Acts of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland 1638-1842. Originally published by Edinburgh Printing & Publishing Co, Edinburgh, 1843.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
The principal acts of the general assembly, convened at Edinburgh, May 20, 1802.
I. Sess. 1, May 20, 1802.—The King's Commission to Francis Lord Napier produced, and ordered to be recorded.
The General Assembly, &c.
II. Sess. 1, May 20, 1802.—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 many years, of the happy effects resulting to my good people of Scotland from the General Assembly of your Church, has induced us to countenance your present meeting by our royal authority; and, for this purpose, we have made choice of our right trusty and well-beloved Francis Lord Napier to be our Commissioner, and to represent our person in this Assembly, being fully persuaded that his zeal for our service, his affection for the Church of Scotland, and his firm attachment to the true interests of his country, will make this our choice highly acceptable to you.
We gladly embrace this opportunity of renewing to you our fixed purpose and resolution to support the Church you represent in the full possession and enjoyment of all its rights and privileges, as by law established. Convinced, at the same time, that its prosperity will ever essentially depend upon the due discharge of their duties by all the members of it, in their several ranks and stations, we cannot too earnestly recommend to your most serious consideration the means you possess of accomplishing so desirable an object, by a zealous and prudent exertion of the influence belonging to your sacred function.
At this moment, in particular, whilst you endeavour to impress upon the minds of the people committed to your charge a due sense of gratitude to that Divine Providence which has enabled me to put an end to a long and arduous war, and to restore to them the blessings of peace, you will not fail to remind them that nothing but a strict obedience to the will of God, a firm adherence to our reformed faith, a disinterested love of their country, and submission to its laws, can give these blessings permanence and stability:
We shall receive the highest satisfaction on being informed of your having applied yourselves, with your accustomed piety and prudence, to matters so well deserving our recommendation and all your care. You may at all times depend upon our most ready concurrence in whatever may conduce to the advancement of purposes so essential to the welfare of my people; and so we bid you heartily farewell.
Given at our Court at St James's, the 14th day of May 1802, in the forty-second year of our reign.
By his Majesty's Command,
Addressed thus—To the Right Reverend and Well-beloved, the Moderator, Ministers, and Elders, of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
III. Sess. 1, May 20, 1802.—Act respecting the Arrangement of the Assembly-House for the proper Accommodation of the Members.
Upon the report of the committee appointed by last Assembly, respecting the better arrangement of the Assembly-House for the accommodation of the members, the General Assembly unanimously adopted the following regulations, viz.:—
1st, That the upper galleries shall, as formerly, be set apart for strangers.
2d, That the under galleries shall, as usual, be reserved for preachers and students in Divinity, and that the said preachers and students shall be required to produce tickets, authorising their admission, from the Professors of Divinity.
3d, That one bench, contiguous to each of the under galleries, shall be separated from the middle part of the house by a proper rail, for the accommodation of those ministers who are not members of the Assembly.
4th, That no person shall be admitted into the remaining part of the house except members of the Assembly, the magistrates of the city of Edinburgh for the time being, the Lord Commissioner's attendants, and parties with their counsel and agents.
5th, That the members shall, when they deliver their commissions to the clerks of the Assembly, receive tickets, containing their respective names, from the said clerks; and that the beadles shall be strictly enjoined to refuse them admitrance into the house unless they shall produce their tickets, or shall, upon a motion for that purpose, be admitted by the authority of the Assembly.
6th, That a beadle shall be appointed to superintend the other beadles, and be made responsible for their conduct.
IV. Sess. 3, May 22, 1802.—The General Assembly's Answer to the King's most gracious Letter.
May it please your Majesty,
The gracious letter with which your Majesty hath honoured this meeting of our National Assembly, hath been received by us with all the respect and gratitude due for such a mark of royal favour.
The approbation which your Majesty is pleased to express of the General Assemblies of the Church of Scotland we feel as an animating motive to persevere in the conduct which procures for us the sanction of your royal authority.
The appointment of the Right Honourable Francis Lord Napier to represent your royal person in this General Assembly, we regard as a fresh proof of your Majesty's favour. His zeal for your Majesty's service, his affection for the Church of Scotland, and his firm attachment to the true interests of his country, ensure to him the most respectful and cordial reception.
We rely, with gratitude and confidence, upon the assurance that it is your Majesty's fixed purpose and resolution to support the Church which we represent, in the full possession and enjoyment of all its rights and privileges, as by law established.
We feel most deeply the importance of your Majesty's paternal warning, that the prosperity of out Church will ever essentially depend upon the due discharge of the duties incumbent upon all the members of it, in their several ranks and stations; and we shall not cease to pray that we may be enabled, through the Divine blessing, by a zealous and prudent exertion of the influence belonging to out sacred functions, to promote the accomplishment of an object so desirable. At this moment, in particular, whilst we endeavour to impress upon the minds of the people committed to our charge a due sense of gratitude to that Divine Providence which has enabled your Majesty to put an end to along and arduous war, and to restore to them the blessings of peace, we shall not fail to remind them, that nothing but a strict obedience to the will of God, a firm adherence to out reformed faith, a disinterested love of their country, and submission to its laws, can give these blessings permanence and stablity. We bless the King of Kings, that we live under the government of a Prince who recommends to out attention objects so worthy of all out care; whose ready concurrence will support, and whose high approbation will reward, every exertion to promote them.
We receive with much gratitude the royal donation of L.1000, for promoting the knowledge of the protestant religion in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. We shall apply it, with fidelity and diligence, to the pious and important purpose for which it is given.
That Almighty God, by whom Kings reign, may preserve your Majesty's person,
and direct your councils;—that He may bless the Queen, the prince and Princess of
Wales, and all the Royal Family;—that He may continue to us the many national blessings in which your subjects now rejoice; and that, after enjoying long the affection
of a loyal and grateful people, you may receive a heavenly crown, are the earnest
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 Finlayson, Moderator.
V. Sess. 3, May 22, 1802.—Address to his Majesty on the Present Situation of Public Affairs.
May it please your Majesty,
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 the throne of our gracious Sovereign, with every sentiment of warm affection and profound respect, to congratulate your Majesty on the happy issue which God, in his Providence, hath given to a bloody, extended, and expensive war, by restoring to Europe the blessings of peace.
When we consider the singular nature of the late war, which threat ened in its progress the subversion of social order, and of every political establishment in the civilized world, we offer up the devout homage of grateful hearts to the Sovereign if the universe, who, by his blessing on the wisdom of your Majesty's councils, on the splendid achivements of your fleets and armies, on the steady, affectionate, and zealous loyalty of your people, not only hath maintained our independence as a nation, but, from the furnace of war, hath brought us forth a people increasing in our numbers, united in our strength, growing in prosperity, attached with warmer affection to your Majesty's person and government, and animated by a steadier zeal in support of our unrivalled constitution, both in Church and State.
The Church which we represent has uniformly experienced, and we gratefully acknowledge, the benign influence of your Majesty's auspicious regin. We bless the God of heaven for having given us a King whose public and private virtues adorn the most exalted state of human greatness. We renew the declarations of former Assemblies, that, in the faithful discharge of out duty, we will continue to culticate in the minds of the people that reverence of God, and zeal for tevealed religion; that loyalty to our Sovereign, and attachment to the consitution; those habits of persevering industry, and of domestic virtue, which have stamped upon Britons a national character, that is the glory of out country, and the admiration of the world. As the servents of the God of peace we have, with deept commiseration of afflicted humanity, contempleted the workings of that spirit of insubordination, which has convulsed the world; and in review of the late eventful contest we find, hightly endeared to our affectionate veneration, a Sovereign, who is the father of his subjects, and the watchful guardian of a constitition which, built upon the permanent foundation of religion and liberty, shall, we trust, be preserved, through ages, a sacred pledge of the protecting care of Heaven—a majestic monument of the wisdom of our ancestors, by whose enlightened patriotism it was reared,—an illiustrious trophy to the valour of our contemporaries, by whom it has been so bravely defended,—and a blessing to the succeeding race of Britons, who, we hope, shall receive it unimpaired as the rich inheritance of their fathers.
That Almighty God, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, may prolong
your Majesty's life, and prosper your administration; that He may bless the Queen,
the Prince and Princess of Wales, and all your Royal Family; and that, after a
useful and happy reign on earth, you may obtain a crown of glory, is the earnest
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.
Signed in our name, in our presence, and at out appointment, by
James Finlaysion, Moderator.
VI. Sess. 7, May 27, 1802.—Order and Injunction of the General Assembly to the Presbyteries of the Church, concerning Teachers and Schoolmasters, renewed.
(The Injunctions of 1799, 1800, and 1801, are first repeated in the original edition.)
The General Assembly find, from the report of their Committee respecting the examination of Schools, That sixty Presbyteries have made returns of their obedience to the injunctions of the General Assembly; and that eighteen have hitherto made none: That of the additional returns this year, six Presbyteries report that they have completely fulfilled the instructions of the Assembly; four that they have made considerable progress, and will proceed in their diligence; and three state that they have met with considerable difficulties: That in one Presbytery there is a united parish where there is no parochial schoolmaster, nor any school-room, nor schoolmaster's house; and that, through a large district, it has been deprived of a public teacher for these six years past. That in another Presbytery there are missionaries, who have evaded the order of the sheriff, to cease from teaching till they had complied with the laws of the country respecting teachers. And that, in a third, a certain student has become a missionary preacher; and that, under his direction, and that of others, various schools are taught, and irregular teachings and preachings persisted in; and that the said student refuses either to sign the Formula, or to quality to government: That several Presbyteries who had formerly sent reports, have again made returns of a satisfactory nature.
The General Assembly, having taken the above circumstances into their serious consideration, did, and hereby do, renew their former injunctions to Presbyteries, and expressly require reports from such Presbyteries as have hitherto made none; recommending it to all Presbyteries to send lists of refractory teachers to the sheriffs of counties, that they may proceed against them according to law.
VII. Sess. 7, May 27, 1802.—Declaration and Instruction on the General Assembly in favour of the Parochial Schoolmasters in Scotland.
The General Assembly, having taken into their serious consideration Overtures from the Presbyteries of Lochmaben and Annan, concerning the present state of the parish schools of Scotland, feel themselves called upon, as the constitutional superintendents of all teachers of your within the bounds of this Church, to declare, that the parochial schoolmasters of Scotland being entrusted, in a considerable degree, with the important charge of instilling into the minds of the rising generation the principles of religion and morality, are well entitled to public encouragement; that they are a most useful body of men, whose exertions, by disseminating amongest all ranks of the community solid and practical instruction, have contributed very much to the improvement, the good orger, and success of the people of Scotland; that, by the depreciation of the value of money, their salaries and emoluments, which, with a very few exceptions, are paid entirely in money, are not equal to the gains of a day-labourer; that in many parts of the country it has of late been found impossible to fill the parish schools with persons properly qualified, and that the whole order is sinking to a state of depression most hurtful to their usefulness; that it is extremely desireable that means should be devised for holding forth to men of sound principles and good capacity sufficient inducement to undertake the office of parochial schoolmasters; and that such men, when properly encouraged, having an interest in the prosperity of the country, would prove the most effectual instruments of counteracting the operations of those who, at present, of in any furture time, may attempt to poison the minds of the rising generation with principles inimical to religion, subversive of order, and destructive of our happy constitution in Church and State.
The General Assembly instruct their Moderator, and the Procurator for the Church, to embrace every favourable opportunity of expressing, in the name of the Church, the sentiments contained in this Declaration; to correspond upon this important subject with his Majesty's Officers of State for Scotland, and to co-operate in every way that may appear to them most prudent and effectual, for giving to any plan that may be formed for the relief of the Parochial schoolmasters all the weight which it can derive from the countenance of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
VIII. Sess. 8, May 28, 1802.—Act concerning the Extent and Marches of Glebes.
The General Assembly, having taken into their consideration the 8th Act of Assembly, 1762, entitled, "Act against Dilapidation of Stipends, and for ascertaining the Extent of Glebes," did, and hereby do, enjoin the Synods of this Church to take care that Presbyteries strictly obey the same, particularly respecting the ex tent and marches of glebes, and other emoluments, as expressed in the said Act, whereof the tenor follows:—&c.
(See Act 8th, Assembly, 1762.)
IX. Sess. 9, May 29, 1802.—Commission of the General Assembly to certain Ministers and Ruling Elders for discussing Affairs referred to them.
The General Assembly, &c.
X. Sess. 9, May 29, 1802.—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.
The General Assembly, &c.
XI. Sess. 9, May 29, 1802.—Overture and Recommendation respecting the Promoting of Theological Learning.
It was overtured to the General Assembly, That, for the important purpose of promoting Theological Learning, the Assembly recommend in the following terms:—
Whereas there is nothing more essentially connected with the best interests of the Church, than the improvement of those who are in a course of preparation for becoming ministers of it; and that it is of the utmost importance they should make theological literature not a secondary, but the first and chief subject of their study; and considering that the law respecting the licensing of probationers shortens the period of study, when regular attendance is given; the General Assembly, with the design of following out the meaning of this provision, and making students of divinity embrace every opportunity of improvement which the Universities afford where they give such attendance, hereby most earnestly recommend to all Presbyteries, that when students apply to be taken on trials, as having given regular attendance, they shall require from them certificates of their having attended all the Professors of Divinity who regularly deliver lectures in the Universities where they have studied, whether these lectures be delivered by those Professors usually denominated Professors of Divinity, or of church History; and likewise of their having attended the Professor of Hebrew at least for one session.
The General Assembly, having taken this overture into their serious consideration, unanimously approved thereof, and did, and hereby do, most earnestly recommend the same to all the Presbyteries of this Church accordingly. And, with the design of making this their recommendation completely known, the Assembly ordain, that it be printed in a commodious form, and transmitted to the several Presbyteries; and also, that a copy be sent to every Theological Professor in the different universities of Scotland, to be read by him at some convenient time towards the begining of each session.
XII. Sess. ult., May 31, 1802.—New Overture respecting the Lincensing of Probationers.
XIII. Sess. ult., May 31, 1802.—Act appointing the Diet of the next General Assembly.
The next General Assembly of this National Church is appointed to the held within the New Church Aisle of Edinburgh, on Thursday, the 19th day of May 1803.
Extracted from the Records of the General Assembly, by
Andrew Dalel, Cl. Eccl. Scot.