The principal acts of the general assembly, convened at Edinburgh, May 20, 1813.
I. Sess. 1, May 20, 1813.—The King's Commission to Francis Lord Napier produced,
and ordered to be recorded.
The General Assembly, &c.
II. Sess. 1, May 20, 1813.—The Prince Regent's most gracious Letter to the General
Assembly, presented to them by his Majesty's Commissioner.
In the name, and on the behalf of his Majesty.
George, P. R., &c.
III. Sess. 3, May 22, 1813.—The General Assembly's Answer to the Prince Regent's most
May it please your Royal Highness, &c.
IV. Sess. 3, May 22, 1813.—Address of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland
to his Royal Highness George Prince of Wales, Regent of the United Kingdom of
Great Britain and Ireland.
May it please your Royal Highness,
We, his Majesty's most faithful and loyal subjects, the ministers and elders of the
Church of Scotland, met in General Assembly, gladly embrace this opportunity of
approaching the throne with sentiments of sincere affection and attachment to your
Royal Highness and his Majesty's government.
We deeply regret the continuance of that malady with which our venerable Sovereign has been visited, so painful to the feelings of your Royal Highness, and all
those who recollect the wisdom, rectitude, and benignity of his Majesty's character
and reign. It is, however, our consolation, under this afflicting dispensation of Providence, that the reins of empire and held by a Prince, whose matured wisdom and
experience have prepared him for the duties of his high station, and that under the
regency of your Royal Highness we continue to enjoy the same just, mild, and paternal rule.
We congratulate your Royal Highness on that success and glory which have been
obtained by his Majesty's armies, and those of his allies, in the Peninsula. We hope
the time is not far distant, when the brave and high-minded inhabitants of Spain,
rescued from the tyrant's grasp, shall reap, in the establishment of their independence,
the fruit of all their heroic sacrifices and exertions.
In those important and memorable events which have taken place in the north of
Europe, in the defeat and destruction of the best appointed and most numerous
armies which were ever led forth to overwhelm a nation, we recognise the hand of
that good Providence which has interposed to disappoint the designs of cruel ambi
tion, and "restrain the wrath of man." We rejoice to behold nations, who had been
dazzled by the false glory, and dispirited by the great success of their presumptuous
oppressor, roused and encouraged by his discomfiture and disgrace, and, having
experienced his odious and intolerable despotism, that they have risen, with one
heart, to shake off the galling yoke.
We trust that the great and generous efforts which are now making in behalf of
suffering humanity will, by the blessing of Almighty God, be crowned with complete success, and that general liberty and national independence being secured, our
country, and harassed Europe, shall at length be permitted to enjoy a safe, honourable, and lasting peace.
That Almighty God may protect and bless your Royal Highness; that He may
direct and prosper his Majesty's government under your anspices; that the justice,
wisdom, and moderation of your administration may secure to you the affection and
loyalty of all the subjects of the British empire; that Princes of the same illustrious
House, formed after the example of our Sovereign, may, to the latest posterity, sway
the scepture of the United Kingdom; and that, after a long and prosperous reign on
earth, you may obtain a more glorious and permanent crown in Heaven, are the sincere and fervent prayers of,
May it please your Royal Highness, his Majesty's most faithful, most
obedient, and most loyal subjects, the Ministers and Elders met in
this National Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
Signed in our name, in our presence, and at our appointment, by
Andrew Brown, Moderator.
V. Sess. 7, May 27, 1813.—Petition to both Houses of Parliament respecting the Political
Privileges of the Roman Catholics.
To the Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom
of Great Britain and Ireland in Parliament assembled, the humble Petition of the
Ministers and Elders of the Church of Scotland, met in General Assembly,
That observing that there was lately under the revision of the legislature, and may
again come under their revision, that part of the public law of the state which subjects Roman Catholics to certain disabilities; your petitioners are deeply impressed
with the conviction, that they should be wanting in duty to that great and loyal
body of his Majesty's subjects which compose the National Church of Scotland, of
which they are the representatibes, did they fail to express to your honourable House
the deep interest and concern they must ever take in all discussions and measures
which have for their object to innovate upon the laws which our forefathers in their
time deemed necessary for securing to the people of these realms the blessings of
civil liberty and of the Protestant religion.
That your petitioners have at all times felt the utmost anxiety that religious toleration should be preserved inviolate; and at a period so full of peril to the security
and independence of the empire, are aware of the peculiar importance of removing
every ground of disaffection, of diffusing universally sentiments of genuine patriotism,
by opening to all classes of his Majesty's subjects the paths of honourable ambition,
and affording them all the consequence which property, talent, or successful industry,
But your petitioners cannot be insensible to this peculiarity in the situation of the
Roman Catholics, that they maintain a certain intercourse with a foreign hierarchy
and observe a certain submission to a foreign Pontiff, which may prove hostile to our
ecclesiastical constitution, and is generally involved in political connections unfriendly
to British prosperity. They know also full well, how prone human nature is to corruption and superstition; and how powerfully the Roman Catholic creed, and the
confidential intercourse with the priesthood by auricular confession, tend to subjugate the worthiest characters, and to discipline and mould them into instruments for
promoting the purposes of their sect.
If, therefore, your honourable House, and the other branches of the legislature,
deem, in your wisdom, that the exigency of the times is such, as to authorise any
change in the system of securities adopted at the Revolution, that glorious era from
which these nations date the blessings of freedom, order, religious toleration, and political prosperity; your petitioners trust and pray that the almost caution and prudence will be exercised; that none of the bulwarks of the constitution, ecclesiastical
or civil, be on any account exposed to hazard; and that effectual precautions be
adopted, to exclude foreign influence from the councils of the state, and the administration of the government, and to maintain this happy land impreganable, as heretofore, to foreign innovation, foreign intrigue, and foreign corruption.
While your petitioners cordially express their reliance on the wisdom of Parliament, and their full conviction that the rights and privileges of the Church of Scotland will continue to enjoy the protection of Parliament, they presume to annex to
their petition a solemn declaration, in which they pledge themselves before God, to
your honourable House and to their country, that they will discharge, with fidelity
and vigilance, the duties incumbent upon them, as office-bearers in that Protestant
Church which was established in Scotland at the blessed reformation from Popery;
and will continue to cherish in the minds of the people committed to their care
those principles of religious liberty which are incorporated with the British constitution, and which are the glory of this Protestant land.
Signed in our name, in our presence, and at our appointment, by
Andrew Brown, Moderator.
VI. Sess. 9, May 29, 1813.—Commission of the General Assembly to certain Ministers and
Ruling Elders for discussing Affairs referred to them.
The General Assembly, &c.
VII. Sess. 9, May 29, 1813.—Commission to some Ministers and Ruling Elders for the
Reformation of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, and for Managing his Majesty's
Royal Bounty to that end.
The General Assembly, &c.
VIII. Sess. ult., May 31, 1813.—Act respecting the Licensing of Probationers.
The General Assembly having taken under their serious consideration the great
danger to which the interests of religion and of this Church may be exposed, by
licensing any to preach the Gospel who are not duly qualified for that important
trust, do hereby enact and ordain, that in all time coming the following regulations
shall be strictly observed:—
I. It is hereby enacted, that no student shall be entered upon the roll of any Professor of Divinity, unless he shall produce to the said Professor a certificate from the
minister of the parish in which he has his usual residence; or, in his absence, or
during a vacancy in said parish, from some neighbouring minister, bearing that his
character is suitable to his views; together with a diploma of Master of Arts, or certificates from the several Professors of Philosophy under whom he had studied, from
which it may be clearly ascertained, that in some University or Universities he had
gone through a full course of philosophy, in some winter sessions of College preceding that in which the certificates are produced.
II. The General Assembly do likewise hereby ordain, that all students who have
been enrolled by Professors of Divinity, in the manner prescribed by this Act, shall
continue to prosecute the study of Divinity for the term of six sessions. Provided
always, that if any student hath given regular attendance in the Divinity Hall during
three sessions, his course shall be considered as completed in four sessions; and that
if he hath given regular attendance in the Hall during two sessions, his course shall
be considered as completed in five sessions. And the Assembly do further ordain,
that in each of these cases students shall be enrolled by the Professors during the several sessions of their respective courses, and deliver in the Divinity Hall, in the
manner herein afterwards provided, an exegesis in Latin on some controverted head
in Divinity, a homily in English, an exercise and addition, a lecture on some large
portion of Scripture, and a popular sermon, together with such other exercises as the
Professors shall think proper to prescribe. And the Assembly further enact and declare, that a student is entitled to apply to the Professor for his certificates that he
may be proposed for trials, and that the preliminary steps may be taken by the Presbytery, during the currency of the last session of his course, as above described;
with this limitation, that if the said last session is to be claimed as a session of regular attendance, he shall, towards the conclusion thereof, obtain a new certificate of
his attendance during its currency, and produce the same to the Presbytery or Synod.
III. Professors of Divinity are required to attend, as much as circumstances may
permit, to the conduct of such students as are under their care; and, as far as they
find it practicable, to insist that every student shall deliver his first discourse sometime during his second session at the latest, and the remainder of his discourses at
such periods as may enable him to deliver the whole of them before the end of January of the last session of his course.
IV. When a student is proposed to any Presbytery, in order to be taken upon
trials, the Presbytery shall be alone, and the motion for that purpose shall lie upon
the table till their next ordinary meeting. In the meantime, the Presbytery shall appoint the member, by whom the student has been proposed, to lay before the said
meeting the certificate or certificates in favour of the student that are specified in the
third paragraph of the fifth section of this Act; to desire him to attend the same, and
to inform him that, previously to the meeting, he ought, as far as circumstances may
permit, to wait on such ministers of the Presbytery as have not formerly had an opportunity of conversing with him in private.
V. When the time appointed for considering the motion is arrived, the Presbytery
shall strictly observe the following regulations:—
1st, The Presbytery shall be alone, while they are employed in discussing the several preliminaries respecting students who are proposed for trials.
2d, They shall require satisfying evidence that every student who is proposed for
that purpose has completed the twenty-first year of his age.
3d, No student shall be admitted to trial, unless he produces to the Presbytery a
certificate or certificates from the Professor or Professors of Divinity, under whose
tuition he hath studied. bearing that he hath prosecuted his studies, and delivered his
discourses in the manner prescribed by this Act; and that his conduct, as far as it
consists with the knowledge of the said Professor or Professors, has been in every
respect suitable to his views in life. And the General Assembly do likewise hereby
enact, that the Presbytery shall record at full length the said certificate or certificates
in their minutes. And it is hereby enacted and declared, that the student, having
lodged such certificate or certificates, shall be entitled to obtain extracts of the same
4th, No Presbytery shall receive any student upon trials, unless they are satisfied
that he is of good report; sound in his principles; pious, sober, grave, and prudent
in his behaviour; of a peaceable disposition; and well affected to the happy establishment in this kingdom both in Church and State. And that the Presbytery
may proceed with all due caution, in a matter of such peculiar importance, they
shall not agree to the motion in behalf of the student, unless his residence, during
the year preceding, has been chiefly within their bounds, or he shall produce sufficient estimonials from the Presbytery, in whose bounds his residence has chiefly
been during that term, bearing that his character is such as is described in the immediately preceding sentence of this paragraph, and recommending him in those respects to the Presbytery before whom the proposal is made, as a proper person to be
entered upon trials.
5th, The Presbytery shall not agree to the motion in favour of the student, unless
they are satisfied that he has made a competent degree of proficiency in those several
branches of knowledge, which are necessary to enable him to be an useful preacher
of the Gospel. And the General Assembly ordain, that the Presbytery, in order to
procure full information in this respect, shall examine the student strictly and privately on his knowledge of the Greek and Latin languages, and of philosophy and
6th, If, after these preliminary steps have been taken, the Presbytery shall be of
opinion that the student is duly qualified in these several particulars, they shall record this opinion in their minutes, and order their clerk to write letters to the several
Presbyteries within the bounds of the Provincial Synod, two kalendar months at least
before the meeting of the same, informing them of the Presbytery's intention to take
the student upon public trials; and bearing that the certificate or certificates in his
favour, which are required by this Act, have been regularly laid before them. But
it is hereby provided, that within the bounds of such Synods as meet only once ayear, a student may be entitled to have these circular letters written half a-year sooner
than would be otherwise compentent.
VI. The General Assembly do likewise hereby enact and declare, that at the request of the student, it shall be competent to any Presbytery to transfer the receiving of the public trials, or any parts thereof, certifying to the Presbytery to which
the transference is to be made, that the various preliminary steps have been taken
according to the directions of this Act; and that such parts of the public and private trials as have been already gone through have been received with approbation.
VII. If a student have studied, either in whole or in part, in Protestant Universities, which are not within the bounds of this Church, he shall, when he is
proposed to any Presbytery for trials, be required to produce satisfying testimonials
from the Professors of Divinity in said Universities; and the time which these
Professors shall certify to have been employed by him in studying Divinity under
their tuition, shall be computed in the same manner as if he had prosecuted his
studies in any of the Universities within the bounds of this Church. But it is hereby provided, that no student, in such circumstances, shall be admitted even to those
private trials, which are appointed to be taken before the writing of the circular letters, sooner than six kalendar months after his arrival in Scotland.
VIII. The General Assembly ordain, that if a Presbytery propose to take a student
upon public trials, and have, with that view, written the circular letters, as is herein
required, public intimation thereof shall be made at some diet of the next meeting of
the Provincial Synod, which shall not be the last diet thereof. And the Presbyteryclerk is hereby required to transmit to the Synod-clerk an extract of the certificate
or certificates laid before the Presbytery in favour of the student, in order that the
same may be produced at this diet of the Synod. And it is likewise hereby ordained.
that at some subsequent diet of the Synod, particular inquiry shall be made whether
any of the members of the court has any objection to offer against the student being
entered upon public trials; and that the Synod then, taking into consideration the
extract produced, and the whole of the case, shall judge of the expediency of allowing
the Presbytery to admit the student on trials; or if, in any case, the Presbytery-clerk
shall fail to transmit the extract of the certificates above mentioned, the student may
produce to the Synod, by himself, or by any member of the court, the extract of the
same, which by this Act he is entitled to obtain.
IX. If the Synod shall allow the student to be taken upon public trials, the Presbytery shall proceed therein with all convenient speed; and the Assembly appoint the
following trials to be taken of the student, and in the order herein mentioned:—1st,
Catechetic trials on Divinity, Chronology, and Church History; 2d, A trial on the
Hebrew and Greek languages; 3d, An exercise in Latin, on some controverted head
in Divinity; 4th, A Homily in English; 5th, An exercise and addition; 6th, A
Lecture on some large portion of Scripture; 7th, A popular Sermon; it being understood, that if the Presbytery see cause, they may examine the student upon the
subject of these several discourses.
X. The student having gone through the several trials which are mentioned in the
immediately preceding section of this Act, the Presbytery are ordained to proceed in
the following order:—
1st, They shall deliberately and seriously take a conjunct view of the whole trials,
and if they shall be of opinion that the student is not properly qualified to perform the
duties incumbent upon a preacher of the Gospel, they shall by no means grant him a
licence in his present circumstances.
2d, If, upon this review of the trials, the Presbytery are fully satisfied therewith,
they shall record this opinion in their minutes.
3d, The Presbytery shall then propose to the student the questions that are appointed to be put to all who pass trials by Act 10th, Assembly, 1711, and require him
to subscribe the Formula which is prescribed by the said Act. And the General
Assembly strictly prohibit all Presbyteries from licensing any student to preach the
Gospel who shall not give explicit and satisfying answers to these questions, and
subscribe the said Formula.
4th, The Presbytery shall order the Act of Assembly, 1759, against Simoniacal
Practices, to be read to the student in their presence.
Lastly, The Presbytery shall appoint their Moderator to license the student to
preach the Gospel, and order their Clerk to furnish him with an extract of his
XI. For the better observance of this Act, the General Assembly ordain, 1st, That
it shall be printed among their other printed Acts; 2d, That it shall be printed by
itself in some convenient from; 3d, That a copy of this separate edition shall be transmitted to each Professor of Divinity in the Universities of Scotland; and that the
said Professors shall read the same in their respective Halls, once, at least, during
every session, and at such times as they have reason to expect the attendance of the
greatest number of students for that session; and, lastly, That a copy of the same
edition shall likewise be transmitted to the Clerks of each Synod and Presbytery
within the bounds of this Church; and that the said Clerks shall keep the same along
with their minutes, and bring it up to each meeting of their respective courts for the
use of their members.
IX. Sess. ult., May 31, 1813.—Overture anent the Ordination of Elders.
X. Sess. ult., May 31, 1813.—Recommendation, Injunction, and Queries, respecting Schools.
The Report of the Committee, upon the returns from Presbyteries respecting the
Examination of Schools within their bounds, was produced and read, as follows:—
"That only fourteen Presbyteries have sent up reports to this Assembly, viz.:—Aberdeen, Brechin, Chirnside, Dalkeith, Dunfermline, Garioch, Haddington, Lanark,
Langholm, Linlithgow, Lochmaben, Peebles, Strathbogie, and Turriff.
"In some of these reports very particular information is given; but this is not their
general character, as there are others which do nothing more than mention the names
of the parishes, the schools of which have been examined since last Assembly. There
are no facts stated in any of them which require to be brought under the particular
consideration of the Assembly. The committee have only further to remark, that
several Presbyteries state their experience of the great and increasing advantage
which results from the regular examination of schools, according to the instructions
of the General Assembly."
The General Assembly agree to renew and re-transmit the injunction of the General Assembly, 1799, to Presbyteries respecting this business, which is in the following words:—"The General Assembly enjoin all the Presbyteries of this Church to
report to the Assembly a list of all the schools within their bounds, specifying what
is taught in each school, whether the schools be held on the Lord's Day, or on other
days of the week; in what way the schoolmasters are supported or maintained;
whether they act for themselves, or are employed by or under the direction of others;
what number of scholars attend each school at the time of making the report; and,
in general, whatever else shall appear to the Presbytery of importance respecting the
schools within their bounds." The Assembly request that Presbyteries will pay particular attention to the above injunction.
At the same time, the Assembly took up the consideration of the overture from
the Synod of Aberdeen anent parochial and other schools, which was read. And
the Assembly appointed the queries contained in the said overture to be transmitted
to Presbyteries along with the above recommendation and injunction. The queries
are as follow:—
"1st, Is there a parochial school established in your parish, with sufficient salary
and accommodation for the schoolmaster, in terms of Act, 1803? and if not, what are
the reasons which have prevented compliance with the enactments of that statue?
"2d, Are there more than one parochial school established in your parish under
the authority of the aforementioned Act? and if not, would it be eligible, and why,
that there should be more schools in your parish?
3d, What schools, other than parochial, are there in your parish? Of what description, and by whom kept and supported?"
And the Assembly direct the Presbyteries of this Church to take the said queries
into their consideration at their first meeting after they shall come to their hand,
and send up answers to the same to next Assembly.
XI. Sess. ult., May 31, 1813.—Act appointing the Diet of the next General Assembly.
The next General Assembly of this National Church is appointed to be held
within the New Church Aisle of Edinburgh, on Thursday, the 19th day of May 1814.
Extracted from the Records of the General Assembly, by
Andrew Duncan, Cl. Eccl. Scot.