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 the general assembly, holden and begun at Edinburgh, May 6, 1742.
I. Sess. 1, May 6, 1742.—The King's Commission to Alexander Earl of Leven produced, and ordered to be recorded.
II. Sess. 1, May 6, 1742.—The King's most gracious Letter to the General Assembly, presented to them by his Majesty's Commissioner.
III. Sess. 3, May 8, 1742.—The General Assembly's Answer to the King's most gracious Letter.
IV. Sess. 3, May 8, 1742.—Act disjoining the Presbytery of Long-Island, and erecting the same into two distinct Presbyteries.
There was transmitted to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, from their committee for bills, a scheme prepared by the Presbytery of Long-Island, upon a recommendation of the Synod of Glenelg, who had consented to the disjunction of the said Presbytery, and erecting the same into two distinct Presbyteries. And the General Assembly having heard the said scheme read over, with the opinion of the committee for bills thereupon, did, and hereby do, according thereto, disjoin the parishes of Lochs, Stornoway, Barvas, and Uig, from the Presbytery of Long-Island, and do erect these four parishes into a Presbytery, to be called the Presbytery of Lewis, and to have their meetings for ordinary at Carlway; and did, and hereby do, erect the parishes of Harris, North Uist, South Uist, and Barra, into another Presbytery, to be called the Presbytery of Uist, and to have their ordinary meetings at Carinish; and that the Presbytery of Lewis shall, at the first meeting after their erection, appoint the ministers of Stornoway and Uig for that year as their correspondents; and, at their first meeting in the ensuing year, the ministers of Lochs and Barvas, and so on, in all succeeding years, by turns to attend the meeting of the Presbytery of Uist, at Scarista in Harris, when, upon any emergency, they shall be called to meet with them there; and do appoint that the Presbytery of Uist, in like manner, appoint the ministers of Harris and Barra for the first year, and the ministers of North and South Uists for the next year, and so on, in all subsequent years, by turns, as correspondents, to attend the meetings of the Presbytery of Lewis, at Scarista in Harris, as the importance of any affair depending before them shall require; and that each of these Presbyteries have right to be represented in the General Assembly; and the Assembly do authorise the Synod of Glenelg to appoint the time of the first meeting of the above mentioned Presbyteries of Uist and Lewis. And the Assembly declare these Presbyteries to have the same powers and privileges which any other Presbytery have, by the Word of God and constitution of this Church.
V. Sess. 9, May 15, 1742.—Act for the better Attendance of Members on the Commission of the General Assembly.
The General Assembly do enjoin the several Presbyteries to the observance of the 6th Act of Assembly, 1703, and the 6th and 15th Acts, 1705, "For the better Attendance of Members on the Meetings of the Commission;" and that the Presbyteries read over these Acts at their first meetings after the Assembly, and enjoin the observation of them on their members; and that the Presbyteries, after every quarterly meeting of the Commission, take account of the attendance of their members, and to inquire into the reasons or excuses of such as have not attended, and to censure them who have been absent without sufficient cause.
VI. Sess. 10, May 17, 1742, ante meridiem.—Act and Overture about the Manner of Licensing Probationers. (fn. 1)
The General Assembly, taking into their serious consideration the danger that ariseth to this Church, and to the souls of people, by licensing any to preach the Gospel who are not duly qualified, according to the rules laid down in the Holy Scriptures; and considering that the several Acts made by former General Assemblies lie so scattered in many separate articles, at great distance from one another, that the directions therein given are in danger of being overlooked by Presbyteries: Therefore, the General Assembly renew all former Acts, and strictly ordain them to be observed by Presbyteries in all time coming, in manner following, viz.:—
1mo, That no Presbytery admit any person to probationary trials but such as are found to be of good report, of sufficient learning, sound principles, of a pious, sober, grave, and prudent behaviour, and of a peaceable disposition, and well affected to the government in Church and State; and of whom they have sufficient grounds to conceive that they shall be useful and edifying in the Church; and that careful inquiry be made thereanent; and that, without respect of persons, such as are esteemed to be light and vain in their behaviour, imprudent, proud, worldly-minded, or unacquainted with the power of practical godliness, be kept back from that sacred work.
2do, That none be admitted to trials, in order to be licensed, but such as have attended the profession of divinity for six years, or have closely followed the study of divinity and of the languages for that space, at least, after they have passed their full course of philosophy at the College; and that the usual school degrees be inquired after, and made proficiency therein, in case their circumstances did not allow them to attend the profession; though it were to be desired they should attend the profession of divinity much of that time. But this shall not be extended to students having the Irish language, providing, that before any Presbytery license such students within six years, they first consult the Synod of the bounds.
3tio, The General Assembly, considering the reproach that may be brought on religion in general, and particularly on this Church, by the unworthy behaviour of such as follow the study of divinity, do earnestly recommend to the Presbyteries, professors of divinity, and ministers and members of this Church, to keep a watchful eye on such students during the said six years. And, further, that when any student comes to attend the profession of divinity in any university, he shall produce to the Professor, and to the minister of the parish where he is to reside during the time of his attendance on the profession, a testimonial from the minister from whence he comes; and, when he leaves the profession, he shall carry back testimonials from the minister of the parish, of his grave and suitable behaviour becoming his character, and from the Professor, testifying the same; and also his regular attendance on the diets of the profession, and the time he has attended. And when any Profesor of Divinity shall think fit to recommend a student, in order to probationary trials, his testimonials shall bear not only his proficiency in his studies, but his judgment of his moral and Christian character; and that, in his opinion, such an one may be useful and edifying in the work of the ministry, on producing whereof, the Presbytery, after due consideration, shall admit him or not, as they shall see cause.
4to, The General Assembly do appoint and ordain, that no Presbytery admit any student to probationary trials, except such as have resided within their bounds for the space of six years, or do produce to them sufficient testimonials from the Presbyteries in whose bounds they have lived, or for the most part resided, expressly, that it is the desire of these Presbyteries that these students should be entered upon trials. And such students as come from abroad shall produce satisfying testimonials from the professors under whom they studied, and the time of their being abroad shall be accounted a part of the said six years; but none of these students shall be entered upon trials for the space of a whole year after they come to Scotland.
5to, When any student is proposed to a Presbytery, in order to be taken on trials, the proposal shall lie on the table till the next ordinary meeting, before they give judgment therein, that diligent inquiry may be made, and information had concerning the said student's qualifications and behaviour; and the Presbytery shall be alone both when the proposal is made and judged on. And the General Assembly recommends to all students to take all opportunities of cultivating an acquaintance with the ministers of the Presbytery where they reside; and, particularly, during the said interval, they are hereby appointed to attend such of the ministers as shall desire to discourse with them in private.
6to, When the Presbytery, after serious inquiry and mature deliberation, shall agree to take the proposed candidate on trials, before his entry thereto, the General Assembly appoints them, by themselves, or a committee of their number, to take a private and previous trial of the progress he has made in the Latin, Greek, and Hebrew languages; in the study of philosophy, and his knowledge in divinity, theoretical, polemical, and practical, especially such points as shall be matter of the present debates and controversies; his acquaintance with the Holy Scriptures, and what impression he has of religion on his own soul; his knowledge of the constitution of the primitive Christian Church, and also of our own, and of the government and discipline thereof; and of his spiritual wisdom to deal with the several sorts of persons he may have to do with, namely, Atheists, despisers of religion, careless and secure persons, weak and tender consciences, and others, wherein the great difficulty of the pastoral charge lies; and, particularly, anent his ends and intentions in entering upon the preaching of the Gospel; and that they appoint three or four of their number for managing the said trials. And the General Assembly further appoint the several Presbyteries concerned to take special care that these trials be not managed in an overly and superficial manner, but as in the sight of God and our Lord Jesus Christ, the alone King and Head of his Church; and either to reject or delay to further trial such as are found not sufficiently qualified.
7mo, The General Assembly appoints the same method to be observed, and trials to be taken in all the above particulars, before any Presbytery recommend a student to pass trials in another Presbytery; and that the student so recommended shall not be entered on trials in any other Presbytery, until he has resided at least half a year within their bounds.
8vo, The General Assembly do also appoint and ordain that, the above space of six years being expired, and testimonials produced, and previous trials taken in manner above directed, the Presbytery, before they prescribe any part of public trials, shall write letters to all the Presbyteries within the bounds of the Synod, three months at least before the sitting of the Synod, acquainting them with their design; and, at the next meeting of the Synod, they shall also acquaint the Synod thereof, and obtain their special advice and judgment in that particular; and that the members of the said Presbytery and Synod may be ripely advised thereanent, the General Assembly appoints the said letters to be duly and carefully transmitted to the several Presbyteries, and that intimation thereof be publicly made at the second diet of the Synod, to lie on the table till another diet, and then particular inquiry be made whether any person have any thing to object against the students being entered on trials for preaching the Gospel.
9no, The General Assembly recommends to Presbyteries, that, before any student is entered on trials, the engagements required by Act 10, Assembly, 1711, of such as are to be licensed, be read to them; and that the Presbytery take promise of them that they will subscribe to and punctually observe the same, in case the Presbytery see cause to license them; and that this promise be recorded in their books.
10mo, The General Assembly appoints the public probationary trials of students, who are to be licensed probationers, to be these following, viz.: 1mo, The public catechetic trials to be renewed in presence of the Presbytery on all the heads mentioned in the previous trials, and that previously to all the other parts of public trials; 2do, A homily in English on a Scripture text; 3tio, An exegesis in Latin, on a controverted head of divinity, and sustaining a thesis and dispute thereon; 4to, An exercise and addition; 5to, A lecture on a large portion of Scripture; 6to, A popular sermon on a particular text of Scripture; 7mo, A trial on chronology and Church history, especially the history of our own Church. Lastly, Interpreting a portion of the Old Testament in Hebrew, and of the New in Greek, ad aperturam libri.
11mo, The General Assembly judging it fit that the same method should be followed in all Presbyteries, as to questions put to and engagements taken of probationers when licensed; and that the said probationers should not only give sufficient proof of their piety, literature, and other good qualifications for the sacred ministry, but also come under the strictest engagements to adhere to and maintain the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government of this Church, do, therefore, enact and appoint that the questions appointed by Act 10, 1711, be put to all such as pass trials; and, likewise, that they shall subscribe the formula set down in the said Act, before they be licensed to preach the Gospel. And the General Assembly strictly prohibits the licensing any person whatsoever, who shall not give explicit and satisfying answers to these questions, and subscribe the said formula, and discharges any Presbytery to make use of any other questions or formula.
12mo, When any Presbytery who, with the Synod's allowance, has entered, or who is about to enter a student on trials, shall receive a letter from any Presbytery, showing their dissatisfaction with the student entered, or to be entered on trials, and giving relevant grounds for the same, which they offer to verify to the Presbytery at their next meeting, the said student shall not be licensed until the matter be tried. And the General Assembly appoints Presbyteries who shall receive such letters anent students, from any other Presbytery, to write a return with the first post after their meeting, acquainting them of their next diet.
13mo, The General Assembly, considering that some persons, who, upon application to the judicatories of this Church, have not been admitted on trials, or have not been found fit and worthy to be licensed to preach, do yet retire out of the bounds of this Church, where they are not so well known, in order to enter upon trials, and after they have been licensed do not recommend themselves by a holy life and ministerial conversation, to the reproach of the Church of Scotland, where they were educated: Therefore, the General Assembly do hereby inhibit and discharge all young men, educated in this Church, or students of divinity, to go to foreign places, and offer themselves to trivals for licence to preach the Gospel, without testimonials and recommendations from their Presbyteries as above directed. And further, order and appoint that no student whatsoever, coming from abroad, shall be allowed to preach within this Church, as one of our probationers, until it appear documented that they have followed the study of divinity for six years after their finishing their course of philosophy, and until they undergo anew their catechetic trials, and come under the engagements, and sign the formula appointed by the 10th Act, Assembly, 1711, and it appear by their licence, that the said probationers have been licensed by a regularly constituted Presbytery or classical meeting.
14mo, For the better observation of this Act, it is particularly recommended to the Professors of Divinity to communicate the contents thereof to their students, in a public meeting annually, at such time in the month of January as to them seem most convenient. And all Presbyteries and Synods are peremptorily appointed to observe the same in all its parts. And it is strictly enjoined, that the visitors of Presbytery-books make strict inquiry how the several Presbyteries do observe the same.
The General Assembly do appoint, that the above overture have the force of an Act for the space of one year from this date; and do order that all Presbyteries shall read this Act when they are about to take any young man on trials, and shall, in the licences they grant, express the particular trials the candidate has passed in terms of this Act; and if the Presbytery shall not report any material objections or alterations to the next Assembly thereupon, this Assembly are of opinion that the next General Assembly may fitly pass the same into a standing Act.
VII. Sess. 10, May, 1742, ante meridiem.—Commission to some Ministers and Ruling Elders for discussing Affairs referred to them.
VIII. Sess. ult., May 17, 1742.—Commission to some Ministers and Ruling Elders for Refor mation 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 Thomas Tullideph, Principal of St Leonard's College, at St Andrews, their Moderator, &c. (The Act proceeds in the same terms as that of the immediately preceding years.)