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, January 20, 1699.
I. Sess. 1, January 20, 1699.—The Recording of his 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:—"Guliellmus," &c.
II. Eadem Sessione.—His Majesty's gracious Letter to the General Assembly.
The which day his Majesty's High Commissioner presented his Majesty's most
gracious Letter directed to this General Assembly, which was publicly read in their
hearing, with all due honour and respect, and appointed to be recorded in their registers, the tenor whereof follows:—
Right Reverend and well-beloved,
We greet you well. We have thought fit to allow and countenance your meeting at this time, that," you may have the opportunity to do what is necessary for promoting religion, and regulating order and discipline. And we do again earnestly recommend to you to fall upon effectual methods for planting vacant churches with pious and learned ministers, which is so necessary for suppressing error and immorality; in the doing whereof you shall have from us all due encouragement and assistance. We have again chosen our right trustly and entriely-beloved councillor, John Lord Carmichael, to be our Commissioner, and to represent our royal person in this Assembly. And as we have sufficient experience of his fidelity to us, and of his abilities and fitness to discharge this trust, so we know that he is acceptable unto you. We have fully instructed him in all things that we think needful, and therefore you may give him entire trust and credit. We are well satisfied with your proceedings in the former Assembly, and we doubt not but your management in this will be suitable to our expectation. We leave what further is necessary to our Commissioner; and we assure you of our royal protection and assistance in all your concerns. And so we bid you heartily farewell.
Given at our Court at Kensington, the 7th day of January 1698–9, and of our reign the 10th year.
By his Majesty's Command,
To the Right Reverend and well-beloved Ministers and Elders, met in the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
III. Sess. 4, January 24, 1699, post meridiem.—The General Assembly's Answer to his Majesty's gracious Letter.
May it please your Majesty,
The renewed testimonies of your Majesty's care and concern for this Church, so amply signified by your gracious letter, are received by us with all satisfaction and acknowledgement, and cannot but engage us to double our diligence in prosecuting the duties of promoting religion, order, and discipline, planting of vacant churches, and suppressing of error and immorality, which your Majesty particularly recommends, with the most obliging assurances of all due encouragement and assistance.
What your Majesty recommended to the last Assembly, as to the planting of the North, hath been minded by them, and their commission and committees empowered for that effect, to the remotest parts of the kingdom, and even to the Isles of Orkney and Zetland, with a considerable progree: And we are firmly resolved to continue our best endeavours for accomplishing so good and necessary a work; nor can we omit to notice that your Majesty's royal boundy did very seasonably contribute to make our labours in that matter more easy and effectual.
Nothing can be more rejoicing to us than to see your Majesty's zeal against error and immorality, which makes us presume to beg for your renewed commands to those concerned, that your excellent laws against profanity (that to our great grief still grows) may be put to vigorous execution, without exception. And we earnestly pray and hope that God, who preserved your Majesty during a long and dangerous war, and blessed your conduct and valour with the conclusion of a happy peace, will still support and assist your royal endeavours in reforming the manners of this profligate age, and preserve you till that great work be accomplished.
We do also acknowledge the good choice that it hath pleased your Majesty to make of the Lord Carmichael to represent your royal person in this Assembly, whose faithfulness to your Majesty, as well as his kind affection to us, do render him most acceptable.
That your Majesty's reign may be long and happy; that all your subjects may continually make suitable returns of duty and gratitude for all the labours and dangers you have undergone for their tranquillity; and that truth and peace may ever flourish in your days, are, and shall be, the servent 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.
Signed in our presence, in our name, and at our appointment, by
George Hamilton, Moderator.
IV. Eadem Sessione.—Act Annexing some Parishes to the Presbyteries of Stranraer and Wigton.
The General Assembly, having heard and considered the opinion of the Committee for Overtures, did by their vote disjoin the parishes of Ballantrae and Colmonell from the Presbytery of Ayr, and annexes them to the Presbytery of Stranraer; and likewise disjoins the parishes of Kirkmabreck, Kells, Dalry, and Carsphairn, from the Presbytery of Kirkcudbright, and annexes them to the Presbytery of Wigton, which Presbytery of Wigton may meet at Minnygaff frequently, and this without prejudice to the Presbyteries of Ayr and Kirkcudbringt, or any others concerned, to be heard against the continuation of this alteration, at the next or any other ensuing General Assembly; and it is appointed and declared, that this act, as to the said disunion and annexation, shall commence at the first day of March next to come: And the General Assembly ordains the ministers of the respective parishes above named, so disjoined and annexed, to be advertised hereof, and to give obedience thereto, as they will be answerable; and that letters be written to the Presbyteries concerned for that end.
V. Sess. 5, January 25, 1699, post meridiem.—Act anent Proclamation of Banns.
The General Assembly, taking into their consideration the overtures passed in the last Assembly, dated the 24th day of January 1698, entitiled, "Overtures anent Proclamation of Banns;" the tenor whereof follows:—
The General Assembly, being informed that several abuses have crept in, in the way and manner of proclaiming the banns of persons to be married, do, for preventing the same, overture and declare, that before any proclamations be made, the names and designations of the persons to be married, and their parents, tutors, or curatours, if they any have, be given up to the minister of the bounds in which any of them live and reside, that thereby it may be known if their parents and friends give consent thereto; and that the minister being satisfied herein, order the proclamation to be made three several Sabbaths, which, when made, shall be immediately before divine worship begin in the forenoon, and the persons to be proclaimed, their names and full designations, such as they are designed by in writs or contracts of marriage, be fully and audibly expressed, and that where there are more churches collegiate in the place or town, the proclamations be made in all and every one of the churches within the city or town where they or any of the persons to be married reside; and this to be attested to the minister that marries them; with certification of the censures of the church against the transgressors herein.
And the General Assembly having heard the report of the several commissioners from Presbyteries now present, to whom the consideration of the said overture was recommended, in order to its being more ripely advised and determined in this Assembly; and finding that the several Presbyteries were satisfied therewith: Therefore, this General Assembly, by their vote, unanimously did, and hereby do, approve of the said overtures, and appoints the same to have the full force and strength of an Act of the General Assembly in all time coming; and, that none may pretent ignorance, appoints the same to be intimated in all the parish kirks of this kingdom.
VI. Sess. 6, January 26, 1699, post meridiem.—Act of the General Assembly anent a solemn National Fast and Humiliation.
The General Assembly, taking into their serious consideration that the many grievous and most heinously aggravated sins and abominations abounding and still continuing in this land, have procured and drawn from the hands of the just and holy Lord the lamentable stroke of dearth, and unseasonable weather-in seed-time and harvest, which, as it hath reduced many families of the nation already into great straits, so, if mercy prevent not, threatens dreadful famine. As likewise considering the sadly distressed state of some of the Reformed Churches abroad under grievous persecution, and the dangerous condition of others of them, which loudly call for our humbling ourselves for our own sins, and for sympathy with others, and frequent prayer for ourselves and them; have, therefore, thought it a necessary and seasonable duty to set apart, and hereby do set apart and appoint the day of March next, being Thursday, for solemn humiliation and prayer, that God would pardon our sins, turn away and avert his wrath from this and other churches—command deliverance for his afflicted people under persecution—bless and preserve our King, under whose government we enjoy so much peace and tranquility, and liberty of Gospel ordinances, dispensed with purity and freedom—that God may continue the same with us, and bless the Gospel with success—grant a seasonable seed-time, and bless the seed with increase, that the poor may be satisfied with bread;—obtesting and beseeching all ranks of persons to search and try their ways, and, by unfeigned repentance and reformation, turn to the Lord with all their heart, that the Lord may return to us, and have mercy upon us and the land: And it is most seriously recommended to all ministers to be very explicit and particular in the acknowledgement of the national and epidemic crying sins, especially those that seem to abound in the respective places where ministers serve. And the General Assembly ordains all ministers to intimate this publicly from the pulpit a Sabbath or two before the said day of humiliation. And, lastly, the General Assembly appointed, and hereby appoints, Mr William Dunlop, Mr George Meldrum, Mr John Law, Mr Thomas Wilkie, Mr Gabriel Semple, Ministers; Mr John Campbell, brother to the Earl of Argyle, Sir John Riddel of that Ilk, Sir Thomas Kilpatrick of Closeburn, and John Alexander of Blackhouse, Ruling Elders; to apply to the Lords of his Majesty's Privy Council for their civil sanction to the observation of the said fast, and leaves it to their Lordships to name the day of the month of March for the said fast.
VII. Sess. 9, January 30, 1699, ante meridiem.—Act against Profaneness.
The General Assembly, taking into their consideration the overtures against profaneness, passed by the last Assembly, January 24, 1698, Sess. 15, and having heard the report of commissioners present from the several Presbyteries of this National Church, to whom the consideration of the said overtues were recommended; and the General Assembly being well and ripely advised thereanent, did, by their vote, and hereby do, approve of these overtures after mentioned, whereof the tenor follows:—
1. The General Assembly, considering the lamentable growth of profanity, ignorance, and irreligion, that is too manifest in this land, and the woful decay of the life and power of godliness, with the small success of the Gospel, that is to be observed every where at this time, the General Assembly, in a deep sense of these things, and, for the remedying of them, do, in the first place, in the awe and dread of God, beseech, exhort, and require all ministers, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together unto him, that they take heed to themselves and to their doctrine, and endeavour to be ensamples to the people in all piety, purity, and holiness, and in all manner of conversation.
2. That they be frequent and servant in secret prayer for themselves and the people committed to them, joining sometimes fasting with prayer. And the General Assembly recommends to ministers and elders in their several parishes, and ministers in their several presbyteries, to meet sometimes together in their parishes and presbyteries respectively, for private fasting and prayer, and conference anent the state of the Church, and that part of it in which they have special interest, with respect to the growth or decay of godliness, and success of the Gospel therein.
3. That Presbyteries be more accurate in managing their privy censures, and that a day be set apart for that purpose only, and spent in fasting and prayer together.
4. That Presbyteries be very cautious in admitting intrants to the ministry, and be accurate and exact in the trial, not only of their literature, but of their piety, prudence, and former godly conversation and walk.
5. That ministers be painful in catechising, frequent in visiting of families, and in private personal conference with those of their charge about the state of their souls, and that ministers be more frequent in administration of the Lord's Supper, and always edifying in their converse and discourse; and that they deal with heads of families to engage them to piety, and a care to reform their families, and to set up and to keep up the worship of God therein; and, in particular, that ministers endeavour, by all prudent and gaining Gospel methods, to engage persons of honour and power to fall in love with holiness, and reckon it, as indeed it is, their greatest honour; and that, in dealing with such of them as are vicious, an humble and yet holy boldness and zeal be used in admonishing them, in order to their recovery; and that herein Presbyteries appoint some others of their number to concur with the minister of the place as may be most for edification.
6. The General Assembly recommends to the Kirk Sessions and Presbyteries the vigorous, impartial, and yet prudent exercise of Church discipline against all immorality, especially drunkenness and filthiness, cursing and swearing, and profaning the Lord's Day, which too much abound; and that they apply to the magistrate for the execution of the good laws made against immorality and profaneness.
7. That seeing it is observed, that in burghs, especially those of greatest resort, as Edinburgh, many sit too late in taverns, especially on the Saturday night, and men of business pretend they do it for relaxation of their minds, through which some neglect the public worship on the Lord's Day in the forenoon, and others attend the worship drowsily; therefore, the General Assembly recommends to all ministers where such sinfull customs are, to represent to the people, both publicly and privately, the sin and evil thereof, and to call them to redeem that time, which they have free from business, and to employ it for converse with God about their soul's state, and in preparation for the Sabbath, which will yield more delight than all sensual pleasures can do.
And the General Assembly beseecheth and exhorteth all magistrates of burghs to be assistant to ministers in inquiring into and reforming such abuses.
And suchlike, the General Assembly revives the act of the General Assembly, dated the 11th January 1697, Sess. 8, entitled, "Act against Profaneness," and approves of the overture therein contained, anent censuring such ministers and members of sessions as are negligent in pursuing scandals.
And the General Assembly recommends and enacts the punctual observation of the said acts and overtures, and obedience thereto by all Presbyteries, ministers, elders, and sessions, as they are concerned in their several stations, as they will be answerable.
VIII. Sess. 10, Eodem die, post meridiem.—Act against Popery.
The General Assembly taking into consideration the overtures against Popery, passed in the last Assembly, January 24, 1698, the tenor whereof follows:—
1. That ministers study Popish controversies more.
2. That all due endeavours be used to unite Protestants amongst themselves, seeing the adversaries get advantage by our division.
3. That ministers endeavour faithfully to watch the flock committed to them, and by public preaching, and private instruction and conference, to prevent apostacy that way.
4. That ministers deal wisely and convincingly with the consciences of those that have fallen to Popery and other corrupt principles, for their recovery.
5. That when other means are ineffectual, Presbyteries would proceed to Church censures, when they see it may be for the edification of the Church.
6. That according to the acts of former General Assemblies, and acts of Parliament, the names of Popish priests and Jesuits, and trafficking Papists, and of those who have sent their children to Popish colleges and countries, be given in to each Provincial Synod, and by them transmitted, as Act, Charles II., Parl. 3, cap. 6.
7. That the General Assembly apply to the Privy Council for the vigorous execution of the laws against Papists, particularly seminary priests, Popish schoolmasters, mistresses, governors, and pedagogues, and Popish meetings; and for seeing to the training up of Popish youth in the Protestant religion; in all which, some inferior magistrates are justly complained of, as very defective; and that the said address be presented by such as the General Assembly shall appoint.
And the General Assembly having heard the opinion of the commissioners from the several Presbyteries concerning the said overtures, and finding that there was no objection made against any thing therein contained; and that application being made to the Lords of his Majesty's most Honourable Privy Council, conform to the seventh paragraph of the said overtures, their Lordships were graciously pleased to emit a proclamation thereupon against Papists; and the General Assembly being well and ripely advised anent the premises, they by their vote unanimously did, and hereby do, approve of the said overtures, and appoint the same to have the full force and strength of an act of the General Assembly, and to be observed in all time coming, and ordain application to be made to the civil magistrate, conform to the said seventh paragraph, as often as need requires.
IX. Eadem Sessione.—Act anent Planting of the Highlands.
The General Assembly took into their consideration the overtures passed in the last General Assembly, January 24, 1698, Sess. 15, entitled, "Overtures for Planting the Highlands;" the tenor whereof follows:—
1. That ministers and probationers who have the Irish language be sent to the Highland parishes, and that none of them be settled in the Low Country till the Highland places be first provided.
2. That ministers and ruling elders who have the Irish language be appointed to visit these parts.
3. That were in any Highland congregation many understand English, and there used once a day to be a sermon in English, Presbyteries be careful to supply them sometimes by preaching in English; and that they catechize them who understand not, by an interpreter, when they cannot get one to preach to them in Irish; and that those, whether ministers or probationers, who have somewhat of the Irish language, but not a facility to preach in it, be sent to these places for the ends foresaid, that by converse they may learn more of the language, and ability to instruct therein.
4. That English schoolmasters be erected in all Highland parishes, according to former actso f Parliament and General Assemblies; and for this end, the General Assembly recommends to their commission to address the King and Parliament, to take such course for this, and other pious uses, in the more northern Highland places, as is granted to these of Argyle, and that as they shall think fit.
5. That it be recommended to Presbyteries and Universities to have a special regard in the disposal of their bursaries for educating such as it is hoped may be useful to preach the Gospel in the Highlands; and that the commission address the Lords of the Treasury, and recommend the same to the Town Council of Edinburgh, and other partrons, for this end.
And the General Assembly, having heard the report and the opinion of the commissioners present from the several Presbyteries anent the said overtures, did, by their vote, and hereby do unanimously approve thereof, and appoint and recommend according thereto; with this addition, that the Presbyteries of Dumbarton, Dunblane, Auchterarder, Dunkeld, Inverness, Abernethy, Aberlour, Tain, Dingwall, Dornoch, and Caithness, are hereby enjoined to have bursars who have the Highland language, if they can be had, and that the universities where such students are be wrote to, to give an account what students having that language they know of, that deserve encouragement; and that they recommend them to any of the above Presbyteries, and that care be taken that any so to be recommended be piously disposed, and of sound principles.
X. Sess. 11, January 31, 1699, ante meridiem.—Recommendation to Presbyteries and Synods anent Schools.
The General Assembly, considering that there are many good laws and acts of Parliament, and acts of General Assemblies, for erecting schools in every parish, and ways laid down for maintaining thereof, and being informed that, notwithstanding thereof, there are several parishes, even in the Lowlands, that want schools; therefore, the General Assembly did, and hereby do, recommend to the several Presbyteries within this National Church to use their endeavours that schools be erected in every parish within their respective bounds, conform to the acts of Parliament and General Assembly; and it is recommended to Synods to make particular inquiry how this recommendation is observed.
XI. Sess. 16, February 3, 1699, ante meridiem.—Overtures for Planting the North, with the approbation thereof.
The which day there was read in presence of the General Assembly the overtures underwritten, which were transmitted to the General Assembly by their Committee for Overtures, and upon the 31st of January last read in open Assembly, and the consideration thereof remitted to the said Committee, and any persons that had any thing to offer thereanent were desired to attend that Committee, and represent the same to them; the tenor of which overtures follows:—
1. That any of the twenty probationers appointed by the last General Assembly, who have not obeyed in going North, or not stayed in the North twelve months, but returned from it without the allowance of the Presbytery of the bounds where they were sent, shall, upon the desire of that Presbytery to the Presbytery where they now reside, be sent back to fulfil the twelve months.
2. That when any one of those who were born on the North side of Tay is licensed by any Presbytery on the South side of Tay, he be sent North by that Presbytery within four months after his licensing, and it be remitted to the Commission to appoint the place to which he should go, and the time of his stay; and that no probationers born on the North side of Tay be settled in any congregation as minister beSouth Tay, until the next General Assembly, unless they be of those who have been twelve months in the North, according to the appointment of the last General Assembly; but such who, during the twelve months of their mission, having received no call from any congregation in the North, are declared free to come South, and accept of an orderly call from any congregation in the South side of Tay; it is also allowed to the town of Edinburgh, that if they call any North country probationer, he may be settled in that city, notwithstanding of this overture.
3. And the General Assembly hereby dischargeth any Presbytery on the South side of Tay to settle any probationer born on the North side of Tay within the foresaid time, except in the cases above excepted; with certification that the Presbytery shall be censured by the Commission or General Assembly; and the probationer so settled is hereby declared, ipso facto, transportable, and that the Commission of this Assembly appoint him immediately to repair to the North, and any place thereof they think fit, as an extraordinary supply, and if a call be given to him, the Commission transport him to the North.
4. It is overtured that other twenty probationers be sent this year to the North also, and of these twenty, as many as can be had of such who were born on the North side of Tay, and that they be sent in the proportion following, viz., three to the Presbytery of Perth, Auchterarder, and Dunkeld; six for the province of Angus and Mearns, because there are most vacancies there; four to the province of Aberdeen; three to the province of Moray; two to Ross, Sutherland, and Caithness; and two to Orkney; and that there be a committee of one or two out of each Synod to nominate these twenty probationers, or the same referred to the Commission.
5. That these probationers so nominated go how soon possible without delay to the places to which they are sent, and to stay in the North for twelve months; and it is hereby referred to the commission to be appointed by this Assembly, to consider and determine of the provinces they should go to, and of the time of their stay and abode in each province.
6. That for the encouragement of each probationer who shall be thus sent, and to help to defray the charges of his journey, the General Assembly do allow, out of the King's gift for defraying the public expenses of the Church, to those who go to Perth, Auchterarder, and Dunkeld, 40 pounds each one; to those who go to Angus, 50 pounds; to those who go to Aberdeen, 100 merks; to those who go to Moray, 80 pounds; to those who go to Ross, Sutherland, and Caithness, 100 pounds; to those who go to Orkney, 200 merks.
7. That these probationers be obliged to accept of calls, whether popular or Presbyterial, when presented to them by the Presbyteries of any of the said provinces; with certification, if they refuse the same, the Presbyteries within whose bounds they are called shall have power to take their licence from them until the next Assembly; yet that it be recommended to all Presbyteries not to make use of a jus devolutum for the planting any congregation till all other means be essayed.
8. That, besides these probationers, there be sent from the Synods of the South some actual ministers for the supply of the North; and seeing diverse places of the North are better planted than formerly, the number of these ministers to be sent for this year for each four months be eleven, in manner after following, five to Angus and Mearns, four to Aberdeen province, two to Moray, out of the Synods following, viz., from the Synod of Merse and Teviotdale two, to the province of Angus; out of the Synod of Lothian three, two to Aberdeen, and one to Moray; out of the Synod of Glosgow four, two to Angus, and two to Aberdeen; out of the Synod of Fife two, one to Moray, and one to Angus, and if the Commission find it needful to send one to Caithness, they be empowered to send one from the Synod of Lothian for the months of April, May, and June, and one from the Synod of Glasgow for July, August, and September.
9. That when an orderly call is designed to any minister on the South side of Tay, by any of the places privileged by the 8th act of the last General Assembly, yet vacant, the process of transportation may be carried on after the same manner prescribed in the said act; and the Assembly renews the recommendation mentioned in the said act to all judicatories, who shall have occasion to judge in any of these transportations; and that they have a special respect to those places privileged by the Assembly when they represent any call, seeing ministers are freed from the fear of Presbyterial calls.
10. That in regard of the vacancies of the town of Aberdeen, and that place is so considerable, and of such influence on the Northern parts, the General Assembly recommends to the Synods of Lothian and Glasgow, that at least one of their supplies each quarter for the province of Aberdeen be a grave and experienced man, suited for the supply of the town of Aberdeen; and that when the town of Aberdeen presents a call to a minister before any church judicatory, they have a special and tender regard to the planting of that place; and likewise, the General Assembly doth recommend to and appoint Mr William Moncreiff, minister at Largo, to go and supply the town of Aberdeen for the months of April and May, and this over and besides the ordinary supply of that Synod.
11. That Mr Hugh M'Hendry and Mr John Macculloch be sent to Augus or Perth, and have the allowance for their journey out of the King's gift.
12. That it be referred to the Commission to send Mr Robert Burnet to Angus after May next.
13. That seeing it is regretted by some who are sent as supplies, that they have much toil in travelling betwixt the vacant parishes of the Presbyteries of Strathbogie and Presbytery seat of Moray: Therefore, the Assembly recommends to the united Presbyteries of Turriff, Fordyce, and Alford, to take care of the supplies of these vacant parishes, with the concurrence of Mr William Chalmers, minister at Gartly, until the next General Assembly; but that the planting of these vacant parishes be with the consent and concurrence of the Presbytery of Moray, seeing the Presbytery of Strathbogie is within the bounds of the province of Moray: And that it be recommended to the Commission to send up one probationer more, if they have need; and if any difficulty arise in planting parishes, it be referred to the Commission.
14. That it be recommended to Presbyteries to be careful that the allowance granted by the act of Parliament to them who supply the North be punctually paid; and that the Presbytery be careful to provide commodious places for ministers and probationers, where they may reside when sent to supply any parish, seeing they are to stay there for some time; and to catechize the people according to the 16th act of the General Assembly, January 12, 1697, Sess. 10et ult., paragraph 8.
15. That it be recommended to the Synods of Dumfries, Merse, and Glasgow, to supply the Presbyteries of Wigton, and Stranraer with ministers and probationers, and that they be careful to send such as, for prudence and piety, may be judged fittest for that country; and that it be recommended, in particular, to Mr John Good, minister of the Gospel, to go to Galloway, in case that he be not shortly settled in a parish elsewhere.
And the General Assembly having duly and maturely considered the said overtures, they, by their vote, unanimously did, and hereby do, approve of the same, and recommends, refers, and appoints, according thereto, in all points.
XII. Sess. 17, Feb. 3, 1699, post meridiem.—Approbation of the Actings and Proceedings of the Commission appointed by the General Assembly, 1698.
The General Assembly having this day had re-produced in their presence the register of the actings and proceedings of the commissioners appointed by the last Assembly, and having heard the report of a committee of this Assembly's own number, that were not members of the said Commission, but appointed to revise, examine, and consider the said register, with their observations thereupon, all the members of the said Commission were removed, and Mr James Hutcheson was chosen Moderator, and Mr David Ewing Clerk, pro tempore,(the Moderator and Clerk of this Assembly being members of the said Commission, and therefore removed;) and the General Assembly, having seriously considered the said report and answers made by the moderator and other members of the Commission to the said observations, and finding thereby that the whole actings, proceedings, and conclusions, of the said commissioners, contained in the register, subscribed by Mr John Moncrieff, clerk thereto, beginning at page 169, and ending at page 354, do evidence much wisdom, prudence, and diligence, and that the said Commission have proceeded orderly and formally in everything, according to their commission and instructions, and that the said register is very accurate; 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 January 15, 1698, and ending January 18, 1699, inclusive of both days; and the members of the Commission being called in, the same was intimated to them, and the moderator gave them the thanks of this Assembly for their good service, and then the moderator and clerk of this Assembly took their place.
XIII. Eadem Sessione.—Act anent subscribing the Confession of Faith.
The General Assembly recommends to all Synods and Presbyteries to inquire what ministers or probationers, or schoolmasters, within their respective bounds, have not subscribed the Confession of Faith, conform to former acts of the General Assembly, as the confession of their faith; that those who have not done it may be put thereto, and thinks it necessary that there be a new impression of the Confession of Faith in folio for that end.
XIV. Sess. 18 et ultima, February 4, 1699, ante meridiem.—Commission by the General Assembly to some Ministers and Elders, for Planting of vacant Kirks in the North, and other Affairs referred to them.
The General Assembly of this National Church, considering that there are yet many vacant churches on the North side of Tay, as likewise that there are several weightly affairs which the said Assembly cannot overtake; therefore, the General Assembly finds it needful that there be a commission granted to some ministers and elders for planting these vacant kirks, and doing what other affairs shall be referred to them, and for that end do hereby nominate and appoint Mr Andrew Roger, minister at Galston, &c. &c., to be Commissioners of the General Assembly, to the effect after mentioned, with full power, &c. (The powers granted to the Commission are the same as in 1698.)
XV. Eadem Sessione.—Instructions to the Commission appointed by the General Assembly for Planting the vacant Churches in the North, &c.
1. That this Commission do what in them lies to render effectual the overtures passed the last Assembly, for the more speedy planting of the North, and exercise all the power that is committed to them for that effect, except in so far as they are, or shall be altered by this Assembly; and that they cognosce and finally determine in all references made to them by this Assembly, and in all appeals for transporting ministers to the North, which shall be orderly brought in to them, according to the above or any other overtures passed in this Assembly.
2. That this Commission, as often as they see cause, apply to the Government, or any magistrate, for their countenancing of and concurrence with the judicatories of the Church, in what the law allows, particularly for settling vacant churches, redressing any grievances which may fall out, and that they correspond with the State anent fasts and thanksgivings, as occasion requires, and to specify the causes thereof.
3. That when any ministers, who served under the late Prelacy, whose lives and doctrines may render them useful to this Church, do apply for reception to the Government, the Assembly do empower and recommend to this Commission, and the other judicatories of this Church competent, that they may be ready to receive them, according to former acts of the Assembly.
4. That this Commission may dispose of his Majesty's gifts to this Church, and in the disposal thereof that they do particularly take care that the encouragement granted by this Assembly to the probationers who are to go to the North to preach be rendered effectual; and that they cause defray the extraordinary charges that several ministers of the North have been at, in carrying on the planting of the North, and other public affairs of the Church there; and for the defraying the charges of such ministers or probationers as shall yet be sent to Orkney, or other remote parts of the North.
5. That this Commission, on the desire of Presbyteries or Synods, or as they shall see cause, may appoint committees upon occasion, for visitation of particular kirks and Presbyteries, or trial of persons, and do all things proper for any visitation, who are to act in conjunction with the Presbytery of the bounds; and that they proceed to censure as they see cause.
6. The Commission is to give advice and assistance to any Synod or Presbytery applying to them in difficult cases.
7. That this Commission inquire who are defective in sending supplies to the North, and see them fulfil their mission, and that they endeavour that the supplies appointed by this Assembly be made effectual, under the certifications contained in acts of prior Assemblies thereanent, and, for this effect, that each Synod and Presbytery send in quarterly to the Commission an account of the names of the persons they appoint for supplies, and the places to which they are sent; and that another double thereof be each four months sent to the Presbytery or Province to which they send.
8. That this Commission shall have power to add to or alter the instructions given to the Presbyteries of Orkney and Zetland, as they shall see cause, particularly with reference to transportation of ministers, because of the sad circumstances that some ministers there are in; that they be ready to give advice and assistance to these Presbyteries as they are required, because they have not Synods in these bounds.
XVI. Eadem Sessione.—Overtures for promoting the Knowledge of God in the Highlands, and for rendering the Act made Sess. 10 of this Assembly the more effectual.
1. That each Presbytery give up yearly to the General Assembly a distinct account of probationers and students of divinity within their bounds who have the Irish language.
2. That inquiry be made what ministers are settled in the Lowlands who have the Irish language, that they may be sent on supply to vacant and Highland places; and if they get orderly calls they be transported to the Highlands.
3. That seeing a great number of Bibles have been, on the charges of diverse charitable persons in England, and some in Scotland, translated and printed in the Irish language, and sent down to this kingdom to be dispersed, chiefly for the use of the poor, and many of them are not yet distributed, and diverse parishes in the Highland parts have gotten none of them, it be recommended to Mr David Blair, Mr William Crichton, Mr John Law, Mr Gilbert Rule, Mr George Meldrum, Mr John Moncreiff, Mr George Hamilton, Moderator, and to the Earls of Sutherland and Tullibardine, the Lord Aberuchill, and Laird of Grant, to inquire how many of these Bibles, whether printed in the Roman or Irish character, are already distributed, and how, and to whom, and how many do yet remain, and to make distribution of them to different parts of the Church, in such proportion as may be most for edification; and that they be delivered and distributed by the order of any three of this, committee, on sufficient receipt by the receiver, and that Presbyteries and ministers of each parish be careful of the due distribution of what is received, and an account thereof sent to the next General Assembly.
4. That it be recommended to all, but especially to Presbyteries who have Highland parishes, to consider what may be done for getting a fund for a new impression of the Bible in the Irish language, and of the Psalms in metre, and of the Shorter Caterchism.
5. That seeing it is informed there were 1000 pounds Scots given by the Lords of his Majesty's Treasury for binding of these Bibles, and other charges anent them, it be recommended to the foresaid committee, or to the commission, to inquire to whom that money was given, and on what terms, and how employed; and if there be any of it yet remaining, after the defraying of the charges foresaid, that it be allotted for the help of a fund for a new impression.
6. That it be recommended to the Synod of Argyle to translate the Confession of Faith of this Church, and the Larger Catechism, in the Irish language, the Lesser Catechism and Psalms being translated already in that language; and that they exactly notice any typographical errors which may be found in the late impression of the Bible in the Highland language, that they may be amended in a new impression.
7. That it be recommended to the Synod of Argyle that as they have done worthily hitherto, in visiting the country and islands within their bounds, so they would continue and abound more and more, and be ready to assist their neighbours as they are called and have opportunity.
8. That there be a Committee for visiting the Highland parishes of Dumbarton, Stirling, and Perth Shires, of the persons following, viz., Mr John Anderson, minister at Drymen, Mr Robert Anderson at Perth, Mr John Campbell at Monivaird, Mr David Shaw at Aberdalgie, Mr Alexander Douglas of Logie, Mr Alexander Dinning at Abernethy, Ministers; the Earl of Tullibardine, Viscount of Dupplin, Lord Ruthven, Sir Colin Campbell of Aberuchill, one of the Senators of the College of Justice, the Laird of Meggins, and Lanchlan Macintosh, Elders.
9. And that the Synod of Aberdeen, at their meeting in April next, do appoint some of the ministers and elders in their bounds to be a committee to visit the few Highland parishes in their province.
10. And that Mr David Cumming, minister at Edinkillie, Mr Alexander Forbes at Dyke, and Mr Donald Macintosh at Duthil, Ministers; together with the Lairds of Grant, Brodie, and Culloden, Elders; with any other that the Presbytery of Moray may appoint of their own number, to be a committee to visit the Highland parishes within the Province and Synod of Moray.
11. And that Mr William Innes, minister at Thurso, Mr Walter Denoon at Golspie, Mr John Monro at Reay, Mr John Macpherson at Farr, Mr William Stewart at Kiltearn, and Mr Hugh Duff at Fearn, with the Lairds of Foulis and Dalpholey, and William Ross of Aldie, be a committee to visit the Highland parishes of Ross, Sutherland, and Caithness.
12. And that these committees visit the kirks, manses, glebes, and, if need be, perambulate the parishes, and consider how they may be more commodiously divided or annexed; or where there is need of new erections, and how the same may be most conveniently accomplished.
13. And that they visit the schools within the said bounds, and endeavour to get schools erected, according to the act of Parliament, where they are not; and apply to those who have the care and charge of disposing of the King's gift out of the Bishopric of Dunkeld, or any other gift his Majesty may grant to other places for that end, that where it is needful they may have more schools in one parish, where it is large and spacious, than those provided by act of Parliament.
14. And that they do all and every thing proper for a committee for visitation to do, and to report their diligence to the next General Assembly, and from time to time to the commission appointed by this Assembly, who are hereby empowered to give them advice on all occasions, and to draw the several commissions to the respective committees, to the effect above specified, and appoint the time and place of their first meeting respectively; with power to the commission to add such of their unmber as they shall think fit; with power also to the above mentioned committees to choose their own moderators and clerks, and to appoint the diets and places of their after-meetings.
15. That the King be addressed for the effect of his royal munifacence, in favour of the more northern Highland places, as he hath done to the Synods of Argyle and Perth; and the concurrence of the nobility and gentry concerned be desired for this end.
The General Assembly having several times heard and considered the abovewritten overtures, they by their vote unanimously did, and hereby do, approve thereof; and appoints, refers, and recommends, according thereto, in all points.
The next General Assembly of this National Church is to be held at Edinburgh upon the first Friday of February, 1700 years.
The Assembly being closed, the members were dismissed with prayer, singing the 133d Psalm, and pronouncing of the blessing.
Collected and extracted from the records of the General Assembly, by me,
J. Bannatyne, Cls. Syn. National.
[In the original Edition of the Acts of 1699 there are appended the following overtures, transmitted to Presbyteries for their consideration, viz., I. Anent revising of the Registers of Church Judicatories; 2. Anent Schoolmasters; 3. Against Witchcraft, Charming, &c.; 4. Anent Scandalous and Contumacious Persons; 5. Anent the Emolumentary Writes of Ministers, Kirks, Schoolmasters, &c.; 6. Anent the making of Acts, and due care to observe them when made; 7. Discharging the Printing of any Paper to be presented to the Assembly without allowance; 8. Anent Censuring Scandalous Persons; and, 9. Anent Papists. The greater number of these overtures having been approved by Presbyteries, were passed into Acts of the Church in the following year.]