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, May 10, 1711.
Sess. 1, May 10, 1711.—Act appointing the Queen's Commission to the Marquis of Annandale to be Recorded.
The General Assembly being convened and constituted, there was produced to them by the most Honourable William Marquis of Annandale, her Majesty's Commission, sealed at Edinburgh the 9th day of May current, with the seal appointed by the Treaty of Union of the two king⊙doms of Scotland and England, to be kept and used in Scotland, in place of the Great Seal of Scotland, and of the same tenor with former Commissions, constituting him her Majesty's High Commissioner and representative in this Assembly; which Commission being publicly read with all due honour and respect, it is, by order of this Assembly, recorded in their books, ad futuram rei memoriam.
II. May 10, 1711.—The Queen's gracious Letter to the General Assembly.
III. Sess. 3, May 12, 1711.—The General Assembly's Answer to her Majesty's most gracious Letter.
IV. Sess. 3, May 12, 1711.—Act recommending Prayers for the Queen, and for the Succession to the Throne, in the Protestant Line, in the House of Hanover.
The General Assembly did, by an unanimous vote, and hereby do, recommend to all the ministers of this Church, that in their public prayers, after praying for her Majesty Queen Anne, they do expressly mention the Princess Sophia, Electoress and Duchess Dowager of Hanover, and the Protestant line in that family, upon whom the succession to the crown of these dominions is by law established; or that they pray in such terms as their congregations may understand that they mean the Princess Sophia, and the heirs of her body, being Protestants.
V. Sess. 6, May 16, 1711.—Act concerning Marriage.
The General Assembly did, and hereby do, appoint that the acts of the General Assembly concerning proclamation of bans be duly observed, and that inquiry be made, that the persons desiring marriage be not within the forbidden degrees, and be single and free persons, and that all concerned do consent.
VI. Sess. 6, May 16, 1711.—Recommendation concerning the Administration of the Lord's Supper.
The General Assembly, considering that in some places the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper is administered only in the summer season, wherethrough people are deprived of the benefit of that holy ordinance during the rest of the year; do therefore recommend to Presbyteries to do what they can to get it so ordered, that the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper may be administered in their bounds through the several months of the year.
VII. Sess. 10, May 21, 1711.—Recommendation concerning Family Worship.
The General Assembly does earnestly recommend to Presbyteries to use their utmost endeavours that the worship of God be set up and performed, in all its parts, in the families within their bounds, according to former acts of Assembly, and directions given concerning the same.
VIII. Sess. 10, May 21, 1711.—Commission by the General Assembly to some Ministers and Rubing Elders, for discussing divers Affairs refferred 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 Carstairs, Principal of the College of Edinburgh, their Moderator, &c., &c., to be commissioners of this Assembly to the effect after mentioned, with full power to the said persons, &c. (The powers are the same as in the two preceding years; the quorum is made 31.)
IX. Sess. 11, May 21, 1711.—Instructions by the General Assembly to their Commission.
2. The Commission, as often as they see cause, are empowered to apply to her Majesty, or any inferior 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, abuses, and disorders, committed contrary to the established doctrine, worship, discipline, and Presbyterian government of this Church, the contempt of the censures of the judicatories thereof, inflicted on scandalous persons; and to assist Presbyteries and Synods in planting vacant kirks, as they shall be applied to by them for that effect.
4. The Commission are empowered to send Commissioners to London, if they shall see cause, to obtain redress with relation to Popery, irregularities, and other things that may be grievous to this Church.
5. When any of the ministers who served under the late Prelacy, whose lives and doctrine may render them useful to this Church, shall apply for reception into ministerial communion, and a share of the government of this Church, the General Assembly do hereby empower and recommend to their Commission to receive them, according to the 13th paragraph of the 16th Act of the General Assembly, 1697; and the foresaid Commission are to be careful to get due information from the Presbyteries, where the person applying did, or does officiate, and for the time resides.
6. The Commission are empowered to dispose of the money gifted by her Majesty for defraying the public charges of the Church; and, in disposing thereof, they are to take care that the public debts of the Church be first paid, and that in the order, and according to an act passed in the Assembly, anno 1709, and the instructions given to the Commission of the General Assembly, held in the year 1706, which are hereby renewed, and that the encouragement granted by the General Assembly, 1699, to ministers and probationers who go to the North, or to the Highlands and Islands, to preach, be rendered effectual; that the said Commission cause defray the extraordinary charges and expenses that Presbyteries and ministers have been at, particularly in these places, in carrying on the planting of churches and other public affairs of the Church there.
7. The Commission are empowered to cognosce and finally determine in all references already made or to be made by this Assembly, and in references and appeals for transporting ministers to the North, the Highlands, and Islands, which shall be brought before them, according to the overtures made thereanent, anno 1699; and transportations to any parish in these places, whether privileged by former Acts of Assembly or not, are to be carried on, in the most expeditious way, providing that the Commission do not meddle with sentences of Synods, excepting causes particularly referred to them.
9. The Commission are empowered to give all due assistance to any proposals that may be made to them about endeavours for reformation of manners, and for the more effectual curbing and suppressing of profaneness and vice.
11. 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 do 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 a former act recommended to Presbyteries; and to take notice, how any who have been censured by preceding Assemblies, or Commissions of the same, have carried, and to proceed to further censure, as the Commission shall see cause; and further, this General Assembly does hereby renew the first paragraph of the 18th Act of the General Assembly, held anno 1706, concerning schism and disorders, and appoints the same to stand as an instruction to this Commission.
12. The said Commission are to take notice of what misrepresentations shall be made, either at home or abroad, of the doctrine, worship, discipline, or constitution of this Church, and to take all decent and proper methods for the vindication thereof.
13. The said Commission are to endeavour to make effectual whatever hath been by this or 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, and to keep a correspondence with the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge, and their committee, and to give them all suitable assistance and encouragement, according to the 11th Act of the late General Assembly thereanent, which is hereby renewed.
14. The said Commission are appointef and empowered to use their endeavours for getting a legal school erected in every parish, according to law, for putting in execution the 5th Act of the General Assembly, held anno 1707, entitled, "Act anent a School in every Parish;" and also to hold hand to the execution of 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."
15. The Commission are appointed to have a special respect, so far as the present circumstances do require, to the 9th Act of the General Assembly, held in the year 1703, concerning the planting vacant churches in the North, the Highlands and Islands, and supplying thereof with ministers and probationers; and the Commission are hereby empowered to proceed, according to the said act, in so far as they shall find it needful.
16. The said Commission are empowered to receive 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 for them for obtaining, and also rendering effectual, and preserving new erections in such parishes, or stipends to collegiate ministers thereto.
17. The said Commission are empowered and appointed to prosecute the instructions given by the General Assembly, held in the year 1706, to their Commission, in so far as what is therein appointed is not already done; and particularly, to use all means in their power for extirpating idolatrous and superstitious practices, and to inquire how former orders about the same, and concerning the Irish Bibles, Psalm Books, and Catechisms, and Libraries, have been observed; and to dispose upon such of these Bibles as yet remain, or any libraries that may come to hand.
18. The said Commission are empowered 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. May 22, 1711.—Act concerning Probationers, and setting Ministers, with Questions to be proposed to and Engagements to be taken of them.
The General Assembly, considering the great prejudice that may arise to this Church from the licensing too many probationers and persons not duly qualified, do, for preventing thereof, enact and appoint, that none be admitted to trials in order to be licensed, but such as have attended the profession of Divinity for six years, or have closely followed the study of Divinity, and of the languages, for that space at least, after they have past their course of Philosophy at the College, and made proficiency therein, in case their circumstances did not allow them to attend the profession, though it were to be desired that they should attend the profession of Divinity much of that time; but this shall not be extended to students having the Irish language, providing, that before any Presbytery license such students within the said six years, they first consult the General Assembly or Commission thereof, in the matter: And, further, the General Assembly do appoint and ordain that none be licensed in any Presbytery, except they have resided therein for the space of six years, or do produce to them sufficient testimonials from the Presbyteries in whose bounds they have last, or for the most part resided, bearing expressly, that it is the desire of these Presbyteries that those students should be entered upon trials; and such students as come from abroad shall produce satisfying testimonials from the Professors under whom they studied; and the time of their being abroad shall be accounted a part of the said six years; but none of these students shall be entered on trials for the space of a whole year after they come to Scotland: And the General Assembly does also appoint and ordain that the above space of six years being expired, and testimonials produced in manner foresaid, the Presbytery which is to take the trial of these students shall, before they enter them upon trials in order to be licensed, write letters to all the other Presbyteries within the Synod, acquainting them with their design; and at the next meeting of the Synod, they shall also acquaint the Synod thereof, and obtain their special advice and judgment in that particular: And the 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, they do seriously recommend to all Presbyteries the punctual observance of all acts already made concerning probationers and intrants to the ministry: And further, that before any Presbytery receive any upon trials, 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 orthodoxy, knowledge in divinity, particularly the modern controversies, and other necessary qualifications for the ministry, and 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, moreover, the General Assembly, finding it inconvenient that the calls of parishes to probationers be lodged in their hands before their trials in order to ordination be over, and until the Presbytery be satisfied both as to their sufficiency and fitness for these parishes to which they are called; therefore, they do hereby discharge Presbyteries to put the call of any parish into the hands of the probationer called, and appoint them to keep the same still in their own hands, until the said probationer's trials be all over, and that the Presbytery be fully satisfied both as to his sufficiency and fitness for that parish: And the General Assembly, judging it fit that the same method should be followed in all Presbyteries as to the questions put to and engagements taken of probationers when licensed, and ministers when ordained or admitted; and that probationers and ministers should not only give sufficient proof of their piety, literature, and other good qualifications for the ministry, but also come under engagements to adhere to the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government of this Church, do therefore enact and appoint that the following Questions be put to all such as pass trials in order to be licensed, as also to such as shall be ordained ministers, or admitted to any ministerial charge or parish, and that they shall subscribe the Formula after set down, before they be licensed, ordained, or admitted, respectively: And the General Assembly hereby strictly prohibits and discharges the licensing, ordaining, or admitting of any who shall not give satisfying answers to these questions, and subscribe the Formula hereto subjoined.
2do, Do you sincerely own and believe the whole doctrine of the Confession of Faith, approven by the General Assemblies of this National Church, and ratified by law, in the year 1690, and frequently confirmed by divers Acts of Parliament since that time, to be the truths of God, contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments; and do you own the whole doctrine therein contained as the confession of your faith ?
3tio, Do you sincerely own the purity of worship presently authorised and practised in this Church, and asserted in the 15th Act of the General Assembly, 1707, entitled, "Act against Innovations in the Worship of God;" and do also own the Presbyterian government and discipline now so happily established in this Church; and are you persuaded that the said doctrine, whorship, discipline, and Church government, are founded upon the Holy Scriptures, and agreeable thereto?
4to, Do you promise, that, through the grace of God, you will firmly and constantly adhere to, and in your station to the utmost of your power assert, maintain, and defend the said doctrine, worship, and discipline, and the government of this Church, by Kirk-Sessions, Presbyteries, Provincial Synods, and General Assemblies ?
5to, Do you promise, that in your practice you will conform yourself to the said worship, and submit yourself to the said discipline and government of this Church, and shall never endeavour, directly nor indirectly, the prejudice or subversion of the same ?
2do, Do you sincerely own and believe the whole doctrine contained in the Confession of Faith, approven by the General Assemblies of this Church, and ratified by law, in the year 1690, to be founded upon the Word of God; and do you acknowledge the same as the confession of your faith; and will you firmly and constantly adhere thereto, and, to the utmost of your power, assert, maintain, and defend the same, and the purity of worship, as presently practised in this National Church, and asserted in the 15th Act of the General Assembly, 1707, entitled, "Act against Inpovations in the Worship of God ?"
4to, Are you persuaded that the Presbyterian government and discipline of this Church are founded upon the Word of God, and agreeable thereto, and do promise to submit to the said government and discipline, and to concur with the same, and never to endeavour, directly or indirectly, the prejudice or subversion thereof, but to the utmost of your power, in your station, to maintain, support, and defend the said discipline and Presbyterian government, by Kirk-sessions, Presbyteries, Provincial Synods, and General Assemblies, during all the days of your life ?
5to, Do you promise to submit yourself willingly, and humbly, in the spirit of meekness, unto the admonitions of the brethren of this Presbytery, and to be subject to them, and all other Presbyteries and superior judicatories of this Church, where God, in His Providence, shall cast your lot; and that, according to your power, you shall maintain the unity and peace of this Church against error and schism, notwithstanding of whatsoever trouble or persecution may arise; and that you shall follow no divisive courses from the present established doctrine, worship, dicipline, and government of this Church ?
6to, Are not zeal for the honour of God, love to Jesus Christ, and desire of saving souls, your great motives and chief inducements to enter into the function of the holy ministry, and not worldly designs and interest ?
8vo, Do you engage, in the strength and grace of Jesus Christ our Lord and Master, to rule well your own family, to live a holy and circumpect life, and faithfully, diligently, and cheerfully, to discharge all the parts of the ministerial work, to the edification of the body of Christ ?
You having been already ordained a minister of the Gospel of Christ, it is supposed that the usual questions were put to you, and that you did then declare, &c., (here the questions put to ministers at their ordination are to be repeated.) And then say, And do you not now consent and adhere to these declarations, promises, and engagements, and accept of, and close with the call to be minister of this parish; and promise, through grace, to perform all the duties of a faithful minister of the Gospel among this people ?
I do hereby declare, that I do sincerely own and believe the whole doctrine contained in the Confession of Faith, approven by the General Assemblies of this National Church, and ratified by law in the year 1690, and frequently confirmed by divers Acts of Parliament since that time, to be the truths of God; and I do own the same as the confession of my faith: As likewise, I do own the purity of worship presently authorised and practised in this Church, and also the Presbyterian government and discipline now so happily established therein; which doctrine, worship, and Church government, I am persuaded are founded on the Word of God, and agreeable thereto: And I promise, that, through the grace of God, I shall firmly and constantly adhere to the same, and, to the utmost of my power, shall, in my station, assert, maintain, and defend the said doctrine, worship, discipline, and government of this Church, by Kirk-sessions, Presbyteries, Provincial Synods, and General Assemblies; and that I shall in my practice conform myself to the said worship, and submit to the said discipline and government, and never endeavour, directly nor indirectly, the prejudice or subversion of the same; and I promise, that I shall follow no divisive course from the present establishment in this Church; renouncing all doctrines, tenets, and opinions whatsoever, contrary to, or inconsistent with, the said doctrine, worship, discipline, or government of this Church.
XI. Sess. 12, May 22, 1711.—Act concerning Beggars.
The General Assembly recommends to Presbyteries to apply to the justices of the peace, and other magistrates, to put in execution the laws concerning the poor and vagrant beggars, and providing work and maintenance for them.
XII. Sess. 13, May 23, 1711.—Act concerning Students of Divinity, and others who go Abroad to Preach the Gospel.
The General Assembly being informed, that some have gone from this Church into other countries, and there take upon them to preach the Gospel, who have either been deposed from the ministry by the judicatories of this Church, for scandals they were found guilty of; or have pretended to a licence when they were not licensed; or who, upon their application to the judicatories of this Church, have not been admitted to trials; or, upon trials, have not been found fit and worthy to be licensed to preach—yet do retire to other countries where they are not so well known, in order to enter on trials; and after they are admitted in foreign places, do not recommend themselves by a holy life and ministerial conversation, to the reproach of the Church of Scotland where they were educated: Therefore, and for vindication of this Church, and to prevent as much as possible the evils that may arise from such pratices, they hereby inhibit and discharge all young men educated in this Church, or students of divinity, to go to foreign places, and there offer themselves to trials for licence to preach the Gospel, and ordination to the holy ministry, unless they carry along with them sufficient testimonials from the professors of divinity under whom they studied, if they have attended the profession of divinity, and from the minister of the parish and Presbytery of the bounds where they resided; and Presbyteries are discharged to grant such testimonials, except upon due inquiry into the person's life and conversation, soundness in the faith, proficiency in studies, and abilities and fitness for the ministerial function: And appoints the Commission to acquaint ministers in foreign places, where such pratices may fall out, with this act, and advertise them what testimonials they ought to receive.
XIII. Sess. 13 et ult., May 23, 1711.—Act concerning the Receiving of Strangers into Church Communion, and Baptizing their Children.
The General Assembly, considering that all due encouragement ought to be given to persons educated in other Protestant churches, who have come, or may come, to reside in this country, and may incline to join in Communion with this Church: Therefore, they hereby recommend to all ministers, in whose parishes any such strangers may happen to reside, to show all tenderness to them, when they come to desire the benefit of sealing ordinances; and if such strangers, being free of scandal, and professing their faith in Christ, and obedience to him, shall desire baptism to their children, ministers shall cheerfully comply with their desire in administering the sacrament of baptism to their children, upon the parents engaging to educate them in the fear of God, and knowledge of the principles of the reformed Protestant religion.
XIV. Sess. 13 et ult., May 23, 1711.—Act concerning the Inspection of Universities and Colleges.
The General Assembly recommends to the several Presbyteries, within whose bounds colleges or universities are, to take particular care that all the masters thereof do acknowledge, profess, and subscribe, in manner appointed by the sixth act of the Parliament, 1707, entitled, "Act for Securing the Protestant Religion and Presbyterian Church Government," and to take special notice of what is taught in colleges and universities, and that nothing be taught therein contrary to, or inconsistent with, the Confession of Faith of this Church, or to the worship, discipline, or government of the same; and to observe the morals and conversation both of masters and scholars, and that they apply first to the faculty of the universities or colleges for redress; and in case any difficulties do occur to Presbyteries which they cannot overcome, they are appointed to lay the same before the Synod of the bounds, General Assembly, or Commission thereof; who are to consider any representations that shall be laid before them by Presbyteries, with relation to these things, and to give their advice and assistance therein.
XV. Sess. 13 et ult., May 23, 1711.—Act concerning Preaching in Vacant Churches.
The General Assembly, considering that it tendeth much to the quiet and peace of this Church, that all the ministers thereof take care to observe good order; do therefore prohibit and discharge any minister to take upon him to preach in any vacant congregation, not within the bounds of his own Presbytery, without an invitation either from the Presbytery in whose bounds the vacancy is, or at least from some neighbouring minister within the bounds of that Presbytery.
XVI. Sess. 13 et ult., May 23, 1711.—Act appointing the Diet of the next General Assembly.
TRANSMITTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, anno 1711, TO THE SEVERAL PRESBYTERIES WITHIN THIS NATIONAL CHURCH, THAT THEY MAY RETURN THE SAME, WITH THEIR OPINION, TO THE NEXT GENERAL ASSEMBLY, TO THE END THAT THEY MAY BE PASSED INTO ACTS, IF THE PLURALITY OF PRESBYTERIES DO ACQUIESCE THEREIN.
I. May 16, 1711.—Overtures concerning Admission of Infants to Baptism.
II. May 23, 1711.—Overture concerning the more frequent Celebration of the Lord's Supper.
III. May 23, 1711.—Overtures concerning the Planting of Vacant Churches, especially tanquam jure devotuto.
Considering how needful it is that Presbyteries be very tender of giving any ground of complaint, in their planting of parishes, especially tanquam jure devoluto, and that any who judge themselves lesed may have an opportunity of being heard by superior judicatories, and if wronged, may be redressed: It is therefore overtured, that when a parish falls vacant, the Presbytery in whose bounds it lies, shall with all diligence declare and intimate the vacancy; and if there be no legal eldership settled therein, the Presbytery shall not proceed to plant upon the jus devolutum, until they first use all proper means to establish a legal eldership in the parish; and if access to the church be refused in order to these ends, after all endeavours used to obtain the same, or if after an eldership is settled, or where there was a legal eldership in the parish before the vacancy; and that the heritors and elders delay to give a legal call, then the Presbytery shall propose to the heritors and elders, or to the heritors and people, where there is no legal eldership, a leet of several fit persons, that they may agree to one of them to be their pastor, and endeavour to gain their consent to one of that leet; or in case a fit person be proposed by the heritors, elders, or people, the Prebytery shall endeavour to bring the heritors and elders, or the heritors and people, where there is no legal eldership, to an agreement to that person; and in order to this, some of the Presbytery shall be appointed to discourse with those concerned from time to time, or to essay to do it within the currency of the six months after falling of the vacancy, and even when the six months are expired; and before the Presbytery proceed to settle the parish tanquam jure devoluto, they shall continue to deal with the parish, at least for their consent to a Presbyterial call, and when there is no hope of success, then the Presbytery may proceed to the said settlement; but if any of the heritors, elders, or heads of families, or persons of good reputation in the parish, do compear before the Presbytery, and offer sufficient objections against the person to be settled, as to his orthodoxy, literature, life and conversation, or other ministerial qualifications, the Presbytery, before they proceed to the settlement, shall take trial of the said objections; and if any difficulty occur, or that there appear any heat or division in the parish about a call, the Presbytery shall not proceed until they have the advice and direction of the Synod, and shall acquaint the parish, that they may attend the Synod to hear their determination; or if there be any appeal from the Presbytery's procedure, they shall sist the foresaid settlement till the time appointed for the next meeting of the Synod of General Assembly appealed to; and if the appellants do not then insist in their appeal, the Presbytery may proceed as if the same had never been made; but if the appellants do insist, then the judicature appealed to shall proceed and discuss the same without delay, and give sentence therein as they shall find cause; and if there be a further appeal from the Synod to the General Assembly, the foresaid settlement shall likewise stop, until the time appointed for the meeting of the next General Assembly, unless the appellants do pass from their said appeal: But because some persons, from a litigious or disaffected humour, do oppose the settlement of a vacant church, with a fit and qualified person, and do appeal with a design to continue the vacancy for some time longer; therefore, to prevent this, it should be declared, that unless those who do oppose the planting of any vacant parish, do timeously give in in writing under their hands, sufficient objections against the person designed to be settled, and offer to prove the same in due time, and give in also the reasons of their appeal within ten days thereafter, in manner appointed by the Acts of the General Assembly, the same shall not be regarded, nor the appeal be received without it, but the settlement shall go on as if the appeal had never been made, and the judicature shall intimate this to the appelant at making the said appeal. The General Assembly, having heard and considered the above Overtures, they did, and hereby do, transmit the same to the several Presbyteries of this Church; and appoints them to be careful to send in their remarks thereupon to the next General Assembly, that the same may be turned into a standing act and constitution of this Church, if the plurality of Presbyteries, who shall send in their remarks thereupon, shall be found to agree thereto; and, in the meantime, the General Assembly appoints the rules and directions therein proposed to be strictly observed until the next Assembly.