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 21, 1767.
I. Sess. 1, May 21, 1767.— The King's Commission to John Earl of Glasgow produced, and ordered to be recorded.
II. Sess. 1, May 21, 1767.—The King's most gracious Letter to the General Assembly, presented to them by his Majesty's Commissioner.
III. Sess. 3, May 23, 1767.—The General Assembly's Answer to the King's most gracious Letter.
IV. Recommendation anent the Orphan Children of Soldiers.
That every infant born in any of his Majesty's regiments of foot or dragoons in Great Britain, be provided with proper clothing, and its mother with necessary sustenance, to the amount of one shilling per week.
That when a regiment shall be quartered together, the surgeon and quartermaster, under the direction of the commanding officer, be appointed to buy and provide necessaries within the said sum of one shilling per week.
That in case of a march before the lying-in women are in a condition to accompany their husbands, without danger of their own or infants' lives, application be made to some magistrate or justice of the peace, or to the minister of the parish, to undertake this charitable office, and a sum not exceeding one shilling per week be allowed for lodging, exclusive of the allowance for support.
That when a child becomes an orphan, it be boarded in some village, near the place where the parents died, till it arrives to the age of five years; at which time to be put, if possible, to the parish school for two years, and then boarded at some reputable farmer's for three years more, or put to some trade or manufacture.
That though it is hoped and believed, that the clergy in general will cheerfully engage in this charitable work, yet, as a further inducement, that my Lords the Bishops be humbly requested to recommend it by their influence, and enforce it by their example. The minister of the parish where the parents died will then think it his duty to appoint a proper person to take care of the orphan, and to make a monthly report to the register, whether it be living or dead.
As a great many objects of this charity will reside in Scotland, that application be made to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, to recommend the inspection of the orphan children to the care of the respective ministers within whose parishes they shall be boarded.
To ascertain the persons who are entitled to the benefit of this charity, and to prevent, as much as possible, all abuse of it, the commanding officer at quarters shall send up a certificate, with the first monthly return, specifying that A. B. is wife of C.D., corporal, drummer, or private man, in such a regiment and company, and has been so at least nine months before her delivery.
That a monthly return be made to the register, by the commanding officer of each corps, specifying the state of the children, and the time when any of them die; the subsistence then to cease, except the woman be in her first month; but, in that case, to continue the four first weeks after delivery.
That the children continue under the care of their parents, who will be enabled by this charity to maintain them, and, encouraged by the continuance of it, to suffer them, at the age of five years, to be put to school, and afterwards boarded with some reputable farmer, or put to some trade or manufacture, as proposed for the orphans; and thus a vigorous and hardy race may be formed for agriculture and the service of their country. If they refuse to comply with this kind and charitable proposal, then all subsistence immediately to cease for ever.
This proposal has been approved by their Royal Highnesses the Dukes of York, Gloucester, and Cumberland, by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, by several of the first general officers of the army, by the Paymaster of the Forces, Secretary at War, Adjutant-General, &c.
The Secretary at War has been pleased to order the commanding officers of the several corps to report the state of the infants and orphans to his office, where an exact register will be kept of the proceedings of this charity.
Subscriptions to be received at Messrs Backwell and Co., Pall-Mall; Drummond and Co., Charing Cross; Colebroke and Co., Threadneedle Street; Martin and Co., Lombard Street; and Messrs Forrest and Maxwell, merchants at Edinburgh.
V. Sess. 9, May 30, 1767.—Act supplying certain Defects in the Forms of Commissions, and Attestations thereof.
The General Assembly, considering that some defects have been observed in the forms of commissions to members of Assembly, and attestations thereof, prescribed by the last General Assembly, do hereby appoint the following additions to be made to these forms; and do enact and ordain, that all such commissions and attestations as are not conceived and attested in the very words of the forms prescribed by last Assembly, and of the supplement now made to them, shall be rejected. (See Act 4th, 1768, for the full amended "Forms of Commissions.")
VI. Sess. 9, May 30, 1767.—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.
VII. Sess. ult., June 1, 1767.—Commission to some Ministers and Ruling Elders for discussing Affairs referred to them.
VIII. Sess. ult., June 1, 1767.—Act appointing the Diet of the next General Assembly.
Sess. 9, May 30, 1767.—Overture of an Act concerning Students in Divinity, and the Licensing of Probationers. (fn. 1)
There was transmitted to the General Assembly, from their Committee for Overtures, an overture concerning students in divinity, and the licensing of probationers, prepared by a committee appointed for that purpose by the last General Assembly; together with another overture respecting students, proposed by the Committee for Overtures to be added to this; which overture, prepared by the committee of last Assembly, including the said additional overture, which comes in as Article 4th, the General Assembly do hereby transmit to the several Presbyteries of this Church, to be considered by them, that they may send up their opinions thereupon to the next General Assembly. The same is as follows:—
The General Assembly, considering the dangerous consequences to religion, of licensing any to preach the Gospel who are not duly qualified; and whereas former acts relative hereto are scattered, and at great distances from each other, by which means they cannot easily come so distinctly under view, as if they were digested into one general act comprehending the substance of them, together with such alterations and additions, as in the present state of things in this Church, relative to students in divinity, their admission to probationary trials, and licensing them to preach, are become either necessary or highly expedient.
Article I. None shall be admitted to pass trials in order to their being licensed to preach the Gospel, excepting such as are of good report for piety, gravity, sobriety, good affection to the constitution in Church and State, and concerning whom there shall be ground to hope that they will prove able, faithful, and edifying, in discharging the duties of their station.
Sect. 1. Students found qualified, as is above required, may be proposed to be taken on trials when five complete years shall have passed, from and after their finishing their course in philosophy; provided always, that it be documented by a certificate of the form and tenor by this act appointed, that they prosecuted their theological studies at the University during some part of every one of the five several sessions, between the time of completing their studies in philosophy, as above required, and their being proposed in Presbyteries to be admitted to trials. Provided also, that it shall appear that they did publicly deliver in the Hall, with approbation, five several exercises at least during said sessions; and that they attended two sessions on the lectures of the Professor of Church History, and during at least one session on the Professor of Hebrew.
Sect. 2. In order to encourage a more close and regular prosecution of public study, it is hereby enacted, that students qualified, as required per Section 1st, may, after four years complete from the time of finishing their course in philosophy, be admitted to probationary trials, provided it be certified in form and manner hereafter by this act required, that they did prosecute at a university their theological studies, during the greatest part of the four intermediate sessions, between their finishing their course in philosophy, and their being proposed to be put upon said trials; and that during the course of said sessions, they did deliver not fewer than five several exercises with approbation, and that they gave like attendance, as by the preceding article is required, on the colleges of Church History and Hebrew.
Sect. 3. The General Assembly, in favour of those who shall distinguish themselves by prosecuting their studies with the greatest assiduity and regularity, do hereby enact and ordain, that students qualified, as is above required, may be proposed to be taken on trials on the expiration of three years, from and after completing their course in philosophy, provided always, that they be certified in manner and form after mentioned and appointed, to have given close and punctual attendance on the divinity lessons and exercises, during the three intermediate sessions between the end of their philosophical course and their being proposed to trials, and to have delivered in the Hall at least six several discourses or exercises with approbation, and to have attended the lectures on Church History and the Hebrew class, in like manner as in the cases of students above described, is required.
Sect. 4. It is hereby expressly ordained and enacied, that no student shall, on any consideration whatever, be licensed to preach the Gospel till he shall appear to the Presbytery, by unquestionable evidence, to have attained to the age of majority or twenty-one years complete; and the Presbytery is hereby enjoined to mark in their register the production of such evidence, and to specify the nature of it, and if it is contained in a written certificate, to appoint their clerk to keep the same in retentis.
Article III. The General Assembly earnestly recommends to the members of this Church, and more especially to the Professors of Divinity, Church History, Hebrew, and others, under whom students of divinity may carry on any branch of thei studies, and to all ministers of the Gospel, to have a watchful eye over such students. and it is further recommended, particularly to the Professors of Divinity, when making up the roll of their students yearly, to require, as a necessary condition of being enrolled, from all new intrants, and to keep in retentis, letters recommendatory, or certificates from the ministers in whose parishes such intrants reside, or from other persons of known and established character for candour and discernment, bearing and attesting that they have completed their course in philosophy, and are of blameless behaviour.
Article IV. The General Assembly further appoints, that every person when he is about to enter upon the study of divinity, and to apply to a Professor of Divinity to be enrolled by him for that purpose, shall signify his intention to the Presbytery in whose bounds he resides, that he may, at the same time, be enrolled by them in their records as a student in divinity.
Article V. It is further hereby enacted and ordained, that no Presbytery shall admit to trials before them any student not actually at the time residing, or who has not, since his becoming a student, resided for the space of six weeks continuedly in their bounds, unless he be recommended by a Presbytery in whose bounds he resideth or hath resided, as said is, during said space as, in their judgement, qualified to be admitted: And it is further hereby provided, that students coming from foreign parts shall not be entered on trials until six months at least shall have elapsed from the time of their arrival in Scotland; nor even then, until they produce certificates of their diligence and proficiency in their studies, and of their good behabioue, from the universities where, or professors under whom they studied;and till it shall further appear that their studies were so conducted and prosecuted as to bring them on a footing with the students of one or other of the three several classes described in the 2d article of this Act, and in Sections 1st, 2d, and 3d of the same.
Article VI. When any student is proposed to a Presbytery in order to be taken on trials, the proposal shall lie on the table till the next ordinary meeting, before they give judgement therein, that diligent inquiry may be made and information had concerning the said student's qualifications and behaviour; and the Presbytery shall be alone both when the proposal is made and judged on. And the General Assembly enjoins all students to take all opportunities of cultivating an acquaintance with the ministers of the Presbytery where they reside, and where they are to pass trials.
Article VII. When a Presbytery resolves to take a student on trials, they shall by themselves, or by a committee appointed for that purpose, take a private trial of his progress in the learned languages, in philosophy, especially in moral philosophy, and in divinity; and particularly they shall take trial of his acquaintance with the Holy Scriptures, and what impression of religion he hath on his own soul; and being satisfied in these respects, the committee of examinators shall require him to read aloud in their presence, or (when the Presbytery themselves take the said private trial) their clerk shall read in open court, and in hearing of the candidate, the engagements to be entered into by Act 10th, Assembly, 1711; and the Formula appointed (by Assembly, 1714, Act 6th of the same) to be signed by such as are licensed to preach immediately before licensing them; and Presbyteries are strictly charged to conduct those trials impartially, as in the sight of God and our Lord Jesus Christ, the alone King and Head of his Church, and either reject or delay to further trial such as shall not be found sufficiently qualified.
Article IX. It is likewise enacted that Presbyteries, after sustaining the above private trial, and resolving to admit the candidate to public trials, shall two months (at least)before the then ensuing meeting of Synod, direct circular letters to be written, and sent away to each Presbytery within the bounds, informing them of their intention, that the members of the Synod may be ripely advised thereanent; and it is likewise ordained, that intimation of the same shall be publicly made at the second diet of Synod, to lie on the table till another diet, or in case of no third diet, till the end of said second one, and then particular inquiry shall be made, whether there is any objection against entering the said student on trials? And in case any relevant one shall be moved, the Presbytery proposing the candidate shall stop procedure till the same be discussed or brought to an issue.
Article X. The General Assembly appoints the public probationary trials of students, who are to be licensed probationers, to be these following, viz.; 1mo, The catechetic trials to be renewed in presence of the Presbytery, and that previously to all the other parts of public trials; 2do, A homily in English on a Scripture text; 3tio, An exegesis in Latin, on a controverted head of divinity, and sustaining a thesis or dispute thereon; 4to, An exercise and addition; 5to, A lecture on a large portion of Scripture; 6to, A popular sermon on a particular text of Scripture. Lastly, To interpret the Greek of the New Testament, ad aperturam libri, and not only to translate and analyse any portion of the Hebrew Bible prescribed by the Presbytery, but also to read the Hebrew text, ad aperturam libri. And it is hereby further enacted, that the foresaid public trials shall not be taken and concluded in fewer than three several meetings of Presbytery, nor shall the interval between the first and last of these meetings be, in any case, shorter than six weeks.
Article XI. When any Presbytery who, with the Synod's allowance, has entered, or who is about to enter a student on trials, shall receive a letter from any Presbytery, showing their dissatisfaction with the student entered, or to be entered on trials, and giving relevant grounds for the same, which they offer to the Presbytery at their next meeting, the said student shall not be licensed until the matter be tried. And the General Assembly appoints Presbyteries, who shall receive such letters anent students from any other Presbytery, to write a return with the first post after their meeting, acquainting them of their next diet.
Article XII. The General Assembly considering, that some persons who, upon application to the judicatories of this Church, have not been admitted on trials, or have not been found fit and worthy to be licensed to preach, do yet retire out of the bounds of this Church, where they are not so well known, in order to enter upon trials, and after they have been licensed, do not recommend themselves by a holy life and ministerial conversation, to the reproach of the Church of Scotland where they were educated; therefore, the General Assembly do hereby inhibit and discharge all young men, educated in this Church, or students of divinity, to go to foreign places and offer themselves to trials for licence to preach the Gospel, without testimonials and recommendations from their Presbytery, as above directed. And further, order and appoint, that no student whatsoever, coming from abroad, shall be allowed to preach within this Church, as one of our probationers, until it appear documented that they have followed the study of divinity for six years, after their finishing their course of philosophy, and until they undergo anew their catechetic trials, and come under the engagements, and sign the Formula appointed by Act 10th, Assembly, 1711, and it appear by their licence that the said probationers have been licensed by a regularly constituted Presbytery, or classical meeting.
Article XIII. For the better securing the attainment of the purposes of this Act, and to prevent the eluding thereof, the General Assembly does hereby enact and ordain, that no young man educated in this Church shall go without the bounds thereof, and offer himself to trials, unless he carry with him such certificates as are by this Act appointed to be produced to Presbyteries within the Church, previously to their admitting any to trials, at the desire and on the recommendation of another Presbytery. And it is hereby further enacted, that no person licensed without the bounds of this Church shall be held or considered as one of her probationers, nor shall be entitled to, or capable of, enjoying any of the privileges belonging to that character, till he shall undergo a-new his catechetic trials, and until it shall be documented, that he did follow the study of divinity, so as to fall under one or other of the three classes of students above described in paragraph or section 2, Article 1, 2, and 3, and until he come under the engagements, and sign the Formula appointed by Act of the General Assembly, 1714; and till it shall likewise appear that he was licensed to preach by a regularly constituted Presbytery or classical meeting. Provided always, that the space of time intervening between the admission of such students to trial before Presbyteries or classical meetings, not within the Church of Scotland, and their being actually licensed, shall not have been less than six weeks.
1mo, That a form of a licence adapted to the frame and chief clauses of this Act be drawn up, and be strictly enacted to be observed as the only valid form in the power of Presbyteries to grant, and that no one presume to officiate in the character of a preacher, till he shall either have extracted his licence drawn up in manner and form hereby required, and shall have the same ready to produce and exhibit to all concerned; or until he shall obtain and be in possession of an attestation by the Presbytery, that the materials out of which such a licence can be framed are actually engrossed and contained in their minutes.
2do, That certificates be drawn up in such manner and form as shall suit the requisites of this Act, be printed, leaving blank spaces to be filled up with the dates and other particulars, that can only be inserted by the granter of the certificates.
4to, That when Presbyteries suspend preachers, or deprive them of their licences, notice should be given of such sentences, either in the public newspapers, or by circular letters to the Presbyteries, at least of the Synod of the bounds, if not to the whole Church; and in like manner notice be given when such as have been suspended or deprived of their licences are restored to their character of preachers.