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 4, 1732.
I. Sess. 1, May 4, 1732.—The King's Commission to William Marquis of Lothian produced, and ordered to be recorded.
II. Sess. 1, May 4, 1732.—The King's most gracious Letter to the General Assembly, presented to them by his Majesty's Commissioner.
III. Sess. 3, May 6, 1732.—The General Assembly's Answer to the King's most gracious Letter.
IV. Sess. 8, May 12, 1732.—Act and Recommendation of the General Assembly for encouraging a Collection towards the further Propagating of Christian Knowledge.
The General Assembly having, at a former diet, presented to them a petition for the general meeting of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge, showing, "That the said Society, erected by royal authority, having had the countenance of the General Assembly and other judicatories of this Church, and assistance of many ministers and other charitable persons therein, and in England, have been enabled, by the blessing of God, to carry on the design of their erection with good success, so that they have at present the number of 105 schools, at which there are about 4146 scholars, besides that there are great numbers who have been taught thereat formerly; and by reports of ministers and other correspondents who have visited these schools, it appears that many are not only taught reading English, and the principles of our holy religion, but writing and arithmetic, also the common tunes sung in churches, and the English language is spreading in the Highlands and Islands; and care is taken that the rising generation be brought up in the abhorrence of vice, and in love with piety and virtue. In parishes where formerly few or none of the common people could read, but were living in gross ignorance and superstition, there are now about 300 who can read, in others 400, yea, 500, and upwards, reading the Holy Scriptures and other pious books, and the young ones reading to their aged parents and others in the family; and in the parishes where it does not appear that ever the holy sacrament of the Lord's Supper was administered, ministers have had the freedom to celebrate the same with comfort.
"That Dr Daniel Williams, a pious Presbyterian minister in England, lately deceased, did give a large sum to this Society towards promoting Christian knowledge in Scotland, and also did mortify some lands, to the value of L.68 sterling yearly rent, to be paid in to the said Society, at the end of one year after they should have three missionary qualified ministers to abide in infidel foreign countries; and it being thought a pity that such a charitable fund should not be employed accordingly, but lost to the Society, they have agreed to essay this good work, and have settled a correspondence with his excellency the Governor of New England in America, and divers mi nisters and gentlemen there, in order to the finding out and employing fit persons for instructing the native Indians, and a very agreeable return is already come from the foresaid correspondents, so that in a little time it is expected, that persons shall be set to work for the end foresaid; and from what appears from a former attempt of this nature, in a book lately printed, entitled, 'Magnalia Christi Americana,' there is ground to hope for success in this design. But the Society having so much to do at home, by the many schools they maintain, which is not by far the half of what is necessary for the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, they are not in case as yet to do anything considerable for foreign parts, seeing they cannot break their stock, but only dispose of the revenue; but this being a glorious design, and hoping that many good Christians will be ready to concur therein, and perhaps some who have already contributed for schools in the Highlands and Islands will, when they hear of the good effects thereof, again bestow something of what God has given them for advancing the kingdom of Christ in foreign infidel parts, and others may, perhaps, give for this, who do not incline to give for the other; this has encouraged the Society to lay the case before the venerable Assembly.
"That though many Presbyteries, ministers, and others, have done worthily towards the furtherance of the design of this Society in Scotland, yet others have very much neglected the same; and it has been designed to have given in a list of deficient Presbyteries and parishes to the General Assembly, but it has been delayed, waiting their sending in their contributions, both for stock and buying books, and maintaining poor scholars." And craving to the effect after mentioned.
The General Assembly, again having this day heard the said petition, with the report of their committee thereupon, and considered the same, did unanimously, and hereby do, recommend it to Presbyteries and ministers to deal with charitable Christians in their bounds, to contribute for promoting of Christian knowledge, both at home and abroad; and do ordain, that intimation of these presents be made from the pulpits of all the churches in Scotland, upon or before the first Lord's Day of August next, that so piously inclined persons may know that such a noble design is carrying on; that they who have a mind to concur therein may give in their contributions to their ministers, or transmit the same to Mr Joseph Cave, merchant in Edinburgh, treasurer to the foresaid Society, with their first conveniency, and a signification how they incline to have their donations bestowed, whether towards maintaining schools in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, or for buying books thereto, or for maintaining poor boys at these schools, or for helping to subsist missionary ministers or schoolmasters in foreign parts of the world; and whether they desire their donations to be added to the stock, and laid out on interest, or bestowed presently on the most pressing exigencies of the Society. And the General Assembly appoints that Presbyteries inquire particularly into ministers' diligence in this matter, and deal with deficients yet to pay in, and send their written report to the foresaid Society betwixt and the first day of November next.
V. Sess. 9, May 13, 1732.—Act anent Appeals, and for explaining the Tenth Paragraph of the Fifth Chapter of the Form of Process, agreed to by the Assembly, 1707, anent Appeals.
The General Assembly appoints that, in all time coming, an appeal shall stop the finishing of the settlement of a parish by an inferior judicature, until it is either fallen from or discussed. Nevertheless, a Presbytery may proceed to take trials, serve the edict, and to all the other previous steps towards the settlement—only the ordination or admission shall stop until the appeal be discussed.
VI. Sess. 11, May 15, 1732.—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 and weighty affairs which they cannot overtake, do nominate, commission, and appoint, their reverend brethren, Mr Neil Campbell, Principal of the College of Glasgow, their Moderator, &c.; to be commissioners of this General Assembly, to the effects after mentioned; with power to the said commissioners 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 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 to come, and oftener, when and where they shall think fit and convenient; with power to the said commissioners to choose their own moderator. And likewise, 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 to the interest 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 always, that 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 no private processes be determined, except at the four stated diets, and 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, anno 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 here inserted; and that they inquire into the publishing and spreading of books and pamphlets, tending towards the promoting of opinions, of whatever kind, inconsistent with our Confession of Faith, and the recommenders of such books or pamphlets, or the errors therein contained, whether by word, writing, or print, be called before the said Commission, to answer for the same. And further, the said Commission is hereby empowered to receive any references and appeals that shall be made to them from Synods in matters of doctrine, and ripen such affairs for the General Assembly; likewise, to take care that the impressions of the Holy Scriptures, the Confession of Faith and Catechisms, and such books as are authorised by this Church, relating to the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government thereof, be correct, and to give directions about printing the same; they are also appointed, at their first meeting, to take under consideration all representations of the growth of Popery within the bounds of this National Church, and of meetinghouses not authorised by law, which have been brought up to this and former Assemblies, or Commissions thereof, or may be further offered to this Commission, and to apply to the government for a proper remedy and speedy redress. 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 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, anno 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 any 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 those 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. 11, May 15, 1732.—Commission to some Ministers and Ruling Elders for Managing the King's Bounty, and for Reformation of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.
The General Assembly, finding that it has pleased our gracious Sovereign the King, out of his royal bounty, to renew his grant of L.1000 sterling, for encouraging itinerant preachers and catechists, for assisting ministers established in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, in giving the people in those parts such instruction as is necessary to enlighten and arm them against the practices of Popish priests that resort thither; and finding that divers preceding General Assemblies have appointed some ministers and elders for managing of the royal bounty given for the end foresaid, who did yearly account for their management; and it being necessary that some be of new nominated for that effect, the General Assembly do, by these presents, nominate, commission, and appoint, the Rev. Mr Neil Campbell, Principal of the University of Glasgow, their Moderator, &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, and in terms of, his Majesty's grant above mentioned. And the General Assembly do hereby renew the powers contained in the 6th Act of the late General Assembly, anno 1731, and the 7th Act of the General Assembly, 1729, and the several Acts therein mentioned; also the regulations contained in the 4th and 6th Acts of the General Assembly, anno 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 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 on Friday or Saturday, and then the meeting is to be on the Monday next thereafter; with power to adjourn themselves to such times and places as they shall find needful. And the said committee are hereby empowered to nominate ministers, preachers, and catechists, in the terms before mentioned, to go in mission to the foresaid places, and assign them their several posts, and determine the time of their continuance therein, and to inquire anent their diligence, faithfulness, and carriage, and what their salaries shall be, and give orders about the payment thereof, as the said committee shall see cause. And the General Assembly do hereby nominate, commission, and appoint, Mr William Grant. Procurator for the Church of Scotland, to be receiver of the foresaid royal bounty, and to pay out the same as he shall be directed and ordered by the foresaid committee, and according to their rules and directions; and the said committee are likewise to have a particular regard to the regulations agreed upon by the foresaid committee, upon the 30th of September 1730, and to take care that Presbyteries and others concerned observe the same.
VIII. Sess. 11, May 15, 1732.—Act anent the Method of Planting Vacant Churches.
The General Assembly, taking into their serious consideration how necessary it is that (until it shall please God, in his Providence, to relieve this Church from the grie vances arising from the act restoring patronages) there should be an established rule for the planting of vacant parishes, when the right of doing so falls into the hands of Presbyteries, either tanquam jure devoluto, or by the consent of such as have interest; and that there may be an uniform method followed by Presbyteries in this matter, and so the unhappy debates and divisions which have often fallen out upon such occasions may be prevented in time coming; and also, that it may be evident that this Church desires to have all the parishes in it settled in such a manner as may give reasonable satisfaction to all concerned; therefore, enacts and ordains, that all Presbyteries, when the planting of any parish shall fall into their hands, tanquam jure devoluto, take care to have the same supplied by a well qualified Gospel minister, to labour among the people for their spiritual edification. And, in order thereunto, when application shall be made unto them by any two or more of the heritors and elders, jointly or separately, for the moderation of a call, the Presbytery shall appoint intimation to be made from the pulpit of the vacant parish, ten free days before the meeting for that effect, that a call is to be moderated, and shall appoint one or more of their number, who, after sermon, shall meet with the heritors and elders of the vacant parish, in presence of the congregation, upon the day fixed for the moderation, to moderate in a call to one to be minister of the parish, who is to be elected and called by the heritors and elders in a conjunct meeting. That after the finishing of the election, the person so elected to be minister shall be proposed to the congregation, to be either approven or disapproven of by them. That the disapprovers shall offer their reasons to the Presbytery of the bounds, at whose judgment, and by whose determination, the calling and entry of the minister shall be ordered and concluded, according to the rules of this Church. That in case of vacancies in royal burghs, the election or call shall be by the magistrates, town-council, and elders, in a joint meeting, where there is no landward parish; and by the magistrates, town-council, heritors, and elders, in a joint meeting, where part of the parish is to landward. And the General Assembly declares, that all heritors, being Protestants, who shall be willing to subscribe the call by themselves, or their lawful proxies, or who shall, by a writing under their hand, invite the person called to be minister of the parish, and to exercise the duties of his ministerial function, and promise to encourage him in it, shall be admitted to vote in calls or elections of ministers to vacant parishes. And that no vote, either of heritors or elders, shall be sustained, except such as shall have either signed the call, or for whom there shall be produced a writing in the manner and to the purpose above mentioned, in presence of the minister moderating in the call. And in case of difference amongst the heritors and elders about the person to be elected, the minister moderating is appointed to reduce what shall be alleged on both sides into a minute, containing the true matters of fact impartially, and to lay the same before the Presbytery for their decision. And in case no application shall be made to the Presbytery in manner foresaid, by the heritors or elders, for moderating a call within six months after the jus devolutum begins to take place, the General Assembly recommends it to Presbyteries to plant vacant churches in such manner as shall contribute most to the advancement of religion, and to the peace and comfort of parishes.
And that there may be no unnecessary de lays in planting of churches, the Assembly further ordains, that in case within the six months next after the vacancy, such as have interest shall show their disposition to comply with this ecclesiastical rule, by applying to the Presbytery to have the parish planted in the way and manner above specified, the Presbytery shall proceed to the settlement thereof in the foresaid way and manner, without putting it off till the said six months are expired. And the General Assembly recommends it to all ministers, preachers, and members of this Church, to take care that they do not encourage nor go into any method for planting vacant churches contrary to or inconsistent with this act.