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 22, 1817.
I. Sess. 1, May 22, 1817.— The King's Commission to William Earl of Errol produced, and ordered to be recorded,
The General Assembly, &c.
II. Sess. 1, May 22, 1817.— 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—Impressed with the same lively interest which we have at all times felt for the prosperity of the Church of Scotland, and sensible of the advantages which so large a portion of our subjects has derived from the counsels of the General Assembly of that Church, we always contemplate with satisfaction the period appointed for the renewal of your deliberations; and we rest assured that your proceedings upon the present occasion will entitle you to a continuance of our countenance and protection.
We have thought fit to constitute and appoint our right trusty and right wellbeloved cousin, William Earl of Errol, to be our Commissioner in the present Assembly. The experience we have had of his loyalty and attachment to us, and the conviction which we feel that he is in every respect eminently qualified to discharge this great trust, are considerations which have recommended him to our choice, as a fit person to be our representative amongst you; and, we doubt not, these reasons will render him acceptable to you, and will ensure to him that respect and reverence which, in his high and important office, he is entitled to receive. We feel confident that you may rely upon his cordial support and co-operation in all your efforts to promote the cause of true religion and piety, and therein the welfare and happiness of our people.
Although the wisdom and discretion which, upon former occasions, have characterised your proceedings, entitle you to our confidence and affection, yet we feel ourselves called upon at this time, in a particular manner, to impress upon you the necessity of redoubling your zeal in the administering of useful instruction, and in the due discharge of every public and private duty.
At a time when a spirit inimical to the established constitution, and the existing form of government of these realms, unhappily prevails amongst certain descriptions of our people, too much pains cannot be taken to counteract the efforts of those wicked and designing persons who labour to increase so mischievous a spirit, and to promote general discontent.
We exhort you, therefore, in the strongest manner, at this moment, to be vigilant, and to expose the designs of those who, under the specious semblance of Reform, inculcate doctrines the most extravagant and dangerous; and who, by constant misrepresentations and wicked means, endeavour to bring into contempt all the civil and religious establishments and institutions of the United Kingdom.
Well-beloved, nothing can be more effectual to repress these evils, than a thorough and sincere belief in the doctrines of Christianity; we charge you, therefore, to use your unremitting exertions to establish the salutary influence of the Gospel in the minds of those committed to your charge, and to enforce a due obedience to the laws, upon Christian principles, and from Christian motives. We depend upon your zealous endeavours to promote the growth of true piety, and a due reverence for the sacred Word of Almighty God; and trust you will not fail to impress upon the minds of our subjects, that a strict and conscientious discharge of their duties, both civil and religious, affords the only sure means by which individual happiness and national prosperity can be secured. Thus will you execute worthily the sacred duties which are assigned to you; for thus your exertions will promote the glory of God and the happiness of your fellow-creatures. On our part, be assured that, we are always anxious to secure and continue to all our subjects the invaluable possession of their laws, their liberties, and their excellent constitution; and we repeat to you our full determination to maintain and support the Church of Scotland in the complete enjoyment of all her rights and privileges. Commending you, therefore, in all your counsels and deliberations, to the Divine guidance and protection, we bid you heartily farewell.
Given at our Court at Carlton House, the 15th day of May 1817, in the fiftyseventh 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 24, 1817.—The General Assembly's Answer to the Prince Regent's most gracious Letter.
May it please your Royal Highness,
The gracious letter with which your Royal Highness, in the name and on the behalf of his Majesty, has condescended to honour this General Assembly, has been received with the most profound respect and gratitude.
We are peculiarly gratified by the lively interest which your Royal Highness continues to feel in the prosperity of the Church of Scotland, and by the notice taken of the advantages which a large portion of his Majesty's subjects have derived from the counsels of her General Assemblies. It is a pledge of the happy union which subsists between our religious and civil establishments, that the annual meetings of the General Assembly of our National Church take place under royal countenance and protection; and we trust that our proceedings, upon the present occasion, will secure to us a continuance of that favour which we have experienced through so long and uninterrupted a series of years.
The appointment of William Earl of Errol to represent the sacred person of our beloved Sovereign among us, we regard as an additional pledge of the royal favour. The eminent qualifications which he possesses for discharging the duties of this great trust cannot fail to render him acceptable to us, and command the respect and reverence which, in his high and important office, he is entitled to receive. We rely with full assurance on his countenance and cordial support in all our efforts to promote the cause of true religion and piety, and thus secure the welfare and happiness of the people committed to our care.
The confidence and affection, inspired by the wisdom and discretion of former Assemblies, with which your Royal Highness is graciously pleased to regard us, fill our minds with sentiments of the warmest gratitude, and encourage us to redouble our zeal in administering useful instruction, and in the discharge of every public and private duty.
We lament, with unseigned sorrow, that a spirit inimical to the established constitution and the existing form of government of these realms, exists in any description of his Majesty's subjects. Though well assured that the principles of unshaken loyalty, and a just sense of the blessings of our inestimable constitution, generally prevail in this part of the United Kingdom, we shall guard, with anxious solicitude, against the beginnings of evil, and employ our most strenuous exertions to counteract the efforts of any wicked and designing persons, who may labour to increase so mischievous a spirit, and to promote general discontent.
Receiving with all respect the intimations of danger, we shall exert the vigilance which the pressure of the time demands, and be diligent in exposing the designs of those who, under the specious semblance of Reform, inculcate doctrines the most extravagant and dangerous, and who, by constant misrepresentations and wicked means, endeavour to bring into contempt all the civil and religious establishments and institutions of the United Kingdom.
Fully satisfied of the powerful efficacy of religious principle, and that nothing can be more effectual to repress those evils than a thorough and sincere belief in the doctrines of Christianity, we listen with reverence to the call upon us, and will not fail to use our unremitting exertions to establish the salutary influence of the Gospel in the minds of those committed to our charge, and to enforce a due obedience to the laws upon Christian principles, and from Christian motives.
Contemplating steadily the great objects of our holy vocation, we humbly trust, that entire dependence may be placed on our zealous endeavours to promote the growth of true piety and a due reverence for the sacred Word of Almighty God; and we are convinced, that while we impress upon the minds of our people a strict and conscientious discharge of their duties, both civil and religious, we are directing them to the only means by which individual happiness and national prosperity can be secured. We feel the unspeakably strong obligations which we are under, to perform worthily the sacred duties assigned to us; for it is only by so doing that we can promote the glory of God, and the happiness of our fellow-creatures.
We rejoice in the assurance, that it is the great object of your Royal Highness to secure and continue to all his Majesty's subjects the invaluable possession of their laws, their liberties, and their excellent constitution; and we receive, with the most sincere gratitude, the renewed expression of your full determination to maintain and support the Church of Scotland in the complete enjoyment of all her rights and privileges, as by law established.
We receive, with all thankfulness, the royal donation of L.2000, for the propagation of Christian knowledge, and the principles of the Reformed religion in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. We shall be anxiously studious, by a faithful application of this bounty, to accomplish the pious and benevolent purposes for which it has been bestowed.
That Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, may bless, sustain, and
console his Majesty the King;— that He may bless abundantly 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 that princes
of your Illustrious House may be the guardians of our national blessings, and reign
over a free and a happy people to the latest posterity, are the servent 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 General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
Signed in our name, in our presence, and at our appointment, by
Gavin Gibb, Moderator.
IV Sess. 3, May 24, 1817.— 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 loyal subjects, the ministers and elders met in this General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, beg leave to lay before the throne this humble expression of our dutiful and affectionate respect for his Majesty's person and family, and of devoted attachment to that constitution of government under which the goodness of Divine Providence has placed us.
We offer to your Royal Highness, during the continuance of our beloved Sovereign's lamented indisposition, the sympathy which we feel in common with a people to whom, from his paternal reign and private virtues, he has been so long and so deservedly endeared.
We shared the general horror of the nation, at the recent atrocious assault upon your Royal Highness' sacred person, returning from Parliament in the exercise of a solemn function of the British Sovereign; and the general joy and gratitude for the Divine protection which rendered that nefarious attempt abortive; and we devoutly implore the Everlasting King to encompass your Royal Highness with his omnipotent shield, and to defend from every open and secret enemy a life so precious to the State.
With sentiments becoming Britons, we contemplate the happy effects of that splendidly-conceived, and brilliantly-executed, enterprise against the city of Algiers, which, in adding a new wreath to our crown of naval glory, broke down, we trust for ever, a system of piracy, at war with the rights of human nature, and formed a becoming sequel to the arduous struggle strenuously maintained, and triumphantly terminated by Great Britain, for the independence of Europe.
The exultation with which we reflect on these exertions of our country in the great cause of legitimate government and of real liberty, and the hopes with which we anticipate the long continuance of that peace which they have brought to the world, have not made us insensible to the severe sufferings now widely diffused among our countrymen, partly by the necessary expenditure in a war of unexampled difficulties, partly by the consequent sudden change and diminution in the demands of commerce, and partly by the scarcity of food with which it has pleased the Great Disposer of all to visit us, as if to remind us amidst human triumphs, that we ought to rejoice with trembling. While we sincerely sympathise in their sufferings, and deeply deplore the attempts of unprincipled men, during this season of general distress, to incite the unhappy sufferers to rebellious deeds, and to propagate the licentious opinions which prepare for the subversion alike of the altar and the throne, we are cheered by the admirable display which has thus been called forth throughout our country, on the one hand, of patience, and fortitude, and resignation to the will of Heaven, under inevitable privations, and on the other, of generous self-denial and active beneficence, bringing alleviations to the pressure. Knowing that reverence for his righteous law is the foundation on which the Moral Governor of the universe has determined that the strength of empires shall repose, we congratulate your Royal Highness that the British Sovereign roles in the hearts of a people who have shown so general a sense of their sacred obligations, whom neither the sacrifices of a long and arduous war, nor the sufferings of unexpected want, nor the corrupting inflammatory language of impiety and sedition, have as yet been able, nor will they, we hope in God, be ever able, to seduce from their allegiance.
We are happy to embrance this opportunity of informing your Royal Highness, that we believe the people of Scotland to have had a conspicuous share in this interesting display of national worth; and in whatever degree this may be ascribed to the services of the Established Church, and to the co-operation of the justly valued institution of parochial schools, we hesitate not to assure your Royal Highness, that we shall give all the encouragement in our power, to every prudent measure for disseminating throughout the community a spirit of consideration and economy favourable at once to the interest of religion and of civil government. In these, and in all our ministerial labours, we will continue to imitate the example left to us by our venerable fathers, grateful for the distinguished advantage which the Church of Scotland derives from its connection with the British constitution, and under the serious conviction that the religious and moral effect of a Gospel ministry is essential to human happiness, in all the various conditions and relations of the present life, as well as throughout the endless progress of man's immortal destiny.
That Almighty God, the Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, may
shower down His consolations upon our beloved Sovereign, bless the Queen and Royal
Family, and continue to prosper the Government which your Royal Highness exercises in his Majesty's name and behalf; and that descendants of your illustrious
House may, to the latest posterity, sway the British sceptre over a free, great, loyal,
and virtuous people, are the earnest 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.
Signed in our name, in our presence, and at our appointment, by
Gavin Gibb, Moderator.
V. Sess. 4, May 26, 1817.—Judgment of the General Assembly on the reference from the Presbytery of Brechin, respecting the Examination of the Schools of Montrose.
The General Assembly, after due deliberation, approve of the firmness and propriety with which the Presbytery of Brechin have asserted their undubitable right to examine schools of every description within their bounds; but, in respect it has been stated by the elder from the burgh of Montrose, in name of the magistrates and council, that they were sensible of their past error, and will give no opposition in future to the exercise of this right, the Assembly judge it unnecessary to take any farther steps in this matter; at the same time, they recommend it to the members of that, and of all the other Presbyteries of this Church, to continue their vigilance in attending to the different schools within their bounds. The Assembly enjoin their clerks to see that this judgment be inserted among the printed Acts of the Assembly.
VI. Sess. 6, May 28, 1817.—Act anent the Union of Offices.
Whereas apprehensions have been generally entertained, that the permission given in a few recent instances to clergymen holding a Professorship in an University, to hold at the same time a parochial charge in the country, may introduce abuses hurtful to the interests of religion and literature: The General Assembly, conceiving that it is their duty to watch over both those interests, and feeling a becoming solicitude to maintain inviolate the residence of ministers in their respective parishes, which the fundamental laws of this Church require, and by which the people of Scotland enjoy in full measure the comfort and edification of a Gospel ministry, direct all the Presbyteries of this Church to employ the means competent for them, in order to prevent the same person from holding at the same time a Professorship in an University and a parochial charge, which is not situated in the city which is the seat of that University, or in the suburbs thereof; and, that this direction may be uniformly carried into effect, the General Assembly do, with the consent of a majority of the Presbyteries of this Church, enact and ordain, that if a Professor in an University be hereafter presented to a parochial charge, which is not situated in the city that is the seat of that University, or in the suburbs thereof, he shall, within nine months after his being admitted to the said charge, resign his Professorship, and at the next ordinary meeting of Presbytery thereafter shall produce to the Presbytery a certificate that his resignation has been accepted. And that if the minister of a parish, which is not situated in the city that is the seat of a University, or the suburbs thereof, be hereafter presented or elected to a Professorship in any University, he shall, at the first ordinary meeting of Presbytery which shall take place after the lapse of six months from the date of his induction into the Professorship, resign into the hands of the Presbytery his parochial charge. And in the event of this injunction not being complied with by the persons holding such offices, the General Assembly, with the like consent of the Presbyteries of this Church, ordain the Presbytery of the bounds to serve him in his character of parish minister with a libel for the breach of this statute, and to proceed therein according to the rules of the Church. And it is provided, that ministers of Chapels of Ease shall, in all respects, be subject to the provisions of this Act, in the same manner as parochial ministers. And it is further provided, that the Old and New Towns of Aberdeen shall be held as forming one city, so far as respects the provisions of this overture.
VII. Sess. 9, May 31, 1817.—Commission of the General Assembly to certain Ministers and Ruling Elders for discussing Affairs referred to them.
The General Assembly, &c.
VIII. Sess. 9, May 31, 1817.— 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.
IX. Sess. ult., June 2, 1817.— 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 21st day of May 1818.
Extracted from the Records of the General Assembly, by
Andrew Duncan, Cl. Eccl. Scot.