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 princiapal acts of the generall assembly, conveened at Edinburgh, 1643.
Sess. 1, Aug. 2, 1643.—The King's Letter to the General Assembly, presented by his Majestie's Commissioner, Sir Thomas Hope of Craighall, Knight, his Majestie's Advocate.
Trustie and welbeloved—We great you well. The time now approaching for the holding of the General Assembly of our Kirk of Scotland, and we having appointed Sir Thomas Hope, our Advocate, to be our Commissioner there, we thought good to present him there with these our letters, and to take this occasion to minde you of the duty which you owe to us, your Soveraigne, and to the peace of that our native kingdome. How far we have lately extended our grace and favour towards satisfaction of your humble desires there is not any amongst you but may well remember; and, therefore, in this conjuncture of our affairs, it is but reasonable that we expect from you such moderation in the dutifull proceedings of this Assembly, as may concurre with our princely inclinations and desires to preserve that Kirk, and that our kingdome, in peace; having wel observed that alterations in points of religion are often the inlets to civill dissentions, and the hazard, if not overthrow, of both Kirk and kingdomes: Therefore, of our great affection and speciall tendernesse to your peace, (who of all our dominions are yet happie therein to the envy of others,) we conjure and require you, in the fear of God, and obedience of us, his vicegerent, that your endeavours and consultations tend onely to preserve peace and quietnesse among you. And so we bid you farewell. Given at our Court at Oxford, the 22d day of July 1643.
To our right trusty and welbeloved Counsellour, Sir Thomas Hope, Knight, our Advocate-Generall, and our Commissioner at the Generall Assembly of the Kirk in our Kingdome of Scotland, and to the rest of the said Assembly now conveened.
Sess. 2, Aug. 3, 1643.—Overtures anent Bills, References, and Appeales.
II. That all bills be first presented to the inferiour judicatories of the Kirk, who may competently consider of them, and from them be orderly and gradatim brought to the Assembly, according to the order prescribed for appellations in the Assembly of Edinburgh, 1639, in the 24th Sess. August 30.
IV. In appellations and references, of particular concernment, if all parties having interest have been present in the inferiour judicatorie when the appeal and reference was made, then there is no necessitie of citation. But in case of their absence, citation of parties is so necessar, that if it be wanting appellations and references should not be received.
Sess. 3, August 4, 1643.—Act for Election of Professours to be Commissioners to Assemblies by Presbyteries.
The Assembly thinks, if Professours of Divinitie in Universities be Ministers, that they may be chosen commissioners to the Generall Assembly, either by the Presbyterie as Ministers, or by the Universitie as Professours of Divinitie.
Sess. 4, August 5, 1643.—The Petition of the distressed Professours in Ireland for Ministers.
To the Reverend and Honourable Moderatour, and remanent Members of the Generall Assembly of Scotland, conveened at Edinburgh, Aug. 1643, The humble Petition of the distressed Christians in the North of Ireland,
That whereas you were pleased the last year to take notice of our petition, and conceived so favourable an act in our behalf, from our hearts we blesse the Lord God of our fathers, who put such a thing as this in your heart, to begin in any sort to beautifull the house of the Lord amongst us: doubtlesse you have brought upon your selves the blessing of them who consider the poor; the Lord will certainly deliver you in the time of trouble. We trust no distance of place, no length of time, no pressure of affliction, yea, nor smiling of prosperity, shall delete out of our thankfull memories the humble acknowledgement of your so motherly care, in drawing out your breasts, yea, your souls, to satisfie the hungrie; although we have been beaten with the sword, bitten with famine, our own wickednes correcting us, our backslindings reproving us, yet we have not so farre forgotten the Lord's ancient love but that our hearts were brought to a little reviving in the midst of our bondage, by the ministery of these who at your direction made a short visit amongst us. We know you did not conceive it expedient at that time to loose any for ful settling here, till the waters of the bloudy inundation were somewhat abated, and probability might be of some comfortable abode, which we, through the Lord's revenging hand pursuing our enemies, and the vigilancie of your victorious army, is in a great measure attained unto. Whatsoever might have detained some of these whom ye directed to us, whose stay made our expectation prove abortive, we shall ascribe it to our own abuse of such treasure, and want of spirituall hunger, occasioned justly through the want of food; and yet that same disappointment, together with your faithfull promise of inlarging your indebted bountie, which is put upon record in all our hearts, hath made us conceive the seed of a lively expectation, that you will now no more put your bountie and the means of our life into the hazard of such frustrations, but will once for all bestow an ample and enduring blessing. And of this we are so much the more confident, because our former suit was not denyed but delayed; only we fear, if a new delay be procured, till all things be fully settled, that the observing of winde and clouds shall hinder both sowing and reaping; and, in the meantime, the prelates and their faction may step in and invest themselves of their old tyrannie over our consciences, who, if they once shall see us possessed of our inheritance, those Canaanites dare not offer to thrust us out. By all appearance, if the Jesuites had any hope to finde welcome amongst us, they had provided us fully ere now with their poysoned plants. Our hearts abhorre the checking or suspecting of your proceedings, yet it is lawfull to learn sometime from our enemie; but in this you have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago, and thereby have ingaged your selves to perfect your own beginnings, and bring us out of our orphan condition. We are fallen in your lap. This ruine must be under your hand; you cannot pretend want of bread of cloathing; you must be healers. We have chosen you curators to your little young sister that wants breasts. There is none on earth to take her out of your hand; for we will not, nor cannot hide it from your honours and wisedomes that we want bread, and must not only, as before, have a bit for our present need, but also seed to sow the land.
It is therefore our humble and earnest desire, that you would yet again look on
our former petition and your own obligatorie act, and at least declare your consent
that a competent number of our own ministers may be loosed to settle here, and
break bread to the children that lye fainting at the head of all streets; which although
it may be accounted but a restoring of what we lost, and you have found, yet we shall
esteem it as the most precious gift that earth can afford. When they are so loosed,
if they finde not all things concurring to clear God's calling, it will be in their hand
to forbear; and you have testified your bountie. But oh, for the Lord's sake, do not
kill our dying souls, by denying these our necessary desires! There are about twelve
or fourteen waste congregations on this nearest coast, let us have at least a competent
number that may erect Christ's throne of discipline, and may help to bring in others,
and then shall we sing, that the people who were left of the sword have found grace
in the wildernesse. We have sent these our brethren, Sir Robert Adair of Kinhilt,
Knight, and William Mackenna of Belfast, merchant, to attend an answer from you,
who have attained that happinesse to be lenders and not borrowers, and to present
the heartie longing affections of,
Your most obliged, and more expecting brethren and servants.
Subscribed by very many hands.
Sess. 6. August 8, 1643.—Acts for subscribing the Covenant.
The Generall Assembly, considering the good and pious advice of the commissioners of the last Assembly, upon the 22 of September 1642, Post meridiem, recommending to Presbyteries to have copies of the Covenant, to be subscribed by every minister at his admission; doth, therefore, ratifie and approve the samine; and, further, ordaines that the Covenant be reprinted, with this ordinance prefixed thereto, and that every Synod, Presbyterie, and Paroch, have one of them bound in quarto, with some blank paper, whereupon every person may be obliged to subscribe; and that the Covenants of the Synod and Presbyterie be kept by their Moderatours respectivè: of Universities by their Principalls; of Paroches by their Ministers, with all carefulness. And that particular account of obedience to this act be required hereafter in all visitations of Paroches, Universities, and Presbyteries, and in all trialls of Presbyteries and Synod books.
The Generall Assembly, considering that the Act of the Assembly at Edinburgh, August 30, 1639, injoyning all persons to subscribe the Convenant, under all ecclesiasticall censure, hath not been obeyed: Therefore, ordaines all ministers to make intimation of the said act in their kirks, and thereafter to proceed with the censures of the Kirk against such as shall refuse to subscribe the Convenant. And that exact account be taken of every minister's diligence hereintill by their Presbyteries and Synolds, as they will answer to the Generall Assembly.
Sess. 7, August 9, 1643.—Act for Searching Books tending to Separation.
The Generall Assembly, considering the recommendation of the commissioners of the late Assembly at St Andrews, upon the 12 of May last, to every minister within their severall bounds, especially to ministers upon the coasts, or where there is harbourie and ports, to try and search for all books tending to separation; and finding the same most necessar, do therefore ordain that recommendation to have the strength of an ordinary act of Assembly; and that every minister be carefull to try and search if any such books be brought to this countrey from beyond seas; and, if any shall be found, to present the samine to Presbyteries, that some course may be taken to hinder the dispersing thereof; and earnestly recommend to the civil magistrates to concurre with their authoritie in all things for effectuall execution hereof.
Approbation of the Proceedings of the Commissioners of the last Assembly.
The Generall Assembly, having heard the report of the committee appointed to consider the proceedings of the commissioners of the late Assembly at St Andrews, after mature deliberation, and serious consideration thereof, findes the whole acts, conclusions, and proceedings of the saids commissioners, contained in a book and register, subscribed by Master Andrew Ker, their clerk, and by Master David Lindsay, Moderatour, and Master James Hamilton, clerk to the said committee, to declare much wisedome, diligence, vigilancie, and every way commendable zeal and fidelitie, in doing and discharging every thing according to their commission.
Sess. 8, August 10, 1643.—Propositions given by the Commissioners of the Parliament of England to a Committee, to be presented by them to the Assembly.
We, the Commissioners appointed by both Houses of the Parliament of England, desire your Lordships, and the rest of this reverend committee, to represent to the reverend the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland that we are commanded—
To acknowledge, with all the thankfulnesse to God, their zeal for purging and reforming religion, and care not only to prevent the grouth, but utterly to extirpate the reliques of Popery; and also the great blessing of Almighty God upon their so constant and faithfull endeavours thus for establishing them in truth and peace, together with their labour of love to procure the like happinesse to our Church and nation.
To give them an account of their earnest desire and endeavour to see the same work promoted and perfected among our selves; which, though it hath been opposed and retarded by the industrious malice of the Popish, Prelaticall, and Malignant partie, yet, through God's goodnesse, it hath so far prevailed as to produce the removeall of the High Commission—the making void the coercive power of the prelates and their courts—the ejection of the bishops from the House of Peers—the turning out of many scandlous ministers; besides that they have passed and presented to his Majestie diverse bills, viz., for the suppressing of innovations—for the more strict observation of the Lord's Day—against pluralities and non—residencie—for the punishment of the scandalous clergie—for the abolition of Episcopacie—and the calling an Assembly,—the true copies of which we herewithall deliver. Which bills, through the under-mining of the Papists, Prelates, and their party, (the constant enemies of reformation,) have not yet obtained his Majestie's royall assent. And yet considering the urgent necessity of purging and settling the Church, (as hath been often pressed and presented to the Parliament of England by pious and frequent exhortations and declarations from that reverent Assembly,) they have been constrained, by an ordinance of both Houses, to call an Assembly of divines and others, now sitting, to consider and prepare what may conduce thereunto; which, by the assistance of some godly and learned divines sent from this nation, (as is earnestly desired,) we hope may, through the blessing of God, bring it to perfection.
And yet, notwithstanding, to let them know that by reason of the prevailing of the Papists, Prelaticall faction, and other malignant enemies to this so much desired reformation, (all of them being now in arms against the Parliament,) these hopefull beginnings are likely not onely to be rendred ineffectuall, but all the former evils, superstitions, and corruptions, (which for the present, through the blessing of God, are in a good measure removed,) to be re-introduced by strong hand; which, if once they should take root again in the Church and kingdome of England, will quickly spread their venome and infection into the neighbour Church and kingdome of Scot land; the quarrell of the enemies of this work being not so much against the persons of men as the power of godlinesse, and purity of God's worship, wheresoever it is professed. Both Houses do, therefore, desire that reverent Assembly to lay seriously to heart the state and condition of their sister Church and kingdome, and not only by their prayers to assist in these straits, but also, by such seasonable and effectuall means as to them shall seem meet, to further and expedite the present aid and assistance demanded by both Houses.
And, lastly, to make known unto them that we are designed and sent by both
Houses of Parliament to the Generall Assembly of the Church of Scotland, to propound to them, and consult with them concerning such things as may conduce to our
own reformation, and our so much desired conjunction with this Church, which they
have more fully expressed in a declaration of their own, which herewithall we present.
William Bond, Secr. Commis.
A Declaration of the Lords and Commons in the Parliament of England, to the Generall Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
The Lords and Commons in Parliament, acknowledging, with humble thankfulnesse to Almighty God, the disposer of hearts, the Christian zeal and love which the Generall Assembly of the Churches of Scotland have manifested, in their pious endeavours for the preservation of the true reformed Protestant religion from the subtle practices and attempts of the Popish and Prelaticall party, to the necessary reformation of Church discipline and government in this kingdome, and the more near union of both Churches, do earnestly desire that reverend Assembly to take notice that the two Houses of Parliament, fully concurring with them in these pious intentions, for the better accomplishment thereof, have called an assembly of diverse godly and learned divines, and others of this kingdome, unto the city of Westminster, who are now sitting and consulting about these matters. And likewise have nominated and appointed John Earle of Ruthland, Sir William Armine, Baronet, Sir Henry Vane the younger, Knight, Thomas Hatcher and Henry Darley, Esquires, Committees and Commissioners of both Houses to the Kingdome and States of Scotland, who, beside their instructions in matters concerning the peace and commonweal of both kingdomes, have received directions to resort to the Generall Assembly of the Church of Scotland, and propound and consult with them, or any commissioners deputed by them, in all occasions which may further the so much desired reformation in ecclesiasticall matters in this Church and kingdome, and a nearer conjunction betwixt both Churches. In performance whereof, Master Stephen Marshall, and Master Philip Nye, ministers of God's Word, and men of approved faithfulness and abilities in their function, both members of this assembly of divines here congregated and sitting, are appointed to assist and advise the same committee in such things as shall concerne this Church. And the two Houses do hereby recommend the committees and divines afore mentioned to the reverend Assembly of the Church of Scotland, to be by them received with favour, and credited in those things which they, or any three or more of them, shall propound to them.
It is likewise desired, that reverend Assembly will, according to their former
promise and resolution, send to the Assembly here such number of godly and learned
divines, as in their wisedome they think most expedient for the furtherance of this
work, which so much concernes the honour of God, the prosperity and peace of the
two Churches of England and Scotland; and which must needs have a great influence in procuring a more safe and prosperous condition to other reformed churches
abroad. And that their endeavours may be more effectuall, the two Houses do make
this request to them, with their authority, advice, and exhortation, so far as belongs
to them, to stir up that nation to send some competent forces, in aid of this Parliament and kingdome, against the many armies of the Popish and Prelaticall party and
their adherents, now in arms for the ruine and distruction of the Reformed religion,
and all the professours thereof. In all which they shall do that which will be pleasing to God, whose cause it is, and likewise safe and advantageous to their own Church
and kingdome, who cannot securely enjoy the great blessings of religion, peace, and
libertie in that kingdome, if this Church and kingdome, by the prevailing violence of
that partie, shall bee brought to ruine and destruction.
Jo. Browne, Cleric. Parliamentorum.
Henr. Elsynge, Cler. Parl. D. Com.
A Letter from some Brethren of the Ministerie in the Kirk of England to the Assembly.
Reverend and Beloved,
The experience which we have had of your forwardnesse in receiving, and faithfulnesse in weighing our former addresses, hath given us abundant encouragement to take hold upon this present opportunitie of breathing out something of our sorrowes, which your love and our necessity command us to represent to your consideration and compassion. Much we know we may commit to the wisedome and fidelity of our brethren these messengers, to impart unto you concerning our miserable condition, and unto them shall leave the most. Your own nationall, but specially Christian interest, will not permit you to hide your eyes from the bleeding condition of your poor distressed brethren in England, should neither letters nor messengers be sent unto you; but messengers coming, we should at once neglect our selves, should we not thus a little case our burdened hearts by pouring them out into your bosomes, and seem ungratefull to you, of whose readinesse to suffer with us, and do for us, we have had so great and ample testimonies.
Surely if ever a poor nation were upon the edge of a most desperate precipice, if ever a poor church were ready to be swallowed up by Satan and his instruments, we are that nation, we are that church. And, in both respects, by so much the more miserable, by how much we expected not a preservation onely, but an augmentation also, of happinesse in the one, and glory in the other. We looked for peace, but no good came; and for a time of healing, and behold trouble ! Our God, who in his former judgements was a moth and rottenesse, (and yet had of late begun to send us health and cure,) is now turned into a lion to us, and threatens to rend the very cawle of our hearts; from above he hath sent a fire into our bones, and it prevails against us; from our own bowels he hath called forth and strengthened and adversarie against us, a generation of brutish, hellish men, the rod of his anger, and the staff of his indignation, under whose cruelties we bleed, and, if present mercy step not in, we die. "Righteous art thou, O Lord, and just are all thy judgements!" But, O the more then barbarous carriages of our enemies, where ever God, gives any of his hidden ones up into their hands, we need not expresse it unto you, who knows the inveterate and deadly malice of the Antichristian faction against the members of our Lord Jesus! And it is well we need not expresse it unto you; for in truth we cannot. Your own thoughts may tell you better then any words of ours, what the mercie of Papists is toward the ministers and servants of our Lord Jesus Christ. But the Lord knows we are not troubled so much with their rage against us, or our own miseries and dangers; but that which breaks our hearts is, the danger we behold the Protestant religion, and all the reformed churches in at this time, through that too great and formidable strength the Popish faction is now arrived at. If our God will lay our bodies as the ground, and as the street under their foot, and poure out our bloud as dust before their fury, the will of the Lord be done. Might our bloud be a sacrifice to ransome the rest of the saints or Church of Christ from Antichristian fury, we would offer it up upon this service gladly. But we know their rage is insatiable, and wil not be quenched with our blouds—immortall, and will not die with us—armed against us, not as men, but as Christians, but as Protestants, but as men desiring to reform ourselves, and to draw ourselves and others yet nearer unto God. And if God gave us up to be devoured by this rage, it will take the more strength and courage (at least) to attempt the like against all the Protestant and Reformed churches. In a deeper sense of this extream danger, threatning us and you, and all the churches, then we can expresse, we have made this addresse unto you, in the bowels of our Lord Jesus Christ, humbly imploring your most fervent prayers to the God that hears prayers; who (should we judge by providences) seems to be angry with our prayers, (though we trust he doth but seem so, and though he kill us, yet will we trust in him,) Oh, give us the brotherly aide of your re-inforced tears and prayers, that the blessings of truth and peace which our prayers alone have not obtained, yours conjoyned may. And give us, reverend and much honoured in our Lord, your advices what remains for us further to doe, for the making of our own and the kingdome's peace with God. We have lien in the dust before him, we have poured our hearts in humiliation to him, we have in sincerity endeavoured to reform ourselves, and no less sincerely desired, studied, laboured the publick Reformation; neverthelesse, the Lord hath not yet turned himself from the fiercenesse of his anger. And be pleased to advise us further what may be the happiest course for the uniting of the Protestant partie more firmly, that we may all serve God with one consent, and stand up against Antichrist as one man, that our God, who now hides himself from his people, may return unto us, delight in us, scatter and subdue his and our enemies, and cause his face to shine upon us. The Lord prosper you and preserve us, so that the great work of these latter ages may be finished to his honour, and our own and the Church's happinesse, through Christ Jesus.
Sess. 9, August 11, 1643.—Act against Burialls, and hinging of Honours, &c. in Kirks.
The Generall Assembly, considering the great abuse of burying within kirks wherein God's publick worship is exercised, notwithstanding diverse acts of this Kirk, prohibiting the same; and that through toleration thereof, other abuses, in hinging of pensils and brods, affixing of honours and arms, and such like scandalous monuments in the Kirk hath crept in: Therefore, for remedy hereof, do hereby ratifie and approve the former acts and constitutions made against burials in kirks; and inhibites and discharges all persons, of whatsoever qualitie, to burie any deceased person within the body of the kirk, where the people meet for hearing of the Word and administration of the Sacraments; and also inhibites them to hing pensils or brods, to affixe honours or arms, or to make any such like monuments to the honour or remembrance of any deceased person, upon walls, or other places within the kirk where the publick worship of God is exercised, as said is.
Sess. 10, August 12, 1643.—Act anent reposition of Ministers deposed by Superior Judicatories.
The Generall Assembly, considering that sentences of superior judicatories of the Kirk should stand effectuall, whill they be taken away by themselves, and that they should not be made void and ineffectuall by inferior judicatories: Therefore, discharges all Provinciall Assemblies to repone any minister deposed by the Generall Assembly; and all Prebyteries to repone any ministers deposed either by Generall or Provincial Assemblies; and declares and ordains that all such sentences of reposition by these inferiour judicatories, respective, shall be null in themselves; and that the sentences of deposition by the superiour judicatories, respective, shall stand valid and effectuall notwithstanding thereof.
Sess. 11, August 14, 1643.—Act against Masters who have Servants that Prophane the Lord's Day.
The General Assembly declares, that the acts made against salmond-fishing upon the Sabbath, or against any other labour upon the Lord's day, to be not only against servants who actually work, but also that the samine should be extended against masters whose hired servants they are.
Sess. 12, August 15, 1643.—Act for preparing the Directorie for the Worship of God.
The Assembly, considering how convenient it is that all the ministers of the particular kirks within this kingdome, in their administration keep unity and uniformity in the substance and right ordering of all the parts of the publick worship of God, and that all the particular kirks, by the same unity and uniformitie, testifie their unanimous consent against all schisme and division, unto which these times, through the working of Satan and his instruments against the propagation of the Gospel of peace, are so inclineable; doth ordain that a Directorie for Divine Worship, with all convenient diligence, be framed and made ready, in all the parts thereof, against the next Generall Assembly, to be held in the year 1644. And for this end, that such as shall be nominate by this Assembly shall, immediately after the rising of the Assembly, set themselves apart (so far as may be) from their particular callings, and with all diligence and speed go about this so publick, so pious, and so profitable a work. And when they have brought their endeavours and labours about this Directorie to an end, that it be put into the hands of the commissioners of the Generall Assembly to be revised, and thereafter by them sent in severall copies to all the particular Synods, to be held in April and May, that the samine being reported with their consent, or with their observations, notes, and animadversions to the Generall Assembly, it may in end, after their full triall and approbation, by order and authority from them, be received and practised by all the ministers and particular kirks. And for preserving of peace and brotherly unity in the mean while, till the Directorie, by universall consent of the whole Kirk, be framed, finished, and concluded, the Assembly forbiddeth, under the pain of the censures of the Kirk, all disputation by word or writing, in private or publick, about different practices in such things as have not been formerly determined by this Kirk, and all condemning one of another in such lawfull things as have been universally received, and by perpetuall custome practised by the most faithfull ministers of the Gospell, and opposers of corruptions in this Kirk, since the first beginning of reformation to these times; and doth exhort and command that all endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, that all beginnings of separation, all scandall and division, be by all means avoided; and that against envying, and strife, and faction, and glorying in men, every one go before another in the duties of love, and so fulfill the law of Christ; that continuing in one spirit and one minde, and fighting together through the faith of the Gospell, we may mutually aide, strengthen, and comfort one another, in all pastroall and Christian employments, better resist the common adversaries, edifie one another in the knowledge and fear of God, and the more acceptably, and with the greater blessing, serve the Lord, who hath done so great things for us.
Propositions from the English Commissioners presented this day to the Assembly.
We, the Commissioners appointed by both Houses of the Parliament of England,
being commanded by them (as we have already declared) to desire the reverend Assembly of Scotland seriously to lay to heart the present estate of their sister Church
and kingdome of England, and not onely to assist with their prayers in their straits,
but also, by such reasonable and effectuall means as to themselves shall seem meet, to
further and expedite the assistance now desired by both Houses from the kingdome of
Scotland, and a more strict union with them; have thought fit, in pursuance of the
commands received from both Houses of Parliament, to communicate to this Assembly the paper which to this purpose we have lately delivered to the honourable Convention of Estates in this kingdome, that so this reverend Assembly might be the
better enabled to contribute their best assistance toward the furthering and expediting
of the same. Wherein we assure our selves of their ready and willing affections, considering the great service they may do to God, and the great honour may redound
to themselves, in becoming the instruments of a gloriousreformation, not onely through
this Hand, but from thence possibly to be spread to other Churches, now oppressed
under the Antichristian bondage, and tyrannie of the Popish and Prelaticall faction.
We will not say there lies any obligation upon this Church and kingdome to comply
with the desires of the two Houses of Parliament, though we might call to minde
that God, by the hand of the Church and kingdome of England, did once reach forth
assistance and aid unto this nation, and hath since used them as a help to that blessed
reformation it now enjoyes. And who knoweth whether the wise providence of God
hath not suffered this Church and kingdome to be tempted thereby, to make them
the more sensible of the present miseries of their brethren, and likewise given them
a good issue with the tentation, that they might be made a means of our deliverance?
We shall not need to offer any grounds of prudence to invite them hereunto, who
have already prevented us in the acknowledgement of what might be said of that
kinde, in the advice presented by the commissioners of the Generall Assembly, July
6, 1643, unto the Convention of Estates, expressing, as one remedie of the present
dangers of this Church and kingdome, their earnest desire of renewing the league
and association with England, for the defence of religion against the common enemie,
and of further extending the same against Prelacie and Popish ceremonies, for uniformity in externall worship, and church government. And we hope that the same
God who hath put these desires into the hearts of both kingdomes, will make use of
this present opportunity to knit them both to himself and each other in a most strict
and durable union, and thereby the more firmly to establish truth and peace in both
nations. Howsoever, this which we have done, in discharge of our duty, will affoord
the comfort of a good conscience in our greatest distresses, and give us ground to expect deliverance some way or other, from the manifold wisedome and power of God,
who, though men and means fail, will not cast off his people, nor forsake his inheritance. We have onely this to adde further, that we are commanded by both Houses
to let this reverend Assembly know, that it is their earnest desire, that what other
propositions may be thought fit to be added and concluded by this Assembly, whereby
the assistance and union betwixt the two nations may be made more beneficiall and
effectuall for the securing of religion and libertie, should be offered to us, and taken
to our speedy consideration.
William Bond, Secr. Com.
August 15, 1643.
The Paper before mentioned delivered, August 12, to the Convention, and this day to the Assembly.
We, the Commissioners appointed by both Houses of the Parliament of England, are, by our instructions, commanded to put their brethren of Scotland in minde, that the Popish and Prelaticall faction that began with them about the year 1638 and 1639, and then intended to make way to the ruine of the kingdome of England by theirs, have not abated any part of their malice toward the nation and Church of Scotland, nor are at all departed from their designe of corrupting and altering religion through the whole Iland, though they have inverted the manner of their proceeding, conceiving now that they have an easier way to destroy them, if they may first prevail over the Parliament and kingdome of England. In which respect it is the desire of both Houses that the two nations may be strictly united, for their mutuall defence, against the Papists and Prelaticall faction, and their adherents in both kingdomes, and not to lay down arms till those their implacable enemies shall be disarmed, and subjected to the authority and justice of Parliament in both kingdomes respectively. And as an effectuall mean hereunto, they desire their brethren of Scotland to raise a considerable force of horse and foot for their aide and assistance, to be forthwith sent against the Papists, Prelaticall faction, and Malignants, now in arms in the kingdome of England.
And for the better encouragement of the kingdome of Scotland to this necessary and so much desired union, we are, by both Houses of Parliament, authorized to assure their brethren, that if they shall be annoyed or endangered by any force or army, either from England or any other place, the Lords and Commons of England will assist them with a proportionable strength of horse and foot to what their brethren shall now affoord them, to be sent into Scotland for the defence of that kingdome. And they will maintain a guard of ships at their own charge upon the coast of Scotland, for the securing of that kingdome from the invasion of Irish rebells or other enemies, during such time as the Scotish army shall be employed in the defence of the kingdome of England. And to the end that nothing might be wanting in the Parliament and kingdome of England to facilitate this work, (wherein the true reformed religion, not onely in these two kingdomes, but throughout all Europe, is so highly concerned,) we are farther authorized to consider with their brethren, the Estates and kingdome of Scotland, of what other articles or propositions are fit to be added and concluded, whereby this assistance and union betwixt the two nations may be made more beneficiall and effectuall for the securitie of religion and libertie in both kingdomes.
All which being taken into the serious and Christian consideration of the Right Honourable the Lords and others of the Convention of the Estates of Scotland, we hope there will not need many arguments to perswade and excite them to give their consent, and that with all convenient speed, to these desires of both Houses of the Parliament of England; seeing now they have so fully declared, as by what they have done already, so, by what they are yet desirous to do, that the true state of this cause and quarrell is religion, in the reformation whereof they are and have been so forward and zealous, as that there is not any thing expressed unto them by their brethren of Scotland, in their former or latter declarations, which they have not seriously taken to heart, and seriously endeavoured to effect, (notwithstanding the subtle, malicious, and industrious oppositions,) that so the two kingdomes might be brought into a near conjunction in one form of Church government, one Directorie of Worship, one Catechisme, &c., and the foundation laid of the utter extirpation of Popery and Prelacie out of both kingdomes; the most readie and effectuall means whereunto is now conceived to be, that both nations enter into a strict union and league, according to the desires of the two Houses of Parliament.
And to induce the perswasion of this, (if there were cause,) we might observe, that,
in the many declarations made by the Generall Assembly or States of Scotland to
their brethren of England, there have been sundry expressions, manifesting the great
necessitie that both kingdomes, for the securitie of their religion and liberties, should
joyn in this strict union against the Papists, Prelats, and their adherents— as also in
the endeavour of a near conjunction between the Churches of both nations; the
apprehension and foresight of which hath caused the Popish and Prelaticall faction,
in forreigne parts as well as in his Majestie's dominions, strictly and powerfully to
combine themselves to the hinderance of this so necessary work, and the universall
suppression of the true Protestant religion in Europe; a course not much different
from that which they took in the year 1585, when the wisedome and zeal of this nation to counter-myne so wicked a conspiracie, and from the due sense of the mutuall
interest of these two kingdomes, in religion and libertie, found a necessity of entring
into a league of this nature, as well considering that thereby no lesse safetie might
be expected to both nations then danger by forbearing the same. And though we
doubt not but in so necessary and so good a work many difficulties may arise to interrupt and retard the same, yet we are as confident, that the heartie and brotherly
affection of this nation to the Parliament and kingdome of England will easily break
through them; and the rather because, in the like cases of difficulties and danger, not
only at the time of the league above mentioned, but before, and likewise since, when
any opportunity hath offered it self particularly, during the sitting of this present Parliament, the kingdome of England hath been very forward and ready to lay to heart
the dangers of the kingdome of Scotland as their own, and to decline no means within
the reach of their power for the redresse or prevention of the same.
William Bond, Secr. Com.
August 12, 1643.
Sess. 13, August 16, 1643.—Recommendation to Presbyteries and Universities anent Students that have the Irish Language.
The Assembly, considering the lamentable condition of the people in the Highlands, where there are many that gets not the benefite of the Word, in respect there are very few preachers that can speak the Irish language; do, for remeid thereof, think good, that young students who have the Irish tongue be trained up at colledges in letters, especially in the studies of divinitie; and, to this effect, recommend to presbyteries and universities to preferre any hopefull students that have the language aforesaid to bursaries, that they, by their studies, in processe of time, attaining to knowledge, and being enabled for the Ministerie, may be sent forth for preaching the Gospel in these Highland parts, as occasions shall require.
Sess. 14, August 17, 1643.—The Letter from the Assembly of Divines in the Kingdome of England.
Right Reverend and dearly beloved in our Lord Jesus Christ,
We, the Assembly of Divines, and others, called, and now sitting by authority of both Houses of Parliament, to be consulted by them in matters of religion, have received from the Honourable House of Commons a speciall order, (dated the 3d of this instant August,) recommending it to us to write a Letter to the Generall Assembly of the Church of Scotland, taking notice of the pious and good expeditions to this Church and State, certified in the late answer of the Commissioners of the Generall Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland, from their meeting at Edinburgh, the 17th of July 1643. And, further, to desire them to possesse the people of that kingdome with our condition, and to encourage them to our assistance in this cause of religion. And having, with that order, received and read the said answer directed to the Honourable Houses of the Parliament of England, we cannot sufficiently expresse the great content and comfort unto which it hath raised us in the midst of the sad and calamitous condition under which we lie.
It is no small refreshing to our mourning spirits to finde, that yet our God hath not left us wholly comfortlesse, nor cast us so far out of his sight, as having made us sick with smiting, that should be verified of us, "Lover and friend hast thou put far from us," and that no man should turn aside to ask how we do; but that we finde so many of the churches of Christ, and, above them all, our dearest brethren of Scotland, so far to take to heart our extremities, as to sit in the dust with us, and so to look upon our adversities, as being themselves also in the body.
And, as we cannot render thanks sufficient unto our God, for remembring such mercie in the midst of so much wrath, so we embrace, with all chearfulnesse, this opportunitie of thankfull acknowledgement of the great debt which your love doth continually lay upon not us alone, but upon this whole kingdome, in the free and full expressions of your care, piety, and zeal, and of like affections of that whole nation, to assist and concurre with the Parliament here, by all good and lawfull means, for settling of religion in godly unity and uniformitie throughout all his Majestie's dominions, against all the designes, power, and malice, of bloudie Papists and the Prelaticall faction, with all their malignant adherents, the common enemies of reformation, truth, and peace.
We are likewise much ingadged to the great vigilancie and travels of the honourable Convention of the Estates of Scotland, in contributing their brotherly advice, and for their readinesse to give assistance for recovering and settling the peace of this kingdome, against the devices, power, and practices of the enemies of religion and the publick good, whereof some hints are given in that answer, and of which, we doubt not, but the Honourable Houses of Parliament will be so sensible as to give such a return as becomes them; for they, better knowing than we do the deth of the evils under which this nation now groaneth, and the further dangers imminent, will be more able to value and improve the great affection and wisedome of their brethren, in points of so high and generall concernement, for the safetie and glory of the King's Majestie, and of all his kingdomes, and are more fit to take notice of advices of that kinde in reference to the civil state; which, therefore, we wholly leave with them.
But as for the many prudent, pious, and seasonable admonitions which concerne our Assembly, the good Lord reward (for we cannot) seven fold into your bosomes all the good, which you have laboured to procure unto the house of our God; and blessed be his name, who hath put such a thing as this into the hearts of our Parliament, to cleanse the House of the Lord of all the uncleannesse that is in it, by impure doctrine, worship, or discipline.
Nor can we, in the depth of all our sufferings and sorrows, withold our hearts from rejoycing in the wonderful goodnes of God toward this kingdome, in that he hath let us see the gracious fruit of your effectuall prayers and teares, as well as of our own endeavours this way, in bringing together this Assembly, although in a very troublous time, whereby we may have better opportunity more fully to poure out our soules jointly and together to our God, for healing of this now miserable Church and nation; to consider throughly for what more especially the land mourneth; and how we may be most usefull to our great God and Master, Jesus Christ—in contributing somewhat to the vindicating of his precious truth, many wayes corrupted, through the craft of men, that have lyen in wait to deceive—in the seeking out of a right way of worshipping our God, according to his own heart—in promoting the power of godlinesse in the hearts and lives of all his people, and in laying forth such a discipline as may be most agreeable to God's holy Word, and most apt to procure and preserve the peace of this Church at home, and nearer agreement with the Church of Scotland, (highly honoured by us,) and other the best reformed churches abroad, that so, to the utmost of our power, we may exalt him that is the only Lord over the Church, his own house, in all his offices, and present this Church as a chast virgin unto Christ.
It is a timely and savourie prayer which you have put up at the throne of grace, touching the due managing of the proceedings in this Assembly, and that with straight intentions we may all seek the truth in everything, which, by the blessing of God upon our labours, must needs produce all those blessings which your worthie commissioners mention. And now, for your comfort as well as our own encouragement, we desire you to take notice of the gracious answer of the God that heareth prayer unto your fervent cryes. For beside our own particular addresses and secret vows to our God to be faithfull, (with disdain of all baits of avarice and ambition,) it hath pleased the Divine Providence so to direct both the Honourable Houses of Parliament, to take care of preventing all obliquitie in our proceedings, and to stop the mouthes of all that watch for their and our haltings, and are apt maliciously to traduce both, (as if we were so restrained by them in our votes and resolutions, as to be bound up to the sense of others, and to carry on private designes in a servile way,) that the Houses have tendered to us, and we have all most readily taken a solemne and serious protestation, in the presence of Almighty God, to maintain nothing in this Assembly, touching doctrine, but what we are perswaded in our consciences to be the truth; nor in matters of discipline, but what we conceive to conduce most to the glory of God, and the good and peace of his Church; which doth not only secure the members against fettering of their judgements or votes, but engage them to the use of all freedom becoming the integrity of conscience, the weight of the cause, the gravitie and honour of such an Assembly. It is likewise a great consolation, that our God hath put it into your hards to designe some godly and learned brethren to put in their sickles with us into this harvest, which is so great, and requires so many labourers; for which, as we heartily return thanks, so we earnestly pray the Lord to open away to their timely coming hither, and do assure them of all testimonies of respect, love, and the right hand of fellowship, who shall undertake a journey so tedious, and now so perillious, to joyne with us in the work, when it shall please the Honourable Houses of Parliament to invite them thereunto.
It remaines that we should now spread before you our calamities, dangers, and fears of further evils, not only drawing toward us, but even threatning you also, and crave your compassionate aids in all wayes becoming the servants of Jesus Christ. But your commissioners have so fully declared your certain knowledge and deep sense of them, that they have left us no room for inlarging our selves in this particular to brethren so full of bowels and zeal. And they have sufficiently intimated unto the Honourable Houses that you are well aware how often the common enemies of both kingdomes have consulted together, with one consent, to cut off both the one and the other from being a nation; and that the tabernales of Edom, and the Ishmaelites of Moab, and the Hagarens, Geball, Ammon, and Amalek, the cursed Papists, and their implacable and bloudy abettors here, do still retain the same malice, and carry on the same designe against religion and perfect reformation even in your kingdome, happily rescued from their former tyrannies, as well as in this of scorched England, now in the furnance; only they have varied the scene, pouring out all their fury upon us at the present: that so having once troden us under, as mire in the streets, they may afterward more easily (which God avert) set their proud and impure feet upon your necks also. Wherefore, with the good leave and favour of the Honourable Houses of Parliament, we shall now spare the further exciting of you to that which we doubt not of your forwardnesse, by all lawfull and meet means, to promote with all your might; namely, the possessing the good people of that kingdome, (of whose willing minde and readinesse you have already given amply testimony,) touching our condition, and to encourage them to our assistance in this cause of religion.
And now, remembring without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, with all due acknowledgement of the precious effects of your prayers, we most humbly and earnestly desire that the same breathings of the Spirit in you may still continue, and (if possible) more frequently and fervently ascend to your God and our God, not only for removall of outward pressures and the visitation of the sword, that hath already learned to eat much of our flesh, but also for the speciall assistance and protection of the Father of lights, in this great work unto which we are now, called, and wherein we already finde many and potent adversaries; that seeing the plumment is now in the hands of our Zerubbabels, all mountaines may become plains, and they may bring forth the capstone of the Lord's house with shouting, crying, Grace, grace unto it; and that how weak and contemptible builders soever we be, the Lord would enable us to build with them, that none may have cause to despise the day of our small beginnings, nor to stop our progresse in the work which he hath given us to do. And as for us, who cannot but take notice of the extraordinary employments unto which you are called in your great Assembly, now also sitting, God forbid that we should sin against the Lord, in ceasing to pray for you, that the Lord may enable you to be wise master-builders, preserve your peace alwayes by all means, and make you stedfast, unmovable, alwayes abounding in the work of the Lord, to the praise of the glory of his grace, and to the further benefit and comfort of the whole Church of God, but more especially of this our afflicted ark, now wasted into the midst of a sea of miseries, and tossed with tempests, untill our wise and gracious God, by the furtherance of your prayers and brotherly endeavours, shall cause it to rest upon the mountains of Ararat, which may take away our fears, as well as put an end to our present sufferings, and give your to rejoyce with us, that now mourn for us.
|William Tuisse, Prolocutor,||of the Assembly.|
|John White, Assessor,|
|Cornelius Burges, Assessor,|
The Result of the Debates and Consultations of the Committees of the Convention of Estates and Generall Assembly, appointed to meet with the Commissioners of the Parliament of England.
The Committees of the Convention of Estates of Scotland, and of the Generall Assembly, being appointed to meet with the Commissioners of the two Houses of the Parliament of England, upon the papers delivered in by the said commissioners unto the Convention of Estates, and unto the Generall Assembly, upon the 12th and 15th of this instant, 1643, concerning the desires of both Houses for a near and strict union to be entered into by the two kingdomes. And it being declared at the said meeting with what sensible affections the Generall Assembly and Convention did receive the desires above mentioned, and how beneficiall it would be for the more firme settlement of the said union, that a Convenant should be entred into by both nations; and this forme thereof being by all the foresaid persons taken into most serious debate and consideration, and agreed unto; it was thereupon resolved by them, that it should be presented to the Generall Assembly, to the Convention of Estates of Scotland, and to the two Houses of the Parliament of England, by their respective committees and commissioners, that it might with all speed receive their respective resolutions.
The League and Covenant above mentioned, being sent with the Commissioners of this Assembly to the Parliament of England, and Assembly of Divines in that kingdome, to be received and approven there, is to be printed at the return thereof.
Approbation of the League and Covenant above mentioned. (fn. 1)
The Assembly, having recommended unto a committee appointed by them to joyne with the Committee of the Honourable Convention of Estates, and the Commissioners of the Honourable Houses of the Parliament of England, for bringing the kingdomes to a more near conjunction and union, received from the aforesaid committees the Covenant above mentioned, as the result of their consultations; and having taken the same, as a matter of so publick concernment and of so deep importance doth require, unto their gravest consideration, did, with all their hearts, and with the beginnings of the feelings of that joy which they did finde in so great measure upon the renovation of the Nationall Covenant of this Kirk and kingdome, All with one voice approve and embrace the same, as the most powerfull meane, by the blessing of God, for settling and preserving the true Protestant religion, with perfect peace in his Majestie's dominions, and propagating the same to other nations, and for establishing his Majestie's throne to all ages and generations; and, therefore, with their best affections, recommend the same to the Honourable Convention of Estates, that being examined and approved by them, it may be sent with all diligence to the kingdome of England; that being received and approven there, the same may be, with publick humiliation, and all religious and answerable solemnitie, sworn and subscribed by all true professours of the reformed religion, and all his Majestie's good subjects in both kingdomes.
Sess. Ult., August 19, 1643.—The Assemblie's humble desires to his Majestie anent the Lists for Presentations, with a Recommendation to Presbyteries.
The Assembly, considering the difficultie of obtaining six able and well qualified persons, to be put into a list to his Majestie, for every vaiking kirk at his Majestie's presentation: Therefore, do most earnestly recommend to his Majestie's Commissioner to represent their humble desires to his Majestie, that he would be pleased to accept of a list of three; as also, conform to the desire of the last Assembly at St Andrews, that his Majestie would be pleased to accept of any one qualified man who shall be able to speak the Irish language, for kirks vaiking in the Highlands; which the Commissioner's Grace promised to do with the first conveniencie.
And withall, his Grace representing to the Assembly that he conceived his Majestie had already done more, and yet would do more, for satisfaction to the desires of this Kirk anent patronages, nor any other patron— and, therefore, that it were convenient that all other patrons were earnestly desired to follow his Majestie's example—and the Assembly, thinking it very necessary that some generall course were set down for providing and planting of vaiking kirks, whereby all occasions of contests and differences amongst patrons, presbyteries, and paroches may be removed: Therefore, the Assembly recommend to every Presbyterie to consult and advise upon the best wayes and means for effectuating hereof, and to report the results of their consultations hereintill to the next Assembly.
Commission for Ministers to go to Ireland.
The Generall Assembly, having received a Petition, subscribed by a very great number in the North of Ireland, intimating their deplorable condition, through want of the ministery of the Gospel, occasioned by the tyrannie of the prelats, and the sword of the rebels, and desiring some ministers, especially such as had been chased from them by the persectution of the prelats, and some others to be added, either to be sent presently over to reside among them, or declared transportable, that upon invitation from them they might go and settle there; together with a letter from the Vicount of Airds to that same effect: All which the Assembly hath taken to their serious consideration, being most heartily willing to sympathize with every member of Christ his body, although never so remote, much more with that plantation there, which, for the most part, was a branch of the Lord his vine planted in this land. In which solicitude, as they would be loath to usurpe without their own bounds, or stretch themselves beyond their own measure, so they dare not be wanting to the inlargement of Christ's kingdome, where so loud a cry of so extreme necessity could not but stir up the bowels of Christian compassion. And although they conceive that the present unsettled condition both of Church and State in that land will not suffer them (as yet) to loose any, to make any constant abode there, yet they have resolved to send over some for the present exigent, till the next Generall Assembly, by courses, to stay three moneth allanerly. And, therefore, do hereby authorize and give commission to the persons following, to wit, Master William Cockburne, minister at Kirkmichell, and Master Matthew Mackaill, minister at Carmanoch, for the first three moneths, beginning upon the 8 of September next; Master George Hutchison, minister at Calmonell, and Master Hugh Henderson, minister at Dalry, for the next three moneths, beginning the 8 of December; Master William Adair, minister at Air, and Master John Weir, minister at Dalserfe, for the third three moneths, beginning the 8 of March 1644; and Master James Hamilton, minister at Dumfreis, and Master John Macclellane, minister at Kirkubright, for the last three moneths, beginning the 8 of June, the said year, 1644; to repair unto the North of Ireland, and there to visit, instruct, comfort, and encourage the scattered flocks of Christ; to employ themselves to their uttermost, with all faithfulnesse and singlenesse of heart, in planting and watering, according to the direction of Jesus Christ, and according to the doctrine and discipline of this Kirk in all things. And, if need be, (with the concurrence of such of the ministers as are there,) to try and ordain such as shall be found qualified for the ministery; giving charge unto the persons foresaids, in the sight of God, that in doctrine, in worship, in discipline, and in their daily conversation, they study to approve themselves as the ministers of Jesus Christ, and that they be countable to the Generall Assembly of this kirk in all things. And in case of any of the above mentioned ministers be impeded by sicknes, or otherwayes necessarily detained from this service, the Assembly ordaines the commissioners residing at Edinburgh for the publick affairs of the Kirk, to nominate in their place well qualified men, who hereby are authorized to undertake the foresaid imployment, as if they had been expresly nominate in the face of the Assembly. And this, although possibly it shall not fully satisfie the large expectation of their brethren in Ireland, yet the Assembly is confident they will take in good part at this time that which is judged most convenient for the present condition, even a mite out of their own not very great plentie to supply the present necessity; requiring of them no other recompence but that they, in all cheerfulnesse, may embrace and make use of the message of salvation, and promising to inlarge their indebted bountie at the next Assembly, as they shall finde the work of the Lord there to require. In the mean while, wishing that these who are sent may come with the full blessing of the Gospel of peace, recommends them, their labours, and these to whom they are sent, to the rich blessing of the great Sheepherd of the flock.
Act against Ministers haunting with Excommunicate Persons.
If any minister haunt the company of an excommunicate person, contrair to the lawes of this Kirk, the said minister, for the first fault, shall be suspended from his ministerie by his Presbyterie during their pleasure; and for the second fault be deprived. And in case the Presbyteries be negligent hereing, the Provinciall Assembly shall censure the Presbyterie thus negligent.
Act anent an Order for using Civill Execution against Excommunicate Persons.
The Assembly, taking to their consideration an article in the heads and propositions sent to the Assembly held at Edinburgh, in August 1573, by the Lord Regent's Grace, and allowed by that Assembly, whereof the tenour followes: "It is resolved that the executions of the sentence of excommunication against persons excommunicate, after the space of fourtie dayes past, shall be presented to the Lord Thesaurer, or his clerk, who thereupon shall raise letters, by deliverance of the Lords of Session, to charge the persons excommunicate to satisfie the Kirk, and obtain themselves absolved, under the pain of rebellion; and, in case they passe to the horne, to cause their escheits be taken up, and also to raise and cause execute letters of caption against them; and these to be done at the King's Majestie's charges:" do ratifie and approve the said article. And, farther, that the intention of the said article may be the better effectuate, doth also ordain, that every Presbyterie cause send to the Procurator or Agent of the Kirk the foresaid execution, that is, and minute or note of the sentences of excommunication within their bounds, bearing the time and cause thereof; and that under the hands of the Moderatour or clerk of the Presbyterie, or of the minister who pronounced the sentence; that the samine may be delivered to his Majestie's Thesaurer, Advocate, or Agent, to cause letters of horning and caption be raised and execute, and other diligence to be used against the excommunicat persons in manner foresaid, and that all other civil action and diligence may be used against them warranted and provided by Acts of Parliament or Secret Councell made thereanent: And that particular account be craved hereof in every Generall Assembly.
To the King's Most Excellent Majestie, the humble Answer of the Nationall Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland. (fn. 2)
Although the many and ample testimonies of your Majestie's royall favour and bountie towards this Kirk and kingdome, be living and lasting monuments to hold all your Majestie's good subjects, and us most of all, in remembrance of that duty which we owe to your Majestie, our great benefactour, never, by any length of time, to be deleted out of our minds; yet, when we remember even of conscience we owe honour and subjection unto your Majestie, as our dread soveraigne, as well in your Majestie's absence as presence, we finde our obligation to be religious, and thereby much increased; and, therefore, have we at this time, in all our consultations and conclusions, of which some have been of more than ordinary weight and concernment, in answer to certain propositions made unto us by the Commissioners of the Houses of Parliament of your Majestie's kingdome of England, and some reverend divines assisting them, fixed our eyes and thoughts upon your Majestie's honour and happinesse, with no other and with no lesse intention, than if we had been honoured by your Majestie's royall person in our Assembly. And in like manner, have given such instructions to some ministers and others, to be sent unto the Assembly of Divines now in England, as, next unto the honour of God, and the good of religion, may most serve for your Majestie's preservation, and the peace of your kingdomes; concerning which, the commissioners of the last Generall Assembly have so fully exprest their humble thoughts and desires, in their supplication and remonstrance sent unto your Majestie, that we need not adde any thing, and your Majestie's times and affairs forbid all repetition. We do onely, in all humilitie, beseech your Majestie to judge of us and our proceedings by the nature and necessity of our vocation, and the rules prescribed in the Word of God for our direction, and not by uncertain rumours, and ungrounded reports of such men as have not the fear of God before their eyes. And do earnestly pray to God Almighty, in whose hands are the hearts of kings, to incline your Majestie's heart to the counsells of truth and peace, to direct your government for the good of your people, the punishment of malefactours, and praise of well-doers; that this fire of unnaturall and unchristian warre being extinguished, the people of God, your Majestie's good subjects, may lead a quiet and peaceable life, in all godlinesse and honestie.
The Answer of the Generall Assembly of the Church of Scotland to the Declarnation of the Honourable Houses of the Parliament of England. (fn. 3)
The Generall Assembly of the Church of Scotland, having received a declaration from the Honourable Houses of the Parliament of England, by their committees and commissioners now residing here, have thought good to make knowne unto the Lords and Commons in Parliament, that all the members of this Assembly, and others well-affected here, do, with most thankfull respects, take speciall notice of the expressions which they have been pleased to make in the aforenamed declaration, not only concerning their approbation of the desires and endeavours of the Generall Assembly of this Kirk for the reformation of the Church of England, and the union of both Churches in religion and church government, but also concerning the resolution of both Houses, fully to concurre with them in these pious intentions. With the same thankfulnesse and due reverence, they acknowledge the high respects expressed towards them by both Houses, in directing unto them their committees and commissioners, assisted by two reverend divines, and in desiring some of the godly and learned of this Kirk to be sent unto the Assembly sitting there.
The Assembly doth blesse the Lord, who hath not only inspired the Houses of Parliament with desires and resolutions of the reformation of religion, but hath advanced, by severall steps and degrees, that blessed work; by which, as they shall most approve themselves to the reformed churches abroad, and to their brethren of Scotland, so shall they most powerfully draw, even from heaven, the blessings of prosperity and peace upon England. And as it is the earnest wish of their brethren here, that the true state and ground of the present difference and controversies in England may be more and more cleared to be concerning religion, and that both Houses may uncessently prosecute that good work, first and above all other matters, giving no sleep to their eyes, nor slumber to their eyelids, until they finde out a place for the Lord, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob, whose favour alone can make their mountain strong, and whose presence in his own ordinances shall be their glory in the midst of them; so it is our confidence, that the begun reformation is of God, and not of man; that it shall increase, and not decrease; and that he to whom nothing is too hard, who can make mountaines valleyes, crooked things straight, and rough wayes smooth, shall lead along and make perfect this most wonderfull work, which shall be remembred to his glory in the Church throughout all generations.
And lest, through any defect upon the Generall Assemblie's part, the work of reformation (which hitherto, to the great grief of all the godly, hath moved so slowly) should be any more retarded or interrupted, they have, according to the renewed desires of both Houses of Parliament, and their own former promises, nominated and elected Mr Alexander Henderson, Mr Robert Douglas, Mr Samuel Rutherfoord, Mr Robert Bailzie, Mr George Gillespie, ministers of God's Word; and John Earle of Cassills, John Lord Maitland, and Sir Archbald Johnstoun of Waristoun, ruling elders, all of them men much approved here; with commission and power to them, or any three of them, whereof two shall be ministers, to repair unto the Assembly of Divines and others of the Church of England, now sitting at Westminster, to propound, consult, treat, and conclude with them, and with any committees deputed by the Houses of Parliament, (if it shall seeme good to the Honourable Houses, in their wisedome, to depute any for that end,) in all such things as may conduce to the utter extirpation of Popery, Prelacie, heresie, schisme, superstition, and idolatrie—and for the setling of the so much desired union of this whole island in one forme of church government, one Confession of Faith, one common Catechisme, and one Directorie for the Worship of God, according to the instructions which they have received, or shall receive from the commissioners of the General Assembly, appointed to meet at Edinburgh from time to time, with the Assemblie's power for that end. And as the Generall Assembly doth most gladly and affectionatly receive, and fully trust the committees and divines sent hither, so do they hereby commend the aforenamed commissioners, not only to the like affection and trust of the Assembly there, but also to the favour and protection of both Houses of Parliament.
And, for the further satisfaction and encouragement of their brethren in England, the whole Assembly, in their own name, and in name of all the particular churches in this kingdome whom they represent, do hereby declare, That from their zeal to the glory of God and propagation of the Gospell, from their affection to the happinesse of their native King, and of the kingdome of England, and from the sense of their own interest in the common dangers of religion, peace, and libertie, they are most willing and ready to be united and associated with their brethren in a nearer League and Solemne Covenant, for the maintenance of the truly reformed Protestant religion against Popery and Prelacie, and against all Popish and prelaticall corruptions in doctrine, discipline, worship, or church government, and for the settling and holding fast of unity and uniformity betwixt the kirks of this island and with the best reformed churches beyond sea. Which union and convenant shall, with God's assistance, be seconded by their co-operating with their brethren in the use of the best and most effectuall meanes that may serve for so good ends; for the more speedy effectuating whereof, to the comfort and inlargement of their distressed brethren, (whose hope deferred might make their hearts to faint,) the whole Assembly, with great unanimity of judgement and expressions of much affection, have approved (for their part) such a draught and forme of a mutuall League and Covenant betwixt the kingdomes as was the result of the joint debates and consultations of the commissioners from both Houses, assisted by the two reverend divines, and of the committees deputed from the Convention of the Estates of this kingdome, and from the Generall Assembly: Expecting and wishing the like approbation thereof by the Right Honourable the Lords and Commons in Parliament, and by the reverend Assembly there, that thereafter it may be solemnely sworne and subscribed in both kingdomes, as the surest and straitest obligation to make both stand and fall together in that cause of religion and libertie.
As the Estates of this kingdome have often professed, in their former declarations, the integritie of their intentions against the common enemies of religion and libertie in both kingdomes, and their great affection to the brethren in England, by reason of so many and so near relations, so doubtlesse now, in this time of need, they will not fail to give reall proof of what before they professed. "A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversitie." Neither shall the Assembly, or their commissioners, be wanting in exhorting all others to their duty, or in concurring, so far as belongeth to their place and vocation, with the Estates now conveened, in any lawfull and possible course which may most conduce to the good of religion and reformation, the honour and happinesse of the King's Majestie, the deliverance of their brethren of England from their present calamitous condition, and to the perpetuating of a firme and happy peace betwixt the kingdomes.
The Assemblie's Answer to the Right Reverend the Assembly of Divines in the Church of England. (fn. 4)
Right Reverend and dearly beloved,
As the sufferings of Christ abound in you, so our heartie desire to God is, that your consolations may much more abound by Christ. The perusing of your letter produced in every one of us such a mixture of affections as were at the laying of the foundation of the Second Temple, where there was heard both shouting for joy and weeping aloud. We rejoyced that Christ our Lord had at last in that land created a new thing, in calling together, not as of before, a prelaticall convocation, to be task-masters over the people of the Lord, but an assembly of godly Divines, minding the things of the Lord, whose hearts are set to purge the defiled house of God in that land; yet this our joy was not a little allayed by the consideration of the sad and deplorable condition of that kingdome, where the high provocations of so many years, the hellish plots of so many enemies, in a nick of time, have brought in an inundation of overflowing calamities. We know you are patiently bearing the indignation of the Lord, because you have sinned against him, till he throughly plead your cause, and disquiet the inhabitants of Babylon, who now laugh among themselves, while you are fed with the bread of tears, and get tears to drink in great measure, being on the mountains, like the doves of the valleyes, all of you mourning, every one for his iniquitie.
It is now more nor evident to all the Kirks of Christ with what implacable fury and hellish rage the bloud-thirsty Papists, as Babylon without, and the prelaticall faction, the children of Edom, within, have adjoyned to themselves many malignant adherents, of time-serving Atheists, haters of holinesse, rejecters of the yoke of Christ, (to whom the morning light of reformation is as the shadow of death,) have begun to swallow up the inheritance of the Lord, and are not easily satisfied, in making deep and long furrowes on your backs. We cannot say that the loudnesse of your cry surpasseth the heavinesse of your stroake; but though "the Lord hath delivered the men, every one into his neighbour's hand, and into the hand of his king, and they have smitten the land," yet "the rod of the wicked shall not rest upon the lot of the righteous;" this cloud shall speedily passe away, and a fair sunshine shall appear.
As for us, though your extreme calamitie did not threaten the ruine of our religion, peace, and liberties, as it doth most evidently, we would hate our selves, if we did not finde our hearts within us melting with compossion over you; you are engraven on the tables of our hearts, to live and die with you; we could desire that our heads were waters, and our eyes a fountain of tears, that we might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of the Lord's people; so calamitous a condition of any of the Kirks of Christ could not but be very grievous unto us; how much more shall not we stoup and fall down in the dust to embrace our dearest brethren of England, to whom we are tied in so near and tender relations. When we were but creeping out of the deep darknesse and bondage of Popery, and were almost crushed with the fury of forreigne invaders, joyned with intestine enemies, pretending the name and warrand of authority, as now your oppressours do, then did the Lord, by your fathers, send us seasonable assistance against that intended and begun bondage, both of soul and body; the repayment of which debt the Divine Providence seemeth now to require at our hands. And whereas, of late, through our security, we had fallen into a wofull relapse, and were compassed about with dreadfull dangers on all hands, while we aymed at the recovery of our former puritie and libertie, then we wanted not the large supply of your servant prayers, and other brotherly assistance of that nation, while those who are now your malignant enemies would have swallowed us up.
These strait bonds of your ancient and late love do so possesse our hearts, that, when the motions of the Commissioners of the Honourable Houses of Parliament, and your letters, did challenge our advice and aid for defence of religion and advancement of reformation, our smoaking desires for a more strict union and uniformitie in religion betwixt both the nations did break forth into a vehement flame, in such sort, as when the draught of a League and Convenant betwixt both kingdomes for defence of religion, &c., was read in open audience, it was so unanimously and heartily embraced, with such a torrent of most affectionate expressions, as none but eye or ear witnesses can conceive; whereof the two reverend divines sent from you to us, being then present, no doubt, will give you an account. Neither was it so onely with us; but also the Honourable Conventions of Estates here, with the like harmony of affectionate expressions, did entertain the same; so that we hope to be reall and constant in prosecuting the contents of this convenant. When we, in our straits, fled to the Lord, and entred in convenant with him, he owned us and our cause, rebuked and dissipated our enemies, and hitherto hath helped us, and blessed our enterprises with successe from heaven, notwithstanding our great weaknesse and unworthinesse. We trust in the Lord, that as once it was prophesied of Israel and Judah, so shall Scotland and England become one stick in the hand of the Lord; they shall ask the way to Sion, with their faces thitherward, saying, "Come, let us joyne our selves to the Lord in a perpetuall covenant, that shall not be forgotten;" and so shall it come to passe, that the Lord's Jerusalem in this island shall be a cup of trembling, and a burthensome stone to all their enemies round about. Though now it be the time of Jacob's trouble, the Lord will deliver him out of it. Reverend and dear brethren, we conceive your case, and of all the faithfull in that land, to be no other then of a woman crying, travelling in birth, and pained till she be delivered. The great red Dragon (under whose standard the sons of Belial are fighting) is your arch-enemy. This cannot but be a time of fear and sorrow; but when the male-childe shall be brought forth, the pain shall cease, and the sorrow shall be forgotten. We are very confident in the Lord, that you will be faithful to Jesus Christ, in the work committed to you by him, in all his ordinances, and taking neither foundation, corner-stone, nor any part of the rubbish of Babell, to build the city that is called, "The Lord is there; "but, measuring all with the golden reed of the sanctuary, you may more closely be united to the best reformed Kirks, in doctrine, worship, and government, that you may grow up in him in all things which is the Head, even Christ.
And now, reverend and dear brethren, though we know that you abound in all gifts and graces, the Spirit of Jesus Christ being plentifully powered out upon you, yet, according to your desire, and the motion made by the Commissioners of the Honourable Houses of Parliament, to testifie our hearty sympathie with you in the work of the Lord, we have nominate and elected some godly and learned of this Church to repair to your Assembly. We doubt nothing of your hearty embracing them in the Lord, and their diligent concurrance with you in advancing that great work.
Not onely the common danger we are under, but the conscience of our duty to his suffering people, layeth bonds on us frequently to present you, and that blessed work of reformation in your hands, to the throne of grace, that the God of all grace, who will call you into his eternall glory by Christ Jesus, after that you have suffered a while, may make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.
The Assemblie's Answeŕ to the Reverend their beloved Brethren, Ministers in the Church of England. (fn. 5)
Reverend and Beloved,
We acknowledge, with thankfulnesse to God, that this is one of the good blessings bestowed upon our Kirk of late, and a pleasant fruit of our free Assemblies, that a way is opened for keeping communion with our sister kirks abroad, and correspondence with you, our dear brethren, in whose joy and sorrow we have so near interest, and whose cause and condition we desire to lay to heart as our own.
All your former letters were most acceptable, and full of refreshment unto us, being taken as the earnest of a more full and constant fellowship, longed after and hoped for; and this your last, although full of sadnesse and sorrow, yet accounted of us all most worthy of our tenderest affection and best respects, both for your cause who sent it, and for these worthy witnesses which did attest it; wherein as you have given unto us no small evidence, not only of your love, but also of trust and friendly respect, by choosing to poure out your grieved souls in our bosome; so we shall wish, and God willing endeavour, that you may really finde some measure of brotherly compassion in our receiving thereof. For these your sad expressions of deep sorrow, being, as you have given us to conceive, but a part of your complaint, and a lamentation lesse then the causes doth require, cannot but melt every heart wherein there is any the least warmnesse of the love of Christ and his saints; and what childe of the Bridegroom's chamber can hear the voice of so many friends of the Bridegroom lamenting for the evils which have befallen Christ's bride in England, in the very night before her expected espousalls, and not sit down and mourn with them, expect his heart be fallen asleep and frozen within him? This pitifull condition of our sister Church in England has matter enough, we confesse, to move, yea, to rend our bowels.
If we should weigh this your heavie grief in the scales of common reason, we behoved either to stand aloof from your plague, as men astonished, or sink down in heavinesse, and be swallowed up of sorrow; but when we ponder your sad condition in the ballance of the sanctuary, we finde that nothing hath as yet befallen unto you, save that which hath been the exercise of the saints in former times, who have been made to sit down for a while in the shadow of death, before the day of their deliverance. We finde nothing but that which may be a fit preparation for a comfortable outgate from all your troubles. What if it was necessary, in the wise dispensation of Almighty God, that a people in great estimation for wisedome and power, such as England, should be thus farre humbled as you declare, to the end that your deliverance may be seen hereafter to be of the Lord, and not of your selves? What if the Lord would not draw back his hand from the wine-presse wherein you now lye, till he should draw forth from you these pitifull expressions of your low estate, and so provide himself witnesses against the day to come, that he may have the greater and purer glory in your salvation, and your gloriation may be in the Lord alone? Dear brethren, comfort yourselves in the Lord; this sowing in tears doth promise a reaping in joy, and who knoweth how soon he will give to you who are mourners in Zion beauty for ashes, the oyle of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heavinesse; that you may be called the "trees of righteousnesse, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified."
Though weeping be in the evening of this begun reformation and purging of the Lord's house among you, yet in the morning, when the discovered filthinesse and sweepings of the temple shall be orderly east out, joy shall come with thankgiving and praise. Though a fire be kindled in the land, yet it is not to consume any of the mettal; for the Lord is sitting down as a refiner amongst you, and especially to purifie the sons of Levi, that he may have a more pure oblation of spirituall worship and service in all his holy ordinances, throughout all the land, which is no taken of wrath, but of loving-kindnesse towards you. No wonder that Satan doth thus rage, as you relate, foreseeing his casting out; no wonder he stirre up all the children of disobedience, and kindle their naturall malice against the children of God, with the inspiration of hellish fury; no wonder the spirit of Antichrist be mad, when the morsell half swallowed down is like to be pulled out of his throat, the fat morsell of the rich revenues of England; no wonder he be cruell against you, the servants of Christ, who are consuming him by the breath of the Lord's mouth.
You do well to expect no mercy, if Papists and Prelatsp revail over you, neither desire we to deceive our selves with hopes to be free from what their power and malice can do against us; for they will not do to us, if they get the upper hand, as we have done, and must do, if God bring them low again under us, as they were before, for we and they are led by the contrary spirits of Christ and Antichrist. We have laboured, and must labour, for their conversion, but they (except in so far as God shall bridle them) will not rest without our destruction; for their fury against our persons is much more fierie than our zeal is servant against their abominations. Let them follow the spirit of lying and murthering, we must take us to our refuge, and joyne our selves, with all that are sensible of the danger of the reformed religion, in prayer and supplication. "The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge."
Now for advice, what can we say to you who are upon your watch-tower, wherein is the spirit of wisedome and counsell, who lye thus, as humble disciples, under the Lord's foot, who did never forsake them that sought him. Go on, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, against all opposition, without fear of whatsoever dangers, to purge the house of the Lord, to repair the breaches thereof, to set up all his ordinances in their full beautie and perfection, to the uttermost of your power, according to the pattern of the Word of God, and zeal of the best reformed Kirks; and let these two kingdomes be knit together, as one man, in maintaining and promoving the truth of the Gospel; let us enter in a perpetuall convenant, for our selves and our posterity, to endeavour that all things may be done in the house of God according to his own will, and let the Lord do with us what seemeth good in his eyes. "Only wait upon the Lord, be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart." Let your hands be ever at your Master's work, and hold your faces resolutely to his cause. "Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quite your selves like men, be strong; for ye shall see the salvation of the Lord," and your labour shall not be in vain.
Commission of the Generall Assembly for these that repair to the Kingdome of England.
The Generall Assembly of the Church of Scotland, finding it necessary to send some godly and learned of the Kirk to the kingdome of England, to the effect underwritten; therefore, gives full power and commission to Master Alexander Henderson, Master Robert Douglas, Master Samuel Rutherfoord, Master Robert Bailzie, and Master George Gillespie, ministers; John Earle of Cassills, John Lord Maitland, and Sir Archbald Johnstoun of Waristoun, elders, or any three of them, whereof two shall be ministers, to repair to the kingdome of England, and there to deliver the declaration sent unto the Parliament of England, and the letter sent unto the Assembly of Divines now sitting in that kingdome; and to propone, consult, treat, and conclude with that Assembly, or any commissioners deputed by them, or any committees or commissioners deputed by the Houses of Parliament, in all matters which may further the union of this island in one forme of kirk government, one Confession of Faith, one Catechisme, and one Directorie for the Worship of God, according to the instructions which they have received from the Assembly, or shall receive, from time to time hereafter, from the commissioners of the Assembly, deputed for that effect. With power also to them to convey to his Majestie the humble answer sent from this Assembly to his Majestie's letter, by such occasion as they shall think convenient; and suchlike to deliver the Assemblie's answer to the letter sent from some wel-affected brethren of the ministery there. And, generally, authorizes them to do all things which may further the so much desired union and nearest conjunction of the two Churches of Scotland and England, conform to their instructions aforesaid.
Reference to the Commission anent the Persons designed to repair to the Kingdome of England.
The Assembly having, this day, approven the nomination made by the commissioners of the late Assembly of persons to repair to the Synod of Divines in England; and having, of new, elected and nominated all the same persons, except Master Eleazar Borthwick, who is now with God; therefore, gives power to the commissioners to be appointed by this Assembly for the publick affairs of this Kirk to nominate and appoint any other whom they shall think meet in his place. And, suchlike, the Assembly refers to the said commission to consider whether it be convenient to send now at this present time to the kingdome of England all the persons appointed to go thither, and to designe the persons whom they think meet to go at this present occasion, to determine the time of their dispatch, and to give unto them their instructions. And, further, in case of sicknesse or death of any of the persons appointed for that employment, or in the case of any other necessary impediment of their undertaking the samine, gives power to the said commission to nominate others in their place, if the commission shall finde it convenient.
Commission for the Publick Affairs of this Kirk.
The Generall Assembly, considering the laidable custome of this Kirk in appointing commissions betwixt Assemblies for the publick affairs of the Kirk, and the commendable practice of the late Assembly at St Andrews, in appointing their commission for prosecuting that blessed work, for uniting the Kirks of this island in religion and kirk government, by all lawfull and ecclesiastick wayes, for continuance of our own peace at home, and of the common peace betwixt the two nations, and for other good ends, as at length is exprest in that commission: And finding that the painfull endeavours and proceedings of that commission, unanimously approven in this Assembly, though they have much advanced that glorious work of unity in religion and government, yet hes not brought the samine to full perfection and a finall accomplishment: And the Assembly being now much animate and encouraged to prosecute that work by the Parliament of England their bills past against Episcopacie, and sundry other corruptions, and the good hopes of a Solemne Covenant betwixt the nations; and conceiving that in thir times of danger there may be some occasions for conveening the Assembly before the time indicted for their next meeting: Therefore, the Assembly, finding it necessary to appoint a new commission, by these presents, nominates and appoints Mr Andrew Ramsay, Mr Alexander Henderson, &c., &c., to meet at Edinburgh the 21 day of August next, and upon any other day thereafter, and in any other place, they shall think good; and gives and grants unto them, or any fifteen of them, there being twelve ministers present, full power and commission to consider and performe what they finde necessary, by praying and preaching, by supplicating his Majestie and all the judicatories of this kingdome, by declarations and remonstrances to the Parliament of England, to the Synod of Divines in that kingdome, by informations, directions, instructions to, and continuall correspondence with, the commissioners now designed by this Assembly to go to the Synod of Divines in England, or by any other lawfull ecclesiastick wayes, for furtherance of this great work, in the union of this island in religion and kirk government, and for continuance of our own peace at home, and of the common peace betwixt the nations, and keeping of good correspondence betwixt the kirks of this island: With power also to them to concurre with the Lords of Councell, Commissioners of Peace, or with the Honourable Estates, assembled in Convention or Parliament, or with their committees and commissioners, in prosecuting this good work at home or abroad, by all ecclesiastick wayes. And, suchlike, with power to them to prevent the dangers conteined in the remonstrance presented unto the Convention of Estates by the commissioners of the late Assembly, in June last, and to prosecute the remedies of these dangers conteined in another remonstrance presented by the saids commissioners to the Convention the 6 of July last, by admonitions, directions, censures, and all other ecclesiastick wayes: And, further, in case their brethren of England shall agree to the Covenant betwixt the kingdomes, the draught and frame whereof is now so unanimously approven in this Assembly, gives also unto the persons foresaid, or the quorum above written, full power and authoritie to command and enjoyn the samine to be subscribed and sworn by all the members of this Kirk; and that in such order and manner, and with such solemnities, as they shall think convenient for so great and glorious a work; and to send their directions to Sessions, Presbyteries, and Synods, for execution of their orders thereanent: And with power to proceed against any person whatsoever that shall refuse to subscribe and swear the said Covenant, with all the censures of the Kirk, or to refer the tryall and censures of such delinquents to Presbyteries or Synods, as they shall think convenient. And, suchlike, gives unto the persons foresaids power and libertie to call a Generall Assembly pro re nata, in case they shall finde the necessity of the Kirk and this great work to require the same: With full power also to them to give answers, in name of the Assembly, to all letters sent to the Assembly from the kirks of Holland, Zealand, or any other forraigne reformed kirks: And, further, gives power to them to promove the other desires, overtures, and recommendations of this or of any former Assemblies to the King's Majestie, Parliament, or Convention of Estates, to the Lords of Councell, Session, Exchequer, Commissioners of Parliaments, for Plantation of Kirks, for the Common Burdens, and for Conserving the Peace. And, suchlike, gives as full power and commission to them to treat and decerne in any other matters referred, or to be referred, to them by this Assembly, as if the samine were herein particularly insert. And, generally, gives unto the persons foresaids, or the quorum above mentioned, full power and authoritie to do and performe all things which may advance, accomplish, and perfect the great work of unity of religion and uniformity of kirk government in all his Majestie's dominions, and which may be necessary for good order in all the publick affairs of this Kirk, untill the next Assembly, ne quid detrimenti capiat Ecclesia. With als ample power in all matters, particularly or generally above mentioned, as any other commission of Generall Assemblies hes had or been in use of before; they being alwayes countable to, and censurable by, the next Generall Assembly, for their proceedings thereintill.