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 17, 1810.
I. Sess. 1, May 17, 1810.—The King's Commission to Francis Lord Napier produced, and ordered to be recorded.
II. Sess. 1, May 17, 1810.—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. Being desirous, and deeming it good for the propagation of reformed religion, that the ministers and elders of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland should hold their annual meeting at the appointed period, which is now at hand, we have sanctioned the same accordingly with our royal authority. And seeing that, by reason of other weighty affairs, we cannot ourselves be present, we have commissioned our right trusty and well-beloved Lord Napier to represent us on this solemn occasion.
We are confident in thus delegating our authority, that the zeal and fidelity which have heretofore marked the character of this our Commissioner, and secured to him the attention and approbation of the members of your venerable body, will again become conspicuous in him; and that the important and holy exhortations which, on this occasion, we find it more especially necessary to charge him with, will be received by you with all earnestness.
We confide to him, above all things, the renewed assurances which he has uniformly conveyed to you, of our firm and unalterable attachement to the doctrines of the Christian religion, and of our constant and tender regard for the peculiar privileges of the Church of Scotland; and we cherish the hope, that, seeing by past experience the beneficial influence of these doctrines, and the sincerity with which we protect you in the promulgation of them, you will still continue to prefer the precepts which they recommend, and to practise, with all constancy, the conduct which they approve.
To the neglect of these salutary principles and holy laws we attribute the adoption of wild and speculative notions, entertained by misguided men, and the manifold errors which prevail among us in these times. We have witnessed, with concern, their extending influence, and have marked, with regret, their baneful effects. To correct these errors, and to expose the fallacious prospects which are held out to captivate the weak, and seduce the unwary, we call upon you to lend yourselves with all assiduity and vigilance.
If the specious theories of modern philosophy, and the persevering energies of her advocates, are offered for their admiration, you will teach them to avoid the counsels of hypocrisy, and to follow rather the example of those that do well. You will guard them against the violent and intemperate followers of pretended patriotism, showing what manner of men they are; and you will set before them the sober demeanour and honest endeavours of the true disciples of the Gospel, labouring thereby to convince all men of the advantages which are derived from a due and proper obedience to the laws and ordinances which wisdom has established, and discouraging, by the sobriety of your own lives, the principles which tend only to the subversion of all good government and social order.
The great experience of our faithful representative, in these and other matters, which concern the grave deliberations of your solemn Assembly, will aid and assist you in the discharge of those difficult duties which we now impose upon you. He will satisfy you of our determination to support you under every discouraging embarrassment, and of our conviction, that, by timely caution, and the firm, but prudent conduct on your part, which we unceasingly recommend, the virtuous and upright will become more stedfast—and those who for a time have wandered in search of novelty will be reclaimed, and hereafter follow the paths of righteousness.
We further recommend that you admonish those whom we place under your pastoral care, of the intimate connection which never fails to subsist between their more sacred duties and their temporal welfare; and that as they value the immediate benefits of the latter, in the enjoyment of the privileges of an excellent and admired constitution, so they will be mindful to cultivate and extend the observance of those spiritual obligations which alone can render their blessings permanent, or themselves happy.
Well-beloved! These are the sentiments by which we are animated at this momentous crisis. We feel that your duties as pastors of the Church of Scotland are multiplied, and that your responsibility is increased. But we know how much your tried wisdom has been able to accomplish, and how effectual is your approved virtue for the purposes of your delicate and important charge.
The good of our Church, and the welfare of our people, demand and receive our constant and most anxious care. And we rest satisfied, that the particular interests of the Church of Scotland, and the prosperity of that portion of our subjects who have been accustomed to receive from it, through you, the wholesome precepts of the Gospel, are objects which will be effectually promoted by your approaching deliberations.
III. Sess. 3, May 19, 1810.—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 the present General Assembly of the Church of Scotland was received with the most lively sentiments of respect and gratitude.
We regard, with no common satisfaction, the assurance which your Majesty has thought fit to give us, that you deem it good for the propagation of reformed religion that the General Assembly of our National Church should hold their annual meeting at the appointed period; at the same time, we feel this high expression of your confidence, as a most powerful incitement to us to conduct our proceedings with that gravity and calmness which may best promote an object of such great importance. Considering the representation of your royal person in our General Assembly, as the symbol of that union between Church and State which tends to give vigour and stability to both, we receive, as a pleasing testimony of your paternal affection for the Church of Scotland, the appointment of Lord Napier to be your Majesty's Commissioner; and are prepared, by the experience of the zeal and fidelity which have heretofore marked his character, in the execution of his important trust, and secured to him the attention and approbation of the members of our body, to receive with all earnestness the important and holy exhortations with which, on this occasion, your Majesty has found it more especially necessary to charge him.
The renewed assurance which he has most impressively conveyed to us of your Majesty's firm and unalterable attachment to the doctrines of the Christian religion, and of your constant and tender regard for the peculiar privileges of the Church of Scotland, reminds us of the inestimable blessings which we enjoy under the just and beneficent administration of a King, who through a long reign has been the nursing father of the Church, and no less solicitous for the spiritual than the temporal interest of his people. We are anxious to justify the hope which your Majesty is pleased to entertain of this General Assembly, by continuing still to prefer, to all objects that can solicit our attention, the precepts which our holy faith recommends, and to practise, with unshaken constancy, the conduct which it approves, the bene ficial influence of which we have long seen, under the secure and effectual protection which your Majesty has afforded to us in the promulgation of them.
We are deeply convinced that the adoption of wild and speculative notions, entertained by misguided men, and the manifest errors which prevail among us in these times, are justly ascribed to the neglect of the salutary principles and holy laws of our Divine religion; and in obedience to your paternal call, and in fulfilment of the duties of our sacred office, we solemnly pledge ourselves to your Majesty, that, through, the grace of the Lord Jesus, we will lend ourselves, with all assiduity and vigilance, to correct those errors, and to expose the fallacious prospects which are held out to captivate the weak, and seduce the unwary.
It is our determined resolution, that if the specious theories of false philosophy, and the persevering efforts of her advocates, are offered to the admiration of the people entrusted to our charge, we will most affectionately teach them to avoid the counsels of hypocrisy, and to follow rather the example of those that do well. We shall not fail to guard them against the violent and intemperate followers of pretended patriotism, showing them what manner of men they are, and setting before them the sober demeanour and earnest endeavours of the true friends of the Gospel, striving, by sound principles and pure morals, to continue and increase that public happiness which we have derived from our envied constitution. By an appeal to the history of past ages, and the experience of the present times, we shall labour to convince all men of the advantages which result from a due and proper obedience to the laws and ordinances which wisdom has established; happy, if by the sobriety of our lives, we shall be favoured, like, the faithful men who have gone before us, as the instruments of Divine Providence, in discouraging the principles which tend only to the subversion of all good government and social order.
From the great experience of your Majesty's faithful representative in these and other matters which concern the interests of our Church, we confidently expect high encouragement in the discharge of the difficult duties recommended to us by your Majesty. He has fully satisfied us of your Majesty's determination to support us under every discouraging embarrassment, and of your royal conviction that, by timely caution, and the firm and prudent conduct recommended to us by your Majesty, our public ministrations may be blessed of God, to make the virtuous and upright more stedfast, and to reclaim those who may for a time have wandered in search of pernicious novelties.
Firmly convinced of the indissoluble connection which must ever subsist between the temporal welfare of a people and the faithful discharge of their more sacred duties, we shall exert our most strenuous endeavours to maintain and improve that happy union, by impressing a just sense of the blessed effects of it upon the minds of all those that are committed to our care; admonishing them, as they value the distinguished privileges of an excellent and admired constitution, to cultivate and extend the observance of those spiritual obligations which alone can render these blessings permanent, or themselves happy.
The condescending and indulgent communication of the pious and benevolent sentiments by which your Majesty is animated at this momentous crisis, has made a deep impression on our hearts; binding us by new ties of affection to your Majesty's person, and calling forth a more ardent zeal in behalf of your government. While we feel, that, from the general aspect of the times, our duties, as pastors of the Church of Scotland, are multiplied, and that our responsibility is increased, we feel also that our minds are invigorated by the firm reliance which your Majesty is pleased to repose in our wisdom and fidelity.
We rejoice in the renewed assurance, that the good of the Church and the welfare of your people are the objects of your Majesty's constant and most anxious care; and we have learned from long experience, that no services are more acceptable to your royal mind than those which are conducive to these great ends of your government. Under this impression, we shall labour with united effort to promote, by our deliberations, the particular interest of the Church of Scotland, and the prosperity and happiness of that portion of your subjects who have been accustomed to receive from it, through us, the wholesome precepts of the Gospel.
We receive your Majesty's royal donation for the propagation of Christian knowledge, and the principles of the Reformed religion in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, as a pleasing expression of your Majesty's unremitted attention to the best interests of your people. It shall be our care to secure, by a faithful application of this bounty, the valuable objects for which it has been bestowed.
That Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, may protect your Majesty's person, and prosper the administration of your government;—that He may
bless abundantly our gracious Queen, the Prince and Princess of Wales, and all the
members of your Illustrious House;—and that, after a long and happy reign over a
loyal and affectionate people, you may at length be received to the glory of the
heavenly kingdom, are the united and servent 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 19, 1810.—Address to his Majesty upon the Fiftieth Anniversary of his Majesty's Accession to the Throne.
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 General Assembly, embrace the first opportunity of approaching our gracious Sovereign, to join in those heartfelt congratulations which were lately so universally expressed by an attached and loyal people, on the fiftieth anniversary of your Majesty's accession to the throne of these kingdoms.
Satisfied that a virtuous and religious king is one of the greatest blessings which the Almighty can bestow upon a nation, we regard your Majesty's lengthened reign as a peculiar mark of the favour of Heaven, for which we are grateful to God, who has added this to the many distinguishing advantages conferred upon us as a people. During nearly half a century, your Majesty's subjects have had displayed to them from the throne an example of every public and private virtue; an example which has excited their respect and veneration, and by its powerful influence, has been of incalculable benefit in promoting their happiness.
Your Majesty has been called to discharge the duties of a highly important station, in one of the most eventful periods to be found in history; a period during which ancient institutions have been destroyed, thrones levelled with the ground, and all the relations which had for ages connected the great commonwealth of Europe torn asunder. In the midst of this general convulsion, Britain, under the auspicious rule of a wise and just monarch, has remained secure. Her unrivalled constitution has been preserved; her territory enlarged; her commerce, under the shelter of a triumphant navy, spread to the most distant regions; her agriculture and manufactures carried to an unexampled degree of perfection; whilst the peaceful pursuits of literature and science have been fostered, the pure administration of justice secured, and the temples of religion, where our fathers worshipped, untouched by the hand of sacrilege, have remained open to their posterity, to offer up their advrations to the Author of these varied gifts. This envired situation, Sire, in which Providence has been pleased to place our country, cannot fail of being truly gratifying to a Sovereign, who, as the father of his people, rejoices in their happiness; and this gratification must be greatly increased by the reflection, that your Majesty's conscientious and faithful discharge of your high duties has contributed so largely to preserve to your subjects the enjoyment of so many blessings.
Among the various circumstances which have marked an eventful reign, there is not one more honourable to your Majesty's seelings, or which reflects a brighter lustre on the British character, than the assistance which has been so liberally afforded to suffering nations, struggling to rescue themselves from the grasp of lawless ambition. The exertions made by your Majesty for this purpose have proved to the world that Britain is ready to expend her blood, as well as her treasure, in succouring her allies; whilst the successful valour of your troops, opposed to such superior numbers, has confirmed the expectations of the most sanguine—inspired the timid with confidence—and taught a vaunting foe how hopeless would be the attempt to combat freemen on their native soil. Whatever, under Divine Providence, may be the fate of the other nations of Europe, your subjects will have the consolation to think, that, following your Majesty's illustrious example, they acted the part which became a great and generous nation; and no page in history will be read by posterity with greater exultation, than that which records that Britons were the only people who dared, in defiance of a powerful usurper, to extend their arm for the protection of the oppressed; whilst their country remained the only asylum where the unfortunate exile found a refuge from the effects of his sanguinary vengeance.
Amidst the general benefits in which we participate with our fellow-subjects, we recollect, with the liveliest emotions, the peculiar marks of royal favour which this National Church has experienced during your Majesty's reign; and knowing that the faithful discharge of our sacred duties is the expression of gratitude most acceptable to your Majesty, we renew the pledge often given, to be zealous in our endeavours to cherish and strengthen those principles of loyalty to the King, and attachment to the constitution, by which the people under our care have long been animated; and to impress deeply upon their minds those sentiments of religion and virtue, which are the true source of private happiness and national greatness.
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
prosperous reign upon earth, you may obtain a crown of glory, is the earnest prayer
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.
V. Sess. 9, May 26, 1810.—Commission of the General Assembly to certain Ministers and Ruling Elders for discussing Affairs referred to them.
VI. Sess. 9, May 26, 1810.—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 to that end.
VII. Sess. 9, May 26, 1810.—Interim Act and Overture respecting the Licensing of Probationers.
VIII. Sess. 9, May 26, 1810.—Overture anent the Ordination of Elders.
IX. Sess. ult., May 28, 1810.—Injunction respecting the Visitation of Schools.
2. That the words of this Act are,—"The General Assembly enjoin all the Presbyteries of this Church to report to the Assembly a list of all the schools within their bounds, specifying what is taught in each school;—whether the schools be held on the Lord's Day, or on other days of the week;—in what way the schoolmasters are supported or maintained;—whether they act for themselves, or are employed by or under the direction of others;—what number of scholars attend each school at the time of making the report;—and, in general, whatever else shall appear to the Presbytery of importance respecting the schools within their bounds."
3. That in consequence of this Act, (now recited,) there have been transmitted to the present Assembly reports from fifteen Presbyteries, viz.:—from Langholm, Annan, Chirnside, Jedburgh, Peebles, Lanark, Linlithgow, Dalkeith, Haddington, Dunbar, Dundee, Cupar, Aberdeen, Strathbogie, and Turriff.
4. That all these reports afford satisfactory evidence that the Presbyteries which have transmitted them have respectively either examined, or were in the course of examining, since the last meeting of the Assembly, the different schools under their superintendence.
But, lastly, in respect that so large a proportion of the Presbyteries of the Church have not transmitted reports concerning schools at all, and that some of those reports which have been transmitted do not contain informations as to several facts to which the Act of Assembly above mentioned directs attention to be paid, the committee humbly suggest that the Assembly should, on the present occasion, again enjoin, in terms of a similar resolution passed last year, "That Presbyteries be more attentive and particular in reporting their obedience to the Act of Assembly, 1799, respecting schools; that the clerks be instructed to see this injunction printed along with the Acts of Assembly; and that it be recommended to Presbyteries to take this injunction under consideration on the day they meet to elect their representatives to the General Assembly."
X. Sess. ult., May 28, 1810.—Preamble to the Subscription Paper in Aid of the Funds of the Church.
Of the thousand pounds sterling allowed annually by government for defraying the expenses of the Church, it is specified in the warrant, that L. 750 shall be applied in paying the salaries of the officers of the Church; L.100 for incidental expenses; and L.150 for law proceedings; and intimation has been given by government that no addition will be made to the allowance of L.150.
But the General Assembly have ascertained that the allowance of L.150 is wholly insufficient for defending the general rights of the Church in questions that often occur, where no individual has any patrimonial interest; and for assisting clergymen in defending their rights, in those cases where the Church has been in use to grant aid.
The General Assembly, therefore, judging it essential to the public interest of the Church, and the relief of individual clergymen, that there should be an increase of the fund for these purposes, and seeing no other method of obtainning such increase but by a voluntary subscription, do hereby earnestly recommend that a general contribution shall immediately be made in the several Presbyteries by the ministers and elders of the Church; and do hereby direct, that the sums received be remitted without delay by the Moderator or Clerks of Presbyteries to the Procurator for the Church, to be by him reported to the next General Assembly.