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 19, 1814.
I. Sess. 1, May 19, 1814.—The King's Commission to Francis Lord Napier produced, and ordered to be recorded.
II. Sess. 1, May 19, 1814.—The Prince Regent's most gracious Letter to the General Assembly, presented to them by his Majesty's Commissioner.
In the name, and on the behalf of his Majesty,
George, P. R.
Right Reverend and well-beloved,—It is with peculiar satisfaction that we look forward to the approaching Assembly of the ministers and elders of the Church of Scotland.
Their deliberations have at all times been regarded by us with the deepest interest, and the support of the Establishment towards which their labours have been directed, has been the object of our unceasing care.
We have annually endeavoured to satisfy its members of our fixed determination to support it, and we have carefully admonished all its disciples, through you, to be steady in its defence. Happily, our admonitions have not been offered in vain—they were made in the spirit of benevolence and affection—they have been received with thankfulness, and regarded with sincerity.
You have united with our faithful subjects in working out the good work of peace, and the fruits of your labours have become apparent to all the world. A new era is arrived; our constitution and independence are no longer assailed by the domineering usurpation of tyrannical ambition; our Establishments are unimpaired; our laws remain entire; and our religion is preserved. These are the happy consequences, well-beloved, of our stedfastness in the cause of virtue and of truth. These are the welcome triumphs which the Wise Dispenser of human events has permitted us, in His good time, to enjoy.
We rejoice with you in these things; and that you may be assured of the particular interest which we have felt in the restoration of the establishment of your holy Church to its peaceful labours, we again charge our right trusty Commissioner, Francis Lord Napier, to convey to you our congratulations and our love. He has inculcated with assiduity the precepts we have constantly directed him to recommend in the hour of trial, and he will teach you to cherish, in the more auspicious moments of peace, the doctrines that have hitherto enabled you to withstand the enemies of those principles which are the foundation of the strength and true happiness of nations.
Persevere, well-beloved, in the discharge of your moral duties. Continue to teach our subjects the great and awful truths of religion. Encourage them in the conviction that your ecclesiastical establishment is an object of our esteem and favour. Endeavour to preserve among them a due obedience to our laws; and persuade them that they will thereby promote the cause of religious liberty and perfect freedom.
Recommending you, brethren, to strengthen yourselves in the principles of virtue, and to direct those whom we again commit to your care, so that they follow the paths of peace, we beartily bid you farewell.
III. Sess. 3, May 21, 1814.—The General Assembly's Answer to the Prince Regent's most gracious Letter.
May it please your Royal Highness,
The gracious letter with which, in the name and on the behalf of his Majesty, your Royal Highness has been pleased to honour this General Assembly, has been received by us with the greatest respect.
We acknowledge, with heartfelt gratitude, the interest which our Sovereign has at all times condescended to take in our deliberations, and the paternal care with which he has watched over the interests of our Establishment. The repeated expressions of his fixed determination to support our National Church, and his fatherly admonitions, given in the spirit of benevolence and affection, have animated our people in its defence.
We rejoice in the arrival of a new era. Our constitution and independence are no longer assailed by the domineering usurpation of tyrannical ambition; our establishments are unimpaired; our laws remain entire; and our religion is preserved. We adore the Wise Dispenser of all human things, who, by his blessing upon the stedfastness of our national councils, hath given these welcome triumphs to the cause of virtue and of truth.
It is peculiarly gratifying to us that the congratulations with which your Royal Highness is pleased to honour us upon these great events, are conveyed to us by Francis Lord Napier; a nobleman, whom long experience of his virtues, and of his kindness, endears to us. As he inculcated on us with assiduity those precepts which the wisdom of our Sovereign recommended in the hour of trial, we are well assured that he will perform, with equal faithfulness, the pleasing task of cherishing in us those sentiments which become the more auspicious moments of peace.
It shall be our study, in conformity with the paternal admonitions of your Royal Highness, to maintain the doctrines of the Gospel; that as we have been protected from the enemies of our faith, we may cultivate unceasingly those principles which are the foundation of the true strength and happiness of nations.
It will be at once an incentive to exertions, and a powerful aid to us in the discharge of our pastoral duties, in teaching our people the great and awful truths of religion, that we are permitted by your Royal Highness to encourage in them a conviction that our ecclesiastical establishment is honoured with the royal favour. We will endeavour to preserve among them a due obedience to the laws, and to persuade them that they will thereby promote the cause of religious liberty and perfect freedom.
It shall be our earnest prayer, that, through the Divine blessing, we may be enabled to strengthen ourselves in the principles of virtue, and to direct those who are committed to our care, so that they may follow the paths of peace.
We have received with gratitude, and shall endeavour to apply with faithfulness, his Majesty's gracious donation of L. 2000, for the propagation of Christian knowledge in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.
That Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, may bless, consble, and
restore his Majesty the King; that He may bless abundantly the Queen, your Royal
Highness, and all the members of the Royal Family; that He may direct and prosper
the measures of his Majesty's government; and that He may maintain to the latest
ages the national blessings which he hath bestowed upon our country, are the fervent prayers of,
May it please your Royal Highness, his Majesty's most faithful, most obedient, and most loyal subjects, the Ministers and Elders of this National Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
IV. Sess. 3, May 21, 1814.—Address of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland to his Royal Highness George Prince of Wales, Regent of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
May it please your Royal Highness,
We, his Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the ministers and elders of the Church of Scotland, eagerly embrace the opportunity of our meeting in this General Assembly to approach the throne, that we may express to your Royal Highness our sentiments on the events of a period, auspicious beyound our utmost hopes to the glory of Britain, and the general interests of the civilized world.
Amidst the variety, however, of the subjects of heartfelt congratulation which press upon our thoughts, we would pause till we offer to your Royal Highness the homage of our tenderest sympathy on the continuance of that malady, with which it has pleased the Almighty to affict your Royal Father, our beloved and venerable Sovereign. We feel, that to your Royal Highness, to the United Kingdom, and to our illustrious Allies, the participation of his Majesty in the downfall of that "throne, which framed mischief by a law," in the re-establishement of the legitimate governments of those countries which had been overpowered by a military despitism, and in the return of all the friendly relations which formerly cemented the common wealth of Europe, would have completed the happiness of this great jubilee of the human race. But, even in this case, it is both our consolation and our joy to remember, that your Royal Highness, consulting the true principles of the constitution, and accepting the direction of those arduous duties which the perplexity and distress of nations had devolved on the British Empire, has maintained the spirit of his Majesty's policy, increased the glory of his Majesty's reign, and purchased new titles to the confidence and the gratitude of his Majesty's subjects and allies.
When we look back to the magnitude and the duration of the exertions which our country has made in behalf of social order, national independence and public law, amidst the perpetual vicissitudes of a contest so bloody, portentours, and long protracted, our eyes are filled with the tears of exulting patriotism. We have seen the magnanimity and fortitude of a truly British King, supported by the wisdom and constancy of approved councillors, abundantly supplied with resources by the generosity of a people, who regarded no sacrifice as too costly to be offered on the altar of liberty, and rendered triumphant by the courage, science, and devotion of fleets and armies, which, in every quarter of the globe, sought only the presence of the enemy and the heat of the battle. We have beheld our beloved country thus girded about with might, and reposing her confidence in the Rock of Ages, undaunted when alone; staying by her single efforts the wasting progress of anarchy; opening her fosterning bosom as a common asylum for the exiled worth of every shattered state; interposing the impenetrable shield of her protection between the honest struggles of reviving valour, and the wretchedness of universal subjegation; and everywhere palsying the strength, rebuking the pride, and quelling the violence of the frenzied oppressor. As the recompence of such magnanimous perseverance, and of so many generous labours, we have had the satisfaction of seeing the energies and resources of our government, ultimatley combined with the operations of a commander, unequalled in abilities for war; and have behold with exulatation the success of our firm battalions, and those of our imperial and royal Allies, in accomplishing the repose of Europe, by toils, and achievements, and triumphs, to which the admiration of the most distant times will not cease to pay a just tribute of applause.
Amidst the peace which we now enjoy, and the hopes by which we are animated, we desire to remember the days of darkness, so far only as may be necessary to perpetuate among men the lessons of instrucation which they engraved on our hearts, in characters too deep to be erased. With great willingness we turn to the mild and dignified spirit of conciliation, seldom equalled, and never surpassed, even in the solitary exertions of human goodness, which has recently, on the broadest scale, rescued our nature from reproach, and shown that the legitimate rulers of the earth labour only for the benefit of the people. We rejoice that the genuine stamp of that government and magistracy, which are the ordinance of God, has been impressed on all the proceedings of the Allied Sovereigns, to bind more firmly the cords of loyalty among the subjects of every land, and to unite them in the vigorous support of those well-balanced constitutional powers which repay any surrender of personal right they require, by the permanent security which they impart to liberty and religion, to private and to public happiness. We rejoice not less, that in this better temper of mankind, Princes, consoled and supported, and aided by our country, remount the thrones of their ancestors, enlightened by the misfortunes of the nations which they are unanimously invited to govern; filled with sentiments of benignity and peace, corresponding to the happier condition of human affairs; and anxious to restore, through the wide extent of their influence, the ancient relations of national amity and useful commerce.
In the just attention paid by the Continental nations to the true principles of civil liberty and representative government, we find the strongest encouragement to hope, that, as the fathers have been summoned in a period of distress to contend with the powers of evil, so the children will be quickened, by the occupations of peace, to engage in a better emulation for the palm of industry and science, of political wisdom, and of moral worth. We hail with delight every public indication of so honourable a disposition, and cannot refrain, as an Assembly of Christian ministers and elders, from adverting to the anxious and unwearied labours of his Majesty's government, for the universal abolition of the African Slave-Trade. We rejoice in witnessing this disinterested employment of British counsel and British influence, in the promotion of a cause so deeply interesting to the human race.
Considering the shame and contempt which Divine Providence has openly poured on all visionary theories in religion and politics, the offspring of a false, hypocritical, and corrupting philosophy, we cannot suffer ourselves to entertain a doubt, that the pure and unsophisticated doctrines of our holy faith, and the great laws of piety and righteousness, delivered and taught by its Author, from which has visibly proceeded the main strength exerted in this arduous conflict, will henceforth command both increasing reverence and additional authority among the rulers and people of the earth. We know, that before the end come, this Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached for a witness to every creature under Heaven. And it remains for us to assure your Royal Highness, that our ministry, unceasingly directed, as it has been, to the interest and advancement of this great cause when the times were troubled, will not be less steadily directed to its interest and advancement in the day of prosperity.
That Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, may direct and prosper
the Government, which your Royal Highness administers in the name and on behalf
of his Majesty;—that He may long preserve your Royal Highness as a blessing to the
nation and to the world;— and that descendants of your illustrious house, steadily
maintaining the civil and religious rights of a free people, may sway the British
sceptre to the latest posterity, are the fervent prayers of,
May it please your Royal Highness, his Majesty's most faithful, most obedient, and most loyal subjects, the Ministers and Elders met in this National Assembly of the Church of Scotland.