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 2, 1734.
I. Sess. 1, May 2, 1734.—The King's Commission to William Marquis of Lothian produced, and ordered to be recorded.
II. Sess. 1, May 2, 1734.—The King's most gracious Letter to the General Assembly, presented to them by his Majesty's Commissioner.
III. Sess. 3, May 4, 1734.—The General Assembly's Answer to the King's most gracious Letter.
IV. Sess. 3, May 4, 1734.—Address to his Majesty on the Marriage of the Princess Royal.
May it please your Majesty,
We, the ministers and elders of the Church of Scotland, now convened in a National Assembly, beg leave, with the greatest sincerity, and with hearts full of joy, to take this first opportunity unanimously to congratulate your Majesty upon the happy marriage of the Princess Royal with his Serene Highness the Prince of Orange, and to assure you, that the satisfaction and pleasure we have upon this joyful occasion is not inferior to that of any of your most faithful and loyal subjects.
The goodness of God, which has directed your Majesty's wisdom to a choice that must both contribute to strengthen the Protestant interest in Europe, and to secure to that most excellent Princess, for whose honour and welfare we have the most tender concern, all the joys and comforts of conjugal life, is what we acknowledge wtih great thankfulness.
A fresh union of the royal family with the illustrious House of Nassau and Orange, in the person of a Prince who is the worthy heir of our great deliverer King William, to whom, under God, we owe the inestimable blessings of the glorious Revolution, whereby we are rescued from ecclesiastical and civil tyranny, and the establishment of the Protestant succession. The happiness we enjoy under your Majesty's auspicious reign, and the eminent virtues which adorn both their Highnesses, fit to make them shining examples in every rank and station of life, fill us with the greatest hopes that this happy marriage shall produce a series of blessings to this and after ages.
As this Church has, upon all occasions, given undoubted proofs of her great zeal
and loyalty to your royal person and government, so we most cheerfully embrace
this opportunity of praying Almighty God, that your Majesty may ever have the
happiness to possess the hearts and affections of your people, and be a blessing to this
and all the Protestant Churches; and, after a long and prosperous reign upon earth,
you may exchange your temporal crown for a crown of glory that fadeth not away;
and that your imperial crown may be handed down by a succession of Protestant
princes, descended of your royal person, to latest posterity, 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.
V. Sess. 7, May 9, 1734, ante meridiem.—Act declaring the seventh Act of the General Assembly, 1730, and eighth Act of Assembly, 1732, to be no longer binding Rules in this Church.
The General Assembly, considering that, whereas, by the penult Act, Sess. 23, Assembly, 1639, it is ordained, that no novation, which may disturb the peace of the Church, and make division, be suddenly proponed and enacted, but so as the motion be first communicated to the several Synods, Presbyteries, and kirks, that the matter may be approved by all at home, and commissioners may come well prepared, unanimously to conclude a solid deliberation upon those points in the General Assembly— and by Act 9th, Assembly, 1697, it is appointed, enacted, and declared, that before any General Assembly of this Church shall pass any Acts which are to be binding rules and constitutions to the Church, the same Acts be first proposed as overtures to the Assembly, and being by them passed as such, be remitted to the consideration of the several Presbyteries of this Church, and their opinions and consent reported by their commissioners to the next General Assembly following, who may then pass the same into Acts, if the more general opinion of the Church, thus had, agree thereunto—and by Act 16th, Assembly, 1700, it is enacted and appointed, that when any thing of public concern and great weight is proposed to the General Assembly, to be passed as overtures or acts for a standing rule to the Church, after the first reading, it be delayed till the next day of the Assembly's sitting, and lie on the table, to be seen and considered by all the members; and likewise, when any thing is passed as overtures by the General Assembly, it is ordained, that all and every Presbytery read them publicly in their Presbyterial meeting—and by Act 18th, Assembly, 1705, it is appointed, that the agent for the Kirk in all time coming, after every Assembly, as soon as the acts thereof shall be printed, do transmit as many copies of the same to every Presbytery within the kingdom as will serve them and each parish within their bounds; and ordains, that both Presbyteries and Sessions, at their first meeting, after receiving of the said Acts, cause read the same, at least so many of them as are of public concern: And whereas the Act 7th, Assembly, 1730, entitled, "Act discharging the Recording of Reasons of Dissent," and Act 8th, Assembly, 1732, entitled, "Act anent the Method of Planting Vacant Churches," were not made according to the said former Acts, and are found hurtful to this Church; therefore the said Acts, 1730 and 1732, are hereby declared to be no longer binding rules in this Church; and the General Assembly recommends unto, and ordains the several judicatories of this Church, when the planting of vacant parishes falls into the hands of Presbyteries, to proceed therein according to the former rules and practice of this Church, that obtained before the making of the said Act, 1732.
VI. Sess. 10, May 13, 1734.—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, finding that divers late General Assemblies had granted commissions to some ministers and ruling elders for reformation of the Highlands and Islands, and management of his Majesty's royal bounty for that end; and the 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 the end foresaid this year; therefore, they do hereby nominate, commission, and appoint, Mr James Gordon, minister of the Gospel at Alford, their Moderator, &c.; to be a committee of this Assembly for reformation of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, and for managing the royal bounty for the end foresaid, according to, and in terms of, his Majesty's grant above mentioned, &c. (The Act proceeds in the same terms as that of last year.)
VII. Sess. ult., May 14, 1734.—Commission to some Ministers and Ruling Elders for discussing divers Affairs referred to them.
The General Assembly, finding there are divers weighty affairs which they cannot overtake, do hereby nominate, commission, and appoint, the Rev. Mr James Gordon, minister at Alford, 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 immediately preceding years, the following being added, viz.) And the Assembly recommend to their Commission, at their first meeting, to discuss as many of the causes and questions relative to the settlement of vacant churches, which are or shall be referred to them by the Assembly, as they can overtake. And it is further provided, that when any Presbytery or Synod of this Church shall decline to comply with the sentences of the Commission, or to give the same a full execution; in that case, the Commission is hereby prohibited to execute the same, by appointing any such correspondent meetings as has been the practice of late, but shall allow the matter to lie over to the ensuing Assembly, to which such Presbyteries or Synods shall be answerable for such their conduct; and are hereby appointed to send up with their commissioners their reasons for the same.
VIII. Sess. ult., May 14, 1734.—Act concerning Mr Ebenezer Erskine, and other Ministers, his Adherents; and a Commission and Recommendation to the Synod of Perth and Stirling concerning them.
The General Assembly, considering the great hurt and prejudice that hath at all times arisen, and must yet arise, to the Church, from divisions and animosities creeping in, and taking root amongst the members thereof, notwithstanding their unanimity in sentiments upon material and fundamental points, which more nearly concern the promoting the interests of our blessed Lord and Saviour, the establishing the peace of the Church, and the advancement of practical godliness and true religion within the bounds of it; and, particularly, the lamentable consequences that have followed, and may yet follow, upon the separation of Messrs Ebenezer Erskine, William Wilson, Alexander Moncrieff, and James Fisher, from this Church, and judicatories thereof; and judging it their duty to endeavour, by all just and proper means, consistent with the honour and glory of God, and the maintaining the peace and authority of the Church, to restore harmony and brotherly love amongst all the members of it; therefore, the General Assembly, without further inquiring into the occasions or steps of proceeding, either on the part of the said brethren, or by the several judicatories, under whose consideration their case hath been, which may have produced that unhappy separation; but resolving that all questions upon those heads shall for hereafter be comfortably removed, have empowered, and hereby do empower, the Synod of Perth and Stirling, (before whom the exceptions to some part of the conduct of two of these four reverend brethren were first taken and tried,) upon such application made to them as they shall judge proper, to take the case of the said four brethren, as it now stands, under their consideration; with full power to the said Synod to proceed, and do therein as they shall find most justifiable and expedient for restoring the peace, and preserving the authority of this Church, and for promoting the edification of the members of the body of Christ; and, particularly, for uniting the said four brethren to the communion of this Church, and restoring them to their respective ministerial charges; but with this express direction, that the Synod shall not take upon them to judge of the legality or formality of the former proceedings of the Church judicatories in relation to this affair, or either to approve of or censure the same, but shall only, in virtue of the power and authority now delegated to them by the Assembly, proceed to take such steps for attaining the above ends for the future as they shall find just, and tending to edification: And the Assembly do hereby appoint the foresaid Synod to meet at Stirling upon the first Tuesday of July next, and from time to time, to name and appoint the place and diets of their after meetings on the said affair, as they shall see cause, until the matter shall be ripened for a final conclusion; and recommend to them to use their utmost endeavours to bring the matter, as soon as reasonably can be, to a final and happy issue.
IX. Sess. ult., May 14, 1734.—Act concerning Ministerial Freedom in this Church.
The General Assembly, considering that some are under apprehensions, that, by the Act 7th of Assembly, 1733, concerning Mr Ebenezer Erskine and others, ministers of this Church, are laid under greater restraints, as to their ministerial freedom, than they were by the rules of this Church before the said Act was passed; therefore, they do, for the satisfaction of all, hereby declare that due and regular ministerial freedom is still left entire to all ministers, and that the same was not, nor shall be, held or understood to be anywise impaired or restrained by the late Assembly's decision in that particular process.
X. Sess. ult., May 14, 1734.—Act appointing the Diet of the next General Assembly.
Sess. 10, May 13, 1734.—Remit to Presbyteries concerning an Overture for Planting Vacant Churches.
Whereas the General Assembly have not now time to prepare and transmit a proper overture about the method of planting vacant churches, they recommend to and enjoin all the Presbyteries of this Church to take that matter into their consideration, and send up their members to the next General Assembly, instructed to propose such overtures as shall be prepared by the several Presbyteries concerning the same, to be considered by the next General Assembly.