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 5, 1726.
I. Sess. 1, May 5, 1726.—The King's Commission to Hugh Earl of Loudoun produced, and ordered to be recorded.
II. Sess. 1, May 5, 1726.—The King's most gracious Letter to the General Assembly, presented to them by his Majesty's Commissioner.
Right Reverend and well-beloved,
We greet you well. The many proofs we have received of your zeal and affection for our person and government, of your care and concern for the peace and welfare of the Church, for the suppressing of profaneness and immorality, and the preventing the growth of Popery, have induced us most willingly to approve of your present meeting, and to countenance the same with our royal authority; not doubting but you come together with the same good dispositions you have formerly shown in so eminent a manner, and with a resolution to do all that in you lies, towards promoting the desirable ends and purposes before mentioned; in the doing of which, you may be well assured of our protection and assistance, being always ready to contribute to so pious a work, and which so nearly concerns the honour of God, the peace and quiet of our government, and the welfare of our subjects.
As we are firmly resolved to maintain the established government of the Church in that part of our kingdom of Great Britain in the full enjoyment of all their rights and privileges, we doubt not but you, on your part, will conduct yourselves with that moderation and unanimity in all your debates and councils, and with that prudence in all your proceedings, which become so venerable an Assembly, and which will further entitle you to our royal favour.
We have again made choice of our right trusty and right well-beloved cousin and counsellor, Hugh Earl of Loudoun, to represent our royal person in this present Assembly, not doubting but the experience you have had of his great knowledge and capacity, as well as of his zeal for our service, and his adherence to the principles of the Church of Scotland and concern for its prosperity, will make him acceptable to you. And so we bid you heartily farewell.
III. Sess. 3, May 7, 1726.—The General Assembly's Answer to the King's most gracious Letter.
May it please your Majesty,
We, your Majesty's most loyal and faithful subjects, the ministers and elders met in the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, do, as in all duty bound, return your Majesty our most humble and hearty thanks for your gracious letter to us, and for your great goodness in signifying your favourable acceptance of the zeal and affection of this Church for your Majesty's royal person and government—duties which we account ourselves bound to by the strongest obligations. And that your Majesty is pleased graciously to take notice of the concern we have shown for the peace and welfare of the Church, for the suppressing of profaneness and immorality, and preventing the growth of Popery, animates us to exert ourselves yet the more in there duties, under the great encouragement given us by your Majesty's approving our present meeting, and countenancing the same with your royal authority; and it shall be our earnest care to show the like dispositions as formerly, to do all that in us lies to wards promoting these desirable ends and purposes. The assurances your Majesty is graciously pleased to give us of your royal protection and assistance in doing of the same, and of your readiness to countenance us in so pious a work, which so nearly concerns the honour of God, the peace and quiet of your government, and welfare of your subjects, make us deeply sensible of the great kindness of Heaven in blessing us with such a Sovereign, and are such encouragements from a prince piously disposed, and who has so much at heart the weal of his subjects, as must render us without excuse should we be remiss in our duty.
It is most comforting to us, and gives us a full confidence in your Majesty's royal goodness, that you are graciously pleased to renew the assurances of your firm resolution to maintain the established government of this Church in the full enjoyment of all their rights and privileges; these being what we have exceedingly at heart, and do judge ourselves the more strongly obliged, by these your Majesty's gracious assurances, to conduct ourselves on our part with that moderation, unanimity, and prudence that become us, and which may entitle us humbly to hope for the continuance of your Majesty's royal favour.
Your Majesty's pious and bountiful donation to the last Assembly of a sum to be employed in maintaining itinerant preachers and catechists, in places where ignorance and Popery prevail, for remedying these evils, we humbly hope will be found to have been exactly managed according to your Majesty's intentions, as will appear by the accounts of the management, ready to be exhibited to your Majesty's Lord High Treasurer, or Commissioners of your Majesty's Treasury, or to the Barons of your Majesty's Court of Exchequer in Scotland, as your Majesty was graciously pleased to direct. And now that your Majesty has, out of your royal goodness and laudable concern for the good of the souls of your subjects, been pleased to renew your royal gift to this Assembly, for the like pious purposes, which your Majesty's Commissioner has delivered to us, we accept it with the most profound respect and thankfulness, and shall endeavour not to be wanting on our part to employ it agreeably to your Majesty's royal will. and account for it as your Majesty has appointed in your royal warrant; and in this we act with great cheerfulness, seeing, as we are bound to promote obedience to your Majesty's just laws, the tendency of our endeavours is to make those upon whom we bestow our labours, in so far as we succeed, by the blessing of God, at the same time better subjects to your Majesty, as they are made better Christians. And for this end, all care shall be taken by us that none be employed in this service but such as are unquestionably well affected to your Majesty and your auspicious government; and we shall be careful to take all those we employ strictly engaged to instil in the people the principles of loyalty and duty to your Majesty.
Your Majesty's choice of the Earl of Loudoun to represent your royal person in this Assembly, we acknowledge thankfully, as a special mark of your regard to the good of this Church, having had experience of his great knowledge and capacity, and of his zeal for your Majesty's service; and it gives us particular satisfaction that your Majesty is pleased to mention, as a reason of your choice, his adherence to the principles of this Church, and concern for its prosperity, of which he has given many convincing proofs.
That your Majesty's precious life, which is so great a blessing to all your people,
and the whole Protestant interest, may be long preserved;—that the best of Heaven's
blessings may be plentifully poured out upon your royal person, the Prince of Wales,
the Princess, and all your royal offspring;—that your wise councils and undertakings,
for the happiness of your own kingdoms, the relief of distressed and persecuted Protestants, the welfare of all the reformed Churches, and the good of Christendom, may
be crowned with remarkable success;—that the designs of all your secret and avowed
enemies may be defeated;—that your crown may long flourish upon your head, and
at length you may inherit immortal glory, are, and shall be, the earnest prayers of,
May it please your Majesty, your Majesty's most faithful, most obedient, and most loyal subjects, the Ministers and Elders met in this National Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
IV. Sess. 6, May 11, 1726.—Act erecting the Presbytery of Tongue and Synod of Caithness.
The General Assembly, taking into their consideration a proposal made to the late Assembly, concerning the erecting of a Presbytery in Strathnaver, with the opinion of the late Commission in that matter; and having heard the brethren from the Presbyteries concerned; and it being informed that the ministers of the parishes after named, whereof this Presbytery is to consist, are some of them twenty-four, others forty and forty-two, and one of them fifty-two miles distant from the seat of their Presbyteries, so that they can seldom attend the same. which is very uneasy both to ministers and people: and that by this erection brethren will have for the most part but one half of that way to travel to the Presbytery hereby erected; and finding that there have been of late divers new parishes erected in the foresaid bounds, and that there will be a competent number of ministers in the Presbyteries of Dornoch and Caithness, besides the brethren of that new Presbytery; and judging that the erections after mentioned may tend to the interest of religion and advantage of the country, do therefore disjoin the parishes of Diurness, Edrachillis, Tongue, and Farr, from the Presbytery of Caithness, and the parishes of Kildonan and Assint from the Presbytery of Dornoch, and do hereby erect those six parishes into a Presbytery by themselves, to be called the Presbytery of Tongue, and to have their meetings for ordinary at Tongue; and do appoint their first meeting to be there upon the first Wednesday of October next to come; and until all the parishes in that Presbytery be fully planted, the General Assembly appoints the Presbyteries of Dornoch and Caithness to send correspondents to the Presbytery of Tongue. And likewise, considering that the Presbytery of Caithness was, by the last Assembly, disjoined from the Synod of Orkney, for the reasons mentioned in the Act made to that effect, and that the Presbyteries of Caithness, Dornoch, and Orkney, were formerly a Synod, and that it would be a hardship to oblige the Presbytery of Caithness to attend the Synod of Ross twice in the year, because of the great distance; and it being the Assembly's intention to make the meetings of Synods as easy as possible to all concerned, therefore, they do disjoin the Presbytery of Dornoch from the Synod of Ross, and hereby erect the Presbyteries of Dornoch, Caithness, and Tongue, into a Provincial Synod, to be called the Synod of Caithness and Sutherland; and ordain their ordinary meetings to be at least once a year at Dornoch and Thurso pervices, and their first diet to be at Dornoch the third Wednesday of June 1727; and do appoint that Synod to send correspondents to the Synods of Ross and Orkney, and the said two Synods to send correspondents to the Synods of Caithness and Sutherland. And the General Assembly declares the foresaid Synod, and Presbyteries therein, to have the same powers and privileges which any other Synod or Presbytery have by the Word of God and constitutions of this Church.
V. Sess. 11, May 16, 1726.—Act appointing a solemn National Fast.
The General Assembly, taking into their serious consideration the many weighty causes of solemn fasting and humiliation before God, by reason of abounding sin, and the withdrawing of his presence from his ordinances, and the power of his Spirit in a great measure; that gross ignorance, errors, impiety, profaneness, and immoralities of all sorts do prevail; and also considering the great growth of Popery in divers parts of the land, and how much the practice of serious religion is neglected, the holy laws of God, and the precious Gospel of his ever blessed Son, our Saviour, are contemned; that pride, luxury, dishonesty, and uncharitableness, are arrived to so great a height; and that perjury, and other gross impieties and immoralities, are so common in the land, and so little laid to heart and mourned over, whereby a holy God is greatly provoked; and that all those evils are aggravated by the height of ingratitude to God, to whom we stand engaged by the strongest ties and obligations, who, by a long tract of merciful Providences, has dealt most kindly with us, in sparing us, and preserving unto us our valuable liberties and reformed religion, for which he has often signally interposed, especially by the late glorious Revolution, and the happy accession of his present Majesty, King George, to the throne,—events never to be forgotten; and that these sins do still prevail, notwithstanding his Majesty's good laws against vice, and his royal proclamation, out of a true zeal for the glory of God, for putting the same in execution; and in a time of clear light of the Gospel, and pure administration of the ordinances of Christ, by contemning of which the guilt of these sins is aggravated to a high degree.
And considering, that by these things we are exposed to the hazard of calamitous judgments, if God, of his infinite mercy, for the sake of our Lord and Saviour, prevent it not; and that our Protestant brethren abroad have had barbarous cruelty exercised upon them, and are still groaning under great hardships and persecution; the General Assembly does, therefore, most seriously call and exhort all to the duties of solemn fasting, humiliation, and prayer, upon such a day as his Majesty shall please to appoint,—the Assembly having made humble application to him for naming the day, and for interposing his royal authority for the due observation of the same. And hereby all are earnestly obtested to apply to the said duties seriously and devoutly, mourning for, and endeavouring reformation of, those evils; and, for that end, to put up fervent prayers for the plentiful effusion of the Holy Spirit, to give power and efficacy to the blessed Gospel, and enable us to practise the duties of repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, for mercy through his blood, the only atonement, that deserved judgments may be averted, and that God may continue his precious blessings with us, and give us grace to improve them.
That he may long preserve our Gracious Sovereign, and eminently bless the Prince of Wales, the Princess, and all the royal family;—that he may direct and prosper his Majesty's councils and enterprises, for the good of his own subjects, and the preservation of the peace of Christendom, and relief of our persecuted Protestant brethren in foreign parts;—that he would strengthen and support them under their afflications, defeat the attempts of their adversaries, provide in mercy for their speedy deliverance, and overrule the great affairs now in agitation for that end—and that God would be graciously pleased to disappoint the restless endeavours of those who are enemies to our religion and liberties—and that he may bless endeavours in prosecution of the encouraging means his Majesty hath afforded for removing ignorance, and putting a stop to the growth of Popery—and that God may be graciously pleased to continue the blessing of seasonable weather, joining thankfulness for the remarkable favour he hath shown us this way. And the Assembly enjoins all ministers to take care that this fast be duly observed; and, for this cause, to intimate this act from their pulpits upon the Lord's Day preceding the day that shall be appointed by his Majesty for the observation thereof, and to take occasion to excite the people to their duty, with grave and serious exhortations suitable to the occasion.
VI. Sess. 11, May 16, 1726.—Commission to some Ministers and Ruling Elders for Reformation of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, and for Management of the King's Bounty for that end.
The General Assembly, taking into their consideration that it has pleased the King's Majesty, out of his royal bounty, again this year to grant the sum of L.1000 sterling, to encourage itinerant preachers and catechists to go to the Highlands and Islands, for instructing the people there in the principles of the true religion, do hereby nominate, commission, and appoint, the Reverend Mr William Mitchell, one of the ministers of Edinburgh, their Moderator, Mr William Wishart, Principal of the College of Edinburgh, Mr William Hamilton, Professor of Divinity there, Mr Matthew Crawford, Professor of Ecclesiastical History there, Mr John Flint at Edinburgh, Mr Robert Sandilands there, Mr James Hart there, Mr John M'Laren there, Mr Lauchlan M'Intosh at Errol, Mr George Clephan at Newtyle, Mr Allan Logan at Culross, Mr James Haddow, Principal of the New College of St Andrews, Mr Thomas Blackwell, Principal of the College of New Aberdeen, Mr George Chalmers, Principal of the King's College of Aberdeen, Mr David Anderson, Professor of Divinity there, Mr Hugh Innes at Mortlach, Mr John Crockat at Dallas, Mr Alexander M'Bean at Inverness, Mr William Steuart there, Mr John Schaw at Leith, Mr Samuel Semple at Libberton, Mr James Grierson at Edinburgh, Mr William Miller there, Mr Neil M'Vicar at St Cuthbert's, Mr Walter Allan at Colinton, Mr James Craig at Edinburgh, Mr James Walker at Canongate, Mr James Nisbet at Edinburgh, Mr John Brand at Borrowstounness, Mr David Walker at Temple, Mr William M'George at Pennycuik, Mr James Alston at Dirleton, Mr James Christie at Morbottle, Mr Patrick Cuming at Lochmaben, Mr Robert Seton at Glasserton, Mr John Striling, Principal of the College of Glasgow, Mr William Hamilton at Bothwell, Mr Neil Campbell at Renfrew, Mr Robert Wodrow at Eastwood, Mr Alexander Campbell at Inverary, Mr James Gilchrist at Kilmalie, Mr James Smith at Gairloch, Mr Daniel M'Aulay at Bracadale, Mr Colin Mackenzie at Lochs, Mr William Gusthart at Edinburgh, Mr James Smith at Cramond, Mr John Mathison at Edinburgh, Mr James Bannatyne there, Mr Matthew Wood there, Mr John Walker at Canongate, Mr George Fordyce at Corstorphine, Mr William Brown at Edinburgh, Mr John Hepburn there, and Mr James Stevenson at South Leith, Ministers; Sir Hugh Dalrymple of North Berwick, Lord President of the Session, Duncan Forbes, Esq., Lord Advocate, Adam Cockburn of Ormiston, Lord JusticeClerk, Mr James Erskine of Grange, Sir Walter Pringle of Newhall, two of the Senators of the College of Justice, George Drummond, Esq., Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Colonel John Erskine of Carnock, Sir James Campbell of Aberuchill, Sir James Stewart of Goodtrees, Sir Duncan Campbell of Lochnel, Mr Robert Dundas, younger of Arniston, Mr James Boswell of Auchinleck, Mr Charles Erskine of Barjarg, his Majesty's Solicitor, Mr Alexander Hamilton, younger of Pencaitland, Mr Hugh Dalrymple, senior, advocate, Mr Patrick Grant of Easter Elchies, John Campbell, late Provost of Edinburgh, Alexander Arbuthnot of Knox, Mr Charles Binning of Pilmore, advocate, Dr Alexander Dundas, his Majesty's Physician, Mr Robert Craigie of Glendoig, advocate, Mr Alexander Belches of Innermay, John Osburn, late bailie in Edinburgh, James Nimmo, late bailie there, and Mr John Dundas, Writer to his Majesty's Signet, Ruling Elders; to be a committee for the ends mentioned in the foresaid royal gift, and the 6th Act of the late General Assembly, entitled, "Commission by the General Assembly to some Ministers and Ruling Elders for Reformation of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, and for Management of the King's Bounty for that end;" and grants to the committee now named the whole powers given the foresaid committee, and appoints them to proceed according thereunto in all points, and to prosecute the orders and resolutions of the former committee; and, further, to inquire how the ministers, preachers, and catechists, named by that committee, did obey, and to censure such as have not performed their missions, as they shall see cause: also to name a cashier for receiving and giving out the foresaid royal bounty; and to call for and state the cashier's accounts, and lay the same before the Commissioners of Treasury, or Barons of his Majesty's Exchequer, and to apply what remains of the last year's royal bounty not disposed of, by reason of any of the missionaries their not fulfilling the appointments on them. And which committee are to have their meetings at Edinburgh upon the Fridays, at nine of the clock forenoon, next after the meetings of the Commission of the General Assembly in May current, August, November, and March next, with power to adjourn themselves to such times and places as they shall see cause; and their first meeting to be in the Assembly-House, the first day after the dissolution of this Assembly, at eight of the clock in the morning; and which committee are empowered to name a sub-committee, to meet upon the last Wednesday of every month, at four of the clock afternoon, with power to adjourn themselves, to receive letters, petitions, and representations, and prepare matters, and execute the orders of the committee, in the intervals of their meetings. And, likewise, empowers this committee to nominate ministers and elders, though not of their number, to meet with the Protestant heritors, to concert measures for advancing the interest of true religion in the foresaid countries; and which ministers and elders are hereby ordained to join with the Synod of Glenelg, and the Presbyteries in the bounds of that Synod, in their meetings, and be assisting to them therein as members. And ordains the foresaid Synod and Presbyteries, and other Presbyteries concerned, to draw up and send to the said committee, from time to time, distinct informations of the state of their bounds, particularly as to Popery, and the success of the missionaries, and what discouragements they meet with.
VII. Sess. 13, May 17, 1726.—Commission to some Ministers and Ruling Elders for discussing divers Affairs referred to them.
The General Assembly, taking into their consideration that there are divers weighty affairs which they cannot overtake, do nominate, commission, and appoint their reverend brethren, Mr William Mitchell, one of the ministers of Edinburgh, their Moderator, &c.; to be commissioners of this General Assembly, to the effects after mentioned; with power to the said commissioners or their quorum, &c. (The Act proceeds in the same terms as the corresponding Act of the four years immediately preceding.)
VIII. Sess. 13, May 17, 1726, post meridiem.—Act making an Alteration in the Form of Commissions from Universities.
The General Assembly, considering that the present from of the commissions from universities does not agree to the state of some universities, therefore, they do hereby appoint, that in place of the words preceding "did and hereby do," in the beginning of the said form, the words following be inserted, viz.:—"The which day, a meeting of the University of—— being called and convened, they did, and hereby do," &c.
IX. Sess. 13, May 17, 1726.—Act regulating Transportations of Ministers settled in Highland Congregations.
The General Assembly, considering how necessary it is to be particularly careful that Highland congregations be planted with well qualified ministers, and that the settlement of such congregations as are so planted may not be unnecessarily disturbed; therefore, they hereby ratify and confirm all former Acts made for planting preachers and ministers in the Highlands who have the Irish language, and concerning the transporting of ministers from the Highlands to the Lowlands; and further appoint and ordain, that no transportation from the Highlands to the Lowlands, nor from one part of the Highlands to another, be granted, nor any act or thing be done by any judicature, which directly tends thereunto, without duly calling all concerned, and hearing them thereupon, and examining the sufficiency and proof of the reasons on both sides of the question. And the Assembly hereby declares and ordains, that from any Highland place, especially where Popery abounds, a minister shall not be transported, nor any step be made towards the same, but upon great and weighty reasons, and for the evident good of the Church of Christ. And, moreover, that in Highland parishes, wherein Popery abounds, no minister shall be transported, nor anything done leading thereto, but by the General Assembly of this Church, except it be to another Highland parish wherein Popery does also prevail.