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 16, 1704.
I. Sess. 1, March 16, 1704.—The Recording of the Queen's Commission to William Lord Ross, for representing her Majesty in this Assembly.
The General Assembly of the ministers and ruling elders of this National Church, being convened and constituted, there was produced to them by William Lord Ross, her Majesty's commission under the Great Seal of this kingdom, making and constituting him her Majesty's High Commissioner and representative in this National Assembly; which commission being publicly read, with all due honour and respect, the General Assembly appointed the same to be recorded in their registers, ad futuram rei memoriam, the tenor whereof follows:—"Anna," &c.
II. Eadem Sessione.—Her Majesty's gracious Letter to the General Assembly.
Her Majesty's High Commissioner presented the Queen'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 satisfactory accounts we have had of your good conduct and management in the last Assembly, give us full confidence of your meeting at this time in the same good disposition. And we doubt not but you will improve this opportunity to do what may be further necessary for promoting the true reformed Protestant religion; and we earnestly recommend to you to take effectual methods for planting of vacant churches with pious and learned ministers, which is so necessary for suppressing of error and immorality; in the doing whereof, you shall have from us all due encouragement and assistance. We have thought fit to appoint our right trusty and entirely-beloved councillor, William Lord Ross, to represent our royal person in this Assembly, whose abilities and fitness to discharge this trust will, we doubt not, render him acceptable to you. We have fully instructed him in what may be further necessary, and therefore you may give him entire trust and credit. So, recommending to you calmness and unanimity in your proceedings, and the avoiding unseasonable debates, which you must be sensible will be of bad consequence in this juncture, we bid you heartily farewell.
III. Sess. 3, March 18, 1704.—The General Assembly's Answer to the Queen's gracious Letter.
May it please your Majesty,
We bless God for his goodness in giving to us your Majesty, a Protestant Queen, to reign over us, and we judge it our duty to offer to your Majesty our humble and hearty thanks for the good effects of your government, and all the favour showed to this Church; and, more particularly, for giving your royal assent in the last Session of Parliament, to the act for ratifying the Protestant Religion, and Presbyterian Government of this Church, and for your late gracious and most seasonable letter to your Council, for ordering the redress of our grievances, as to Popery and immorality, and other disorders, and restraining all attempts against the present legal constitution of this Church; as, likewise, that we are now again, with your Majesty's countenance and favour, met in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in a National Assembly, under your Majesty's shadow and protection.
Your Majesty's entrusting the Lord Ross to be your Commissioner to represent your royal person in this Assembly, is very acceptable to us, he being of known and entire fidelity and loyalty to your Majesty, and of whose kindness this Church hath great confidence.
Your Majesty's gracious letter to us was received and read with all due honour and respect, and we do acknowledge you recommend nothing to us but what is our duty; and we bless God, who puts it in your royal heart to excite us to improve this opportunity to do what is necessary for promoting the true Reformed Protestant Religion; and, in order to that, the planting vacant churches with pious and learned men, graciously promising your Majesty's encouragement and assistance therein, and we shall endeavour to apply ourselves thereto, as our great work.
And withal to study, by the grace of God, calmness and unanimity, and to shun, as hitherto we have done, unseasonable debates, which (as your Majesty is pleased to express it) would be of bad consequence in this juncture.
Now that God may long preserve your sacred person to reign over your people, as
a blessing to them, and a defence to all the Reformed Churches, and make you in
due time a blessed mean of restoring the peace of Europe; and that, while war continueth, God may prosper and bless your forces, and those of your allies, for the above
mentioned ends, both by sea and land, with success; and that religion and righteousness may flourish among your people in your days, is, and shall be, the prayer 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.
IV. Sess. 7, March 23, 1704, post meridiem.—Act Joining the Presbyteries of Caithness, Orkney, and Zetland, in one Synod.
The General Assembly, having heard and considered an overture transmitted to them from the Committee for Overtures, for reviving the act of the General Assembly, 15th of June 1646, adjoining the Presbyteries of Orkney and Zetland to the Provincial Synod of Caithness, after reasoning thereabout, and some amendments made thereupon, they did, by their vote, and hereby do, unanimously approve of the said overture. And, accordingly, for the more orderly managing of affairs in the Presbyteries of Orkney, Caithness, and Zetland, and restraining and correcting of abuses that have fallen, or may hereafter fall out in these places, do hereby revive the foresaid Act of Assembly, dated the 15th of June 1646, entitled, "Act for Joining the Presbyteries of Orkney and Zetland to the Provincial of Caithness;" and do appoint their diets of meeting to be upon the first Tuesday of June yearly, during the continuance of this act, and their first meeting to be and begin upon the first Tuesday of June next, 1704, in the town of Thurso in Caithness; and do appoint and ordain the Synod of Aberdeen to send one, and the Synod of Ross and Moray each of them two ministers, and the like number of ruling elders, to correspond with the said Synod, at their first meeting only: And the Assembly does ordain the said Synod to inquire diligently into the state of affairs in Zetland; and, in particular, that at the first meeting they do consider, cognosce, and determine, in the two processes against Mr Hugh Leigh and Mr John Cumming, referred by the Presbytery of Zetland to this Assembly; which two processes the General Assembly do hereby remit and refer to the said Synod: And the General Assembly does hereby declare that this present act shall obtain and stand in force; ay and until the same be recalled by a subsequent General Assembly, and that notwithstanding of the Act of Assembly, the 9th of August 1648, disjoining the Presbytery of Zetland from the said Synod: And the General Assembly does also declare, that, notwithstanding of this present annexation, the Presbytery of Dornoch shall still continue to meet and act Presbyterially with the Presbytery of Ross, as formerly: And the Assembly appoints letters to be written to the Synod intimating the premises to them.
V. Sess. 8, March 24, 1704, ante meridiem.—Act anent Lecturing and Expounding the Holy Scriptures.
The General Assembly do hereby appoint and ordain the several ministers of this Church to observe the 9th Act of the General Assembly, anno 1694, "Anent Reading and Expounding of the Scriptures in their Congregations;" and recommends it to Presbyteries, at their privy censures, to inquire how the said Act has been observed by the several brethren within their bounds: And ordains an account of their diligence thereanent to be inserted in their Presbytery books, and likewise recommends to Synods, at their privy censures, to inquire how Presbyteries have observed the said recommendation.
VI. Sess. 10, March 27, 1704, post meridiem.—Act anent Commissioners to the General Assembly, and their Subscribing the Confession of Faith.
The General Assembly, for the better ordering of elections of their members in time coming, appoints and ordains that all commissions to ministers and ruling elders from Presbyteries, Universities, and Royal Burghs, to subsequent Assemblies, bear that they have subscribed the Confession of Faith of this Church, according to the 11th Act of the General Assembly, anno 1700; and suchlike, that no minister or elder be nominated and commissioned to be a member of the General Assembly of this Church, by any Presbytery, Burgh, or University, but such as usually reside in or have a relation to the Presbytery, Burgh, or University, they are commissioned from.
VII. Eadem Sessione.—Act anent Citations in cases of Transportations of Ministers.
The General Assembly, to prevent rabbling of messengers by the people, and horrid profanation of the Lord's Day, which frequently falls out in cases of transportations, when the defending party and parish are to be summoned, appoints and ordains, that the minister himself being summoned apud acta at the Presbytery, or if absent, by the Presbytery's letter, to be present at the day appointed for hearing the cause; he also be ordered to intimate out of the pulpit to heritors, elders, and others con cerned in the parish, that there is such a call and such a transportation designed; and if any of them have a mind to defend their right to their minister, they are to be present at the Presbytery on such a day, and ready to make their defences; for which cause, the General Assembly ordains the call, with the reasons thereof, to be given or transmitted to the minister, to be by him communicated to them: And the General Assembly does appoint this method of citations in cases of transportations to be observed only where the Presbyteries concerned shall see cause to take that course, in which case, they hereby declare the citation so given to be a valid citation, but that it shall be optional to the Presbytery to follow this course, or do it by their officers as formerly.
VIII. Eadem Sessione.—Act anent Scandalous Persons turning Popish.
The General Assembly, considering that some persons when challenged for scandal do turn Popish, or pretend to do so to avoid censure, do, therefore, enact that the Church proceed to the censure of excommunication against such after all the due pains taken to reclaim them prove ineffectual; and appoints this present act to be intimated in all the churches within this kingdom.
IX. Eadem Sessione.—Act anent Excommunication.
The General Assembly, considering that the sentence of excommunication is much despised, and that persons do continue to converse unnecessarily and familiarly with such as lie under that sentence, as if they were not excommunicated, do, therefore, enact and appoint that the sentence of excommunication being first intimated throughout all the churches within the Presbytery where the said sentence was pronounced, if the person continue obstinate, that then the Presbyteries give an account thereof to the Synod, who are to appoint the like intimation to be made in all the churches within their bounds; and if, notwithstanding of this and other due means used to reclaim them, they shall continue obstinate, in that case, the Assembly appoints an account of their names, and sentence passed against them, to be brought by the said Synod to the General Assembly, that they may appoint intimation thereof to be made through all the churches of the kingdom: And the Assembly does appoint that at the foresaid respective intimations ministers do take occasion to hold forth the sad state and condition of excommunicated persons, and that they inform the people how to carry towards them.
X. Eadem Sessione.—Act anent Students passing Trials.
The Assembly does appoint that strict notice be taken of such as pass their trials in order to the ministry, and, for that end, do retify and revive all former acts of Assembly made in relation thereunto, and, in particular, the article allowed by the General Assembly, anno 1596, and approven in the General Assembly at Glasgow, 1638, article 13, session 7, renewed ultimo Augusti, 1647, session 27, anent the age of such; as also, the 10th act of the General Assembly, 1694, and the 22d act of the General Assembly, 1696: And do further ordain, that the catechetical trials be not perfunctoriously gone about, and that Presbyteries do appoint some of their number to examine them, in their own presence, upon the several heads of divinity and government of the Church, and to know what reason they can give of their faith and sentiments in these matters, and if they can answer some principal objections, and that previously to all other parts of their trials; and that this be not done hastily, but that a particular competent time be allowed for that purpose; and that there be a trial also given to probationers of their gifts as to lecturing, and the General Assembly does hereby require and enjoin that the several Synods at their privy censures make strict inquiry how the Presbyteries within their bounds have observed this and other acts of Assemblies made to this purpose.
XI. Eadem Sessione.—Act against Profaneness, with a Recommendation to the Commission thereanent.
The General Assembly, for the more effectual restraining of profaneness and immorality, and obtaining the exact execution of the laws against them, do hereby recommend to the Commission to be nominated by them, that they appoint some of their number with the clerk, to draw up an abstract of all the Acts of Assemblies to that purpose, both before and since the late Revolution, which being revised and approven by the Commission at their quarterly meeting in June, may by them be ordered to be printed, together with the abstract of the acts of Parliament against profaneness, in a small volume; and each Presbytery is hereby enjoined, twice a year at least, at diets appointed in hunc effectum, to read these, and to inquire at each minister what is done by him for the execution thereof; and every Synod is hereby ordained to take a strict account of the diligence and faithfulness of Presbyteries therein: And the General Assembly hereby likewise recommends to all Presbyteries to think seriously what may be further needful for restraining of wickedness, and advancing of piety and the kingdom of Christ in the nation, and send in their overtures concerning the same to the next General Assembly, who may take these into their serious consideration, and make this their chief and first work.
XII. Eadem Sessione.—Act anent Preaching or Disseminating Erroneous Doctrine.
The General Assembly, for vindicating the truths of God professed in this Church, and for suppressing of errors, do hereby discharge all persons to preach or disseminate any erroneous doctrine opposite to any head or article of the Confession of Faith of this Church; and, particularly, discharges the venting any Arminian or Socinian errors; and do ordain the respective judicatories of this Church to advert to any who shall teach or vent such errors, and proceed to censure them therefor, as shall be found just and requisite for suppressing the same: And more especially, the General Assembly does hereby recommend to the Synod of Fife to take heed to Mr James Grahame at Dunfermline, that he contravene not this act.
XIII. Eadem Sessione.—Act for bestowing Bursaries upon Students having Irish.
The General Assembly, taking into their consideration that now, through the mercy and goodness of God, most of the Lowland Presbyteries be-South Tay are competently planted, and that the promoting of knowledge, religion, and civility, in the Highlands is the common concern of this National Church, do therefore enact and appoint, that the one half of all the bursaries of the Presbyteries be-South Tay, including that part of the Synod of Perth that lies be-North Tay, be paid in to collectors to be appointed by the respective Presbyteries of Glasgow, Edinburgh, and St Andrews, which Presbyteries are to be accountable to their respective Synods concerned for what money they receive, the one half thereof to be applied for the education of such youths as have the Irish language, in philosophy and divinity, at the Colleges of Edinburgh, Glasgow, and St Andrews, and the other half to be disposed of to Lowland bursars, or such other pious uses as the respective Synods shall think fit; and for this end, the Synods of Glasgow, Galloway, and Dumfries, are to pay their bursaries to a collector to be appointed by the Presbytery of Glasgow, and under their inspection accountable to their Synods; in like manner, the Synods of Merse and Lothian to the Presbytery of Edinburgh; the Synods of Fife, Perth, and Stirling, to the Presby tery of St Andrews; and this to begin at October next, and to continue for four years, or longer, as the General Assembly shall see cause. That to the Synod of Argyle (who have a gift of vacancies for training youth) a certain small number of the bursaries payable to the collector to be appointed by the Presbytery of Glasgow be allotted, and all the rest for the other Highlands, and none are to have the benefit of any of the said bursaries, but such as bring a testimonial or recommendation from the Synods respectively to which they belong, bearing their having been examined by that Synod, and the Synod's good hopes of them as sober youths, piously inclined, and well affected to the government of the Church and State, and that they have the Irish language, and being good proficients in the Latin, and such as they judge may in due time prove able ministers of the Gospel or schoolmasters; and that they have obliged themselves to employ their talents in these services in the Highlands, either within the bounds of the Synods recommending them, or some others by their allowance, and that these testimonials be recorded with their names, and reported to each General Assembly: And further, the General Assembly does hereby renew the 8th Act of the General Assembly, anno 1701, entitled, "Recommendation to the Synods anent Maintaining of Bursars having the Irish Language;" and appoints the said act to be observed until the General Assembly see cause to recal the same.
XIV. Eadem Sessione.—Act anent Erecting Schools in the Highlands.
The General Assembly, taking into their consideration that the planting and propagating of religion in the Highlands is a work of charity to perishing souls there, and of great importance to this Church and nation, to which every one in their station, especially ministers of the Gospel, ought, with much cheerfulness and forward zeal, to afford their best endeavours and assistance; and being informed of the good inclinations of many, and their willingness to contribute for so good a work, and that the Synod of Glasgow and Ayr have made a laudable progress therein, this Assembly, for their parts, (until further advances be made in that noble and Christian design,) declare themselves willing to concur, as the matter and its success shall open unto them, and do, in pursuance of what is recommended to them by her Majesty's gracious letter, agree that there be a voluntary contribution made, by way of subscription, in each Presbytery within this kingdom, and that in like manner they gather up by subscriptions, or otherwise, from noblemen, gentlemen, and other charitably disposed persons, within their respective parishes, and in those that are vacant, by the Presbytery's direction and order, what they can get for erecting schools and educating youths in the Highlands and Islands, where the same is not provided for already; and that what is collected in the Synods of Glasgow and Ayr, Dumfries and Galloway, be sent in to the Presbytery of Glasgow;—that the Synods of Lothian and Tweeddale, Merse and Teviotdale, send in their collections to the Presbytery of Edinburgh;—that the Synods of Fife, Perth, and Stirling, send in their collections to the Presbytery of St Andrews;—the Synods of Angus and Mearns, and Aberdeen, to the Presbytery of Aberdeen;—and the said Presbyteries of Glasgow, Edinburgh, St Andrews, and Aberdeen, are to take care to secure what of the contributions comes to their hands, and to be accountable to their respective Synods; and the management and disposal of what is so collected is hereby recommended to the Commission of the General Assembly; for which end, Synods or Presbyteries who receive what is collected are appointed to send an account thereof quarterly to the foresaid Commission. But the other Presbyteries concerned in the Highlands and Islands are to have the management of the collections made within their own bounds, as they shall find most effectual for attaining the said design, and to be accountable to their own Synods; which way of management is to continue till the next Assembly; and Synods are desired to send in their opinions concerning the promoting and further carrying on of the said design to the next Assembly: And the Assembly further recommends it to their said Commission, as they shall find needful and convenient, to apply to the Parliament, Lords of her Majesty's Privy Council, and those in the Government, for their concurrence and assistance in this matter, and for inter poning their authority for getting the said schools erected, and obliging parents to put their children thereto, and for making the said design effectual: And, lastly, it is recommended to the Presbyteries and Synods concerned in the Highlands, to send in to the Commission an account of what parishes have or want schools, and the reasons of their wanting thereof, and what places do most need, and are most convenient for erecting schools in; as also to send in an account of such students as are hopeful, whom they would have supplied, and this without prejudice of schools in every parish, appointed by act of Parliament, and of the royal gifts in favour of the Highlands: And the General Assembly recommends to the Commission to cause reprint and disperse the reasons and motives for carrying on the said design.
XV. Sess. 11, March 28, 1704, post meridiem.—Act approving the Actings and Proceedings of the Commission of the General Assembly, anno 1703.
The General Assembly, having this day had reproduced in their presence the registers of the actings and proceedings of the Commission appointed by the last Assembly; and having heard a report of the committee of their own number, who were not members of the said Commission, appointed to revise, examine, and consider, the said register, with their observations thereupon, and the answers made thereto by the moderator and other members of the said Commission, the members of the said Commission were removed, and Mr John Bannatyne was chosen moderator pro tempore, the Moderator of this Assembly having been a member of the said Commission; and the General Assembly having maturely considered the said report and answers, do find that the whole actings, proceedings, and conclusions, of the said Commission, contained in two registers thereof, subscribed by Mr George Meldrum, Moderator, and Mr John Dundas, Clerk, do evidence much wisdom, prudence, zeal, and diligence, and that the said Commission have proceeded orderly and formally in every thing, according to their commission and instructions; and, therefore, this Assembly, by an unanimous vote, did, and hereby do, ratify and approve the whole actings, proceedings, and conclusions, of the said Commission, contained in the said two registers of the same, beginning the 24th day of March 1703, and ending the 2d day of March current, inclusive; 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 done to this Church; and then the Moderator and Clerk to this Assembly took their places.
XVI. Sess. 12, March 29, 1704, ante meridiem.—Act and Recommendation anent Regulation of the Commission of the General Assembly.
Seeing, by the instructions brought in from Presbyteries to this and preceding Assemblies, it appears to be the desire of several Presbyteries that there be some just and equal representation of the several Synods and Presbyteries upon the Commission; therefore, the Assembly, not having time now to adjust that matter, appoints the several Presbyteries to consider seriously upon it, and to send in their advice thereanent to the next ensuing General Assembly; particularly as to what number of persons out of each Synod or Presbytery are fit to be upon the Commission; how the persons shall be nominated and chosen at the Assembly, and how they may be obliged to attend duly upon the diets of the Commission when it meets; and to consider of the best methods for supplying their charges with preaching, and defraying their expenses, or concerning any other thing needful to the said regulation; and, in the meantime, that the Commission to be appointed by this Assembly may the more regularly proceed, and effectually execute their commission and instructions, the Assembly recommends it to the several Presbyteries to be careful to send in at least one of their number to attend the diets of the said Commission, and to supply the charges of such with preaching, and to furnish their necessary charges and expenses when attending, as said is: And that the Assembly may be in the better case to re gulate this and other things of importance, the General Assembly does recommend it to Presbyteries to choose the wisest and most grave and experienced of their number to represent them in the next Assembly.
XVII. Eadem Session.—Act anent Libraries in the Highlands.
The General Assembly, taking into their consideration that there is a project set on foot by some piously inclined persons in this and the neighbouring nation of England, for erecting libraries in the Highlands of this kingdom, and that good advances have been made therein, do declare their approbation of that design, and appoints a letter of thanks to be written to the Society in England for Propagating Christian Knowledge, and to others who have given their concurrence and assistance in this matter; and the General Assembly empowers the Commission to apply to the Lords of her Majesty's Privy Council or Treasury for their assistance, in order to the bringing down of the said books from England, and transmitting the same to the places under written, at which they are to be fixed in this kingdom. And the said Commission is hereby empowered to give their best advice and assistance for making this project effectual. And, lastly, they are to use their endeavours for getting a new impression of the Bible in Irish; and the General Assembly renews the recommendation of the Assembly, anno 1699, to the Synod of Argyle, for translating the Confession of Faith, and Larger Catechism, in the Irish language, with a vocabulary of the most necessary and useful terms in divinity; and likewise renews the 22d Act of the General Assembly, anno 1694, concerning the use of the Irish Psalms and Shorter Catechism. And the General Assembly does agree that one of the said libraries be fixed at Dumbarton, two in the Presbytery of Dunblane, three in the province of Ross, one in the Presbytery of Sutherland, two in the Presbytery of Caithness, one in Orkney, one in Zetland, four in the province of Moray, four in the Presbytery of Dunkeld, and twelve in the Synod of Argyle, including the Western Isles, in such places as the respective Synods and Presbyteries of these bounds shall agree upon.
XVIII. Sess. 13, March 30, 1704, ante meridiem.—Act against Schism and Disorders, and anent Mr John M'Millan and Mr John Hepburn.
The General Assembly, taking into their consideration that, notwithstanding this Church doth adhere to her former doctrine, worship, discipline, and government, yet some, under a pretext of zeal, do separate and withdraw from communion with her; do, therefore, enjoin all Presbyteries and Synods to censure such persons who do, within their bounds, carry on divisive courses, and that they vigorously use all suitable means for reclaiming misled people, and for the preventing the growth of schism; and that the Commission of the General Assembly shall give their assistance in this good work to the several judicatories, as need shall require: And the General Assembly, having also considered a petition and reference of the Presbytery of Kirkcudbright, concerning Mr John M'Millan, who exercises the ministry in Balmaghie, and other places, after his being deposed, and the report of a committee appointed by them to consider that affair, bearing that they, having heard the whole process of the Presbytery against him, and deliberated thereon, gave it as their opinion, that he (being cited to this Assembly, by the said Presbytery of Kirkcudbright, apud acta, for contumacy, in contravening their sentence of deposition) be called, and if he appear not, that the Assembly refer this affair to their Commission, who shall cause cite Mr John M'Millan to compear before them, and do therein as they shall see cause. And Mr John Hepburn being delated by the Presbytery of Kirkcudbright for preaching in the kirk of Balmaghie, in their bounds, without being desired by them; yea, even when another was appointed by them to preach there, and for employing the deposed Mr John M'Millan to preach for him at Orr; and several other Presbyteries bringing in complaints against the said Mr John Hepburn of his disobedience to the act of the General Assembly, anno 1699, reponing him to the exercise of his ministry, in his not corresponding with nor being a constituent member of the Presbyteries of Dumfries or Kirkcudbright, as the said act requires; and by preaching in several Presbyteries, both in vacant and planted parishes, without the respective Presbytery's allowance; and baptizing children coming from several parishes, without testimonials from the ministers of these parishes, or their sessions: Therefore, the General Assembly refers also the affair of the said Mr John Hepburn to their Commission, and empowers and enjoins them to cite him before them, and take trial of the disorders he is charged with, and proceed against him with the censures of the Church, as they shall see cause; and, if need be, that they send a committee into the bounds of Dumfries and Galloway for both these affairs, and visiting these bounds, which Committee shall concur with the respective judicatories there, in cognoscing of any schism or immoralities that may have fallen out, and of error and insufficieney in any that may be delated on that account; which overture and act being read and considered, the Assembly did, by their vote, approve thereof; and Mr John M'Millan being accordingly three several times publicly called at the door, and not compearing, therefore the General Assembly referred and appointed, according to the said act in all points.
XIX. Eadem Sessione.—Commission to some Ministers and Elders for Planting Vacant Kirks in the North, the Highlands and Islands, and other Affairs remitted to them.
The General Assembly, considering that there are yet some vacant churches on the North side of Tay, and in the Highlands, as likewise several weighty affairs which this Assembly cannot overtake, do, therefore, find it needful that there be a Commission granted to some Ministers and Ruling Elders for planting these vacant churches, and doing what shall be referred to them, concerning the Highlands and Islands, and other matters; and, for that end, do hereby nominate, commission, and appoint, Mr Hugh Anderson at Cromarty, &c., &c., to be Commissioners of this General Assembly, to the effect before and after mentioned, with full power to the said persons, &c., &c. [The powers granted to the Commission are the same as in the preceding year.]
XX. Eadem Sessione.—Instructions to the Commission.
1. That this Commission, as often as they shall see cause, apply to the Government, or any magistrate, for their countenancing of and concurring with the judicatories of the Church, in what the law allows, and for putting in execution the laws against Popery and profaneness, and seeking redress of grievances, particularly the abuses or disorders committed contrary to the established Presbyterian government of this Church, the contempt of the censures of the judicatories thereof, inflicted on scandalous persons, and for settling vacant congregations, regulating the poor, by providing maintenance and labour for them, and to meet when the Parliament sits.
3. That this Commission use their utmost diligence for getting payment of the money gifted by the Queen's Majesty for defraying the public charges of the Church; and, in disposing thereof, they are particularly to take care that the public debts of the Church be first paid; the encouragement granted by the General Assembly, anno 1699, to probationers who go North, or to the Highlands to preach, be rendered effectual; and that they cause defray the extraordinary charges and expenses that ministers of the North have been at, in carrying on the planting of churches, and other public affairs of the Church there.
6. That this Commission give advice and assistance to any Synod or Presbytery in difficult cases, as they shall be applied unto by them for that effect: As also, this Commission is empowered to proceed according to the 7th Act of the General Assembly, 1700, made in favour of the Presbyteries of Caithness, Orkney, and Zetland; their Synod being to meet only once in the year, and so cannot give them all the assistance that is necessary.
10. That the Commission apply to the Parliament for getting a Commission for plantation of kirks and valuation of teinds, and another Commission for visitation of schools and colleges, and to use their utmost endeavours to make the design thereof effectual, particularly for preventing or redressing any corruption that may be found in doctrine or manners, and whatever may have a tendency thereto.
11. That the Commission have a special respect to the 9th Act of the General Assembly, 1703, entitled, "Act approving some Overtures concerning the Planting Vacant Churches in the North, and Highlands and Islands, and supplying thereof with Ministers and Probationers, and promoting Religion and the Knowledge of God in these Places." And the Commission are hereby empowered to proceed according to these overtures, in so far as they shall find needful.
XXI. Eadem Sessione.—Act against Popery, and for sending in the Names of all Papists to the Clerks of the Privy Council.
The General Assembly, taking into their consideration the growth of Popery, and that it is incumbent on them to do all they can for suppressing thereof, do appoint Presbyteries to send in lists to the clerks of her Majesty's Privy Council, conform to the Acts of Parliament and proclamations of Council thereanent, of all Papists within their bounds; and that these lists be particular as to the names and designations of the persons who entertain them, and contain the places where they are entertained, and where they preach, and hear and say mass, and that they be particular as to the evidences, by giving the names and designations of the witnesses; and, in respect that ministers, when they come to deal with Papists, in order to bring them off from their errors, are by them and their friends abused and maltreated, and violence offered to their persons, the General Assembly do hereby appoint their Commission to apply to the Government to provide for the security of ministers who undertake this work, that they may be protected from violence and injuries.
XXII. Eadem Sessione.—Recommendation against Protestants Marrying with Papists.
The General Assembly recommends to ministers to be at pains to dehort their people from marrying with Papists, and hold forth the dangerous effects thereof; and the General Assembly do hereby instruct their Commission to apply to the Parliament for an act discharging such unequal marriages, and recommends to the several Presbyteries to think upon some overtures that may tend to prevent such marriages.
XXIII. Eadem Sessione.—Act appointing Presbyteries to send in their Opinions concerning some Overtures transmitted in the year 1698.
The General Assembly do hereby appoint the several Presbyteries to send in to the next Assembly their opinions in writing, according to the 16th Act of the General Assembly, anno 1700, anent the printed overtures, concerning the method and form of the procedure of the judicatories of the Church against scandalous persons, formerly transmitted by the Commission of the General Assembly, 1698, and subjoined to the Acts of the Assembly that year.
XXIV. Sess. 14, Eodem die, post meridiem.—Act in favour of the Kirk of Campvere.
The General Assembly, having heard a representation made to them by Sir Andrew Kennedy of Clowburn, Conservator of the Scots Privileges in the Netherlands, and ruling elder, commissioned from the Consistory of the Scots Kirk of Campvere, in Zealand, bearing that there were several propositions concerning the said Kirk, given in to and approven by the General Assembly, anno 1642, which are yet standing recorded in the Consistory books there, and in respect the registers of the General Assembly were destroyed by fire, therefore, craving to the effect after mentioned; the General Assembly having considered this request, and finding the said propositions just and reasonable, do hereby, of new, enact and authorise the propositions after mentioned, and appoints them to be contained and inserted in the registers of this Assembly, the tenor whereof follows:—"St Andrews, August 6, 1642, Sess. 13.—Propositions concerning the Kirk of Campvere, given in to the Assembly from the Committee of Overtures. Since it has pleased the Assembly to join the Scots Kirk at Campvere with this Kirk, it were not amiss that the moderator should call for the minister of it, Mr William Spang, to direct him, in the name of the Assembly, to observe henceforth that order in the outward worship of God, and exercise of discipline, as is here received by law and practice. 2do, That since the Assembly condescendeth that commissioners from that Kirk of Campvere shall come but now and then, as commodiously they may, that they are not hereby to plead a continual exemption, but must resolve to come to the Assembly every third year at least, with a ruling elder. 3tio, That whatsoever difficulty shall occur in the exercise of discipline, which the session there shall find too difficult for them, that they acquiant the Presbytery of Edinburgh, or commissioners from the General Assembly, with the same, to receive counsel and advice from them. 4to, That an act may be made for the payment of the expenses of the minister's coming hither at the Assembly's command, lest the losses sustained will make him and the ruling elder afterwards more unwilling to come so long a journey. These propositions were read and approven by the Assembly, and Mr William Spang, minister at the said kirk, and commissioner to this Assembly, promised to endeavour, by the Lord's assistance, to obey the directions there mentioned. Extracted forth of the books of the General Assembly, by me, Sir Archibald Johnston, clerk thereto. (Sic subscribitur) A. Johnston, Cls. Eccl." Follows the attestation of the Consistory of Campvere. "That this is the true and full extract of the above written acts, as contained in this our said register, is, after reading and comparing of the same by the Consistory of this staple Church, attested in their name, at their appointment, and in their presence, at Campvere, 5th March 1704, by John Chalmers, minister and session-clerk." And, 2do, The said Sir Andrew Kennedy, conform to a particular instruction given to him by the said Consistory, farther craved, that the said General Assembly would be pleased to empower and authorise all Commissions of this, or the subsequent Assemblies of this Church, to act, cognosce, advise, and determine, in all affairs belonging to the said Kirk and Consistory of Campvere, that shall be proposed to, or pursued before them, as their immediate superior judicatory. The General Assembly having considered the pre mises, do hereby empower and authorise the foresaid Commissions in manner as above craved, and appoint their clerk to record the same in their books; and, farther, the said Sir Andrew Kennedy craved, conform to his instructions thereanent, that the expense of their commissioners to the Assemblies may be paid them by the public. The Assembly, having considered this desire, do recommend it to the said Consistory of Campvere to pay the charges of their own commissioners out of their own stock, until this Church be in a better capacity to assist them.
XXV. Eadem Sessione.—Act anent preparing a Form of Process, and the Overtures concerning Church Discipline.
The General Assembly, taking into their consideration that all the former endeavours about the bringing the printed Overtures of Discipline to a period, have not had the desired effect; do, therefore, nominate the Rev. Mr Thomas Wilkie, their Moderator, Messrs William Crighton, John Law, George Meldrum, George Hamilton, David Blair, William Carstairs, and Charles Gordon, Ministers; the Lord President of the Session, the Lord Advocate, Lord Halcraig, and Lord Tillycoultry, Ruling Elders; as a committee, to meet and continue together until they have concerted and agreed upon a form of process for regulating the procedure of Church judicatories for the future, and recommends to them to have the same in readiness against the next Assembly; and, for that end, to prepare it against the quarterly meeting of the Commission in June next; that it being revised by them, may be transmitted to the several Presbyteries for their opinions thereanent, to be reported to the next Assembly; and the said Commission are appointed to name the diets and place of the said committee's meeting: And, farther, the Assembly considering that albeit the printed Overtures for Discipline be not so succinct as need were, yet that the same, as now amended, may be very useful, do, therefore, recommend to the Commission to cause again revise the said whole overtures, with the amendments, and cause reprint and transmit the same to the several Presbyteries, that their opinion thereanent may be reported to the next Assembly, who are to order what is to be done therewith as they shall think meet.
XXVI. Sess. 15 et ultima, March 31, 1704, ante meridiem.—Act anent a Fast.
The General Assembly, considering the present unseasonableness of the weather in seed-time, with many other weighty grounds and causes of fasting and humiliation before God, do judge it fit that a day be set apart for that solemn duty; but considering that much of the seed-time might be over before a fast could be obtained in one day, through the whole nation, and that the case of the country is different in the several bounds of Synods and Presbyteries; therefore, they most seriously and earnestly recommend it to the several Synods and Presbyteries within this National Church, to appoint and set apart a day for prayer and fasting within their respective bounds, and to condescend upon the causes thereof, suitable to the present circumstances of affairs, both at home and abroad, and the special circumstances of their several bounds, and that this be done as soon as can be: And the General Assembly recommends to ministers, to be most serious in holding forth to their people the grievous sins of this land, and the tokens of God's displeasure because of them, expressed many ways, and particularly by the unseasonableness of the weather in seedtime, and exhorting them to servent prayer, and serious repentance and reformation; and, that the said humiliation and fast may be more speedily and seasonably gone about, the General Assembly appoints the several ministers, members of this Assembly, to acquaint their Presbyteries of this appointment, that ministers and people may have time to prepare themselves suitably for such a solemn work, and orders these presents to be printed, that copies thereof may be in readiness for the commissioners from the several Presbyteries to take along with them.
XXVII. Eadem Sessione.—Act anent the Registers of the Church.
The General Assembly, considering the prejudice the Church sustains through the loss of the registers thereof, and being informed that some of them, and other papers that may be useful for the Church, are in the hands of several persons both in this and our neighbour nation in England, do renew the recommendation contained in the 11th act of the General Assembly, anno 1703, and empowers their Commission to do according thereto.