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 pricipal acts of the general assembly, convened at Edinburgh, May 20, 1819.
I. Sess. 1, May 20, 1819.—The King's Commission to George Earl of Morton produced, and ordered to be recorded.
The General Assembly, &c.
II. Sess. 1, May 20, 1819.—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.— We have always contemplated with the most lively interest the return of the period appointed for the meeting of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland; and it is with sentiments of peculiar satisfaction that we now hasten to renew to you the assurance of our paternal regard, and of our disposition to co-operate with you in all such measures as may tend to the moral and religious improvement of our people. When we call to mind the constant and laudable zeal which you have ever shown for the promotion of learning and true religion, we cannot doubt that the same advantages which have heretofore resulted from your deliberations will continue to flow from them. Your venerable body will sympathise with us in the severe affliction with which, since we last addressed you, it has pleased the Divine Providence to visit the members of the Royal Family, and the whole British nation, in the death of her Most Excellent Majesty. You will feel with us, that in the discharge of the duties, whether public or private, of her high station, she displayed a brilliant example of all those qualities which, while they dignify and add lustre to a throne, constitute the most becoming ornament of the female character in domestic life.
We have thought fit to appoint our right trusty and right well-beloved cousin, George Earl of Morton, to be the representative of our royal person upon the present occasion, well assured that your counsels will derive every advantage from his wisdom and sound judgment, and that he will faithfully and zealously discharge the weighty and important trust confided to his care. We cannot doubt that he will experience at your hands all the respect and consideration due to the high office with which we have judged it proper to invest him, and that you will manifest, in the reception which you give to the bearer of our delegated authority, your dutiful submission to ourself.
We assure you that we have not abandoned the intention which we expressed to you at your last Assembly, of affording aid for the supply of adequate places of worship for the religiously-disposed inhabitants of those parishes which, from their extent or population, stand in need of such assistance. Temporary circumstances have impeded the fulfilment of our intention; but we trust that every impediment will be speedily surmounted. It is with deep-felt grief that we call your attention to the increase which has recently taken place in the number of crimes. This increase, we trust, as in former instances of the otherwise happy transition from war to peace, will be but temporary. We purpose (assisted by the wisdom of our Parliament) to direct proper measurers to be taken for ameliorating the discipline of our prisons. At the same time, we exhort you to charge those ministers of the Church of Scotland whose peculiar province it is to watch over the religious instruction of the unhappy persons confined in the gaols of that part of our United Kingdom, to be vigilant and unremitting in the performance of their sacred functions. The mischief we deplore may be materially abated by the judicious and zealous exertions of those ministers of the Gospel, to whom it more particularly belongs, in these receptacles of crime, to awaken the consciences of the obdurate, to enlighten the understandings of the ignorant, and to bring back the lost sheep into the fold of the True Shepherd. You will not fail to instruct your bearers in general how much their temporal, as well as their eternal welfare, will be promoted by a strict adherence to the precepts of the religion which you preach, and that even human institutions are to be respected as conducing to the same end. You will teach them, that by maintaining a vigilant control over all their selfish passions, which seek their gratification at the expense and to the injury of their neighbours; and by being always in strict and peaceable obedience to the laws and ordinances of the community of which they are members, they will best consult not only the happiness of their fellow-creatures, but their own.
As a powerful means of procuring the ready dissemination of these sentiments, we recommend to you a watchful superintendence over the education of the rising generation. It has been found (and no where more than in Scotland) that the general instruction of the children of the poorer classes has been attended with the happiest effects. A visible improvement has taken place in the morals of the people, and those who might otherwise have passed their days in ignorance and vice have been qualified to become useful members of society.
It only remains for us to renew to you the assurance of our stedfast purpose and determination to maintain inviolate the rights and privileges of the Church of Scotland, as by law established; and, commending your deliberations to the guidance of the Almighty, we bid you heartily farewell.
Given at our Court at Carlton House, the 7th day of May 1819, in the fiftyninth 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 22, 1819.—The General Assembly's Answer to the Prince Regent's most gracious Letter.
May it please your Royal Highness,
The very 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 the Church of Scotland, has been received with the respect and gratitude due to such a renewed proof of your royal favour.
The assurance of your Royal Highness's paternal regard, and disposition to support us in those measures by which we strive to promote the religious and moral improvement of the people under our charge, is a most powerful encouragement to persevere in the faithful discharge of our duty. We receive your gracious approbation of our zeal for the advancement of religion and literature, as a gratifying recompence of our past labours, and feel your confidence in the success of our future exertions a motive for redoubling our diligence in time to come.
Bending in profound veneration to the will of that Great Being whose counsels are unsearchable, we sympathise deeply in the successive afflictions of your Royal House. In tendering the expression of our unfeigned condolence to your Royal Highness on the lamented death of her Majesty, the late Queen, we desire to remember, with gratitude to Heaven, how long she was spared for a blessing to these lands; and earnestly pray that the excellent example which she set of genuine piety, domestic virtue, and enlightened zeal for the moral interests of the community, may never be forgotten.
The appointment of the Earl of Morton to represent his Majesty's person in this Assembly, is to us a fresh token of your fatherly care and regard. The attachment of his noble ancestors to the liberties of their country and principles of the Church of Scotland, his own high and exemplary character, the dignified situations which he has filled, and his well-known zeal for the maintenance of the British constitution, render the choice which your Royal Highness has made most acceptable to us, and induce us, from esteem, as well as a sense of duty, to receive him with all the respect and consideration due to the important office with which he is invested.
The assurance that your Royal Highness has not abandoned your wise and benevolent intention of affording aid for the supply of adequate places of worship for the religiously-disposed inhabitants of those parishes which, from their extent and population, stand in need of such assistance, confirms our reliance on the affectionate interest which your Royal Highness takes in the prosperity of our Church; and from the fulfilment of that intention (which we trust will not be long delayed) we anticipate the happiest consequences to a large proportion of our fellow-subjects.
The increase in the number of crimes, to which your Royal Highness calls our attention, has not by any means escapted our notice. We trust and pray that the prevalence of this evil may be of short duration, and that the measures which your Royal Highness proposes to take for arresting its progress may be crowned, by Divine Providence, with complete success. And we pledge ourselves to your Royal Highness, that before we separate we shall adopt every means in our power to cooperate with these measures.
We thankfully acknowledge the wisdom and watchful care of your Royal Highness, in exhorting us to that most sacred and important branch of our duty, which consists in instructing the ignorant, and reclaiming the obdurate, especially when suffering under the consequences of their crimes. Permit us to assure your Royal Highness, that our best exertions as a body, and as individuals, shall not be wanting to impress on every mind to which our influence extends the necessity of religious principle as the foundation, and of respectful submission to the laws and institutions of their country as the means, of personal and social happiness.
It affords us the most lively pleasure that your Royal Highness has been pleased to recommend our continuing the watchful superintendence which we have been accustomed to exercise over the education of youth. The general diffusion of useful knowledge among the inferior orders of society has been long the pride and honour of Scotland, and our experience of its beneficial effects determines us to employ every means in our power to extend the benefits of instruction to all classes of persons under our care; and we rejoice in the prospect of these benefits being more generally extended, not only throughout the British Empire, but over the whole world.
We are animated in the discharge of these and all our other duties, by the repeated assurance which your Royal Highness has condescended to give of your stedfast purpose and determination to maintain inviolate the rights and privileges of our Established Church. Attached by every principle of loyalty and feeling of gratitude to the Royal House of Brunswick, we rely, in perfect security, on the protection and countenance of a Prince of that illustrious line, who, in exciting us to our duty, shows that the faithful discharge of it is the surest recommendation to his favour.
That the Father of Mercies may vouchsafe to bless his Majesty the King with that
Heavenly support and consolation which He alone can bestow;—that He may watch
over the person, prolong the days, and bless the administration of your Royal Highness;—that you may behold the increasing prosperity of a loyal and affectionate
people, and be honoured as the instrument of Divine Providence for their good;—and
that, after long ruling in righteousness and judgment, you may receive the recompence of a heavenly crown, are the 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
Duncan Macfarlane, Moderator.
IV. Sess. 3, May 22, 1819.—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, met in this General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, embrace the opportunity, afforded by the return of our annual meeting, of conveying to your Royal Highness the renewed assurances of our respect and affection to his Majesty's person and family.
While we deeply deplore his Majesty's long seclusion, by a severe and protracted malady, from the personal exercise of the functions appropriate to that high station which he constitutionally holds in the government of these realms, we offer to your Royal Highness the expressions of our respectful condolence on the great loss which your Royal Highness, the Royal Family, and the empire at large, have sustained in the lamented death of her late Majesty the Queen, who continued to share the affections of our beloved Sovereign, and to form the principal solace of his life for a long series of years. The amiable manner in which she discharged the various conjugal and maternal duties rendered her Majesty's character a shining example to her sex throughout the empire; while her diffusive but unostentatious beneficence—a beneficence discovered to its full extent, chiefly by the regrets and tears of those who had been accustomed to partake of it, cannot fail to give to the memory of our late excellent Queen an endearing interest. That decided and conspicuous regard to the interests of religion and virtue, manifested both by her example and support, not only gave to the British Court a peculiar and dignified pre-eminence, but diffused its salutary influence in a widely extended sphere. These recollections must render it difficult to appreciate the full extent of the loss sustained by her Majesty's death, and will dispose the wise and good long to cherish her memory with affectionate veneration. We are called, by this dispensation of Providence, to bow with submission before the throne of the Almighty. It is our sincere and earnest prayer, that, in the recollection and imitation of the various excellencies that adorned the character of the late Queen, her illustrious descendants, and all ranks in the community, may express their respect for her memory, and find consolation under the irreparable loss occasioned by her death.
That it may please Almighty God, the Father of Mercies, to bless his Majesty,
and impart to him all that consolation and relief of which his condition is susceptible;—that the King of Kings may vouchsafe to your Royal Highness every blessing, temporal and spiritual, and render your administration effectual, according to your Royal
Highness's benevolent wishes, for promoting the virtue and happiness of your people,
and the general prosperity of the empire;—that He may distinguish, by his favour, all
the members of the Royal Family;—and that the Crown of these realms may be
transmitted in a succession of Princes of your royal house to latest generations, are
the sincere and 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 this General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
Signed in our name, in our presence, and at our appointment, by
Duncan Macfarlane, Moderator.
V. Sess. 4, May 24, 1819.—Act for the better Dispatching the Business of Assemblies reprinted.
May 26, 1718.
The General Assembly, finding that their business is much retarded by parties having references, appeals, and complaints, to lay before the Assembly, their not giving them timeously into the Committee for Bills, and that, by such delays, the Assembly is often necessarily obliged to commit several of their weighty affairs to their Commission, which were more proper to be judged by themselves: Therefore, they do hereby appoint and ordain all references, appeals, and complaints, that shall be made in time coming to the General Assemblies of this Church, to be lodged in the clerk's hands on or before the second or third days of the Assembly's meetings; that thereby they may timeously have a full view of all their work, and may be able to judge what things are of the greatest weight, and are necessary to be dispatched by themselves, if they cannot overtake the whole: With certification, that all appeals or complaints, not lodged in the clerk's hands within the time foresaid, shall be held as deserted and fallen from, and shall not thereafter be received; unless, upon the first opportunity, the parties concerned make it appear to the Assembly that insuperable difficulties did withhold them from lodging the same in manner above set down. And the General Assembly enjoins the clerks of the several judicatures to transmit to the clerk of Assembly, within the time foresaid, all references made by the respective judicatures to the General Assembly.
Additional Act for the Dispatch of Business of Assemblies.
May 24, 1819.
The General Assembly, considering that parties are often negligent in bringing their causes in due time before the Assembly, by which the business of the Assembly is unnecessarily delayed, appointed a committee to take under their consideration the Act, 1718, respecting the dispatch of business before the Assembly; and to consider what additional orders and regulations may be necessary to be made in order to bring before the Assembly, on the first Saturday of their meeting, a view of all the business which may afterwards come under their consideration, and to report. The committee accordingly made the following report:—"The committee report as their opinion, that the Assembly ought to make such an order, for the dispatch of their business, as will ensure to them the advantage of having the papers connected with every private cause, on their table, at their meeting on the first Saturday of the Assembly; and that, with a view to the accomplishment of this object, in the way least inconvenient for all parties concerned, the first meeting of the Committee of Bills ought to be held on the evening of the preceding Thursday; a second meeting of the same committee on the evening of Friday; and a third on the morning of Saturday before the meeting of Assembly: And, farther, that all appeals, complaints, or references, not presented to the Committee of Bills at or before their third meeting on the morning of the first Saturday of the Assembly, shall be held as deserted and fallen from." The General Assembly having considered the above report, unanimously approve thereof, and enact and enjoin in terms thereof. And the Assembly direct their clerks to send printed copies of this enactment to all the Presbyteries of the Church. And the Assembly farther direct and appoint, that this enactment shall, in time coming, be read on the first day of the meeting of every future Assembly, together with the Act, 1718, anent the dispatch of business, which they appoint to be printed in the Acts of this Assembly, along with this present Act, for the greater conveniency.
Andrew Duncan, Cl. Eccl. Scot.
VI. Sess. 9, May 29, 1819.—Commission of the General Assembly to certain Ministers and Ruling Elders for discussing Affairs referred to them.
The General Assembly, &c.
VII. Sess. 9, May 29, 1819.—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.
VIII. Sess. 9, May 29, 1819.—Order and Injunction of the General Assembly to the Presbyteries of the Church concerning the Examination of Schools.
The General Assembly called for the report of the Committee upon the Examination of Schools, which was produced and read as follows:—" The Committee upon the Returns from Presbyteries respecting the Examination of Schools report, that only twenty-nine Presbyteries have sent up returns to the Assembly, viz., Paisley, Dalkeith, Irvine, Cupar, Forfar, Turriff, Biggar, Jedburgh, Chirnside, Peebles, Ellon, Aberdeen, Penpont, Dunbar, Annan, Perth, Brechin, Haddington, Dunfermline, Alford, Aberlour, Strathbogie, Lanark, St Andrews, Aberbrothock, Kirkaldy, Linlithgow, Lochmaben, and Langholm.
"Most of these returns are in very general terms, and in several of them no other information is given than that the schools of certain parishes, named in the return, have been examined since last Assembly, or that reports have been given in to the Presbytery by committees appointed to visit schools; which reports have been sustained. The returns made by certain Presbyteries, among which the committee think it proper to particularise those of Irvine, Cupar, Forfar, Dalkeith, and Paisley, are very full and minute, and exhibit a laudable attention on the part of those Presbyteries to the important duties belonging to them as superintendents of public education within their bounds. Several Presbyteries state their experience of the great and increasing advantages which result from the regular examination of schools, according to the instructions of the General Assembly.—The committee would recommend the renewal and re-transmission of the injunction of Assembly, 1799, to Presbyteries regarding the state of schools.
"The committee further suggest, that it might tend to draw the attention of Presbyteries more particularly to this important subject, and also to facilitate the making up of Presbyterial reports upon the points contained in the injunction above mentioned, were printed schedules, corresponding to the several subjects of inquiry, to be prepared by a committee of Assembly, and transmitted to Presbyteries, to be filled up by them in their future reports." The General Assembly approve of this report, and enjoin the clerks to see that the recommendation of the Assembly upon this subject be inserted in the printed Acts of this Assembly. The schedule proposed in the above report having been prepared by the committee, the Assembly direct the clerks to get printed a sufficient number of copies of the schedule, and transmitted to the different Presbyteries of the Church. The Assembly enjoin all the Presbyteries to make their reports of the examination of the schools within their bounds, conformably to the said schedule.
Follows the Injunction of the General Assembly, 1799.
The General Assembly enjoin all the Presbyteries of this Church to report to the Assembly a list of all the schools within their bounds, specifying what is taught in each school; whether the schools be held on the Lord's Day, or on other days of the week; in what way the schoolmasters are supported or maintained; whether they act for themselves, or are employed by or under the direction of others; what number of scholars attend each school at the time of making the report; and, in general, whatever else shall appear to the Presbytery of importance respecting the schools within their bounds.
Andrew Duncan, Cl. Eccl. Scot.
IX. Sess. 9, May 29, 1819.—Overture and Interim Act for the more effectual preventing Simony.
X. Sess. ult., May 31, 1819.—Recommendation of the General Assembly to all the Ministers of this Church to promote Subscriptions and Contributions for the Monumental Church.
The General Assembly considering, that at a numerous meeting of noblemen and gentlemen in this city, in the month of February last, it had been proposed, and unanimously agreed to, that a general subscription should be opened for erecting a monumental edifice, comprehending a church destined for the purposes of Divine worship, in commemoration of the unparalleled victories with which the Great Disposer of events had been pleased to crown the British arms, by sea and land, in the late glorious and eventful war, in which the valour of Scotsmen was so conspicuously displayed in every quarter of the globe; and considering that this measure appears to the General Assembly to be a most suitable and appropriate expression of national gratitude to the Lord of Hosts, and, under Him, to our brethren in arms, who had been the instruments in His hands of our national deliverance from impending dangers of incalculable extent: The General Assembly earnestly recommend to all the parish ministers of this Church to give their countenance and aid to the measure, by promoting subscriptions and contributions for its accomplishment, within their respective parishes; and the General Assembly appoint and ordain that this deliverance of the Assembly be printed, and copies thereof transmitted, without delay, to every parish minister of the Church of Scotland.
XI. Sess. ult., May 31, 1819.—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 18th day of May 1820.
Extracted from the Records of the General Assembly, by
Andrew Duncan, Cl. Eccl. Scot.