Acts of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland 1638-1842. Originally published by Edinburgh Printing & Publishing Co, Edinburgh, 1843.
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The principal acts Of the general assembly, holden and begun at Edinburgh the 2d day of January 1697.
I. Sess. 1, January 2, 1697.—The recording of this Majesty's Commission to the Lord Carmichael, for representing his Majesty in this Assembly.
This day, the General Assembly of the ministers and elders of this National Church being convened, there was produced to them by a noble Lord, John Lord Carmichael, his Majesty's commission under the Great Seal of this kingdom, nominating and appointing him to be his Majesty's High Commissioner and representative in this National Assembly, which was publicly read in their audience, with all due honour and respect; and the General Assembly appointed, and hereby appoints, the same to be recorded in the registers of this Assembly, therein to remain, ad futuram rei memoriam, the tenor whereof follows:—"Gulielmus," &c.
II. Eadem Sessione.—His Majesty's gracious Letter to the General Assembly.
The said day his Majesty's High Commissioner produced his Majesty's most
gracious letter directed to this Assembly, which was publicly read in their hearing,
with all due respect, and appointed to be registered in the books of this Assembly,
the tenor whereof follows:—
Right Reverend and well-beloved,
We greet you well. The proceedings of the last General Assembly were very satisfying to us, which hath encouraged us to allow and countenance your meeting now. We have chosen our right trusty and well-beloved councillor, John Lord Carmichael, to represent our royal person, and bear our authority as our Commissioner, in this Assembly. We have sufficient experience of his fidelity to us, and of his ability and fitness for discharging this trust. The present juncture of affairs will not allow of your sitting long; therefore, you are to lose no time in doing what is most necessary for suppressing and restraining of vice and profanity, and in planting of vacant churches with pious and moderate ministers. This will be acceptable to us, and in doing which, you shall have all necessary concurrence and assistance. As we have done formerly, so we do now upon this occasion assure you that we are resolved to maintain Presbyterian Church government in that our kingdom of Scotland; and therefore we expect, that in all matters that come before you, you will proceed and conclude with calmness and moderation, which is the duty of all, especially in church meetings. We leave what further is necessary to our Commissioner, whom we have fully instructed. And so we bid you heartily farewell.
III. Sess. 3, January 4, 1697, ante meridiem.—Act for bringing in and enrolling the Names of all Probationers for the Ministry, and Students of Divinity.
The General Assembly, for several weighty causes, hereby enacts and appoints that the commissioners from the several Presbyteries within this Church bring in an account to the General Assembly yearly of all the Students of Divinity who have passed their trials, in order to the ministry, from one Assembly to another; as also, of all others who have not passed trials, that have an eye to the holy ministry, and do attend the lessons of the several Professors of Divinity in the Universities, and perform the exercises enjoined them there; that a roll may be made of them, and their names read in open Assembly, and recorded in the registers thereof.
IV. Sess. 4, January 6, 1697, ante meridiem.—The General Assembly's Answer to His Majesty's gracious Letter.
May it please your Majesty,
We, the Ministers and Elders met in this National Assembly of the Church of Scotland, are very sensible of our happiness in your Majesty's being satisfied with the proceedings of the last Assembly, and in being pleased to signify so much by your gracious letter directed to us; and we are no less sensible of your Majesty's goodness, in giving your royal countenance to our meeting at this time, being the very same time unto which it was indicted at the close of the last Assembly: and your Majesty's reiterated choice of the Lord Carmichael to represent your royal person among us, who hath on all occasions manifested an untainted fidelity unto your Majesty, and constant kindness to this Church, is a fresh proof of your Majesty's tender care of us. We reckon it our bounden duty so to consider the present juncture of your affairs, as that our being long together may not be any way prejudicial unto the same, and therefore shall dispatch what is presently necessary with all application, delaying other things to a more convenient season; and we hope your Majesty shall never find any Assembly of the Church of Scotland uneasy on that head. Sir, as we cannot but lament the abounding of impiety and profanity in this land, so we must acknowledge your Majesty's Christian care, in enacting good laws for suppressing the same; the vigorous execution of which we humbly beg, as that which will highly tend to the exalting of the glory of God, and to the establishing of your throne; and we, for our parts, shall use all ecclesiastic means proper for us, that may be conducive thereunto. We have, through the good hand of God upon us, made some considerable progress in planting vacant congregations, and we do look upon it as the chief part of the work which we have to do at this time, to make further advancements therein, by encouraging all pious and serious persons to join with us in the work of the Gospel, and by facilitating their settlement in places where they may be most useful, and where there is greatest need of them. We beg leave on this occasion, to acknowledge your Majesty's royal bounty bestowed on this Church since the last Assembly, for defraying the public charges of the same, which we shall be careful to apply to the uses your Majesty designed it for.
May God always preserve your sacred person from all both secret attempts and
open violence of execrable men; may you have a long and prosperous reign over
these nations; may your forces have success both by sea and land; may your people's
love and fidelity answer the manifold obligations you have laid upon them; and, after
a fulness of earthly blessings here, may you for ever wear a crown of glory that fadeth
not away; which are the sincere prayers of,
May it please your Majesty, your Majesty's most faithful, most obedient, and most humble subjects, the Ministers and Elders met in this National Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
V. Eadem Sessione.—Act anent Overtures concerning the Discipline and Method of proceeding in Ecclesiastic Judicatories, offered to the Assembly by a private hand.
The General Assembly, having heard the Report of a Committee of their own number for overtures anent the "Overtures concerning the Discipline and Method of proceeding in Ecclesiastic Judicatories in the Church of Scotland," now produced in their own presence, appoints the same to be sent as overtures, from private hands, to the several Presbyteries within this National Church; and ordains the said Presbyteries to send their animadversions and observations thereupon to the commission to be appointed by this Assembly, betwixt and the first of August next; and appoints the said commission to prepare the said overtures against the General Assembly, to be brought in thereto as overtures; and appoints the Commissioners from Presbyteries to take copies of the said overtures from George Mossman, the Assembly's printer, for the end foresaid.
VI. Sess. 5, January 7, 1697, ante meridiem.—Act anent these Ministers who have not obeyed the appointment of the last Assembly concerning the Mission to the North.
The said day, in presence of the General Assembly, the committee for overtures reported, that, according to the appointment of this Assembly, they had been taking trial how the act of the late Assembly concerning the mission of some ministers to the North was observed, and had called the Presbyteries and persons concerned to have compeared before them; and that as to Mr James Thomson, Mr John Sandilands, Mr Robert Edgar, Mr Andrew Rodgers, Mr John Paisley at Lochwinnoch, and Mr Donald Campbell, there were defences made for them; and the said committee were of opinion, that they were not censurable in respect of their defences, which were held forth in presence of the Assembly; and the General Assembly having considered the same, they find it necessary that exact obedience be given to the Assembly's acts; and, therefore, though the persons above named have not been found censurable, yet the General Assembly appoints the respective Presbyteries to whom they belong to see them fulfil their mission, and, in case the Presbytery find sufficient ground to exonerate them, it must be done with this special provision, that the Presbytery provide another fit person in their room, as they will be answerable, and that their mission be fulfilled betwixt and the first of August; it being always understood as the mind of this Assembly, that they are liable to calls and transportations, as these on the first mission, except one be already transported out of their Presbytery.
And the General Assembly having heard the report of the Committee for Overtures anent Mr James Stirling and Mr William Steel, who, though they went to the North, did not stay their full time, and Mr Joseph Drew, who did not at all go North in mission, according to the appointment of the last Assembly; they being called and all absent, and not sending their excuses, and likewise the defences made for them, for their not giving obedience, being considered, as also the opinion of the said Committee for Overtures finding their defences irrelevant,—the General Assembly appoints the said Mr James Stirling and Mr William Steel to fulfil their mission betwixt and the first of August next; and as to Mr Joseph Drew, because he hath not as yet been in the North, appoints him to repair to the Province of Moray, and there stay and exercise his ministry for four months betwixt and the said time.
VII. Eadem Sessione.—Act anent Family Worship, and censuring Ruling Elders and Deacons who neglect the same.
The General Assembly, considering how necessary a duty it is that the worship of God, and calling upon his name, be daily performed in all families, do recommend it to ministers and elders in each congregation to take care thereof, and it being the duty of all ruling elders and deacons to be exemplary herein, the Assembly renews and confirms the act of Assembly, 1694, made against profaneness, recommending that none be ruling elders who make not conscience of this unquestionable duty; and do likewise appoint, that in case any elders or deacons shall neglect to worship God in their families, by themselves, or others appointed for that effect, that they be seriously admonished to amend, and, if need be, rebuked for the same; and if, notwithstanding of admonitions and rebukes of the minister and other elders, any elder or deacon continue obstinate in their neglect, that such elder or deacon be removed from his office by the Presbytery; and appoints this act to be read in all the churches yearly; as also the said 13th act of the Assembly, 1694, against profaneness, and that upon the first Sabbath of May.
VIII. Sess. 6, January 8, 1697, post meridiem.—Act for punctual Obedience to Appointments of Ministers to supply Vacant Churches.
The General Assembly, considering how much it is the duty of all the ministers of this Church to give punctual and exemplary obedience to all the acts and appointments of the Assemblies thereof, and particularly that, in the present exigency of the Church, wherein there continues so considerable a number of vacancies, ministers appointed by the General Assemblies, or their authority, to labour for some time in these corners of the Church, where the vacancies are most numerous, ought exactly to obey the same, at and during the time of their appointment, and that their neglect herein is very prejudicial to the interest of the Gospel, and discouraging to the ministers who are settled in these parts; do, therefore, in the fear of the Lord, obtest and beseech all ministers to be diligent and faithful in their performance of what is appointed them; and do appoint that in case any minister shall not exactly and timeously perform their respective appointments, particularly in going to the North, that they shall be suspended from the exercise of their ministry for the space of three months by their respective Presbyteries, so soon as they begin to neglect this duty: And the General Assembly do require the Moderators of the several Presbyteries to move and propose to the Presbyteries to proceed to inflict the censure above appointed without delay; and in case any Moderator shall neglect and delay the performance of his duty hereby required, that the said Moderator be suspended from the exercise of his ministry, by the next ensuing Synod of the bounds, for the space of three months; and in case that inevitable impediments fall providentially in the way of ministers, thus appointed for supplies, that cannot but free the minister of any neglect, that the Presbytery he belongs unto record the same in their registers, and produce them to their Synod at their next meeting, to be by them judged; but withal, the Presbytery in that case shall be obliged to send another under the same certifications; but so soon as he applies to the Presbytery, and offers obedience, the Presbytery shall be obliged to take off the act of suspension. And the General Assembly appoints their churches to be supplied daily, or at least two Sabbaths of three, during their absence, and the ministers appointed to make these supplies, in case of their neglect, are to be Presbyterially rebuked, and that inserted in the records of the Presbytery; and that Synods do particularly enquire anent, and see to the execution of this act, and make report to the next ensuing Assembly.
IX. Eadem Sessione.—Act anent the Method of passing Acts of Assembly of general concern to the Church, and for preventing of Innovations.
The General Assembly, taking into their consideration the overture and act made in the last Assembly concerning innovations, and having heard the report of the several commissioners from Presbyteries to whom the consideration of the same was recommended, in order to its being more ripely advised and determined in this Assembly; and considering the frequent practice of former Assemblies of this Church, and that it will mightily conduce to the exact obedience of the Acts of Assemblies, that General Assemblies be very deliberate in making of the same, and that the whole Church have a previous knowledge thereof, and their opinion be had therein, and for preventing any sudden alteration or innovation, or other prejudice to the Church, in either doctrine or worship, or discipline, or government thereof, now happily established; do, therefore, appoint, enact, and declare, that before any General Assembly of this Church shall pass any acts, which are to be binding rules and constitutions to the Church, the same acts be first proposed as overtures to the Assembly, and, being by them passed as such, be remitted to the consideration of the several Presbyteries of this Church, and their opinions and consent reported by their commissioners to the next General Assembly following, who may then pass the same in acts, if the more general opinion of the Church thus had agree thereunto.
X. Sess. 7, January 9, 1697, ante meridiem.—Overture for punctual sending of Commissioners to General Assemblies, and their Attendance during the Sitting thereof.
XI. Sess. 8, January 11, 1697, post meridiem.—Act against Profaneness.
The General Assembly of this National Church, taking into their most serious consideration, that notwithstanding of the weighty commands and dreadful threatenings contained in the Scriptures of truth, and the many laudable Christian laws of this nation, and the acts of the General Assemblies of this Church against all impiety and profaneness, yet the open outbreakings of wickedness are not restrained, but God is daily dishonoured and provoked, the profession of Christianity discredited, and the pernicious infection of ill example disseminated and spread abroad by the abounding scandals of profane and idle swearing, cursing, Sabbath-breaking, profane withdrawing from and contempt of Gospel ordinances; yea, opposing the dispensing of them, by hindering the planting of churches, and discouraging the endeavours of others for calling and fixing a faithful Gospel ministry among them, mocking of piety and religion, and the exercises thereof, fornication, adultery, drunkenness, excessive tippling, Deism, blasphemy, and other gross abominable sins. And whereas, not only did the General Assembly, by their act April 16, 1694, recommend to all ministers and kirk-sessions carefully to apply to the several magistrates of their bounds for putting the acts of Parliament against profaneness in execution; but likewise, this current Parliament hath, by their acts, entituled, "Against Profaneness," June 15, 1693, June 28, 1695, and October 9, 1696, declared that ministers, kirk-sessions, and presbyteries, shall, by themselves, or others in their name, have good interest to apply for and pursue the execution of the said acts; and albeit execution is ordained to pass at the instance of any person whatsoever, yet, it being especially incumbent upon ministers and Church judicatories to hold hand thereto, Therefore, that this National Assembly may not be wanting to their duty, in contributing their utmost endeavours for bearing down and punishing of all immorality and wickedness, they do, in the first place, in the awe and dread of the great God, who will not hold them guiltless that break any of his commandments, beseech, warn, and obtest, all the people of this Church and nation, to break off their sins by repentance, and seriously, in the fear of the Lord, to apply themselves to a sober, conscientious, Christian, and circumspect walk, in all manner of conversation, as becomes the professors of the glorious Gospel of the blessed God, and of that religion which is pure and undefiled, and as they would not incur the heavy displeasure and just indignation of the Holy One, in being excluded for ever from seeing his face in peace, and pull down his temporal judgments upon themselves and upon the land. And, next, they do require all the ministers of this Church freely and faithfully to preach against the fore-mentioned enormous sins, as the crying sins of the time, that people may be brought to a conviction and sense of their heinousness and danger, and may refrain, not only for fear, but from conscience. And, farther, they do appoint that Presbyteries and Kirksessions do faithfylly and impartially exercise church discipline against all such scandalous offenders, and use all suitable means, in dealing with their consciences, to bring them to unfeigned repentance and reformation; and they seriously recommend to Ministers and members of Kirk-sessions, from a true zeal for God, to hold hand to the delating, informing against, and punishing of all profane transgressors, without respect of persons, by civil punishments, conform to the acts of Parliament made in that behalf, and that they record their diligence in their session-books, that the same may be seen by their Presbyteries, who are hereby required to make inquiry therein at their visitations; and lest any may be found backward in performing their respective duties, from an unwillingness to displease or disoblige persons of note, who may happen to be guilty, the General Assembly earnestly exhorts all ministers and elders, and all Christians, to remember that in this matter they have to do with the great and terrible God, whose honour is to be preferred, and whose wrath is to be feared, before all other considerations whatsoever; and they overture, that whatever minister or member of session be found faulty in neglecting to pursue the foresaid scandals in their stations, the said minister or member of session be complained of and censured by the Presbytery for the first fault, and that the censure be recorded; and that the second negligence be delated to and censured by the Synod; and that for the third neglect they be censured by the Synod with suspension, to be recorded in the Synod register. And albeit the General Assembly hath full confidence in the integrity and zeal of all honest Christian magistrates, and that they will with firmness and resolution make conscience of the obligations of their office, and faithfully discharge the trust committed to them by God, and the supreme authority of this nation; yet because a slackness or backwardness may fall out in some particular places, and there hath been hitherto a most lamentable defectiveness in putting the laws against profaneness into execution, and some have refused to give deputations and commissions for that end, to persons who have been duly nominated and presented to them: Therefore, the General Assembly doth recommend to each minister or kirksession who shall find cause to complain of a magistrate for negligence in executing the said laws, or for refusing deputation and commission to such persons as are duly elected and presented to them, (from parishes where there is no ordinary magistrate residing,) conform to the above mentioned act of Parliament, October 9, 1696, that they acquaint their Presbyteries therewith; and that the said Presbytery having used all previous means in dealing with the consciences of the said magistrate without any good effect, do, with the kirk-agent, thereafter pursue the said negligent or refractory magistrate before the Lords of Council or Session, according to the foresaid acts of Parliament. And, lastly, that these presents be read in all churches within this kingdom twice a-year from the pulpit, to wit, upon the first Sabbaths after Whitsunday and Martinmas yearly.
XII. Sess. 8, January 11, 1697, post meridiem.—Commission to some Ministers and Elders for planting Vacant Churches in the North, and some other particular Affairs committed to them by the General Assembly.
The General Assembly of this National Church, considering the many vacant churches on the North side of Tay, and that the last Assembly had laid down a way for a more expeditious planting of ministers therein, which hath not yet had the full effect desired; doth, therefore, by these presents, nominate and appoint Messrs Alexander Colden, Minister of the Gospel at Dones, &c., &c., to be commissioners of the General Assembly, to the effect after mentioned, with full power and commission to the said persons, or their quorum, which is hereby declared to be any fifteen of the said commissioners, whereof nine are always to be ministers, to meet and convene within the Assembly-House at Edinburgh, the first day after the dissolution of this Assembly, at ten of the clock in the forenoon, and afterwards to meet the first Tuesday of every month, and oftener, as they shall see needful, during the continuance of this commission; and the General Assembly requires all the members of this commission to attend carefully the meetings thereof, especially the quarterly meetings, which are hereby declared to be their meetings, on the first Tuesdays of March, June, September, and December, and that at the least one out of every Presbytery be present then; with power to the said commissioners, or their quorum, to choose their own moderator and clerk. And suchlike, the General Assembly fully empowers and authorises the said eommissioners to consider, cognosce, and finally determine, as they shall see cause, any calls and processes of transportation, of any of the forty-four ministers nominated to go North by way of mission, by the last Assembly, and that in the same way and manner, and with the same powers granted to the commission of the last General Assembly, in relation to the said forty-four ministers then nominated, whether these of them who have already obeyed their mission, or these who have it to fulfil, or these who are or shall be named in their room, in case of inevitable impediment of their fulfilment of the same, as is already provided by a former Act of this Assembly: And likewise to proceed and cognosce in every thing contained in and conform to the instructions to be given unto them by this Assembly, as fully and freely as if the same were in these presents at full length inserted and set down: And also to consider, cognosce, and determine, in all references, appeals, and other matters, that have been, or shall be particularly remitted to them for that effect, by any act or order of this Assembly, all which are holden as herein expressed. This commission is also to correspond with the State anent fasts and thanksgivings, as occasion falls out, and to specify the causes thereof; and likewise to give advice and assistance to any Synod or Presbytery in difficult cases, as they shall be applied unto by them: And the Assembly do hereby prohibit the said commissioners to meddle in any other matter than what is contained herein; declaring also, that in and for all their actings, the said Commissioners shall be accountable to and censurable by the next ensuing General Assembly of this Church. And, lastly, the General Assembly hereby declares that this commission shall continue till the meeting of the next General Assembly of this National Church.
XIII. Sess. 9, January 12, 1697, ante meridiem.—Act and Recommendation anent Ministers to the Army.
The said day there was presented to the General Assembly a letter from the Right Honourable the Viscount of Teviot, Commander-in-chief of his Majesty's forces within this kingdom, desiring them to fall upon some way how the said standing forces may be provided with preachers, and until that be obtained, that they seriously recommend to the respective ministers and church-sessions where they are, or shall be ordered to quarter, to provide them with convenient seats for hearing with the said congregations, and to inspect and notice them as they do other parishioners during their abode there, and assuring that care shall be taken that they attend ordinances, and walk inoffensively; and desiring that the General Assembly would be pleased to recommend to such as they appoint to manage their affairs in the intervals of Assemblies, to notice how this is performed; as the said letter, dated the 11th of January instant, and signed by the said noble Lord, in itself bears: Which letter being read and duly considered, the General Assembly unanimously did, and hereby do, recommend to the respective ministers, kirk-sessions, and others concerned, where any of the said forces are or shall be ordered to be quartered, to provide them with convenient seats for hearing with the said congregations, and to inspect and notice them as they do other parishioners during their abode there, and, if need be, to apply to the commanding officers, for taking care that inferior officers and soldiers attend ordinances, and walk inoffensively. And, farther, the General Assembly hereby recommends and refers to the commission appointed by this Assembly, during the continuance thereof, to take notice how this is performed; and likewise recommends to the said commission to fall upon all expedient ways competent for them, how the said forces may be provided with preachers, and, upon application, to settle ministers in regiments belonging to this kingdom.
XIV. Eadem Sessione.—Act appointing some Ministers to go for the Supply of the North quarterly, until the next Assembly.
The General Assembly of this National Church, taking into consideration, that albeit there hath been a good progress made in settling of vacancies be-North the Water of Tay, yet by reason of emerging deaths of some, and legal deprivation of others of the late conform ministers, who had till then possessed their churches, many vacancies are at present in that part of this Church, and the ministers who are settled there are not in a condition to supply the same in a suitable manner: Therefore, the General Assembly have ordained, and hereby ordains, that the Synods be-South Tay after named shall send to the bounds of the Synods of Angus and Mearns, Aberdeen, Moray, Ross, Sutherland, and Caithness, and Presbyteries of Perth, Auchterarder, and Dunkeld, within the Synod of Perth, the number of eighteen ministers quarterly, according to the proportions after named: viz., that three be sent to supply the vacancies in the Presbyteries of Perth, Auchterarder, and Dunkeld; three to supply the vacancies of the Synod of Angus and Mearns; five to supply the vacancies of the Synod of Aberdeen; five to supply the vacancies of the Synod of Moray; and two to supply the vacancies of the Synod of Ross, Sutherland, and Caithness: And the Assembly ordains these above supplies of eighteen ministers to be sent quarterly by the Synods after named, according to the following proportions, to wit, that from the Synod of Merse and Teviotdale, there be sent quarterly three; from the Synod of Lothian four; from the Synod of Dumfries one; from the Synod of Galloway one; from the Synod of Glasgow and Ayr five; from the Synod of Fife three; and from the Presbyteries of Stirling and Dunblane, within the Synod of Perth and Stirling, one: And likewise the Assembly doth ordain, that these three ministers who shall go in supply from the Synod of Merse and Teviotdale, shall supply the vacancies in the Synod of Angus and Mearns; that of the four who shall go from the Synod of Lothian, two shall go to the bounds of the Synod of Aberdeen, and the other two to the Synod of Moray, as the Synod of Lothian shall determine; that the one who shall go from the Synod of Dumfries shall go to the Presbyteries of Perth, Auchterarder, and Dunkeld; that the one who shall go from the Synod of Galloway shall go to the said Presbyteries of Perth, Auchterarder, and Dunkeld; that the five who shall go from the Synod of Glasgow shall go one of them to the said Presbyteries of Perth, Auchterarder, and Dunkeld, three of them to the Synod of Aberdeen, and one of them to the Synod of Moray, as the Synod of Glasgow shall determine; that the three who shall go from the Synod of Fife shall go two of them to the Synod of Moray, and one of them to the Synods of Ross, Sutherland, and Caithness, as the Synod of Fife shall determine; and that the one who shall go from the Presbyteries of Stirling and Dunblane shall go to the bounds of Ross, Sutherland, and Caithness. And farther, because it is necessary that the said supplies who shall go there for the first quarter, be there sooner than the next ordinary meetings of the Synods; therefore, the Assembly have nominated, and hereby nominate, the ministers after named, to repair to the bounds of the Synods after mentioned, to supply the vacancies there, and that they be there against the first Sabbath of March next, viz., from the Synod of Merse and Teviotdale, Mr Alexander Lauderat Mordington, &c., &c. And the Assembly ordains, that the brethren above mentioned, and such who shall be hereafter nominated by their respective Synods for the succeeding quarters, do repair to the respective bounds, as above set down, against the respective times allotted to them, and to be directed by the Presbyteries and ministers residing in these respective Synods they repair to, as to what particular congregations they shall apply themselves unto. And the Assembly doth farther ordain the above written Synods in the South to send to the places, and in manner above mentioned, a new quarterly supply of as many ministers more, to continue for the second quarter, beginning the same the first of June next, and so forth, quarterly, ay and until the sitting of the next General Assembly. And the Assembly recommends to the respective Presbyteries to take care to supply the kirks of these ministers who shall be sent North for supplies with daily preaching, at least two Sabbaths of three: And the Assembly doth likewise ordain these ministers sent in supply to the North to get and produce to their own Presbytery a testimonial from the Presbyteries within the bounds where they did supply, of their having fulfilled their appointment, and of their carriage and behaviour during their abode in these bounds.
XV. Sess. 10 et ult. January 12, 1697, post meridiem.—Approbation of the Proceedings of the Commission appointed by the late General Assembly.
The General Assembly of this National Church, having heard the report of a committee of their own number appointed to consider, revise, and examine the actings and proceedings of the commissioners appointed to meet at Edinburgh by the late General Assembly, and after serious consideration thereof, subscribed by Mr John Moncrief, clerk thereto; do evidence much wisdom, prudence, and diligence; and that the commission hath orderly and formally proceeded in everything according to their commission and instructions. Therefore, this General Assembly, by an unanimous vote, did, and hereby do, ratify and approve the said whole actings, proceedings, and conclusions, of the said commissioners, contained in the said register thereof, beginning the seventh day of January 1696, and ending the third day of December thereafter now last bypast, consisting of an hundred and eighteen pages.
XVI. Eadem Session.—Act approving Overtures anent and Instructions to a Commission for the more full and expeditious Planting of the North.
1. That when any parish on the North side of Tay, or of the town and Presbytery of Perth, and Presbyteries of Auchterarder and Dunkeld, in the Synod of Perth, shall call any minister belonging to any parish on the North side of Tay, they may, without sending any commissioner of their own parish to prosecute the same, send the call approven of and concurred with by the Presbytery of the bounds to the Moderator of the Commission of this Assembly; who, for greater expedition, shall cause double the said call, and attest the copy, and send the same, with the reasons of the desired transportation, in a letter to the Moderator of that Presbytery, to whom the minister called doth belong.
2. That the Moderator of the said Presbytery, upon the receipt of the said letter, shall be obliged to transmit the said call, with the reasons thereof, to the minister called, and shall cause summon the said minister and the parish he belongs to, the next Sabbath, in the ordinary way, to appear before the said Presbytery, and answer the said call and reasons thereof.
3. That if the Presbytery, after they have maturely considered the affair, shall not grant the desired transportation, the agent for the Kirk, or any person who shall under his hand be deputed by him, (who is hereby authorised for that effect,) may appeal from the said Presbytery and their sentence to the Synod of the bounds, or the next quarterly meeting of the Commission which shall first happen; and thereby the said Presbytery shall be obliged to transmit the said call and whole process, with their sentence and reasons of the same, to the Synod or quarterly meeting of the Commission which shall first happen, and cite the minister called and parish he belongs to, for that effect, which Synod or Commission are hereby empowered in that case to judge the said cause, and determine therein as they shall judge reasonable.
4. And if, when the Synod hath considered such a process, and yet do not transport the minister called, that there may lie an appeal by the agent for the Kirk, or his depute, in manner above, to the Commission of this Assembly, whereby the Synod shall be, and hereby is obliged to transmit the whole affair to the next quarterly meeting of the Commission, and to cite all parties concerned.
7. That seeing the Assembly hath by their act determined and ordained, that the number of eighteen ministers shall be sent quarterly to the North, from the Synods in the South, the Assembly doth recommend to these several Synods to send likewise an equal number of probationers to the North, especially those who have had their birth there, and that these stay six months; and the Assembly recommends it to the Commission to take care that the several Synods and probationers do effectually answer the same, as they will be answerable to the next Assembly.
8. That all ministers and probationers who shall be sent to supply the North shall not only labour in preaching of the Gospel, but likewise in visiting and catechising the people, in such method as the Presbytery of the bounds shall direct.
9. The Assembly do require the several Presbyteries on the South side of Tay to forbear to settle any probationers within their bounds who had their birth on the North side of Tay, at least until the meeting of the next Assembly; and do require the Presbyteries on the North side of Tay to exhort and stir up the people in their bounds to call probationers who may be settled amongst them, with more ease to themselves, and less difficulty to the Church; and the Assembly do recommend it to the Commission to see due obedience given hereunto.
10. That the Commission do from time to time consider, and take all the amicable and obliging ways to facilitate the settling of the vacant parishes in the northern bounds above specified; and as often as they shall think it fit, that they send a delegated number of the most experienced of their own members, to these parts or any corner thereof, to join with and assist the Presbyteries in these bounds, to facilitate the planting of these vacancies, and to deal with the heritors and others concerned for that effect, and that they report from time to time their diligence herein, that the Commission may proceed accordingly.
11. That this Commission, as often as they shall see cause, do apply to the Government or any magistrate for their countenance of and concurrence with the judicatories of the Church, in what the law allows, particularly for settling vacant congregations.
12. That the Commission have power to settle Presbyteries in Caithness, Orkney, and Zetland, so soon as any competent number of ministers shall be settled there, and to give them such instructions at their first erection as shall be needful for the good of these bounds.
13. That all Presbyteries be very deliberate in their proceedings with any of the late conforming ministers, either in proceeding against any of them, when accused of gross uncontroverted scandals, or proceeding in order to their reception into the government, on their applications in the Terms of the Acknowledgment, settled by the Assembly, 1694, and take the advice and assistance of some of the neighbouring Presbyteries, and of the Commission. And that the Commission and all other judicatories in their proceedings, as to reception of any into the government, do exactly keep by the method and the terms of the above mentioned act of the General Assembly, 1694, particularly the sixth overture and instruction to the Commission appointed by that Assembly.
All these overtures and instructions above written, being maturely considered, the General Assembly of this National Church did, and hereby do, approve of the same, and recommends and appoints according thereto in all points.
XVII. Eadem Sessione.—Act against the Deists, &c.
The General Assembly recommends to all ministers and church judicatories to observe and put in execution the 21st act of the late General Assembly, entitled "Act against the Atheistical Opinions of the Deists," and for Establishing the Confession of Faith.