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 10, 1744.
I. Sess. 1, May 10, 1744.—The King's Commission to Alexander Earl of Leven produced, and ordered to be recorded.
II. Sess. 1, May 10, 1744.—The King's most gracious Letter to the General Assembly, presented to them by his Majesty's Commissioner.
III. Sess. 3, May 12, 1744.—The General Assembly's Answer to the King's most gracious Letter.
IV. Sess. 7, May 17, 1744.—Act appointing Presbyteries to keep separate Records, for inserting Particulars relating to the Scheme for a Provision for Minister's Widows, &c.
The General Assembly, considering that by an Act of Parliament, passed in the 17th year of the reign of his present Majesty, King George the Second, entitled, "An Act for Raising and Establishing a Fund for a Provision for the Widows and Children of Ministers of the Church of Scotland, and of the Heads, Principals, and Masters of the Universities of St Andrews, Glasgow, and Edinburgh," it is, among other things, provided, "That Presbyteries shall, from time to time, make up certain lists therein specified;" as also, all other lists that shall be found necessary by the trustees, which lists are to be "attested by the moderator and clerk of every Presbytery, and transmitted to the trustees' clerk residing at Edinburgh, under a certain penalty therein mentioned:" Therefore, that the said Act of Parliament may be executed in the most easy and effectual manner, the General Assembly did, and hereby do, appoint and ordain every Presbytery to keep a separate register, wherein they shall record the names and the parish churches of all the ministers, now members of their respective Presbyteries, with a particular account, if such ministers be married, with the dates of their present and future marriages; and shall also therein record the dates of their first ordination or admission to a benefice in the Church of Scotland, the names of all their present children, the day, month, and year of the birth of such of them as are under the age of sixteen, the names and dates of the birth of such of their children as shall hereafter be born; and likewise the time of their present or future children's death, as the same shall happen.
Further, the General Assembly hereby enjoin and ordain every Presbytery to record the names and parish churches of the several ministers, who shall hereafter be admitted to a benefice within their bounds, with the particular dates of their respective admissions; and an account if such ministers be married, with the dates of their then marriages, or such of them as shall happen after their admissions; and shall also record the several facts relating to their children in like manner, as above appointed, with respect to ministers, now members of the Church.
The Assembly likewise hereby enjoin and ordain Presbyteries to record the time of the deaths of ministers, as the same shall happen, with the names of their respective widows, and also the dates of the marriages or deaths of ministers' widows, residing at the time of their death or marriage within their bounds; as also the dates of the several vacancies that were vacant on the 25th of March last, or which have since happened, or shall happen hereafter within their bounds, with the causes of the vacancies: And in general, the Assembly hereby ordain Presbyteries to record, from time to time, all other things that shall be found necessary by the trustees, for the more easy execution of the said Act; and they also ordain and appoint all the ministers now entitled, or who shall be hereafter admitted to a benefice in the Church of Scotland, to lodge, from time to time, in the hands of the clerk of their respective Presbyteries, a particular condescendence of the facts relating to their respective cases, as the same shall happen; all which facts are hereby appointed and ordained to be entered distinctly by Presbytery clerks in the said separate register, under proper columns, and regularly signed by moderators and clerks, and by the ministers respectively concerned, from which the Presbyteries may annually make up the list necessary for each year, and transmit the same, duly attested, to the trustees, as directed in the said Act of Parliament.
V. Sess, 11, May 19, 1744.—Act and Overture about Lincensing Probationers.
VI. Sess. 11, May 19, 1744.—Act about Electing of Members to the General Assemblies, and attesting their Commissions.
The General Assembly, considering that they have at this time set aside several commissions by Presbyteries and burghs to their representatives in the Assembly, as not being in terms of the Acts of Assembly, do hereby recommend to and enjoin Presbyteries, in time coming, to take care that all commissions be in due form, according to the Acts of Assembly; and in order to this, that they be at all due pains to get themselves informed that the elders sent up by them to the Assembly, or attested by them, as sent up by burghs, be qualified in these terms; and the Assembly do recommend to sessions to take all proper care to ordain only such to be elders as they know to be thus qualified.
VII. Sess. 11, May 19, 1744.—Act and Recommendation against the sinful Practice of Smuggling of Goods.
The General Assembly recommend it to all the ministers of this Church, &c., to discourage, so far as in them lies, by their discourses and example, the sinful and pernicious practice of smuggling; and do appoint that the 9th Act of Assembly, 1719, and 15th Act of Assembly, 1736, be reprinted, and forthwith transmitted to Presbyteries and ministers: and ordain that the same be read from the pulpits of all the parish churches within Scotland, betwixt and the first of August next.
VIII. May 21, 1744.—An Address to his Majesty, upon occasion of the present Critical Juncture of Affairs.
Most gracious Sovereign,
We, your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the ministers and elders of the Church of Scotland, met in our National Assembly, take this first opportunity of concurring with your Majesty's other faithful subjects, in testifying our abhorrence of the late intended invasion of your Majesty's kingdoms, in favour of a Popish Pretender, supported by a French power.
As the Church of Scotland, ever since the settlement of the British Crown in your Majesty's illustrious house, have considered all their interests, sacred and civil, as inseparably connected with that happy establishment, we should, of all others, be most unworthy of our invaluable privileges, if, on this occasion, we did not express the warmest resentment of such an audacious attempt.
We reflect, with particular pleasure, that the ministers and members of this Church have always distinguished themselves, by their firm and zealous adherence to the Protestant succession in your Majesty's royal family; and we can assure your Majesty that, no less sensible of our present happy situation, influenced by the same loyal principles, and equally concerned for the security of the reformed religion, we shall steadily pursue the laudable example our predecessors have set us, and hope to show, even in times of the greatest danger, that we count nothing too dear in support of your Majesty's auspicious government, the great bulwark, under God, of our religion, laws, and liberties.
That our gracious God, by whom kings reign, may continue to direct your Majesty's councils, and give success to your arms—may dispose all the friends of liberty
and the Protestant religion to imitate your great example, in defence of the common
cause;—that the same kind Providence which has hitherto protected your Majesty's
person and government in the most remarkable manner, may make your reign long
and prosperous, may entail the happiness of it upon these kingdoms to latest posterity in your august house; and that, after a long and happy reign on earth, over a
brave, a free, and loyal people, you may inherit immortal glory, is, and shall be, the
servent prayers of,
Most gracious Sovereign,
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.
IX. May 21, 1744.—Act concerning Mr William Leechman, Professor of Divinity in the College of Glasgow
The General Assembly having called for the report of the committee named to consider the case about Professor Leechman, and caused to be read the remarks of the committee of the Presbytery of Glasgow, upon the passages in the Professor's sermon excepted against by them, with this answers thereto; there was also read a paper given in by the said Professor to the said committee of the Assembly, explanning himself further on the occassion of the said sermon, and on the subject of a passage thereof, taken notice of by the said committee; of which paper the tenor follows, viz.:—"One main occasion of publishing this sermon on Prayer, was to prevent the bad effects of a late pamphlet, which represents Prayer as an absurd and unreasonable, nay, as an impious and blasphemous practice. For that wicked pamphlet being spread in the part of the country where I live, and having had observable had influence upon young and unthinking minds, I was persuaded by some friends, who are zealous for the interests of religion, to publish this sermon (which they had occasionally heard me preach) as a proper antidote to the poison of it. As the pamphlet which occasioned the publication of this sermon did attack only one part of Prayer, viz., offering up our desires to God; but did not attack the other part of it, viz., the offering them up in the name of Christ, the discourse is therefore mainly limited to the explication and the vindication of this first part of Prayer, without explaining and vindicating the second part of it; which I considered as a separate subject, or, at least, a different branch of the same subject; so that the omissions complained of in that performance did not proceed from any disregard of these important and fundamental doctrines of Christianity—the offering up our desires to God in the name of Christ, and the merits and satisfaction of the Mediator, as the only grounds of our acceptance with God, and of our obtaining the pardon of sin; but from a persuasion that it is necessary to convince men of the reasonableness of offering up their desires to God, before you can convince them that it is a reasonable thing to offer them up in the name of Christ; and from a persuasion that it might be of some use (through the Divine blessing) to endeavour to do the first of these at the time when, and in the place of the country where I attempted it.
"If, therefore, any passages of this sermon have been so incaustiously expressed, as naturally to lead any to think (which I am not yet convinced they are) that I meant to assert that the necessity of the Christian religion itself is superseded by the light of nature; or that the light of nature is sufficient to give that knowledge of God and of his will, which is necessary to salvation; that praying in the name of Christ is not the duty of Christians, or a foreign and superfluous circumstance; or that the merits and propitiation of Jesus Christ are not the only grounds of a sinner's acceptance with God, and of his obtaining the forgiveness of sin; and that the only end of punishment is the reformation of the offender; I honestly declare, I had no such intention in these passages; and that this is really so may be further confirmed from this certain fact, that this sermon, which is now printed, was only one sermon enlarged out of eight or nine, delivered from the same text, at the same time this sermon was first preached, when I spoke at considerable length on the doctrine of the intercession of Jesus Christ; besides, it is well known to the Presbytery of Irvine, that I preached regular courses of sermons on the particular doctrines of Christianity in my own congregation, as well as I frequently preached abroad on the same subjects, as occasion offered; and as I have already subscribed the Confession of Faith, where these doctrines are taught in the strongest manner as the confession of my faith, I am still willing to do the same again. (Subscribitur,) Wil. Leechman." The above paper being read over, parties were fully heard, and removed. Then the Assembly caused to be read the report and overture of their committee; the tenor whereof follows, viz.:—
That from the importance of this case, and the steps taken by the Presbytery of Glasgow, the Synod of Glasgow and Ayr had sufficient reasons to take into their own hands the cognizance of the inquiry touching the sermon.
That the judgment passed by the Synod, notwithstanding that no appeal was taken against it, does not make it a res judicata, or preclude this Assembly from deliberating, whether the sermon affords a just occasion for trial or censure against the Professor, in respect that there was no libel against, or formal trial of the Professor, but a preliminary inquiry in order to such trial, in case sufficient cause should be found for it.
That the committee having considered the sermon, and particularly the passages thereof chiefly excepted against; and having read and considered the remarks of the Presbytery of Glasgow, and the Professor's answers to the same; and having heard the parties, and received and considered a paper voluntarily offered by the Professor, explaining himself farther on the occasion of the sermon, and on the subject of the passages excepted to; and against called the parties, and read that declaration in their presence, and heard the members of the Presbytery of Glasgow thereupon, are of opinion, that the Professor has given abundant satisfaction concerning the orthodoxy of his sentiments; and that there is no ground or occasion remaining for any further trial of the said Professor, in respect of that sermon; and that the Presbytery of Glasgow be prohibited to commence or carry on any farther or other proceedings against the Professor on account of that sermon.
The General Assembly, having heard the said report and overture, did, without a vote, agree to approve thereof, with this explanation, that by the expressions in the narrative, viz.:—"And particularly the passages chiefly excepted against," no more was intended by the committee, (as by several members thereof was declared,) nor is intended or meant by this Assembly, in approving their overture above inserted, than that the committee, and thereafter the Assembly, considered the passages in the said sermon that had been remarked upon by the Presbytery of Glasgow; and another passage taken notice of by some members of the committe of Assembly; but not that either the committee or the Assembly had read over or considered the whole of that sermon. And parties being called, the premises were intimated to them, whereupon Professor Leechman took instruments; and the members from the Presbytery of Glasgow, appellants, declared their acquiescence in the said sentence.
X. Sess. 13, May 21, 1744, post meridiem.—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 to hereby nominate, commission, and appoint, the Rev. Mr John Adams, minister of the Gospel at Dalrymple, their Moderator, &c.; to be a committee, &c. (The terms of the Act are the same as those of the immediately preceding years, with the exception of the concluding words, which run thus:—"Who are to lay their draught thereof before a subsequent meeting." No further change in the terms of this Commission appears to have taken place till 1757.—Ed. 1843.)