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, 1800.
I. Sess. 1, May 22, 1800.—The King's Commission to David Earl of Leven and Melville produced, and ordered to be recorded.
II. Sess. 1, May 22, 1800.—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 we have had for so long a course of years of your attachment to our person, of your zeal for the interests of religion, and of the wisdom and prudence of your proceedings, cannot fail to enhance the satisfaction we have always felt in giving the sanction of our royal authority to the meetings of your venerable body.
The objects of your deliberations are among the most important that can engage the attention of men. The propagation of Christian knowledge, the maintenance of the reformed religion, the discouragement of vice and immorality, and the diffusion of a spirit of charity and benevolence, and of submission to the laws, are ends which must excite in you the most ardent zeal for their attainment.
You will, doubtless, have felt, that your labours are become doubly important, and, in the same proportion, more painful and difficult, from the opposition of factious men, enemies of our religion, and of all social order and legal government. The success with which you have hitherto withstood their pernicious designs, affords the surest ground of confidence, that the continuance of your exertions, united with those of our other good and loyal subjects, will ultimately prove effectual, and that we shall be enabled, with the aid of Divine Providence, to transmit to posterity the unimpaired enjoyment of all the blessings, civil and religious, of our free and happy constitution.
The distress under which a large portion of your fellow-creatures must inevitably labour, during these times of scarcity with which it has pleased Almighty God to visit us, will not escape your attention; and will call upon you individually, in the discharge of your sacred functions, to inculcate with additional ardour the indispensable obligation of relieving, according to the abilities of each, the necessities of the poor.
We have again thought fit to appoint our right trusty and right well-beloved cousin, David Earl of Leven and Melville, to be our Commissioner, to represent our person and royal authority in this present Assembly; not doubting but that the same eminent qualifications which have recommended him to our repeated choice will continue to make him acceptable to you, in the execution of the high and important trust committed to his care. And we have charged him, in a most especial manner, to assure you of our great sense of your steady and firm zeal for our service, and of our resolution to preserve and maintain the Church of Scotland, as by law established, in the full and free enjoyment of all its rights and privileges.
III. Sess. 2, May 23, 1800.—Address to his Majesty, on his late Providential Escape from Assassination.
May it please your Majesty,
We, the ministers and elders of the Church of Scotland met in the General Assembly, beg leave to approach your Majesty's throne with trembling yet joyful hearts, on your late Providential escape from the hand of a traitorous assassin.
That even treason itself should dare to attempt a life so precious to your faithful subjects, which has been endeared to them by the exercise of every virtue that can adorn the character of a patriot King, excites our utmost horror and indignation; while, at the same time, the guardian care of Divine Providence, in preserving the father of his country to his grateful and affectionate people, raises in our breast every sentiment of piety and thankfulness to the God of heaven.
When we convey to your Majesty our warmest congratulations on this awful event, we cannot fail to observe how much the most imminent dangers illustrate your Majesty's Christian fortitude and magnanimity; endear you still more and more to your admiring subjects; and call forth our most fervent prayers for the prolongation of a life so important at this juncture to them and to all the nations of Europe, till your Majesty shall have completed the glories of your reign, in the accomplishment of all your exalted plans for the security of Great Britain, and the peace of the world.
That Almighty God may ever keep your Majesty under His Divine protection;
that He may bless you in your person, family, and government; that He may bless
your royal consort the Queen, the Prince and Princess of Wales, and all the Royal
Family; and that, after a long and prosperous reign, you may exchange an earthly
for a celestial crown, through the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ, are the earnest
May it please your Majesty, your Majesty's most dutiful, most faithful, and most obedient subjects, the Ministers and Elders met in this General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
IV. Sess. 3, May 24, 1800.—The General Assembly's Answer to the King's most gracious Letter.
May it please your Majesty,
The gracious letter with which your Majesty has been pleased to honour this meeting of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, was received with the utmost respect and gratitude.
The approbation of the spirit and proceedings of former Assemblies, which your Majesty's benignity has condescended to express with so much paternal affection, is peculiarly grateful to us as a body, and operates on our feelings as an encouragement to follow, in attachment to your Majesty's person, in zeal for the interests of religion, and in charity towards one another, the example of those enlightened and virtuous men who have gone before us; and to deserve, like them, that sanction of royal authority which gives solemnity and effect to the decisions of our National Church.
Impressed with a just sense of the important nature of those objects which claim our consideration, we beg leave to assure your Majesty, that the propagation of Christian knowledge, the maintenance of the reformed religion, the discouragement of vice and immorality, and the diffusion of a spirit of charity and benevolence, and of submission to the laws, are ends which shall continue to excite in our minds the most ardent zeal for their attainment.
In the trying and eventful period in which we live, we have felt that our labours have become doubly important, both to private happiness and the public safety; while we have also had the mortification to discover, that, in the same proportion, they have been rendered more painful and difficult by the opposition of factious men, enemies of our religion, and of all social order and legal government. We rejoice, that our honest and unremitted exertions, in union with those of your Majesty's other good and loyal subjects, have hitherto been successful in frustrating their pernicious designs; and in full assurance of the continued favour of Providence to a righteous cause, we look forward with confidence to the termination of this great conflict, when your Majesty shall be enabled to transmit to posterity the unimpaired enjoyment of all the blessings, civil and religious, of our free and happy constitution.
The distress under which a large portion of our fellow-creatures has inevitably laboured, during these times of scarcity with which it has pleased Almighty God to visit us, has repeatedly claimed our serious attention; and amidst the hardships to which our people must still submit, it gives us the most sincere satisfaction to assure your Majesty, that in no period known to us have the good sense, the patriotism, and the charity of the country, been more conspicuously displayed. The care employed by the opulent and well-informed to point out the nature and extent of the visitation, and to provide the means of alleviating its pressure, has been most meritorious. Of this the poor themselves are not insensible; and the patience and resignation which they have very generally exercised under difficulties seldom known in our land, give us room to hope, that, in the honest pursuits of industry, and in dutiful submission to lawful authority, they will quietly wait for the return of a more favourable harvest. Meanwhile, we beg leave to assure your Majesty, that, in the individual discharge of the duties of our function, we shall not fail to inculcate, with additional ardour, the indispensable obligation of relieving, according to the abilities of each, the necessities of the poor.
Your Majesty's donation of L.1000 for propagating Christian knowledge in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland was received with much gratitude, as a fresh instance of your paternal solicitude for the best interests of your people, as well as of the confidence which you are pleased to repose in the wisdom and fidelity of this Assembly; and it shall be our endeavour, by a prudent and just application of it, to promote the pious purposes for which it is bestowed.
The appointment of the Earl of Leven and Melville to represent your Majesty's sacred person and royal authority in this present Assembly, we regard as a pleasing testimony of your affection to our Church. The attachment of this noble Lord to your Majesty's person, his zeal for the interests of the Church of Scotland, and the virtues of his private life; the eminent qualifications which have recommended him to your Majesty's repeated choice, endear him to us in the execution of the high and important trust committed to his care. The flattering manner in which he has communicated the gracious assurance of the sense which your Majesty is pleased to entertain of our steady and firm zeal for your service, has given us the truest pleasure. And we rely with entire confidence in your Majesty's resolution to preserve and maintain the Church of Scotland, as by law established, in the full and free enjoyment of all its rights and privileges.
That Almighty God may continue to preserve your sacred life, to guide your
councils, and prosper your administration; that He may bless our most gracious
Queen, the Prince and Princess of Wales, and all the Royal Family; and that, after
a long life of eminent and exemplary virtue upon earth, you may, through the merits
of Jesus Christ our Lord, receive in heaven the recompence of reward, are the sincere
May it please your Majesty, your Majesty's most faithful, most obedient, and most loyal subjects, the Ministers and Elders met in this General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
V. Sess. 6, May 28, 1800.—Address to his Majesty on the present Situation of Public Affairs.
Most Gracious Sovereign,
We, your Majesty's dutiful and loyal subjects, the ministers and elders of the Church of Scotland met in the General Assembly, beg leave to approach the throne with sentiments of the sincerest attachment to your person and government.
Grateful to Providence for that happy constitution under which Britons have so long enjoyed every blessing that can sweeten and adorn social life, we reflect with the deepest regret on those groundless complaints and murmurings which were heard at no distant period in every corner of our land, and which furnished a just subject of alarm to the friends of order and peace. But we rejoice to think, that the exertions of the virtuous, the writings of the wise, and the seasonable interposition of public authority, have served, by the blessing of Heaven, to counteract the insidious arts of the disaffected; and it affords us the sincerest satisfaction to be able to assure your Majesty, that among the great body of the people committed to our care, there prevails an unshaken attachment to our excellent constitution in Church and State, and a just abhorrence of that system of impiety and anarchy which hath spread misery and desolation through many parts of the earth.
In reviewing the events of a war, on the success of which depends the preservation of all that is dear to a virtuous mind, we admire the wisdom and the steadiness of your Majesty's councils, which have kept alive the hopes, and animated the exertions of the other States of Europe; and while our devout acknowledgments ascend to the Lord of Hosts, who hath supported our righteous cause, with heartfelt pleasure we congratulate your Majesty on the many important advantages which have been obtained in the course of last year, by the arms of our country and our allies. We recollect, with joy, that during this period, Italy hath been delivered from the tyranny of lawless force; that to the kingdom of Naples its ancient constitution hath been restored; that in Egypt a desperate plan hath been frustrated, by which our enemies hoped to spread sedition and tumult through the remotest regions of the earth; and that the defeat of a formidable rival, whom their restless hostility had excited against us, hath placed the British possessions in India in a state of permanent tranquillity; and that, on the coast of Holland, a fleet, equipped for the very purpose of conveying invaders to our shores, hath surrendered to us without a battle, adding a new and glorious trophy to the many signal victories which the valour of our seamen hath obtained.
In this rapid succession of events, which contribute so much to the security of our native country, and the general interests of mankind, we adore the Providence of that Almighty Being, to whom "the glory and the victory belong;" and we would improve them as a ground of hope, that the cause of religion and good order will triumph over all opposition; and that the efforts of Britain and her allies will be crowned with such further success as may ensure a happy termination of the important contest in which they are engaged.
That Almighty God may protect your Majesty's person, direct your councils, and
prosper your administration: that He may bless our gracious Queen Charlotte, the
Prince and Princess of Wales, and all the Royal Family; and that, after swaying the
sceptre for many years, with wisdom and felicity, over a loyal, a virtuous, and a happy
people, you may, through Jesus Christ our Lord, receive that unfading crown which
awaits the righteous, are the earnest 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 General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
VI. Sess. 9, May 31, 1800.—Commission of the General Assembly to certain Ministers and Ruling Elders for discussing Affairs referred to them.
VII. Sess. 9, May 31, 1800.—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.
VIII. Sess. ult., June 2, 1800.—Overture respecting the Attendance of Students on the Divinity Hall.
IX. Sess. ult., June 2, 1800.—Overture respecting the Course of University Education to be observed by Students previous to their entering the Divinity Hall.
X. Sess. ult., June 2, 1800.—New Overture respecting the Licensing of Probationers.
XI. Sess. ult., June 2, 1800.—Order and Injunction of the General Assembly to the Presbyteries of the Church, concerning Teachers and Schoolmasters.
The General Assembly called for the Report of the Committee on Vagrant Teachers and Sunday Schools; and the same was given in and read. The General Assembly having considered this report of the committee, who had been directed to class the reports of Presbyteries concerning schoolmasters, whether of parochial schools, or schools of any other description; and it appearing that not a fourth part of the Presbyteries of the Church have made any report, the Assembly peremptorily enjoin all the other Presbyteries of the Church to send up to next General Assembly particular reports of their obedience to the order of last Assembly. The General Assembly trust, that those Presbyteries which have sent up particular reports, will continue the same laudable and vigilant attention to the important object specially committed to their inspection; and that they will not fail to transmit to next Assembly any new facts which may fall within their observation. The General Assembly recommend to all Presbyteries to take the method which appears to them most expedient of examining the teachers on the branch of knowledge which they profess to teach, to require all parochial and established schoolmasters to subscribe the Confession of Faith and Formula, if they have not already done so, and to ask all teachers of youth, without exception, to produce to the Presbytery attestations of their having taken the oaths to government; and they order a particular report of obedience to this recommendation to be made to next Assembly. And further, the General Assembly enjoin all the Presbyteries of this Church to transmit, without delay, attested copies of their reports to the Assembly, to the Sheriffs within whose jurisdiction they are situated. And they instruct the clerks to keep the reports sent up to this Assembly, and the report of the committee on this subject, in safe custody. And the General Assembly appoint their clerks to cause separate copies of this order to be printed, together with the injunction of last Assembly relative to this matter, and to transmit copies thereof to the moderator of each Presbytery of the Church, to be laid by him before the Presbytery at their first ordinary meeting after receiving the same.
The Injunction of the General Assembly, 1799, is then repeated:—
The General Assembly enjoin all Presbyteries of this Church to be diligent in exercising those powers which the laws of the land and of the Church have committed to them, with respect to the education of youth within their bounds, &c.
XII. Sess. ult., June 2, 1800.—Recommendation by the General Assembly, for promoting a Subscription towards Defraying the Expense of the Appeal in the Cause relating to the Schoolmaster of Bothwell; and Order for Printing the Appeal Case prepared by the Procurator.
The committee appointed to take the necessary steps in the cause relating to the schoolmaster of Bothwell, having reported to the Assembly that the appeal from the two last interlocutors of the Court of Session in that cause has been heard and determined by the House of Peers; and that the interlocutors complained of have been finally reversed: That though the committee had received L.118, 14s. 10d. from the voluntary contribution of the Presbyteries, and L.80 from the funds of the Church, the expense incurred has, notwithstanding, considerably exceeded the funds with which the committee were entrusted, and that the deficiency amounts to upwards of L.196. The General Assembly, considering that the judgment which has been ultimately pronounced in this cause is of general importance, as it has effectually established the exclusive jurisdiction of the Church, with regard to the qualifications and the trial of parochial schoolmasters: and considering, at the same time, that the state of the funds of the Church does not allow the Assembly at present to make good the whole of the expense incurred, did, and hereby do, earnestly recommend it to the several Presbyteries within the bounds of this Church, and especially to those who have not hitherto contributed, to promote a subscription among their members, in order to assist the funds of the Church, in extinguishing a debt which the final decision of this cause, so important in its consequences to the whole country, has occasioned. And the General Assembly appoint the clerks of Assembly to cause this minute to be immediately printed at the public expense, and to transmit a copy thereof, without delay, to the moderators of the several Presbyteries, which they hereby enjoin them to lay before the said Presbyteries respectively, at their first ordinary meeting after it shall come to their hands. And further, the General Assembly appoint the said moderators to remit to Mr William Murray, Agent for the Church, whatever sums shall be subscribed within their respective Presbyteries, and, if possible, to do this on or before the 1st day of October next. And the General Assembly renew the appointment of the committee, with instructions to attend to the progress of the subscription, and to the application of the sums which shall be received by the Agent; and to report the result to next General Assembly.
The General Assembly, considering, at the same time, that the appeal case prepared by the Procurator in this cause contains a statement of facts, which it would be extremely useful to render generally known through the Church, they appoint the clerks to cause such a number of copies thereof to be printed as the committee shall think expedient, to circulate them among the several Presbyteries, and to apply to the cashier of the Church for the sum necessary to defray the expense, which the Assembly hereby authorise him to advance.