The Principal acts of the general assembly, holden and begun at Edinburgh, April 8, 1707.
Sess. 1, April 8, 1707.—The Queen's Commission to David Earl of Glasgow produced,
and ordered to be Recorded.
The General Assembly of the Ministers and Ruling Elders of this National Church
being convened and constituted, there was produced to them by the Right Honour
able David Earl of Glasgow, her Majesty's Commission under the Great Seal of this
kingdom, appointing him her Majesty's High Commissioner and representative in
this National Assembly, which Commission being publicly read with all due honour
and respect, the General Assembly ordained the same to be recorded in their registers,
the tenor whereof follows:—"Anna," &c.
Eadem Sessione.—Her Majesty's gracious Letter to the General Assembly.
Her Majesty's High Commissioner presented the Queen's most gracious Letter directed to this General Assembly, which was publicly read with all due honour and
respect, and is appointed to be recorded in the registers of this Assembly, the tenor
whereof follows:— "Anne, R.," &c.
Sess. 3, April 10, 1707.—The General Assembly's Answer to the Queen's gracious
May it please your Majesty, &c.
Sess. 4, April 11, 1707.—Act about Overtures concerning Ministerial Visitation of
Some overtures concerning the ministerial visitation of families, being, according
to an appointment of the late Assembly, prepared by their Commission, and transmitted to this Assembly; and having been considered by the Committee for Overtures, and again brought to this Assembly, and considered by them, they did, and
hereby do, transmit these Overtures to the several Presbyteries within this National
Church, that they may send their opinion thereanent to the next Assembly; and appoints the Clerk to send a written copy of the said Overtures to each Presbytery
for that end.
Sess. 5, April 12, 1707.—Act anent Schools in every Parish, and a Contribution
The General Assembly, considering how much it would contribute to the advancement of religion, and the propagating of Christian knowledge, if a sufficient number
of schools could be got erected and maintained through the kingdom, and being
earnestly desirous for their part to do what in them lies to forward so good a work,
do therefore enact and appoint in manner following: And, first, as to the lands
that are of her Majesty's property, that application be made by the Commissions
of this and subsequent Assemblies to the Lords of her Majesty's Treasury and
Exchequer, for obtaining her Majesty's proportion of what is allowed by law for
erecting of schools in parishes, according to her valued rent; and as to other heritors in parishes where schools are not settled according to law, Presbyteries are
hereby appointed to use all suitable endeavours to get schools erected and maintained in parishes conform to the Acts of Parliament, and if that succeed not, that
they apply to the Commissions of Assemblies, and give them an account of their
diligence, who are hereby empowered to give all the assistance in this matter, by
applying to the Government, or any other ways that is competent to them, and
as to places where parishes are so wide and spacious, that they require more
schools than one in each parish; the General Assembly does hereby renew and
continue the 14th Act of the General Assembly, held in the year 1704, entitled,
"Act anent Erecting Schools in the Highlands," in its whole heads and clauses,
and appoints the same to take effect until the Assemblies of this Church shall
think fit to alter that act, and the General Assembly earnestly recommends it to
the several Presbyteries to see the same put in due execution, and recommends it to
to the respective Synods and Presbyteries within this Church, to send distinct accounts to the Commission of this Assembly, betwixt and their meeting in August
next to come, what parishes in their bounds have or want schools, and what are
the reasons why they want the same, what places do most need them, and what is
the extent of those parishes that are spacious, and stand in need of more schools
than one, and what are the places in each parish that are most convenient for fixing
these schools at, one or more. As also, that they send an account of the names of
such students as are hopeful, and whom they could recommend for teaching the
said schools; and the Commission is hereby ordained to put these accounts in order,
and record the same in their books; and suchlike, the General Assembly does hereby appoint Presbyteries to deal earnestly with the patrons of such parishes as are or
shall fall vacant, to apply the vacant stipends towards this so charitable and pious a
use; and the Assembly hereby instructs their Commission to give all the encouragement and assistance they can to such who incline to enter into societies for erecting
and maintaining of charity schools for educating of poor and indigent children, and
to use their utmost endeavours to get such societies erected in the several corners
of the country; and that they consider what farther encouragement can be given
by the judicatories of this Church to the foresaid societies, and report overtures
concerning the same to the next General Assembly; and, in like manner, Synods and
Presbyteries are hereby strictly enjoined to inquire diligently what is become of the
money already subscribed for, and collected in the several Presbyteries, for erecting
schools in the Highlands, in pursuance of the foresaid Act, 14th General Assembly, 1704, and that they deal with such as have been deficient, yet to do what they
can in so good a work, and that they report their diligence herein to the Commission of this General Assembly, betwixt and their said meeting in August next. And,
lastly, the General Assembly does hereby appoint the several Presbyteries to give a
particular account to the next Assembly, how former acts anent a school in every
parish, the visitations thereof, and other things mentioned in these acts are observed, and recommends it to subsequent Assemblies, from time to time, to appoint
a particular committee to receive the reports of Presbyteries in that matter, and
prepare the same for the ensuing General Assemblies, who may do therein as they
shall see cause.
Sess. 5, April 12, 1707, ante meridiem.—Act anent the Advancement of Learning.
The General Assembly, for the better advancement and encouragement of learning, do hereby recommend it to the Commissioners, directed to the several universities of this kingdom to subsequent Assemblies of this Church, that at the time
of every General Assembly they do meet and consult together, and prepare overtures to be laid before the Assembly, for the establishment and advancement of
piety, learning, and good order in the Schools and Universities, and that they be
careful to keep a correspondence amongst the Universities for these good ends.
Sess. 5, April 12, 1707, ante meridiem.—Act anent Ministers publishing of Books, &c.
The General Assembly hereby appoints the several Presbyteries to take special
notice of any book or pamphlet that shall be framed or contrived, printed or published,
by any minister of this Church, and examine if there be any thing therein contrary
to the doctrine, worship, discipline, or government, or prejudicial to the rights, privileges, or unity of this Church, and that they censure such as shall transgress
herein, according to the demerit of the cause.
Sess. 6, April 14, 1707, post meridiem.—Act for suppressing of Popery, and preventing
the growth thereof.
The General Assembly, taking into their serious consideration the lamentable
increase of Popery in divers places of this nation, which they look upon as a sad
judgment from the Lord, and matter of humiliation to all that love the truth,
and though it were uncharitable to conclude that God is most displeased with
those ministers and congregations which are most assaulted and shaken by these
temptations, yet it is surely matter of humiliation to them; and, therefore, the
General Assembly recommends to them to be frequent and serious in fasting and
prayer to God, for restraining these winds of seduction. And besides what was
recommended on this account in the eighth Act of the General Assembly, 1699,
which is hereby renewed, it is moreover recommended, lmo, That if there be any
vacant churches in those parts that are infested with Popery, all due care and diligence may be used to plant them with able, pious, prudent, and learned ministers.
2do, That where there are ministers already, they do frequently commune with, and
inquire at their elders of the case of the people, and of the danger they may be in, and
of the trafficking of seducers amongst them, that they may the more timely counterwork them; and sessions are ordained to report their diligence in this matter to their
respective Presbyteries. 3tio, That Presbyteries where Popery increaseth do at each
meeting confer anent their danger thereby, and what their duty is, and what endeavours may be used against this seduction, and record their success; or, if the defection be growing, 4to, That the Synod in which these Presbyteries are, do at every
Synodical meeting inquire concerning the state of those parts as to the growth of
Popery, and give what assistance they can against these abominations; and for this
end, 5to, That they sometimes send ministers, one or more, that are well acquainted
with these controversies, to assist the ministers of the bounds, not only to confer
with the seduced, but also for establishing others; especially persons of more influence and authority in the bounds. 6to, Where the parish is great, that there be
probationers sent to assist the minister in preaching, that he may have the more time
for travelling up and down among the people; but Presbyteries are to take special
care that this be not improven for ease and sloth. 7mo, For making this anent probationers practicable and useful, the General Assembly approves of the overtures of
the Commission of the late General Assembly, dated the 11th of November last bypast, transmitted by the said Commission to the several Presbyteries; and in prosecution thereof, appoints and ordains that some probationers known in the Popish controversies be sent to those parts of the nation where Popery does most abound; to
travel among the people under the inspection, and at the direction of the Presbyteries of the bounds, and show them the errors of the Church of Rome, and danger
of the same; and to instruct them in the principles of the true reformed Protestant
religion—and more especially in wide and spacious parishes, where ministers cannot
be so frequently with their people; and that there be a contribution made amongst
ministers, according to their stipends, for encouragement of those probationers in that
work; and that ministers deal with persons who are charitably and piously inclined,
to contribute also for so good a work. And it is hereby recommended to all Presbyteries, that they be more careful of transmitting lists of Papists to the Clerks of
Privy Council termly, with particular informations according to the acts of the General Assembly, Parliament, and Council thereanent; and it is likewise recommended
to all Church judicatories to apply to the civil magistrates within their bounds for ex
ecuting the laws competent to them in these matters; and where the concurrence and
assistance of supreme judicatiories are requisite, the Commissions to be appointed by this
and subsequent General Assemblies are hereby enjoined to name a committee of some
of their number, from time to time, to prosecute the same according to law, and to manage the said missions and contribution; and, father, to render effectual the overtures
and act of the said late Commission, dated the 13th day of the said month, made for
the better raising of the said contribution and managing of the same; and for beginning
this so good a work, the General Assembly does, according thereto, 1mo, Desire each
minister, who has not already done the same in compliance with the said act of the
Commission, yet to advance a quarter of a year's centesima of their stipend for one year,
and recommends it to the brethren, who are members of this Assembly, to advance
their proportion presently, if they can conveniently do it. 2do, Agrees that each
probationer to be missioned be allowed two hundred merks for half a-year. 3tio, That
these probationers be under the inspection of the Presbyteries of the bounds to which
they go, and that they join with the minister of the parish, sometimes assisting him
in preaching, as said is, and in informing of the people in reference to the truth; and
the General Assembly appoints great care to be taken in choosing fit and able young
men to be sent on this design, and for that end, seriously recommends it to all the
Presbyteries to send accounts of such from time to time to the said Commissions or
their committees; and these young men are hereby enjoined, before they go on in
their mission, to spend at least a month in some of the universities in studying the
cavils of the Popish missionaries, and the fittest way of dealing with the people; and
the General Assembly hereby empowers the said Commissions or their committees
to give suitable advices and directions to these young men as to their conduct in their
work. And the Synods and Presbyteries in the South are hereby desired to send in
their contributions to the Commission of this Assembly, or the committee to be chosen
by them for management thereof, as said is; and those in the North to the Presbyteries to which these young men are sent, as soon as it is possible, that the same
may be paid to the young men. And, farther, the General Assembly appoints their
Commission to draw up a distinct account of the lamentable circumstances of those
places where Popery most prevails, in order to move people to contribute to so pious
a work: and, seeing it may be difficult to get probationers having the Irish language
for all these Highland places which may need this assistance, the General Assembly
appoints that such probationers who have not the Irish language shall preach that half
of the day in which the minister useth to preach in English, and shall be assistant to him
in dealing privately with those who have only English; and, in like manner, the Assembly recommends that some fit books be dispersed among the people for their information, and appoints that special care be taken to excite and keep the people intent
on practical godliness, and to show how Popery is destructive thereto; and ministers are
obtested to beware of self-confidence in the management of this work, or of leaning
to their own abilities and gifts, but that they do all with special dependence on God
through Christ, and with prayer to him for ability and skill to manage the work
aright, and to bless it with success. And, lastly, as the rolls and names of Papists
are to be given up to the Clerks of Privy Council yearly, so it is hereby appointed
and ordained, that at every Synod the names of the Papists within the several
parishes of their bounds be given in to the clerk of the Synod, that their increase or
decrease may be the better known, and suitable provision may be made for recovering the seduced, and preventing the seduction of more, and that the several Synods
do transmit these lists of Papists yearly to the Commissions of Assemblies, and the
said commissioners are hereby instructed and enjoined to take care that the above
particulars and the acts of Assembly made thereanent be strictly observed and put into
due execution, and that they do apply to the Government, as need shall require, for
protection and assistance to such as shall be sent in mission as aforesaid.
Sess. 8, April 16, 1707.—Act approving the Actings and Proceedings
of the Commission
of the General Assembly, anno 1706.
(In similar terms to the corresponding Acts of preceding years.)
Sess. 9, April 17, 1707.—Act concerning the Synod of Orkney, and Erecting another
The General Assembly, having heard the report of their Committee for the Affairs
of the Church in the North, the Highlands, and Islands, to whom the petitions for
the Presbyteries of Zetland, Orkney, and Caithness, were referred, and also having
heard the commissioners from these Presbyteries at this Assembly, they did, and
hereby do, appoint the act of the General Assembly, dated the 11th day of April
1706, concerning the more convenient meeting and greater ease of the Provincial
Synod of Caithness, Orkney, and Zetland, to continue and stand in force in all time
coming, without disjoining the Presbyteries of Zetland or Caithness therefrom, or
annexing the Presbytery of Sutherland thereto; and seeing that but few of the
Presbytery of Zetland can conveniently attend that Synod, and that there are therein
but two Presbyteries besides, so that in some cases that meeting cannot do the work
of a Synod, and there being eighteen ministers in the Presbytery of Orkney, the
General Assembly did, and hereby do, divide and crect the same into two Presbyteries, viz., the ministers of the parishes in the mainland and south isles of Orkney,
with a ruling elder for each minister in one Presbytery, to have their meeting for
ordinary at Kirkwall, and to be called the Presbytery of Kirkwall; and the ministers
of the North Isles, namely, Rousay, Egilshay, Westra, and Papa, North Ronaldshay,
Sanday, Eday, and Stronsay, and Shapinshay, with a ruling elder for each minister in
another separate Presbytery, to have their meeting for ordinary in the isle of Eday,
and to be called the Presbytery of the North Isles; and in cases of weight and difficulty, the General Assembly appoints one of the ministers of Kirkwall, and the ministers of Evie and Deerness, to correspond with the said Presbytery of the North Isles,
and meet therewith; and do hereby ordain the Presbyteries of Caithness, Kirkwall,
the North Isles, and Zetland, to bring yearly their books to the Synod of Orkney, to
be by them revised; and because the brethren of the Presbytery of Zetland are at
great charges and trouble in attending the said Synod, and some of them at more
than others of them, the Assembly appoints the brethren of the said Presbytery to go
to the Synod by turns, and to bear equal burden in public matters; and ordains letters to be written to the Presbyteries in these bounds intimating the premises to
them, and that the Synod of Ross and Orkney keep a mutual correspondence, as is
usual in other Synods.
Sess. 11, April 18, 1707.—Act approving a Form of Process in the Judicatories of the
Church with relation to Scandals and Censures.
The General Assembly, having this day, and at several former dicts, had read in
their audience the overtures concerning a Form of Process in the judicatories of this
Church with relation to scandals and censures, which were transmitted by the late
General Assembly to the several Presbyterics for their judgment thereupon, and having maturely considered the said whole overtures, with the remarks and observations
of Presbyteries made upon the same after full reasoning, both in committees and open
Assembly, upon the several particulars contained in the said Form of Process, the
General Assembly did, by their votes, nemine contradicente, and hereby do, ratify
and approve the foresaid From of Process as now amended in the whole heads and
articles thereof, and appoint and ordain the same to be observed and practised by the
respective judicatories of this Church as an act and ordinance of Assemblyand as
fixed binding rules and directions in the whole matters therein contained, exept the
7th, 8th, and 9th paragraphs of the fourth chapter, and what concerns the pressing
of the Oath of Purgation—as to which the General Assembly supersedes at this
time to enjoin the observation thereof as positive standing rules; but they did, and
hereby do, unanimously recommend to the several Presbyteries and other judicatories
of the Church, that they regulate themselves according to the advice therein insinuated, as they shall find to tend most to edification; the tenor of which From of
The form of process in the judicatories of the church of
Scotland, with relation to scandal and censures.
CHAPTER I. Concerning Church Government, Discipline, Scandals, and Censures in general.
1. Our Lord Jesus Christ hath instituted a government and governors ecclesiastical
in his house, with power to meet for the order and government thereof; and to that
purpose, the Apostles did immediately receive the keys from the hands of their Lord
and Master Jesus Christ, and did use and exercise the same upon all occasions, and
Christ hath from time to time furnished some in his Church with gifts for government, and with commission to exercise it when called thereunto, and has promised
his presence to be with them to the end of the world.
2. It is agreeable to, and founded on the Word of God, that some others besides those
who labour in the word and doctrine be Church governors, to join with the ministers
of the Word in the government of the Church, and exercise of discipline and oversight of the manners of the people, which officers are called ruling elders; as also,
that the Church be governed by several sorts of judicatories, and one in subordination to the other, such as Kirk-Sessions, Presbyteries, Provincial Synods, and General Assemblies.
3. Church discipline and censures for judging and removing of offences are of
great use and necessity in the Church, that the name of God, by reason of ungodly
and wicked persons living in the Church, be not blasphemed, not His wrath provoked against his people, that the godly be not leavened with, but preserved from
the contagion, and stricken with fear, and that sinners who are to be censured may
be ashamed, to the destruction of the flesh, and saving of the spirit in the day of the
4. Nothing ought to be admitted by any Church judicatory as the ground of a
process for censure, but what hath been declared censurable by the Word of God, or
some act or universal custom of this National Church, agreeable thereto; and the
several judicatiories of this Church ought to take timeous notice of all scandals;
but it is judged, that if a scandal shall happen not to be noticed in order to censure for the space of five years, it should not be again revived, so as to enter in a
process thereanent, unless it be of an heinous nature, or become again flagrant, but
the consciences of such persons ought to be seriously dealt with in private, to bring
them to a sense of their sin and duty.
5. These Assemblies or Church judicatories before mentioned have power to convene and call before them any persons within their own bounds, whom the ecclesiastical business which is before them doth concern, either as party, witness, or otherwise, and to examine them according to the nature of the affair, and to hear and determine in such cases as shall orderly come before them, and accordingly dispense
6. If a person be charged with a scandal, who lives within the bounds of another parish, the kirk-session of the parish where that person resides should be desired to cause cite that person to answer before the session in whose bounds the
scandal happened, and the same course is to be followed in such cases by the other
judicatories of the Church, seeing, for order's sake, they should not presume to exercise their authority without their own bounds.
7. The minister of the Word being in office above that of the ruling elder, cannot be liable to the censure of the kirk-session, but to the superior judicatories of
Concerning the entering of Processes, Citation of Parties and Witnesses, and taking
Depositions, and anent Fugitives from Discipline.
1. Members of kirk-sessions are wisely to consider the information they get of
scandals, and consult with their minister thereanent, even before the same be communicated to others, that thereby the spreading of the scandal may be prevented,
and it may be removed by private admonition, according to our Lord and Saviour's
rule, Matth. xviii. 15, which, if amendment follow, is the far better way of gaining
and recovering a lapsed brother, whereas the needless spreading of a scandal does
sometimes harden the guilty, grieve the godly, and is dishonourable to religion.
2. When any business is moved in a Church judicatory, whether by information,
petition, or otherwise, they are, in the first place, to consider, whether the matter in
its circumstantiated case, be proper for them to enter upon, and whether it be orderly
brought in, and proper for them to cognosce and discuss it themselves, or prepare it
for superior judicatories, and should endeavour to shorten their work as much as
with the edification of the Church they can, especially as to the head of scandal,
but still, on all occasions, the office-bearers in the house of God are to show all prudent zeal against sin.
3. In proceeding in all causes where there is any person or parties concerned, the
judicatory is to see that, before they proceed, these persons or parties be duly sisted
before them by a legal and timeous citation in writing, bearing its cause, either at
the instance of a party complaining, or, at least, by order of the judicatory; and, if
they be residing within the parish, the same may be upon forty-eight hours' advertisement, and the execution of the summons bearing its cause, and made before two
or three witnesses, inserted, is to be returned by the beadle or officer in writing, and
the persons cited called at the door; and this is especially to be observed by Presbyteries and other superior judicatories of the Church.
4. Sometimes it may be fit that the party be privately spoken to before any citation be given, or process begun, for their better gaining, in which case, the minister
is to exercise his own discretion, and take the concurrence of elders and others with
him; but if the party cited as above appear not, there ought to be a second and then
a third citation given by the order of the sessions and Presbyteries, either personally, or left at their dwelling-house, before the judicatory declare the person contumacious, unless the party be cited to appear before a superior judicatory, by reference or appeal, in which case there is not that need of so many citations before the
superior judicatory, the party having actually appeared before the inferior judicatory;
and being cited apud acta to appear before the superior, and the same marked in
the minutes, or having been declared contumacious before the cause was brought
before the superior judicatory.
5. All citations apud acta are peremptory, and if instructed, infer contumacy, if
6. If the person do not appear on the third citation, or upon a citation apud acta,
and no relevant excuse adduced and verified, though in that case he be censurable
for contumacy, yet it may be fit the judicatory procced to take cognition, either by
examining witnesses upon oath, or by other documents, of the verity of the scandals
delated against him, before they censure him for contumacy.
7. If the party appear, then the moderator is to inform the person of the occasion
of his being called, and to give him, if desired, a short note in writing thereof, with
the names of the witnesses that are to be made use of.
8. There seems to be no need of accusers or informers in ecclesiastical processes,
where the same are not raised at the instance of a party complaining formally, but
the party, if cited by order of the judicatory, is to answer the judicatory in what is
laid to his charge; yet so, that if the party cited be found innocent and acquitted,
those who informed the judicatory, whether the party require it or not, ought
to be noticed for either their calumny or imprudence, as the judicatory shall find
9. If there be witnesses to be made use of in the process, a list of their names
ought to be given to the defenders some time before, or at least at their compearance, and the witnesses ought to be timeously cited to give evidence, and, if they
refuse after three citations given, and executions returned, may be proceeded with
as contumacious, or if judged needful, after the first or second citation, application
may be made to the civil magistrate, that he may oblige them to appear.
10. Before the witnesses be judicially examined, the accused person is to be called,
and the relevancy of the libel discussed, and if the defender compear, he may object
against any of them, and if the objection be relevant, and made evident to the judicatory, the witnesses are to be cast; but a person's being the delator or informer
doth not hinder him to be a witness, except in the case where he formally complained for his own interest, or of pregnant presumptions of malice against the person
11. Though there be no relevant objection, yet the witnesses are solemnly to be
purged of malice, bribe, or good deed done, or to be done, and of partial counsel.
12. The witnesses are to be sworn and examined in the presence of the accused
party, if compearing, and he may desire the moderator to propose such questions or
cross questions to the witnesses as may tend for his exculpation, which, if the judicatory think pertinent, are to be proposed; but no accused person is to interrupt the
witnesses, or speak during the time of deposition.
13. If the party accused do before probation offer grounds of exculpation to be
proven by witnesses, the moderator and clerk, if required, are to give warrant to cite
the witnesses upon the parties' charges, the relevancy of the offered exculpation
being first considered and sustained by the judicatory, and if the exculpation be fully
proven as to the substance of the scandal, all further proof of the libel and accusation
must there sist, and the defender is to be assoilzied; as if the libel be special as to
the time and place of a fact, and the accused more pregnantly allege and clearly
prove alibi; but if the substance of the scandal be once sustained and deponed upon,
there can be no place for exculpation, unless it be as to some extenuating or alleviating circumstances, not contrary to, but consistent with, the depositions already
14. If witnesses cannot subscribe their names to their deposition, the clerk is to
mark that they declare they cannot write, and the moderator is to subscribe the same,
whether they can subscribe or not.
15. After the depositions are ended, the parties being removed, the members of the
judicatory, at the same or some after diet thereto appointed, are to advise the cause,
and there and then to reason the affair calmly, speaking always to the moderator one
after another, without interrupting one another, using no reflecting language to or of
one another, nor too long harangues or digressions.
16. If any person or persons under process for scandals abscond, they should,
after being called before the judicatory, and not compearing, be cited first from the
pulpit of the parish where the process depends, and where they reside, and if they do
not thereupon appear before the judicatory, before whom the process depends, they
are by order of the Presbytery to be cited from the pulpits of all the kirks within their
bounds, to compear before the Presbytery; and if they do not then compear, they are
to be declared fugitive from church discipline, and the same intimated in all the
kirks within the bounds of the Presbytery, desiring, that if any knows of the said
fugitives, they may acquaint the minister or elder of the bounds thereof; and the
Presbytery are to sist there until they get further notice of these persons.
Concerning Swearers, Cursers, Profaners of the Lord's Day, Drunkards, and other
Scandals of that nature.
1. It may fall out that one single act of drunkenness, or breach of the Lord's
Day, disobedience to parents, or of swearing, cursing, scolding, fighting, lying, cheating, or stealing, may be clothed with such circumstances as may be a just ground of
process immediately, and even bring the persons guilty under the censure of the
lesser excommunication and suspension from the benefit of the sealing ordinances,
and require their appearance in presence of the congregation to be rebuked, before
relaxation; but the weight of this is duly to be pondered, and Church judicatories,
and members thereof, are to consider whether the private admonition of persons alleged and found guilty of the above scandals, if not clothed with such circumstances,
or the bringing them to public, will tend most to edification, and proceed accordingly.
2. But ordinarily in all such offences, the guilty, for the first fault, should be spoken
to in private by the minister or an elder, and admonished; and on promise from a
sense of guilty to amend, they may sist there.
3. But if the person relapse, he should be called before the session, and if found
guilty, may be there judicially rebuked; where the session on promise, from a due
sense of sin to amend, may again sist.
4. But if the person amend not after that, the session should orderly proceed, unless
repentance appear, and due satisfaction be offered, till they inflict the censure of the
lesser excommunication and suspension from the benefit of the sealing ordinances,
under which the censured are to lie, till amendment and reformation.
5. With respect to scandals, the grossness whereof makes it necessary to bring the
persons guilty oftener than once before the congregation, the rules prescribed by the
fourth Act of the General Assembly, anno 1705, are to be followed.
6. If the guilty persons continue in this condition, or lie under the censure of the
lesser excommunication a considerable time, and yet be found frequently relapsing in
these vices they are censured for, it may be constructed such a degree of contumacy,
and so aggravate the crime as to found a process of the censure of the higher excommunication, which is to be inflicted or not, as may tend most to the reclaiming of
the guilty person, and edification of the Church.
Concerning the Sin of Fornication, Adultery, and Scandalous Carriage tending thereto.
1. In delations about the sin of uncleanness, it falls frequently out, that when the
matter is put to the strictest trial, all that can be proven is but presumptions of guilt
or scandalous behaviour, and not the act of uncleanness, the same being a work of
darkness; and therefore this should oblige the kirk-session to be very cautious how to
admit the public entering a process without good warrant, where there is not a child
in the case, unless the scandal be very flagrant.
2. Many of these actions which give occasion to the raising a scandal of uncleanness are such as are not themselves alone publicly censurable, but to be passed by with
a private rebuke or admonition.
3. Yet some of those actions which come under the name of scandalous behaviour
may be so lascivious and obscene, and clothed with such circumstances as may be as
offensive as the act of uncleanness itself, and as censurable.
4. If a married woman, whose husband hath been notourly absent for a considerable time, beyond the ordinary time that women use to go with child, be found with
child, this also may give ground to a kirk-session for a process against her; but in
this case, judicatories should be prudent in considering well all circumstances, and
whether or not the person hath been always of entire fame before, as also how the
public fame now runs.
5. When an unmarried woman is known to be with child, the same gives ground
to a kirk-session for a process against her, and after she is cited before the session and
appeareth, she is to be interrogated who is the father of that child, and though in
other cases the divulging of a secret may be very imprudent, and, indeed, the raising
of a scandal; yet in this case, where there is a child, whereby there is an undeniable
scandal, and the keeping secret of the father a ground of greater offence, and of suspecting many innocent persons, if she discover not the father, she is to be looked
upon as contumacious.
6. Prudence may sometime require that the person she nameth to be the father of
the child be informed thereof, and spoken to privately, and if he deny the same, he is
seriously to be dealt with to confess; but if he still deny, then the session is to cause
cite him to appear before them.
7. In this process, when the delated father compeareth, he is to be interrogated,
and if he deny, he is to be confronted with the woman, and the presumptions as particularly held forth as possible, and all along, there should be private treating with
him, in all meekness, charity, and seriousness, and if, after all this, he deny, though the
woman's testimony can be no sufficient evidence against him, yet pregnant presumptions, such as suspicious frequenting her company, or being solus cum sola in loco suspecto, or in suspected postures, and such like, which he cannot disprove to the satisfaction of the session, may so lay the guilt upon him, as to show him that there appears no
other way of removing the scandal, but his appearance to be publicly rebuked therefor: If he will not submit himself to be rebuked as above, it perhaps may be more
for edification, that a true narrative of the case be laid before the congregation, and
intimation given, that there can be no further procedure in that matter till God in his
Providence give further light, and to sist there at the time, than that an oath be pressed,
and upon refusal, proceed to the higher excommunication; but if the person accused
do offer his oath of purgation, and crave the privilege thereof, the Presbytery may (if
they shall judge it for edification and removing of the scandal) allow the same, which
may be to this purpose: "I, A. B., now under process before the Presbytery of
for the sin of, alleged to be committed by me with C. D., and lying
under that grievous slander, being repute as one guilty of that sin, I, for ending of
the saidprocess, and giving satisfaction to all good people, do declare, before God and
this, that I am innocent and free of the said sin of, or having carnal
knowledge of the said C. D.; and hereby call the great God, the judger and avenger
of all falsehood, to be witness and judge against me in this matter if I be guilty; and
this I do, by taking his blessed name in my mouth, and swearing by Him who is the
great judge, punisher, and avenger, as said is, and that in the sincerity of my heart,
according to the truth of the matter and mine own conscience, as I shall answer to
God in the last and great day, when I shall stand before him to answer for all that I
do in the flesh, and as I would partake of his glory in heaven after this life is at an
8. In taking this oath for purgation, all tenderness and caution are to be used, nor
is the session to press any man thereto, but they are to deal with him and his conscience as in the sight of God, and if he offer to give his oath, the judicatory are to
accept it or not as they shall see cause, and then to proceed to remove the scandal
with the advice of the Presbytery, as may be most to edification; but this oath is not
to be taken in any case but this, when the presumptions are so great that they create
such jealousy in that congregation and session, that nothing will remove the suspicion but the man's oath of purgation, and when his oath will probably remove the
scandal and suspicion, in all other cases this oath is in vain, and so should not be admitted, and never but by advice of the Presbytery.
9. This oath for purgation is to be taken either before the kirk-session or Presbytery or the congregation, as the Presbytery shall determine, and if the oath be taken
before the session or Presbytery, it is to be intimated to the congregation that such
a person hath taken such an oath, and the party may be obliged to be present in the congregation, and may be put publicly to own his purging himself by oath, and so be declared free from the alleged scandal.
10. After an end is made as above with the delated father, the woman is to be
dealt with to give the true father; and if, after all serious dealing and due diligence,
she give no other, she is to be censured according to the quality of the offence confessed by her, without naming the person delated by her, the judicatory reserving
place for further censure upon further discovery.
11. If the woman who hath brought forth the child doth declare she knoweth not
the father, alleging she was forced, as in the fields, by a person unknown, or any the
like reason; in these cases great prudence is to be used, the former behaviour of the
woman exactly searched into, and she seriously dealt with to be ingenuous; and if she
hath been of entire fame she may be put to it to declare the truth as if she were upon
oath, but not without the advice of the Presbytery, and no formal oath should be
taken; and if the woman confess she was not forced, but doth not know the man,
whether married or unmarried, the same censure is to be inflicted upon her as in the
case of adultery.
12. If a person doth voluntarily confess uncleanness, and if there be no child, and
the case be brought to the kirk-session, the session is to inquire what presumptions
there are of the truth of the thing confessed, or what may have moved the person to
make that confession, whether it floweth from disquietness of mind, or from sinistrous
design, as when a man suing to a woman for marriage is denied, and for revenge, or
for to obtain his desire, spreads the report that he hath been guilty with her, they are
to be dealt with according as the presumptions upon search are found, or not.
13. If it be found that there is no ground for the confession, and that it is false,
the person confessing is to be censured as defaming himself, and likewise as a slanderer of the other party; and withal application is to be made by the session to the
civil magistrate that he may be punished according to law.
14. If there be need of witnesses, the directions formerly mentioned, Chapter II.
are to be followed.
15. When persons guilty of uncleanness live one in one parish and another in another parish, the process against them and censures are to be before the session of the
parish where the woman liveth, or where the scandal is most notour.
16. If a scandal of uncleanness be committed where neither party resides, as if
persons having their fixed residence in one parish do commit uncleanness in another
parish, or perhaps in the fields, or in the time of fairs or markets, in these cases they
are to be processed and censured where their ordinary abode is, except the place of
their abode be at a considerable distance from the place where the sin was committed,
and the scandal be most flagrant where it was committed.
17. When there is a scandal of uncleanness, whereof persons are guilty living in
different parishes, the session where the sin was committed is to acquaint the other
sessions where any of the persons resides, who are ex debito to cause summon these
persons to appear before that session where the scandal is to be tried.
18. When a person is convicted of scandal by a session of another congregation
than his own, and the censure of the lesser excommunication is inflicted, the session
is to send an account thereof to that session to which he belongs; but there is no need
of any other sentence of his own session to fix the censure on him, but only a public
intimation thereof to be made in his own parish.
19. When a person is censured and absolved from his scandal in another congregation than where he lives, he is to bring a testimonial of his absolution, which is to
be intimated to the congregation he lives in, if the scandal be also flagrant there;
otherwise, it will be sufficient to intimate the same to the session, and the same is
to be done in the case of the profession of repentance, where there has been a sentence
of the lesser excommunication.
Concerning Appeals from a Kirk-Session to a Presbytery, &c.
1. All persons who judge themselves leased by the procedure or sentence of a kirksession, may appeal to the Presbytery, by declaring and protesting at passing of the
sentence, and should thereupon, according to the eighth act of the General Assembly,
1694, give in the appeal, with the reasons thereof, in writing, to the moderator or
clerk of the session, within the space of ten days after the time of appealing, and procure extracts thereof, and present the same to the next meeting of the Presbytery
thereafter, if there be a competent time, at least ten free days betwixt the time of appealing and the meeting of the Presbytery, and should then insist in the appeal,
wherein, if the appellant fail, the appeal, ipso facto, falls and becomes null, and the appellant is to be held as contumacious, and proceeded against accordingly by the kirksession.
2. When an appeal is brought from a kirk-session to a Presbytery, the Presbytery
is to consider whether the cause is of that nature as it behoved at length to come to
the Presbytery by the course of discipline, before the final determination thereof, as
if it be in a process of alleged adultery, or such like, then the Presbytery, to save
themselves time, may fall upon the consideration of the affair without insisting much
upon the bene or male appellatum, though it seem to be preposterously appealed.
3. But if the cause be such as the kirk-session are the competent and proper judges
of even to its ultimate decision, and if there hath been no cause given by the kirk-session, by their breaking the rules of an orderly process, either by the course of the process, or by the incompetency of the censure, the Presbytery is not to sustain the appeal.
4. If the Presbytery do not sustain the appeal, and find there hath been some fault,
passion, or cupable mistake in the appellant, the Presbytery is to inflict some censure, such as a reproof before the Presbytery, or appoint an acknowledging of their
precipitancy before their own session, or such like, on those appealers they find to
have been malicious and litigious, thereby to prevent unnecessary appeals; and that
beside remitting back to the session to stand either to the censure of the session, if
it be inflicted already, or to sist themselves during the process if it be depending.
5. If the appeal be sustained, and yet upon proceeding on the cause the Presbytery find the appellant censurable, it is always to be minded that whatever censure
be inflicted to remove the offence he hath given to the Presbytery, yet the appellant,
if found guilty, is to undergo a censure, either before the kirk-session or congregation
he belongs to, such as the Presbytery thinks he deserves, else Presbyteries will be
always troubled with appeals.
6. If, on the other hand, on trial of the process, the Presbytery find the kirk-session hath unwarrantably proceeded, either in contributing to the raising of a scandal,
or inflicting the censure without a sufficient cause, and thereby the appellant leased,
the Presbytery is not only to assoilzie the appellant, but to take such ways as may
be proper and effectual to vindicate the appellant's innocence, and wipe off the scandal taken at him.
7. Herein the Presbytery is to exercise great prudence, doing justice to the innocent, yet so as not to weaken the kirk-session's authority in that congregation, if in
justice it can be avoided.
8. But such an emergency may very well occasion the Presbytery's giving the minister and elders of that session suitable injunctions and rules to walk by, or private
admonitions, or to call for a visitation of their session register.
9. The same method is to be followed in appeals from Presbyteries to Synods, and
from Synods to General Assemblies.
10. An appeal being made by parties, should sist the execution of the sentence appealed from, only while the appeal is duly and diligently prosecuted, and may thereby be determined; otherwise not unless the judicatory appealed to receive the appeal,
and take the affair before them; and in that case the judicatory appealed from is to
sist until the appeal be discussed.
Concerning Processes which natively begin at the Kirk-Session, but are not to be brought
to a final determination by them.
1. There are some processes which natively begin at the kirk-session, which, for the
atrocity of the scandal, or difficulty in the affair, or general concern, the session having
the opportunity of frequent meetings of the Presbytery to have recourse unto, do not
determine of themselves, such as scandals of incest, adultery, trilapse in fornication,
murder, atheism, idolatry, witchcraft, charming, and heresy and error, vented and
made public by any in the congregation, schism and separation from the public ordinances, processes in order to the highest censures of the Church, and continued contumacy; but the kirk-session, having received information of such gross scandals, they
are to weigh the same according to the rules and directions prescribed them in processes which belong to their peculiar province, and if they find good ground for a process, they are to deal with the person accused to confess that which cannot now be hid
nor amended till satisfaction be made to the Church, which, when done, the session is
to refer the case, and send an extract of their procedure thereanent to the Presbytery.
2. When there is no confession of the scandals above mentioned, the session are
not to proceed to lead probation, by witnesses or presumptions, till an account of the
matter be brought by reference to the Presbytery as aforesaid; and the Presbytery do
thereupon appoint the session to proceed and lead probation; and after probation is
led, the same is to be brought to the Presbytery, who may inflict what censure they
3. Sometimes it will fall out that the process is so clear, as in a case of judicial confession, that the kirk-session may summon the delinquent when before them apud acta,
to compear before the Presbytery, without previous acquainting them thereof; but
where there is any difficulty the kirk-session should inform the Presbytery, and take
their advice, before a party be summoned before them.
4. When the party or parties compear before the Presbytery, if they confess and
profess repentance for their sin, then the Presbytery having gravely rebuked, and
seriously exhorted the party or parties, are to determine the censure, and prescribe
the time and place of the parties their profession of repentance publicly in the church
of that congregation where the process began, the scandal being there to be taken
away, or remit them to the session to receive order thereanent.
5. It is thought more fit that the delinquents be appointed to remove the scandal
in the congregation where the offence is most flagrant, especially if they reside there,
rather than in the place where it was committed, if it be not public there, and that
intimation of the removing thereof be made in other places, if the judicatory shall find
6. When persons censured for these grosser scandals do apply to the kirk-session
for relaxation, they may both be privately conferred with, and likewise their acknowledgments heard before the session; but they ought not to be brought before the congregation, in order to their absolution, nor absolved, but by advice and order of the
Concerning Processes against Ministers.
1. All processes against any minister are to begin before the Presbytery to which
he belongeth, and not before the kirk-session of his own parish.
2. The credit and success of the Gospel (in the way of an ordinary mean) much
depending on the entire credit and reputation of ministers, their sound doctrine and
holy conversation, no stain thereof ought lightly to be received, nor when it comes
before a judicatory ought to be negligently inquired into, or, when found evident,
ought to be slightly censured.
3. And because a scandal committed by a minister hath, on these accounts, many
aggravations, and once raised, though it may be found to be without any ground, yet
it is not easily wiped off; therefore, a Presbytery should exactly ponder by whose information and complaint it comes first before them, and a Presbytery is not so far to
receive the information as to proceed to the citation of a minister, or any way begin
the process until there be, first, Some person who, under his hand, gives in the complaint, with some account of its probability, and undertakes to make out the libel;
2do, Or at least do, before the Presbytery, undertake to make it out, under the pain
of being censured as slanderers; or, 3tio, That the fama clamosa of the scandal be
so great as that the Presbytery, for their own vindication, see themselves necessitated
to begin the process without any particular accuser; but the Presbytery in this case
should be careful, first, to inquire into the rise, occasion, broachers, and grounds of
this fama clamosa.
4. All Christians ought to be so prudent and wary in accusing ministers of any
censurable fault, as that they ought neither to publish nor spread the same, not accuse
the minister before the Presbytery without first acquainting the minister himself, if
they can have access thereto; and then, if need be, some of the most prudent of the
ministers and elders of that Presbytery, and their advice got in the affair.
5. If there shall be ground found to enter in a process against a minister, the Presbytery should first consider the libel, then order him to be cited, and to get a full
copy, with a list of the witnesses' names to be led for proving thereof, and a formal
citation, in writing, is to be made, either personally, or at his dwelling-house, bearing a
competent time allowed to give in answers to the libel, and his just defences and
objections against witnesses, at least ten free days before the day of compearance, and
the citation should bear the date when given, and the names of the witnesses to the
giving thereof; and the execution bearing its date, with the names and designations
of the witnesses, should be made in writing, and signed by the officer and witnesses,
which being accordingly returned, he is to be called, and if he compear, the libel is to
be read unto him, and he is to be inquired, if he has any answers to give in to the
libel, that they may be read and considered, in order to the discussing of the relevancy; and if the Presbytery find the same, and that there is cause to insist, they are
to endeavour to bring him to a confession, whereby he may most glorify God; and
if he confess, and the matter confessed be of a scandalous nature, censurable in others,
such as the sin of uncleanness, or some other gross scandal, the Presbytery (whatever
be the nature of his penitency, though to the convication of all) are instanter to depose
him, ab officio, and to appoint him in due time to appear before the congregation
where the scandal was given, and in his own parish, for removing the offence by the
public profession of his repentance.
6. If a minister be accused of any scandal, and cited to appear before his own Presbytery, and do absent himself, by leaving the place, and be contumacious, without
making any relevant excuse, after a new public citation and intimation made at his
own church when the congregation is met, he is to be holden as confessed, and to be
deposed and censured instanter with the lesser excommunication; but if, after some
time, he do not return and subject himself to the censures of the Church, he may be
proceeded against till he be censured with the greater excommunication, if the judicatory see cause for it.
7. If the minister accused do appear and deny the fact after the relevancy is found,
the Presbytery proceeding to probation, and to find the truth of the matter, all the
circumstances are to be exactly canvassed, and the accused heard to object against the
witnesses. As also, he should be allowed to be present at the examination, and
modestly to cross-interrogate, and then the reputation of the witnesses and their hability duly regarded, and the examinations considered; if, after consideration of all
these, the judicatory shall find the scandal sufficiently proven, they are to proceed to
censure, as advised in the case of confession in paragraph 5th.
8. If the matter laid to the minister's charge be such practices as, in their own
nature, manifestly subvert that order, unity, and peace, which Christ hath established
in his Church, or unsoundness and heterodoxy in doctrine, then great caution should
be used, and the knowledge and understanding of witnesses much looked unto; and,
withal, if the errors be not gross, and striking at the vitals of religion, or if they be
not pertinaciously stuck unto, or industriously spread with a visible design to corrupt,
or that the errors are not spreading among the people, then lenitives, admonitions,
instructions, and frequent conferences, are to be tried to reclaim without cutting off,
and the advice of other Presbyteries sought, and unless the thing be doing much hurt,
so as it admits of no delay, the Synod or General Assembly may be advised with in
the affair, and the same intimated to the minister concerned.
9. If the libel and complaint brought against a minister be a multitude of smaller
things laid together, as several acts of negligence or other unsuitable actions, the Presbytery, in proceeding therein, are to make a Presbyterial visitation of that parish to
which the minister belongs, and at the said visitation, are first to see if any of these
things, now laid to the minister's charge, were committed prior to the last Presbyterial visitation of that parish, and whether they were then laid to his charge, and if
they were not, it should be tried how they come to be laid to his charge now.
10. If the Presbytery find those things laid to his charge to be committed since the
last visitation, or find a satisfying reason wherefore they were not then tabled, they
are to inquire what diligence hath been used in acquainting the minister with the
offence taken at these things when first committed by him, and how far the minister
hath been guilty of giving offence after he knew offence to be taken.
11. It should likewise, in this case, be inquired, whether any of the complainers did
first, in a prudent private way, inform any of the neighbouring ministers of some of
these things committed by their minister, who is now challenged, before these offences
came to be so many, as to merit a public and solemn trial, and accordingly the Presbytery is to judge.
12. If the Presbytery find, upon trial, the complaint to resolve on the minister's
having committed such acts of infirmity or passion, as, considering all the circumstances, may be either amended, and the people satisfied, and no such offence taken,
or at least not to remain so as to hinder the minister's profiting the people, and that
the offence was taken by the minister's own people only or mainly; then the Presbytery is to take all prudent ways to satisfy and reclaim both minister and people, and
do away the offence.
13. But before a minister deposed for scandalous carriage can be restored to the
exercise of the ministry, there should not only be convincing evidences of a deep sorrow for sin, but an eminent and exemplary humble walk and edifying conversation, so
apparent and convincing as hath worn out and healed the would the scandal gave.
14. Immediately on the minister's being deposed by the Presbytery, the sentence
is to be intimated in his congregation, the church declared vacant, the planting thereof
with another minister hastened, and never delayed on the exspectation of his being reponed, it being almost impossible that every he can prove useful in that parish again.
Concerning Processes in order to the Censure of the greater Excommunication.
1. Since there is a distinction betwist the greater and the lesser excommunication, it
seems that whatever have been the causes of the first process, yet ordinarily all processes that are in order to the greater excommunication are to be grounded on manifest contumacy, or obstinate continuance in scandalous practices; and where there is
no manifest contumacy or continuance as aforesaid, the lesser excommunication needs
only have place; yet in some extraordinary cases, the Church, according to Scripture
warrant, hath summarily excommunicated persons guilty of notour atrocious scandalous sins, to show the Church's abhorrence of such wickedness.
2. Even where there hath been a scandal delated, and contumacy following, by not
appearing, it should be considered whether any scandalous practice hath been proven
or not; if not proven, then only the simple contumacy is to be proceeded against, for
which it were hard to go a greater length than the lesser excommunication.
3. If the scandal hath been proven, and the censure of the lesser excommunication
intimated, as in Chapter III., it seems most reasonable that there be no further pro
ceeding unless the scandal be gross, or of an heinous nature, or that it is spreading
and infectious, as in heresies or schism in the Church, in which cases contumacy is to
be proceeded against in order to the greater excommunication.
4. The kirk-session having brought the process to an intimation of the censure of
the lesser excommunication, before they inflict the same they are to refer the affair
to the Presbytery, bringing their whole proceedings before the Presbytery in writing,
that the Presbytery may thereby have a clear and full view of the whole affair.
5. The Presbytery finding the kirk-session hath orderly proceeded, and that the
lesser excommunication is not sufficient, and that the affair is so weighty as to oblige
them to enter on the process, they are to cause their officer to cite the scandalous
6. If the party appear, then the Presbytery is to proceed in the inquiry at the
accused about the scandal alleged and libelled, and if he deny it, then they are to
proceed and lead probation as in other cases.
7. But if the party appear not, but contemn the citation, the Presbytery causeth
renew the same until he hath got three citations, and after the three citations he is to
be cited out of the pulpit; and, for the further conviction of all concerned, intimation
is to be made that the judicatory will proceed and inquire into the presumptions or
probation of the guilt; and this is to be done although the delinquent be absent.
8. Then the Presbytery is to order the minister of the congregation next Sabbath,
after forenoon sermon, to acquaint the congregation what proceedings the kirk-session first, and thereafter the Presbytery, had made in the affair, and how contumacious
the party was, and that the Presbytery intended to proceed to the highest censure;
and the minister is gravely to admonish the party (if present) to repent and submit
himself to the discipline of the Church, threatening him, if he continue impenitent,
that the Church will proceed; yea, though he be absent, the minister is to acquaint the
people that the Church requires him to repent and submit as above said, under the
9. There should be three public admonitions, and a Presbytery should intervene
betwixt each admonition; and if, after all, that person continue impenitent or contumacious, the same is to be represented to the Presbytery, who are thereupon to appoint public prayers thrice to be made, in which the minister is to exhort the congregation seriously to join with him in prayer for the scandalous impenitent or contumacious person, which be is solemnly to put up to God, humbly begging that he
would deal with the soul of the impenitent, and convince him of the evil of his ways.
10. These public prayers of the Church are to be put up three several Sabbath
days, a Presbytery (where its meetings are more frequent, once a month at least) intervening betwixt each public prayer, both to show the Church's tenderness towards
their lapsed brother, their earnestness to have him reclaimed, and like wise to create a
greater regard and terror of that dreadful censure, both in the party and in all the people.
11. If, after all, the scandalous person makes no application, but continues impenitent, the Presbytery, after prayer, is to pass sentence, and appoint a minister to intimate the same, and to show the Presbytery's resolution to proceed upon such a Sabhath as they shall name, for pronouncing that dreadful sentence solemnly in face of
the congregation, unless either the party, or some for him, signify some relevant ground
to stop their procedure.
12. That day being come, it were fit the minister did preach a sermon suited to
that solemn occasion, or at least after sermon the minister should show the congregation what he is going about, introducing the narrative of the process with a discourse
concerning the nature, use, and end of Church censures, particularly that of the
greater excommunication, if he hath not done it fully in his sermon.
13. Then narrating all the steps of the process in order, showing the Church's
faithfulness and tenderness towards the scandalous person, and declaring his obstinate
impenitency; and that now, after all other means were used, there remained only
that of cutting off the scandalous person from the society of the faithful, and intimating the Church's warrant and order to him so to do.
14. And before the minister pronounce the sentence he is to pray, and desire all
the congregation to join with him therein, that God would grant repentance to the ob
stinate person, would graciously bless his own ordinance, and make the censure effectual, both to edify others, and to be a mean to reclaim the obstinate sinner.
15. Then, after prayer, the minister is, with great gravity and authority, to pronounce
the censure, showing his warrant from our Lord's command, and the Apostle Paul's direction, and recapitulating the Presbytery's warrant, in obedience thereunto, and resuming the scandalous and obstinate person's behaviour, whom he is to name; he,
therefore, in the name and authority of our Lord and Master Jesus Christ doth, in
verbis de præsenti, pronounce and declare him or her excommunicated, and shut out
from the communion of the faithful, debarring that person from their privileges, and,
in the words of the Apostle, delivering that person over to Satan; which sentence is
to be intimated according to the 9th Act of the General Assembly, anno 1704.
16. If, after prayer, or before the censure be pronounced, the scandalous person do
make any public signification of his repentance, and of his desire to have the censure stopt, the minister, upon apparent seriousness in the scandalous person, which
he showeth to the congregation, may thereupon delay pronouncing the sentence, till
he report to the Presbytery at their next meeting, who are then to deal with the
scandalous person as they shall find cause.
17. After the pronouncing of this sentence, the people are to be warned that
they hold that person to be cast out of the communion of the Church, and that they
shun all unnecessary converse with him or her; nevertheless, excommunication dissolveth not the bonds of civil or natural relations, nor exempts from the duties belonging to them.
18. Although it be the duty of pastors and ruling elders to use all diligence and
vigilance, both by doctrine and discipline respectively, for preventing and purging
out such errors, beresies, schism, and scandals, as tend to the detriment and disturbance of the Church; yet, because it may fall out, through the pride and stubbornness
of offenders, that these means alone will not be effectual to that purpose; it is therefore necessary after all this to employ the aid of the civil magistrate, who ought to
use his coercive power for the suppressing of all such offences, and vindicating the
discipline of the Church from contempt.
Concerning the Order of Proceeding to Absolution.
1. If, after excommunication, the signs of repentance appear in the excommunicated
person, such as godly sorrow for having incurred God's heavy displeasure by his
sin, occasioned grief to his brethren, and justly provoked the Church to cast him
out of their communion, together with a full purpose of heart to turn from his sin
unto God through Christ, and to reform his life and conversation, with an humble
desire of recovering peace with God and his people, and to be restored to the
favour of God and light of his countenance, through the blood of Jesus Christ, and
to the communion of the Church; and the Presbytery upon his application be satisfied therewith, and judge that he ought to be absolved, and thereupon give warrant for his absolution, he is to be brought before the congregation, and there also
to make free confession of his sin and sorrow for it, to call upon God for mercy
in Christ, to seek to be restored to the communion of the Church, promising
to God, through grace, new obedience, and more holy and circumspect walking, as
becomes the Gospel, and that this appearance before the congregation be as often
as Church judicatories shall find may be for edification and trial of the professing
penitent's sincerity; and being satisfied in this, then the minister and congregation
are to praise God, who delighteth not in the death of a sinner, but rather that he
should repent and live; as also for blessing the ordinance of excommunication, and
making it effectual, by his Spirit, to the recovering of this offender, to magnify the
mercy of God through Jesus Christ, in pardoning and receiving to his favour the
most grievous offenders, whensoever they unfeignedly repent and forsake their sins;
but before the minister proceed to absolution, he is to pray with the congregation to
this effect: "That the Lord Jesus Christ, Prophet, Priest, and King of his Church;
who, with the preaching of the Gospel, hath joined the power to bind and loose the
sins of men; who hath also declared, that whatsoever by his ministers is bound on
earth shall be bound in heaven; and also, that whatsoever is loosed by the same
shall be loosed and absolved in heaven, would mercifully accept his creature N.,
whom Satan of long time hath held in bondage, so that he not only drew him to iniquity, but also so hardened his heart that he despised all admonitions; for the which
his sin and contempt, the Church was compelled to excommunicate him from the society of the faithful; but now, seeing the Holy Spirit, by his grace, hath so prevailed,
that he is returned and professeth repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord
Jesus Christ, that it may please God, by his Spirit and grace, to make him a sincere
and unfeigned penitent; and, for the obedience of our Lord Jesus Christ unto death,
so to accept of this poor, believing, and returning sinner, that his former disobedience
be never laid to his charge; and that he may increase in all godliness, so that Satan in
the end may be trodden under foot by the power of our Lord Jesus Christ; and God
may be glorified, the Church edified, and the penitent saved in the day of the Lord."
2. Then shall follow the sentence of absolution, in these or the like words:"Whereas thou N. best, for thy sin, been shut out from the communion of the faithful, and hast now manifested thy repentanced, wherein the Church resteth satisfied, I,
in the name of the Lord Jesus, before this congregation, pronounce and declare thee
absolved from the sentence of excommunication, formerly denounced against thee, and
do receive thee to the communion of the Church, and the free use of all the ordinances
of Christ, that thou mayest be partaker of all his benefits, to thy eternal salvation."
3. After this sentence of absolution, the minister speaketh to him as to a brother,
exhorting him to watch and pray, and comforting him as there shall be cause; the
elders embrace, and the whole congregation holdeth communion with him, as one of
their own; and the absolution should be intimated in all the Churches where the excommunication was intimated.
Sess. 12, April 19, 1707, ante meridien.—Commission to some Ministers and Ruling
Elders, for considering and discussing several Affairs referred to them.
The General Assembly, taking into consideration that there are several weighty affairs which they cannot overtake, do, therefore, nominate and appoint their reverend
brethren, Messrs William Crichton, minister at Edinburgh, &c. &c.; to be commissioners of this General Assembly to the effect after mentioned, with full
power to the said persons or their quorum, which is hereby declared to be any
twenty-one of the said Commissioners, whereof fifteen are always to be ministers,
to meet and convene within the Assembly-House at Edinburgh, the first day after
the dissolution of this Assembly, at ten hours in the forenoon; and afterwards
the first Wednesday of August, November, and March, and oftener, when and
where they shall think needful and convenient, with power to the said Commission
to choose their own Moderator: And such like, the General Assembly fully empowers and authorises their said Commissioners, or their quorum, to cognosce
and finally determine, as they shall see cause, in every matter referred, or that
shall be referred to them, by an act or order of this Assembly, except it be otherwise remitted to them, and to do every thing contained in, and conform to the instructions to be given to them by this Assembly, and to advert unto the interest of
the Church on every occasion, that the Church and present establishment thereof do
not suffer or sustain any prejudice which they can prevent, as they will be answer
able; and they are hereby strictly prohibited and discharged to meddle in any other
matters than what are committed or referred to them as above mentioned; and in
all their actings, they are to proceed according to the acts and constitutions of this
Church, and do nothing contrary thereto, or to the prejudice of the same; declaring
that in and for all their actings they shall be accountable to and censurable by the
next General Assembly, as they shall see cause; and this Commission is to continue
and endure till the next General Assembly; and members are required to attend the
diets of the Commission, and the absentees ordered to be noticed, according to the 17th
Act of the late Assembly.
Sess. 12, April 19, 1707, ante meridiem.—Instructions to the Commission of the General
1. That the Commission, as often as they shall see cause, apply to the Government,
or any magistrate, for their countenancing of and concurring with the judicatories of the
Church, in what the law allows, and for putting in execution the laws against Popery
and profaneness, and seeking redress of grievances, and abuses and disorders, committed contrary to the established doctrine, worship, discipline, and Presbyterian government of this Church, the contempt of the censures of the judicatories thereof infficted on scandalous persons, settling vacant churches, and regulating the poor, by
using endeavours for providing maintenance and labour for them.
2. [Same as in 1703, 1704, and 1705.]
3. [Same as in 1704 and 1705.]
4. [Same as in 1705.]
5. [Same as in 1703, 1704, and 1705.]
6. The said Commission are empowered to give advice and assistance to any Synod
or Presbytery in difficult cases, as they shall be applied unto by them for that effect.
7. The said Commission are empowered to give all due encouragement and assistance to any proposals which may be made to them about endeavours for reformation
of manners, and for the effectual curbing and suppressing of profaneness and vice.
8. The Commission are appointed to take special care to keep and maintain unity
in the Church upon all emergencies, especially amongst the ministers thereof; and
to gain such as separate therefrom; and to suppress error and schism in this Church,
and prosecute the authors and spreaders of books and pamphlets tending thereto, as
is by another act recommended to Presbyteries, and to take notice how any who
have been censured by preceding Assemblies or Commissions thereof have carried;
and to take off the said censures, or proceed to further censure, as the said Commission shall see cause; and further, the General Assembly does hereby renew the first
paragraph of the 18th Act of the late General Assembly, concerning Schism and Disorders, and appoints the same to stand as an instruction to this Commission.
9. That the Commission endeavour to make effectual whatever hath been by this
or preceding Assemblies agreed upon, concerning the erecting of schools in the North,
the Highlands, and Islands, and what else may tend to the advancement of religion
and reformation in these places; as also to give all due assistance and encouragement
for propagating the knowledge of God and our Lord Jesus Christ in these and
foreign parts of the world.
10. That the Commission have a special respect to the 9th Act of the General Assembly, anno 1703, concerning the Planting of Vacant Churches in the North, the Highlands, and Islands, and supplying thereof with ministers and probationers; and the
Commission are hereby empowered to proceed according to the said act in so far as
they shall find it needful.
11. Seeing there is not a full report made to this Assembly concerning the libraries, Irish Bibles, Psalm-Books, and Catechisms, and about the state of the Church
in the Highlands and Islands, and the remaining idolatrous, Pagan, and Popish superstitious customs in some places there—the General Assembly recommends to this
Commission to prosecute the instructions given thereanent by the Assembly, anno
1706, to their Commission, and to use all means in their power for extirpating these
idolatrous and superstitious practices; and to take care that the charges of any who
have been employed about the same be reimbursed out of the money given by her
Majesty for these ends.
12. The General Assembly hereby empowers their Commission to give all due assistance to the several Universities and Colleges, when any minister is called to any
office therein, and to receive appeals and references, and finally to determine in the
Sess. ult., April 21, 1707.—Act concerning Planting of the Highlands, and maintaing
The following overtures were brought in from the Committee, to whom the consideration of the state of the Church in the North and Highlands was remitted, viz.,
1mo, That it be inquired how the 9th and 16th Acts of the General Assembly, anno
1699, and the 9th Act of the General Assembly, 1703, are observed. 2do, That in
quiry should be made what bursars there are having the Irish language, and how the
acts made concerning them are obeyed, particularly the 13th and 14th Acts of the
Assembly, 1704; and 5th and 11th Acts of the General Assembly, 1705. 3tio, That
at each Assembly, the names of the Irish bursars be called for, and an account thereof given in to the Clerk; as also, what hope there is of their being useful in this
Church: Which overtures being considered by the General Assembly, they did, and
hereby do, approve thereof, and empowered their Commission to put the same, and
the acts therein mentioned, in execution, and to take the same under consideration at
their first meeting after the rising of this Assembly.
Sess. ult., April 21, 1707.—Act against Innovations in the Worship of God.
The General Assembly of this Church, taking into their serious consideration that
the purity of religion, and particularly of divine worship, and uniformity therein,
is a signal blessing to the Church of God, and that it hath been the great happiness
of this Church, ever since her reformation from Popery, to have enjoyed and maintained the same in a great measure, and that any attempts made for the introduction
of innovations in the worship of God therein have been of fatal and dangerous consequence: Likeas, by the 5th Act of the Parliament, anno 1690, and 23rd Act of the
Parliament, 1693 years, and the Act lately passed for security of the present Church
Establishment, the foresaid purity and uniformity of worship are expressly provided
for; and being well informed, by representations sent from several Presbyteries of this
Church, that innovations, particularly in the public worship of God, are of late set
up in some places in public Assemblies within their respective bounds, and that endeavours are used to promote the same, by persons of known disaffection to the present Establishment both of Church and State; the introduction whereof was not so
much as once attempted, even during the late Prelacy; and considering also that
such innovations are dangerous to this Church, and manifestly contrary to our known
principle, (which is, that nothing is to be admitted in the worship of God but what
is prescribed in the Holy Scriptures,) to the constant practice of this Church, and
against the good and laudable laws made since the late happy Revolution for establishing and securing the same, in her doctrine, worship, discipline, and government; and that they tend to the fomenting of schism and division, to the disturbance of the peace and quiet both of Church and State: Therefore, the General Assembly being moved with zeal for the glory of God, and the purity and uniformity
of his worship, doth hereby discharge the practice of all such innovations in divine
worship within this Church, and does require and obtest all the ministers of this
Church, especially those in whose bounds any such innovations are or may happen
to be, to represent to their people the evil thereof, and seriously to exhort them to
beware of them, and to deal with all such as do practise the same, in order to their
recovery and reformation; and do instruct and enjoin the Commission of this Assembly to use all proper means, by applying to the Government or otherwise, for sup
pressing and removing all such innovations, and preventing the evils and dangers
that may ensue thereupon to this Church.
Sess. ult., April 21, 1707.—Act concerning the Scriptural Songs.
The General Assembly, upon Report of their Committee for Overtures, who were
appointed to receive the report of those named to put in order the remarks of
Presbyteries upon the version of the Scriptural Songs, finding that but very few Presbyteries have sent in their remarks upon these Songs, and that even those who
have made any remarks upon them, judge the said version not yet fit for public
use; do, therefore, recommend it to the several Presbyteries to be careful yet to
revise the said Songs, and transmit their opinion thereanent to the next Assembly;
and, in the meantime, appoints those who were nominated by the Commission of
the late General Assembly to revise these Songs at Edinburgh, yet to meet, and
again revise the same, and report to the next General Assembly; and adds Mr John
M 'Bride to that Committee.
XVII. Sess. ult., April 21, 1707.—Act concerning the Revising the Overtures about the
Method of Procedure in Ecclesiastical Judicatories.
The General Assembly, considering that the large Overtures concerning the discipline and method of procedure in ecclesiastical judicatories in the Church of Scotland, transmitted by the General Assembly, anno 1705, to Presbyteries, may be very
useful to ministers and judicatories, and deserve yet to be farther considered by
Presbyteries, in order to complete a method and form of procedure in ecclesiastical
judicatories; do, therefore, recommend it to the several Presbyteries to compare
the said large Overtures with the Form of Process approven in this Assembly, and
report to the General Assembly from time to time their judgment, as to what is
yet wanting and necessary to be added to both these overtures, that the same may
be supplied, by adding to either of them, until this Church arrive at a complete
system of rules in their proceedings in matters of discipline.
Sess. ult., April 21, 1707.—To the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, the humble Address
of the Ministers and Elders of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
May it please your Majesty,
When we consider the many and great advantages that we enjoy under your Majesty's happy Government, we look upon ourselves as obliged, in the conclusion of
this our meeting, to renew those sincere acknowledgments of them which we did
with all humility lay before your Majesty when we came first together. We cannot, without the deepest sense of gratitude, call to mind the tender and affectionate
care which your Majesty hath expressed towards us in this juncture; for, in your
royal goodness, you have not only honoured us with a representative entirely and
deservedly acceptable to us, whose prudent and obliging management upon this occasion hath justly increased our esteem of him and confidence in him; but your
Majesty hath also been concerned to preserve Christian unity and harmony amongst
us, by manifesting a pious care not to straiten us in any thing wherein your Majesty did judge our principles were concerned. We have such grateful impressions
of this your Majesty's wise and tender management, as will not only influence ourselves
to a firm and steady loyalty, but put us upon using our utmost endeavours, in our
stations, to maintain and promote it amongst all in whom we have an interest, in
which we crave liberty to assure your Majesty that we shall not be wanting; for we
cannot but acknowledge that we are under the highest obligations, not only as subjects, but as Protestants, to be constant and fervent in our addresses to the Sovereign
God, that He would richly bless, long preserve, and prosper your Majesty, whose zeal
for maintaining of our holy religion, and restoring to their just rights those that have
been unjustly oppressed for adhering to it, hath been, in the course of your glorious
reign, manifested to the world, and which, to our great joy, hath signally appeared
in your Majesty's most gracious answer to the late address of our brethren, the distressed and persecuted Protestants of France.
May the great God, in his infinite mercy, make your Majesty an illustrious instrument, not only to procure a firm peace to Europe, but to restore the ruined Zion of
our Redeemer, in the dominions of that haughty monarch, who hath impiously gloried in his having razed it even to the foundation thereof; that the Almighty may
be always your strength and defence; that he may always compass your royal person
"with his favour as with a shield;" that he may long continue you to be a guardian
to the Protestant churches, and liberties of Europe, a blessing to your loving people,
and possess your Majesty at last of glory, honour, and immortality, is, and shall be, the
fervent prayer of,
May it please your Majesty, your Majesty's most faithful, most obedient, and
most humble subjects, the Ministers and Elders met in this National Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
Signed in our presence, in our name, and at our appointment, by
Jo. Stirling, Moderator.
The next General Assembly of this Church is to be holden at Edinburgh, upon
the third Thursday of April 1708, being the 15th day of that month.
This General Assembly was concluded with prayer, singing the 133d Psalm
throughout, and pronouncing the blessing.
Collected and extracted from the Records of the General Assembly, by
John Dundas, Cls. Eccl.