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 16, 1816.
I. Sess. 1, May 16, 1816.—The King's Commission to Francis Lord Napier produced, and ordered to be recorded.
II. Sess. 1, May 16, 1816.—The Prince Regent's most gracious Letter to the General Assembly, presented to them by his Majesty's Commissioner.
III. Sess. 3, May 18, 1816.—The General Assembly's Answer to the Prince Regent's most gracious Letter.
IV. Sess. 3, May 18, 1816.—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 leace to approach the throne, to express our warm attachment to your Royal Highness's person and government, and our earnest desire to forward, by such means as le within our sphere, the measures adopted by your Royal Highness for the public good.
While we feel the most sincere sorrow for the continued indisposition of our beloved and venerable Sovereign, and earnestly beseech the Almighty to look upon him in mercy, we are thankful to the Supreme Disposer of all events, that he has given us, in your Royal Highness, a Prince so well fitted to conduct the government with the prudence, equity, and firmness, which are necessary for maintaining the honour and the prosperity of the empire.
Since we last had an opportunity of laying the dutiful expression of our homage before the throne, we reflect, with profound gratitude to Him whose kingdom ruleth over all, on the signal favour which he hath manifested to our country and to Europe, in shortening the calamities of war. And we regard with admiration the vigour and promptitude with which your Royal Highness, in conjunction with the Allied Sovereigns, interposed to stop the career of the tyrand, who had again possessed himself of the government of France, and brought Europe into the hazard of encountering those difficulties a second time, which had already been so serverely and extensively experienced. We offer our most respectful congratulations to your Royal Highness, on the pre-eminent skill and bravery displayed by his Majesty's troops in the late short war, and on the fortunate and brilliant results in which it has terminated. In the sanguinary conflict which closed the contest, the high talents of the British general, and the invincible courage and perserverance of the army under his command, by one vast effort, have raised the character of British soldiers to the highest pre-eminence, crushed the power of the tyrant, annihilated his hopes, obliged him to abdicate the throne, and, finally, compelled him to an unconditional surrender. We trust that the situation in which he is now placed will render it impossible for him again to disturb the repose of the world.
As servants of the Prince of Peace, we gladly indulge the hope that the pacification which has been concluded will secure to the exhausted nations of Europe a long respite from the horrors and burdens of war; and that that people, whose turbulence has so long proved the scourge of the civilized world, experiencing the advantages of order and tranquillity, will acquire a desire of cultivating the habits and virtues of peace, and of promoting that general improvement of human society, which peace and industry, and regular government, are calculated to advance.
We humbly beg leave to lay before your Royal Highness the dutiful expression of our high satisfaction, on account of that domestic event which has proved so gratifying to the British nation, the marriage of your august daughter, the Princess Charlotte Augusta, with his Serence Highness Leopold George Frederick Duke of Saxe, and Prince of Cobourg of Saalfeld. We congratualate your Royal Highness on this auspicious union; and we trust that it will prove a public blessing, by increasing the prospect which, in the good Providence of God, we enjoy, of having transmitted to latest times the advantages which this favoured nation has derived from the mild and paternal government of the illustrious House of Brunswick.
That Almighty God, by whom kings reign, may support, console, and relieve our
venerable Sovereign, and bless her Majesty the Queen;— that He may pour down his
choicest blessings on your Royal Highness, and prosper your government;—that He
may bless the Princess of Wales, and all the Royal Family; and that Princes of your
Royal Highness's House may, to latest posterity, sway the sceptre over this realm, 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 the National Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
V. Sess. 9, May 25, 1816.—Overture and Interinm Act anent the Union of Offices. (fn. 1)
VI. Sess. 9, May 25, 1816.—Resolution of the General Assembly respecting the Gaelic Translation of the Scriptures.
The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland called for the report of the Committee upon the Gaelic Translation of the Scriptures, which was produced, and read as follows:—"Your Committee beg leave to report, that after considering the Memorial and Petition from the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge, with all the attention due to the important object to which it relates, they find cause to approve of the diligence and zeal of the Society in furnishing, by a Translation of the Holy Scriptures into Gaelic, which has already passed through different impressins, the best means of religious instruction to our countrymen in those districts where the Gaelic language is spoken.
"Your Committee particularly approve of the present communication, as manifesting, on the part of the Society, a becoming respect for the General Assembly, to whom it properly belongs to judge of and to sanction such versions of the Sacred Scriptures as shall be used within the bounds of this Church.
"Your Committee are further of opinion, that a final revision of the translation now in use, by means of the acknowledged skill and matured experience of the Rev. Dr Stuart of Luss, and the Rev. Mr Stewart of Dingwall, in order to improve the translation, and render it as complete as possible, and the publication of a new edition thereof in quarto, the work in which the Society are now engaged, is of great importance, and should receive the countenance, support, and encouragement of the General Assembly.
"Your Committee, therefore, beg leave to propose, that a Standing Committee be appointed, whose duty it shall be to consider the means which have been employed for procuring the best version which could be obtained of the Sacred Scriptures in Gaelic, and whether any further means can be used for rendering it more perfect; to receive communications on the subject from such respectable persons as may be willing to offer them; and, particularly, to attend to the progress of the new edition at present projected, with the alterations of the version that may be therein made; to signify to the Society their opinion of it as it comes from the press; and that the said Committee shall report their proceedings on this business to the next General Assembly.
"Your Committee beg leave also to suggest, that it may be proper that the General Assembly prohibit the use of any other Gaelic version of the Scriptures in the churches, chapels, missions, and schools, within the Established Church, other than any of the editions now in use published by the Society, until the work be completed.
The General Assembly approve of this report, and enjoin and ordain, in terms thereof; and they appoint the committee upon this business a standing committee, to carry the orders of the Assembly into execution. The names of the committee are, the Moderator, Dr Gordon, Sir Henry Moncreiff, Dr Hill, Dr Inglis, Dr Macdougal, Dr Fleming, Mr Macdonnel of Forres, Mr Macgibbon of Inverary, Mr Campbell of Dunoon, Dr Macleod, Dr Maclea, Mr Dougal Campbell of Kilmichael, Mr Hugh Fraser of Kilmoran, Dr Irvine, Little Dunkeld, Dr Robert Anderson, Edinburgh, Dr Stewart, Strachur, Mr Fraser, Boleskine, Mr Ross, Kilmanivaig, Mr Macleod, Morven, Mr Mackay, Reay, Mr Mackinnon, Slate, Mr Munro, Uig, Mr Dougal Campbell, Kilfinichan, and Dr Campbell, Edinburgh; Dr Campbell to be convener, and any three to be a quorum.
VII. Sess. 9, May 25, 1816.— Commission of the General Assembly to certain Ministers and Ruling Elders for discussing Affairs referred to them.
VIII. Sess. 9, May 25, 1816.— 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.
IX. Sess. ult., May 27, 1816.— Deliverance of the General Assembly on the Communication from the Synod of Ulster in Ireland.
The Report of the Committee upon the Communication from Ulster was called for, and being produced was read, of the following tenor:— "The Committee on the Communication from the Moderator of the Synod of Ulster, having deliberately considered said communication, report to the Venerable Assembly the following opinion:— That from the respectable situation in which the Synod of Ulster is now placed by its connection with the civil government, it may be expedient to declare, that notwithstanding what is contained in the Act of Assembly, 1799, ministerial communion might be allowed between the ministers and licentiates of that Synod and those of the Church of Scotland. But as information respecting the education of their candidates for licence and other particulars must be obtained, before any resolution on this subject be finally adopted, that, therefore, the matter should be delayed; and, in the meantime, a committee be appointed to make the proper inquiries, to correspond with the Moderator of the Synod of Ulster, and to report to next Assembly. In testimony of the respect which this Church entertains for the Established Presbyterian Church of Ireland, the Assembly should request of their Moderator, that he, in their name, would convey, by letter, notice of their present resolution to the Moderator of the Synod of Ulster." The General Assembly unanimously approve of said report, and appoint the committee to draw up the letter therein proposed. The committee are,—the Moderator, Dr Gordon, Dr Hill, Dr Brown, Dr Taylor, Dr Ritchie, Professor Jardine, Professor Young, and Dr Stevenson Macgill; Dr Taylor to be convener.
X. Sess. ult., May 27, 1816.—Act anent the Ordination of Elders.
Whereas irregularities have crept into the Church with respect to the ordination of elders, the General Assembly, with the consent of a majority of the Presbyteries of this Church, did, and hereby do, enact and ordain,—
That, hereafter, no person shall be set apart to the office of an elder, unless he hath attained the age of twenty-one years complete, and produce a certificate to that effect, to remain in retentis; and unless he is a communicant.
That no person be ordained an elder who is not an inhabitant of the parish, or who does not reside therein at least six weeks annually, or who is not an heritor in that parish, liable to pay stipend and other parochial burdens, or who is not the apparent heir of an heritor of that description in the parish.
That when any person who does not generally reside, but only occasionally, as aforesaid, shall be proposed to the kirk-session to be ordained an elder, there shall be produced a certificate, under the hands of the minister and kirk-session of the parish where he generally resides, that he is of unblemished character, and regular in giving attendance on the public ordinances of religion.
XI. Sess. ult., May 27, 1816.—Recommendation by the General Assembly to Presbyteries in Aid of the Funds of the Church.
The General Assembly called for the Report of the Committee appointed to draw up a Recommendation to Presbyteries anent the Funds of the Church, which was produced and read, the tenor whereof follows:—"In 1810, the General Assembly submitted to the consideration of the Church the Proposal of a subscription in aid of the fund for defending the rights of the Church. It was stated in this Proposal, that of the L.1000 allowed annually by government for defraying the expenses of the Church, only L.150 is left by the grant to be applied for law proceedings; and intimation has been given by government that no addition will be made to this allowance of L.150. The General Assembly further stated in 1810, that they had ascertained that this allowance was 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 right, in those cases where the Church has been in use to grant aid. And, therefore, the General Assembly, 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, earnestly recommended a general contribution by the ministers and elders of the Church in the several Presbyteries, to be remitted to the Procurator for the Church, and by him reported to the General Assembly. The General Assembly, upon the report of the Procurator, have now to state to the Church, that although this recommendation has been frequently repeated, contributions have been received from very few Presbyteries, in consequence of which both the evils which were apprehended have arrived. A large debt has been contracted to support those cases which were already upon the funds, and it has become necessary to refuse all new applications for aid, however urgent the cases may be.
"The present debt to the Agents of the Church appears, upon the report of the Procurator, to be L.593, 3s. 4d., and the total sum contributed, with the interest arising thereon, amounts only to the sum of L.276.
"Although it is both unreasonable and inexpedient that the Church should continue indebted in so large a sum as L.593, 3s. 4d. to their Agents the General Assembly have refrained from applying any part of the sum of L.276, already contributed, in extinction of that debt; because the contributions were made in the faith that the total sum subscribed was to be accumulated into a capital, and the interest only to be applied to the purposes in view; and also, because the General Assembly does not despair, that, when the circumstances of the case are placed fully in the view of the Church, this sum may receive an annual increase.
"They have, therefore, directed Sir Henry Moncreiff Wellwood, and the Procurator, to invest the sum of L.276 contributed, in the most advantageous manner possible; and they do again earnestly recommend to the ministers of all the Presbyteries of this Church the annual contribution of 5s., suggested as the only remedy which occurs for relieving the funds of the Church from their present difficulties. They believe that, by small subscriptions, the deficiency in each contribution will be compensated by the number of contributors; and they remind their brethren, that if every clergyman were to contribute 5s., it would raise in a twelvemonth the sum of L.225, and in five years L.1125." The General Assembly approve of this recommendation; and enjoin the clerks to transmit printed copies thereof to the moderators of all the Presbyteries of this Church, (along with the Overture anent the Union of Offices,) accompanied with a letter from the Moderator of this Assembly, enforcing the said recommendation; and the Assembly enjoin all the Presbyteries of this Church to take up the consideration of this subject, not later than the day on which they meet to elect their members to the Assembly.
Reverend Sir,—Agreeably to the resolution of the General Assembly, I hereby
transmit to the Presbyteries of the Church of Scotland the above recommendation of
annual contributions, in aid of the funds of the Church; the importance of observing
which, I am confident, that no words of mine can enforce. I am, Reverend Sir,
your most obedient servant,
John Cook, Moderator.
XII. Sess. ult., May 27, 1816.—Recommendation by the General Assembly concerning Parochial Registers.
The General Assembly having taken the overture anent parochial registers under their serious consideration, unanimously approve of the same; and therefore earnestly recommend to all the Presbyteries and Kirk-Sessions within the bounds of the Church, "That whereas great inconveniency and loss has been experienced in many parts of the country, either from no parochial registers being kept, or from the inaccuracy with which it is done, the Assembly enjoins the several Presbyteries of this Church to take the steps necessary to secure the keeping of three separate registers in every parish: In one of which, the names of all children and of their parents shall be recorded, with the dates of their birth, whether their parents belong to the Church, or are Dissenters: In another, the names of all persons married, with the dates of their marriages, whether legally solemnized or not, with the specialties of any particular cases which may occur: And, in the third, the names of all persons who have died, with the particular dates of their deaths, whether they have been buried in the parish burying-ground, or elsewhere; and that these three registers shall be brought up to the Presbytery of the bounds at the first meeting after the conclusion of each year respectively, in each of which the Presbytery shall enter their remarks on the manner in which it is kept, signed by the moderator for the time."
The General Assembly farther appoint the following committee, viz., Principal Baird, Dr William Ritchie, Dr Fleming, Dr Inglis, Dr Meiklejohn, Mr Watson, and the Procurator,—Dr Meiklejohn to be convener; to communicate with the Officers of the Crown, in the view of obtaining the authority of the legislature to secure the faithful observance of this arrangement.
The General Assembly enjoin their clerks to send printed copies of this recommendation to all the Presbyteries of this Church, who are hereby required to communicate the same to all the Kirk-Sessions within their bounds,