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, April 15, 1708.
I. Sess. 1, April 15, 1708.—The Queen's Commission to David Earl of Glasgow produced, and ordered to be Recorded.
The General Assembly of this Church being constituted, there was produced to them, by the Right Honourable David Earl of Glasgow, her Majesty's commission, sealed with the Seal ordained to be kept and used in Scotland, in place of the Great Seal of Scotland, appointing him her Majesty's High Commissioner and represent ative in this Assembly, which Commission being publicly read with all due honour and respect, the General Assembly ordained the same to be recorded, 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 full and satisfactory accounts we have had of your good conduct and prudent management in the last and former Assemblies, give us full confidence of your meeting now in the same good disposition, and that you will improve this opportunity to do what may be further necessary for promoting religion, discouraging profaneness and immorality, and preventing the growth of Popery. For these ends, we recommend to you to continue your care for providing for such churches as are still vacant with pious and learned ministers, in which you shall not want our concurrence and assistance. We have again chosen our right trusty and entirely beloved cousin and councillor, David Earl of Glasgow, to be our Commissioner, and to represent our royal person in this Assembly. And as we have sufficient experience of his fidelity to us, and of his ability and fitness to discharge this trust, so we know that he is acceptable to you. We have fully instructed him in all things we think needful; and, therefore, you may give him entire trust and credit. We cannot but acknowledge our satisfaction with the zeal and affection the ministers have shown at this juncture to our person and government, upon the appearance of an invasion by our enemies; and we doubt not of your being all in the same good disposition, and that ye will encourage the people in their loyalty to us, and in abhorrence of this design, which will subvert our religion, and all that is dear to us. We again assure you of our firm resolution to maintain the government of the Church of Scotland as it is by law established, and to protect you in the free enjoyment of all the rights and privileges that by law you are possessed of. And, not doubting but you will act in such a manner in this Assembly, as that we shall have new reasons to be satisfied with you, we bid you heartily farewell.
III. Sess. 3, April 17, 1708.—The General Assembly's Answer to the Queen's gracious Letter.
May it please your Majesty,
We received your gracious letter with all dutiful respect, to our great joy and satisfaction; and we should be unaccountably defective in gratitude as well as duty to your Majesty, if we had not all the good disposition to manage ourselves answerably to what your Majesty expects, and is pleased to recommend to us. We look upon it as a signal blessing, which we earnestly pray God may long continue to us, that we have a Sovereign upon the throne that doth so constantly excite and encourage us to a zealous concern for true religion, and for preventing the growth of Popery, and dis couraging profaneness and immorality, which we hope shall ever more and more oblige us in our stations, and by all methods proper for us, to make the best improvement of the present opportunity, which the late circumstances we were in do make so valuable, for promoting pure Christianity and a holy practice, and possessing all that we have any influence upon with a just abhorrence of Popery, and all its errors and superstitions, for the effectual suppressing whereof we must and do still rely upon your Majesty's royal authority, to cause put the good laws against the same to due execution. A pious, learned, and faithful ministry is, under God, the great support of our holy faith, and so necessary a mean for the advancing of the great end of the Gospel, that we are resolved, through Divine assistance, to continue our endeavours, to which your Majesty doth so religiously encourage us, to have all vacancies planted with such a ministry, being persuaded that your Majesty, in your royal wisdom, will be careful to discourage the opposition made to us in several places, by some that are not more disaffected to our Church constitution than to your Majesty's royal person and government. We have had such proofs of the sufficiency, firm loyalty to your Majesty, and good affection to this Church of the Earl of Glasgow, that as he is most acceptable to us, so we, with all thankfulness, acknowledge the obliging proof that your Majesty hath given of a kind regard to us in honouring this Assembly with such a representative of your royal person, to whom we shall give that entire trust and credit which your Majesty requires. It cannot but animate our zeal for your Majesty's person and government, that you are pleased to take notice, with so much goodness, of the affection and loyalty shown by the ministers of this Church in the late juncture, of the appearance of an invasion from your Majesty's enemies, when certainly it was their duty, and their plain and visible interest, to oppose and witness against an attempt so injurious to your Majesty, and your royal crown and dignity, and so destructive to our peace and our religion and liberties, and that threatened no less than the involving your Majesty's dominions in confusion and ruin; and, therefore, we find ourselves obliged, under the most sacred ties of duty and gratitude to your Majesty, our only rightful and lawful Sovereign, to encourage more and more the people under our care in their loyalty to your Majesty, and firm adherence to the present happy establishment. The renewed assurance which your Majesty is pleased to give of your firm resolution to maintain the Presbyterian government of this Church, as by law established, and to protect us in the enjoyment of all our rights and privileges, is to us most acceptable, and shall ever be obliging upon us to manage ourselves so as to witness our sincere and deep resentment of this blessing of your royal favour. That the God of heaven may prevent your Majesty always with the best blessings of his goodness, and ever guide your Majesty by His counsel, till, after a long and happy reign upon earth, He crown you with glory in heaven, is the earnest 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. 5, April 20, 1708.—Act against Popery.
The General Assembly, having under consideration what was represented to them by brethren from diverse corners of this Church, of the growth of Popery, and what may be the dangerous consequences thereof to the Church and Protestant religion, do seriously and earnestly recommend to ministers of the Gospel, that in their sermons and catechisings of the people under their charge, they use all due care and diligence in informing them of the abominable errors of the Church of Rome, and instructing them in the truths of the Reformed religion, and faithfully warning them of their danger from Popery.
V. Sess. 9, April 23, 1708, post meridiem.—To the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, the most Humble, Faithful, and most Dutiful Address of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
May it please your Majesty,
We, your Majesty's most faithful and most loyal subjects, the ministers and elders of the General Assembly of this Church, have had so many marks of your royal favour, and are so happy in having such a Sovereign, that we should be enemies to ourselves, and regardless of all that ought to be dear to us, as men and as Christians, as well as unaccountably undutiful to your Majesty, if we were not earnest in our prayers to God for your Majesty's preservation, and for the stability of your throne, and if we had not the utmost abhorrence of the late no less bold than mischievous attempt that was made by the French monarch to invade this kingdom with an armed force, on design to assist a Popish Pretender in usurping the sovereignty of your Majesty's kingdoms, which you govern by a most unquestionable title, a title that we, in our stations, and by all means proper for us, are resolved ever to maintain with a firm and unbiassed zeal.
We both admire, and thankfully acknowledge, the wonderful goodness of the overruling God, in confounding the contrivances of your Majesty's declared enemy against your royal person and government, and for the subversion of the Reformed religion, and of the civil liberties, not only of these nations, but of Europe.
As we tremble at the thoughts of the calamities and bloody confusions that we were upon the brink of being involved in, so we shall ever preserve a thankful remembrance of the seasonable disappointment of our too well grounded fears, which, under the merciful God, we owe to your Majesty's wise conduct, the watchful and prudent care of his Royal Highness, the Lord High Admiral, and the fidelity and diligence of those that were employed by your Majesty for our defence and safety by sea and land.
Whatever encouragement, Madam, that French and Popish enemy might have had from this part of Britain, or elsewhere, we, for our part, cheerfully embrace this opportunity of declaring to the world, that all of the communion of this Church are so sensible of the blessings that, by the Divine favour, they enjoy under the government of your Majesty, their only rightful and lawful Sovereign, and of the many advantages of the late happy Revolution, of which the settling the crown upon your Majesty and Protestant successors is none of the least; they have so great a concern for the Protestant interest, and such an abhorrence of Popery and tyranny, and know so well the many dismal and lamentable instances of French government, that they have an equal detestation of the counsels of Versailles and pretensions of St Germains.
That all attempts against your royal person and government may have no other
effect than the firmer establishment of your throne, the greater security of the Protestant succession, and a deeper sense in your subjects of the happiness they enjoy
under your Majesty's wise administration-and that such success may attend your
Majesty's arms, and those of your allies, as shall set just limits to the exorbitant power
of France, give a solid and lasting peace to Europe, and a comfortable relief and security, by the favour of God, to all the Protestant Churches at home and abroad;
and that the gracious God may ever guide your Majesty by his counsel, till, after a
long and happy reign upon earth, He crown you with glory in heaven, shall be the
earnest prayers of,
May it please your Majesty, your Majesty's most faithful, most obedient, and most humble subjects, the Ministers and Elders met in this National Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
VI. April 23, 1708, post meridiem.—Act for suppressing Schism and Disorders in the Church.
The General Assembly, finding that there are several disorderly practices in sundry parts of this Church, to the great dishonour of God, and prejudice of the Church; therefore, they strictly enjoin and peremptorily appoint all the Presbyteries and Synods to take particular notice of all their members, preachers, or others under their inspection; and if they find any ministers or others to fall into irregularities or schismatical courses, that they duly call them to an account, and censure them, according to the merit of their fault, even to deposition of ministers and elders; and to apply to the Commission for their advice, as they shall see cause, and report their diligence herein to the next Assembly. And, in particular, the General Assembly hereby refers the disorders and schismatical courses of Mr James Farquhar, minister of Tyrie, and Mr John McNeilie, probationer, entirely to the Commission to be appointed by this Assembly; hereby empowering the said Commission to call these persons before them, and to censure them as they shall be found to deserve.
VII. April 24, 1708.—Act concerning a Solemn National Thanksgiving.
The General Assembly of this National Church, considering what a surprising deliverance the gracious God hath been pleased, in his infinite goodness, to bestow upon us in this land, in particular, from a threatened invasion of cruel enemies, whereby, according to the unchangeable course of Popery and tyranny, by which this invasion was managed, we were inevitably to lay our account, not only with the scattering of our families and spoiling of our goods, but also the violent invading of our persons and consciences, by methods of cruelty worse than fire and faggot, as the known massacres of Paris, in the year 1572, and of the Protestants in Ireland, in the year 1641, and the continued cruelties used against the Protestants in France, especially since the year 1685, can testify and witness to the world; and that God did thus graciously appear for us when we were unworthy of the least kind regard from him, being a people ladened with iniquity, and that have not rendered unto God according to his benefits: We, from a dutiful sense of this signal care, and seasonable appearance of Divine Providence for this Church and nation, cannot but look upon it as our duty to lift up our souls in blessing the God of our salvation for this and all his other wonders of mercy that he hath wrought for this Church and nation, and to call all persons in this National Church to give to the infinitely wise God the glory of his free goodness, taking shame and confusion of face to ourselves, because of our highly aggravated iniquities, and searching and trying our ways, and turning again to the Lord, from whom we have deeply revolted—repentance, reformation, and showing mercy to the poor, being the best evidences of thankfulness for the great mercies of the infinitely holy God, and the only way to secure a continuance of our blessings. The General Assembly doth likewise call and seriously exhort all persons of this Church to join with their thanksgiving earnest prayers to God, that he would turn us to himself in his dear Son, our only propitiation, and to one another in ways of truth, justice, and holiness; that he would bless and preserve our gracious Queen, in whose life, under him, our peace and safety are so much bound up; that he would graciously direct all her councils, and give such success to her arms, and those of her allies, by sea and land, against the common enemy, as shall, through his blessing, bring these desolating wars to an end, that shall be for his own glory, and the comfort and joy of all sincere lovers of truth and righteousness; that he would preserve his Gospel to us in its purity while sun and moon endure; that he would compassionate our distressed Protestant brethren abroad, and deliver them from the oppression of their cruel enemies; that God would assist the ministers and other members of this Church, and judicatories thereof, to acquit themselves so faithfully to God, and dutifully towards her Majesty's person and government, as may more and more engage her Majesty to be propitious and favourable to this Church, in its worship, discipline, and government, and give all encouragement to the orderly exercise thereof, in its several judicatories; that he would, in his compassion, give seasonable weather, and crown the year with his mercy; and, above all, that he would give us grace to fear him and his goodness, inclining our hearts to obey his voice, that he may not be provoked to turn and do us hurt, after all the great good he hath done us. And the General Assembly appoints the said thanksgiving to be observed in all the parishes within this National Church upon the first Thursday of June next, being the third day of that month.
VIII. Sess. 12, April 26, 1708, post meridiem.—Commission to some Ministers and Ruling Elders, for considering and discussing several Affairs referred to them.
The General Assembly, taking into their consideration that there are several weighty affairs which they cannot overtake; do therefore nominate and appoint their reverend brethren, Messrs William Carstares, Principal of the College of Edinburgh, Moderator, &c., to be Commissioners of this General Assembly, to the effect 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 the first Wednesday of July, last Wednesday of September, first Wednesday of December, and first 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 cognosee 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, except it be otherwise restricted, and to do every thing contained in, and conform to the instructions to be given to them by this Assembly, and to advert unto the interest of the Church on every occasion, that the Church and present establishment thereof do not suffer or sustain any prejudice which they can prevent, as they will be answerable; providing this general clause be not extended to particular affairs or processes before Presbyteries and Synods, that are of universal concern to or influence upon the whole Church. And the said Commission are hereby strictly prohibited and discharged to meddle in any other matters than what are committed or referred to them as above mentioned; 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 this Commission is to continue and endure till the next General Assembly, and members are required to attend the diets of the Commission, and the absentees ordered to be noticed, according to the 17th Act of the Assembly, 1706. And for the better attendance of members on the Commission, the General Assembly prohibits the Presbyteries of Edinburgh, and other Presbyteries within twelve miles thereof, to meet any of the days appointed for the meetings of the Commission.
IX. Sess. 12, April 26, 1708.—Instructions to the Commission of the General Assembly.
8. The Commission are appointed to take special care to keep and maintain unity in the Church upon all emergencies, especially among the ministers thereof, and to gain such as separate therefrom, and to suppress error and schism in this Church, and prosecute the authors and spreaders of books and pamphlets tending thereto, as is by other acts recommended to Presbyteries; and to take notice how any who have been censured by preceding Assemblies, or Commissions thereof, have carried, and to proceed to farther censure, as the said Commission shall see cause. And further, the General Assembly does hereby renew the first paragraph of the 18th Act of the General Assembly, 1706, concerning schism and disorders, and appoints the same to stand as an instruction to this Commission.
9. That the Commission endeavour to make effectual whatever hath been by this and preceding Assemblies agreed upon, concerning the erecting of schools in the North, the Highlands, and Islands, and what else may tend to the advancement of religion and reformation in these places, as also to give all due assistance and encouragement to any proposals that may be made for propagating the knowledge of God and our Lord Jesus Christ, in these and foreign parts of the world, and to apply to and correspond with the Lords of Council and Session about this design; and, if need be, to address her Majesty thereanent; and to write to Presbyteries, from time to time, to excite charitable persons in their bounds to contribute towards that design, and Presbyteries to return accounts of their diligence in that matter to that said Commission. And, further, it is referred to the Commission to use their endeavours for putting in execution the 5th Act of the late Assembly, entitled, "Act anent a School in every Parish, and a contribution thereanent;" as also the 8th Act of that same Assembly, entitled, "Act for Suppressing of Popery, and Preventing the Growth thereof;" and likewise the 15th Act of that Assembly, entitled, "Act against Innovations in the Worship of God."
11. That the said Commission receive and consider any representations or references that shall be made to them by Presbyteries, and others concerned, about large and spacious parishes, and use all means proper to them for obtaining new erections in such parishes, or stipends to collegiate ministers in the same.
12. Seeing there is not a full report made to this Assembly concerning the libraries, Irish Bibles, Psalm-Books, and Catechisms, and about the state of the Church in the Highlands and Islands, and the remaining idolatrous, paganish, and Popish superstitious customs in some places there, the General Assembly recommends to this Commission to prosecute the instructions given thereanent by the Assembly, anno 1706, to their Commission, and to use all means in their power for extirpating these idolatrous and superstitious practices; and to take care that the charges of any who have been employed about the same, be reimbursed out of the money given by her Majesty for these ends.
13. The General Assembly hereby empowers their Commission to give all due assistance to the several universities and colleges when any minister is called to any office therein, and to receive appeals and references, and finally to determine in the same.
X. Sess. 13 et ult., April 27, 1708.—Act and Recommendation concerning Ministerial Visitation of Families.
The General Assembly, finding that overtures concerning the ministerial visitation of families have been transmitted to the several Presbyteries within this National Church for their opinions thereanent, and that the plurality of the Presbyteries who returned their opinions about the same have consented to the passing of these over tures in manner after mentioned; and the General Assembly, judging that what is therein proposed may be of great use to the ministers of the Gospel, though not as binding rules, yet as a help to them when they go about that necessary work of family visitation; therefore, this General Assembly did unanimously, and hereby do, recommend the same as such to the several ministers of this National Church, the tenor whereof follows:—
"Seeing, for the faithful discharge of ministers' work, they ought, besides what is incumbent to them in the public congregation, to take special care and inspection of the particular persons and families under their oversight and charge, in order to which, it hath been the laudable custom of this Church, at least once a year, if the largeness of the parish, bodily inability in the minister, or other such like causes, do not hinder, for ministers to visit all the families in their parish, and oftener, if the parish be small, and they be able to set about it.
"For the more uniform and successful management of which work, although in regard of the different circumstances of some parishes, families, and persons, much of this work, and the management thereof, must be left to the discretion and prudence of ministers in their respective oversights, yet these following advices are offered and overtured as helps in the management thereof, that it may not be done in a slight and overly manner.
"1. First of all, it seems needful that ere a minister set out to this work he should labour to have his own heart in a suitable frame for it, by exciting in himself the love of God, and the desire of the salvation of his people's souls, and the sense of the weight of the charge given him, to watch for souls as one who must give an account, and of the difficulty of this part of his work in particular; for perhaps it may be found no less difficult to apply to particular families, and persons therein, teaching and warning every one, than it is to dispense the word in common in the public congregation.
"2. That such a time in the year be chosen for such ministerial visitation, as the families whom he visits may be best at leisure to meet with him, when they may be expected at home, and least incumbered with affairs; and it were fit, that when a minister designs to visit any part of his parish, intimation thereof should be made either in public from the pulpit, or some other way, that they may order their affairs so that he may have opportunity to meet with them at home.
"3. It is fit when a minister designs to visit any part of the parish, that he be accompanied with the elder of the bounds, and that before they go forth to the work they may confer together concerning the state and condition of the persons and families of these bounds, that the minister may be able to speak the more suitably to their condition, and as may be most for edification.
"4. When they enter a house or family, after a short account of the design of the visit, and expression of their wishes and desires for the blessing of God upon the family, and that, above all, their souls may prosper, it were fit to take an account of the names of the family, parents, children, and servants, and to inquire for certificates from them who are lately come to the parish, and to mark them in their book or roll for catechising; and to take notice who can read, and of the age of children when capable to be catechised.
"5. After the minister has got an account of the persons dwelling in the family, he may speak to them all in general of the necessity of regeneration, and the advantages of serious religion and godliness, of piety towards God, and justice and charity towards man.
"6. And next, more particularly, to the servants, of their duty to fear and serve God, and to be dutiful, faithful, and obedient servants, and of the promises made to such, commending to them the reading of the Scriptures as they can, and prayer in secret, and love and concord among themselves; and, in particular, a holy care of sanctifying the Lord's Day.
"7. The minister may apply his discourse to the children as they are capable, with affectionate seriousness, showing them the advantage of knowing, loving, seeking, and serving God, and remembering their Creator and Redeemer in the days of their youth, and honouring their parents; and to remind them how they were dedicated to God in baptism; and when of age, and fit, and after due instruction of the nature of the covenant of grace and the seals thereof, to excite them to engage themselves personally to the Lord, and to desire and prepare for, and take the first opportunity they can of partaking of the Lord's Supper; to be especially careful how they communicate at first, much depending thereon, (and such of the servants as are young are to be exhorted hereto in like manner,) exciting them also to daily reading of the Scriptures, and to secret prayer, and sanctifying the Lord's Day.
"8. After the minister has spoken to servants and children, he should speak privately to the master and mistress of the family about their personal duty toward God, and the care of their own souls' salvation, and their obligation to promote religion and the worship of God in their family, and to restrain and punish vice, and encourage piety, and to be careful that they and their house serve the Lord, and sanctify the Lord's Day; and after this, it may be fit to exhort masters to take care that God be worshipped daily in the family, by prayer and praise, and reading the Scriptures. Secundo, Concerning the behaviour and conversation of the servants, and their duty towards God and man, and how they attend the worship of God in their family; how they attend the public worship on the Lord's Day, and how they behave after sermons; if any of them be piously inclined; if they make conscience of secret prayer and reading the Scripture. Tertio, If there be catechising and instructing the ignorant and weak; if due care be taken in educating the children; and, particularly, if they be put timeously to school, and how they profit thereat; and how the Lord's Day is spent after sermons in the family, and in secret; in all which the minister may mix in suitable directions, encouragements, and admonitions, as he shall see cause, and most for edification.
"9. It may be useful to inquire who have Bibles, and to encourage them who are able to get a Bible of their own, and to make diligent and religious use thereof; and to commend to parents and masters of families to have the Confession of Faith, Catechisms, and other good books, for instruction in faith and manners.
"10. If any be tainted with errors or given to vice, they should be particularly dealt with and spoken to, either privately or before others, as may be most for edification; and all are to be exhorted that are in the family to watch and edify one another, and to carry toward any that walk disorderly according to the rule, Matthew xviii. 15.
"11. As the minister is to exhort all in the family to peace and love among themselves and their neighbours, so, if there be any difference and division, either in the family or with the neighbours, the minister should endeavour to remove the same, and to make peace, and excite to follow it with all men as far as possible.
"12. It may be also inquired at those who received tokens to communicate the last season for it whether they have made use of them or not; and those who have communicated may be inquired privately how they have profited thereby, and excited to remember and pay their vows to the Lord.
"13. If there be any in the parish who keep not church communion with us, whatever their motives be, ministers ought to deal with God for them, and with themselves, in such a way as may be most proper to gain them, and exoner our own consciences before God and his people, waiting if God peradventure will prevail with them; who can tell but our making them sensible of our tender love and affection to their persons, especially to their souls, giving them all due respect, and doing them all the good we can, yet still discountenancing their sin, may in the end be blessed of God for their good. Jude 22, 23; 2 Tim. ii. 24, 25.
"Seeing there is need for all this of much prudence, zeal for God, and love to souls, and affectionate seriousness, all this should be carried on with dependence on God, and fervent prayer to Him, both before a minister set forth for such work, and with the visited, as there shall be access to, and opportunity for it."
XI. Sess. 13 et ult., April 27, 1708.—Act concerning Ministers and Probationers having the Irish Language as to their Settlement.
The General Assembly does hereby discharge all the Presbyteries of this Church for the future to concur with any call or design of settling any minister or probationer having Irish in any congregation in the Lowlands, unless such persons have been for a year at least in the Highlands supplying vacancies, and no call offered to them; and in that case, Presbyteries are allowed to settle them, but with this condition, that so soon as a call comes from any Highland parish needing one having the Irish language, that such persons shall be transported.
XII. Sess. ult., April 27, 1708.—Act for the better Observation of the Lord's Day.
Forasmuch as ministers from diverse parts of this National Church do represent that there is a general profanation of the Lord's Day, by travelling thereupon, carrying goods, driving cattle, and other abuses, to the great scandal of religion, and manifest breach of many good laws, and acts of Parliament and General Assemblies; which the General Assembly of this Church being desirous to prevent, in so far as is competent to them, therefore, they did, and hereby do, appoint each Presbytery within this Church to nominate two or three of their number to attend the Lords Commissioners of Justiciary, at their first circuit that falls to be in their bounds, and to represent to their Lordships the profanation of the Lord's Day by the foresaid wicked and sinful practices: And the General Assembly does seriously recommend to the said Lords of Justiciary to take such effectual courses as they in their wisdom shall think fit to restrain and punish the foresaid abuses, which the Assembly will acknowledge as a singular service done to God and his Church: And they do in the meantime enjoin all the ministers of this Church from their pulpits to advertise their people among whom such practices are, of the great hazard their immortal souls are in by such courses, and that if they continue therein there will be a necessity to represent to the Lords Justices all transgressors of the laws made against profaning of the Sabbath, and warn them to abstain therefrom in time coming: And, further, the General Assembly enjoins ministers and church judicatories to take care that former acts of Assembly made against breach of the Lord's Day be observed, and not only to proceed with ecclesiastical censures, but to apply to the justices of the peace in their bounds, and other magistrates, for putting in execution the good laws already made against the breach of the Sabbath and other immoralities.
XIII. Sess. ult., April 27, 1708.—Act, Overture, and Recommendation, concerning Probationers and Intrants to the Holy Ministry.
The General Assembly, considering that it is of great importance and advantage to this Church that none be licensed to preach the Gospel as a probationer, or be settled in the ministry, but such as are duly qualified for that holy work: Therefore, the General Assembly does seriously recommend to all Presbyteries the punctual observance of all the acts already made concerning probationers or intrants to the ministry: And, farther, the General Assembly transmits it as an overture to the several Presbyteries, that, before any Presbytery receive any upon trial, in order to his being licensed, they appoint three or four of their number privately to converse with him, and to take trial of his knowledge in divinity, and particularly the modern controversies; and of what sense and impressions he has of religion upon his own soul; and that they make report of their diligence herein before the Presbytery admit him to the probationary trials. And, in regard there may be in Presbyteries different sentiments as to men's sufficiency for the ministry, even upon the second trials, and that it cannot but weaken the hands of intrants when their sufficiency is contested, even in the Presbytery that ordains them; and that it may occasion division if the Presbytery shall proceed to ordain notwithstanding of the protestations of their brethren on the head of insufficiency; the Assembly transmits as an overture, that in this case, the Presbytery shall refer the whole affair to their respective Synods, and that the Synod shall appoint some of their number to examine coram the intrants whose abilities and fitness are thus questioned, and give directions to the Presbyteries in such cases as they shall see cause: And, lastly, the General Assembly recommends the strict observance of these things to the several Presbyteries until the next Assembly, and appoints Presbyteries to be careful to give their remarks thereupon, that the same may be turned into a standing act and constitution of this Church, if the Assembly shall see cause.
XIV. Sess. ult., April 27, 1708.—Recommendation for preventing competing Calls.
The General Assembly recommends it to the several Presbyteries to think upon some overture to prevent competitions of calls; and in case of such competitions, how to prevent their coming to superior judicatories; as also, an overture to prevent the giving of a second call by a different parish to any minister or probationer, during the dependence of a prior call from another parish or parishes, and process thereupon, and until the first call and process be discussed.
XV. Sess. ult., April 27, 1708.—Act and Reference concerning the Publishing a Version of the Scriptural Songs.
The General Assembly do instruct and appoint their Commission maturely to consider the printed version of the Scripture Songs, with the remarks of Presbyteries thereupon; and, after examination thereof, they are hereby authorised and empowered to conclude and establish that version, and to publish and emit it for the public use of the Church, as was formerly done on the like occasion, and when our version of the Psalms was published in the year 1649; and seeing there are many copies of the said version lying on the author's hand, it is recommended to ministers and others to buy the same for private use in the meantime.
XVI. Sess. ult., April 27, 1708.—Act concerning the larger Overtures, about the Method of Procedure in Church Judicatories.
The General Assembly, finding that many Presbyteries have not as yet returned their opinion about the large overtures concerning the method of procedure in ecclesiastical judicatories, which were transmitted to them by former Assemblies; they do hereby, of new, require the several Presbyteries forthwith to take these overtures under their consideration, and send in their opinions about the same to the Commission of this Assembly, to be by them prepared against the next Assembly.
XVII. Sess. ult., April 27, 1708.—Act appointing the Diet of the next General Assembly.
Sess. 5, April 20, 1708, post meridiem.—Acts concerning the Proposals about Propagating Christian Knowledge, Suppressing Popery, Erecting Schools, &c.
The General Assembly does resolve, that they will appoint a committee to receive reports from Presbyteries, how the 5th Act of the General Assembly, 1707, entitled, "Act anent Schools in every Parish;" and the 8th Act of that same Assembly, entitled, "Act for Suppressing Popery, and Preventing the Growth thereof," have been obeyed, and to receive reports from the several Presbyteries as to what advance is made in their bounds, in the subscriptions towards the design of propagating Christian knowledge, and in the contributions of the quarter centessima, for encouragement of such as shall be sent in mission to those places where Popery abounds; and the Assembly earnestly recommends to and enjoins the several Synods and Presbyteries to see to the punctual execution of these two acts, and do ordain an account of their diligence herein to be inserted in their books: And that committee, when named, are hereby empowered to act and manage in these matters, under the inspection and by the direction of the Commission to be appointed by this Assembly.
Sess. 6, April 21, 1708, post meridiem.
The General Assembly, finding that there is no committee yet named to receive in reports from Presbyteries of the advances made in the subscriptions for propagating Christian knowledge, and other ends mentioned in yesternight's resolve, they do now nominate and appoint, for these ends, the persons following, viz., the Right Reverend Messrs William Carstares, Moderator, George Meldrum, George Hamilton, William Wishart, John Stirling, James Ramsay at Kelso, James Haddo, John Bonar, John Moncrief, Thomas Wilkie in Canongate, William Mitchel there, Neil M'Vicar, John Anderson at St Andrews, George Barclay, David Blair, Patrick Cuming, James Hart, Robert Horsburgh, George Turnbull, William Moncrief at Largo, and John Brown, Ministers; the Lord President, Lord Justice-Clerk, Lord Pollock, Lord Tillicoultry, Lord Minto, Lord Forglen, Lord Bowhill, Senators of the College of Justice; Sir James Stewart, her Majesty's Advocate, Sir Samuel Maclellan, Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Sir James Campbell of Aberuchill, Lieutenant-Colonel John Erskine of Carnock, Sir Walter Pringle, Mr William Brodie, Mr Walter Steuart, Mr James Gellie, advocates; Sir James Smollet of Bonhill, Sir George Home of Kello, Sir Hugh Cunningham of Craigend, Walter Stewart of Pardovan, and John Alexander of Blackhouse, Ruling Elders.
Act Of The Commission Of 1708.
At Edinburgh, the 28th April 1708, post meridiem.
The Commission of the General Assembly, taking into consideration what is referred to them in their instructions by the late General Assembly, concerning the propagating of Christian knowledge; and finding that diverse of their number, and some others, were named by the said Assembly for that end, and for other affairs specified in two acts of the same Assembly, but the times and places of their meetings not having been concerted, this Commission appoints the same to be within the Assembly-House, the last Thursday of each month, at ten o'clock in the forenoon, and oftener, as the said Committee shall think fit; and they are from time to time to report an account of their diligence to this Commission.