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 21, 1818.
I. Sess. 1, May 21, 1818.—The King's Commission to William Earl of Errol produced, and ordered to be recorded.
II. Sess. 1, May 21, 1818.—The Prince Regent's most gracious Letter to the General Assembly, preseted 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.—We embrace with satisfaction the opportunity afforded us by the present meeting of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, to renew the assurance of our regard and paternal affection, and to encourage you, by the declaration of our countenance and support, in the diligent discharge of the high and important duties committed to your trust. The wisdom of your counsels and measures has, at all times, ensured to you our unbounded confidence, and we are fully satisfied that your proceedings will continue to be characterised by temper and calmness; that you will be actuated, in all your deliberations, by a feeling of steady loyalty and attachment to ourself, and by an earnest desire of promoting, to the utmost of your power, the happiness and best interests of our people. In repeating to you the assurance of our full determination to maintain the Church of Scotland in the complete enjoyment of all its rights and privileges, we cannot omit to announce to you our resolution to evince more strongly our fatherly solicitude for the prosperity of that Church, by extending, at no distant day, pecuniary succour to those parishes which, either from their redundant population, or from their expanded dimensions, are at present incapable of supplying adequate places of worship for their religiously-disposed inhabitants.
We have thought fit again to appoint our right trusty and right well-beloved cousin, William Earl of Errol, to be our Commissioner, and to represent our royal person in the present Assembly, well knowing the lively interest he will take in all your de liberations, and how ready he will be to co-operate with you in your endeavours for the advancement of the cause of true religion and of virtue, and for the furtherance of the spiritual benefit and advantage of the people entrusted to your care.
Since the last meeting of your venerable body, it has pleased Almighty God, in the inscrutable wisdom of his counsels, to visit our Royal House and this nation with one of the heaviest and most afflicting dispensations of his Divine Providence.
In the general sorrow upon this melancholy occasion, we are fully assured that you participate, and that you, and the rest of our faithful and loving subjects, will join with us in imploring the Great Disposer of events, that it may please Him to administer to all our minds the consolation of which we stand so greatly in need, and which He alone can impart. Nor will you neglect, under this severe national calamity, to remind those whom it is your office to instruct, that it is their duty to receive, with implict submission, the present visitation, and to place their reliance upon that Being who has given us the consoling assurance, that all, even His most afflictive dispensations, work together for the general good.
Well-beloved, we exhort you to reflect how materially the welfare and prosperity of a nation are affected by the conduct of the ministers of its religion. It is in their power, by the due and assiduous discharge of their pastoral duties, by the soundness of their precepts, and the blameless purity of their lives, to produce the most salutary effects upon the general feelings and character of the people. And they must remember, that in proportion as their opportunities of usefulness are extensive, so will they be responsible for the neglect or abuse of them. It is the great object of all human law and government, by regulating and adjusting the various rights and interests of individuals, to promote the well-being, and constitute the stability and good order of society. But vain and insufficient must ever be the most enlightened institutions, unless regarded as deriving their weight and authority from the precepts of the Divine Law; and the wisest human ordinances will be found ineffectual for the maintenance of peace and social order when the restraints of the Gospel are disregarded. The experience of modern times has shown that no light of science—no progress in the arts—no advantages of commerce—no success in arms, can secure the internal quiet and prosperity of a nation which throws off the authority of Divine Revelation, the rejection of which infallibly leads to all the mischiefs of private injustice and public anarchy. And even in these days, and in this island, attempts have not been wanting to bring into ridicule and disrespect the most sacred commandments of God, and the Prayer which was taught to his Apostles by Our Blessed Saviour himself.
It is your province, as the guardians of religion, and the expounders of the Divine Law, to warn the people against falling into any of these most dangerous errors; and, by impressing upon all ranks of our subjects their solemn obligation to observe the precepts and fulfil the duties inculcated by the Gospel, to give effect to our endeavours for the promotion of their moral happiness and improvement. With this view, we most carnestly repeat to you our recommendation to pay continued and increased attention to the advancement of godliness, and the discouragement of all loose notions, whether in faith or morality. Such notions, unless timely counter-acted, must tend to the destruction of all good principles in the hearts of men, and the provoking of the displeasure of Almighty God. Be diligent, be circumspect. More encouraging dispositions will arise: profit by them; and your labour shall not be in vain.
We have beheld with the highest satisfaction the gradual restoration of tranquillity and good order in those parts of Great Britain where the efforts of wicked and designing men were, for a time, but too successful in deluding some of our subjects, and in disseminating doctrines which aimed at the subversion of the existing form of government established in this realm.
And we look with confidence to the loyalty of the great body of our people, and their firm attachment to the constitution, as the surest means of maintaining the peace and quiet of our kingdom, and eradicating what may still remain of that spirit of disaffection which unhappily existed in the minds of some of our deluded subjects.
Be assured that no exertion shall be wanting on our part to further this great object, by a firm, temperate, and impartial administration of the laws, intended alike for the protection of the innocent, and for the dread and punishment of the wicked.
Fully assured that your attachment to our royal person, your love for your country, and zeal for the glory of Almighty God, will prompt you to the due and faithful discharge of all your duties, we commend your deliberations to the Divine guidance; and so we bid you heartily farewell.
III. Sess. 3, May 21, 1818.—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 been pleased to honour this meeting of the General Assembly of our National Church, has been received with every sentiment of loyalty and respect.
It is with unfeigned gratitude that we have received the renewed assurance of your Royal Highness's regard and paternal affection; and we are encouraged, by the declaration of your countenance and support, to persevere in the diligent discharge of the high and important duties with which we are entrusted.
The approbation which your Royal Highness has been pleased to express of our past councils and measures, and the unbounded confidence which you have condescended to repose in us, have afforded us the most lively and heartfelt satisfaction; and we trust that we shall be enabled to show ourselves worthy of these distinguished marks of your Royal Highness's regard, by conducting our deliberations at this time with becoming temper and calmness, by cherishing a steady loyalty and attachment to our beloved Sovereign and your Royal Highness, and by doing every thing in our power for promoting the happiness and best interests of his Majesty's subjects in this part of the United Kingdom.
We feel that well grounded confidence, which long experience has taught us to cherish, in the repeated assurance of your Royal Highness's, full determination to maintain the Church of Scotland in the complete enjoyment of all its rights and privileges.
We learn with peculiar thankfulness and joy the resolution of your Royal Highness to extend, at no distant day, pecuniary succour for increasing the number of our places of worship in those parishes of Scotland which, either from their redundant population or great extent, stand in need of such an addition. This wise and pious measure we consider as a fresh proof of your Royal Highness's fatherly solicitude for the prosperity of our National Church. And we confidently anticipate from it the most salutary effects, both in a religious and moral view, to a large pro portion of our population that are at present destitute, in a great measure, of the means and opportunities of spiritual instruction.
We are gratified by the appointment of the Earl of Errol to represent his Majesty's person in this General Assembly, because he possesses our sincere and affectionate respect, and because we are assured of the lively interest which he will take in all our deliberations, and of his readiness to co-operate with us in our endeavours for the advancement of the cause of true religion and virtue.
In the feelings expressed by your Royal Highness respecting that awful and unexpected dispensation with which it has pleased Almighty God to afflict your Royal House and this nation, we most cordially and deeply participate. In common with all our fellow-subjects, we shared in unfeigned sympathy with the royal persons more immediately affected by the event which we deplore. It becomes us to bow with reverence before the Sovereign of the universe, who, in His unsearchable wisdom, has removed from our eye and our expectation one who was so justly dear to our hearts. Our most sincere and fervent prayers have often ascended to His Throne, for that strong consolation to your Royal Highness and your afflicted House, which even the sympathies of a loyal and affectionate people are unable to yield. Nor have we failed to remind those whom it is our office to instruct, that it is their duty to receive with implicit submission the present visitation, and to place their reliance on that Being who rules in the exercise of infinite perfection, and has promised to make all things work together for good to them that love Him.
We receive your Royal Highness's paternal counsels with becoming thankfulness. And, aware of the vast importance of pastoral diligence, and fidelity to the welfare and prosperity of the nation, it shall be our unceasing concern, depending upon the Divine aid, to teach sound doctrine and pure morality to the people committed to our care—to inculcate upon them that practical regard to the Gospel, without which the wisest human institutions are of no avail, and to employ every means in our power to make them good and loyal subjects, by making them true and zealous Christians. While we learn with profound regret, that there are persons in these days, and in this island, who have attempted to bring into ridicule and disrespect some of the commandments and instructions of religion, we trust that a better spirit will soon become universal, and that all ranks of our fellow-subjects will be persuaded to fear God, and to work righteousness. We beg leave to assure your Royal Highness that no efforts shall be wanting on our part to discourage any symptoms of profaneness which may appear among the people of Scotland, and to cherish in them that reverence for every thing sacred, without which they can neither be virtuous nor happy.
We participate in the high satisfaction expressed by your Royal Highness at the restoration of tranquillity and good order in those parts of the Island where wicked and designing men had succeeded in seducing some of his Majesty's subjects from their allegiance and duty. We pray to God that the inhabitants of every part of this highly favoured empire may be duly sensible of the blessings they enjoy under our happy constitution, and be ready at all times to guard it from internal disaffection, as well as from foreign aggression. And it is with no ordinary feelings of gratitude and joy that we communicate to your Royal Highness our full conviction, that the people with whom we are more immediately connected are sensible of their privileges, sacred and civil, as a nation, and most cordial in their attachment to the government of their country, and to your Illustrious House.
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 impart to his Majesty the King all that support and consolation which his case requires;—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 the councils, and prosper the measures of his Majesty's government;—and that princes of your Illustrious House may
reign, to the latest posterity, over a free, loyal, and happy people, are the fervent
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.
IV. Sess. 3, May 21, 1818.—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 loyal and dutiful subjects, the ministers and elders met in this General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, beg leave humbly to approach your Royal Highness with the sincere expression of our affection and respect for his Majesty's person and family; of the satisfaction and happiness which we experience under the administration of your Royal Highness, and of our devoted attachment to the happy constitution of government under which Divine Providence has placed us.
We deeply lament his Majesty's indisposition. Under the continuance of it we offer your Royal Highness the tribute of our sympathy. We pray that Almighty God may impart to his Majesty all the consolation of which his condition is susceptible, and speedily restore him to the conscious enjoyment of every blessing which may crown the evening of his days with felicity.
It is with heartfelt sorrow we turn our thoughts, on this occasion, to the severe calamity with which the United Kingdom has been visited, by the death of your amiable and beloved daughter, her Royal Highness the Princess Charlotte Augusta. We take a tender interest in the paternal feelings of your Royal Highness, which have been so deeply wounded by this mournful event. We commiserate the agonizing sufferings of a widowed husband, thus bereaved of all that was most dear to him in life; and we sympathize with the whole Royal Family, under a stroke which has deprived them of so bright an ornament.
The reverence for religion with which the mind of her Royal Highness was impressed, her attentive observance of its ordinances, and her many eminent virtues, both princely and domestic, render her memory peculiarly venerable in our estimation, and have embalmed it in the affections of a disconsolate people.
The fair promise of future blessings to the United Kingdom, which the early life of her Royal Highness held forth, and the interesting circumstances in which her precious life was cut off, render our grief for the event doubly poignant. When the hopes of the nation had been wound up to the highest pitch, when we already anticipated that pledge which would have transmitted to posterity, in the line of your Royal Highness, a succession of princes to the throne, she in whom these hopes were centered was suddenly snatched from the world, and our fond expectations humbled in the dust.
Under this dire calamity we bow in pious submission to the will of God. We pray that His divine consolations may abound to your Royal Highness, and we trust that your heavy affliction may find some alleviation in the universal tribute of condolence voluntarily poured forth throughout the wide extent of the British Empire.
That Almighty God, the Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, may shed
Divine consolations upon our beloved Sovereign, bless the Queen and Royal Family,
and continue to prosper the government which your Royal Highness exercises with
so much success and glory, in the name, and on the behalf of his Majesty, and that
descendants of the Illustrious House of Brunswick may, to the latest posterity, sway
the British sceptre over a free, great, loyal, and virtuous people, are the earnest
May it please your Royal Highness, his Majesty's most faithful, most obedient, and most loyal subjects, the Ministers and Elders met in this General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
V. Sess. 9, May 30, 1818.—Commission of the General Assembly to certain Ministers and Ruling Elders for discussing Affairs referred to them.
VI. Sess. 9, May 30, 1818.—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 30, 1818.—Overture and Interim Act for the more effectual Preventing Simony. (fn. 1)
That upon a presentation being lodged with any Presbytery of this Church, before the Presbytery shall take any steps towards the settlement of the presentee, the Moderator shall read to him Act 5th, Assembly, 1753, and Act 8th, Assembly, 1759, and thereafter the presentee shall subscribe coram the following solemn declaration; which declaration, as engrossed in the Presbytery record, shall be authenticated by the signature of the Moderator, in name and by appointment of the Presbytery:—" I, A. B., presentee to the vacant parish and church of D., or appointed to be assistant and successor to E. F., minister of the parish of H., hereby solemnly declare; as I shall answer to God at the great day of judgment, that I have come under no engagement, expressed or understood, with the patron or heritors of the parish of D., nor with any person or persons in their name, or on their account; that neither by myself nor by any person with my knowledge, has any thing been given or promised, to procure me a presentation to the vacant parish of D.; and if, at any time hereafter, it shall come to my knowledge that any thing has been given, or has been promised to be given to the patron, or to any other person, for procuring the presentation now laid on the Presbytery's table to the vacant parish and church of D., I will immediately reveal it to the Presbytery. (Signed) A. B., presentee to the parish of D.—I. H., Moderator, in name and by appointment of the Presbytery;" and that till such declaration is subscribed as above, the Presbyteries of this Church be prohibited from proceeding to the settlement of presentees; and that a copy of this Act be given to each candidate for the ministry at the time he is licensed: All which procedure shall be without prejudice to the Presbytery's right of putting such questions to the presentee, as they shall deem necessary on the circumstances of the case; and that, in the meantime, this overture be converted into an interim Act.