Acts of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland 1638-1842. Originally published by Edinburgh Printing & Publishing Co, Edinburgh, 1843.
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The principal acts of the general assembly, convened at Edinburgh, May 22, 1766.
I. Sess. 1, May 22, 1766.—The King's Commission to John Earl of Glasgow produced, and ordered to be recorded,
II. Sess. 1, May 22, 1766.—The King's most gracious Letter to the General Assembly, presented to them by his Majesty's Commissioner.
III. Sess. 3, May 24, 1766.—The General Assembly's Answer to the King's most gracious Letter.
IV. Sess. ult., June 2, 1766.—Commission to some Ministers and Ruling Elders for Reformation of the Highlands and Islands, and for Managing his Majesty's Royal Bounty for that end.
V. Sess. ult., June, 2, 1766.—Commission to some Ministers and Ruling Elders for discussing Affairs referred to them.
VI. Sess. 5 and 7, May 25 and 27, 1766.—Act declaring Mr James Bain, late Minister at Paisley, incapable of receiving or accepting a Presentation or Call to any Parish in this Church, without the speical allowance of the General Assembly.
At Edinburgh, the 27th day of May 1766 years.
The which day, the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland had transmitted to them, from their Committee for Bills, a petition for Messrs Warner, Davidson, and Kennedy, ministers in the Presbytery of Paisley, tabling an appeal taken by them, in name of said Presbytery, from a sentence of the Synod of Glasgow and Ayr; by which sentence, the said Synod had accepted of a demission from Mr James Bain, one of the ministers of Paisley, and declared his kirk vacant; and appointed the Presbytery of Paisley to meet on the 23d day of April, in order to receive any application that might be made to them for the supply of the said vacancy: Which petition sets forth, "That the Presbytery of Paisley had laid before them a letter from Mr James Bain, one of the ministers of Paisley, bearing a demission of his office and charge as minister of Paisley, upon the 26th day of March last. The Presbytery, by their deliverance of that date, delayed the further consideration of that affair until the 23d day of April, in order that Mr Bain might be heard upon that subject before final sentence was passed; and ordered a letter to be written to the said Mr Bain, requiring him to attend upon the said 23d day of April; against which sentence the Magistrates of Paisley protested, and appealed to the Synod of Glasgow and Ayr. That the Synod of Glasgow and Ayr sustained the said appeal, accepting of said demission, declared his kirk vacant, and appointed the Presbytery of Paisley to meet on the 23d day of April, in order to receive any application that might be made to them for the supply of the said vacancy. That the petitioners, by virtue of powers from the Presbytery of Paisley, who considered Mr Bain's conduct to be very irregular, protested against the said sentence of Synod, and appealed to the venerable Assembly for redress; and praying that it might please the venerable Assembly to take in the said appeal, reverse the judgment of the Synod of Glasgow and Ayr, and take such further steps in it as to their wisdom shall seem meet, and as the very great importance of the cause deserved." As also, another petition from the Magistrates and Town-Council of Paisley, complaining of the Presbytery not having met upon the said 23d of April, in terms of the Synod's sentence, and praying for redress, in such manner as the venerable Assembly should judge proper. The moderator being a member of the Synod of Glasgow and Ayr, Dr Oswald, at the Assembly's desire, took the chair. Parties being called, there compeared for the appellants, the said Messrs Warner, Davidson, and Kennedy; for the Synod of Glasgow and Ayr, Messrs Dun, Freebairn, and Mr Colin Campbell; and for the town of Paisley, Mr Joseph Williamson, Advocate. The letter of demission by the said Mr James Bain to the moderator of the Presbytery of Paisley was called for and read; the sentence of the Synod appealed from; the petition of appeal and reasons, and answers by the Synod to the said petition of appeal and reasons, together with the petition of the Magistrates of Paisley, were all read over; and parties being fully heard at the bar, were removed. The General Assembly, after some reasoning on this affair, ordained that the said Mr James Bain be summoned to appear before them upon Thursday next, in the New Church Aisle, at ten o'clock, in order to answer for his conduct in giving up his ministerial charge at Paisley, and appointed their clerk to issue out an order upon one of their officers for this purpose, who should deliver the summons to the said Mr James Bain, personally, or at his dwelling-house, and should return a written execution thereupon; and in the meantime, the Assembly delayed proceeding any further in the affair till that diet, and parties were then ordered to attend. Parties were called in, and the above sentence was intimated to them.
At Edinburgh, the 29th day of May 1766 years.
The General Assembly proceeded to the determination of the cause of Paisley, in consequence of their resolution of Tuesday last; and the cause being called, parties compeared as formerly. The General Assembly called for the execution of citation against Mr James Bain, which was produced and read, bearing him to have been summoned personally; and Mr Bain having appeared personally at the bar, was heard. The letter of demission by him to the Presbytery of Paisley was read, the tenor whereof follows:—"Reverend dear Sir, It would have given me great pleasure to have met with my brethren of the Presbytery of Paisley, as it would have given me an opportunity of acquainting them with what I now inform you of, as their moderator, to be laid before them, viz., that I entirely give up my charge of the High Church in this town, and the care of the flock belonging to it, into the Presbytery's hand. They know not how far I am advanced in life, who see not that an house for worship, so very large as the High Church, and commonly so crowded too, must be very unequal to my strength; and this burden was made more heavy, by denying me a session to assist me in the common concerns of the parish, which I certainly had a title to; nor am I singular in thinking so, as I have the opinion of the first judge of the kingdom, that it was peevish to refuse it. But the load became quite intolerable, when, by a late unhappy process, the just and natural right of the common session was wrested from us, which drove away from sitting in it twelve men of excellent character, so that I had not one elder for five hundred of examinable persons in my proportion; nor does it alleviate the burden, that this right of the session was so tamely given up (some, perhaps, will say betrayed) by those who ought to have defended it. For in any society where candour is thought to be gone, confidence must die. I would earnestly beg of my very reverend brethren to think, that this change of my condition, and the charge I have now accepted, makes no change in my former creed and Christian belief, none in my principles of Christian and ministerial communion, nay, none in my cordial regard to the constitution and interest of the Church of Scotland, which I solemnly engaged to support some more than thirty years ago, and hope to do so while I live. At the same time, I abhor persecution in every form, and that abuse of Church power of late, which to me appears inconsistent with humanity, with the civil interests of the nation, and destructive of the ends of our office, as ministers of Christ. I would only add, and assure my brethren, that I go away with a grateful sense of their civilities to me while among them. As a small recompence, it is my heart's desire to God, that they and their flocks may prosper, and they may be directed to promote a speedy and comfortable settlement of a pastor over that very numerous and affectionate people, who are now my charge no more. With esteem, I am, Reverend dear Sir," &c.
Then the parties were removed. The moderator being a member of the Synod of Glasgow and Ayr, Dr Oswald, at the Assembly's desire, took the chair. The General Assembly determined the cause anent the vacancy of the parish; and then the moderator having resumed the chair, proceeded to take under their consideration Mr Bain's conduct, and what is contained in his letter. And he being called upon, was further heard, and again removed; and, after a very long debate, a motion was made by a member to the following purpose:—1mo. That the Assembly should declare him to be no minister of this Church; and that he is incapable of receiving or accepting of a presentation or call to any parish in this Church, without the special allowance of some future General Assembly. And, 2do, That the General Assembly should prohibit all the ministers of this Church from employing him to preach, or perform any ministerial offices for them, or from being employed by him, unless some future Assembly shall see cause to take off this prohibition. The General Assembly, after deliberating upon the above motion, agreed to the first part thereof without a vote; but, members being divided in their opinions with regard to the second part of the motion, the General Assembly came to the following state of a vote, Agree to the last part of the motion, or Not; and the rolls being called, and votes marked, it carried, by a great majority, agree. And, therefore, the General Assembly find and declare, that the said Mr James Bain is no minister of this Church, and that he is incapable of receiving or accepting of a presentation or call to any parish in this Church, without the special allowance of some future General Assembly. And the General Assembly do hereby prohibit all the members of this Church from employing him to preach or perform any ministerial offices for them, or from being employed by him, unless some future Assembly shall see cause to take off this prohibition. Mr Bain being called in, the above sentence was intimated to him.
VII. Sess. 6, May 28, 1766.—Act anent the Form of Commissions.
The General Assembly, having had laid before them the report of a committee appointed to revise the forms of commissions to members of the General Assembly, and considering that it is of the greatest importance for the honour and interest of religion, that the office-bearers of the Church should behave and conduct themselves in all respects becoming their character, do, in terms of the Act of Assembly, 22d May 1722, earnestly beseech, exhort, and require all ministers to take heed to themselves, and to their doctrine, and to be exemplary to their people in sobriety, righteousness, and holiness, abstaining from all appearance of evil; and, in like manner, the General Assembly do earnestly beseech, exhort, and require the elders and deacons to be faithful in the discharge of their respective offices, tender and circumspect in their walk, punctual in their attending upon ordinances, strict in their observation of the Lord's Day, and regular in keeping up the worship of God in their families. The Assembly do further enjoin and require, for the more regular election of members to the Assembly in time coming, Presbyteries, Burghs, and Universities, strictly to observe the acts of former Assemblies, appointing that the election shall be made at least forty days before the meeting of Assembly, and within a month preceding the first of the said forty days, except those lying in the Northern and Western Isles, and shall appoint the day of election at a meeting to be entered in their minutes, at least ten free days before such election; and that on the day of election, they shall make their elections betwixt the hours of one and eight o'clock in the evening.
The General Assembly, considering also that some acts regulating the manner and time of electing members to the Assembly are posterior to the Act 17th May 1725, establishing the present form of their commissions; and that these forms refer in general to Acts of Assembly that contain some particulars, of which Presbyteries, Universities, and Burghs, cannot have any certain evidence, and are thereby reduced to the necessity either of attesting what does not come properly under their own knowledge, or of omitting clauses in the established form, whereby their commissions have been rendered void and null, the Assembly did, on all these accounts, and hereby do, appoint and ordain the forms of commissions and attestations, hereunto subjoined, to be observed by Presbyteries, Sessions, Universities, and Burghs; and enact and ordain, that all such commissions and attestations as are not conceived and attested in these very words of the form now prescribed shall be rejected.
The General Assembly do further declare and enact, that when a Kirk-Session or Presbytery refuse their concurrence or attestation to a commission by a burgh or university, without assigning the reasons of their refusal, that commission shall be sustained as if duly attested, in case the matter shall be brought before the Assembly by protest or appeal. And they appoint the Agent for the Church to cause print this act, together with the following forms of commissions, and transmit the same to the several Presbyteries, Universities, and Burghs.