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 19, 1825.
I. Sess. 1, May 19, 1825.—The King's Commission to James Ochoncar Lord Forbes produced, and ordered to be recorded.
II. Sess. 1, May 19, 1825.— The King's most gracious Letter to the General Assembly, presented to them by his Majesty's Commissioner.
Right Reverend and well-beloved, we greet you well.—The constant proofs we have annually received of your affectionate loyalty to our person and government, and of your unremitting zeal in the great cause of religion, produce in our mind the most entire confidence that you will persevere in the same cause of piety and loyalty; and it is, therefore, with unqualified satisfaction, that we now renew to you the assurances of our unalterable determination to uphold the Presbyterian Church of Scotland in the full enjoyment of all its rights and privileges, and to countenance the General Assemblies of that Church with the same favour and authority which they have enjoyed from us and our royal ancestors. We are convinced that you will bring with you to this present Assembly an ardent and sincere desire for the advancement of true religion and pure morality, and will direct all your counsels to the general good of that part of our empire which is committed to your pastoral care; and we are satisfied that your zeal for these laudable purposes will be tempered with the candour and moderation calculated to ensure the success of your endeavours, towards which end you may rely on our firm and hearty co-operation.
Having understood that in some parts of Scotland there is great deficiency of accommodation for our good and religiously-disposed subjects, we shall recommend that subject to the early attention of our Parliament, nothing doubting that, by their deliberative wisdom, a remedy will be provided for so serious an evil.
Having experienced in other branches of our service the fidelity, firmness, and prudence of our right trusty and well-beloved James Ochoncar Lord Forbes, and being well assured of his zealous attachment to the Church of Scotland, we have selected him to be our Commissioner, and to represent our Royal Person in this Assembly; and we are persuaded that this choice will be acceptable to you.
Note.—The following is the notice in the Abridgment of this year's Proceedings of the Overtures respecting the Propagation of the Gospel Abroad, and relative to the State of Religious Instruction and Education in Scotland, and in the adoption of which the India Mission and Education Schemes originated:—
"Sess. 7, Thursday, May 27, 1824.
"The Assembly proceeded to take up the Overtures relative to the Propagation of the Gospel among the Heathen, and also the memorial and petition of the Rev. Dr Bryce, first minister of the Presbyterian Church in Calcutta, on the same subject. After mature deliberation, the following motion was made, seconded and unanimously and cordially agreed to: 'That the Assembly approve of the general purpose and object of these overtures; appoint a committee to devise and report to the next Assembly a specific plan for the accomplishment of that object, and reserve for the consideration of the next Assembly the means of providing the requisite funds, by appointing an extraordinary collection at all the Parish Churches and Chapels of Ease throughout Scotland, as well as by opening a general subscription for the accomplishing this pious and benevolent object.'
"The Assembly then proceeded to take up the Overture relative to the State of Religious Instruction, and of Education in the Highlands and Islands, and in the great towns in Scotland. After hearing the wants of the inhabitants of the Highlands and Islands, and their claims upon the public most ably and feelingly stated, the General Assembly most cordially gave their approbation to the object proposed in these overtures, and unanimously agreed that a committee be appointed to inquire, and to report to next Assembly, as to an advisable plan for the Church to adopt for increasing the means of education and of religious instruction throughout Scotland in general, where it may be needed, but particularly in the Highlands and Islands, and in large and populous cities and towns; and that the committee be instructed, after collecting and digesting the relative facts, to take what proper and prudent measures may be in their power to learn, for the information and direction of the ensuing Assembly, what degree of co-operation may reasonably be expected from 'heritors and others in the different districts of the country; and whether, also, and in what manner, Government may be disposed to give public aid for carrying into effect the important measure in contemplation."—Ed. 1843.
III. Sess. 3, May 21, 1825.— The General Assembly's Answer to the King's most gracious Letter.
May it please your Majesty,
The letter with which your Majesty has been pleased to honour us we have received as a mark of royal condescension and good-will, which demands the strongest expressions of respectful and grateful attachment from this General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
We are deeply sensible of the invaluable advantages which we enjoy under your Majesty's government, and we earnestly pray that our future conduct may be so directed by the wisdom which is from above, as to justify the entire confidence which your Majesty has hitherto reposed in our affectionate loyalty to your person and government, and our unremitting zeal in the great cause of religion, as the tie which connects the interests of time with the hopes of eternity, and as yielding at once the best security for the honour and stability of the throne, and the good order and happiness of the people.
We return our warmest thanks for the renewed assurances of your Majesty's unalterable determination to uphold the Church of Scotland in the full enjoyment of all its rights and privileges; and we venture to hope that we shall never forfeit the claims which our predecessors have established to the favour and authority with which the General Assemblies of this Church have been countenanced by your Majesty and your Royal Ancestors.
In humble dependence on the aid of Divine grace to guide us in judgment, and to bestow on us the spirit of meekness and brotherly love, we are fully resolved to avail ourselves of your Majesty's paternal admonition, conveyed in terms so encouraging, by bringing with us to this present Assembly an ardent and sincere desire for the advancement of true religion and pure morality, and by tempering our zeal with candour and moderation; thus feeling ourselves warranted to rely on your Majesty's firm and hearty co-operation, in promoting the success of the counsels and endeavours which it shall be our invariable object to direct to the general good of that portion of the empire which is committed to our pastoral care.
We rejoice in the intelligence of your Majesty's pious resolution to recommend to the early attention of Parliament the great deficiency of accommodation felt by your Majesty's religiously disposed subjects in some parts of Scotland; and it is our fervent prayer, that the deliberative wisdom of the legislature may speedily provide an effectual remedy for so serious an evil, which, in common with your Majesty, we have long deplored.
The appointment of the Right Honourable Lord Forbes to represent your Royal Person in this General Assembly is received by us as a distinguished proof of your Majesty's regard for the honour and interest of this National Church. The fidelity, firmness, and prudence which he has displayed in other parts of your Majesty's service, as well as the private worth and amiable qualities which endear him to his countrymen, well entitle him to a most cordial and respectful welcome from us.
We receive with much gratitude the royal donation of L.2000, for propagating the Christian religion in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, and we shall study to apply with strict fidelity the sum which has thus been confided to our management.
That Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, may protect your Majesty's person and guide your counsels, and that, after a long and happy reign on
earth, you may inherit a kingdom which cannot be moved, is the earnest prayer of,
May it please your Majesty, your Majesty's most faithful, most loyal, and most obedient subjects, the Ministers and Elders of this General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
IV. Sess. 9, May 28, 1825.—Commission of the General Assembly to certain Ministers and Ruling Elders for discussing Affairs referred to them.
V. Sess. ult., May 30, 1825.—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.
VI. Sess. ult., May 30, 1825.—Overtures as to the Course of Study to be pursued by Students of Divinity.
VII. Sess. ult., May 30, 1825.—Report as to Schools.
That regular printed or written forms, duly filled up in the prescribed order, have
been sent in from the following Presbyteries, viz.—
These returns being only 32, in due order and regular form.
But that parochial, in place of Presbyterial statements, have been sent in as follows, viz., from 11 parishes in the Presbytery of Dumfries; from the several parishes in the Presbytery of Dalkeith; from 11 parishes in the Presbytery of Edinburgh; and from 6 parishes of the Presbytery of Chirnside; and that short notifications of examinations of the schools, and of the satisfaction which was derived from the performance of this duty, have been put in from the Presbyteries of Hamilton, Fordoun, Linlithgow, and Strathbogie; the returns in all being sent in from 40 Presbyteries.
That no report whatever appears for last year from any of the remaining 38 Presbyteries of this Church; and that several of these have neglected to make returns in the prescribed form for more than one year, and some of them for many years; so that a full view of the schools in their respective bounds cannot be obtained until the orders of the Assembly be more generally observed, or more effectually enforced, according to the prescribed form; and returns made from every Presbytery, embracing all the parishes in one view.
That, besides the stimulus which the regular annual reports must give to the several Presbyteries in the discharge of a most important duty, it must be useful also as a stimulus to the several teachers, to know that such reports are made, and satisfactory to the Assembly and to the public, that they are obtained and preserved.
The committee feel it their duty to report, that some of the teachers have not yet qualified, by taking the Oath of Allegiance, and subscribing the proper Formula of the Church, dated in 1694; and that it may be proper to ordain a greater and more exact attention to the orders of the Assembly, that the teachers may qualify, and may be so reported.
Also, that no parish school appears to have been established in the parish of Lochs and Presbytery of Lewis, and that an explanation of the reason of this ought to be required, and measures taken for erecting one in that parish, and in every other where a parish school is wanting.
That some of the returns from Presbyteries contain very full and satisfactory statements, not only of the schools and number of scholars, but that a column has been added for the population, as formerly recommended by the Assembly; which it is evidently proper to possess, in order to an easy comparison, and which has been done in the very perfect reports from Aberdeen and Aberbrothock; and that the numbers of schools, of the scholars attending them, and of the population, should be in separate columns, each to be summed up; the designation of the Presbytery to be at the top of the return, and the attestation not to be omitted.
That full and accurate returns from Presbyteries, relative to schools, are now more
than ever important, with a view to facilitate the great objects of the Assembly's Standing Committee for increasing the means of education; and that, in so far as the reports of last year extend, they furnish continued evidence of the incalculable value of
the regular and accurate inspection of Presbyteries, under the high authority of the
General Assembly of this Church.
Wm. Singer, Convener.