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 principall acts of the generall assembly, conveened at St. Andrews, July 27, 1642.
Act Sess. 1, July 27, 1642.
In the midst of our great and weighty affaires of our other kingdoms, which God Almighty, who is privie to our intentions, and in whom we trust, will, in his own time, bring to a wished and peaceable conclusion, we are not unmindfull of that duetie which we owe to that our ancient and native kingdome, and to the Kirks there, now met together by their Commissioners in a Nationall Assembly. God, whose vicegerent we are, hath made us a king over divers kingdomes, and we have no other desire nor designe but to govern them by their own lawes, and the kirks in them by their own Canons and constitutions. Where any thing is found to be amisse, we will endeavour a reformation in a fair and orderly way; and where a reformation is settled, we resolve, with that authoritie wherewith God hath vested us, to maintain and defend it in peace and libertie, against all trouble that can come from without, and against all heresies, sects, and schismes which may arise from within, nor do we desire any thing more in that kingdom, (and when we shall hear of it, it shall be a delight and matter of gladnesse unto us,) then that the Gospel be faithfully preached throughout the whole kingdom, to the outmost skirts and borders thereof; knowing that to be the mean of honour to God, of happinesse to the people, and of true obedience to us. And for this effect, that holy and able men be put in places of the ministery, and that schooles and colledges may flourish in learning and true pietie. Some things for advancing of those ends we did of our own accord promise in our letters to the last Assembly, and we make your selves judges, who were witnesses to our actions, while we were there in person, whether we did not perform them both in the point of presentations which are in our hands, and in the liberall provision of all the universities and colledges of the kingdome, not only above that which any of our progenitors had done before us, but also above your owne hopes and expectation. We doe not make commemoration of this our beneficence, either to please our selves, or to stop the influence of our royall goodnesse and bountie for afterward, but that, by these reall demonstrations of our unfained desires and delight to do good, you may be the more confident to expect from us whatsoever in justice we can grant, or what may be expedient for you to obtaine. We have given expresse charge to our Commissioner to see that all things be done there orderly and peaceably, as if we were present in our own person; not doubting but in thankfulnesse for your present estate and condition, you will abstaine from every thing that may make any new disturbance, and that you will be more wise then to be the enemies of your own peace, which would but stumble others, and ruine your selves. We have also commanded our Commissioner to receive from you your just and reasonable desires, for what may further serve for the good of religion, that, taking them to our consideration, we may omit nothing which may witnesse us to be indeed a nursing father of that Kirk, wherein we were born and baptized, and that if ye be not happy, you may blame not us, but your selves. And now what doe we again require of you, but that which otherwise you owe to us as your soveraigne Lord and King, even that ye pray for our prosperitie and the peace of our kingdomes, that ye use the best meanes to keep our people in obedience to us and our lawes, which doth very much in our personall absence from that our kingdome depend upon your preaching, and your owne examplary loyaltie and faithfulnesse, and that against all such jealousies, suspitions, and sinister rumors, as are too frequent in these times, and have been often falsified in time past, by the reality of the contrary events; ye judge us and our professions by our actions, which we trust, through God, in despight of malice, shall ever go on in a constant way for the good of religion, and the weal of our people, which is the chiefest of our intentions and desires. And thus we bid you farewell. Given at our Court at Leicester, the 23d of July 1642.
Act Sess. 3, July 29, 1642.—Act for bringing in of the Synode Books yearly to the Generall Assemblies.
The Moderator calling to minde that which was forgotten in the preceeding Sessions, the examination of the Provinciall books, caused call the roll of the Provinciall Assemblies, and the Assembly finding very few provinces to have sent their books to this Assembly, notwithstanding of the ordinance of the former Assembly thereanent, for the more exact obedience of that ordinance hereafter, the Assembly in one voyce ordaines, That the books of every Provinciall Assembly shall be brought and produced to every Generall Assembly; and that this may be performed, ordaines that every Clerk of the Provincialls either bring or send the said books yearly to the Generall Assemblies, by the commissioners sent to the Assemblies from these Presbyteries where the clerks reside. Which charge the Assembly also layes upon the said Commissioners, sent from the saids Presbyteries where the clerks reside, ay and whill some meanes be provided, whereby the clerk's charges may be sustained for coming with the saids books themselves; and that under the pain of deprivation of the clerk in case of his neglect, and of such censure of the saids commissioners, in case of their neglect, as the Assembly shall think convenient.
Act Sess. 5, Aug. 1, 1642.—Act anent the choosing of Kirk Sessions.
Anent the question moved to the Assembly, concerning the election of Kirk Sessions, the Assembly ordaines the old Session to elect the new Session, both in burgh and land. And that if any place shall vaik in the Session chosen, by death or otherwise, the present Session shall have the election of the person to fill the vacand roome.
Sess. 6, Aug. 2, 1642.—The Report of the Interpretation of the Act at Edinburgh, anent Tryall of Ministers.
The meaning of the foresaid act is, not that an actuall minister to be transported shal be tried again by the tryals appointed for trying of expectants at their entry to the Ministery, according to the acts of the Kirk; but only that he bringing a testimoniall of his former tryalls, and of his abilities and conversation, from the Presbyterie from whence he comes, and giving such satisfaction to the parochiners Presbyterie whereto he comes in preaching, as the Presbyterie finds his gifts fit and answerable for the condition and disposition of the congregation whereto he is presented. Because, according to the Act of the Assembly, 1596, renewed at Glasgow, some that are meet for the ministery in some places are not meet for all alike; and universities, towns, and burghs, and places of noblemen's residence, or frequencie of Papists, and other great and eminent congregations, and in sundry other cases, require men of greater abilities, nor will be required necessarily in the planting of all private small paroches, the leaving of the consideration of these cases unto the judgement and consideration of the Presbyterie was the only intention of the act.
The Assembly approves the meaning and interpretation foresaid; and appoints the said Act, according to this interpretation, to stand in force, and to have the strength of an Act and Ordinance of Assembly in all time coming.
Act Sess. 7, Aug. 3, 1642.—Act anent the Order for making Lists to his Majestie, and other Patrons, for Presentations; the Order of Tryal of Expectants, and for trying the quality of Kirks.
Forsameikle as his Majestie was graciously pleased, in his answer to the petition tendred by the Commissioners of the late Assembly to his Majestie, to declare and promise, for the better providing of vaiking kirks at his Majestie's presentation with qualified ministers, to present one out of a list of six persons, sent to his Majestie from the Presbyteries wherein the vaiking kirk lyeth, as his Majestie's Declaration, signed with his royal hand at White-hall, the 3 of January last, registrate in the books of Assembly this day, at length beares. And suchlike, whereas the Lords of Exchequer, upon a petition presented to them by the Commissioners of the Generall Assembly, and the Procurator and Agent for the Kirk representing two prejudices; one, that gifts obtained from his Majestie of patronages of Kirks at his presentation, were passing the Exchequer, without the qualification and provision of a list, wherewith his Majestie was pleased to restrict himself; and the other, that some were seeking gifts of patronage of Bishop-Kirks, which are declared to belong to Presbyteries, to be planted by two acts of the late Parliament: The saids Lords have ordained that no signator, containing gifts of patronages from his Majestie, shall passe hereafter, but with a speciall provision that the same shall be layable to the tenor of his Majestie's said declaration; ordaining also the Procurator and Agent of the Kirk to be advertised, and to have place to see all signators whatsoever, containing any patronage, to the effect they may represent the interest of the Kirk therein; as the said act, of the date the 27th of June last, registrate also in the books of Assembly this day, at length beares. Therefore, that the saids kirks which now are, or which were at his Majestie's presentation the said third day of January last, may be the better provided with able ministers when the samine shall vaik, The Assembly ordaines, that hereafter every Presbyterie shall give up yearly a roll of the ablest of their expectants to their Synods, and that the Synods select out of these rolls such persons whom they, in certain knowledge, judge most fit for the ministrie, and worthiest of the first place, with power to the Synods to adde or alter these rolls given by the Presbyteries as they thinke reasonable; and that the Synods shall send the rolls, made by them in this manner, to the next Generall Assembly, who shall also examine the rolls of the Synods, and adde or alter the same as shall be thought expedient. Which roll made by the Generall Assembly shall be sent to every Presbyterie, and that the Presbyterie, with consent of the most or best part of the congregation, shall make a list of six persons willing to accept of the presentation out of that roll of the Assembly, upon every occasion of vacation of any kirk within their bounds, and shall send the samine, together with a blank presentation, the which (if his Majesty be patron to the vacant kirk) shall be sent by the said procurator and agent to such as the Commissioners of the Generall Assembly, or in their absence the Presbyterie of Edinburgh, shall direct and think at that time most able and willing to obtain the presentation, to be signed and filled up by his Majestie's choise of one of the list. And if the vacant kirk be of a patronage disponed by his Majesty since the 3d of January, in that case, either the Presbyteries themselves shall send a list of six persons in maner aforesaid, with a blank presentation to the patron, to be filled up by his choise, and subscribed, or send the samine to the saids officers of the kirk, to be conveyed by them to the patron of the vaiking kirk, as the Presbyterie shall think most expedient. It is alwayes declared, that this order shall be without prejudice to the Presbyteries, with consent foresaid, to put actuall ministers upon the said list of six persons, to be sent to the patron of the said vaiking kirks, if they please. And, least that the nomination of expectants by Presbyteries, Synods, or Assemblies, in their rolls or lists foresaid, be ministerpreted, as though the expectants, nominated in these rolls and lists, were thereby holden and acknowledged to be qualified, which is not the intention of the Assembly, who rather think, that in respect of this order, there should be a more exact tryall of expectants then before: Therefore, the Assembly ordaines, That no expectants shall be put on the rolls or lists above mentioned but such as have been upon the publike exercise, at the least by the space of half a year, or longer, as the Presbyterie shall finde necessary. And suchlike ordaines, That hereafter none be admitted to the publike exercise before they be tryed, according to the tryall appointed for expectants at their entrie to the Ministerie in the late Assembly at Glasgow, in the 24th Article of the Act of the 23d Session thereof, which tryall the Assembly appoints to be taken of every expectant before his admission to the publike exercise. And suchlike ordaines, That the samine tryall shall be again taken immediatly before their admission to the ministerie, together with their tryall mentioned in the advice of some brethren deputed for penning the corruptions of the ministery, approven in the said act of the Generall Assembly at Glasgow. And because that kirks of the patronages foresaids will vaik before the rolls and lists be made up by the Presbyteries, Synods, and Generall Assemblies, in manner foresaid: Therefore, in the interim, the Assembly ordains the commissioners of every Presbyterie here present to give in a list of the ablest expectants within their bounds the morn to the Clerk of the Assembly, that the Assembly may out of these rolls make a list to be sent to every Presbyterie, out of which the Presbyteries shall make a list of six persons, with consent foresaid, and send the samine, upon vacancie of any church within their bounds, together with a presentation to his Majestie, or any other patron, in manner foresaid. And because the Procurator and Agent of the Kirk cannot get sufficient information to the Lords of Exchequer anent the right and interest of the Kirk, and Presbyteries in kirks, whereof gifts of patronages may be presented to the Exchequer: Therefore, the Assembly ordaines, for their better information hereanent, that every Presbyterie, with all diligence, use all meanes of exact tryall of the nature and qualitie of all kirks within their bounds, as what kirks belong to the King's Majestie's patronage, what to other laick patronages, what kirks of old were planted by Presbyteries, and what by preslates and bishops, before the Assembly at Glasgow, 1638, what hath been the way and time of the change of the planting and providing of the kirks, if any have been changed, or any other thing concerning the nature and qualitie of every kirk within their bounds, and to send the same to the Procurator of the Kirk with all diligence.
Act anent Lists for the Kirks in the Highlands.
The Assembly considering that in Argyle, and in other places of the Irish language, there will not be gotten six expectants able to speak that language, and, therefore, the Assembly is hopefull, that in these singular cases, his Majestie will be pleased, for kirks vacand in the Highlands, to accept of a list of so many expectants as can be had, able to speak the Irish language. And the Commissioner's Grace promiseth to recommend it to his Majestie.
The Assembly would draw up a supplication to be presented by the commissioners of the Presbyterie of Edinburgh to the Councell at their first meeting, for the due execution of the acts of Parliament and Councell against Papists, wherein it will be specially craved, that the Exchequer should be the intromettors with the rents of these who are excommunicate, and that from the Exchequer the Presbyterie may receive that portion of the confiscate goods which the law appoints to be imployed ad pios usus.
II. Every Presbyterie would conveen, at their first meeting, all known Papists in their bounds, and require them to put out of their company all friends and servants who are Popish within one moneth; also, within that same space, to give their children, sons and daughters, who are above seven years old, to be educate at their charges by such of their Protestant friends as the Presbyterie shall approve, and finde sufficient caution for bringing home within three moneths such of their children who are without the kingdom, to be educate in schooles and colledges at the Presbyteries sight, to finde caution, likewise, of their abstinence from masse, and the company of all Jesuits and priests.
III. That all, of whatsoever rank or degree, who refuse to give satisfaction in every one of the foresaid articles, shall be processed without any delay; but those who give satisfaction shall be dealt with in all meeknesse after this manner: The Presbyteries shall appoint such of their number as they shall find fittest to confer with them, so frequently as the Brethren are able to attend, untill the midst of October next, against which time, if they be not willing to go to church, they shall give assurance to go and dwell in the next adjacent university town, whether Edinburgh, Glasgow, St Andrews, or Aberdene, from November 1 to the last of March, where they shall attend all the diets of conference which the professors and ministers of the bounds shall appoint to them; by which, if they be not converted, their obstinacy shal be declared in the Provincial Synods of April, and from thence their processe shall go on to the very closure without any farther delay.
V. That there be given presently by the members of this present Assembly, unto the Commissioners of the Presbyterie of Edinburgh, a list of all excommunicate Papists they know, and of all Papists who have children educate abroad, that they may be presented, together with our supplication, to the Councell, at their first sitting.
VI. That the Councell may be supplicate for an act, that in no regiment which goes out of the kingdom any Papists bear office, and that the colonell be required to finde caution for this effect before he receive the Councel's warrant for levying any souldiers; also that he finde caution for the maintaining of a minister, and keeping of a Session in his regiment.
Item, The Assembly would enjoyn every Presbyterie to proceed against non-communicants, whether Papists or others, according to the act of Parliament made thereanent. And suchlike, that acts of Parliament against prophaners of the Sabbath be put to execution.
The Assembly approves the overtures foresaid, and ordains Presbyteries to put the samine to execution with all diligence; and that the Commissioners of every Presbyterie give in a list of the excommunicate Papists within their bounds, and of Papists' children out of the countrey, to the clerk, that the same may be presented to the Councell by the Commissioners of this Assembly.
Act anent the joyning of the Presbyterie of Sky to the Synode of Argyle.
The Generall Assembly, having considered the whole proceedings of the Commissioners of the late Generall Assembly holden at Edinburgh, anent the reference made to them concerning the Presbyterie of Sky, together with the whole reasons pro et contra in the said matter, after mature deliberation, have ratified and approved, and by these presents ratifie and approve, the sentence of the saids commissioners thereintill. And, further, ordains the said Presbytery of Sky, and all the ministers and elders thereof, to keep the meetings of the Provincial Assembly of Argyle, where they shall happen to be appointed in all time coming, suchlike as any other Presbyterie within the bounds of the said Province of Argyle uses to do; and that the samine Presbyterie be in all time hereafter within the jurisdiction of the said Provincial Assembly, without any further question to be made thereanent.
Sess. 8, Aug. 3, post meridiem.—The Supplication of this Assembly to the King's Majestie. (fn. 1)
Our hearts were filled with great joy and gladnesse at the hearing of your Majestie's letter, which was read once and again in face of the Assembly, every line thereof almost either expressing such affection to the reformed religion, and such royall care of us, as we could require from a Christian prince, or requiring such necessary duties from us, as we are bound to performe, as ministers of the Gospel and Christian subjects; for which, as solemne thanks were given by the Moderator of the Assembly, so do we all, with one voice, in all humility, present unto your Majestie the thankfulnesse of our hearts, with our earnest prayers to God for your Majestie's prosperity, and the peace of your kingdoms; that your Majestie may be indeed a nursing father to all the Kirks of Christ in your Majestie's dominions, and especially to the Kirk of Scotland, honoured with your birth and baptisme, promising our most serious endeavours, by doctrine and life, to advance the Gospel of Christ, and to keep the people in our charge in unity and peace, and in all loyalty and obedience to your Majestie and your laws. Your Majestie's commands to your Commissioner, the Earle of Dumfermling, to receive from us our just and reasonable desires for what may further serve for the good of religion here, the favours which we have received already, and your Majestie's desire and delight to do good, expressed in your letter, are as many encouragements to us to take the boldnesse, in all humility, to present unto your Majestie (beside the particulars recommended to your Majestie's Commissioner) one thing, which for the present is the chiefest of all our desires, as serving most for the glory of Christ, for your Majestie's honour and comfort, and not onely for the good of religion here, but for the true happinesse and peace of all your Majestie's dominions; which is no new motion, but the prosecution of that same which was made by the Commissioners of this your Majestie's kingdom in the late Treatie, and which your Majestie, with advice of both Houses of Parliament, did approve in these words:—"To their desire, concerning unitie in religion and uniformitie of Church government, as a speciall meanes of conserving of peace betwixt the two kingdoms, upon the grounds and reasons contained in the paper of the 10 of March, given in to the Treaty and Parliament of England, it is answered, upon the 15 of June, That his Majestie, with advice of both Houses of Parliament, doth approve of the affection of his subjects of Scotland, in their desire of having the conformity of Church government betwixt the two nations; and as the Parliament hath already taken into consideration the reformation of Church government, so they will proceed therein in due time, as shall best conduce to the glory of God, the peace of the Church, and of both kingdoms.—11 of June 1641." In our answer to a declaration sent by the now Commissioners of this kingdom, from both Houses of Parliament, we have not onely pressed this point of unity in religion and uniformity of Church government, as a meane of a firme and durable union betwixt the two kingdomes, and without which former experiences put us out of hope long to enjoy the puritie of the Gospel with peace, but also have rendered the reasons of our hopes and confidence, as from other considerations, so from your Majestie's late letter to this Assembly, that your Majestie, in a happy conjunction with the Houses of Parliament, will be pleased to settle this blessed Reformation, with so earnestly desired a peace in all your dominions; and, therefore, we, your Majestie's most loving subjects, in name of the whole Kirks of Scotland represented by us, upon the knees of our hearts do most humbly and earnestly beg that your Majesty, in the deep of your royall wisdom, and from your affection to the true religion, and the peace of your kingdoms, may be moved to consider that the God of heaven and earth is calling for this Reformation at your hands, and that as you are his vicegerent, so you may be his prime instrument in it. If it shall please the Lord (which is our desire and hope) that this blessed unitie in religion and uniformity in government shalll be brought about, your Majestie's conscience, in performing of so great a dutie, shall be a well-spring of comfort to yourself, your memory shall be a sweet savour, and your name renowned to all following generations, And if these unhappy commotions and divisions shall end in this peace and unity, then it shall appeare in the providence of God they were but the noyse of many waters, and the voyce of a great thurnder, before the voyce of harpers harping with their harps, which shall fill this whole, iland with melodie and mirth, and the name of it shall be, "The Lord is there."
The Declaration of the Parliament of England sent to the Assembly.
The Lords and Commons in this present Parliament assembled, finding, to their
great grief, that the distractions of this kingdome daily increase, and that the wicked
counsells and practises of a malignant party amongst us (if God prevent them not)
are like to cast this nation into bloud and confusion, to testifie to all the workd how
earnestly they desire to avoid a civill warre, they have addressed themselves in an
humble supplication to his Majestie for the prevention thereof; a copy of which their
petition they have thought fit to send at this time to the Nationall Assembly of the
Church of Scotland, to the intent that that Church and kingdome (whereunto they
are united by so many and so near bonds and tyes, as well spirituall as civill) may see
that the like minde is now in them that formerly appeared to be in that nation; and
that they are as tender of the effusion of Christian bloud on the one side, as they are
zealous on the other side of a due Reformation both in Church and State. In which
work, whilest they were labouring, they have been interrupted by the plots and
practises of a malignant party of Papists and ill-affected persons, especially of the corrupt
and dissolute clergy, by the incitement and instigation of bishops and others,
whose avairce and ambition being not able to bear the reformation endeavoured by
the Parliament, they have laboured (as we can expect little better fruit from such
trees) to kindle a flame, and raise a combustion within the bowels of this kingdom;
which, if by our humble supplication to his Majestie, it may be prevented, and that,
according to our earnest desire therein, all force and warlike preparations being laid
aside, we may returne to a peaceable Parliamentary proceeding, we do not doubt but
that, by the blessing of Almighty God upon our endeavours, we shall settle the matters
both is Church and State, to the encrease of his Majestie's honour and state, the
peace and prosperitie of this kingdome, and especially to the glory of God, by the
advancement of the true religion, and such a reformation of the Church as shall be
most agreeable of God's Word. Out of all which there will also most undoubtedly
result a most firme and stable union between the two kingdomes of England and
Scotland, which, according to our protestation, we shall by all good wayes and meanes,
upon all occasions, labour to preserve and maintain.
Jo. Browan, Cler, Parl.
The Assemblie's Answer to the Declaration of the Parliament of England. (fn. 2)
The Generall Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland having received a declaration sent unto them by the commissioners of this kingdome now at London, from the honourable Houses of the Parliament of England, expressing their care to prevent the effusion of Christian bloud in that kingdome, and their affections to reformation both in Kirk and State, and having taken the same to such consideration as the importance of so weighty matters, and the high estimation they have of so wise and honourable a meeting as is the Parliament of England, did require, have, with universall consent, resolved upon this following answer;—
I. That from the recent sense of the goodnesse of God in their own late deliverance, and from their earnest desire of all happinesse to our native King and that kingdome, they blesse the Lord for preserving them, in the midst of so many unhappy divisions and troubles, from abloudy intestine war, which is from God the greatest judgement, and to such a nation the compend of all calamities. They also give God thanks for their former and present desires of a reformation, especially of religion, which is the glory and strength of a kingdome, and bringeth with it all temporall blessings of prosperity and peace.
II. That the hearts of all the members of this Assembly, and of all the wel-affected within this kingdome, are exceedingly grieved and made heavy, that in so long a time, against the professions both of King and Parliament, and contrary to the joynt desires and prayers of the godly in both kingdomes, to whom it is more deare and precious then what is dearest to them in the world, the reformation of religion hath moved so slowly and suffered so great interruption. They consider that not only Prelates, formall professours, profane and worldly men, and all that are Popishly affected, are bad councellours and workers, and do abuse their power, and bend all their strength and policies against the work of God, but the god of this world also, with principalities and powers, the rulers of the darknesse of this world, and spirituall wickednesse in high places, are working with all their force and fraud in the same opposition, not without hope of successe; they having prevailed so farre from the beginning, that in the times of the best Kings of Juda of old, and the most part of the Reformed Kirks of late, a through and perfect reformation of religion hath been awork full of difficulties. Yet doe they conceive, that as it ought first of all to be intended, so should it be above all other things, with confidence in God, who is greater then the world, and he who is in the world, most seriously endeavoured. And that when the supreame Providence giveth opportunity of the accepted time and day of salvation, no other work can prosper in the hands of his servants, if it be not apprehended, and with all reverence and faithfulnesse improved. This Kirk and nation, when the Lord gave them the calling, considered not their own deadnesse, nor staggered at the promise through unbelief, but gave glory to God. And who knoweth (we speak it in humility and love, and from no other mind then from a desire of the blessing of God upon our King and that kingdome) but the Lord hath now some controversie with England, which will not be removed till first, and before all, the worship of his name and the government of his House be settled according to his own will. When this desire shall come it shall be to England, after so long deferred hopes, a tree of life, which shall not only yeeld temporall blessings unto themselves, but also shall spread the branches so far, that both this nation and other Reformed Kirks shall finde the fruits thereof to their great satisfaction.
III. The commissioners of this kingdome, in the late treaty of peace, considering that religion is not only the meane of the service of God and saving of souls, but is also the base and foundation of kingdomes and estates, and the strongest band to tye subjects to their prince in true loyaltie, and to knit the hearts of one to another in true unity and love; they did, with preface of all due respect and reverence, far from arrogancy or presumption, represent, in name of this kingdome, their serious thoughts and earnest desires for unity of religion; that in all his Majestie's dominions there might be one Confession of Faith, one Directory of Worship, one publike Catechisme, and one form of Kirk Government. This they conceived to be acceptable to God Almighty, who delighteth to see his people walking in truth and unity, to be a speciall meanes for conserving of peace betwixt the kingdomes; of easing the King's Majesty and the publike government of much trouble, which ariseth from differences of religion, very grievous to kings and estates; of great content to the King himself, to his nobles, his court, and all his people, when, (occasioned to be abroad,) without scruple to themselves or scandall to others, all may resort to the same publike worship, as if they were at their own dwellings; of suppressing the names of heresies, and sects, Puritans, Conformists, Separatists, Anabaptists, &c., which do rent asunder the bowels both of Kirk and kingdome, of despaire of successe to Papists and recusants; to have their profession, which is inconsistent with the true Protestant religion and authority of princes, set up again, and of drawing the hearts and hands of ministers from unpleasant and unprofitable controversies to the pressing of mortification, and to treatises of true pietie and practicall divinity. The Assembly doth now enter upon the labour of the commissioners, unto which they are encouraged, not only by their faithfulnesse in the late treaty, but also by the zeale and example of the Generall Assemblies of this Kirk in former times, as may appeare by the Assembly at Edinburgh, December 25, in the year 1566, which ordained a letter to be sent to England against the surplice, tippet, corner-cap, and such other ceremonies as then troubled that Kirk, that they might be removed; by the Assembly at Edinburgh, April 24, 1583, humbly desiring the King's Majesty to command his ambassadour, then going to England, to deale with the Queen, that there might be an union and band betwixt them and other Christian princes and realmes, professing the true religion, for defence and protection of the Word of God and professors thereof, against the persecution of Papists and confederates, joyned and united together by the bloudy league of Trent; as also, that her Majesty would disburden their brethren of England of the yoke of ceremonies imposed upon them against the liberty of the Word; and by the Assembly at Edinburgh, March 3, 1589, ordaining the Presbyterie of Edinburgh to use all good and possible means for the relief and comfort of the Kirk of England, then heavily troubled, for the maintaining the true discipline and government of the Kirk, and that the brethren, in their private and publike prayers, recommend the estate of the afficted Kirk of England to God. While now, by the mercy of God, the conjunction of the two kingdomes is many wayes increased, the zeale of the Generall Assembly towards their happinesse ought to be no lesse; but, besides these, the Assembly is much encouraged unto this duetie, both from the King's Majesty and his Parliament joyntly, in their answer to the proposition made by the late Commissioners of the Treaty, in these words:—"To their desire concerning unity of religion, and uniformity of kirk government, as a speciall meanes for conserving of peace betwixt the two kingdomes, upon the grounds and reasons contained in the paper of the 10 of March, and given in to the Treatie and Parliament of England; it is answered, upon the 15 of June, That his Majestie, with advice of both Houses of Parliament, doth approve of the affection of his subjects of Scotland, in their desire of having conformitie of kirk government between the two nations; and as the Parliament hath already taken into consideration the reformation of kirk government, so they will proceed therein in due time, as shall best conduce to the glory of God, the peace of the Kirk, and of both kingdomes." And also severally; for his Majestie knoweth that the custodie and vindication, the conversation and purgation of religion, are a great part of the duetie of civill authority and power. His Majestie's late practise, while he was here in person, in resorting frequently to the exercises of publike worship, his royall actions in establishing the worship and government of this Kirk in Parliament, and in giving order for a competent maintenance to the ministery and seminaries of the Kirk, and his Majestie's gracious letter to the Assembly, (seconded by the speech of his Majestie's Commissioner,) which containes this religious expression:—"Where any thing is amisse, we will endeavour a reformation in a fair and orderly way, and where reformation is settled, we resolve, with that authority wherewith God hath vested us, to maintain and defend it in peace and liberty, against all trouble that can come from without, and against all heresies, sects, and schismes, which may arise from within"—all these doe make us hopefull that his Majestie will not oppose but advance the work of reformation. In like manner, the Honourable Houses of Parliament, as they have many times before witnessed their zeale, so now also, in their declaration sent to the Assembly, which not only sheweth the constancy of their zeale, but their great grief that the worke hath been interrupted by a malignant party of Papists and evill-affected persons, especially of the corrupt and dissolute clergie, by the incitement and instigation of bishops and others, their hope, according to their earnest desire, when they shall returne to a peaceable and parliamentary proceeding, by the blessing of God, to settle such a reformation in the Church, as shall be agreeable to God's Word, and that the result shall be a most firm and stable union between the two kingdoms of England and Scotland, &c. The Assembly also is not a little encouraged by a letter sent from many reverend Brethren of the Kirk of England, expressing their prayers and endeavours against every thing which shall be found prejudiciall to the establishment of the kingdome of Christ, and the peace of their soveraigne. Upon these encouragements, and having so patent a doore of hope, the Assembly doth confidently expect, that England will now bestirre themselves in the best way for a reformation of religion, and do most willingly offer their prayers and uttermost endeavours for furthering so great a work, wherein Christ is so much concerned in his glory, the King in his honour, the Kirk and kingdome of England in their happinesse, and this Kirk and kingdome in the purity and peace of the Gospel.
IV. That the Assembly also, from so many reall invitations, are heartened to renew the proposition made by the aforenamed commissioners of this kingdome, for begining the work of reformation at the uniformity of kirk-government. For what hope can there be of unity in religion, of one Confession of Faith, one form of worship, and one Catechisme, till there be first one forme of ecclesiasticall government? Yea, what hope can the kingdome and Kirk of Scotland have of a firme and durable peace, till prelacie, which hath been the main cause of their miseries and troubles, first and last, be plucked up, root and branch, as a plant which God hath not planted, and from which no better fruits can be expected than such sower grapes as this day set on edge the kingdome of England ?
V. The prelaticall hierarchie being put out of the way, the work will be easie, without forcing of any conscience, to settle in England the government of the Reformed Kirks by assemblies. For although the Reformed Kirks do hold, without doubting, their kirk-officers and kirk-government, by assemblies, higher and lower, in their strong and beautiful subordination, to be jure divino, and perpetuall; yet prelacie, as it differeth from the office of a pastor, is almost universally acknowledged, by the prelates themselves and their adherents, to be but an humane ordinance, introduced by humane reason, and settled by humane law and custome for supposed convenience; which, therefore, by humane authority, without wronging any man's conscience, may be altred and abolished upon so great a necessity, as is a hearty conjunction with all the Reformed Kirks, a firm and well-grounded peace betwixt the two kingdomes, formerly divided in themselves, and betwixt themselves by this partition wall, and a perfect union of the Kirks in the two nations; which, although by the providence of God in one iland, and under one monarch, yet ever since the Reformation, and for the present also, are at greater difference in the point of kirk-government, which in all places hath a powerfull influence upon all the parts of religion, then any other Reformed Kirks, although in nations at greatest distance, and under divers princes.
VI. What may be required of the Kirk of Scotland, for furthering the work of uniformitie of government, or for agreeing upon a common Confession of Faith, Catechisme, and Directory for Worship, shall, according to the order given by this Assembly, be most willingly performed by us, who long extreamly for the day when King and Parliament shall joyn for bringing to passe so great, so good a work, that all warres and commotions ceasing, all supersition, idolatry, heresie, sects, and schismes being removed, as the Lord is one, so his name may be one amongst us; and mercy and truth, righteousnesse and peace meeting together, and kissing one another, may dwell in this iland.
Act Sess. 8, August 3, 1642.—Overtures for Transplantation of Ministers, and Provision of Schools, ordained by the late Assembly at Edinburgh to be sent to Synods, and reported to this Assembly.
Act Sess. 11, Edinburgh, August 5, 1641.
These Overtures underwritten, anent the Transporting of Ministers and Professors to Kirks and Colledges, being read in audience of the Assembly, and thereafter revised by a Committee appointed for that effect, the Assembly appoints them to be sent to the severall Synods, to be considered by them, and they to report their judgements thereof to the next Generall Assembly.
I. No transportation would be granted hereafter without citation of parties having interest, (viz. the minister who is sought and his parish,) to hear what they can oppose, and the matter is to come first to both the Presbyteries, (viz. that wherein the minister dwels whose transportation is sought, and the other Presbyterie to which he is sought, if the kirks lye in several Presbyteries;) and if the Presbyteries agree not, then the matter is to be brought to the Synod or Generall Assembly, (which of them shall first occure after such transportation is sought;) and if the Synod (occurring first) agree not, or if there be appeale made from it, then the matter is to come to the Generall Assembly.
II. A minister may be transplanted from a particular congregation (where he can onely doe good to a part) to such a place where he may benefit the whole Kirk of Scotland, because, in reason, the whole is to be preferred to a part, such as Edinburgh.
1. Because all the great Justice Courts sit there, as Councell, Session, JusticeGenerall, Exchequer, &c., and it concerns the whole Kirk that these fountains of justice be kept clean, both in the point of faith and manners.
2. Because there is great confluence to Edinburgh, from time to time, of many of the chief members of the whole kingdome, and it concerns the whole Kirk to have these well seasoned, who (apparantly) are to be the instruments of keeping this Kirk and kingdome in good temper.
That this may be the more easily done, the Assembly first recommends to Edinburgh, that some young men of excellent spirits may be (upon the charges of the said town) trained up, at home or abroad, toward the ministery, from time to time. Secondly, we meane not that all the places of the ministerie of Edinburgh be filled with Ministers to be transported by authority of this Act, but only till they be provided of one Minister (transplanted by the authority of the Assembly) for every Kirk in Edinburgh, and that the rest of the places be filled either according to the generall rules of transportation for the whole kingdome, or by agreement with actuall Ministers and their parishes, with consent of the Presbyterie or Synod to the which they belong.
Wherein the Colledge of Divinitie in St. Andrews is first to be served, without taking any Professors or Ministers out of Edinburgh, Glasgow, or Aberdene, and then the rest of the Colledges would be provided for as their necessitie shall require; yet (in respect of the present scarcity) it were good for the Universities to send abroad for able and approved men, to be Professors of Divinitie, that our Ministers may be kept in their pastorall charge as much as may be.
IV. Also congregations where noblemen have chief residence are to be regarded, whether planted or unplanted, and a care is to be had that none be admitted Ministers where Popish noblemen reside, but such as are able men (especially for controversies) by sight of the Presbyterie; and, moreover, it is necessary that such Ministers as dwell where Popish noblemen are, and are not able for controversies, that they be transported.
V. They who desire the transportation of a Minister should be obliged to give reasons for their desire; neither should any Presbyterie or Assembly passe a sentence for transportation of any Minister till they give reasons for the expediencie of the same, both to him and his congregation, and to the Presbyterie whereof he is a member. If they acquiesce to the reasons given, it is so much the better; if they doe not acquiesce, yet the Presbyterie or Assembly (by giving such reasons before the passing of their sentence) shall make it manifest that what they doe is not proarbitratu, vel imperio onely, but upon grounds of reason.
VI. Because there is such scarcity of Ministers having the Irish tongue, necessity requires, that when they be found in the Lowlands they be transported to the Highlands; providing their condition be not made worse, but rather better, by their transportation.
VII. In the point of voluntary transportation, no minister shall transact and agree with any parish, to be transported thereto, without a full hearing of him and his parish before the Presbyterie to which he belongs in his present charge, or superiour Kirk judicatories, if need shall be.
VIII. The planting of vacant Kirks is not to be tyed to any (either Ministers or expectants) within a Presbyterie; but a free election is to be, according to the order of our Kirk and lawes of our kingdome.
IX. The chief burghs of the kingdome are to be desired to traine up young men of excellent spirits for the ministery, according to their power, as was recommended to Edinburgh; which course will in time (God willing) prevent many transplantations.
The Overtures underwritten, anent the Schooles, being likewise read in audience of the Assembly, they recommend the particulares therein mentioned, anent the providing of the maintenance for Schoolmasters, to the Parliament, and ordaine the rest to be sent to the Synods, to be considered by them; and they to report their judgements thereof to the next Generall Assembly, as said is.
I. Every parish would have a reader, and a schoole, where children are to be bred in reading, writing, and grounds of religion, according to the laudable acts, both of Kirk and Parliament, made before.
II. Anent these schooles, every minister, with his elders, shall give accompt to the Presbyteries at the visitation of the kirk; the Presbyteries are to make report to the Synode, and the Synode to the General Assembly, that schools are planted as above said, and how they are provided with men and means.
III. And because this hath been most neglected in the Highlands, Ilands, and Borders, therefore, the ministers of every parish are to instruct, by their commissioners to the next Generall Assembly, that this course is begun betwixt and then; and they are further to certifie, from one Generall Assembly to another, whether this course is continued without omission or not.
IV. And because the means hitherto named or appointed for schooles of all sorts hath been both little and ill payed, therefore, beside former appointments, (the execution whereof is humbly desired, and to be petitioned for at the hands of his Majestie and the Parliament,) the Assembly would further supplicate this Parliament that they (in their wisdome) would finde out how meanes shall be had for so good an use, especially that the children of poore men (being very capable of learning, and of good engines) may be trained up, according as the exigence and necessity of every place shall require. And that the commissioners, who shall be named by this Assembly to wait upon the Parliament, may be appointed to represent this to his Majestie and the Parliament, seeing his sacred Majestie, by his gracious letter, hath put us in hope hereof, wherewith we have been much refreshed.
VI. For the time and manner of visitation of schooles, and contriving the best and most compendious and orderly course of teaching grammer, we humbly desire the Assembly to appoint a committee for that effect, who may report their diligence to the next Generall Assembly.
The Overtures and Articles above written being reported to this Assembly, after reading and serious consideration thereof, the Assembly approves the same, and ordaines them to have the strength of an act and ordinance of Assembly in all time coming.
Sess. 11, August 5, 1642.—Act anent contrary Oaths.
The Generall Assembly, finding the inconvenience of contrary oaths, in trying of adulteries, fornications, and other faults and scandals, do, therefore, for eviting thereof, discharge Synods, Presbyteries, and Sessions, to take oath of both parties in all time hereafter, recommending to them, in the mean time, all other order and wayes of tryall used in such cases: And that there may be a common order and course kept in this Kirk of trying of publike scandals, the Assembly ordains the Presbyteries to advise upon some common order hereintill, and to report their judgements to the next Assembly.
The Committee supplicates the Assembly,
I. To urge the severall Synods and Presbyteries, especially these of the North, that Family Exercise in religion, visitation of the Churches, Catechising, keeping of the Presbyteriall and Provinciall meetings, (both by preaching and ruling Elders,) be more carefully observed.
III. That the Assembly would seriously studie, by all meanes and wayes, how to procure the magistrate's concurrence to curb and punish these notorious vices which abound in the land, especially in the northern parts.
The Assembly approves the Overtures foresaids, and ordains them to be observed; and, for the last, the Assembly, being confident of the readinesse of the Judge Ordinar to restrain and punish these faults, do therefore ordain all Presbyteries to give up to the Justice the names of the adulterers, incestuous persons, witches, and sorcerers, and others guilty of such grosse and fearfull sins, within their bounds, that they may be processed, and punished according to the laws of this kingdom; and that the Presbyteries and Synods be carefull herein, as they will answer to the Generall Assemblies. And because that witchcraft, charming, and such like, proceeds many times from ignorance, therefore, the Assembly ordains all Ministers, especially in these parts where these sins are frequent, to be diligently preaching, catechising, and conferring, to inform their people thereintill.
Sess. 11, Aug. 5, 1642.—Act against Petitions, Declarations, and such like, in name of Ministers, without their knowledge and consents.
The Generall Assembly being informed, that after the petition presented to the Lords of his Majestie's Privie Councell, by the noblemen, burgesses, and ministers, occasionally met at Edinburgh, the 31 day of May last bypast, had received a very gracious answer, there was another petition given in to their Lordships upon the day of June last, entituled, The Petition of the Nobilitie, Gentrie, Burrows, Ministers, and Commons; which, as it was not accompanied with any one minister to the Lords of Privie Councell, so all the Minister of this Assembly disclaimes and disavoweth any knowledge thereof or accession thereto. And the Assembly, conceiving that the King's Majestie himself, and all the courts and judicatories of this kingdome, may be deluded and abused, and the Kirk in generall, and ministers in particular, injured and prejudged by the like practises hereafter, do, therefore, prohibite and discharge all and every one to pretend or use the name of ministers to any petition, declaration, or suchlike, at any time hereafter, without their knowledge, consent, and assistance; and if any shall doe the contrary, ordaines Presbyteries and Provinciall Assemblies to proceed against them with the highest censures of the Kirk.
Sess. 11, Aug. 5, 1642.—Act anent the Assemblie's desires to the Lords of Counsell, and Conservators of Peace.
The Assembly, being most desirous to use all, and to omit no lawfull meane or oc casion to testifie their zeale by dealing with God and man, for furtherance of their desires of unity in religion, and uniformity of kirk government, and, considering the great necessity, that the Kirk and State contribute jointly their best endeavours to this happy end: Therefore, enjoynes the Moderator and the Commissioners from the the Assembly to supplicate, with all earnestnesse and respect, the Lords of his Majestie's Honourable Privie Councell, and likewise the Commissioners appointed by his Majestie and the Parliament for Conservation of the Peace, that they may be pleased to concur with the Kirk in the like desires to his Majesty and the Parliament or England, and in the like directions to the Commissioners of this kingdome at London for the time, that by all possible means, civill and ecclesiastick, this blessed worke may be advanced, and a happy settling betwixt his Majestie and his Parliament may be endeavoured, and the common peace betwixt the kingdomes continued and strengthened.
Sess. 11, Aug. 5, 1642.—The Assemblie's humble desire to the King's Majestie for the Signator of L.500 sterling, and recommendation thereof to the King's Commissioner.
The Generall Assembly having received the report of the proceedings of the Commissioners of the late Assembly, and specially that his Majesty was graciously pleased, upon their humble petition, solemnly to promise and declare under his royall hand, his pious resolution and dedication of L.500 sterling, out of the readiest of his rents and revenues, to be imployed yearly, on publike necessary and pious uses of the Kirk, at the sight of the Generall Assembly, as his Majestie's gracious answer of the 3 of January 1642, registrate in their books at his Majestie's own desire, for their further assurance of his Majestie's pious zeale, doth more fully proport. Likeas, being informed that his Majesty was graciously pleased to signe and send down to the Kirk the Signator of the said L.500 yearly, to have past the Exchequer, albeit the samine is not as yet delivered; and, considering his Majestie's pious directions to them by his Majestie's letter, to plant and visit the utmost skirts and borders of the kingdome, as most necessary for the glory of God, the good of the Kirk, and his Majestie's honour and service, which is only stopped by the want of charges for publike visitations; and withall to remonstrate to his Majestie, by his Commissioner, their just and necessary desires for what may further serve to the good of religion, whereunto his Majestie's Commissioner promised his best endeavours and assistance: Therefore, the Assembly doth most earnestly recommend to his Majestie's Commissioner to represent to his Majestie, with his best assistance, the humble and necessary desires of the whole Assembly, that his Majestie wil be graciously pleased to command that Signator, already signed by his royall hand, (or to signe another of the samine tenor, whereof they delivered the just double to his Majestie's Commissioner for that effect,) to be sent to this kingdom, and delivered to the commissioners from this Assembly, who are to sit at Edinburgh, or to the Procurator of the Kirk, whereby his Majestie shall more and more oblige this whole Kirk to pray for a blessing from heaven upon his royall person and government.
Sess. 11, August 5, 1642.—The Assemblie's Letter to the Commissioners of this Kingdom at London.
We have received your Lordships' letter, with the declaration of the Parliament of England, and have sent this noble bearer to his Majesty with out humble supplication, and to your Lordships with our answer, earnestly desiring unity of religion and uniformity of kirk government, to be presented by your Lordships and this noble bearer to the Honourable Houses of Parliament. Your Lordships will perceive by the inclosed copies, and by our desires to his Majestie's Honourable Privie Councell and Commissioners for the Conservation of the Peace, to joyn their best endeavours with his Majestie and the Parliament, and their directions to your Lordships, by our leaving acommission behinde us, to concur with them in all ecclesiastick wayes; and by our appointing publike prayers and a solemn fast through this Kirk, for the furtherance of this great work of reformation, and continuance of the common peace, that this unity in religion and uniformity of kirk government is the chiefest of our desires, prayers, and cares; whereunto, as we have been encouraged by the faithfull labors of the Commissioners of this kingdom in the late treaty, and continued and renewed by your Lordships, so we are assured that your Lordships will omit no lawfull mean, argument, or occasion, of seconding the same there, and advertising our commissioners at Edinburgh wherein they may further concur with your Lordships for the furtherance of the work, which tends so much to the glory of God, advancement of Christ's kingdom, increase of the honour and happinesse of our Soveraign, and the peace and welfare of these kingdoms, whereby your Lordships will oblige this Kirk more and more to pray for a blessing on your persons and travels, and to rest,
Yours in the Lord,
The Commissioners of the Generall Assembly.
St Andrews, Aug. 5, 1642.
Reverend and wel-beloved in our Lord and Saviour,
We received with much joy and satisfaction the answer which your Generall Assembly vouchsafed us to our letters of the last yeer. Some of us, in the name of our brethren, thought it then fit, by Mr. Alexander Henderson, (a brother so justly approved by you, and honoured by us,) to return our deserved thanks; and we now further think it equall upon this occasion to make a more publike acknowledgement of such a publike favour. You were then pleased to give us fair grounds to expect that brotherly advice and endeavours which the common cause of Christ, and the mutuall interest of the united nations, command us now again to ask, if not to chalenge. We doubt not but your experience, together with your intelligence, abundantly informes you of our condition, what various administrations of providence we have passed through, and we still lye betwixt hopes and feares, a fit temper for working—the God of all grace enable us to improve it. As our hopes are not such as may make us fear, so neither doe our feares prevail to the casting away our confidence. Your own late condition, together with this declaration of ours present, may acquaint you with the certain, though subtil, authors, and fomentors of these our confused conflicts, which we conceive to be the hierarchical faction, who have no way to peace and safety but through the trouble and danger of others. Our prayers and endeavours, according to our measure, have been, and shall be, for the supplanting and rooting up whatsoever we finde so prejudiciall to the establishment of the kingdome of Christ, and the peace of our Soveraigne. And that this declaration of our selves may not leave you unsatisfied, we think it necessary further to expresse, that the desire of the most godly and considerable part amongst us is, that the Presbyterian government, which hath just and evident foundation both in the Word of God and religious reason, may be established amongst us, and that (according to your intimation) we may agree in one Confession of Faith, one Directorie of Worship, one publike Catechisme, and form of government; which things, if they were accomplished, we should much rejoyce in our happy subjection to Christ our head, and our desired association with you our beloved brethren. For the better effecting whereof, we thought it necessary not only to acquaint you with what our desires are in themselves, but likewise to you, that is, that what way shall seem most fit to the wisedom of that grave and religious Assembly, may be taken for the furtherance of our indeavours in this kind. We understand that our Parliament hath been beforehand with us in this intimation, and it cannot but be our duty, who are so much concerned in the businesse, to adde what power the Lord hath given us with you to the same purpose. This designe and desire of ours hath enemies on the left hand, and dissenting brethren on the right, but we doubt not, that as our hearts justifie us, that our intentions are right, and such as we conceive tend most to the glory of God, and the peace of the churches of the saints, so (by your brotherly concurrence in the most speedy and effectuall way you can find out) the work will, in God's due time, receive a prayed-for, hoped-for issue. We shall not need, by many arguments from mutuall nationall interest, (though we know you will not overlook them,) to inforce this request, the firme bond wherewith we are all united in our Lord Jesus Christ, we are assured, will alone engage your faithful endeavours in this business. To him we commit you, with these great and important affairs you have in hand. Be pleased to accept of these as the expression of the mindes of our many godly and faithfull brethren, whose hearts we doubt not of, neither need you, though their hands, in regard of the suddennesse of this opportunity, could not be subscribed together with ours, who are
Your most affectionate Friends and Brethren in the Work of the Lord.
London, July 22, 1642.
Right Reverend and beloved in the Lord Jesus,
By our answer to the declaration sent unto us from the Honourable Houses of Parliament, ye may perceive that your letter, which came into our hands so seasonably, was not only acceptable unto us, but hath also encouraged us to renew, both to the King's Majestie and the Houses of Parliament, the desires of the late Commissioners of this kingdome for unity in religion, in the four particulars remembered by you. We cannot be ignorant but the opposition from Satan and worldly men, in Kirk and policy, will still be vehement, as it hath been already, but we are confident, through our Lord Jesus Christ, that the prayers and indeavours of the godly in both kingdoms will bring the word to a wished and blessed issue. This whole nationall Kirk is so much concerned in that reformation and unity of religion in both kingdomes, that without it we cannot hope for any long time to enjoy our puritie and peace, which hath cost us so dear, and is now our chiefest comfort and greatest treasure: Which one cause (beside the honour of God, and the happinesse of the people of God in that kingdome, more desired of us then our lives) is more then sufficient to move us to contribute all that is in our power for bringing it to passe. And since we have with so great liberty made our desires and hopes known both to King and Parliament, it is a duety incumbent both to you and us, who make mention of the Lord, and are watchmen upon the walls of Jerusalem, never more to keep silence, nor to hold our peace, day nor night, till the righteousnesse of Sion go forth as brightnesse, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. And if it shall please the Lord to move the hearts of King and Parliament to hearken unto the motion, for which end we have resolved to keep a solemne fast and humiliation in all the kirks of this kingdome, the mean by which we have prevailed in times past, we wish that the work may be begun with speed, and prosecuted with diligence, by the joint labours of some divines in both kingdoms, who may prepare the same for the view and examination of a more frequent ecclesiastick meeting of the best affected to reformation there, and of the commissioners of the Generall Assembly here, that in end it may have the approbation of the Generall Assembly here, and of all the kirks there, in the best way that may be; we wish and hope at last in a nationall Assembly. Our commissioners at Edinburgh shall in our name receive and returne answers for promoving so great a work, which we, with our heart and our soule, recommend to the blessing of God. We continue
Your loving brethren and fellow-labourers.
Act for the Lord Maitland's presenting the Assemblie's Supplication to his Majestie, and for going to the Commissioners at London, with the Answer to the Parliament of England's Declaration.
The General Assembly, considering the necessity of sending some person of good worth and quality for to present their humble supplication to his Majestie, and to deliver their directions to the commissioners of this kingdom now at London, with their declaration to the Parliament of England, and answer to some wel-affected ministers of that Kirk: And having certain knowledge of the worth, ability, and faithfulnesse of John Lord Maitland, one of their number, who, being witnesse to all their intentions and proceedings, can best relate their true loyaltie and respect to their Soveraign, and brotherly affection to the Kirk and kingdom of England therein: Therefore, do unanimously require his Lordship's pains, by repairing to Court and to London for the premisses, which hereby they commit to his diligence and fidelity, willing his Lordship to make account of his proceedings herein to their commissioners appointed to sit at Edinburgh.
Sess. 12, Aug. 5, post meridiem.—Commission for publike Affairs of this Kirk, and for prosecuting the desires of this Assembly to his Majestie and the Parliament of England.
The Generall Assembly, considering the laudable custome of this Kirk for to appoint some commissioners in the interim betwixt Assemblies, for presenting of overtures and prosecuting the other desires of the Kirk to his Majestie, the Lords of his Councell, and the Estates of Parliament; and taking to their consideration the present condition of the Kirk of England, with the declaration thereof sent down from the Parliament, and some reverend brethren of the ministry there, with their own answer to the Parliament and ministery, and their humble supplication to his Majestie for unity of religion and uniformity of kirk government. And withall, remembering their desires to the Honourable Lords of his Majestie's Secret Councell, and to the Commissioners appointed by the King and Parliament for Conservation of the Common Peace, that they would joyn their concourse in their desires to his Majestie and Parliament, and directions to the Commissioners of this kingdom at London for the time. And likewise, considering their good hopes, from God's gracious favour to this island, that by his good providence he will in his own way and time settle this great work through this whole isle; and that it is both our earnest desire and Christian duty to use all lawfull means and ecclesiastick wayes for furtherance of so great a work, continuance of the common peace betwixt these nations, and keeping a brotherly correspondence betwixt these Kirks: Therefore, the Assembly thinks it necessary before their dissolving to appoint, and by these presents do nominate and appoint, Masters Andrew Ramsay, Alex. Henderson, Robert Dowglas, William Colvill, William Bennet, ministers at Edinburgh, Mr. William Arthur, minister at St Cuthbert, Mr James Robertson, John Logan, Robert Lighton, commissioners from Dalkeith to this Assembly; Masters Andrew Blackhall, James Fleeming, Robert Ker, commissioners from Hadingtoun to this Assembly; Masters George Hamilton, Robert Blair, Arthur Mortoun, David Dalgleish, Andrew Bennet, Walter Greg, John Moncreff, John Smith, George Gillespie, John Row, John Duncan, Walter Bruce, commissioners for the Presbyteries within the province of Fyffe; Mr David Calderwood, minister at Pencaitland, Mr. John Adamson, Principal of the Colledge of Edinburgh, Mr. John Strang, Principal of the Colledge of Glasgow, Mr David Dickson, Mr James Bonar, Mr Robert Bailie, Mr John Bell, Mr Robert Ramsay, Mr George Young, Mr Henry Guthrie, Mr Samuel Oustein, Mr John Robertson, minister at St Johnstoun, Mr John Robertson, minister at Dundie, Mr John Hume, minister at Eckills, Mr Andrew Cant, Mr William Guild, Mr Samuel Rutherfurd, Mr James Martin, Mr Alexander Monroe, Mr Robert Murray, Mr John Maclellan, Mr Andrew Doncanson, Mr Silvester Lambie, Mr Gilbert Ross, ministers; Marquesse of Argyle, Earles of Lauderdaile, Glencarne, Kinghorne, Eglintoun, Weemes, Cassils; Lords Gordoun, Maitland, Balcarras, Sir Patrick Hepburne of Wauchtoun, Sir David Home of Wedderburne, Sir David Creightoun of Lugtoun, Sir David Barclay of Cullearnie, John Henderson of Fordell, M. George Winrame of Libertoun, Sir Robert Drummond, Sir William Carmichaell, John Binnie, Thomas Paterson, John Sempill, John Kennedy of Air, John Leslie from Aberdene, William Glendining, Provest of Kirkbright, John Colzear, ruling elders, with the concurse of the Procurator of the Kirk; and grants to them full power and commission in this interim betwixt and the next Assembly, for to meet and conveen at Edinburgh upon the 17 day of this moneth of August, and upon any other day, or in any other place, as they shall think convenient; and being met and conveened, or any fifteen of them, there being always twelves ministers present, with full power for to consider and performe what they finde necessary for the ministerie, by preaching, supplicating, prepairing of draughts of one Confession, one Catechisme, one Directory of Publike Worship, (which are alwayes to be revised by the next Generall Assembly,) and by all other lawfull and ecclesiastick wayes, for furtherance of this great work in the union of this iland in religion and kirk government, and for continuance of our own peace at home, and of the common peace betwixt the nations, and keeping of good correspondence betwixt the Kirks of this iland. Like as, if it shall please God to blesse the prayers and endeavours of his saints for this blessed union, and that if either the Lords of Councell or Commissioners for the Peace shall require their concurse at home or abroad, by sending commissioners with theirs to his Majesty and Parliament for that effect, or that they themselves shall finde it necessary; the Assembly grants full power to them, not only to concurre, by all lawfull and ecclesiastick wayes, with the Councell and Conservators of the Peace at home, but also to send some to present and prosecute their desires and humble advice to his Majesty and the Parliament, and the ministerie there, for the furthering and perfecting of so good and great a worke. Like as, with power to them to promove their other desires, overtures, and recommendations of this Assembly, to the King's Majestie, Lords of Councell, Session, Exchequer, and Commissioners of Parliament for Plantation of Kirks, for common burdens, or conservation of the common peace, and to the Parliament of this kingdom, in case it fall out pro re nata before the next Assembly. And such like, with as full power to them to proceed, treat and determine in any other matters to be committed to them by this Assembly, as if the samine were herein particularly insert, and with as ample power to proceede in the matters particularly or generally above mentioned, as any commissioners of Generall Assemblies have had, and have been in use of before; they being alwayes comptable to, and censurable by, the next Generall Assembly, for their proceedings thereanent.
Sess. 13, Aug. 6, 1642.—A Petition from some distressed Professors in Ireland.
To the Reverend and Right Honourable the Moderator and remanent Members of the Generall Assembly of Scotland, conveened at St Andrews, July 1642, The humble Petition of the most part of the Scottish Nation in the North of Ireland, in their own names, and in name of the rest of the Protestants there;
That where your petitioners, by the great blessing of the Lord, enjoyed for a little while a peaceable and fruitfull ministerie of the Gospel, yet through our own abuse of so rich a mercy, and through the tyrannie of the prelates, we have been a long time spoiled of our ministers, (a yoke to many of us heavier then death,) who being chased into Scotland, were not altogether unusefull in the day of your need. And we having been since oppressed and scattered, as sheep who have no shepherd, now at last, the wise and righteous hand of the Lord, by the sword of the rebels, hath bereft us of our friends, and spoiled us of our goods, and left us but a few, and that a poor handfull of many, and hath chased from us the rest that were called our ministers, the greatest part whereof we could scarce esteem such, as being rather officers to put the prelats' injunctions in execution, then feeders of our souls; so that now being visited with sword and sicknesse, and under some apprehension of famine, if withal we shall taste of the sorest of all plagues, to be altogether deprived of the ministery of the Word, we shall become in so much a worse condition then any Pagans, as that once we enjoyed a better. Neither know we what hand to turn us to for help, but to the land so far obliged by the Lord's late rare mercies, and so far enriched to furnish help of that kinde; a land whence many of us drew our blood and breath, and where (pardon the necessary boldnesse) some of our own ministers now are, who were so violently plucked from us, so sore against both their own and our wills; yea, the land that so tenderly in their bosoms received our poor outcasts, and that hath already sent us so rich a supply of able and prosperous souldiers to revenge our wrong.
Therefore, although we know that your zeale and brotherly affection would urge
you to take notice without our advertisement, yet give us leave, in the bowels of our
Lord Jesus Christ, to intreat, if there be any consolation in Christ, if any comfort
of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels of mercy, that now in this
nick of time, when the sword of the enemie making way for a more profitable entertaining the Gospel, having also banished the prelates, and their followers, when
our extremity of distresse, and the fair hopes of speedy settling of peace, hath
opened so fair a doore to the Gospel, you would take the cause of your younger
sister, that hath no brests, to your serious consideration, and pity poore Macedonians,
crying to you that ye would come over and help us, being the servants of the God
of your fathers, and claiming interest with you in a common covenant, that, according to the good hand of God upon us, ye may send us ministers for the house
of our God. We do not take upon us to prescribe to you the way or the number,
but in the view of all, the finger of the Lord points at these, whom, though persecution of the prelates drew from us, yet our interest in them could not be taken
away, wherein we trust in regard of several of them, called home by death, your
bounty will superadde some able men of your own, that may help to lay the foundation of God's house, according to the pattern. But for these so unjustly reft from
us, not only our necessity, but equity pleads, that either you would send them all
over, which were a work to be parallelled to the glories of the primitive times, or
at least that ye would declare them transportable, that, when invitators shall be
sent to any of them, wherein they may discerne a call from God, there may be no
difficultie in their loosing from thence, but they may come back to perfect what
they began, and may get praise and fame in the land where they were put to
shame. Neither are you to question your power over us so to doe, or crave a president of your own practice in that kind, for our extraordinary need calling on
you, furnisheth you with a power to make this a president for the like cases hereafter; herein if you shall lay aside the particular concernment of some few places,
which you may easily out of your rich nurseries plant again, and make use of
your publike spirits, which are not spent, but increases by your so many noble
designes, you shall leave upon us and our posteritie the stamp of an obligation
that cannot be delete, or that cannot be expressed,—you shall send to all the neighbouring churches a pattern, and erect for after ages a monument of self-denying
tender zeale,—you shall disburden the land of the many outcasts, who will follow
over their ministers,—and you shall make it appear that the churlish bounty of the
prelats, which at first cast some of these men over to us, is not comparable with the
cheerfull liberalitie of a rightly constitute Generall Assembly, to whom we are perswaded the Lord will give seed for the loane which you bestow on the Lord; yea,
the day may come, when a Generall Assembly in this land may returne to you the
first-fruits of thanks for the plants of your free gift. And although you were
scant of furniture of this kinde your selves, or might apprehend more need then
formerly, yet, doubtlesse, your bowels of compassion would make your deep povertie,
even in a great trial of affliction, abound to the riches of your liberalitie. But
now, seeing you abound in all things, and have formerly given so ample a proof of
your large bestowing on churches abroad in Germanie and France, knowing that
you are not wearied in well-doing, we confidently promise to our selves, in your
name, that ye will abound in this grace also, following the example of our Lord
and the primitive churches, who alwayes sent out disciples in paires. But, if
herein our hopes shall faile us, we shall not know whether to wish that we had died
with our brethren by the enemie's hand; for we shall be as if it were said unto us,
Goe, serve other gods! yet looking for another kinde of answer at your hands, for
in this you are to us an angel of God, we have sent these bearers, Mr John Gordoun, and Mr Hugh Campbell, our brethren, who may more particularly informe
you of our case, and desire, that, at their returne, they may refresh the bowels of
Your most instant and earnest supplicants.
Commission to some Ministers to go to Ireland.
The Assembly having received a petition, subscribed by a considerable number in the North of Ireland, intimating their deplorable condition, through want of the ministerie of the Gospel, occassioned by the tyrannie of the Prelats, and the sword of the rebels, and desiring some Ministers, especially such as had been chased from them, by the persecution of the prelats, and some others, to be added, either to be sent presently over to reside amongst them, or declared transportable, that, upon invitation from them, they might goe and settle there, together with some particular petitions, desiring the returne of some particular Ministers who had laboured there before: All which the Assembly hath taken to their serious consideration, being most heartily willing to sympathize with every member of Christ's body, although never so remote; much more with that plantation there, which, for the most part, was a branch of the Lord's vine planted in this land. In which sollicitude, as they would be loath to usurpe without their own bounds, or stretch themselves beyond their own measure; so they dare not be wanting, to the enlargement of Christ's Kingdome, where so loud a cry of so extreame necessitie could not but stirre up the bowels of Christian compassion. And although they conceive that the present unsettled condition both of Church and State and Land, will not suffer them as yet to loose any to make constant abode there, yet they have resolved to send over some for the present exigent till the next Generall Assembly, by courses, to stay there four moneths allanerly: And therefore doe hereby authorize and give commission to the persons following, to wit, Mr Robert Blair, minister at St Andrews, and Mr James Hamilton, minister at Dumfreis, for the first four moneths; Mr Robert Ramsay, minister at Glasgow, and Mr John Maclelland, minister at Kirkudbright, for the next four moneths; and to Mr Robert Baillie, Professor of Divinitie in the Universitie of Glasgow, and Mr John Levistoun, minister of Stranraire, for the last four moneths; to repair into the North of Ireland, and there to visit, comfort, instruct, and encourage the scattered flocks of Christ, to employ to their uttermost, with all faithfulnesse and singlenesse of heart, in planting and watering, according to the direction of Jesus Christ, and according to the doctrine and discipline of this Church, in all things; and, if need be, (with concurrence of such of the ministers of the army as are there,) to try and ordain such as shall be found qualified for the ministerie, giving charge unto the persons foresaid, in the sight of God, that, in doctrine, in worship, in discipline, and in their dayly conversation, they studie to approve themselves as the ministers of Jesus Christ, and that they be comptable to the Generall Assembly of this Kirk in all things. And in case if any of the above mentioned ministers be impeded by sicknesse, or otherwise necessarily detained from this service, the Assembly ordaines the commissioners residing at Edinburgh for the publike affairs of the Church to nominate in their place well qualified men, who hereby are authorized to undertake the foresaid imployment, as if they had been expressely nominate in the face of the Assembly. And this, although possibly it shall not fully satisfie the large expectation of the brethren in Ireland, yet the Assembly is confident they will take in good part at this time that which is judged most convenient for their present condition, even a lent mite, out of their own not very great plenty, to supply the present necessity; requiring of them no other recompence, but that they in all cheerfulnesse may embrace and make use of the message of salvation, and promising to enlarge their indebted bounty at the next Assembly, as they shall finde the worke of the Lord there to require. In the meane while, wishing that these who are sent may come with the full blessing of the Gospel and peace, and recommending them, their labours, and these to whom they are sent, to the rich blessing of the great Shepherd of the flock.
Sess. 13, August 6, 1642.—Act against slandering of Ministers.
The Generall Assembly, considering the malice of divers persons in raising calumnies and scandalls against ministers, which is not onely injurious to their persons, and discreditable to the holy calling of the Ministerie, but doth also prove often a great prejudice and hinderance to the promoving of the Gospel: Doe therefore ordain Presbyteries and Synods to proceed diligently in processe against all persons that shall reproach or scandall ministers, with the censures of the Kirk, even to the highest, according as they shall finde the degree or quality of the scandal deserve.
Act anent ordering of the Assembly-House.
The Assembly, for better order in time coming, ordains the Act of the Assembly at Aberdene for ordering the House of the Assembly, to be kept hereafter punctually. And, for that effect, that the samine be reade the first Session of every Assembly.
Act for remembering in public Prayers the desires of the Assembly to the King and Parliament, and indiction of a publike Fast.
The Generall Assembly being desirous to promove the great work of unity in religion, and uniformity in church government, in all thir three dominions, for which the Assembly hath humbly supplicate the King's Majestie, and remonstrate their desires to the Parliament of England, lest they should be wanting in any meane that may further so glorious and so good a work: Doe ordain, that not only the said declaration to the Parliament, and supplication to the King's Majestie, shall be accompanied with the earnest petitions and prayers of the whole brethern, in private and publike, for the Lord's blessing thereunto, according to the laudable custome of our predecessors, who, in the year of God 1589, ordaines that the brethern, in their private and publike prayers, recommend unto God the estate of the afflicted Church of England; but, having just cause of fear, that the iniquities of the land, which so much abound, may marre this so great a work, doe also ordain a solemne Fast to be kept on the second Lord's Day of September, and the Wednesday following, throughout the whole kingdome, for the causes after specified:—
II. The sword raging throughout all Christendome, but most barbarously in Ireland, and dayly more and more threatened in England, through the lamentable division betwixt the King and the Parliament there, tending to the subversion of religion and peace in all the three kingdomes.
III. That God may graciously blesse the supplication of the Assembly to the King's Majesty, and their motion to the Parliament of England, for unitie in religion and uniformity of kirk government, and all other meanes which may serve for the promoving of so great a worke, and advancement of the Kingdome of Christ every where.
IV. That God may powerfully overturne all wicked plots and designes of Antichrist and his followers, and all divisive motions against the course of reformation, and the so much longed for union of the King and Parliament.
Overtures to be advised by Presbyteries against the next Assembly.
What shall be the prescription of scandalls, within what space of time shall they be challenged, whether after three years, the minister having been allowed and approved in life and doctrine by Synods, Presbyteries, and Visitations.
What order shall be taken for keeping Generall Assemblies when Presbyteries send not the full number of commissioners, or when the commissioners abide not untill the conclusion and dissolving of the Assembly.