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 6, 1731.
I. Sess. 1, May 6, 1731.—The King's Commission to Hugh Earl of Loudoun produced, and ordered to be recorded.
II. Sess. 1, May 6, 1731.—The King's most gracious Letter to the General Assembly, presented to them by his Majesty's Commissioner.
III. Sess. 3, May 8, 1731.—The General Assembly's Answer to the King's most gracious Letter.
IV. Sess. 9, May 14, 1731, post meridiem.—Act and Overture concerning the Method of Planting Vacant Churches.
The General Assembly, considering the inconveniences and divisions that have arisen, in planting of vacant parishes, occasioned partly by Presbyteries not following an uniform method in supplying those vacancies with Gospel ministers, and that those evils may be in part remedied and prevented, they appoint that Presbyteries, when the planting of any parish falls into their hands, tanquam jure devoluto, take care to have the same supplied with a well qualified Gospel minister, to labour amongst the people for their spiritual edification; and in order thereunto, they shall appoint one or more of their number to meet with the heritors, being Protestants, and the elders who represent the people, that they may elect and call one to be their minister, whom they are to propose to the whole congregation, to be either approven or disapproven by them; and the disapprovers to offer their reasons to the Presbytery of the bounds at whose judgment, and by whose determination, the calling and entry of a minister is to be ordered and concluded. And when the like case happens in royal burghs, that the call or election be by the magistrates, town-council, and kirksession, where there is no landward parish; and where there is a part of the parish in landward, the call or election shall be by the magistrates, town-council, kirk-session, and heritors of the landward parish.
And that there may be no unnecessary delays in planting of churches, the Assembly further ordain, that Presbyteries when applied unto, within the six months after the vacancy for supplying thereof, by consent of the patron and others concerned, shall forthwith proceed to the planting of the vacant charge, in the manner and way above specified, without putting off till the six months be elapsed: And the Assembly recommends to all ministers, preachers, and members of this Church, to take care that they do not encourage or go into any method for planting vacant churches, contrary to or inconsistent with this rule.
The General Assembly do transmit this overture to the several Presbyteries of this Church, that they may return their opinion to the next Assembly, whether it shall be turned into a standing act; and the General Assembly do enjoin Presbyteries, in the meantime, to observe it until the next Assembly. And in case Presbyteries shall neglect to send up their opinion upon it, the General Assembly do appoint the overture to be laid before the next General Assembly to be passed into a standing act or not, as they see cause.
V. Sess. 10, May 15, 1731, ante meridiem.—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, so as to determine therein themselves, for want of time, do therefore nominate, commission, and appoint, the Rev. Mr James Smith, one of the ministers of Edinburgh, their Moderator, &c.; to be commissioners of this Assembly, and any thirty-one of them are declared to be a quorum, whereof twenty-one are always to be ministers; with power to them 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; which commissioners are hereby ordained to convene within the Assembly-House 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, and oftener, when and where they shall think convenient; with power to them to choose their own moderator. And this General Assembly do hereby renew the powers granted by the late General Assembly to their commissioners, by their act, dated the 23d day of May last, entitled, "Commission to some Ministers and Ruling Elders for discussing divers Affairs re ferred to them," and the instructions therein mentioned in all points; and ordain this Commission to proceed according thereto; and all affairs referred to the late Commission, not yet finally determined, are hereby remitted to the Commission of this Assembly, to be proceeded in until the same be finished; and this Commission is to report to the next General Assembly.
VI. Sess. 10, May 15, 1731, ante meridiem.—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 the great extent of many parishes in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, and that by reason thereof ignorance, Popery, superstition, and vice, do abound in many places therein, and that it has pleased our gracious Sovereign the King, out of his royal bounty, to bestow yearly the sum of L.1000 sterling, to encourage itinerant preachers and catechists to go to the foresaid Highlands and Islands, for assisting ministers established there in giving the people in those parts such instruction as is necessary to enlighten and arm them against the practices of many Popish priests that resort thither; and finding that divers preceding General Assemblies have appointed some ministers and elders for managing of the royal bounty for the end foresaid; and it being necessary the like be now done, the General Assembly do, by these presents, nominate, commission, and appoint, the Rev. Mr James Smith, one of the ministers of Edinburgh, their Moderator, Messrs William Hamilton, Professor of Divinity in the University of Edinburgh, &c.; to be a committee of this Assembly for reformation of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, and for disposing upon the foresaid royal bounty according to his Majesty's grant; and the General Assembly do hereby renew the powers contained in the seventh Act of the General Assembly, 1729, and the several acts therein mentioned, also the regulations contained in the fourth and sixth Acts of the Assembly, 1730, which are held as here repeated; and any seven of the foresaid persons are declared to be a quorum, whereof four are always to be ministers, and the foresaid committee are appointed to have their meetings in Edinburgh, in the Hall of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge, the last Thursday of every month, at three o'clock in the afternoon, and also the first lawful day after the adjournment of the four stated diets of the Commission of this Assembly, at ten o'clock forenoon, except when it falls to be Saturday, and then the meeting is to be on the Monday following; with power to adjourn themselves to such times and places as they shall find needful, and with power to nominate ministers, preachers, and catechists, to go in mission to the foresaid places; and the General Assembly do hereby nominate, commission, and appoint, Mr William Grant, Advocate, Procurator for the Church of Scotland, to be receiver of the foresaid royal bounty, he giving bond and caution to hold account for what thereof he receives, and to pay out the same as he shall be ordered by the foresaid committee, and according to their rules and directions; and the foresaid committee are hereby empowered to account with the heirs and representatives of the deceased Mr John Dundas of Philipston, late cashier of the foresaid royal bounty, and, upon payment of the balance that was in his hands, to discharge the same, and to put the foresaid balance in the hands of the said Mr William Grant, who is to lay it out as he shall be directed by the said committee. And, lastly, the foresaid committee are enjoined to take special care to observe the whole directions contained in the foresaid seventh Act of the said General Assembly, 1729; and the said committee are likewise to have a particular regard to the regulations agreed upon by the foresaid committee upon the 30th September last, and to take care that Presbyteries and others concerned observe the same.
VII. Sess. 12, May 17, 1731, post meridiem.—Act and Recommendation in favour of the Infirmary or Hospital for Diseased Poor at Edinburgh.
The General Assembly, considering that by an Act of the Assembly, 1728, for very weighty causes therein set forth, a collection in all the parish churches was recommended to be made, for encouraging the laudable design of erecting in Edinburgh an infirmary or hospital for diseased poor; and it being represented to this Assembly that the foresaid hospital was actually erected some years ago, and that, by the blessing of God upon that pious undertaking, many diseased poor have been successfully cured of very dangerous distempers, and dismissed in good health, able to work for their livelihood, and that the said hospital is open to all objects throughout the nation, who are readily received upon application, and not only carefully attended by able physicians, chirurgeons, and nurses, and furnished with proper medicines, but also well attended and accommodated with convenient lodging in the house, and furnished with the diet fit for them, by the prescription of physicians; all which requires a considerable expense for servants' wages, and otherwise; and the Assembly being informed that the far greater part of parishes have yet sent in no collections, do, therefore, in the most earnest manner, recommend to all those parishes who have not made or sent in their collections, that with all the expedition they can they would proceed to make the same; and for that end, that ministers cause intimate the Act and recommendation of the Assembly, 1728, and also this present act, upon a Lord's Day immediately preceding the day in which the collection is to be made; and recommends it to ministers to represent to the people the great usefulness of this charity, and exhort them to contribute to the carrying on a work so beneficial to their distressed countrymen, and which the more the fund is enlarged will be of more extensive usefulness; all that hath been hitherto contributed, though many charitable persons have given liberal donations, being far from sufficient to answer the demands of help that are made for the many objects that offer. And the Assembly appoints the money collected to be sent to David Spence, Secretary to the Bank of Scotland, according to the directions given in the foresaid Act of Assembly, 1728.
VIII. Sess. ult., May 18, 1731.—Act appointing the Diet of the next General Assembly.
The next General Assembly of this National Church is appointed to be held at Edinburgh, upon the first Thursday of May next to come, being the 4th day of that month, in the year 1732, in this the ordinary place of their meeting.