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 29, 1705
I. Sess. 1, March 29, 1705.—The Queen's Commission to William Marquis of Annandale, produced and ordered to be Recorded.
The General Assembly of the ministers and ruling elders of this National Church, being convened and constituted, there was produced to them by the Right Honourable. William Marquis of Annandale, principal Secretary of State, her Majesty's commission, under the Great Seal of this kingdom, appointing 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 ordained the same to be recorded in their registers, 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. We are very well satisfied with the accounts we have had of the dutiful and moderate proceedings of former Assemblies, and, therefore, we do most willingly countenance your meeting at this time. We doubt not but you will improve this opportunity for promoting of piety and religion, discouraging vice and immorality, and preserving good order in the Church, in all which you shall have our hearty concurrence.
We do earnestly recommend to your care the planting of the vacant Churches with pious and learned ministers, especially in the Highlands and Islands. And it will be worthy of your serious consideration, to make a right distribution of those libraries which have been so piously mortified for the Churches in those parts. We have ordered the charges of transporting them to be paid out of our Treasury, and nothing shall be wanting on our part for encouraging so pious a design. We have appointed our right trusty and entirely beloved cousin and councillor, William Marquis of Annandale, 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. Him we have fully instructed in what may be further necessary; and, therefore, you may give him entire trust and credit. We doubt not but you will proceed with your usual moderation and unanimity; and assuring you of our firm resolutions to maintain the established government of the Church, we bid you heartily farewell.
III. Sess. 3, March 31, 1705.— The General Assembly's Answer to the Queen's gracious Letter.
May it please your Majesty,
We have received with all thankful acknowledgments the expressions your Majesty is pleased to make in your gracious letter, of your satisfaction with the proceedings of our former Assemblies, and the assurance you give us of your royal favour and countenance in our present meeting, which do not only oblige us, but we trust, through the blessing of God, shall enable us to improve this opportunity for the great and good ends proposed.
Your Majesty's zealous concern for the promoting of piety, and the preserving and securing of the true Protestant religion every where, and even to all after ages, with your royal care to discourage vice and immorality, will be the perpetual glory of your reign and memory; so that we cannot but in our station, and by the means proper for us, with all sincerity, and in obedience to our great Lord and Master, endeavour to follow so great an example, and, for that end, to preserve in this Church the good order to which your Majesty is pleased to promise us your hearty concurrence.
We shall observe your Majesty's recommendation for planting of vacant Churches, especially in the Highlands and Islands, with learned and pious ministers; not doubting but that your Majesty will continue the encouragement that hitherto you have given us in that work, by contributing to the building and reparation of Churches, and settling legal provisions where the same are found wanting; nor shall we be less careful of the right distribution of those libraries which have been so piously mortified for the use of this Church, and which your Majesty so graciously promises to assist.
The choice your Majesty hath been pleased to make of the Marquis of Annandale to represent your royal person in this Assembly, after the experience we have had both of his sufficiency and fidelity to your Majesty, and his good affection toward this Church, is not only to us most acceptable, but a very particular and obliging proof of your Majesty's regard to all our concerns, which do most especially oblige us to give him that trust and credit which your Majesty requires.
Your Majesty having been pleased to give us all assurances of your firm resolution to maintain the established government of this Church, we shall ever study to testify our grateful sense of the same, and shall observe that moderation and unanimity your Majesty expects.
That God may long preserve your Majesty for the good of all your people, the
maintaining of the true Protestant religion, and the protection and comfort of all the
Churches of Christ, and that he may still prosper your arms against all your enemies,
specially that grand enemy both of religion and righteousness, who supports an
usurper against your Majesty, and would impose upon us a Popish successor, to the
subversion of our holy religion, and the ruin of this your ancient kingdom, and
that a Protestant may always sit on the throne, which (we bless God) your Majesty
expresses so much concern for, shall be the earnest and constant 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. 6, April 4, 1705, post meridiem.—Act concerning the Method and Form of Procedure of Judicatories of the Church against Seandalous Persons.
With respect to scandals, the grossness whereof makes it necessary to bring the persons guilty oftener than once before the congregation, the General Assembly does hereby appoint and ordain, that after such persons are convicted before the Session, it be judicially declared to them, that they have rendered themselves incapable of communion with the people of God in sealing ordinances, and that they be appointed to appear in public to be rebuked for their sin, whether they appear penitent or not, conform to the institution, 1 Tim, v. 20. And it is hereby referred to the respective judicatories of the Church concerned, to determine how often such delinquents shall appear in public, as they shall find it to tend most for edification; and the Ge neral Assembly ordains, that after a public rebuke, the ministers and elders be at farther pains in instructing the minds of the scandalous persons, if ignorant, in endeavouring to convince their consciences, and to bring them to a due sense of their sin, and to an engagement and serious resolution against all known sin, and to the performance of all known duty; and that the Session, upon satisfaction with their knowledge and sense of their sin, do admit them to the public profession of their repentance, in order to absolution; but if, after taking pains on them for some competent time for their instruction and conviction, they still remain grossly ignorant, insensible, and unreformed, the ministers and elders are to advise with the Presbytery of the bounds, and if the Presbytery shall see cause, that then the sentence of lesser excommunication be publicly pronounced against them in face of the congregation, from which they are not to be relaxed, nor admitted to make public profession of their repentance in order thereto, till the Session be satisfied with their knowledge, seriousness, and reformation. And, lastly, the General Assembly ordains, that the names of such as are under the foresaid censure of lesser excommunication be publicly read out the Lord's day immediately preceding that upon which the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper is to be administered.
V. Sess. 7, April 5, 1705, post meridiem.—Act concerning Schools and Bursaries, and for Instructing Youth in the Principles of Religion.
The General Assembly, considering how much it will tend to the increase of Christian knowledge and learning, and the advantage of true piety and religion, that schools and colleges be duly regulated, and bursaries rightly bestowed; do therefore appoint and ordain, that ministers take care to have schools erected in every parish, conform to the acts of Parliament, for teaching of youth to read English, that the poor be taught upon charity, and that none be suffered to neglect the teaching of their children to read; and suchlike, that in no parish the minister recommend youth to be taught Latin upon charity in any grammar school; but after examining the said child or children in presence of three or four members of the Session, as to their prompitude and dexterity in reading and competent skill in writing, as to their virtuous inclinations, and as to the hopefulness of their proficiency, and that none be received in grammar schools to be taught Latin upon charity, but upon such recommendations; and also, that each Presbytery appoint a committee of their number yearly to examine the poor scholars in the grammar schools, and such within their bounds as go to colleges with an eye to bursaries, and suffer none to proceed but such as are very forward and good proficients and of good behaviour, and that ministers recommend none to bursaries but such as are so qualified; and the General Assembly does hereby recommend to regents and masters of colleges, that no person, especially bursars, be laureated, but upon a clear evidence of sufficiency of their learning and good behaviour after strict examination. And suchlike, recommends it to masters in universities, and all other instructors of youth, that they be careful to instruct their scholars in the principles of the Christian reformed religion, according to the holy Scriptures, our Confession of Faith, or such books only as are entirely agrecable thereto. As also, recommends it to professors of theology, that they take very particular notice of the piety and Christian carriage of their students, and that their testimonials to Presbyteries for entering men on trials for the ministry, bear their knowledge of the persons recommended, as to their moral and pions carriage, as to their progress in their studies and their promising parts, and of their good affection to the government of Church and State, and that the professor does truly judge the person fit for the service of the Church, and Presbyteries are enjoined to receive none upon testimonials from professors but who are so attested.
VI. Sess. 7, April 5, 1705, post Meridiem.—Act concerning the Regulation of the Commissions of the General Assemblies, and the Attendance of Members thereon.
The General Assembly, having heard and considered the opinions of the several Presbyteries, in relation to the regulating of the Commissions of the General Assemblies, returned to them in obedience to the 16th Act of the last Assembly, did, in pursuance thereof, after full reasoning and mature deliberation, agree as follows, viz.;—The General Assembly, considering how much it concerns the good of the Church, that any commissions which may be found needful to be granted by this and subsequent General Assemblies be duly regulated; do, therefore, appoint and ordain, that in time coming the whole Presbyteries of this National Church be equally represented in Commissions, and that their representation be proportional to the number of ministers that are in each Presbytery, the old ministers who were ordained before the year 1662 being always supernumerary; and suchlike, that two or three of the members of the General Assembly in each Synod be appointed as a committee to name the members of the Commission, and that the whole representatives of Presbyteries in the several Synods at the Assembly do meet by themselves, and name their respective members of the said committee; and it is hereby declared, that it shall be free to any member of the Assembly to attend the said committee if they think fit. And the General Assembly does appoint the expenses of the said commissioners to be borne and defrayed by the several Presbyteries which they represent, according to the number of the days of their attendance, and that their Presbyteries take care to supply their charges with preaching during their absence, upon the account foresaid; and that such as shall be absent from the said Commissions, or diets of the same, without a reasonable excuse, represented to and admitted by the Commission, be censured by their respective Synods; and that the Clerk of the Commission send lists of these absentees to the several Synods for that end, according to the 6th Act of the General Assembly, held in the year 1703.
VII. Sess. 10, April 9, 1705, ante meridiem.—Sentence of Deposition against Mr John Hepburn.
The General Assembly took into their serious consideration the libel raised at the instance of John Blair, agent for the Kirk, against Mr John Hepburn, minister of the Gospel, before the Commission of the late General Assembly, and by them referred to this Assembly—his confessions of the chief articles thereof, contained in his answers subscribed with his hand—his judicial acknowledgments before the said Commission—all which were read before this Assembly; as also, his judicial acknowledgments before this Assembly: And, in particular, finding that he asserted that communicating with persons scandalous made those that communicate with them guilty of unworthy communicating—that he neither has dispensed the Holy Sacrament of the Lord's Supper to others, nor partaken thereof himself, for more than sixteen years—that both at Galston, Fenwick, London, and Calder, which are all planted parishes, he has preached, without warrant or invitation from the ministers thereof, and has baptized children in some of them without testimonials from the ministers or elders, and has also married persons in those and other places without orderly proclamation—that he did intrude into the parish of Balmaghie, after the late minister thereof, Mr John M'Millan, was deposed, and accused the Presbytery who deposed him of rashness and precipitancy in their sentence, and declared that he thought himself obliged to testify against it both by word and deed: And that he also owned, that in that same place he asserted that the Church of Scotland had gone off the foundation, and acknowledged also his intrusion in Kirkconnel, and several other vacant parished;—and that he also owned, that as to the substance, he said that the ministers clapped people's heads, and profaned the Sacrament, by giving it to drunkards, swearers, &c.;—and that, if they got not another religion, they and their religion would go to the bottomless pit;—he acknowledged that he called the oath of allegiance to the Queen's Majesty, as taken by ministers, a black oath, and that it was the highest act of Erastianism, and beyond other encroachments and compliances since the Revolution;—he confessed that he admitted a man belonging to another planted congregation to a public profession of repentance, and thereafter allowed him to hold up his child in baptism, and that without the sentence or concurrence of any session or other judicatory:—all which are contrary to his ordination engagements to an orderly walk. And the General Assembly, also finding that the said Mr John has been guilty of a continued tract of such erroneous, seditious, and divisive doctrines, and schismatical courses, and that he obstinately continues therein, refusing to be reclaimed, notwithstanding the long forbearance, the mild and gentle methods, and great pains that have been used by this Church in their former Assemblies and Commissions; inasmuch as he was in the year 1694 processed;—and was by the General Assembly, in the year 1696, found to deserve the highest censures of the Church; and yet, to manifest all tenderness to him, and willingness to reclaim him, that Assembly made very condescending offers to him, which he having slighted, was suspended, with certification, that if he contravened that sentence, he should be deposed;—then the General Assembly, in the year 1699, upon his application, and his professing a regard to the judicatories of this Church, his promising to confine his ministry within the parish of Orr, and to entertain a correspondence with the ministry of this Church, did take off that sentence, and enjoined him to an orderly walk, and to subjection to the judicatories of this Church;—and to correspond with the Presbyteries of Dumfries and Kirkcudbright; with certification; that not only new disorders, but even the grounds of former processes, should be led against him. All which promises Mr John Hepburn having broken, this process was raised and pursued against him before the Commission of the late Assembly, who (after near a twelvemonth's dependence, much forbearance, and many condescending offers made to him) found the libel both relevant and proven, but yet delayed sentence, and renewed their injunctions to an orderly walk, to try yet again the said Mr John his obedience and subjection to the judicatories of this Church; at length, finding all to have no effect or influence upon him, did refer the whole affair to this Assembly. The General Assembly, considering all these things, and finding that the said Mr John Hepburn continues obstinate and self-willed, and being about to proceed to a final determination in this affair, after serious and mature deliberation, parties were called in, to join in prayer to God for light and direction how to judge in this so important and weighty a matter; and prayer being ended and parties removed, the General Assembly did, by their vote, depose the said Mr John Hepburn; likeas they hereby do, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the alone King and Head of the Church, and by virtue of the power and authority committed by him to them, actually depose the said Mr John Hepburn from the office of the holy ministry, prohibiting and discharging him to exercise the same, or any part thereof, in all time coming, under the pain of the highest censures of the Church; and appoints this sentence to be publicly intimated from the pulpit of the New Church of Edinburgh, the next Lord's Day, after the forenoon sermon, by the minister that preaches there, and afterwards, with all convenient diligence, in the Kirk of Orr, and in all the remanent churches within the bounds of the Synods of Glasgow, Galloway, and Dumfries; and ordains the Presbytery of Dumfries to declare the Kirk of Orr vacant so soon as they can; and appoints extracts hereof to be sent to the several Presbyteries of these bounds for that end: And recommends it to all the brethren present in this Assembly to intimate this sentence of deposition in their respective Synods; and parties being called in, this was intimated to them.
VIII. Sess. 11, April 9, 1705, post meridiem.—Act approving the Actings and Proceedings of the Commission of the General Assembly, anno 1704.
IX. Sess. 12, April 10, 1705, ante meridiem.—Act against Profanation of the Lord's Day.
The General Assembly, taking into their serious consideration the great profanation of the Lord's Day, by multitudes of people walking idly upon the streets of the city of Edinburgh, Pier and Shore of Leith, in St Ann's Yards, and the Queen's Park, and in diverse places of the West Kirk parish, and on the Links of Leith, and other places, especially about Edinburgh, and that by persons of all ranks, many whereof are strangers, as the same hath been represented to them by the commissioners from the Presbytery of Edinburgh, in the name and by the appointment of that Presbytery; and considering, also, what hath been represented by several brethren anent the profanation of the Lord's Day in other places of the nation, by unnecessary travelling, and otherwise; and the General Assembly being deeply sensible of the great dishonour done to the holy God, and of the open contempt of God and man, manifested by such heavendaring profaneness, to the exposing of the nation to the heaviest judgments; therefore, they do, in the fear of God, earnestly exhort all the reverend brethren of the ministry, and other officers of the Church, to contribute their utmost endeavours, in their stations, for suppressing such gross profanation of the Lord's Day, by a vigorous and impartial, yet prudent exercise of the discipline of the Church, and by holding hand to the execution of the laudable laws of the nation against the guilty, in such way and manner as is allowed and required by law; and because the concurrence and assistance of the civil government will be absolutely necessary for the better curbing and restraining this crying sin, the General Assembly do hereby appoint their Commission to be nominated by them to address the Right Honourable the Lords of her Majesty's Privy Council, that their Lordships may be pleased to give such orders, and take such courses for restraining those abuses, as they, in their wisdom, shall judge most effectual.
X. Sess. 12, April 10, 1705, ante meridiem.—Recommendation concerning the Observation of the Directory for Worship.
The General Assembly hereby seriously recommends to all ministers and others within this National Church, the due observation of the Directory for the Public Worship of God, approven by the General Assembly held in the year 1645, Sess. 10.
XI. Sess. 12, April 10, 1705, ante meridiem.—Act anent Bursaries.
It being desired by several brethren that the 13th Act of the General Assembly anno 1704, entitled, "Act for bestowing Bursaries upon Students having Irish," might be explained in these heads: 1mo, Whether by that act the one-half of the bursaries be-south Tay be disposable by the respective Presbyteries, or by the Synods only? 2 do, If that act reaches bursaries presently current, or only such as were vacant at the date of that act? The General Assembly, as to the first, do declare, that the disposal of all these bursaries is only in the power of the Synods, and not of the Presbyteries. And as to the second, the General Assembly leaves it to the discretion of the several Synods to order this matter as they find convenient; and, for that end, recommends it to the said Synods to take an account from their respective Presbyteries, what bursars they have in their bounds, and at what time these burses will fall vacant, and that the Presbyteries be joined two and two, for making one Lowland burse of their two halves, appointed by the foresaid act for that end; and in case there by an odd Presbytery in a Synod, that that Synod dispose of that odd Presbytery's half to such pious uses as the Synod shall think fit.
XII. Sess. 12, April 10, 1705, ante meridiem.—Act concerning the Libraries for the Highlands, Islands, &c.
The which day, in presence of the General Assembly, upon report of the Committee appointed to manage the affair of the Highland Libraries, the General Assembly does divide the said whole libraries, both Presbyterial and parochial, as follows, viz.;—The Presbyterial libraries (whereof there are nineteen in all) thus: To the Presbytery of Zetland one, Orkney one, Caithness one, Sutherland one, Ross three, Inverness one, Aberlour one, Abernethy one, Strathbogie and Fordyce one, Dunkeld one, Argyle five, Dumbarton one; and seeing, after this distribution, there remains one Presbyterial library, the General Assembly bestows the same on the Synod of Argyle, but with a special respect to their remote and large islands, such as Lewis; and this in place of the distribution made by the 17th Act of the General Assembly, anno 1704. The parochial libraries being in number fifty eight, the Assembly distributes them to the parishes in the bounds of the Presbyteries after mentioned, as follows, viz.:—Zetland two, Orkney three, Caithness two, Sutherland two, Ross four, Inverness three, Aberlour two, Abernethy one, Alford one, Kincardine two, in the bounds of the Synods of Augus and Mearns three, in the Presbytery of Dunkeld four, Auchterarder two, Dunblane two, Dumbarton two, and for the bounds of the Synod of Argyle twenty three; and that these parochial libraries be fixed at such places as the respective Synods and Presbyteries shall find most convenient. And the General Assembly nominate the Rev. Mr William Carstairs, Moderator, Mr Thomas Wilkie in Canongate, Mr George Meldrum, Mr James Ramsay, Mr John Stirling, Mr David Williamson, Mr James Webster, Mr Patrick Cumming, Mr George Barclay, Mr Andrew Wardroper, Mr Andrew Thomson, Mr James Brown, and Mr William Wishart, Ministers; the Earl of Glasgow, Lord President of the Session, Lord Advocate, Lord Pollock, Lord Tilliconltry, Sir James Campbell of Aberuchil, Sir James Campbell of Auchinbreck, James Campbell of Ardkinlass, younger, and Mr James Anderson, Writer to the Signet, Ruling Elders; or any five of them, which is hereby declared to be a quorum, to be a committee for receiving the said libraries, when brought home, and giving orders anent the transmitting thereof to the respective places for which they are appointed; and the respective Presbyteries are desired to advise the foresaid committee of the best way of transmitting these libraries to them. And the General Assembly does hereby empower the foresaid committee to do every thing necessary toward the management of that whole affair, which may tend most for obtaining the ends for which these libraries are designed, and that until the next General Assembly, to whom they are to be accountable; and, particularly, to cause print several copies of the rules for ordering the said libraries, agreed upon by the last Assembly, and transmit the same to the Presbyteries concerned: And seeing that besides the seventy-seven libraries above mentioned, there are some presses of books not methodized and sorted, that the said committee digest them in order, and distribute them to such places as have most need, and therein a special regard is to be had to the remote Isles; and that they cause bind such of the books as are not bound, inspect the said libraries, compare them with the catalogues, and, if they find cause, to exchange some from parochial to Presbyterial libraries; and it is hereby recommended to them, that upon arrival of these libraries, they send and account thereof to Mr Vigerus Edwards and Andrew Bell at London, and that they write letters of thanks to the donors.
XIII. Sess. 13, April 10, 1705, post meridiem.—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, taking into their consideration that there are yet some vacant churches on the North side of Tay, and in the Highlands and Islands, as likewise several weightly 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 other affairs may be referred to them; and for that end, do hereby nominate, commission, and appoint their reverend brethren, Messrs William Crichton, minister at Edinburgh, &c., to be Commissioners of this General Assembly, to the effect before and after mentioned, with full power to the said persons or their quorum, which is hereby declared to be any twenty-one of the said Commissioners, whereof fifteen 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 Wednesday of June, second Wednesday of November, and last Wednesday of March next, and oftener, when and where they shall think needful and convenient, with 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 cognosce and finally determine as they shall see cause, in every matter referred, or that shall be referred to them, by any act or order of this Assembly, and to do every thing contained in and conform to the instructions given them by this Assembly, and likewise in all affairs referred to the Commission of the late Assembly, not as yet discussed. And, finally, with power to the said Commission to advert unto the interest of the Church on every occasion, and that the Church, and present establishment thereof, do not suffer or sustain any prejudice which belongs to them to prevent, as they will be answerable; and they are hereby strictly prohibited and discharged to meddle in any other matters than what are committed to them, and in all their actings they are to proceed according to the acts and constitutions of this Church, and do nothing contrary thereto, or to the prejudice of the same, declaring that in and for all their actings they shall be accountable to and censurable by the next General Assembly, as they shall see cause. And, lastly, this Commission is to continue and endure to the next General Assembly.
XIV. Sess. 13, April 10, 1705, post meridiem.—Instructions to the Commission of the General Assembly.
4. The foresaid Commission is to cognosee and finally determine in all references already made or to be made to them by this Assembly, and in references and appeals for transporting ministers to the North, the Highlands and Isles, which shall be brought before them, according to the overtune made thereanent, anno 1699; and that transportations to any parishes in these places, whether privileged by former acts of Assembly or not, be carried on, and that in the most expeditious way, providing that the Commission do not meddle with sentences of Synods, excepting causes specially referred to them by the Assembly.
7. This Commission is empowered to inquire how ministers transported by the General Assembly, or Commissions thereof, have obeyed or shall obey; and in case of disobedience, that they suspend the disobedient persons for three months; and in case they do not obey after these three months are elapsed, that then they be, simpliciter, deposed.
8. That the Commission give all due encouragement and assistance to any proposals that may be made to them anent endeavours for reformation of manners, and for the effectual curbing of profanity; and give all due assistance for suppressing of error and schism; and to take notice how any who have been censured by this of preceding Assemblies, or Commissions thereof, have obeyed; and proceed to further censure as they shall see cause, if the censures of the Church be contemned.
XV. Sess. 13, April 10, 1705, post meridiem.—Act concerning the Attendance of the Members of the Commission.
The General Assembly appoints the several Presbyteries to be careful to send in one at least of their number who are members of the Commission, to attend the meetings thereof by turns, and ordains the said Presbyteries to send in to the Commission the names of such as they have appointed to attend the several diets thereof, that those who are negligent in this matter may be censured according to former acts of Assembly thereanent.
XVI. Sess. 14, April 11, 1705, post meridiem.—Recommendation concerning Students of Theology, and Intrants to the holy Ministry.
The General Assembly, considering the great unity and concrod that, by the blessing of God, is amongst the office-bearers in God's house, the desirable and comfortable harmony between Church and State in this kingdom, wherein the glory of God, the success of the Gospel, and the firmness of our happy establishment, are so deeply interested; and considering, likewise, that nothing can be more effectual for securing these blessings, and advancing these ends, than that the preachers of the Gospel commend themselves to God and the consciences of all men by their piety, prudence, literature, and peaceable behaviour, principles, and disposition, and good affection to the government of Church and State: Therefore, the General Assembly did, by an unanimous vote, and hereby do, seriously recommend it to the several Presbyteries of this Church to keep a watchful eye upon all students of theology, and to be careful that none be licensed to preach, or admitted to churches, but such as shall give evidence of their orthodoxy, by signing the Confession of Faith approven by former General Assemblies of this Church, and ratified by law in the year 1690, as the confession of their faith, of their good affection to the government of Church and State, of their peaceable principles and disposition, by engaging to observe good order, in conjunction with, and a due subjection to, the judicatories of this Church; and of their literature, by abiding a strict trial; and shall own the Presbyterian government of this Church to be agreeable to and founded on the Word of God; and promise never to endeavour, directly or indirectly, the prejudice or subversion thereof, according to former acts of Assembly thereanent.
XVII. Sess. ult., April 12, 1705.—Act concerning a Solemn Fast and Humiliation.
The General Assembly, considering the great dangers which threaten the Protestant religion, both at home and abroad, the long continuance of a wasting and desolating war, and how much the safėty and welfare of this Church and kingdom does depend upon the preservation of her Majesty's person and government, the conduct of her councils, and the deliberations and determinations of the ensuing session of Parliament; and considering that sin and wickedness do abound, to the provoking of the holy God against these nations, do judge it fit that a day be set apart for solemn prayer, fasting, and humiliation before the Lord, on these considerations; but seeing the same cannot be obtained through the whole nation in one day before the time appointed for the sitting down of the Parliament, and that, in regard of the season of the year, diverse parts of the country may be in different circumstances; therefore, the General Assembly does hereby seriously recommend to the several Synods and Presbyteries within this National Church at their first meeting, to consider upon the premises, and to appoint and set apart a day for solemn public prayer, fasting, and humiliation, in all the churches within their respective bounds, upon the accounts foresaid, and other reasons contained in the causes of former fasts appointed by the General Assembly and Commissions thereof, with a special regard to the present circumstances of affairs both at home and abroad; and that this may be the sooner done, and the more solemnly gone about, it is hereby recommended to the brethren present to acquaint their Synods and Presbyteries hereof as soon as they can; and the moderators of the respective Presbyteries are hereby ordained, if need be, to call the same pro re nata, as soon as these presents come to their hand, in order to their concerting the said fast. And the General Assembly recommends to the ministers to be most serious in holding forth to their people on that occassion the grievous sins of this land, and the tokens of God's displeasure because of them, expressed many ways; to exhort all ranks of people to serious repentance, reformation, and servent prayer to God, that he would preserve her Majesty's person, direct her councils, and bless her forces by sea and land with success, in defence of the Reformed Protestant religion and the just liberties of Europe; that he would guide and direct the Parliament of this kingdom to such determinations as may be most for the advancement of religion, and the peace and welfare of these nations, and bless the season of the year. And the General Assembly appoints these presents to be printed, and copies thereof to be sent to the several ministers within the kingdom.
XVIII. Sess. ult., April 12, 1705.—Act concerning the Buying and Observation of the Acts of the General Assembly.
The General Assembly, taking into consideration that there is a great neglect in calling for the Acts of the General Assemblies of this Church, so that the said acts not coming to Presbyteries and Sessions, they are not acquainted with what is thereby laid upon them; therefore, it is hereby recommended to the several Presbyteries and Kirk-Sessions who want the acts of former General Assemblies, to furnish themselves therewith, and appoints the agent for the Kirk in all time coming, after every Assembly, so soon as the acts thereof shall be printed, to transmit as many copies of the same to every Presbytery within the kingdom as will serve them and each parish within their bounds; and ordains that both Presbyteries and Sessions, at their first meeting after receiving the said acts, cause read the same, at least so many of them as are of public concern, and which relate to themselves, in order to their observing thereof; and all this to be upon the charges of the several Presbyteries and Sessions: And Synods are enjoyned to inquire at Presbyteries how this act is observed, and cause mark their diligence thereanent in their books. And, farther, appoints the agent for the Kirk to send to the several Presbyteries some copies of the overtures lately printed, concerning the Discipline and Method of Procedure in the Judicatories of this Church. And, lastly, appoints the Commissions of the General Assembly to use their endeavours that this act be made effectual and duly observed by those concerned.