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 15, 1794.
I. Sess. 1, May 15, 1794.—The King's Commission to David Earl of Leven produced, and ordered to be recorded.
II. Sess. 1, May 15, 1794.—The King's most gracious Letter to the General Assembly, presented to them by his Majesty's Commissioner.
Right Reverend and well-beloved, we greet you well. The uniform experience which we have had, during so long a course of years, of your unalterable attachment to our person and government, and of your zealous and prudent attention to the important objects of your meeting, has not failed to make the deepest impression upon our mind, and justly calls for our highest commendation of your conduct. At the same time, you may be assured that this so faithful discharge of your duty will ensure to you the continuance of our undiminished confidence and affection. In declaring our firm reliance upon that wisdom and discretion which have at all times so eminently marked your proceedings, we cannot press too earnestly upon your minds the necessity of redoubling your common efforts to check that prevalent spirit of licentious innovation, by which the present times are so unhappily distinguished, and which threaten to fill the whole Christian world with violence and confusion. By so doing, you will contribute the most effectually to promote the great and important ends for which you are assembled, the maintenace of true religion and virtue, the prosperity of your Established Church, and the security of those invaluable blessings which you have derived from our happy constitution. We have again appointed our righty trusty and right well-beloved cousin, David Earl of Leven, to represent our royal person in this Assembly, being well satisfied with his upright and faithful conduct in the execution of that important trust, and not doubting but he must continue to be acceptable to you, from the affection to the Church of Scotland, and the zeal for the interests of religion, which he has manifested on so many former occasions. We take this opportunity of repeating to you our earnest exhortations, that you will proceed in the business before you with that unanimity, charity, and brotherly love, which truly become such an Assembly, and without which no real dignity or utility can attend your deliberations. Firmly trusting that the Divine Providence will bless your endeavours, in bringing this meeting to a happy conclusion, we feel the highest satisfaction in continuing to countenance your meetings with our royal authority, and to assure you of our fixed determination to maintain the Church of Scotland in the perfect enjoyment of all its just rights and privileges. And so we bid you heartily farewell.
III. Sess. 3, May 17, 1794.—The General Assembly's Answer to the King's most gracious Letter.
May it please your Majesty,
We received with the utmost respect and gratitude the gracious letter with which your Majesty hath been pleased to honour this General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. It affords us the highest satisfaction to be assured that our unalterable attachment to your person and government, and our attention to the important objects of our meeting, have, on former occasions, made so favourable an impression on your royal mind. We regard your Majesty's commendation as a most pleasing recompence for our past services, and a most animating inducement to persevere in that faithful discharge of our duty, which your Majesty has graciously declared will ensure to us the continuance of your undiminished confidence and affection.
Anxious to justify that firm reliance on our wisdom and discretion which your Majesty hath been pleased to express, we feel ourselves powerfully called upon to obey your Majesty's paternal admonition, by redoubling our common efforts to check that prevalent spirit of licentious innovation by which the present times are so unhappily distinguished, and which threaten to fill the whole Christian world with violence and confusion. By so doing, we are sensible that we shall most effectually contribute to promote the important ends for which we are assembled, the maintenance of true religion and virtue, the prosperity of our Established Church, and the security of those invaluable blessings which we have derived from our happy constitution.
The choice which your Majesty has been pleased to make of the Earl of Leven to represent your royal person in this Assembly, we consider as an additional instance of your Majesty's favour. The approved fidelity and loyalty of this noble Lord, that sincere attachment to the Church of Scotland by which he and his ancestors have so long been distinguished, his amiable charcter in private life, and the happy experience of former Assemblies, render your Majesty's nomination of him most acceptable to us.
We beg leave to offer our humble and grateful acknowledgments to your Majesty for your attention to the propagation of the Protestant religion in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland; and it shall be our care, by a proper application of the sum with which your Majesty hath entrusted us for that purpose, to promote the pious design for which it is bestowed.
Permit us to assure your Majesty that we shall endeavour to proceed in the business before us with that unanimity, charity, and brotherly love, which become us, as the servants of the Prince of Peace, and without which, we are convinced, that no real dignity or utility can attend our deliberations. Such conduct, we hope, will induce your Majesty to continue to us that countenance with which you have hitherto been pleased to honour our meetings, and we rely with entire confidence on your gracious determination to maintain the Church of Scotland in the perfect enjoyment of all its just rights and privileges.
That Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, may direct your Majesty's councils, and prosper the administration of your government;—that He may
bless our gracious Queen, his Royal Highness George Prince of Wales, and all your
Royal Family;—that He may preserve you long to reign in wisdom and felicity over a
free, a loyal, and a virtuous people, and bestow on you hereafter that crown of righteousness which fadeth not away, are the 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.
VI. Sess. 3, May 17, 1794.—The General Assembly's dutiful Address to his Majesty, on the subject of the present War.
Most gracious Sovereign,
We, your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the ministers and elders of the Church of Scotland met in the General Assembly, beg leave to approach your Majesty with sincere sentiments of attachment to your person and government.
In the interesting situation of the affairs of Europe at the present juncture, we are thankful to Divine Providence for those pledges of security to the British nation which we enjoy in your Majesty's paternal care, and in the wisdom and vigour of your councils.
When the rulers of the people of France avowed their hostility to all existing governments, and, by an unprovoked declaration of war against this country, obliged your Majesty to draw the sword in defence of the constitution, we, your faithful subjects, with full approbation of this necessary exertion of the public force, offered up our prayers to Heaven for the protection of our country, and have since, without ceasing, continued to implore success to your Majesty's arms.
Fully convinced that our religion, our liberty, our laws, and all that is dear to us, as men and as Christians, are now at stake, we consider the war with France as the most important contest in which this nation has ever been engaged. Happy in the experience of those high blessings we have long enjoyed, we look up with gratitude to our Sovereign, when he adopts the most effective measures to repel any force which threatens to endanger or overthrow our unequalled constitution.
Under these impressions, we beg leave to congratulate your Majesty on the success which has attended your arms, and those of your allies in Europe, and on the conquests which have been achieved by your Majesty's forces in the East and West Indies; and we look forward with good hope to such further advantages as may enable your Majesty to bring the war to a termination, which shall ensure safety to Britain, and protection from anarchy to other nations.
We cannot without sorrow reflect, that any instances of disaffection should have occurred among our people, to deserve the just reprehension of the laws. But from what we know of the general spirit of the country, it affords us the greatest satisfaction to be able to assure your Majesty, that the sound principles of loyalty, and of attachment to the constitution in Church and State, are fixed in the hearts of the great body of your Majesty's subjects in Scotland. These principles it shall be our most zealous care to cherish and to promote.
Our prayers and intercessions are offered up to God for our King and country.
May He who rules among the nations give success to the means which are employed
for resisting the progress of disorder and the spirit of impiety and anarchy, which has
gone forth in a neighbouring country. May the Divine blessing attend your fleets
and your armies, and lead them to victory in every quarter. May your Majesty be
long preserved to reign over this nation, and may your descendants to latest posterity
fill the British throne, and ever prove the faithful guardians of religion, of liberty, of
law, and of the constitution. These are the fervent prayers of,
May it please your Majesty, your Majesty's most dutiful, most faithful, and most obedient subjects, the Ministers and Elders met in this National Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
V. Sess. 9, May 24, 1794.—Commission of the General Assembly to certain Ministers and Ruling Elders for discussing Affairs referred to them.
The General Assembly, &c.—The instructions are the same as last year, with this addition, viz.:—And in the event of any appeal or complaint taken against the judgment of the Presbytery of Stirling, on the call of Mr Robert Knox, preacher of the Gospel, presentee to the united parishes of Larbert and Dunipace, or in any other step of the proceedings in this cause, the Assembly empower their Commission to judge of such appeals and complaints, and to give such orders as they shall see necessary for carrying on the settlement of the presentee, according to the rules of the Church. And the General Assembly refer to their Commission to follow out what is contained in the report of the Committee on the Due Observation of the Lord's day, granting to them full power to that effect.
VI. Sess. 9, May 24, 1794.—Commission to some Ministers and Ruling Elders for the Reformation of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, and for Managing his Majesty's Royal Bounty for that end.
VII. Sess. 9, May 24, 1794.—New Overture respecting the Licensing of Probationers.
VIII. Sess. 9, May 24, 1794.—Interim Act and Overture respecting the Annexation and Suppression of Parishes. (fn. 1)
IX. Sess. ult., May 26, 1794.—Act and Resolution respecting the Religious Education of Youth.
The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, taking into their serious consideration the growth of licentiousness, both in principle and practice, and being fully persuaded that this evil, wherever it prevails, is in a great measure to be ascribed to the neglect of the religious education of youth; and the Assembly being well informed that the ancient and laudable practice of instructing youth in the principles of religion, by means of the Holy Scriptures, and the Catechisms received and acknowledged by this Church, has been much neglected in many parochial and other English and Latin schools, particularly in the cities and towns of this kingdom; wherefore, the General Assembly being resolved, as far as in them lies, to provide a remedy for this evil, did, and hereby do, strictly require and enjoin that all parochial schoolmasters, and other teachers of schools within this Church, shall cause the Holy Bible to be read, as a regular exercise in their several schools, by the children under their care. The General Assembly do moreover require and enjoin, that the Shorter Catechism agreed upon by the Assembly of Divines at Westminster, and approved of by this Church, shall be taught in all parochial and other schools; and that the children be required to commit this Catechism to memory, and by frequent repetition to fix it deep in their minds. And in order that the above regulations may be carried into effect, the General Assembly, in conformity to many preceding Acts of Assembly, enjoin all the ministers of this Church to visit and examine, from time to time, the schools within their respective parishes, and take care that the teachers do their duty in those respects. And for a farther security in matters of such important concern, the General Assembly did, and hereby do, ordain all Presbyteries to make inquiry concerning the obedience given by their several members to this Act; and farther, the General Assembly ordain all the Presbyteries of this Church to appoint presbyterial visitations of the schools within their respective bounds, at least once in every year, and exercise that authority which, by the law of the land, as well as of the Church, is vested in them for obtaining the important end in view. The General Assembly moreover ordains that this Act shall be printed separately; and a copy thereof transmitted to every minister and every parochial schoolmaster within the bounds of this Church. And finally, that every Presbytery shall report their diligence, in compliance with the terms thereof, upon the back of their commission to their representatives in the ensuing General Assembly.