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, March 6, 1702.
I. Sess. 1, Edinburgh, March 6, 1702.—The Recording of his Majesty's Commission to Patrick Earl of Marchmont, Lord High Chancellor of this Kingdom, for Representing his Majesty's Royal Person in this Assembly.
This day, the General Assembly of the ministers and elders of this National Church being convened and constituted, there was produced to them by Patrick Earl of Marchmont, Lord High Chancellor of this kingdom, his Majesty's Commission, under the Great and Privy Seals thereof, making and constituting him his Majesty's High Commissioner and Representative in this National Assembly, which Commission being publicly read with all due honour and respect, the General Assembly did, and hereby do, appoint the same to be recorded in the registers of this Assembly, therein to remain ad futuram rei memoriam, whereof the tenor follows:—"Gulielmus," &c.
II. Eadem Sessione.—His Majesty's gracious Letter to the General Assembly.
The said day, his Majesty's High Commissioner presented his Majesty's most gracious Letter directed to this General Assembly, which was publicly read with all due honour and respect, and is appointed to be recorded in the registers of this Assembly, the tenor whereof follows:—
Right Reverend and well-beloved,
We greet you well. The full satisfaction we have had from the proceedings of the former Assemblies does very much encourage us to countenance your meeting at this time, and as we take this occasion to renew to you the assurances we have often given you of our resolutions to maintain the government of the Church as it is now established, so we recommend to you calmness and unanimity in your proceedings, and that you will carefully avoid such disputes as may in this juncture be improven to the disturbance of the peace of Church and State, especially after the late attempt that has been made towards the subversion of both, of which we know you have the same sense with our other good subjects, which has sufficiently appeared in the several addresses presented to us.
We have appointed our right trusty and right entirely beloved cousin and councillor, Patrick Earl of Marchmont, our Chancellor, to represent our royal person in this Assembly; his experience and fidelity, which have appeared in the several eminent trusts discharged by him, as they have made us choose him, so we doubt not but they will render him acceptable to you. We have instructed him fully with our mind in every thing needful, and, therefore, recommending to you to give him entire trust and credit, we bid you heartily farewell.
III. Sess. 3, March 9, 1702.—Act anent the Production of Synod Books to the General Assembly.
The General Assembly appoints that all the Synod books not as yet produced be brought to the next meeting, and that in time coming all Synod books be punctually brought in, and presented to the General Assembly yearly, in the beginning thereof, according to the ancient laudable custom.
IV. Sess. 5, March 11, 1702.—Appointment of the General Assembly anent a Commission, and drawing Instructions thereto.
His Majesty's High Commissioner having represented to the General Assembly the sad and melancholy news he had received from Court this morning, of the indisposition and dangerous state of health of the King's Majesty, his master, our gracious Sovereign, was under, and how inconvenient it might prove if any sudden account of his Majesty's death (which God avert) should happen to come during the sitting of this Assembly, and that, therefore, it was his Grace's opinion and desire (though it was resolved this Assembly should have had due time to go through their affairs deliberately and with leisure) that now they should with all expedition dispatch such necessary business as was in dependence before them, and likewise fall upon some method to keep a public and established course of discipline and order in the Church, whatever might fall out. The General Assembly, taking into their serious consideration what was thus represented by his Majesty's High Commissioner, and being convinced of the inconveniences that may arise, if, during the sitting of this General Assembly, and at this juncture, any such account of the King's death (which the Lord, in mercy, prevent) should come to hand, and yet how necessary it is that there be a public and established course of discipline and order kept up in this Church by a judicatory, consisting of such members as may make up an equal representation thereof, whatever, at the pleasure of Almighty God, may fall out; do, therefore, nominate and appoint these following, viz., Mr Charles Gordon at Askirk, Mr John Stirling, Principal of the College of Glasgow, Mr William Crichton at Edinburgh, Mr James Brown at Glasgow, Mr John Anderson, jun. at St Andrews, Mr Thomas Blackwell at Aberdeen, Mr Alexander King at Elgin, and Mr Thomas Wilkie at Canongate, Ministers; the Lord Advocate and Laird of Megginch, Ruling Elders; to be a committee to retire instantly for nominating ministers and elders to be members of a Commission of this Assembly and National Church, and also for drawing up of instructions to the said Commission, and report to this Assembly so soon as possible: And it is recommended to the said committee to nominate, in the first place, all those old and experienced ministers yet alive that were ministers in the year 1661; and, next, all those of most experience and ability, with a just proportion and representation from the several Presbyteries of this Church, and bring in the draught of a Commission, and instructions, accordingly.
V. Eadem Sessione.—Act and Recommendation anent Ministers' Stipends, &c.
There being brought in to the General Assembly the following overture from the committee for overtures, the same was voted and approven, and the General Assembly did, and hereby do, recommend and appoint according thereto; the tenor whereof follows:—
Overtured that recommendation be made by the General Assembly to the Commission of Parliament for Plantation of Kirks, &c., for giving due dispatch and encouragement to all processes for modification and locality of stipends, that so mini sters may have a suitable maintenance and a competency for communion elements, and ready access thereto; and that it be recommended to the several Presbyteries to send in an account to the Clerk of the General Assembly, or Agent for the Kirk, of such parishes in their bounds as either want legal stipends, or want decreets for their stipends and communion elements, and to send therewith an account of the state of such parishes, and of the church, manse, and glebe thereof; and, likewise, it is overtured to the General Assembly, that in all transportations in time coming, previous inquiry be made if there be a legal stipend, and a decreet therefor, in the parish craving the transportation.
VI. Sess. 5, March 11, 1702, post meridiem.—The General Assembly's Answer to His Majesty's gracious Letter.
May it please your Majesty,
Your royal letter, expressing your full satisfaction with the proceedings of our former Assemblies, and the renewed assurances your Majesty is pleased to give us of your resolution to maintain the government of the Church as now established, are accepted by us with all thankfulness, and lay upon us the deepest obligations to use our best endeavours to perpetuate to this Church so great a blessing.
We have hitherto, through the favour of God, behaved with all possible calmness and unanimity, and do hope, through the same Divine grace and assistance, and with that due respect we owe your Majesty, to avoid everything that may be improven to the least disturbance, or give any advantage to your Majesty's and our adversaries.
The great concern of the Protestant religion, now in such visible hazard from the attempts of common enemies, doth certainly oblige us not only to be aware of all unseasonable diversions, but also to give your Majesty, whom God hath so eminently raised up to be its great protector, as well as our gracious deliverer, all the assurances of our most hearty and dutiful concurrence and service.
The Lord High Chancellor, whom your Majesty hath been pleased to appoint to represent your royal person in this Assembly, hath not only approven himself to your Majesty, by his fidelity in discharging these eminent trusts wherewith he hath been so deservedly honoured; but was so constant and faithful a partaker in our late sufferings, and hath ever since appeared so true a friend to this Church, that your Majesty's choice is to us most acceptable: and we are hopeful, through the blessing of God, and the countenance your Majesty is pleased to give us, to dispatch the affairs of this Assembly to your Majesty's entire satisfaction.
But, while we are dispatching this return, we have the surprising and most afflicting news of your Majesty's dangerous condition, by reason of sickness, which not only prevents the design we had of an humble address of duty and affection to your Majesty, for adhering to and maintaining your Majesty and your most rightful government over us against all adversaries, but obliges us to betake ourselves wholly to most earnest supplication to God for your Majesty's preservation; and that it may please Him, of his infinite mercy, to this and all the churches of Christ, to restore you to perfect health, and yet to bless us with your long and prosperous reign, for the good of all your dominions.
VII. Eadem Sessione.—Commission to some Ministers and Elders for Planting Vacant Kirks, and other Affairs remitted to them.
The General Assembly, considering that there are yet some vacant churches on the North side of Tay, as likewise several weighty affairs which this Assembly cannot overtake, doth, therefore, find it needful that there be a commission granted to some ministers and elders for planting these vacant churches, and doing what other affairs shall be referred to them; and for that end, do hereby nominate, commissionate, and appoint, Mr William Mitchell, minister at Dundee, &c. &c., to be commissioners of this General Assembly, to the effect in Act IV., and before and after mentioned; with full power 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 hours in the forenoon, and afterwards to meet the first Wednesdays of June, September, December, and March, and oftener when and where they shall think needful and convenient; with full power to the said Commission to choose their own moderator. And suchlike, the General Assembly fully empowers and authorises their said commissioners, or their quorum, to receive, consider, cognosce, and finally determine, as they shall see cause, in everything contained in and conform to the instructions given by the General Assembly, held in the year 1701, to their Commission, which are hereby renewed and holden as expressed; and this Commission is appointed to proceed according thereto, as fully and freely as if the said instructions were in these presents at full length inserted and set down; and farther, they are by these presents empowered to cognosce upon, and determine in all references and appeals made to this Assembly from any inferior judicatory of this Church, and particularly, in such references as were made to this Assembly by the late Commission of the General Assembly, 1701, of the affairs that were by them left undiscussed, and such other particulars as have been tabled before this Assembly, and not as yet determined; and to be careful to send some to supply vacant churches in the North; and, generally, with power to the said Commission to advert unto the interest of the Church on every occasion, and that the Church do not suffer or sustain any prejudice which belongs to them to prevent, as they will be answerable to the next General Assembly. And they are hereby strictly prohibited and discharged to meddle in any other matters than what is herein contained. Declaring also, that in and for all their actings they shall be accountable to and censurable by the next ensuing General Assembly of this Church. And, lastly, declares, that this Commission shall continue until the meeting of the next General Assembly.
VIII. The next General Assembly of this National Church is to be held at Edinburgh the tenth day of March, in the year 1703.
Address to the queen on her accession to the throne by the commission of the general assembly, Edinburgh, march 13, 1702.
May it please your Majesty,
As we were greatly afflicted with the sad account we had of the death of our late Sovereign, King William, of ever blessed and glorious memory, by whom and under whose happy government, through the favour of God, we enjoyed many signal blessings, so we desire heartily to bless God for his having set your Majesty, a true Protestant Queen, upon the throne to rule over us.
And we humbly tender your Majesty our hearty thanks for the early and full assurance which your Majesty is pleased to give in your gracious letter to your Privy Council, of your firm resolution during the whole course of your reign, to protect all your people of this kingdom, not only in their laws and liberties, but also in their religion, and in the established government of this Church, both which we are persuaded are founded upon the Word of God, and, therefore, most dear and precious to us.
We farther presume to assure your Majesty, that we do own and acknowledge your Majesty's title to the crown as most undoubtedly lawful and rightful; and that in our places and stations we will assert and maintain the same to the utmost of our power, against all pretenders whomsoever, and will use our best endeavours with the people committed to our charge, to keep and preserve them in their duty and loyalty to your Majesty.
Our constant and servant prayer to God shall be, that he may preserve and bless your royal person and government, guide and direct all your counsels, and still more and more endue your Majesty with all Christian and royal gifts and graces, that so your reign may be long and every way happy and prosperous over us, and your people, under you, may enjoy peace and truth, the greatest of blessings, to the glory of God, and your Majesty's entire satisfaction.