Acts of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland 1638-1842. Originally published by Edinburgh Printing & Publishing Co, Edinburgh, 1843.
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The principal acts of the general assembly, holden and begun at Edinburgh, May 14, 1718.
I. Sess. 1, May 14, 1718.—Act appointing the King's Commission to John Earl of Rothes to be Recorded.
II. The King's most gracious Letter to the General Assembly, presented to them by his Majesty's Commissioner, 14th May 1718.
III. Sess. 3, May 16, 1718.—The General Assembly's Answer to the King's most gracious Letter.
IV. Sess. 5, May 19, 1718—Act and Recommendation concerning a Fund for maintaining the Indigent Widows and Orphans of Ministers.
The General Assembly, finding that it often falls out that many of the widows and orphans of the ministers of this Church are brought into great straits, do judge it necessary and laudable that some way be fallen upon for relief of such, they, in order thereunto, did, and hereby do, seriously recommend to every minister in Scotland to give and dedicate the tenth part of his stipend for one year, for the end foresaid, and do appoint the same to be paid in, in money, and no otherwise, to the moderator of each Presbytery, betwixt and the 15th day of May 1719 years, or betwixt and the 15th day of May 1721 years, with the ordinary annual rent thereof, from the said 15th day of May 1719 to the time that the same shall be paid; and if ministers do not pay in their tenth part of their stipends for one year, at the times and in the terms above mentioned, they discharge the Presbyteries and Synods to receive the same, though afterwards offered; and appoints every Synod to nominate a responsible person within their bounds, for receiving the same from the moderators of the Presbyteries. 2do, The General Assembly farther recommends to every minister hereafter to be ordained or admitted within the bounds of any Synod, that he, within the space of two years after his admission, pay in, in manner foresaid, the tenth part of one year's stipend he is entitled to, by that admission, if he has not already paid into another Synod; and the Assembly declares, that his relict and children shall be entitled to a share of the fund in the Synod where the said minister paid, and not in that where he late served, except he have contributed in that Synod also, which it is hereby declared he is at liberty to do or not as he pleases. 3tio, The Assembly appoints that the money collected in every Synod be turned into a stock, and that it be lent out upon good security, and that only the yearly interest thereof be distributed, and that the stock be kept entire; and if the annuall rent shall at any time happen to do more than serve the exigencies of the widows and children in the Synod, they appoint the said superplus annual rent to be added to the stock, in order to increase the fund. 4to, The Assembly appoints that the contributors in every Synod shall have the management of what sums shall be collected and given for the ends foresaid, to the widows and children of ministers who have several and contributed within their bounds, and that none other shall have right thereto. 5to, That no ministers' widows and children shall have any benefit from this fund, except their husband or father have actually paid in the tenth part of their stipend for one year, and do instruct the same. 6to, That no minister's widow shall have any title to this fund after they shall be married to another husband, or children after their marriage, or being in case to do for themselves, or be known to have a competency to subsist upon, or shall be found unworthy thereof, by any unsuitable carriage; of all which, the contributors within the bounds of every Synod are to be the judges. 7mo, That no widow or child, entitled to a share of this fund, shall be allowed above ten pounds sterling yearly thereof; and the Assembly hereby allows the contributors to give less, and in such proportions as the fund will bear, and the circumstances of the persons require. 8vo, If any other charitably disposed person, besides ministers, shall think fit to contribute to this pious design, the Assembly hereby resolve and declare that they shall have a vote and power in the management and distribution of the foresaid funds; provided always, that their said contribution be not under ten pounds sterling money. 9no, The Assembly hereby enacts and declares, that none shall have a vote or power in the management and distribution of this fund, but such as have contributed thereto; and for that end, they appoint that there be a meeting of those persons every Synod, for ordering what concerns this matters; and the moderator of the Synods shall preside in that meeting, and the clerk of the Synod shall be clerk thereto, if they have contributed; but if not, the General Assembly appoints others to be chosen preses and clerk to the said meeting: And the Assembly hereby warrants and allows the said contributors to appoint a committee of their own number to manage the concern of this fund, in the intervals of the Synod's meetings; but it is hereby provided and declared, that the said committee shall have no power to dispose of any part of the money; and they are hereby ordained to report an account of their actings to the next meeting at the Synod. 10mo, The General Assembly hereby prohibit and discharge any distribution to be made but at the ordinary diets of the Synod; and do appoint and declare, that the plurality of the meeting shall, by their vote, determine any difference that may arise about the matter. 11mo, The Assembly hereby declares, that such Presbyteries as have already settled a fund for their widows and children, shall be at liberty either to keep and manage the same by themselves, or to join with the Synods, as they shall think best, provided that the quota of the Presbytery's said fund do extend to a tenth part of the whole stipends within the said Presbytery, and that they declare their resolution at the meeting of their Synod proceding the year 1719. And, lastly, It is hereby provided and declared, that if any event unforeseen shall fall in, that may stop and hinder the execution of the above articles in the manner that they are proposed, the premised shall be ordered and managed according to further rules and directions, to be given by the subsequent General Assemblies of this Church.
V. Sess. 12, May 23, 1718, post meridiem.—Commission to some Ministers and Elders for discussing divers Matters referred to them.
The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, taking into their consideration that there are divers weighty affairs which they cannot overtake, do nominate and appoint their reverend brethren, Messrs William Wisheart, Principal of the College of Edinburgh, their Moderator, &c., to be Commissioners of the General Assembly, to the effect after mentioned, with power to the said persons, &c. (The powers are the same as those given to the Commission of last years; and a clause is inserted renewing the instructions of 1717, and appointing them to stand in full force.)
VI. Sess. 15, May 26, 1718.—Act discontinuing the extraordinary Correspondence with the Synod of Angus and Mearns.
The General Assembly, finding that the Assembly, held anno 1710, by their 7th Act did appoint the Synods of Lothian and Tweedale, Perth and Stirling, Fife and Aberdeen, to send correspondents to the Synod of Angus and Mearns; and that the said correspondence is, by the said act, appointed to continue until the Assembly shall see cause to alter it: And the Assembly considering, that now, in the good Providence of God, the churches within the said Synod are generally planted, so that the reasons which moved the Assembly to enjoin the said extraordinary correspondence have thereby ceased: Therefore, the General Assembly did, and hereby do, continue the extraordinary correspondence appointed by the said act only for one year next ensuring, declaring, that thenceforth the said extraordinary correspondence shall cease, and the foresaid four Synod shall be freed of the burden thereof, unless, upon application from the Synod of Angus and Mearns to subsequent Assemblies, they shall see cause to continue or renew the same.
VII. Sess. 15, May 26, 1718—Act for the better dispatching the Business of Assemblies.
The General Assembly, finding that their business is much retareded by parties having references, appeals, and complaints, to lay before the Assembly, their not giving them timeously in to the Committee for Bills; and that by such delays the Assembly is often necessarily obliged to commit several of their weighty affairs to their Commission, which were more power to be judged by themselves: Therefore, they do hereby appoint and ordain all references, appeals, and complaints, that shall be made in time coming to the General Assemblies of this Church, to be lodged in the clerk's hands on or before the second or third days of the Assembly's meetings, that thereby they may timously have a full view of all their work, and may be able to judge what things are of the greatest weight, and are necessary to be dispatched by themselves, if they cannot overtake the whole; with certification, that all appeals or complaints not lodged in the clerk's hands within the time foresaid, shall be held as deserted and fallen from, and shall not thereafter be received, unless upon the first opportunity the parties concerned make it appear to the Assembly, that insuperable difficulties did withhold them from lodging the same in manner above set down. And the General Assembly enjoins the clerks of the several judicatories to transmit to the clerk of Assembly within the time foresaid, all references made by the respective judicatures to the General Assembly.
VIII. Sess. ult., May 27, 1718.— Act concerning the Presbytery of Auchterarder.
The General Assembly, finding that the Assembly, held anno 1717, did condemn a proposition emitted by the Presbytery of Auchterarder, and referred to their Commission, to call the brethren of that Presbyter before them, to give an account what they meant by the said proposition; and that they having compeared before the Commission, and represented what they intended by it, the Commission agreed to accept of the sense they offered, declaring always, that however sound and orthodox they were in their meaning, and what they intended by that proposition, yet they had expressed it in words very unwarrantable and exceptionable; and the Commission did admonish them and discharge them to use that expression in time coming; and the brethren of Auchterarder did engage to observe this their prohibition. The General Assembly approves of the actings of the said Commission in this matter; and, for the vindication of the brethren of the Presbytery of Auchterarder, they appointed these presents to be printed among their public acts.
IX. Sess. ult., May 27, 1718.— Act Regulating Elections of Members of the General Assembly.
The General Assembly, finding it necessary, for the good and safety of the Church, that the General Assemblies be rightly constituted, do, therefore, resolve and appoint, that in all time coming no commission from any Presbytery, burgh, or university, to their representatives in the General Assemblies of this Church, shall be sustained, but such as are in the terms of the Acts of the General Assembly, made for regulating elections of members of Assemblies, particularly the 5th Act of the General Assembly, 1694, entitled, " Act anent the Representation of Presbyteries in the General Assemblies;" Act 6th of the General Assembly, 1698, entitled, "Act for punctual sending of Commissioners to the General Assemblies, and their Attendance during the Sitting thereof;" and the 6th Act of the General Assembly, 1704, entitled, "Act anent Commissions to the General Assembly, and their subscribing the Confession of Faith, which are hereby renewed." And the General Assembly appoints Presbyteries not only to elect their full number of commissioners, but also to be careful to choose such persons as probably can attend. And the Assembly appoints that Presbyteries who send not up their full number of commissioners, and persons commissioned, who either come not up, or are absent from any of the diets of Assembly, be censured, unless relevant excuses for them be laid before and be admitted by the General Assembly: And further, the General Assembly does resolve, and peremptorily enact and appoint, that in all time coming, no commission whatsoever, for any ruling elder, or ruling elders, to sit as members of the General Assemblies of this Church, be sustained, but such as shall bear particularly that they have signed the formula prescribed by the 11th Act of the General Assembly, 1694, unless the said elders do either instantly subscribe it in presence of the Assembly, or a committee appointed by them, or do instruct that they have already subscribed the same; and to prevent all inconveniences of this sort in time coming, the General Assembly appoints that all Commissions after they are written out and extracted, and before they be put in the hands of the commissioners, be first read in the presence of the Presbytery, and be revised by them, and that it be attested by the moderator or clerk of the Presbytery upon the said Commissions that this was so done: And suchlike, the General Assembly has resolved, until the matter concerning commissions from burghs be further thought upon, and hereby do resolve, appoint, and ordain, that, in the meantime no commissions from royal burghs to their representatives in Assembly shall be sustained, but such as shall be consented to and approven, not only by the ministry and kirk-sessions of the burgh, as is resolved by the Act of Assembly, July 15, 1647, but also by the Presbytery of the bounds within which the burgh lies; and upon which it shall be attested, both by the Kirk-session and Presbytery foresaid, that the person or persons therein named are elders lawfully ordained, and have signed the formula above mentioned; and likewise, that they are either residenters in the burgh, or heritors in the burgh, or in the bounds of the Presbytery where the burgh lies, or that they have formerly resided and officiated as elders in the said burgh or Presbytery. And, lastly, The General Assembly extends the time limited by the foresaid 6th Act of the General Assembly, 1698, for choosing commissioners from Presbyteries, to those that shall hereafter be sent from royal burghs.
X. Sess. ult., May 27, 1718.— Act concerning the larger Overtures for Discipline.
The General Assembly, considering the necessity of having a complete system of rules for the procedure of the judicatures of this Church in matters of discipline, and that the framing of this is one of the most proper works of the General Assemblies of this Church, from which they have been long diverted by other incidental things, and not having time now to overtake this necessary work, the General Assembly do revive the 17th Act of Assembly, 1707, and the 16th Act of Assembly, 1710, and again appoints the several Presbyteries who have not sent up their remarks upon the larger overtures, to transmit them to the Clerk of the Commission, betwixt and their meeting in August next, or November at farthest; and they appoint letters to be written by their Commission, at their first meeting, to each Presbytery for this effect; and ordains their Commission, at their said first meeting, to appoint a committee to class and put in order the remarks upon those overtures which are already come up, and those which shall be sent up; that upon the report of this Commission, the next General Assembly may be ready to enter upon this necessary work. And the General Assembly recommends it to the several Presbyteries to send up such members to the next General Assembly as may be most in case to help forward this important work.
XI. Sess. ult., May 27, 1718.— Act appointing the Diet of the next General Assembly.
The next General Assembly of this National Church of Scotland is appointed to be held at Edinburgh, the second Thursday of May next to come, in the year of our Lord 1719, being the 14th day of that month.