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 11, 1738.
I. Sess. 1, May 11, 1738.—The King's Commission to William Marquis of Lothian produced, and ordered to be recorded.
II. Sess. 1, May 11, 1738.—The King's most gracious Letter to the General Assembly, presented to them by his Majesty's Commissioner.
III. Sess. 3, May 13, 1738.—The General Assembly's Answer to the King's most gracious Letter.
IV. Sess. 6, May 17, 1738.—Act concerning the Ministers seceding from this Church.
The General Assembly, taking into their serious consideration the representations and complaints laid before them concerning Messrs Ebenezer Erskine at Stirling, William Wilson at Perth, Alexander Moncrieff at Abernethy, and James Fisher at Kinclaven, within the bounds of the Synod of Perth and Stirling; also concerning Messrs Ralph Erskine at Dunfermline, Thomas Mair at Orwell, and Thomas Nairn at Abbotshall, within the bounds of the Synod of Fife, ministers ordained in this National Church, and admitted to their respective charges by the judicatories thereof, who have, notwithstanding, seceded from the communion of this Church, and made a positive separation therefrom; and the Assembly having too good reason to believe, from these representations, the notoriety of facts, and from the personal knowledge of many of the members of this Assembly, that the said ministers have seceded from this Church without any justifiable grounds, and are continuing in their unwarrantable secession, notwithstanding their own solemn engagements to the contrary at their ordination and admission, the clemency showed to some of them in the year 1734, and the tenderness to all of them ever since. That, albeit their parochial charges are discontiguous, and at a considerable distance from one another, yet they have assumed a power of associating and erecting themselves into a Presbytery, and of exercising a judicial Presbyterial power, not only over their own congregations, but also over the whole Church, a power to which never any Presbytery, duly constituted in this Church, could or did lay claim. That, as a Presbytery, and in a pretended judicative capacity, they have framed, and published to the world, a printed paper, called their Act, Declaration, and Testimony, and have emitted other papers, wherein they have pretended not only to assign the grounds of their own unreasonable and irregular conduct, but also, with the air of a paramount power and authority, to condemn this Church and the judicatories thereof for their proceedings, and to cast many groundless and calumnious reflections upon her and them. That not confining themselves to their own congregations and particular charges, they dispense the ordinances to persons of other congregations, without the knowledge and consent of the ministers to which they belong, and have taken upon them, in some of these congregations, to ordain elders; and to promote their dangerous schism, they not only receive at their Presbyterial meetings such persons of whatsoever character as will accede to them from other congregations, but also the reasons of their accession, containing injurious calumnies against this Church, and the ministers thereof. And that nothing may be wanting to promote their end, they appoint and keep fasts in different corners of the country, to which there is a resort of several thousands of persons of both sexes, and too many of them, as there is good ground to think, come there with other views than to promote religion; and by these practices their proper ministerial work in their own parishes is in a great measure neglected. And, that their schism may not die with themselves, that they have authorised one of their number to teach divinity, and have taken some persons under probationary trials for the ministry.—The General Assembly did, and hereby do, manimously resolve, declare, and enact, that although upon these, and other such accounts, this Church might now proceed, in the due exercise of discipline, to appoint these seceding and separating brethren, and their followers, to be proceeded against, and censured according to the demerit of their faults; yet this Assembly, choosing rather still to treat them in the spirit of meekness, brotherly love, and forbearance, did, and hereby do, enjoin all the ministers of this National Church, as they shall have access, and especially the ministers of the Synods and Presbyteries within which these seceding brethren reside, to be at all pains, by conference and other gentle means of persuasion, to reclaim and reduce them to their duty and the communion of this Church; and all Presbyteries and Synods to report their diligence and success, and what they can learn or observe concerning the future behaviour of these brethren, to the Commission to be appointed by this Assembly, at any of the diets thereof; which Commission is hereby authorised and appointed to take such reports or representations, with those already made to this Assembly, under their consideration; and, if they shall see cause, to take all proper steps and methods for duly sisting the separating brethren above named before the next Assembly, to answer for their irregular conduct, and all the parts thereof. And the said Commission is also empowered to do what they shall think proper to prepare and ripen the case for the decision of that Assembly. And, in the meantime, the General Assembly earnestly recommends to all the ministers, elders, and members of this Church, to endeavour, in their respective stations, and by all means proper for them, to reclaim those poor deluded people who have been carried away by this division, and to prevent the seducing of others, and the increase of this schism, which is so dangerous to the peace of this Church, so contrary to the spirit of the Gospel, so very hurtful to religion and serious godliness, to Christian charity, and brotherly love.
V. Sess. ult., May, 23, 1738.—Commission to some Ministers and Ruling Elders for discussing Affairs referred to them.
The General Assembly, taking into their consideration that there are divers affairs which they cannot overtake, do hereby nominate, commission, and appoint, the Rev. Mr James Ramsay, minister at Kelso, 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 terms of the Act are the same as in the immediately preceding year.)
VI. Sess. ult., May 23, 1738.—Commission to some Ministers and Ruling Elders for Reformation of the Highlands and Islands, and for Managing his Majesty's Royal Bounty for that end.
The General Assembly do hereby nominate, commission, and appoint, the Rev. Mr James Ramsay at Kelso, their Moderator, &c.; to be a committee of this Assembly for reformation of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, for promoting the knowledge of true religion, suppressing of Popery, superstition, and profanity, and for management of the royal bounty given for that end, according to, and in terms of, his Majesty's grant to this Assembly, and the 6th Act of the late General Assembly, and whole Acts therein mentioned, and in former commissions to the said committee; any seven of the foresaid persons are declared to be a quorum, whereof some to be ministers; and the said committee to have their meetings 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 adjournment of the four stated diets of the Commission of this Assembly, at the o'clock forenoon, except when it falls to be on Friday or Saturday, and then the meeting is to be on Monday next thereafter; with power to adjourn themselves to such times and places as they shall find needful, and to keep a correspondence with the Commission of this Assembly, and Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge, and their committee. And the General Assembly do hereby nominate and appoint Mr William Grant, Advocate, Procurator for the Church, 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 it is recommended to the members of the said committee, especially those who reside in or near Edinburgh, to attend the diets thereof punctually; and the clerk is hereby ordered to mark their attendance, and present the roll to the next General Assembly, with the excuses of absentees.
VII. Sess. ult., May 23, 1738.—Act about the manner of electing Members of the General Assembly.
The General Assembly, for the more regular election of members of Assembly in time coming, considering that it is already provided that the election shall be made at least forty days before the meeting of the Assembly, do hereby further enact, that hereafter each Presbytery of this. Church (except those lying in Northern or Western Isles) shall make their elections yearly, within a month preceding the first of the said forty days; and that every Presbytery, without exception, shall appoint the day of election by an order of the Presbytery, at an ordinary meeting, to be entered in their minutes at least ten free days before such election; and that on the day of election, the Presbytery shall make their elections betwixt the hours of one and eight in the afternoon; and that the burghs and universities who send members to the Assembly shall, in like manner, appoint the days of their elections, at an ordinary meeting of their council or university respectively, at least ten days before the day of such elections.