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 20, 1779.
I. Sess. 1, May 20, 1779.—The King's Commission to George Earl of Dalhousie produced, and ordered to be recorded.
The General Assembly, &c.
II. Sess. 1, May 20, 1779.—The King's most gracious Letter to the General Assembly, presented to them by his Majesty's Commissioner.
George, R., &c.
III. Sess. 3, May 22, 1779.—The General Assembly's Answer to the King's most gracious Letter.
May it please your Majesty, &c.
IV. Sess. 3, May 22, 1779.—The General Assembly's Address to his Majesty, on the Birth of another Prince, and on the present situation of Affairs.
May it please your Majesty,
We, your Majesty's most faithful subjects, the ministers and elders of the Church of Scotland, met in National Assembly, beg leave to approach your throne with our respectful congratulations upon the birth of another Prince. While we rejoice in every event which augments the domestic felicity of a Sovereign endeared to his people by his amiable virtues, we regard the increase of your Majesty's family as an additional security to our religion and liberties; and we number, with much satisfaction and thankfulness, the princes born in the royal family, as raised up, by the Divine Providence, to afford your subjects the happy prospect of enjoying, through a course of ages, under the protection of your Majesty's decendants, that full exercise of the Protestant religion, and those civil immunities which the illustrious House of Hanover was called to maintain, and of which your Majesty has been the faithful guardian.
In this season of national exertion and public alarm, we consider it as our duty to express an inviolable attachment to your Majesty's person and government. And we are happy in being able to assure your Majesty, that the same sentiments of duty and affection which we entertain, prevail amongst the people committed to our care. That loyalty which prompted the exertions lately made in this part of your Majesty's dominions, for internal security and the support of the national honour, remains unshaken. The open assistance given by the natural rivals and enemies of Great Britain to the rebellious colonies in North America, has united all ranks of men in seal for the common cause. They rejoice in the success which attends your Majesty's arms in different quarters of the world. They confide in the wisdom and vigour of your Majesty's councils; and they look forward, trusting in the Almighty, with the solicitude of good citizens, to a happy termination of the present commotions.
It shall be our constant study to cherish these sentiments of loyalty in the breasts of our people, and to approve ourselves the dutiful servants of the Prince of Peace, by inspiring those over whom we have influence with the warmest sense of the security and felicity which they enjoy under your Majesty's mild, legal, and paternal administration.
That the Lord God of Hosts may go forth with your Majesty's fleets and armies,
and crown them with victory; that he may defeat the designs of our enemies; that
he may open the eyes of our deluded fellow-subjects; that the authority of law, and
the blessings of liberty, may be speedily felt and acknowledged throughout all the
parts of this extended empire; and that your Majesty may long reign the Sovereign
of a free, a happy, and united people, are the earnest prayers of,
May it please your Majesty, your Majesty's most faithful, most obedient, and most loyal subjects, the Ministers and Elders met in this National Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
Signed in our name, in our presence, and at our appointment, by
James Gillespie, Moderator.
V. Sess. 9, May 29, 1779.—Commission to some Ministers and Ruling Elders for Reformation of the Highlands and Islands, and for Managing his Majesty's Royal Bounty for that end.
The General Assembly, &c.
VI. Sess. 9, May 29, 1779.—Commission to some Ministers and Ruling Elders for discussing Affairs referred to them.
The General Assembly, &c.—The Commission of this year contains the following additional instructions, viz.:—And the Assembly further did, and hereby do, appoint the Commission to watch over any steps which may hereafter be taken for removing or weakening our legal securities against Popery. And that they may be able more effectually to attend to this object, the Assembly hereby authorise and appoint the Moderator of the Commission to call meetings pro re nata, as often as he shall be required so to do by any ten members of the Commission.
VII. Sess. 5, May 25, 1779.—Act and Resolution of the General Assembly anent Popery.
The General Assembly proceeded, agreeably to the resolution of yesterday, to take under their serious consideration the overtures transmitted, by the Committee for Overtures, to this Assembly, concerning Popery. The several overtures were read over, and, after long reasoning on this affair, the General Assembly, agreeably to a motion made in the course of their reasonings, unanimously came to the following resolution: The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, having taken into their serious consideration the public alarm excited in this part of the United Kingdom, from the apprehension of an intention to repeal the laws enacted to prevent the growth of Popery, think it their duty to make this public declaration of their sentiments, on a subject in which the interests of religion and of their country are so deeply concerned. While they express their gratitude to Providence for the invaluable privileges enjoyed by this National Church, and the security afforded to the Protestant religion by established laws, they declare their firm attachment to the principles of civil and religious liberty, and their earnest desire that universal toleration and liberty of conscience may be extended to Protestants of every denomination. But they think it their duty also to declare their firm persuasion, that a repeal of the penal laws now in force against Papists would be highly inexpedient, dangerous, and prejudicial to the best interests of religion and civil society in this part of the United Kingdom. Entertaining these sentiments, it is with much satisfaction they have received assurances from the highest authority, that the bill intended for repealing the laws for preventing the growth of Popery in Scotland is laid aside; and they confide in the wisdom of the legislature, that it will not in future be resumed. They likewise think it their duty, on this occasion, to express their strongest disapprobation of those lawless mobs, which have so lately disgraced the good cause which, in the blindness of popular zeal, they were meant to serve; and earnestly recommend it to the people under their care to show the influence of their religion, by a quiet and charitable spirit, approving themselves worthy of their civil and religious liberties, by a peaceable and moderate behaviour. The General Assembly further judge it expedient and necessary to give particular instructions to their Commission on this subject; and they did, and hereby do, appoint the Commission to watch over any steps which may hereafter be taken for removing or weakening our legal securities against Popery. And, that they may be able more effectually to attend to this object, the Assembly hereby authorise and appoint the moderator of the Commission to call meetings, pro re nata, as often as he shall be required so to do by any ten members of the Commission. The General Assembly do further resolve to exert their most effectual endeavours, in order to provide for the better instruction of the people in those corners of the Church where Popery chiefly abounds, by increasing the number of stated pastors among them.
VIII. Sess. 7, May 27, 1779.—Regulations respecting the Chapel of Ease in Dunfermline.
1. The General Assembly allow and authorise the petitioners to employ any licentiate or minister of the Church of Scotland to officiate occasionally in the meeting-house now to be used as a Chapel of Ease, until a stated minister be appointed; it being always understood, that, previous to their employing any minister or probationer, they shall lodge a list of the names of such persons as they intend to employ, before they preach in the chapel; and every probationer shall lodge his licence and other certificates in the hands of the moderator of the Presbytery before preaching in the chapel.
2. The petitioners shall proceed to the election of a stated minister on or before the first of May next.
3. When the petitioners resolve to proceed to an election, they shall intimate their resolution to the Presbytery of Dunfermline, requesting them to appoint one of their number to preside at that election; and the Presbytery is hereby enjoined to comply with that request within a fortnight at farthest after it is made. If the Presbytery make no appointment within the time limited, or if the person nominated by the Presbytery does not attend, the petitioners are authorised to proceed to the election by themselves.
4. If the person elected shall be a probationer, the Presbytery is appointed to proceed to ordain him to the office of a minister according to the rules of the Church. If the person elected shall be an ordained minister of the Church of Scotland, it shall be competent for any of the ministers of the parish to preach along with the person elected, and introduce him to the Chapel of Ease; or if they shall decline that service, when application is made to them, this shall be competent for any other minister of the Presbytery.
5. It shall not be competent for the petitioners to elect any minister or probationer to be minister of the Chapel of Ease, but one entirely of the principles of the Church of Scotland, with regard to worship, doctrine, discipline, and government, and who shall subscribe the Standards and Formula enjoined by the Church: it being also understood and provided, that the petitioners and others, who shall form the congregation that meets in the Chapel of Ease, shall remain subject to the jurisdiction of the Church of Scotland, and her different judicatories.
6. That collections shall be made regularly at the doors of the chapel, and the sums arising therefrom shall be applied as part of the common fund for the maintenance of the poor of the parish.
7. That before the Presbytery ordain a probationer, or introduce a minister to the said chapel, the petitioners shall lay before the Presbytery a security which appears to the Presbytery sufficient, for a sum not less than fifty pounds sterling, as his yearly stipend, so long as he shall continue to officiate in that congregation; and if the Presbytery entertain any doubt concerning the validity of the security which is offered, the same shall be transmitted to the Procurator of the Church for his opinion; and the Presbytery is appointed to proceed according to that opinion.
IX. Sess. 8, May 28, 1779.—Act concerning Persons going to be Licensed and Ordained without the Bounds of this Church.
The General Assembly, upon the report of their Committee for Overtures, finding that a considerable majority of the Presbyteries of this Church have now agreed to an overture anent persons going to be licensed and ordained without the bounds of this Church, did thereupon agree, without a vote, to turn the said overture into a standing act; and accordingly the General Assembly did, and hereby do, enact and prohibit all persons, educated or residing within the bounds of this Church, from going out of its bounds to obtain licences to preach; and prohibit all preachers licensed by this Church from going without its bounds to obtain ordination, unless they are called to a particular congregation in another country; and enact that licences obtained in that manner shall not be received, or have any effect in this Church; and such preachers as contravene this act shall forfeit the licence formerly given them, and be no longer entitled to the privileges which belong to a preacher of the Gospel in this Church.
X. Sess. 8, May 28, 1779.—Overture anent the Ordination of Elders.
XI. Sess. 8, May 28, 1779.—Overture anent Licensing Probationers.
XII. Sess. ult., May 31, 1779.—Order respecting the Acts of Assembly, and transmitting the same to Synods, Presbyteries, and Universities.
The General Assembly, upon considering the petition for James Dickson, printer for the Church, with the report of the committee thereupon, resolved, that, in place of taking one hundred copies of the printed Acts of Assembly from the printer annually, that they should, for the future, take two hundred copies annually; viz., one for the moderator, and one for the clerk of each Presbytery; and that a copy for each Synod and University should also be delivered annually, and a copy delivered to the Keeper of the Advocates' Library, for the use of the Faculty of Advocates: And to prevent expense to the fund in time coming, it is hereby ordered, that the Acts shall, for the future, be left at the Society Hall, and Presbyteries, Synods, and Universities, are desired to send for their copies on or before the first day of December annually; certifying, if they do not send for their copies on or before that day, they will be sent by post at their expense: And further, when they do send for their copies, they shall send a receipt therefor, that the clerks of Assembly may have evidence of their being delivered.
XIII. Sess. ult., May 31, 1779.—Act appointing the Diet of the next General Assembly.
The next General Assembly of this National Church is appointed to be held within the New Church Aisle of Edinburgh, on Thursday, the 25th day of May, in the year 1780.
Collected and extracted from the Records of the General Assembly, by
George Wishart, John Drysdale, Cl. Eccl. Scot.