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 assemble, holden and begun at Edinburgh, May 6, 1714.
I. Sess. 1, May 6, 1714.—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 with the seal appointed by the Treaty of Union betwixt the two kingdoms of Scotland and England to be kept and used in Scotland in place of the great seal of Scotland, 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 6th day of May 1714.
Right Reverend and well-beloved, we greet you well. We are so well satisfied with the accounts we have had of your prudent conduct in the last Assembly, we very willingly countenance, by our authority, your meeting at this time.
We have again made choice of our right trusty, and right entirely-beloved cousin and counsellor, John Duke of Atholl, keeper of our privy seal for Scotland, to be our Commissioner, and to represent our royal person in this Assembly; believing that none could be more acceptable to you than he, who has already more than once so well discharged that trust to our satisfaction.
We are very sensible how much the promoting of true piety and godliness, the great ends of the Gospel, depends upon the due execution of the laws against profaneness and immorality; and, therefore, it will be always our chief care to employ such persons as shall be faithful in executing the laws, and in punishing all such practices as are a scandal to our holy religion, and against which we have so often signified our just displeasure in our proclamations.
And as nothing can more effectually contribute to the propagating of the Gospel than the example of a pious and learned clergy, so we are resolved to use our endeavours, as we doubt not you will do yours, that vacant churches be supplied with pastors of an exemplary life and conversation.
We readily embrace this opportunity to renew the assurances we have formerly given you of our firm purpose to maintain the Church of Scotland, as by law established. The frequent proofs you have given us of your loyalty and good affection to our royal person and government, and of your concern for the Protestant succession in the House of Hanover, as by law established, as they could not but be very acceptable to us, so we doubt not of your continuing in the same dutiful dispositions.
Our concern for the good and peace of our subjects makes us take this opportunity earnestly to recommend to you moderation and unanimity in your present meeting, and that, at your return to your respective congregations, you would use your utmost endeavours for quieting the minds of the people, and to remove any jealousies and fears which have, without any just grounds, been suggested to them by persons of factious and turbulent spirits, and to make them sensible of the present blessings they enjoy, and of the bad consequences any kind of disturbance would have to the present tranquillity, as well as to their future happiness; all which we expect from you as faithful ministers of the Gospel of peace, which you profess, and who wish well to the present establishment in Church and State. So we bid you heartily farewell.
III. May 8, 1714.—The General Assembly's Answer to her Majesty's most gracious Letter.
May it please your Majesty,
Your Majesty's continuing to give your protection and countenance to our annual Assemblies is a favour which we do with all thankfulness acknowledge; and that our conduct in the last Assembly hath been acceptable to your Majesty, is what but cannot give us great satisfaction, and oblige us to manage ourselves so as we may not lose the honour and comfort of the good opinion your Majesty is pleased to have of us.
The choice that your Majesty hath again made of his Grace the Duke of Atholl, keeper of your privy seal for Scotland, to represent your royal person in this Assembly, is such a signal mark of your Majesty's goodness to us, as we cannot but be very thankful for. His fidelity to your Majesty, the prudence of his conduct when formerly clothed with the high character that he now again bears, the experience we have had of his favour to this Church, and his zeal for suppressing all profaneness and immorality where he hath authority or influence, cannot but make us have a high value for him, and engage us to contribute what is in our power to his being easy in the discharge of that high trust which your Majesty hath honoured him with.
It is a great comfort to us that your Majesty is pleased to give us renewed assurances, that it will be your royal care to promote true piety and godliness, by employing such persons as shall be faithful in duly executing the laws against profaneness and immorality, without which true religion must greatly decay; and we humbly presume to persuade ourselves that your Majesty will, in your royal wisdom, find out such means as shall be most proper for making your religious purposes more effectual than to our deep regret they have hitherto been.
We should be very unworthy of the character we bear of ministers of Christ, if we should not, to the utmost of our power, contribute to the supplying vacant churches with pious and learned men, especially while your Majesty hath the goodness to encourage us, by declaring your purpose to use your royal endeavours for that end.
We cheerfully embrace and lay hold upon the assurance your Majesty gives us, of your firm purpose to maintain Presbyterian Government in the Church of Scotland, as established by law, and do presume to hope that these things which are grievous to us may come in due time and manner to be redressed, and that all the vain confidences of enemies to our constitution shall at last be brought to nought.
It shall, Madam, be our constant care not only to be steadily loyal ourselves to your Majesty, and fixed in our concern for the Protestant succession in the House of Hanover, but it shall also be our endeavour, that all who join in communion with us be duly possessed with principles of true loyalty and affection to your Majesty as our only rightful sovereign, and firmness to the Protestant succession in the illustrious House of Hanover, upon both which, under God, the security of our religion and liberties does entirely depend.
Moderation and unanimity in our present meeting, so earnestly recommended to us by your Majesty, are so much both our duty and interest, that we should be greatly wanting to ourselves, and unanswerable to the duty we owe to God, and the regard we ought to have to what your Majesty exhorts us to, should we not be seriously concerned that nothing opposite to these be found among us.
However bold and unaccountable the proceedings of such as are enemies to your Majesty's government, and friends of the Pretender, have of late been, and whatever grounds they may have given for fears and jealousies amongst your faithful subjects, we beg leave to assure your Majesty, that as it has been, so it ever shall be, our care to make all we have influence upon deeply sensible of the blessings they enjoy under your Majesty's Government, and of the bad consequences that anything tending to disturb the same, or endanger the Protestant succession, would have to the present tranquillity, as well as to their future happiness.
That your Majesty may be always highly favoured of God for the comfort of the
Protestant churches, and the happiness of your people as to their religious and civil
concerns; and after a very long and happy reign here upon earth, be at last crowned
with glory, honour, and immortality, leaving a peaceable access to the throne to the
Protestant heirs of the illustrious Family of Hanover, are and shall be the fervent
and constant prayers of,
May it please your Majesty, your Majesty's most faithful, most obedient, and most loyal subjects, the Ministers and Elders met in this National Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
IV. May 8, 1714.—The General Assembly's Congratulatory Address to the Queen, upon her Majesty's Recovery from her late Indisposition.
Most gracious Sovereign,
We, your Majesty's most faithful and most loyal subjects, the Ministers and Elders of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, think it our duty to embrace the first opportunity in our meeting of this General Assembly, to acquaint your Majesty, that as your late indisposition did justly grieve and alarm us, we do now, with the greatest joy and thankfulness to Almighty God, congratulate your Majesty's happy recovery and perfect health, of which we had the most agreeable confirmation by your Majesty's High Commissioner from the throne.
It hath been, and ever shall be. our fervent prayer, that the infinitely good God may preserve your Majesty in firm health and prosperity, and enable you to defeat the designs of the Pretender, and all his adherents, against your Majesty's just title; and that, after a very long, happy, quiet, and peaceable reign on earth, you may be crowned with glory and immortality; and that the peaceable possession of the throne of these nations may be conveyed to a Protestant of the most illustrious House of Hanover; our firm zeal for which your Majesty hath frequently declared to be acceptable to you.
V. Sess. 3, May 8, 1714.—Act for the better Execution of the Laws against Profaneness.
The General Assembly finding, that albeit there have been many excellent acts, both of Parliaments and General Assemblies, made for suppressing of immorality and vice; and that the Queen's Majesty, by her royal proclamation, dated 18th August 1708 years, hath required the punctual execution of the good laws made for encouragement of piety and virtue, and punishing of vice and immorality, and hath appointed her said proclamation to be read from the pulpits, at such times as shall be found needful by the Presbyteries and Synods of the bounds; yet all manner of immorality does abound through this nation, to the dishonour of God and the scandal of our holy religion, which threatens us with severe strokes and judgments; do therefore appoint that her Majesty's proclamation of the date foresaid, with the abbreviate of the laws subjoined thereto; as also the 13th Act of the General Assembly, anno 1694; 7th and 11th Acts of the General Assemblies, 1697; and 7th Act of the General Assembly, anno 1699, be reprinted in a small volume; and that a copy thereof he sent to every parish and Kirk-session, Presbytery, and Synod in Scotland; and do appoint the said proclamation and abbreviate to be read from the pulpits of all the churches in Scotland, upon the third Lord's day of August next to come, before pronouncing of the blessing; and the General Assembly recommends to ministers on that day to preach a sermon suited to the occasion; and do seriously exhort all the members of this Church, in their several stations, to do what is required of them by the said acts and her Majesty's foresaid proclamation: But because that the too frequent reading of the foresaid proclamation and abbreviate has been found inconvenient; therefore, the General Assembly leaves it to the several Synods and Presbyteries, after the first reading thereof, to give orders about the time of reading it afterward, as often, and at such times, as they shall judge it needful and convenient; and ordains Synods and Presbyteries to record their diligence in this matter in their books.
VI. Sess. 5, May 11, 1714.—Act for further regulating the Trials of Probationers.
The General Assembly, considering how necessary it is, especially at this juncture, that Presbyteries be very cautious in admitting persons to trials in order to their being licensed to preach, and that they be exact in the said trials; do, therefore, seriously recommend to all the Professors of Divinity and Presbyteries within this national Church, the strict observation of the 5th Act of the General Assembly, held in the year 1705, and 10th Act of the General Assembly, held anno 1711, concerning young men to be entered on trials, and other Acts of the General Assembly about trying and licensing probationers; and further do recommend to Presbyteries, that they cause read to the young men about to be tried, the engagements required by the said Act 10th, anno 1711, of such as are to be licensed; and that they take the said young men their promise that they will subscribe to and punctually observe the same, in case the Presbytery shall see cause to license them; and Presbyteries are desired to record this their promise in their books, and to cause all this to be done before any part of the public trials be prescribed; and, in the case of students, their bringing testimonials from their professors, and from the Presbyteries wherein they have for the most part resided, in the terms of the foresaid Act 5th, anno 1705, and Act 10th, 1711, in order to their passing trials in some other Presbytery; such Presbyteries, to whom they shall come so recommended, are not to begin their trials until they have resided at least half a year immediately before in their bounds. And, lastly, the visitors of the Presbytery books are appointed to report to their Synods an account of the dilignece of the several Presbyteries in this matter; provided always, that what is herein contained be not extended to students having the Irish language.
VII. Sess. 5, May 11, 1714.—Act for discouraging unworthy Bursars.
The General Assembly, considering that bursaires have been conferred upon some young men that are found very unworthy of any encouragement from this Church; for remeid whereof, the General Assembly recommends to Synods and Presbyter ies to make particular and exact inquiry into the education, piety, literature, principles, and conversation of those whom they recommend to bursaries; and that they recommend none of whom they have not ground to believe that they will be useful, and who are firm to the interests of this Church: And, further, the General Assembly appoints such Presbyteries as shall discover any just ground of suspicion in young men having these bursaries, with respect to these things, to acquaint the General Assemblies of this Church, or Commissions thereof; and also the Presbyteries or Synods whose bursars they are, that if they be found unworthy, the encouragement they enjoy may be taken from them, and bestowed on persons having the qualifications required by the acts of Assembly.
VIII. Sess. 5, May 11, 1714.—Act for restoring and preserving Unity in this Church.
The General Assembly, taking into their consideration, that by the 6th act of the last General Assembly, 1713, it is strictly and seriously enjoined, that all the ministers and members of this Church live in love and Christian communion together; and that ministers study to strengthen one another's hands by a close and conscientious attendance on the judicatures of this Church, notwithstanding of different sentiments and practices about the Oath of Abjuration, all being of the same mind in owning and adhering to that pitch of reformation to which the Lord had happily raised this Church; and being deeply concerned that nothing contrary to these great and necessary duties should be found amongst the ministers or members of this Church at this time especially, when our circumstances call upon us to watch against any appearances of division; doth therefore renew the exhortations contained in the foresaid act, seriously obtesting all, in the bowels of our Lord Jesus Christ, whether ministers or people, that they lay to heart these important duties, and that there be no distinguishing courses taken contrary thereunto, on occasion of celebrating the holy Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, which ought to be the bond of love and unity among Christians. And, in regard it appeareth unto this Assembly, from the records of the late Commission, that representations have been sent to them from judicatures in the bounds of Dumfries, concerning the practices of some brethren in that Synod, who are said to have separated from their Synod and Presbyteries, and to have baptized and married irregularly, and admitted persons to the Lord's Supper without certificates from their own ministers, and to have gone out of their own parishes, and preached and baptized without the appointment of any judicatory, and that both in vacant and planted congregations; and these practices, if true, being very disorderly, and contrary to the great and necessary duties enjoined in the said act, and protending much danger to this Church; therefore, the General Assembly, being on the one hand deeply concerned for the preventing of schism, and preserving the peace and unity of this Church, and, on the other hand, much inclined to show all tenderness to these brethren, so far as is consistent with the safety of the Church, and their fidelity to the trust reposed in them, doth appoint Mr William Mitchell, one of the ministers of Edinburgh, their Moderator, Messrs William Carstares, William Wishart, William Hamilton, John Flint, and James Hart, Ministers there; Messrs James Hog at Carnock, William Moncrieff at Largo, John Schaw at Leith, Robert Livingston at Biggar, Patrick Cuming at Ormiston, John Currie at Haddington, John Stirling, Principal of the College of Glasgow, John Muirhead at Cambusnethan, James Ramsay at Kelso, and Samuel Nairn at Errol, the Right Honourable the Earl of Buchan, the Lord Ormiston, the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, John Aird, Provost of Glasgow, LieutenantColonel John Erskine of Carnock, Lieutenant-Colonel John Blackadder, LieutenantColonel William Maxwell of Cardoness, and John Martin of Arries, Ruling Elders, thirteen of whom to be a quorum, whereof nine are always to be ministers, to be a committee to consider the representations, or any others that may be offered to them concerning those or other brethren that may follow the like courses, to deal with them in order to remove their scruples, and reclain them to their duty; and for that end to meet at Edinburgh the fourth Wednesday of June next to come, with power to choose their own moderator and clerk, and to adjourn themselves from time to time; and that either at Edinburgh, or to Glasgow or Ayr, as they shall see cause; and the General Assembly appoints these brethren to attend that committee at that diet, and any other to which the said committee shall require them to come; and ordains letters to be written advertising them hereof, and requiring their attendance; and also requiring them to keep within their own parishes as to their ministerial duties; and the Assembly empowers this committee also to call any other brethren that may be represented to follow the like disorderly courses, and appoints them to report their diligence to the Commission to be appointed by this Assembly: And the said Commission is hereby empowered from time to time to give to the said committee instructions and directions as to their procedure, and to cognosce and finally determine in what concerns the said affair.
IX. Sess. 8, May 14, 1714.—Act approving the Proceedings of the Commission of the late General Assembly, and particularly the Seasonable Warning concerning the Danger of Popery.
The General Assembly, having heard and considered the report of those appointed to revise the register of the actings and proceedings of the Commission of the late General Assembly, and having had the said register produced before them, did find that the said Commission have proceeded according to their commission and instructions, and have been diligent and faithful in the work committed to them, for which the Assembly gave them thanks, and particularly for their zeal against Popery, and seasonably impressing the minds of the people with loyalty to her Majesty, firmness to the Protestant succession in the illustrious Family of Hanover, and just aversion to the Pretender, all fully expressed in their Seasonable Warning.
X. Sess. 8, May 14, 1714.—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 Mitchell, 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, &c.; (their powers are the same as in the corresponding act of the immediately preceding years.)
XI. Sess. 8, May 14, 1714.—Act for procuring the better Execution of former Acts against Popery, and for preventing the Growth thereof.
The General Assembly, for preventing the growth of Popery, do enjoin ministers and members of kirk-sessions to keep a watchful eye over Papists, and deal with them for their conviction, according to the 8th Act of the General Assembly, anno 1707, and carefully to give in yearly to the Presbytery lists of their names and designations, particularly of Popish bishops, priests, Jesuits, and other traffickers, who go about to pervert people from the truth, and of apostates from the true religion, with an account of their Popish meetings, times, and places thereof, and witnesses for proving the same, with the names of children under Popish parents, tutors, curators, or governors, and of the nearest Protestant relations of such children; and likewise of all Papists who keep schools, or teach any science, art, or exercise, and also of Protestants who keep Popish servants, and of all Papists who have succeeded to lands or heritages within their bounds, since the year 1700, and of all other contraveners of the 3d Act of the Parliament held that year, entitled, "Act for preventing the Growth of Popery;" and Presbyteries are strictly enjoined to give in yearly, upon the 21st day of February, full informations of these things, subscribed by their moderator and clerk, to the Justices of the Peace in the several shires within which the said Presbyteries do lie, and Papists reside or haunt, at their quarter sessions or meetings, and to the other Judges Ordinary within the bounds of the said Presbyteries, in order to due trial: And appoints Presbyteries to send another authentic copy of the said informations, subscribed, as said is, to the procurator or agent for the Church, to be by them laid before the Lords Justice General, or Justice Clerk, or her Majesty's Advocate or Solicitors; and the Assembly further appoints Presbyteries to give in also copies of the said informations to their Synods, according to former Acts of Assembly, and ordains Synods to call for the same from Presbyteries, and record their diligence herein in their books, that the General Assembly may see it, and give such orders thereanent as they shall judge proper.
XII. Sess. ult., May 17, 1714.
May it please your Majesty,
Your Majesty's known zeal for the true reformed Protestant religion, and the renewed gracious assurances we have from your Majesty, to maintain and protect the Presbyterian government of this Church, as by law established, do encourage us in pursuance of those Christian ends, recommended to us by your most gracious letter to this Assembly, to lay before your Majesty, in all humble duty, these things that so nearly concern the interest of religion and of this Church.
It is our extreme sorrow, that we find ourselves obliged to represent to your Majesty the extraordinary growth of Popery, and bold and insolent carriage of Popish bishops, priests, Jesuits, and other trafficking Papists in several parts of this nation, and that not only by secret practices, but by avowed keeping of mass meetings and chapels, to which people do openly resort, by whose artifices, several hundreds have of late been perverted in a few parishes, and that their bishops do presume, at stated times, to confirm great multitudes as in a Popish country, to the great dishonour of God, the violation of your Majesty's good laws, the increase of disaffection to your royal government, and the grief and disquiet of the hearts of your faithful subjects; a more full and particular account whereof shall be sent to your Majesty's Secretaries of State, to be laid before your Majesty.
Though we own ourselves, both as Christians and as ministers, indispensably bound to exercise charity towards Protestants that differ from us, yet we cannot forbear to represent to your Majesty the disorders of some of the Episcopal persuasion, who transgress your laws by possessing themselves of parish churches, and introducing thereinto a way of worship never allowed in this Church, and manifestly contrary to the act for securing Presbyterian government, declared to be a fundamental act of the Union, of which we have a pregnant instance, by the late violent and tumultuary invasion of the Church of Old Aberdeen; and however fond some of that way appear to be of the Liturgy of the Church of England, they do either altogether omit the prayers for your Majesty, or make such alterations of these prayers as render them equally applicable to the Pretender as to your Majesty: Nor can we omit this opportunity to regret to your Majesty the disturbance Mr David Anderson, Profes sor of Divinity in your College of Old Aberdeen, has met with in the peaceable possession of his office: On this occasion, also, we are constrained in all humility to acquaint your Majesty how much we are astonished and grieved, that some of late have had the boldness to represent the ministers of this Church, and those of our communion, as disloyal and seditious; and we know no reason why they thus express their hatred and malice against us, but because, on all occasions, we assert and maintain your Majesty's undoubted title to the Crown, and use our utmost endeavours to confirm the people in their affection and loyalty to your Majesty's person and government, their zeal for the Protestant succession in the House of Hanover, and their just aversion to the Pretender, which we conceive to be the true cause, that in a late address from Fife, the reasons of a fast appointed by the Synod of that province, which contain becoming expressions of duty and loyalty to your Majesty, and affectionate zeal to the Protestant succession, are so grossly misrepresented; and we cannot but observe, that those who in their addresses do insinuate anything against us and our constitution, make no mention of the Protestant succession in the House of Hanover, being equally, and for the same reasons, disaffected to both.
We must also crave leave deeply to regret the abounding of error, and profaneness of all sorts, notwithstanding the clear light of the Gospel, and the many excellent laws, and your Majesty's royal proclamations to restrain them.
These being the heads of our grievances, wherein your Majesty cannot but perceive how much the glory of God, the purity of religion, the obedience to your laws, the honour of your government, and the peace and welfare of this nation are concerned—we do, in all humility, most earnestly entreat that your Majesty will be pleased, in your royal wisdom and goodness, to appoint, that the laws against Popery and profaneness may be executed with all vigour, and that all unwarrantable and illegal practices and attempts against our most holy religion, and present happy establishment of this Church, may be prevented, and punished according to law.
That God may long preserve your Majesty for the defence of the true Protestant
religion, the comfort of all the churches of Christ, and the welfare and prosperity of
this Church in particular, shall be the constant and fervent prayers of,
May it please your Majesty, your Majesty's most faithful, most obedient, and most loyal subjects, the Ministers and Elders met in this General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
XIII. Sess. ult., May 17, 1714.—Act and Recommendation in favour of the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge.
"Unto the Right Reverend and Honourable the Moderator, and remanent Ministers and Ruling Elders, members of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Representation and Petition of the Committee of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge, humbly sheweth,
That her Majesty having been graciously pleased to erect a Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge, the General Assemblies of this Church have, ever since the erecting of that Society, showed a great zeal to promote the pious design thereof, not only by instructing their commissions to keep a correspondence with the Society, but also by recommending to Synods, Presbyteries, ministers, members of sessions, and persons of all ranks, to contribute towards that excellent design, as is fully expressed in the several acts made to that purpose—these have been very encouraging to the members of the Society and their committee, to bestow part of their time and pains to forward, as far as they could, so good a work. It has been the study of the Society to follow the directions laid down in her Majesty's Letters Patent, and to avoid every thing that might justly be ground of offence to any serious Christian, and for the satisfaction of contributors, have been, and still are, willing to consider any proposals that may be made to them for furthering the design of the Society, so far as the annual rent of the stock will allow, agreeably to her Majesty's Letters Patent; and whatever have been the secret whispers, groundless and false reports of some, who are either enemies to this promising undertaking, or ignorant of this pious design, and unwilling to give any assistance thereto, yet the Society's management has been such, that they are always ready to expose it to any person who desires to understand the same, for they keep their books and accounts distinct and open, that any contributor who pleases may have access thereto; and this has been not only published in the printed newspapers, but a public intimation thereof has been given by the committee of the Society, and the same was sent to the several Synods and Presbyteries, by order of the last Assembly, to be read from all the pulpits in Scotland. The Society cannot but bless God for the great zeal and charity that many Presbyteries, ministers, elders, and other well disposed persons, have showed in this matter; for by their liberality, the Society's stock laid out, preceding the 7th of January last, does amount to the sum of L.5087 sterling, upon the interest of which there are maintained, one who officiates as minister and schoolmaster in Hirta, alias St Kilda, and schoolmasters at Snizort, in the Isle of Skye—Glenelg, in the remote Highlands—Abertarff, in the shire of Inverness—Lairg and Kildonan in Sutherland—Duirness in Strathnaver—Harray in the Continent, and Shapinshay in the North Isles of Orkney—Walls in Zetland—Tomnamvillian, in the Duke of Gordon's country—Tombelly and Castletown in Aberdeenshire—Lochearnside, Glenlednoch, and Glenarchnae, in Perthshire—and one in Gairloch, in the bounds of the Synod of Ross—in all seventeen schools; and some of the masters have allowance for maintaining assistants, where their schools are numerous, and there is a considerable sum given out yearly for books to these schools, and transporting thereof to them; and each scholar taught gratis at the Society's schools is allowed a new Bible, the Confession of Faith, Larger and Shorter Catechisms, with Vincent's or Hall's Exposition of the Catechism, and Guthrie's Trial of a Saving Interest in Christ, so soon as it is attested that they are in case to read the Bible distinctly. There are comfortable accounts of the usefulness of these schools, and of their great success and number of the scholars, for there are 118 scholars at one school, at others 70, 67, 50, 40, 39, 36, &c., where they have for any time been settled, and many of the scholars can read the Bible pointedly, repeat the Shorter Catechism in the church, are learning to write, and to understand arithmetic, and to sing the common tunes used in the churches; and such care is taken in the choice of masters, as to their piety, learning, prudence, and other qualifications, that in remote places where ministers have large parishes, or more kirks than one, they, by the minister's allowance and direction, do help to supply his absence, by convening the scholars, and such others as are pleased to attend on the Lord's Day, and reading the Holy Scriptures to them, and a sermon out of a book, praying, singing Psalms in the forenoon, and catechising in the afternoon, and by the example of the scholars, there is an emulation begot in those of riper years, whereas before, the Lord's Day was little regarded in such places when the ministers were absent. But though the Society must acknowledge the great and laudable zeal of some persons of quality, gentlemen, ministers, and other well disposed persons, particularly in Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Dumfries, and other places, who have contributed liberally for advancing the Christian and noble design of her Majesty's Royal Letters Patent, and that the success of the schools already erected hath been very encouraging—yet we must beg leave again to represent, that some Presbyteries and ministers have never to this day made any return of their having intimated the Acts of Assembly that concerned the Society, although the same were timeously sent to them, so that in some places the pious design of the said Society is wholly concealed and unknown, and people have not had an opportunity to contribute towards so Christian and excellent a work, who would cordially do it. Other ministers have satisfied themselves in that they have contributed or subscribed for their own part, though they have used little or no diligence to promote contributions among their people, apprehending that their endeavours would be without success, where as it is certain, that some who have been under these apprehensions, before they attempted to collect, have, after their setting about the work, by reading the foresaid papers sent to them, and giving suitable exhortations to their people, found them cheerful and liberal in their contributions, beyond their expectations; for they have found even children and servants show a zeal to and concern for this pious undertaking, and desirous to forward the same, and that the small mites thrown in by the poorer sort, when laid together, have amounted to a considerable sum. Other ministers have extended their endeavours no further than by making a collection at the church doors, (as in the case of common charity,) and in such parishes, what has been collected has come to a very small account; whereas others who have been at the pains to go from house to house to obtain the contribution of each particular person, as is prescribed by the Acts of Assembly, have got together very considerable sums, and people have declared, that their hearts never gave them so much to any collection as to this, which is for such an excellent and glorious design; and there are some who, though they have collected, yet delay to transmit the money to the Society's Treasurer, upon pretence either of waiting till they get more, or that they want an account how the money already raised is employed, (notwithstanding of the distinct accounts transmitted to them of the Society's progress from time to time.) If others had been thus backward and careless, this Christian and pious design, proposed after maturest deliberation, by the Commission of the General Assembly, and authorised by royal authority, had been frustrated, and such delays and neglect of what is so seriously recommended by her Majesty and the General Assembly, do greatly obstruct the progress of the Society, for the money must first come to their hands, and then be laid out on interest, and the interest be raised before they can supply the schools; seeing, by the Letters Patent, it is only the interest of their stock that can be employed for that end. The Society is not willing, at this time, to condescend upon particular Synods, Presbyteries, and parishes thus deficient, or persons who have not paid in the money they subscribed for, or collected from others, but is rather desirous that such deficients have some longer time allowed them to exonerate their consciences in such an important trust, according to former Acts of the General Assembly, Letters from their Commissions, and from the Society and their committees; and for the further satisfaction of the Assembly, the Committee is willing to meet with such as shall be named by them, and to lay the Society's accounts and books before them.
May it therefore please this Venerable Assembly to consider the premises, and to cause read the 5th Act of the late General Assembly, and renew the recommendations and orders therein contained in all points, and further, to recommend to Presbyteries to look out for fit persons, duly qualified in the terms of her Majesty's Letters Patent, who are willing to serve the Society, and send an account of them with certificates in their favour to the Society or their Committee.
Which Representation and Petition being considered by the General Assembly, with the deliverance of the Committee of Bills thereupon, they caused read the 5th Act of the late General Assembly, anno 1713, and did, and hereby do, renew the recommendations and injunctions therein contained in all points; and, further, recommend to Presbyteries to look out for persons, duly qualified in the terms of her Majesty's Letters Patent, who are willing to serve the Society, and to send an account of them with certificates in their favour to the Society or their committee. And the General Assembly did give the said Society their hearty thanks for their great care and diligence in carrying on the excellent design of her Majesty's Letters Patent for Propagating Christian Knowledge; and several members of the Society present in the Assembly, having desired that they would appoint a committee of their number to meet with the committee of the Society, to discourse with them, and by joint counsel to advise what further may be proposed to the General Assembly, to be done for the benefit of the said Society, and by the Society, for fully satisfying, not only the members of this Assembly, but all others, as to the exactness and fairness of their management. The General Assembly appointed their committee already named, being some out of the several Synods, for revising the commission book, when they have done with the said, books, to meet with the committee of the Society for the ends foresaid, and report.
And this day the committee of the General Assembly appointed to meet with the committee of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. reported that they had discoursed with that committee at length, and had all their books laid before them, and were fully satisfied of the groundlessness of all the objections that were moved against them, and they saw that the Society can give clear and satisfying documents of all the particulars contained in their representation to this Assembly; and, therefore, the Committee give it as their opinion, that the nature and constitution of that Society is such, that it is as well secured against the danger of future events as any Society can be, and they thought that the Assembly should empower their Commission to appoint public intimations in all the congregations of this Church, of an additional representation of the further progress and success of the Society, which they are preparing. The General Assembly having heard and considered the said report, they were well satisfied therewith, and approved of their committee's opinion, and did empower their Commission to the effect above mentioned.