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 12, 1720.
I. Sess. 1, May 12, 1720.— 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, 12th May 1720.
III. Sess. 3, May 14, 1720.— The General Assembly's Answer to the King's most gracious Letter.
IV. Sess. 6, May 18, 1720.—Act concerning Commissions to Members of the General Assembly, and Attestations of the same.
The General Assembly, considering that there have been divers acts passed with respect to the qualifications of the members of Assembly since the Act 8th, Assembly, anno 1695, which prescribes a form of their commissions, particularly the Act 6th, Assembly, anno 1698; Act 6th, Assembly, anno 1704; and Act 9th, Assembly, anno 1718; and that it is expedient, for the direction of Presbyteries, and for procuring, as near as may be, an uniformity amongst them, in granting commissions to their representatives in Assemblies, that an addition be made to the foresaid directory in the Act 1695, with regard to the other posterior acts above mentioned: Therefore, the General Assembly do appoint and ordain, that, in all time coming, there be subjoined and adjected to the foresaid formula in the Act 1695 the following clause, viz.:— "And the said Presbytery does hereby testify and declare, that all the ministers above named have signed the formula enjoined by the 10th Act of the General Assembly, anno 1711, and all the ruling elders above written have signed the formula prescribed by the 11th Act of Assembly, 1694;" but if the Presbytery be uncertain whether the said elders have signed the said formula or not, then the attestation shall bear, that they are either to sign it in presence of the Assembly, or instruct that they have done it before. And further, "That all the said commissioners are every other way qualified to be members of the Assembly, according to the Acts of Assembly. Extracted by Clerk, Presb." And because the said Act, anno 1718, 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 presence of the Presbytery, and be revised by them, and that it be attested by the Moderator and Clerk of the Presbytery upon the said commissions that this was so done: Therefore, the Assembly appoints, that the Presbytery's attestation shall run thus:— "At the day of the Presbytery having had the above written extract of their commission to their representatives in the ensuing Assembly laid before them, they caused it to be read, and having revised and considered the same, they did approve thereof. Attested by Moderator, or Clerk." And because the foresaid Act 9th, Assembly, 1718, does appoint and ordain, that 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 burghs, but also by the Presbytery of the bounds within which the burghs lie; and upon which it shall be attested both by the Kirk-session and Presbytery foresaid, according to the tenor of the foresaid Act: Therefore, the General Assembly appoints, that the foresaid attestations of the Kirk-session and Presbytery shall be in the terms following:— "At the day of the which day the Kirk session of having had laid before them a commission given by the magistrates and town-council of to to represent the said burgh in the ensuing General Assembly of this National Church, do, in the terms of the Act 9th, Assembly, 1718, testify and declare, that the said is an elder lawfully ordained, and that he has signed the formula prescribed by the 11th Act of Assembly, 1694; and likewise that he is (a residenter in the said burgh,) or (an heritor in the said burgh,) or (an heritor in the bounds of the Presbytery of within which the said burgh lies,) or has (formerly resided and officiated as an elder in the said burgh,) or (Presbytery of within which the said burgh does lie.") And that the Presbytery's attestation shall run thus, viz.:—"At the day of the which day the Presbytery of having had produced before them a commission given by the magistrates and town council of to to represent the said burgh in the ensuing General Assembly of this National Church, with an attestation of the Kirk-session of the said burgh, conform to the direction of the Act 9th, Assembly, 1718, and Act 4th, Assembly, 1720, do, in the terms of the foresaid Acts, likewise testify and declare, that," &c., and so forth, precisely in the words of the form above prescribed to the Kirk-sessions. And the General Assembly does resolve and declare, that all commissions not in the terms above mentioned shall be rejected. And it is hereby provided and declared, that if the person elected by the burgh royal be qualified as above, that the ministry and session, and Presbytery, respectively, do attest him when his commission is presented to them.
V. Sess. 9, May 20, 1720.— Act concerning a Book, entitled, The Marrow of Modern Divinity.
The General Assembly, having had under their consideration the book entitled "The Marrow of Modern Divinity," reprinted at Edinburgh, anno 1718, with an ample recommendation prefixed thereto, which they found was dispersed and come into the hands of many of the people; and having had laid before them the following passages, collected out of the said book by a committee for preserving the purity of doctrine in this Church, appointed by the Commission of the late General Assembly; the tenor whereof follows:—
Page 118.— "There is no more for him to do, but only to know and believe that Christ hath done all for him." Page 119.— "This, then, is perfect righteousness,—only to know and believe that Jesus Christ is now gone to the Father, and sitteth at his right hand, not as a judge, but as made unto you of God wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption; wherefore, as Paul and Silas said to the jailor, so say I unto you, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved;'—that is, be verily persuaded in your heart that Jesus Christ is yours, and that you shall have life and salvation by him; that whatsoever Christ did for the redemption of mankind, he did it for you." Page 120.— "Forasmuch as the Holy Scripture speaketh to all in general, none of us ought to distrust himself, but believe that it doth belong particularly to himself." The same is asserted, pages 121, 122, 123, 124, 131, 136, 137, 175, 176, 177, and in many other places of the book. This notion of saving faith appears contrary to Scripture: Isa. 1. 10; Rom. viii. 16; I John v. 13; and to Confess. Cap. xviii.§ 1, 3, 4; and to Larger Catechism, Quest. 81, 172; all which passages show that assurance is not of the essence of faith, whereas the passages cited from "The Marrow," &c., appear to assert the contrary, making that saving faith commanded in the Gospel a man's persuasion that Christ is his, and died for him; and that whoever hath not this persuasion or assurance hath not answered the Gospel call, nor is a true believer.
Page 108.—"Christ hath taken upon him the sins of all men." Page 119.—"The Father hath made a deed of gift and grant unto all manking, that whosoever of them all shall believe in his Son shall not perish, &c., (i. e. whosoever believes or is persuaded that Christ is his; for this must be the sense according to the former passages.) Hence it was that Christ said to his disciples, 'Go and preach the Gospel to every creature under heaven;'—that is, Go and tell every man, without exception, that here is good news for him; Christ is dead for him. Even so, our good King, the Lord of heaven and earth, hath, for the obedience and desert of our good brother, Jesus Christ, pardoned all our sins." To the same purpose, pages 127 and 128. Here is asserted an universal redemption as to purchase, contrary to John x. 15, 27, 28, 29; and xv. 13 and 17; Titus ii. 14; Confess. Cap. iii. § 6; Cap. viii.§ 8; Larger Catechism, Quest. 59.
From page 150 to page 153.—"And if the Law say good works must be done, and the commandment must be kept, if thou wilt obtain salvation, then answer you, and say, I am already saved before thou camest; therefore, I have no need of thy presence—Christ is my righteousness, my treasure, and my work. I confess, O Law ! that I am neither godly nor righteous; but this yet I am sure of, that he is godly and righteous for me." Page 185.—"Good works may rather be called a believer's walking in the way of eternal happiness than the way itself." This doctribe tends to slacken people's diligence in the study of holiness, contrary to Heb. xii. 14; 2 Thess. ii. 13; Ephes. ii. 10; Isa. xxxv. 8; James ii. 20; Confess. Cap. xiii. § 1; Larger Catechism Quest. 32; Confess. Cap. xv. § 2.
Page 181.—"Would you not have believers to esehew evil and do good, for fear of hell or hope of heaven ? Answer.—No, indeed; for so for forth as they do so, their obedience is but slavish." A great deal more to this purpose is to be seen, pages 175, 179, 180, 182, 183, 184, and appears contrary to Psalms xlv. 11; Psal. cxix. 4, 6; Exod. xx. 2; James i. 25; and ii. 8, 10, 11, 12; 1 Tim. iv. 8; Col. iii. 24; Heb. xi. 6, 26; Rev. ii. 10; 2 Cor. v. 9, 10, 11; Heb. xii. 2, 28, 29; 2 Pet. iii. 14; Confess. Cap. xvi. § 2 and 6.
Page 150.— "As the Law is the convenant of works, you are wholly and altogether set free from it. "And, page 151.—"You are now set free both from the commanding and condemning power of the convenant of works." Page 216.—"You will yield obedience to the law of Christ, not only without respect, either to what the law of works either promiseth or threateneth, but also without having respect to what the law of Christ either promiseth or threateneth; and this is to serve the Lord without fear of any penalty, which either the law of works or the law of Christ threateneth," Luke i. 74. See also pages 5, 153, 180, 156, 157, 163, 199, 209, 210, contrary to Scripture, Exod. xx. 2; Matth. v. 17, &c.; Rom. iii. 21; and xiii. 9; James i. 25; and ii. 8, 10, 11, 12; and Confession, Cap. xix. § 5, 6.
Pages 198 and 199.—"1mo, A believer is not under the law, but is altogether delivered from it. 2do, A believer doth not commit sin. 3tio, The Lord can see no sin in a believer, 4to, The Lord is not angry with a believer for his sins. 5to, The Lord doth not chastise a believer for his sins. 6to, A believer hath no cause, neither to confess his sins, nor to crave pardon at the hand of God for them, neither to fast nor mourn, nor humble himself before the Lord for them."
Page 192.—"A minister that dares not persuade sinners to believe their sins are pardoned before he see their lives reformed, for fear they should take more liberty to sin, is ignorant of the mystery of faith."And, page 27.—"Christ undertook to suffer under the penalty that lay upon man to have undergone."And, page 117—"The covenant of works was twise made,—first with man, and a second time God was on both sides." Page 115.—"The law practised his whole tyranny upon the Son of God; and because it did so horribly and cursedly sin against his God, it is cursed and arraigned, and as a thief, and cursed murderer of the Son of God, loseth all his right, and deserveth to be condemned; the law, therefore, is bound, dead, and crucified, to me." Page 126.—"Whosoever is married to Christ, and so in him by faith, he is as acceptable to God the Father as Christ himself." Page 127.—" And so shall the love and favour of God be as deeply insinuated into you as it is into Christ himself." Page 144.—"Whence it must needs follow, that you cannot be damned, except Christ be damned with you, neither can Christ be saved, except ye be saved with him." Pages 145, 146.—"Say unto Christ, with bold confidence, I give to thee, my dear husband, my unbelief, my mistrust, my pride, my arrogancy, my ambition, my wrath, and anger, my envy, my covetousness, my evil thoughts, affections, and desires. I make one bundle of those, and all my other offences, and give them unto thee." 2 Cor. v. 21.—" And thus was Christ made sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." Page 207.—"Nor yet, as touching your justification and eternal salvation, will he love you ever a whit the less, though you commit never so many or great sins."
And the General Assembly having had the said passages, and several others, read to them from the said book, and having compared them with the texts of Holy Scripture, articles of our Confession of Faith, and of the Larger Catechism of this Church, above cited, the General Assembly found, that the said passages and quotations, which relate to the five several heads of doctrine above mentioned, are contrary to the Holy Scriptures, our Confession of Faith and Catechisms; and that the distinction of the law, as it is the law of works, and as it is the law of Christ, as the author applies it, in order to fence and defend the six Antinomian paradoxes above written, is altogether groundless; and that the other expressions above set down, excerpted out of the said book, are exceedingly harsh and offensive; and, therefore, the General Assembly do hereby strictly prohibit and discharge all the ministers of this Church, either by preaching, writing, or printing, to recommend the said book, or, in discourse, to say any thing in favour of it; but, on the contrary, they are hereby enjoined and required to warn and exhort their people, in whose hands the said book is, or may come, not to read or use the same.
VI. Sess. 10, May 21, 1720.— Commission to some Ministers and Elders for discussing divers Affairs referred to them.
The General Assembly, taking into their consideration that there are divers weighty affairs which they cannot overtake, do nominate, commission, and appoint, their revered brethren, Messrs William Hamilton, Professor of Divinity in the College of Edinburgh, their Moderator, &c.; to be Commissioners of this General Assembly, to the effect after mentioned, with power to the said Commission, or their quorum, which is hereby declared to be any thirty-one of the said Commissioners, whereof twenty-one are always to be ministers, to meet and convene within the AssemblyHouse at Edinburgh, the first free day after the dissolution of this Assembly, at ten o'clock forenoon, and afterwards, the second Wednesdays of August, November, and March, next to come, and oftener, when or where they shall think fit and convenient, with power to the said Commission to choose their own moderator. And suchlike, the General Assembly fully empowers and authorises their said Commissioners, or their quorum above mentioned, to cognosce and finally determine as they shall see cause, in every matter referred, or that shall be referred to them, by any act or order of this Assembly, and to do every thing contained in and conform to the instructions given, or to be given, by this Assembly; and to advert unto the interests of the Church on every occasion, that the Church, and present establishment thereof, do not suffer or sustain any prejudice which they can prevent, as they will be answerable; providing this general clause be not extended to particular affairs or processes before Synods or Presbyteries, that are not of universal concern to or influence upon the whole Church: And it is hereby appointed, that what shall be determined at one diet of the said Commission, with relation to private causes, shall be unalterable by any other diet thereof, and shall stand and continue in force till disapproven by the General Assembly. And the General Assembly renews the instructions given by the General Assembly, 1717, to their Commission, and appoints the same to stand in full force, as instructions to the Commissioners above named, and to be observed by them in all points, as if the same were specially therein inserted; and that they inquire into the publishing and spreading of books and pamphlets tending toward the promoting a scheme of opinions inconsistent with our Confession of Faith; and that the recommenders of such books or pamphlets, or the errors therein contained, whether by word or print, be called before them to answer for such recommendations. And the Commission are empowered to judge in cases of doctrine, that shall be brought before them by appeals or references from Synods or Presbyteries; and they are likewise appointed to take care that impressions of the Holy Scriptures, of the Confession of Faith, and Catechisms, and of all other books relating to the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government of this Church, be correct. And the said Commissioners are hereby strictly prohibited and discharged to meddle in any other matters than what are committed and referred to them as above mentioned, and in all their actings they are to proceed according to the acts and constitutions of this National Church, and to do nothing contrary thereto, or to the prejudice of the same; declaring, that in and for all their actings they shall be accountable to and censurable by the next General Assembly, as they shall see cause; and this Commission is to continue and endure until another Commission be appointed, and members are required to attend the diets of the said Commission, and absentees therefrom ordered to be noticed, according to the 17th Act of the General Assembly, 1706. And for the better securing of a quorum, and attendance of members on the Commission, the General Assembly prohibits the Presbytery of Edinburgh, and other Presbyteries within twelve miles thereof, to meet any of the days or weeks appointed for the meeting of this Commission, and such of the members of these Presbyteries as are on the Commission are required all of them to give punctual attendance on the diets thereof, and Presbyteries at a greater distance, who have four or more members on the Commission, are to take care that at least two of them attend each diet of the same.
VII. Sess. 10, May 23, 1720, ante meridiem.—Act and Reference against Popery.
The which day, there being brought in from the Committee for Overtures a report concerning the extraordinary increase of Popery in divers places of this nation, together with a large and particular memorial of the instances thereof, and an overture concerning the same; and the General Assembly having considered the said overture and memorial, they, in pursuance thereof, did, and hereby do, instruct and empower their Commission to do what in them lies to prevent the growth of Popery, by directing and assisting ministers in those bounds where Popery prevails, in applying all proper ecclesiastical remedies, particularly those prescribed in the 4th Act of the General Assembly, anno 1719, and former acts. And the General Assembly does appoint all the ministers of this Church, especially in such corners as there are Papists in, to preach against the errors of Popery, and deal seriously with Papists for their conviction. And, farther, the General Assembly does instruct their said Commission to use all suitable endeavours to get the civil remedies that are now under consideration brought to some good issue; and likewise to think upon means to get proper books against Popery put in the hands of the people in those places where Popery prevails, or people are in danger of being perverted. And the General Assembly did approve of the draught of the said memorial against Popery brought in, and appoints the Moderator, in their name, to sign the same, and orders that it be sent to the Secretary of State, to be laid before his Majesty.
VIII. Sess. 10, May 23, 1720.—Act for Preaching Catechetical Doctrine, with Directions therein.
The General Assembly, considering how much it may conduce unto the establishment of people in the Christian faith, and to the promoting of piety in practice, that they be well instructed in the principles of our holy religion; do, therefore, recommend to the several ministers of this Church punctually to observe the acts of former General Assemblies for preaching catechetical doctrine; and that in these their catechetical sermons they more especially insist upon the great and fundamental truths, according to our Confession of Faith and Catechisms, such as that of the Being and Providence of God, and the Divine authority of the Holy Scriptures, the necessary doctrine of the ever-blessed Trinity in the unity of the Godhead; particularly, of the eternal deity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the satisfaction to Divine Justice made by him who is our only proposition, of regeneration by efficacious grace, of free justification through our blessed surety the Lord Jesus Christ, received by faith alone, and of the necessity of a holy life, in order to the obtaining of everlasting happiness; and that they be earnest and instant in their prayers to God, that, through his blessing upon their labours, their flocks may be preserved from the infections of dangerous errors, and engaged to maintain a conversation that becomes the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who is God over all, blessed for ever.
IX. Sess. 10 et ult., May 23, 1720.—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 1721, being the 11th day of that month.
OVERTURES CONCERNING PLANTING OF VACANT CHURCHES, ESPECIALLY TANQUAM JURE DEVOLUTO. (fn. 1)
Considering how necessary it is, that Presbyteries be very tender of giving any ground of complaint in their planting parishes tanquam jure devoluto; and that any who judge themselves lesed may have an opportunity of being heard by superior judicatories, and, if wronged, may be redressed; and that there were some overtures concerning this case, transmitted by the General Assembly, in anno 1711, to the several Presbyteries of this Church, that they might send their remarks thereupon to the then ensuing General Assembly, before the same should be turned into standing acts; but no returns having been made thereto from Presbyteries, by reason of a law soon after made, restoring to patrons the power of presentation, a grievance which this Church hath always complained of from the Reformation; it is therefore overtured, that when a parish falleth vacant, the Presbytery in whose bounds it lies shall, with all diligence, declare and intimate the vacancy, and, if there be no legal eldership settled therein according to the constitution of this Church, the Presbytery shall not proceed to plant upon the jus devolutum, until they first use all proper means to establish an eldership, consisting of such a number as has been usual in the parish; as also, that before they proceed to plant upon the jus devolutum, they shall make intimation, from the pulpit of that parish, that the right is devolved upon the Presbytery; but that they desiring to have the vacancy comfortably planted with the consent of all concerned, do advertise and invite heritors and elders, or heritors and heads of families, where there is not a legal eldership settled, to give in lists to the Presbytery of such well qualified persons as they incline to call to the holy ministry. If such lists shall be brought in to the next meeting of the Presbytery, either by the heritors and elders jointly, or by the heritors apart, or the elders apart, or heads of families, where there is no legal eldership, then the Presbytery shall appoint one of their number to preach in that congregation, and moderate in a meeting of the heritors and elders for choosing one out of the said list to be their minister; and the moderator of that meeting shall attest a call to him unto whom the plurality of the meeting have given their suffrages; providing always, that the majority of the heritors who are well affected, and do join in communion with this Church, do concur in the said call; as also, that due and timeous intimation be made of the day of this meeting, that all concerned may be advertised to attend the same. The elders likewise should try the inclinations of the heads of families, and persons of good reputation in that parish, and have regard thereto in their choice of a minister, and where there are no elders, that the Presbytery sound the inclinations of the people; and if it shall happen that there be not a majority of heritors well affected, and joining in communion with this Church, concurring in the said call, then the Presbytery shall not proceed to a settlement on the said call till such heritors be dealt with for their consent and concurrence, or till the advice of the Synod be had in that case; and that Synods, in judging of such cases, shall have special regard to such heritors as are well affected and join in communion with this Church, as now by law established; but if, upon advertisement given, no lists shall be brought in to the Presbytery from the vacant parish, then the Presbytery shall make a list of two or three whom they judge well qualified and fit for undertaking the ministry in that parish, and shall order intimation of their list to be made to the vacant congregation, that any of the congregation may attend the next meeting of the Presbytery, and show which of these in the Presbytery's list they desire to be their minister, or to object against any of the said list, if they have anything of moment to offer, or even to add to the said list any other fit person, which addition the Presbytery shall admit; and the Presbytery shall use means both to know the inclinations of heritors and people, and to obtain their consent unto the person they most incline to, before they give a Presbyterial call to one in the list proposed; and if, after all pains taken, and dealing with the heritors, elders, and people of the vacant parish, in order to their comfortable settlement, with their own good liking and consent, there be no hope of success, then the Presbytery may proceed to the said settlement; but if any of the heritors, elders, or heads of families, or persons of good reputation in the parish, do compear before the Presbytery, and offer objections against the person to be settled, either as to his orthodoxy, literature, life and conversation, or other ministerial qualifications, the Presbytery, before they proceed to the settlement, shall take trial of the said objections; and if any difficulty occur, or that there appear any heat or division in the parish about a call, the Presbytery shall not proceed until they have the advice and direction of the Synod, and shall acquaint the parish, that they may attend the Synod to hear their determination; or if there be any appeal from the Presbytery's procedure, they shall sist the foresaid settlement till the time appointed for the next meeting of the Synod or the General Assembly appealed to; and if the appellants do not then insist in their appeal, the Presbytery may proceed as if the same had never been made; but if the appellants do insist, then the judicatory appealed to shall discuss the same without delay, and give sentence therein as they shall see cause; and if there be a further appeal from the Synod to the General Assembly, the foresaid settlement shall likewise stop until the time appointed for the meeting of the next General Assembly, unless the appellants do pass from the said appeal: But because some persons, from a litigious and disaffected humour, may oppose the settlement of a vacant church, and appeal, with a design to continue the vacancy for some time longer; therefore, to prevent this, that it be declared, that unless those who do oppose the planting of any vacant parish do timeously give in, in writing, under their hands, objections against the settlement designed, and give in also the reasons of their appeal within ten days after the entering of it, in manner appointed by the Acts of the General Assembly, the same shall not be regarded, nor the appeal received; but the settlement designed shall go on, as if the objections and appeal had never been made; and the judicatory shall intimate this to the objectors or appellants at making the said objections or appeals. Lastly, That in case of vacant kirks in royal burghs, the magistrates and town council, ministers, and elders, of the burgh, be the electors; but where a part of the parish belongs to the landward, the heritors and elders of that part of the vacant parish are to join in the election and calling of the ministers to supply these vacancies, according to use and wont.
The General Assembly, having had under consideration the Overtures concerning Kirk-sessions and Presbyteries, transmitted by the late Commission, with the observations and remarks of several Presbyteries thereupon; but finding that divers Presbyteries had not had time maturely to consider these overtures, the Assembly did, and hereby do, continue the foresaid overtures under the consideration of Presbyteries till the next General Assembly, and appoints Presbyteries to send up their remarks and opinion upon them to the next General Assembly; and because the meaning and intention of divers passages in them hath been mistaken and understood differently from the sense of the Commission and their committee, therefore, to prevent any mistakes which may be entertained, the General Assembly have, from the remarks of Presbyteries, made some amendments and explanations, as follows, viz.:—Page 5, line 13.—That the words ("Foundation of the Presbyterian government") be transposed to line 7, after "God's Word."
The ministers and elders ought always to study harmony and unanimity; but if any question fall out in a session in matters of discipline to be executed by the minister nothing should be concluded unless it be agreed to by the minister and plurality of elders, till the Presbytery give their advice and direction thereupon. And in a collegiate session, where there are two ministers, one of them agreeing with the majority of the elders, or both, with half of the elders, shall decide a cause; if more ministers than two, then a majority of both ministers and elders, or an equal half of one agreeing with the majority of the other, is necessary for a decisive sentence in matters of discipline, to be executed as above. In matters concerning the relief of the poor, the deacons have an equal vote with the elders.
And the General Assembly, considering that it is but in some few burghs where general sessions are, and that the Presbyteries in whose bounds these burghs lie have most access to know the constitution and practice of the General Sessions; the General Assembly do therefore recommend to the respective Presbyteries in whose bounds these burghs are, to inquire into the constitution and practice of the said General Sessions, and report to the next General Assembly.