Acts of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland 1638-1842. Originally published by Edinburgh Printing & Publishing Co, Edinburgh, 1843.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
The principal acts of the general assembly, holden and begun at Edinburgh, April 30, 1713.
I. Sess. 1, April 30, 1713.—Act appointing the Queen's Commission to his Grace John Duke of Atholl to be Recorded.
The General Assembly being convened and constituted, there was produced to them, by his Grace John Duke of Atholl, her Majesty's commission, sealed at Edinburgh the 29th day of April current, with the Seal appointed by the Treaty of Union of the two kingdoms 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. The Queen's most gracious Letter to the General Assembly, presented to them the last day of April 1713.
Right Reverend and well-beloved, we great you well. We have had so many proofs of your good and prudent management in former Assemblies, and particularly the last, that we have cheerfully countenanced, by our authority, this your meeting; and we doubt not but you will take it as a particular make of our regard to you, that we have appointed our right trusty, and right entirely beloved cousin and counsellor, John Duke of Atholl, to be our Commissioner, who, we persuade ourselves, will be acceptable to you. Our concern for promoting true piety and godliness, the great ends of the Gospel, is such, that you may be fully satisfied it shall be our care to employ such as shall be faithful in executing the laws, in punishing all such practices as are a scandal to the Christian profession, and against which we have signified our displeasure in our proclamations. We are sensible, that a pious and learned ministry is, under God, the great support and ornament of Christianity; and, therefore, we are resolved to countenance you in your endeavours to promote it, and to employ our power and authority for the advancing of it to your just satisfaction. We take this solemn occasion to renew the assurances we have formerly given you, of our firm purpose to maintain the Church of Scotland as established by law. The address of the late General Assembly did so much manifest their loyalty and good affection to our royal person and government, and their true concern for the succession in the Protestant line of the House of Hanover, as established by law, that it could not but be very acceptable to us: And your moderation and unanimity amongst yourselves is not more for your own good, than it will be for our satisfaction. And we assure ourselves, that there will be nothing in your procedure but what shall be dutiful to us, and shall manifest the wisdom of your conduct; and so we bid you heartily farewell.
III. May 2, 1713.—The General Assembly's Answer to her Majesty's most gracious Letter.
May it please your Majesty,
The gracious letter with which your Majesty hath been pleased to honour us doth manifest so great goodnes, and so much concern for our happiness under your auspicious government, that we bless God for his having given us such a sovereign to regin over us: And we judge it our duty to offer to your Majesty our humble and hearty thanks, for all the favour you have been pleased to show to this Church; and more particularly, for the expressions of your Majesty's satisfaction with the proceedings of the last, as well as of former General Assemblies, which cannot but be a strong the upon us, to be careful that there be nothing in our management that may be unanswerable to what your Majesty hath just reason to expect from us.
That your Majesty hath been pleased to make choice again of so noble a person as the Duke of Atholl to represent your Majesty in our Assembly, after the evidence of his fidelity to your Majesty, and the experience we have had of his good affection towards this Church, is not only most acceptable to us, but is such a very particular and obliging proof of your Majesty's regard to all our concerns, as cannot but engage us to pay him all that respect and duty that we owe to the high character he bears.
It gives this Church real comfort, and will be the perpetual glory of your reign and memory, that your Majesty is so zealously concerned for the promoting of piety, and that you are graciously pleased to give us your royal promise, that you will take care that none shall be employed but such as shall be faithful in executing the laws, in punishing all such practices as are a scandal to the Christian profession, and against which your Majesty hath testified your displeasure in your proclamations.
We do, with the greatest thankfulness, acknowledge that your Majesty hath been pleased to signify to us your gracious purpose to countenance us in our endeavours to promote a pious and learned ministry, (being, under God, the great support and ornament of Christianity,) by employing your royal power and authority for the advancement of it to our just satisfaction. This great favour, together with the renewed assurances your Majesty is pleased to give us of your firm purpose to maintain the Church of Scotland, as established by law, do oblige us to give all suitable returns of duty and gratitude, and encourage us to hope that your Majesty, in your great wisdom and goodness, will find a fit opportunity to remedy what we have formerly humbly laid before your Majesty, for the ease and quiet of this Church.
It gives us no small satisfaction, that the address of the late General Assembly, manifesting their loyalty and good affection to your royal person and government, and their true concern for the Protestant succession in the House of Hanover, upon which it is established by law, was so acceptable to your Majesty; and we crave leave to assure your Majesty, that there are none in your dominions more firm in their resolutions steadily to continue in both these, against all Pretenders whatsoever, and their adherents, than the ministers and members of the Church of Scotland, as established by law.
We also beg leave to testify to your Majesty, how much it did rejoice us to be acquainted by your Commissioner from the throne, with the great care that your Majesty has been pleased so conspicuously to show for the Protestant religion, and the continuation of it to succeeding generations in your own dominions; and that your Majesty has further extended the same pious care to the Protestant Churches abroad, and that God has blessed your endeavours for obtaining the release of those who are in the French galleys for their religion; and also the consent of France to redres the hardships to which the Protestant Churches in Germany were liable.
It is a very convincing proof of your Majesty's concern for us, that you are graciously pleased to recommend to us moderation and unanimity. We should be wanting to the duty we owe to God, and to so excellent a Queen, if we did not proceed with all calmness, temper, and concord, amongst ourselves, and all dutiful respect to your Majesty.
That the God of heaven may present your Majesty 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 dutiful, most obedient, and most humble subjects, the Ministers and Elders met in this National Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
IV. May 2, 1713.—Act containing Directions to the Visitors of Synod Books.
The General Assembly, considering that, by the 11th Act of the General Assembly, 1712, entitled, "Act appointing the more frequent Celebration of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper," it is ordained, that the Assembly shall make up a roll of all matters appointed to be inquired at Synods, and that every new recommendation, so soon as it is made, be added to the said rolls, that thereby the Assemblies may know how their acts and recommendations are observed by the several Synods and Presbyteries of this Church; and finding, that the matters following have been by former Assemblies recommended, and the observation thereof enjoined to Synods and Presbyteries; therefore, it is appointed that the following roll or list of the said matters be put in the hands of the revisers of Synod books at each Assembly, for their direction and assistance in visiting the said books; and the Assembly do appoint the said visitors, in their going through the said Synod books, carefully to advert,
2. If the Synod books be completely filled up and signed by the moderator and clerk, as is enjoined by the 11th Act of the General Assembly, 1698, and be produced yearly, according to the 3d Act of the General Assembly, 1702.
3. If the Synod's proceedings be agreeable to the constitutions of this Church, and acts of the General Assembly; and if the register be correctly written, and spelled without constractions; and when there is any thing written on the margin which should have been in the body, if it be signed by the clerk; and where words are blotted out as superflouous, if it be marked on the margin how many words or lines are blotted out, and that it was done by authority, and if the said marginal writing be signed by the moderator and clerk; and also observe if there be any blottings or interlinings in the register. See 9th Act of the General Assembly, 1706.
4. If Synods do call their Presbyteries to an account, as to their care about miniters reading and expounding a large portion of Scripture in their congregations every Lord's Day, according to the 9th Act of the General Assembly, 1694, 5th Act of Assembly, 1704, and 10th Act of the General Assembly, 1706; and as to their preaching catechetical doctrine, according to the 18th Act of the General Assembly, 1695.
5. If care be taken that the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper be administered in each parish at least once every year, and where any ministers neglect the same,if they be called to an account, and if their excuses be either approven or disapproven, as is enjoined by the 11th Act of the General Assembly, 1712.
6. If Synods inquire concerning Presbyteries holding parochial visitations, and ministers' visiting of families, according to the 16th Act of the General Assembly, 1706; the buying and reading of the acts and overtures of the General Assembly, according to the 16th Act of the General Assembly, 1700, and 18th Act of the General Assembly, 1705; and concerning their diligence in observing the Acts against profanity, particularly the 7th Act of the General Assembly, 1699,and inquire after mortifications for pious uses, as enjoined by the 22d Act of the General Assembly, 1700.
7. If Synods call their Presbyteries to an account as to the pains they take to get a school settled in every parish, and provided with a sufficient master and maintenance according to law, and take care that the school be visited conform to the 5th Act of the General Assembly, 1705, and 5th Act of the General Assembly, 1707; and if Presbyteries contribute for bursars having Irish, according to the 13th Act of the General Assembly, 1706; and if the Synod's advice be taken anent licensing probationers, according to the 10th Act of the Assembly, 1711.
8. If Synods inquire at Presbyteries concerning the increase and decrease of Popery, and other errors, and the pains taken to reclaim erroneous persons. See 8the Act of the General Assembly, 1707, &c.
9. If Synods take care to have the Acts of the General Assembly, particulary the 5th Act of the late Assembly,"Concerning a Contribution for promoting Christian Knowledge," observed; and if the account of their diligence in these matters be recorded, conform to the 11th Act of the General Assembly, 1710, &c.
10. If Presbytery books be punctually produced, revised, and attested, and if Presbyteries undergo their privy censures every Synod, and if there be a roll made up of matters recommended by the General Assembly to Synods, and if the said roll be recorded, and a copy thereof given to the visitors, according to the 18th Act of the General Assembly, 1712.
11. That the visitors of Synod books communicate all their remarks on these books to some of the Synod, and hear them thereupon, before they bring in the same to the General Assembly, as has been frequently enjoined by former Assemblies.
V. May 5, 1713.—Act and Recommendation for furthering Contributions and Subscriptions towards promoting of Christian Knowledge.
The General Assembly, having heard and considered a representation and petition given in to them by the committee of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge, with the opinion of the committee for bills thereupon, and heard several members of the said society, who are also members of this Assembly, give an account of the state of their matters, and success of their work; they found that the care and diligence of the society and their committee is very commendable, and they earnestly recommend to all ministers and elders, and charitably inclined persons, in their several stations, cheerfully to concur in this so good a work; and they did, and hereby do, again renew the recommendations of the last and preceding General Assemblies to the several Synods and Presbyteries of this Church, and particular ministers, entreating them carefully to observe the methods prescribed by these acts, for furthering subscriptions and contributions in the several pariahes, and to transmit them to the society: And also, the Assembly do require and appoint the several Presbyteries to call for an account of the diligence of the ministers and sessions within their bounds in the said matter, at their privy censures and parochial visitations, and record their reports in their Presbytery books; and ordains Synods, at their privy censures, to take a particular account of the diligence of their Presbyteries, and record the reports of Presbyteries in their books; and Synods and Presbyteries to send a full and distinct report of their diligence in this matter, subscribed by the moderator and clerk, in manner prescribed by former acts, to the Commission of this Assembly, at their meeting in November next. And the Assembly appoints and instructs their Commission to call for the foresaid accounts, and see to the due observation of this and former recommendations made for the furthering of this pious and charitable work; and that they lay before the next General Assembly an account of such Synods and Presbyteries as shall neglect to send in to them the reports of their diligence in this matter.
VI. May 8, 1713.—Act for Maintaining the Unity and Peace of this Church.
The General Assembly, taking into their consideration, that, by the 16th Act of the late Assembly, entitled, "Act concerning the Oath of Abjuration," mutual forbearance, love, and charity, notwithstanding of different sentiments and practices with respect to the said oath, was seriously recommended to all ministers and members of this Church; and being informed that the said recommendation hath not been duly observed by some ministers and people, and that there are appearances of division in divers parts, upon occasion of the said different sentiments and practices; and the Assembly being unanimously agreed, that these differences are no ground of separation from the judicatories presently established, and ordinances of Christ as they are now dispensed in this Church, seeing the ministers on both hands do own their firm adherence (notwithstanding the said differences) to the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government of this Church, and to their duty and loyalty to the Queen, and good affection to the Protestant succession in the illustrious House of Hanover: And further, the General Assembly, being deeply touched with the sense of danger there is to this Church under her present circumstances, by divisions, which tend to weaken our interest, and to expose us to our enemies; and it being incumbent to the supreme judicatory of this Church to take care of her safety, and apply proper remedies to the disorders that happen, and not knowing to what height these evils may grow, unless withstood in the beginning, do therefore not only renew the foresaid recommendation, but most seriously obtest all ministers and people, in the bowels of our Lord Jesus Christ, charging them, as they regard his honour, and the peace and quiet of this Church, that they abstain from all divisive courses upon occasion of different sentiments and practices about the said oath; and that they would, notwithstanding thereof, live in love and Christian communion together; that ministers study to strengthen one another's hands by a conscientious and close attendance upon the several judicatories of this Church; that they use all prudent and gaining methods, as they have access, to keep the people in due subjection and love to their own pastors: That they do not encourage their withdrawing from them; and that all judge charitably one of another, as having acted according to the light of their conscience in this matter; and, therefore, that they carefully abstain from reproaching one another on account of the said different sentiments and practices. And the General Assembly doth seriously exhort all the ministers and members of this Church, as they would not mar and obstruct the success of the Gospel, the serious exercise of practical godliness, and the comely order of the house of God, that they endeavour, by the observation of the foresaid injunctions, to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
VII. Sess. 7, May 8, 1713.—Act and Recommendation for Teaching the Common Tunes.
The General Assembly, for the more decent performance of the public praises of God, do recommend to Presbyteries to use endeavours to have such schoolmasters chosen as are capable to teach the common tunes; and that Presbyteries take care that children be taught to sing the said common tunes; and that the said schoolmasters not only pray with their scholars, but also sing a part of a psalm with them, at least once every day.
VIII. Sess. 8, May 9, 1713.—Commission to some Ministers and Ruling Elders for discussing divers Affairs referred to them.
The General Assembly, taking into their consideration, that there are divers weighty affairs which they cannot overtake; do therefore nominate and appoint their reverend brethren, Messrs William Wishart, one of the Ministers of Edinburgh, their Moderator, &c.; to be commissioners of the General Assembly to the effect after mentioned, with power to the said persons, or their quorum, (powers the same as in 1709, &c.)
IX. Sess. 8, May 9, 1713.—Instructions by the General Assembly to their Commission.
3. The Commission are appointed to use all proper means to preserve and maintain all the rights and privileges of this Church, and to obtain a redress of what is grievous with respect to the same, and to send commissioners to London for that effect, if they see cause, and to lose no opportunity of applying for redress of the Church's grievances.
6. The Commission are empowered to cognose and finally determine in all references already made, or to be made, by this Assembly; and in all 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 transporations to any parish in these places, whether privileged by former acts of Assembly or not, are to be carried on in the most expeditous way, providing that the Commission do not meddle with sentences of Synods, excepting causes particularly referred to them; but this restriction is not to be extended to ministes having the Irish language.
10. 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, and empowers them to send Committees to any part of this Church for that effect, as they shall find cause.
12. 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 Acts of the General Assembly, in the years 1710, 1711, and 1712, thereanent, which are hereby renewed, and Acts of this Assembly.
14. 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, particularly as to the bounds of Ross and Sutherland; and to consider if any method can be fallen upon to support probationers having the Irish language, now when the twenty merks formerly allowed them by law is taken away.
X. Sess. 10, May 11, 1713.—Advice concerning Recommendations in favour of Students to be entered on Trials.
The General Assembly having heard and considered a reference from the Presbytery of Edinburgh, for explication of the tenth Act of the General Assembly, anno 1711, entitled, "Act concerning Probationers, and settling Ministers, with Questions to be proposed to, and Engagements to be taken of them," did, and hereby do, declare, that they judge it fit, that before the said Presbytery grant a recommendation, or desire to another Presbytery for entering any student of divinity on trials, they take the usual private trial appointed by the said act to be taken of such students, as if they were to pass before themselves, and that all other Presbyteries take the same course in the like cases.