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 21, 1807
I. Sess. 1, May 21, 1807.—The King's Commission to Francis Lord Napier produced, and ordered to be recorded.
II. Sess. 1, May 21, 1807.—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. Having had full and continued proof the sufficiency and fidelity of our right trusty and well-beloved Francis Lord Napier, that he is a person every way qualified for rightly managing and discharging the duties of our Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, we have thought fit again to nominate and appoint him to represent our royal person at the approaching meeting of your venerable body. We dobut not that this our choice will be acceptable to you, and that it will be considered by you as affording an undeniable proof of the sense which we entertain of that attachment to us which you have not ceased to manifest, and of the laudable exertions with which you have constantly promoted the accomplishment of those objects which, through a faithful and approved Commissioner, we have heretofore thought it our duty to recommend to your special care. We rest assured, that the same attachment and the same exertions will still prevail among you, and that the happiness which has been experienced by all ranks of people, under the blessings of an invaluable constitution, may still continue to be felt. We are confident you will inculcate among those committed to your care the indispensable necessity of a due submission to the laws, and a just veneration for all constituted establishments and authorities. And that we may not be wanting in that encouragement which we have not failed to afford to those who labour to establish, upon a firm and sure basis, those blessings which, under DivineProvidence, we are now permitted to enjoy, we repeat to you our unalterable attachment to the Christian religion, and the unceasing regard which we entertain for the peculiar privileges of our Church of Scotland; and we are persuaded, that by the zealous endeavours of our representative to support its rights, and by the continual care and watchfulness of you its appointed pastors, those principles of true religion and piety will grow up and be established among you, upon which alone the welfare and the happiness of them can be surely founded. It there be other principles, which some have not feared to trust to and to teach, be assured that such men have been blinded by the delusive novelties of false philosophy; and that although the enemies of God's Holy Word should increase your labours, and multiply the difficulties with which you have to contend, the doctrines of true religion, inculcated by your precepts, and sanctioned by your exemplary practice, will confound and put them to shame. To you we commit, with confidence, the great and sacred trust of watching over the morals of our people throughout an extensive and important part of our United Kingdom. To your guidance we still anxiously look to lead them in the paths of righteousness. We have seen, with increasing joy, the example afforded by your own wisdom and virtue, constantly teaching them to bear up against all the dangers and difficulties which have surrounded them; and we remain in the full persuasion, that the wholesome doctrines of the Gospel, which you will not fail to recommend, will again support them in the hour of trial. Well-beloved, we recommend you most earnestly to God's holy blessing and protection, and heartily did you farewell.
III. Sess. 3, May 23, 1807.—The General Assembly's Answer to the King's most gracious Letter.
The renewed appointment of Francis Lord Napier to represent your royal person in this Assembly we regard as a most acceptable proof of your Majesty's approbation and favour. Our experience of the ability with which he executes the duties of his high trust, and of his zeal for maintaining the privileges of the Church of Scotland, have secured to him our respectful and cordial attachment.
The approbation which your Majesty is pleased to express of our exertions in promoting the objects which, on former occasions, your paternal wisdom has recommended to our care, while it excites our gratitude, and strengthens our affection towards your Majesty, will animate our endeavours to perpetuate the happiness which hath long been experienced by all ranks of people under the blessings of an invaluable constitution. We will inculcate among those committed to our care the indispensable necessity of a due submission to the laws, and a just veneration for all constituted establishments and authorities. We acknowledge, with thankfulness and joy, the encouragement afforded by your Majesty to all who labour to establish, upon a firm and sure basis, those blessings which, under Divine Providence, are enjoyed in this happy land. And we rely with the fullest confidence on the assurance which your Majesty is pleased to renew, of your unalterable attachment to the Christian religion, and of your unceasing regard for the peculiar privileges of the Church of Scotland. Under the sanction of your royal authority, and the blessing of that Divine Master whom we serve, we trust that success will crown our exertions to disseminate hose principles of true religion and piety on which alone our national welfare can ecurely rest. It there be other principles which some have not feared to trust to and to teach, we are well assured that such men have been blinded by the delusive novel ties of a false philosophy; and although the enemies of God's Holy Word may increase our labour, and multiply the difficulties with which we have to contend, we trust that, through the influence of Divine grace, we shall be enabled to prevail against them, by showing, out of a good conversation, our works with meekness of wisdom.
We feel all the importance of the trust reposed in us by your Majesty, and all the value of that praise with which your Majesty is graciously pleased to honour us; and we pray earnestly to Almighty God, that he would fit us to lead our people in the ways of righteousness, and to support them by the wholesome doctrines of the Gospel in the hour of trial.
We entreat your Majesty to accept our humble acknowledgments for your continued attention to the religious interest of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. It shall be our endeavour to apply your royal bounty, so as most effectually to premote the object for which it is bestowed.
That Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, may protect your Majesty's person, and prosper your government;—that He may bless abundantly our
gracious Queen, the Prince and Princess of Wales, and all the members of your
illustrious House;—that He may long continue to us the blessings which we enjoy
under your Majesty's anspicious regin; and that He may bestow upon you hereafter
a crown of glory, are the prayers of,
May it please your Majesty, your Majesty's most faithfuly, most obedient, and most loyal subjectgs, the Ministers and Elders met in this National Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
IV. Sess. 3, May 23, 1807.—Address to his Majesty on the present arduous Situation of Public Affairs. (fn. 1)
Most gracious Sovereign,
May it please your Majesty to accept the humble expression of the dutiful and loyal sentiments with which the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland presome to approach their gracious Sovereign.
It is the happiness of your people that, during an auspicious regin of forty-seven years, the conduct of your Majesty has been uniformly governed by the principles which placed the House of Brunswick upon the throne of these realms; and the ministers and elders of the Church of Scotland, attached to those principles from conviction, as well as by their habits and institutions, recollect with peculiar satisfaction, that your Majesty has exhibited the brightest example of a sacred regard to the Protestant reformed religion. While, in the series of indulgences to Roman Catholic subjects, which have marked your Majesty's reign, we recognize the enlightened operation of a mild and tolerant spirit, we have always found your Majesty the faithful guardian of the Protestant establishment. We have lately seen the fences of that establishment upheld by the firm and dignified exercise of the constitutional preogative of the crown, and feeling the security which all our rights and privileges derive from the solicitude with which your Majesty discharges the duties of the Sovereign of a free people, we unite with our fellow-subjects in offering the affectionate tribute justly due to the royal cares for the public Welfare.
In recollecting your Majesty's uniform zeal for the interest of religion, justice, and humanity; the many public measures for the promotion of these great interest by which your Majesty's reign has been distinguished, and the exalted character which, under your Majesty's government, the British nation has acquired; it is with heartfelt satisfaction that we congratulate your Majesty on the final abolition of the African Slave Trade, which had so long polluted the commerce, and tarnished the honour of the British name. We feel, in common with the great body of our fellow-subjects, that the Act of the last Session of Parliament, which prohibited the further importation of slaves into the West India Colonies, will ever be regarded as one of the most splendid events of your Majesty's reign; and while it proclaims to the world the justice of the British character, will send the tidings of peace and benevolence to the injured natives of Africa.
We watch with anxiety, but without dismay, the progress of the interesting events that distinguish the times in which we live. We lament the calamities of war, but we have the consolation of thinking, that although the inordinate ambition of our enemy renders the prologation of the arduous contest indispensably necessary for the security and honour of the British empire, the resources of the country are not exhausted, and the spirit of the people is unbroken. While we hear with admiration and gratitude of the gallant achievements of your Majesty's forces by sea and land, we behold all around us submitting patiently to the burdens and sacrifices to which the voice of their country calls them; and we account it our bounden duty to exert all our influence in cherishing that true patriotism which unites all orders of men in the national defence.
That the God of battles may bless your Majesty's arms;—that the wisdom and
vigour of your Majesty's councils may contine to establish your throne in the hearts
of your subjects; and that the British sceptre may, till the latest posterity, be swayed
by Prineces of your Illustrious House, formed by your example to maintain the liberties, and to possess the confidence of a grateful people, 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. 9, May 30, 1807.—Commission of the General Assembly to certain Ministers and Ruling Elders for discussing Affairs referred to them.
VI. Sess. 9, May 30, 1807.—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. ult., June 1, 1807,—Overture respecting the Licensing of Probationers.
VIII. Sess. ult., June 1, 1807.—Act anent Printing Commissions.
[The General Assembly, upon report of their Committee appointed to prepare an enactment for printing Commissions, approve of the following enactment for printing the Commissions from Presbyteries and Burghs. But in regard that the Forms of Commissions from the several Universities differ in some respects from one another, judged it best to continue them on their present footing.]
The General Assembly enact and appoint, that in future all commissions from Presbyteries and Burghs shall be printed by the printer to the Church, under the superintendent of the clerks of Assembly, aggreeably to the forms now authorised by the General Assembly, with necessary blanks for names, designations, dates, and qualifications—[Here must be narrated in a note the qualifications of Elders of Burghs;]—and the expenses of the same defrayed out of the funds of the Church.
That a sufficient number of said blank commissions shall be forwarded by the clerks of Assembly to all clerks of Presbyteries and Burghs, as soon as said commissions can be printed; and that they shall be supplied by the clerks of Assembly with copies of the same from time to time, as occasion may require, upon making a demand to that effect.
That although every commission from a Presbytery must contain the names of all the persons chosen to represent that Presbytery, the Assembly nevertheless enact, that it shall be competent for each of said delegates to require from the Presbytery a regularly attested copy of the commission, which the said Presbytery must furnish, upon the same being demanded in due time. It being understood, that only one copy of the attested commission, from each Presbytery, shall be required by the Assembly in making up the roll of its members; provided always, that if a commission shall have been given into the clerk for the that purpose, in any respect defective or erroneous, it shall be competent for any other of the delegastes from that Presbytery to give in another commission from his Presbytery, if he any has, which, if accurate, shall be sustained.
And as it may sometimes happen, that the clerks of Presbyteries, more especially of such Presbyteries as are situated in remote parts of the country, may not be in possession of such printed commissions as may be wanted, the Assembly appoint, that in all such cases the commission shall be written out according to the forms and usage of the Church previous to the date of this enactment.