at last blessed of God with successe.
15. That beside all other scandals, silence or ambiguous speaking in the publike cause, much more detracting and disaffected speeches be seasonablie censured; and to this effect, all honest-hearted brethren would firmlie unite themselves in the Lord, the younger honouring the elder, and the elder not despising the younger.
16. And, finallie, both for the corruption of the ministerie, and remedies thereof, we refer the brethren to the act of the Generall Assemblie at Edinburgh, 1596, revived in the late Assemblie at Glasgow, 1638, to be found in the printed act concerning the same.
The Generall Assembly ordains the enormities above specified to be tryed and restrained, and that the remedies thereof for that purpose be seriously observed and practised; recommending, especially to Presbyteries and Provinciall Assemblies, that use be made of the same in visitation of kirks and tryall of Presbyteries.
Approbation of the Proceedings of the preceding Assembly.
The Generall Assembly, having heard the report of the committee appointed to consider and examine the proceedings of the commissioners of the late Generall As sembly, holden at Edinburgh in the yeer 1646; and after serious consideration thereof, finding that the whole acts, proceedings, and conclusions of the said commissioners, contained in the register subscribed by Mr Andrew Ker, their clerk, and by Mr Robert Ramsay, Moderator to the said committee, do declare much wisdom, diligence, vigilancie, and commendable zeal; and that the said commissioners have orderly and formally proceeded in every thing, according to their commission: Do, therefore, ratifie and approve the said whole acts, proceedings, and conclusions, of the commissioners of the said Assembly.
Sess. 11, June 15, 1646, post meridiem.—Act for Joyning of the Presbyteries in Orkney and Zetland to the Provincial of Cathnes.
The Generall Assembly, considering that the Presbyterie of Kirkwall, in Orkney, and the Presbyterie of Scalloway, in Zetland, have never met in any Provincial Assembly, wherethrough great abuses and disorders are there committed: Therefore, the Assembly hereby joyns the said two Presbyteries to the Provinciall of Cathnes and Sutherland, and appoints all the ministers and elders of the said Presbyteries hereafter to meet at the said Provinciall Assembly, and to have place to reason and vote therein as members of the said Provinciall. And sicklike, ordains the said two Presbyteries to be of subordinate jurisdiction to the said Provinciall Assembly; declaring hereby, that the said Provinciall shall consist of the Presbyteries of Cathnes, Sutherland, Orkney, and Zetland, in all time coming. And appoints them to meet only once in the yeer, in respect of their great distance and interjection of seas; and that the first meeting be at Thurso, in Cathnes, upon the third Tuesday of August next, and thereafter as shall be appointed by the said Provinciall Assembly.
Sess. 14, June 17, 1646, post meridiem.—Act concerning Expectants Preaching in Publike.
The Generall Assembly discharges any person to preach in publike under the name and notion of an expectant, or under any other pretence whatsoever, except such as shall be tryed and found qualified according to the acts of the Generall Assembly; recommending to Presbyteries and Provincialls to take speciall notice thereof, and to censure the transgressors accordingly.
Act for Censuring the Complyers with the Publike Enemies of this Kirk and Kingdom.
The Generall Assembly, taking to their serious consideration the great and scandalous provocation and grievous defection from the publike cause, which some have beene guiltie of, by complying with the rebels, the publike enemies of this Kirk and kingdom—and judging it a dutie incumbent to them to bring such notorious offenders to publike satisfaction, that the wrath of God may be averted, and the publike scandall removed; Do, therefore, require, decern, and ordain, that such as after lawfull tryall shall be found to have been in actuall rebellion, and to have carried charge with the rebels—to have accepted commissions for raising horse or foot unto them—to have been seducers of others to joyn in that rebellion—to be the penners or contrivers of James Grahame's proclamation for indicting a pretended Parliament, or of any other his proclamations or declarations—to have beene prime instruments in causing publish the said proclamations and declarations; that all and every one of such offenders shall humbly acknowledge their offence upon their knees, first before the Presbyterie, and thereafter before the congregation upon a Sabbath, in some place before the pulpit; and in the mean time, that they be suspended from the Lord's Supper; and in case they do not satisfie in manner foresaid, that they be processed with excommunication. And likewise ordains that such as shall be found to have procured protections from the rebels—to have execute their orders—to have invited them to their houses—to have given them intelligence—to have drank James Grahame's health, or to be guilty of any other such grose degrees of complyance, shall acknowledge their offences publikely before the congregation, and be suspended from the communion ay and whill they doe the same. And further, decernes and ordains, that all persons in any ecclesiastick office, guiltie of any degrees of complyance before mentioned, shall be suspended from their office and all exercise thereof, for such time as the quality of the offence and condition of the offenders shall be found to deserve: And the Assembly hereby declares, that the Presbyteries have a latitude and libertie to agreadge the censures above specified, according to the degrees and circumstances of the offences; and gives, in like manner, the same latitude and libertie to the Commissioners of this Assembly for Publike Affairs, who have also power to try and censure the offenders in manner above exprest, and to take account of the diligence of Presbyteries thereintill.
Act concerning James Graham's Proclamation.
The Generall Assembly, having considered a copie of a proclamation, published by order of that excommunicat traitor James Graham, for indicting of a pretended parliament, and finding the same to be full of blasphemies against the Solemne League and Covenant of the three kingdoms, and of vile aspersions of treason, rebellion, and sedition, most falsly and impudently imputed to the Estates, and most faithfull and loyall subjects of this kingdome; Doe, therefore, declare, that such as have been prime instruments of the publishing of that or the like proclamation and declaration, deserve the highest censures of the Kirk, unlesse they make humble confession of their offence publikely, in such manner as is prescribed by this Assembly; and humbly recommends to the Committee of Estates to take some course for their exemplary civill punishment, and that some publike note of ignominie be put upon that proclamation, as their Honors shall think meet.
Sess. Ult. Junii 18, 1646, ante meridiem.—Act against loosing of Ships and Barks upon the Lord's Day.
The Generall Assembly, understanding how much the Lord's day is profaned by skippers and other seafaring men, do, therefore, discharge and inhibite all skippers and sailers to begin any voyage on the Lord's day, or to loose any ships, barks, or boats, out of harbery or road upon that day; and who shall doe in the contrary hereof shall be censured as profaners of the Sabbath; recommending to Presbyteries, and others whom it may concerne, to see both the acts of Assembly and Parliament, made for censuring and punishing profanation of the Lord's day, to be put in execution against them.
Act anent Children sent without the Kingdom.
Whereas divers children have been sent without the kingdom to be bred abroad, and have been, or in time coming may be, exposed to the temptations of seducers, and drawn away from the truth established and professed within this Church, to errour of Poperie, or other sects and heresies: Therefore, the Assembly ordains, that the parents or friends of children and minors shall, before they send them without the kingdom, first acquaint the Presbytery where they reside, that they may have their testimoniall directed to the Presbytery or classe within the kingdom of France, or England, or Ireland, and at the time of these children's return from any of the said kingdoms, to report ane testimoniall from the Presbytery or Synode where they lived without the kingdom, of their breeding there, and to shew the same to the Presbytery within the kingdom who gave them a testimoniall at their way-going. Likeas, the Assembly ordains all Presbyteries to try if any children have been sent to Popish schooles or colledges without the kingdom; and if any be found, that their names be given to the Presbytery or commissioners of the Assembly, that the same may be presented to the Honourable Lords of Secret Councell or Committee of Estates, that their Lordships may be humbly desired by their authority to recall them, that after return to this kingdom a course may be taken, according to the former ordinances of Generall Assemblie for their breeding in the true religion.
Overtures presented to the Assembly.
I. That correspondence be keeped among Presbyteries constantly by letter, without prejudice of personall correspondence when need requires, whereby one Presbyterie may understand what many are doing, and they may be mutually assisting each to other.
II. That for the better breeding of young men to the ministerie, who are not able to furnish themselves in charges to attend in the universities, that the Presbyteries where they reside appoint some to direct their studies.
III. That it be recommended to all the Universities to condescend upon the best overtures for the most profitable teaching of grammar and phylosophy; and as they may meet at the commission of the Generall Assembly to make the matter ripe for the next Assembly.
IV. That to the intent the knowledge of God in Christ may be spread through the Highlands and Islands, (for in lack whereof the land hath smarted in the late troubles,) these courses be taken: 1. Let an order be procured, that all gentlemen who are able, at least send their eldest sons to be bred in the inland. 2. That a ministerie be planted amongst them, and for that effect, that ministers and expectants who can speak the Irish language be sent to imploy their talents in these parts, and that the kirks there be provided as other kirks in this kingdome. 3. That Scots schools be erected in all parishes there, according to the Act of Parliament, where conveniently they can be had. 4. That ministers and ruling elders that have the Irish language be appointed to visit these parts.
V. That for keeping the Universitie pure, and provoking the Professors of Divinitie to greater diligence, each professor in the Universities of this Church and kingdom bring with him, or send with the commissioner who comes to the General Assembly, ane perfect and well written copie of his dictates, to be revised by the Generall Assembly, or such as they shall appoint for that work ilk year.
The Assembly continues the determination of a constant and perpetuall order herein untill the next Assembly; but, in the mean time, desires the Professors of Divinity to present to the next Assembly their dictates of Divinity, whereof the Professors present are to give intimation to the Professors absent.
VI. The great burdens intrants undergoes when they enter the ministery, which holds many of them long at under, would crave the Assemblie's judgement and authority, that ministers' manses and stipends may be all made free to the intrant.
The Assembly refers and recommends to the Commissioners for Publike Affairs to seek redresse in this matter from the Honourable Estates of Parliament, and to consider of some fitting overtures to be presented to their Honours for that effect.
Renovation of the Commission for the Publike Affairs of the Kirk.
The Generall Assembly, taking to their consideration that, in respect the great work 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,) 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 publike affairs of the Kirk by the Generall Assemblies, held in St Andrews in the year 1642, and in Edinburgh, 1643, 1644, and 1645, unto the persons following, viz., Masters Alexander Henderson, Robert Douglas, William Colvil, William Bennet, George Gillespie, John Oswald, John Adamson, William Dalgleish, David Calderwood, James Fleeming, Robert Ker, John Dalyell, James Wright, John Knox, Adam Penman, Robert Lichtoun, Alexander Dickeson, Patrick Fleeming, John Hay, Richard Dickeson, Thomas Vasse, David Drummond, Alexander Somervill, Robert Eliot, Robert Blair, James Bruce, Robert Traile, Samuel Rutherfurd, Alexander Colvill, Walter Greg, Alexander Balfour, George Thomson, John Moncreiff, John Smith, Patrick Gillespie, John Duncan, James Sibbald, Alexander Casse, John Hume, Alexander Kinneir, Walter Swintoun, Robert Knox, William Penman, James Guthrie, Thomas Donaldson, William Jameson, Thomas Wilkie, John Knox, Robert Murray, John Freebairn, Robert Wright, David Auchterlonie, William Maior, Samuel Austein, John Leirmont, Andrew Lawder, James Irving, Alexander Turnbull, James Bonar, William Adair, John Neve, Patrick Colvill, Matthew Birsbane, John Hamiltoun, Allan Ferguson, Robert Ramsay, George Young, David Dickson, Robert Baillie, James Nasmith, John Lindsay, John Weir, Evan Cameron, James Affleck, John Robison, Andrew Eliot, Silvester Lambie, Laurence Skinner, William Rate, David Campbel, Andrew Cant, William Doughlas, David Lindsay, Gilbert Anderson, Alexander Garioch, William Jaffray, Thomas Law, William Campbell, Walter Stewart, ministers; and Archibald Marquesse of Argyle, John Earle of Crawfurd-Lindsay, William Earle Marshall, William Earle of Glencairn, John Earle of Cassils, Charles Earle of Dumfermling, James Earle of Tullibardine, Francis Earle of Bacleugh, John Earle of Lauderdale, William Earle of Lothian, William Earle of Lanerk, Archibald Lord Angus, John Lord Balmerino, Robert Lord Burleigh, John Master of Yester, Sir Patrick Hepburn of Waughtoun, Sir John Hope of Craighall, Sir Archibald Johnston of Warriston, Sir David Hume of Wedderburn, Sir Robert Innes of that Ilk, Sir William Baily of Lamington, Sir John Muncreiffe of that Ilk, James Macdougal of Garthland, Patrick Cockburn of Clarkington, Sir Hugh Campbel of Cesnock, Sir William Cunningham of Cunninghamhead, John Hume of Blackader, Sir James Dundas of Arniston, Alexander Forbes, Tutor of Pitsligo, Mr George Winrham of Libberton, David Weemes of Fingask, Mr Francis Hay of Balhousie, Alexander Brodie of that Ilk, Mr Alexander Colvil of Blair, George Dundas of Dudiston, William Moor of Glanderston, Sir James Nicolson of Colbrandspaith, John Edgar of Wedderlie, William Hume of Lenthill, James Ruchhead, Laurence Henderson, and James Stuart, Bailies of Edinburgh, George Porterfield, Provest of Glasgow, William Hume there, Robert Arnot, Provest of Perth, John Semple, Provest of Dumbarton, John Kennedy, Provest of Air, Mr David Weemes, George Gardine, John Johnstoun, Thomas Paterson, Thomas White, John Sleigh, elders. 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 a happy conclusion, conform to the former commissions granted by preceding Assemblies thereanent: And to that effect, appoints them, or any seventeen of them, whereof thirteen shall be ministers, to meet at Edinburgh the 19th of this moneth, and thereafter upon the second Wednesdays of August, November, February, and May, next to come, and upon any other day and in any other place they shall think meet. And, further, renews to the persons before named 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 Assembly, 1644, Sess. 6, made "Against secret Disaffecters of the Covenant," and "For sending Ministers to the Armie;" 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 alwayes for their whole proceedings comptable to and censurable by the next Generall Assembly.
Renovation of the Commission for prosecuting the Treaty for Uniformity in England.
The Generall Assembly, taking to their consideration that the treatie of uniformity in religion in all his Majestie's dominions is not yet perfected; therefore, renews the power and commission granted by preceding Assemblies for prosecuting that treatie, unto these persons after named, viz., Mr Alexander Henderson, Mr Robert Douglas, Mr Samuel Rutherfurd, Mr Robert Baillie, Mr George Gillespie, Ministers; and John Earle of Lauderdale, John Lord Balmerino, and Sir Archibald Johnston of Wariston, elders; authorizing them with full power to prosecute the said treatie of uniformity with the Honourable Houses of the Parliament of England, and the Reverend Assembly of Divines there, or any committees appointed by them; and to do all and every thing which may advance, perfect, and bring that treatie to an happy conclusion, conform to the former commission given thereanent.
The Assemblie's Answer to the King's Majestie.
May it please your Majestie,
Having received your Majestie's letter with thankfulnesse, we thought it our dutie to send some of our number to wait upon your Majestie, and present our humble desires more particularly then at this time could be expressed by writ; and we are confident your Majestie will interprete our freedome and plain dealing by them to be a reall testimonie of our unfained affection, who have constantly laboured to approve our selves in all fidelity to our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, and in all loyaltie to your Majestie; and are resolved to walk still after the same rule, in our severall stations and vocations, continuing our prayers for you, that God may multiply all sorts of mercies upon your royall person and posterity, and more and more incline your heart to the speedie following of 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 honesty.
The Assemblie's Letter to the Right Honourable the Lords and Commons in the Parliament of England, assembled at Westminster.
The report of the great things which the Lord hath done for your Honours hath gone forth into many lands, and it becometh us least of any, either to smother or extenuate the same. We desire to be enlarged in the admiration of the power and mercie of God the author, and to diminish nothing of that praise that is due unto you as instruments. When the Lord set your Honours upon the bench of judgment, both the Kirk and Commonwealth of England were afflicted with intestine and bosome evills, the cure whereof could not but be very difficult, because they were not only many, but, for the most part, universal and deeply rooted, sheltred under the shadow of custome and law, and supported with all the wisdom and strength of the Malignant and Prelaticall partie, who rather chose to involve the land in an unnaturall and bloody warre, then to fail of their ambitious and treacherous designes against religion, the priviledges of Parliament, and the lawes and liberties of the kingdom; neither hath that miserable crew been wanting to their owne ends, but for many years together hath desperatly pursued their resolutions in arms, and was likely to have prevailed, if the Lord had not put himself in the breach, and furnished you with much patience, wisdom, courage, and constancy, in the midst of many difficulties and distresses, and at last, with so glorious and triumphing a successe, that the enemy hath fallen every where before you, and there is none left to appear against you. These things, as they be the matter of our refreshment and of your glory, so doe they lay a strong obligation upon your Honours to walk humbly with your God, and to improve the power he hath put into your hands, for the advancement of the Kingdom of his Son, and bringing forth of the head-stone of his house. The slow progresse of the work of God hath alwayes been the matter of our sorrow, which is now increased by the multiplication of the spirits of errour and delusion, that drowne many souls into per dition, and so strengthen themselves, that they shall afterward be laboured against with more pains then successe, if a speedy and effectuall remedie be not provided. And, therefore, as the servants of the living God, who not onely send up our supplications daily for you, but have hazard our selves in your defence, we do earnestly beseech your Honours, in the bowels of Jesus Christ, to give unto him the glory that is due unto his name, by a timous establishing all his ordinances in the full integritie and power thereof, according to the League and Covenant. As long as the Assembly of Divines was in debate, and an enemy in the fields, we conceived that these might be probable grounds of delay, which being now removed out of the way, we do promise to our selves, from your wisdom, faithfulnesse, and zeale, the perfecting of that which was the main ground of our engagement, and a chief matter of consolation unto us, in all our sad and heavy sufferings from the hand of a most cruell enemy. We know that there is a generation of men who retard the work of uniformity, and foment jealousies betwixt the nations, studying, if it were possible, to break our bands asunder; but we trust, that he that sits in the heavens will laugh, and that the Lord shall have them in derision, that he shall speak to them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure, and notwithstanding of all that they can do, set his King upon his holy hill of Sion, and make these nations happy in the sweet fruits of unity in truth and peace. The Searcher of hearts knows that we desire to hold fast the band of our Covenant as sacred and inviolable; being perswaded that the breach of so solemne a tye could not but hasten down upon our heads a curse and vengeance from the righteous Judge of the world, and involve these kingdoms in sader calamities then they have yet seen; and we abhor to entertain any other thought of you; nay, we are confident that your Honours will seriously indeavour the prosecution of all these ends designed in the Covenant, and the bringing these nations unto the neerest conjunction, both in judgement and affection, especially in these things that concern religion, which, without all contraversie, is the readiest and surest way of attaining and securing the peace and prosperity of both kingdoms.
The Assemblie's Letter to the Right Honorable the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and Common Councell of the City of London.
Your late and seasonable testimony given to the truth of the Gospel, and your affection to the peace of the kingdoms, manifested in your humble Remonstrance and Petition to the Honorable Houses of Parliament, hath so revived the remembrance of your former faith and zeal, and proclaimed you the worthy seed of so noble ancestors in that famous city, as we cannot but acknowledge, with all thankfulnesse, the grace of God bestowed on you, and stirre you up to take notice how, since you were precious in the Lord's sight, you have been ever honourable; the Lord hath loved you, given men for you, and people for your life. What an honour was it in the dayes of old. when the fire of the Lord was in Zion, and his furnace in your Jerusalem, (even in Queen Marie's dayes,) that there were found in you men that loved not their lives unto the death? What a glory in after times, when Satan had his throne, and Antichrist his scat in the midst of you, that there were still found not a few that kept their garments clean? But the greatest praise of the good hand of God upon you hath been in this, that amidst the many mists of errour and heresie which have risen from the bottomlesse pit, to bespot the face and darken the glory of the Church, (while the Bride is a making ready for the Lamb,) you have held the truth, and most piously endeavoured the setling of Christ upon his throne. We need not remember how zealous you have been in the cause of God, nor how you have laid out your selves and estates in the maintenance thereof, nor how many acknowledgements of the same you have had from the Honourable Houses, nor how precious a remembrance will be had of you in after ages, for your selling of all to buy the pearl of price. We only at this time do admire, and in the inward of our hearts do blesse the Lord for your right and deep apprehensions of the great and important matters of Christ in his royall crown, and of the kingdoms in their union, while the Lord maketh offers to bring our ship (so much afflicted and tossed with tempest) to the safe harbour of trueth and peace. Right memorable is your zeal against sects and sectaries; your care of reformation, according to the Word of God, and the example of the best reformed Churches; your earnest endeavours and noble adventures for preserving of the rights and priviledges of Parliament, and liberties of the kingdomes, together with his Majestie's just power and greatnesse; and your high profession, that it is not in the power of any humane authority to discharge or absolve you from adhearing unto that our (so solemnely sworn) League and Covenant, or to enforce upon you any sense contrary to the letter of the same; besides your other good services done unto the Lord and to us, in the strengthening of the hands of the Reverend Assembly of Divines, and of our Commissioners, in their asserting of the government of Christ, (which, the more it be tried, will be ever found the more precious truth,) and vindicating of the same from the usurpation of man, and contempt of the wicked. These all, as they are so many testimonies of your pietie, loyaltie, and undaunted resolution to stand for Christ, so are they, and shall ever be, so many obligations upon us, your brethren, to esteem highly of you in the Lord, to bear you on our brests before him night and day, and to contribute our best endeavours, and to improve all opportunities for your encouragement. And now, we beseech you in the Lord, Honorable and wel-beloved, go on in this your strength, and in the power of his might who hath honoured you to be faithfull: "Stand fast in that liberty wherewith Christ hath made you free;" and in the pursuance of this truth, we are confident, as you have, so you will never cease to study the peace and neerer conjunction of the kingdoms, knowing that a three-fold cord is not easily broken. Now, the Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved and honoured you, and given you everlasting consolation and good help through grace, comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.
The Assemblie's Letter to the Right Reverend the Assembly of Divines in the Kirk of England, assembled at Westminster.
Much Honoured and Right Reverend,
Amongst other fruits of this our precious liberty, after such dissipation by sword and pestilence, to meet again, we account it not the least to have the opportunity of making a publike declaration of our earnest affection to all our brethren of that nation, and especially your selves of the Reverend Assembly at Westminster. When we were lately in a very low condition, we may say that our own sufferings and fears, although imbittered with the sense of the Lord's displeasure against our lukewarmnesse and unfaithfulnesse, yet they did not so take up our heart but that room was left to congratulate with the Lord's people there in all their successes, and to condole with them in all their dangers; and if at any time any here seemed to be more jealous then godly jealousie would allow, we know not how it can be imputed to any thing else, but to the vehemencie of ardent affection, and impatient desire to have our brethren there and us joyned neerer to Christ, and neerer to one another in all his ordinances, and especially in Presbyteriall government, so well warranted by the Word, and approven by experience of our owne and other reformed Churches, wherein your long and unwearied endeavours have been blessed with a large increase, which hath yet proved still a seed unto a further and more glorious expected harvest. There could not be wished by mortall men a fairer opportunity then is cast in your laps, being invited and charged by so high an authority, to give so free and publike a testimony to those truths, which formerly many of the Lord's precious ones, by tongue and pen, by tears and blood, have more privately asserted. The smallest of Christ's truths (if it be lawfull to call any of them small) is of greater moment then all the other businesses that ever have been debated since the beginning of the world to this day; but the highest of honours and heaviest of burdens is put upon you, to declare out of the sacred records of divine truth what is the prerogative of the crown and extent of the scepter of Jesus Christ—what bounds are to be set between him ruling in his house, and powers established by God on earth—how and by whom his house is to be governed—and by what wayes a restraint is to be put on these who would pervert his truth, and subvert the faith of many. No doubt, mountains of oppositions arise, and goolfs of difficulties open up themselves in this your way; but you have found it is God that girdeth you with strength, and maketh your way perfect and plain before you, who hath delivered, and doth deliver, and will yet deliver. We need not put you in minde that as there lyeth at this time a strict tye on all, so in a speciall manner both you and we are engaged to interpose our selves between God and these kingdomes, between the two nations, between the king and the people, for averting of deserved wrath, for continuing and increasing of a well-grounded union, for procuring as far as in us lyeth a right settling of religion and church government; that when we shall sleep with our fathers, the posterity here and abroad may be reaping the fruits of our labours.
We are fully assured of your constant and sedulous promoving of this blessed work, and of the Lord's assisting and carrying you on therein; and are confident that your late experience and present sense of the great danger and fearfull confusion flowing from the rise and grouth of sects and sectaries not suppressed, hath stirred up in your hearts most fervent desires and carefull endeavours for remedying the same, wherein we exhort you to continue and abound, knowing that your labours shall not be in vain in the Lord, to whose rich grace we commend you and the work in your hands.
Recommendation to Presbyteries and Provinciall Assemblies.
I. The Assembly recommends to severall Presbyteries and Provinciall Assemblies to consider the interests of particular congregations, in the calling and admission of ministers, with all these questions that usually fall out upon that occasion; and to report their opinions to the next Assembly, with some fit overtures for preventing all contests in that matter.
II. The Assembly recommends to Presbyteries and Provinciall Assemblies to consider all the matters referred by preceding Assemblies to the consideration of Presbyteries, and to report their opinions therein to the next Assembly.
Act for a Publike Fast before the next Assembly.
The Assembly, having considered an Act of the Assembly, 1644, Sess. Ult., enjoyning a publike fast to be keeped in all the kirks of the city where the General Assembly holds, upon the first day of the meeting of the Assembly; and finding some inconveniences therein, therefore, at this time, untill the matter be further considered, appoints a publike fast and humiliation for the Lord's blessing to the meeting of the next Assembly, to be universally observed in all the congregations of this Kirk, upon the Sabbath next except one preceding the said next Assembly; the exercises for the members of the Assembly at their first meeting being still observed, according to the ancient and laudable practise of this Kirk, this appointment notwithstanding.