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 18, 1815.
I. Sess. 1, May 18, 1815.—The King's Commission to Francis Lord Napier produced, and ordered to be recorded.
The General Assembly, &c.
II. Sess. 1, May 18, 1815.—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, we greet you well. Having taken into our consideration that the annual meeting of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland was appointed to take place on the 18th day of this instand May, and deeming it advantageous to the interests of our said Church, that the ministers and elders there of should again resume their deliberations, we have thought fit, in the exercise of his Majesty's paternal care, to sanction the approaching meeting of your venerable body. And seeing that, by reason of other weighty affairs, we cannot be present our selves on this solemn occasion, we have thought fit again to appoint our right trusty and well-beloved Francis Lord Napier to represent us and hold our place amongst you, nominating him our Commissioner to your holy meeting, to do all things lawful and necessary in our royal name. We, accordingly, require that you, and all other his Majesty's good subjects, do honour and obey him as our Representative, and listen to those things which we have commanded him to declare to you. We have more especially charged him to make known to you our high sense of your steady and firm zeal for our service, and our determination to encourage the same, by maintaining the rights and privileges of the Church of Scotland pure and unimpaired. We have, at the same time, cautioned him, that he suffer nothing to be done in your holy Assembly to the prejudice of our authority or our prerogative.
The repeated proofs which you have given us of your attachment have created in us the utmost confidence in this respect; and we are persuaded, that the same temperance and moderation, which have heretofore marked your counsels and proceedings, will prevent your treating of any matter which is not a fit object for the deliberations of an ecclesiastical meeting.
We are anxious that, in ecclesiastical affairs, your wisdom should be exercised without restraint, seeing that it has been invariably directed to the important purposes of religion and of virtue. The advantages which have resulted from a steady perseverance in the promotion of these great objects of our laws and all our establishments, will encourage you to keep them at all time in view; and for the advancement of true piety in that part of the kingdom committed to your pastoral care, we endeavour to animate your labours by our unceasing countenance and support.
Well-beloved, we have commanded our High Commissioner to assure you of our solicitude for your welfare in all matters respecting your peculiar establishement. And, recommending in the strongest manner, that you be not deterred from a firm perseverance in the important duties which you have undertaken, we bid you heartily farewell.
Given at our Court at Carlton House, the 11th day of May 1815, in the fifty-fifth year of our reign.
By the Command of his Royal Highness the Prince Regent, in the name, and
on the behalf of his Majesty,
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. 3, May 20, 1815.—The General Assembly's Answer to the Prince Regent's most gracious Letter.
May it please your Royal Highness,
We, the members of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, have received, with sentiments of the profoundest respect, the gracious letter with which your Royal Highness, in name and on behalf of his Majesty, has condescended to honour us on this occasion.
It is peculiarly gratifying to us to be assured, that while, in the exercise of our constitutional rights, we are again assembled to deliberate on the affaris submitted to our judgment and review, your Royal Highness has thought fit, in the exercise of his Majesty's paternal care, to sanction our meeting. And we esteem it a fresh token of royal favour that this assurance is communicated to us by a nobleman so eminently qualified to perform the duties of the royal representative, as Francis Lord Napier. The long experience which the General Assembly has had of his piety, virtue, and regard to the interests of true religion, disposes us to listen with the most respectful deference to his admonitions, in declaring to us what your Royal Highness has commanded; and will render his name not less distinguished in the records of our National Church, than that of his illustrious ancestor in the annals of science. We are satisfied that the same fidelity in the discharge of his important functions, which has already so often merited and obtained the royal approbation, will, on this occasion, be still evinced in a manner equally honourable to himself and beneficial to us.
We are grateful to your Royal Highness for the high sense you are pleased to express of our loyalty, and for the assurance which has been given at the same time, of your determination to maintain the rights and privileges of the Church of Scotland pure and unimpaired. Your Royal Highness has also permitted us to believe that the proofs we have given of attachment to the supreme authority of the land, have inspired you with confidence that nothing will be done in our Ecclesiastical Assembly prejudicial to the royal authority or prerogative. These favourable sentiments it will ever be our study to confirm in the mind of your Royal Highness. And, strongly influenced by the gracious terms in which they are conveyed, we will anxiously endeavour to maintain, in all our proceedings and subjects of discussion, the temperance, moderation, and proporiety, which have thus been honoured by your approbation, and which your Royal Highness has now so earnestly recommended.
While we conduct our deliberations in the spirit of freedom, under the protection of royal favour, our first object will be to promote the great interests of religion and virtue in the sphere of our influence. We shall also cherish among our people, by all the means we possess, the spirit of loyalty, of submission to the laws and establishments of our country, and of attachment to our happy constitution, under which we enjoy such invaluable blessings, civil and religious—blessings unparalleled in the history of man. In all our exertions for these highly important purposes, it will be a powereful encouragement, that our labours for the advancement of true piety, in that part of the United Kingdom which is committed to our pastoral care, are animated by the unceasing countenance and support of your Royal Highness. And assured of your solicitude for all that respects the welfare and prosperity of our Ecclesiastical Establishment, we shall firmly perservere in the discharge of the important duties which we have undertaken.
The royal donation of L. 2000, for the propagation of Christian knowledge in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, we accept with the warmest gratitude, as a pledge of the anxiety of your Royal Highness to fulfil the pious and benevolent intentions of his Majesty, and we shall endeavour to apply it with all fidelity.
That Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, may bless, console, and
restore our gracious Socereign; that He may bless the Queen, your Royal Highness, the Princess of Wales, and all the members of the Royal Family; that He may
direct and prosper the measures of his Majesty's government, and maintain to the
latest ages the national blessings we enjoy, 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.
Signed in our name, in our presence, and at our appointment, by
Lewis Gordon, Moderator.
IV. Sess. 3, May 20, 1815.—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, met in our General Assembly, beg leave to approach the throne, to present to your Royal Highness the respectful expression of our loyalty to our venerable Sovereign, and of our attachment to your Royal Highness, by whom the government is administered in his name, and on his behalf.
While we condole with your Royal Highness on the continued indisposition of your august Father, our most gracious Sovereign, and earnestly pray that the Father of Mercies would visit him with his tender mercy; we regard it as a mark of the goodness of Providence to this realm, that we have, in your Royal Highness, a Prince who, by the wisdom and firmness of his administration, so well sustains the honour, and promotes the interests of the United Kingdom.
Since we last had it in our power to lay the dutiful expression of our attachment before the throne, many events have occurred deeply interesting to this country, and to the civilized world. We have seen brought to a happy termination the war which had been declared against us by America, after the ostensible cause of it had been removed by your Royal Highness. It is gratifying to think, that, although this country has to deplore the loss of many gallant men who have fallen in the contest, yet the measures adopted by your Royal Highness, joined to the unrivalled skill and intrepidity of our soldiers and sailors, have effectually sustained the honour of the country, and enabled you to conclude peace without the smallest diminution of the territory, or the least infringement of the maritime rights of the empire.
To the great public events which have happened in Europe, we look back with feelings of satisfaction, though, unhappily, mingled of late with deep regret. After a war the most extensive, protracted, and clamitous, that ever afflicated the world, the man, whose arrogant ambition, checked by no principle of justice, or feeling of humanity, had so long oppressed and insulted the nations of Continental Europe, was driven from a throne supported by violence, and stained with blood. The ancient race of sovereigns was restored to France; and peace, in the spirit of peace, concluded with that nation.
It is with peculiar pleasure that we remark the honourable principles which have invariably guided the councils of your Royal Highness in the management of these great transactions. It is with high satisfaction we observe, not only that you have made no attempt to encroach on the rights of other nations, but that the interests of humanity in distant lands have not escaped your benevolent regard. By your active, unremitted, and judicious endeavours, so much in consonance with the declared sentiments of the British nation, to put a stop to the African Slave Trade, that stain on the civilized world, your Royal Highness has procured its condemnation as unjust, by the great Congress of European Sovereigns; and we doubt not, that, by a continuation of the same enlightened endeavours, you will, at no distant period, obtain its final suppression.
While the adjustment of the interests of the different nations of Europe was gradually approaching to its completion, we beheld, with the deepest sorrow and indignation, that man whom the French nation had so lately abjured as their sovereign, return to France; and, supported by the soldiery, advance without opposition to the capital, and seize the reins of government. This event, by raising a military government in the heart of Europe, and throwing the whole power of the French empire into the hands of an individual, with whom (in as far as the future may be anticipated, from experience of the past) the relations of peace can be expected to subsist no longer that till he finds himself in a condition to declare war, threatens to frustrate the generous endeavours of your Royal Highness, and your august allies, for securing the future repose of Europe; and to bring back the calamities and the crimes which have so long afflicted and dishonoured the nations of the Continent.
But we trust, that by this unlooked for occurrence, Divine Providence is preparing the way for making the final overthrow of the tyrant more conspicuous and impressive. And while, as the servants of the Prince of Peace, we deplore any event which is likely to renew the clamities of war, and hope that means may still be found of preserving peace, yet we trust, that should war be inevitable, the wisdom, promptitude, and vigour of the councils of your Royal Highness, and your august allies—the pre-eminent skill of the great captains who lead the allied armies— and the intrepidity of the forces arrayed in defence of the independence of Europe, will, by the blessing of Heaven on a righteous cause, speedily bring the contest to a happy conclusion, and establish the peace of the civilized world on a secure basis.
Sensible that the singular and unexpected circumstances of the times require of this country to submit to many sacrifices for the common welfare, as well as for our own individual security, we shall not fail to promote, by our influence and example, a cheerful acquiescence in the exertions that may be necessary for bringing the great cause in which your Royal Highness is engaged to a fortunate termination; and we have peculiar satisfaction in being able to assure your Royal Highness, that the people of this part of the united empire, aware of the urgency of the case, and relying confidently on the protection of Heaven, and on the wisdom and integrity of your Royal Highness's government, are prepared cordially to concur in the measures which it may be deemed necessary to adopt for the general good.
That Almighty God, by whom kings reign, may console, support, and restore to
health our venerable Sovereign; that He may bless her Majesty the Queen, protect
and bless your Royal Highness, the Princess of Wales, and all the members of the
Royal Family; and that He may crown with success the measures of your administration, and render them the means of speedily conveying the blessings of peace
and security to this nation and to Europe, is the fervent prayer 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.
Signed in our name, in our presence, and at our appointment, by
Lewis Goddon, Moderator.
V. Sess. 9, May 27, 1815.—Commission of the General Assembly to certain Ministers and Ruling Elders for discussing Affairs referred to them.
The General Assembly, &c.
VI. Sess. 9, May 27, 1815.—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.
The General Assembly, &c.
VII. Sess. ult, May 29, 1815.—Overture anent the Ordination of Elders.
VIII. Sess. ult., May 29, 1815.— Act appointing the Diet of the next General Assembly.
The next General Assembly of this National Church is appointed to be held within the New Church Aisle of Edinburgh, on Thursday, the 16th day of May 1816.
Extracted from the Records of the General Assembly, by
Andrew Duncan, Cl. Eccl. Scot.