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, 1806
I. Sess. 1, May 22, 1806.—The King's Commission to Francis Lord Napier produced, and ordered to be recorded.
II. Sess. 1, May 22, 1806.—The King's most gracious Letter to the General Assembly, present to them by his Majesty's Commissioner.
Right Reverend and well-beloved, we greet you well. The season of your annual meeting being arrived, we have thought fit to constitute and appoint our right trusty and well-beloved Francis Lord Napier to represent our royal person in your General Assembly. This appointment, we are confident, will be received by you as the best proof we can give, both of our firm attachment to the Christian religion, and of our tender regard for the particular rights and privileges of our Church of Scotland; inasmuch as we are firmly persuaded, that the well-known zeal of this our Commissioner in the cause of revealed religion, as well as his long experience in the ecclesiastical affairs of this part of our United Kingdom, will render him an active supporter of all good measures, and an able adviser in all difficulties. That you are met together in times of extraordinary pressure and evident danger, both to Church and State, is a remark which cannot fail forcibly to strike every member of your learned and venerable body, and that your duties, as pastors of the Church of Scotland, are, in consequence, greatly multiplied, and your responsibility much increased, is an observation too plain to require illustration. At no former period of our history have we stood more in need of the aid and support of religion; at no time have sound principles and virtuous practice been more necessary to our preservation as a Church and nation. To you, therefore, to whom are entrusted the oracles of God, and to whose lot it has fallen to instruct our subjects, and lead them in the paths of righteousness, to you we naturally look, in the hour of trial, for a conscientious and vigorous discharge of your pastoral duties. We expect from your tried wisdom and approved virtue, that your flocks will be fed with the wholesome doctrines of the Gospel; that the morality you inclucate, and the rules of good conduct which you prescribe, will be constantly referred to, and regulated by the pure standard of God's holy Word; and that faith in our Lord Jesus Christ will be so preached by you, as to become a motive to newness of life, and an obligation to reformation of manners. You cannot fail to have noticed that some have lately attempted to build on other foundations, vainly relying on false philosohphy and worldly wisdom; but their principles have been made manifest of what sort they are; that they are not principles of purity and excellence, but of resinement and subtilty. But we are assured of better things concerning you; that as heretofore you have proved yourselves discreet and diligent dispensers of God's holy Word, so now, that your best endeavours will not be wanting to the good of our Church, and the welfare of our people, and that you will so adorn the one by your life and doctrine, and so zealously and faithfully watch over the other, that both, by your guidance, may continually advance in happiness and prosperity. Wherefore, most earnestly recommending you to the Divine blessing and protection, we heartily bid you fare well.
III. Sess. 3, May 24, 1806.—The General Assembly's Answer to the Kingt's most gracious Letter.
May it please your Majesty.
The gracious letter with which your Majesty hath been pleased to honour this General Assembly of the Church of Scotland was received with the warmest feelings of respect and gratitude.
The renewed appointment of Lord Napier to represent your royal person in this Assembly is to us a most gratifying pledge of your Majesty's firm attachment to the Christian religion, and tender regard for the particular rights and privileges of the Church of Scotland. His well-known zeal in the cause of revealed religion, and his long experience in the ecclesiastical affairs of Scotland, teach us to look to him with confidence and respectful affection, as the steady friend of our National Church.
Met, as we now are, in times of extraordinary pressure and evident danger, both to Church and State, we feel that our duties, as pastors of the Church of Scotland, are, in consequence, greatly multiplied, and our responsibility much increased. Sensible that at no period of our history have we stood more in need of the aid and support of religion; that at no time have sound principles and virtuous practice been more necessary to our preservation as a Church and nation; entrusted with the oracles of God, that we may instruct our people, and lead them in the paths of righteousness, we feel the strength of the obligations which bind us, in this hour of trial, to a conscientious and vigorous discharge of our pastoral duty.
Impressed with these sentiments, and deeply affected with your Majesty's paternal admonitions, we do most solemnly pledge ourselves, through the assistance of Divine grace, to feed our flocks with the wholesome doctrines of the Gospel; to regulate, by the pure standard of God's holy Word, the morality which we teach, and so to preach faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, as that it may become a motive to newness of life. We pledge ourselves especially to lay to heart the warning, so impressively and seasonably given by your Majesty, concerning the attempts which some have lately made to build on other foundations, vainly relying on false philosophy and worldly wisdom. Knowing the principles of such men to be as im pure in their source as debasing in their tendency, we trust that we shall never forget the sacred duty of keeping the Church of Scotland free from their stain.
The approbation which your Majesty is pleased to bestow on our former labours shall animate our future exertions to promote the good of this Church, and the welfare of the people under our charge. We pray that the God whom we serve may enable us so to adorn the one by our life and doctrines, and so zealously and faithfully to watch over the other, that, by his blessing on our humble endeavours, the happiness and prosperity of both may be advanced.
We entreat your Majesty to accept our humble acknowledgments for your attention to the advancement of religious knowledge in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Your royal donation for this purpose we shall faithfully endeavour to apply, so as most effectually to promote the design for which it is bestowed.
That Almighty God, the Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, may direct
your Majesty's councils, and prosper your government; that He may bless our gracious Queen, their Royal Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Wales, and all
your Royal Family; that He may long preserve your Majesty to reign over a free,
a loyal and a virtuous people; and that He may, through Christ, bestow upon you
hereafter and eternal crown, 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.
IV. Sess. 3, May 24, 1806.—Address to his Majesty on the present Ardous Situation of Public Affairs.
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 the throne of our gracious Sovereign, with the unanimous expression of our affectionate and zealous attachment to your person and government.
The present circumstances of national danger unite the exertions of all your Majesty's faithful subjects; and the immense accessions of strength acquired by our enemy on the Continent of Europe, although they increase the difficulties of the arduous contest in which the nation is engaged, invigorate in our hearts every sentiment of loyalty and public spirit. In the whole course of his unexampled career, the present ruler of France has never obtained any triumph over Britain, and he has not hitherto been able even to attempt the execution of his threats of invasion. The protecting arem of Divine Providence has been extended over a nation which has persevered in opposing it influence to the wild progress of inordinate ambition. A succession of the most brilliant naval victories, clouded, alas! by the death of Lord Viscount Nelson, but illumined by the glory of many heroes who emulate his fame, has given security to our shores, our colonies, and our commerce; and the magnaimity and patriotism with which all orders of men combine their efforts in maintaining the independence of Britain, have been rewarded by its remaining, amidst the wreck of nations, a great and powerful state, with all its institutions entire, with its spirit unbroken, and its dominions enlarged by the most valuable conquests.
As servants of the Prince of Peace, we pray for a termination of the present commotions of Europe. But beholding with just indignation the growing iniquity of a system which shakes the stability of all regular governments, and reading in the fate of many states on the Continent, an awful waring against that unwise policy which would seek to escape present danger by grasping at a delusive peace, inconsistent with the principles of justice and honour, we recognize your Majesty's paternal care for your people, in calling forth the resources of this flourishing country to resist the repeated aggressions of our foe. Far from murmuring at the sacrifices and burdens which the duration of the contest may require, we join the unmanious voice of our fellow-subjects in applauding the promptitude and energy of the measures lately taken for vindicating our just rights in the north of Europe. And we trust in God, that the wisdom and vigour of your Majesty's councils, the valour and good conduct of your fleets and armies, and the firmness, fortitude, and good sense of a loyal people, will enable your Majesty to conduct the operations of a vigorous and successful was to an honourable conclusion.
Deeply impressed with a sense of the sacred duty which, at such a time as this, the ministers and elders of the Church of Scotland owe to their country, we pledge ourselves to your Majesty that we will continue, in our several stations, to exert our influence with alacrity and zeal in cherishing those sentiments of public spirit which become a people who know the value of their unrivalled constitution, and in promoting that righteousness which exalteth a nation, which is the best expression of gratitude to the God of our fathers, and the best encouragement to hope that he will continue to bless our land.
That Almighty God may give success to your Majesty's arms by sea and land;
that the means employed for the national defence may effectally defeat the designs
of our enemy; that peace and truth may meet in our days; that the administration
of your Majesty's government may continue to establish your throne in the hearts of
your subjects, and that descendants of your illustrious house, forming themselves
upon your example, may sway the British sceptre with justice and renown to the
latest posterity, 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.
V. Sess. 7, May 29, 1806.—Overture anent Ordained Assistants and Successors. (fn. 1)
Whereas doubts have been entertained, and different practices have prevailed in the Church, respecting the situation of ordained assistants and successors, it is humbly overtured, that the General Assembly shall enact and ordain, that a person who has been ordained assistant and successor to the minister of a parish, cannot sit as an elder in the kirk-session of the parish, and that neither his character as assistant, nor the powers conveyed to him by ordination, do, of themselves, entitle him to summon meetings of session, or to preside there. That the right to sit and vote in the judicatories of the Church, which constitutionally belongs to the minister of the parish, remains entire in his person, it can neither be assumed by the assistant, nor communicated to him by the minister, without the authority of the Church. That when the minister of the parish is incapable of exercising this right, the Presbytery may grant authority to the ordained assistant and successor to summon meetings of session, to preside there, and may also, if they see cause, grant him authority to sit in the Presbytery and Synod, and a title to be elected a member of the General Assembly; but that the authority and title thus conferred on the assistant and successor shall cease whensoever the Presbytery find that the minister of the parish is restored to the capacity of exercising his constitutional right.
VI. Sess. 9, May 31, 1806.—Commission of the General Assembly to certain Ministers and Ruling Elders for discussing Affairs referred to them.
VII. Sess. ult., June 2, 1806.—Commission to some Minisiters 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.—(The terms of the Commission are the same as formerly, with the omission of these words, which occur about the middle of the Act:—"It being understood by this resolution, that the several stations, with regard to which such conditions were originally made by the committee, when no such declaration of the catechist, or attestation of the Presbytery, as is now proposed, is received by the cashier, shall be afterwards suppressed by the committee, though the catechist shall, notwithstanding, receive the salary for the time he is certified to have performed his duty."—Ed. 1843.)