The principal acts of the general assembly, convened at Edinburgh, May 17, 1838.
I. Sess. 1, May 17, 1838.—The Queen's Commission to Lord Belhaven.
II. Sess. 1, May 17, 1838.—Her Majesty's Letter to the General Assembly.
Right Reverend and Well-beloved, we greet you well.—Relying on the numerous
proofs which you have already exhibited of your adherence to the succession of the
Crown in our family, and the general interests and advancement of the Presbyterian
religion, we most willingly renew to you the solemn obligations by which we bound
ourselves, on our succession to our throne, to maintain the Presbyterian Church of
Scotland in all its rights and privileges, as by law established.
Questions of deep importance will probably engage the attention of your venerable
body at your ensuing meeting, and we would earnestly remind you, that the diffusion of religious peace will be best promoted, and the respect of our Scottish people
most firmly secured to your proceedings, by their discussion in that tone of calmness and moderation which befits the members of a religious assembly.
We entrust into your hands with confidence, arising from past experience, the care
of the moral and religious instruction of our people, which we are always anxious to
promote; and we feel assured that neither in your deliberations in Assembly, nor in
your separate localities, will this great duty ever be lost sight of.
We are likewise persuaded that no pains will be spared to inculcate on your respective flocks the duty of subordination to their temporal rulers, and the necessity
of obedience to their lawful magistrates.
Being well satisfied with the loyalty, integrity, and zeal for our service, of our right
trusty and well-beloved Robert Montgomery Lord Belhaven, we have appointed him
to represent our Royal person in this Assembly.
You have already experienced his ability to discharge the important trust, and we
are persuaded that the anxiety to promote the interests of the Church of Scotland
which you have observed in him, cannot fail to render the choice of him most acceptable to you.
Not doubting that charity and brotherly love will pervade your deliberations, we
commend you to the guidance of Almighty God; and so we bid you heartily farewell.
Given at our Court at St. James's, the 7th day of May 1838, in the first year of
By her Majesty's Command,
III. Sess. 3, May 19, 1838.—The General Assembly's Answer to the Queen's most gracious
May it please your Majesty,
Your Majesty's most gracious letter has been received by us with sentiments of
lively satisfaction and gratitude. Firmly attached to the Protestant faith, we have
ever adhered to your Illustrious Family; and we rejoice to know that your Majesty
recognises the attachment which your loyal subjects feel towards your Royal House,
as intimately connected with their attachment to the Protestant faith; and that your
Majesty has willingly renewed the solemn obligation to maintain the Church of Scotland in all its rights and privileges, as by law established.
The questions which will engage our attention in this Assembly are of deep importance to the people of Scotland, and we trust that, in our discussions, our calmness
and moderation shall be known and manifest to all men, and that our decisions may
thereby promote the peace of society, and secure the respect of the people committed
to our charge.
Having been entrusted with the spiritual interests of the people of Scotland, we
receive with heartfelt joy the expression of your Majesty's anxiety to promote their
moral and religious instruction, and of your confidence, from past experience, in the
manner in which we shall acquit ourselves of that sacred trust, which we are bound by
our ordination vows to fulfil; and it is our earnest prayer that we may never, either
in our public deliberations, or in the discharge of our duties in our separate localities,
lose sight of that great object in the attainment of which, every inhabitant in this part
of your Majesty's dominions may know and believe the truth as it is in Jesus.
Your Majesty may rest assured that no pains will be spared by us to inculcate on
our respective flocks submission to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, and
to recommend to them, under the happy form of government with which they have
been blessed, to lead quiet and peaceable lives, in all godliness and honesty.
The appointment of Lord Belhaven to represent your Royal person in this Assembly is most acceptable to us. Our knowledge of the purity of his character,
and our past experience of the ability, and of the kindness and urbanity with
which he has discharged the duties of his high office, have gained for him the respect
and the attachment of the members of our Church.
We have received with sincere gratitude your Majesty's donation of L.2000 in aid
of the education of the inhabitants of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland; and it
shall be our anxious desire to apply this sum in such a manner as may best promote
the religious and moral ends for which it has been bestowed.
In all our deliberations, it is our fervent prayer, that Almighty God may guide us,
and that He may give us that wisdom which cometh from above, so that brotherly
love may continue among us.
That He, by whom Kings reign, and who in His mercy has raised your Majesty
to rule over this great people, may long preserve you to be a blessing to this nation;—that He may give you to enjoy all comfort in the duties of your exalted station;—and that He may endue you with grace to be found faithful in the high trust which
He has committed to you;—and that, being found faithful, you may be blessed with
all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, and may finally receive a crown
of life in the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour, is the earnest and devout prayer of,
May it please your Majesty, your Majesty's most dutiful, and most loyal
subjects, the Ministers and Elders of this General Assembly of the
Church of Scotland.
Signed in our name, in our presence, and by our appointment,
William Muir, Moderator.
IV. Sess. 6, May 23, 1838.—The General Assembly's Address to the Queen on her
Accession to the Thorne of these Realms.
TO THE QUEEN'S MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY,
The loyal and dutiful Address of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
May it please your Majesty,
We, your Majesty's dutiful and loyal subjects, the ministers and elders of the
Church of Scotland, representing the several Presbyteries, Universities, and Royal
Burghs, in this first General Assembly since your Majesty's accession, eagerly seize
this occasion now presented to us, of expressing our condolence with your Majesty,
and the Royal Family, on the death of our late beloved Sovereign, and offering
our cordial congratulations on your Majesty's elevation to the throne of your ancestors.
Approving of the promptitude with which the Commission of the last General
Assembly instructed a deputation of their number to convey to your Majesty their
assurances of devoted attachment, and concurring entirely in the sentiments expressed by them, we have felt highly gratified by their report of your Majesty's
favourable reception of that act of homage performed by the representatives of this
In looking back to the peaceful reign which was closed last year, we feel ourselves
bound to express our thankfulness to the Supreme Ruler, in whose hand are the
hearts of kings, and by whose power our late illustrious Monarch was enabled to fulfil the duties of his lofty station with such fidelity and mildness, as to secure the affections of all classes of his subjects, whose unfeigned grief at his departure was a
strong testimony of the respectful feelings with which they had contemplated his
amiable character and tranquil administration.
It has afforded us most sincere gratification to perceive how cordially the inhabitants of the United Kingdom have hailed your Majesty's assumption of the regal
power, and how universal has been the admiration of the mature dignity and gracefulness with which, in early youth, the functions of government have been sustained
by a sovereign Princess, who possesses so many hereditary as well as personal claims
on their fealty.
It is our earnest hope that, through the Divine grace, your Majesty will be so
guided and strengthened, under the solicitudes of greatness, that the fulfilment of
the most arduous duties may prove a source of unfailing satisfaction to your own
heart, and of the most substantial benefits to your subjects.
It has been most pleasing to us to learn how cheerfully the constitutional pledge,
required by the Act of Union, was proffered by your Majesty, to maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the true Protestant religion, with the government,
worship, discipline, rights, and privileges, of the Church of Scotland, as established by
the laws of the land; laws which were framed for the purpose of securing to this National Establishment the same privileges which are enjoyed by any other branch of
the Protestant Church in the British dominions. The attachment of the people of
Scotland to the Family from which your Majesty in descended was founded originally
on their known zeal for the cause of the Reformation; and they have ever regarded
the stability of this august House as, under Providence, one of the bulwarks of the
Protestant faith, and of the inestimable benefits of civil and religious freedom.
Actuated by these views and principles, we account it a sacred duty to encourage
and exhort the people under our charge to maintain their loyalty to your Majesty
unshaken, and to render that willing obedience to the laws which the precepts of
the Gospel require, not only for wrath but for conscience sake.
That the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ may multiply to your Majesty
all temporal blessings, and enrich you with the treasures of grace;—that He may
establish your throne in righteousness, and teach your senators wisdom;—that there
may be peace and truth in your days;—and that, when our posterity shall walk about
Sion, remembering her towers and considering her palaces, they may have cause to
speak of the wisdom and knowledge which were the stability of the times, when a
Protestant Queen, who had been taught to fear the Lord from her youth, was a nursing mother to the Churches, which putting on charity, the bond of perfectness, and
keeping the unity of the Spirit, had rest and were multiplied; and above all, that
when the lustre of temporal power shall have faded away, you may receive an inheritance with those that are sanctified, in that kingdom which shall not be moved, is
the hearts' desire and prayer of,
May it please your Majesty, your Majesty's most faithful, most loyal,
and most obedient subjects, the Ministers and Elders of this General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
Signed in our name, in our presence, and by our appointment,
William Muir, Moderator.
V. Sess. 6, May 23, 1838.—The General Assembly's Address to the Queen Dowager on
the Death of his late Majesty.
To her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen Dowager,
We, the ministers and elders of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland,
calling to mind the cordiality with which a former Assembly congratulated your Majesty on the occasion of your being raised to the eminent distinction of sharing the
honours of the British throne, cannot now refrain from the expression of our heartfelt
sympathy and condolence, on the afflicting reverse which has deprived your Majesty
of an affectionate husband, and the nation of a patriotic Monarch, whose heart was
devoted to the welfare of his people.
We trust that your Majesty, under the pressure of the heavy bereavement with
which you have been visited, has experienced, in abundant measure, the efficacy of
the consolations of our holy faith; and that, while mourning over a loss which time
cannot supply your heart has been taught to rejoice in the victory over the grave,
secured to all the faithful by that Divine Prince and Saviour, who, by taking away
sin, the sting of death, has abolished and destroyed the power of the last enemy, and
brought life and immortality to light.
That it may please the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory, who is
the Prince of the kings of the earth, and the Judge of the widow, from his holy
habitation to pour out on your Majesty the choicest gifts of his Holy Spirit, and shed
abroad in your heart that love which passeth knowledge, enabling you, amid the trials
of life, to rejoice in the hope of the glory which is yet to be revealed, in the house
not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, where all who have died in faith shall
be kings and priests unto God, and shall reign for ever and ever, are the earnest
May it please your Majesty, your Majesty's most faithful, most obedient,
and most devoted servants, the Ministers and Elders of this General
Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
Signed in our name, in our presence, and by our appointment,
William Muir, Moderator.
VI. Sess. 8, May 25, 1838.—Commission of the General Assembly to certain Ministers and
Ruling Elders for discussing Affairs referred to them.
The General Assembly, &c.
VII. Sess. 8, May 25, 1838.—Commission to some Ministers and Ruling Elders for the
Reformation of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, and for Managing her
Majesty's Royal Bounty.
The General Assembly, &c.
VIII. Sess. 9, May 26, 1838.—Act on the Conversion of the Jews. (fn. *)
The General Assembly, having heard the Report of the Committee on the Conversion of the Jews to the faith of Christ, approve of the same, acknowledge the high
importance of using means for the conversion of God's ancient people, and recommend
the object to the attention of the Church; and that the ministers, in their preaching and
public prayers, more frequently avail themselves of opportunities of noticing the claims
of the Jews; and without recommending a general collection, appoint the following
ministers and elders, viz., the Moderator, &c.; to be a committee, of which Dr Macgill
shall be convener, with power to appoint sub-committees; the said committee to receive, and prudently expend, any contributions which may voluntarily be made by
individuals, associations, or parishes, towards this object. Appoint the committee to
collect information respecting the Jews, their numbers, condition, and character,—what means have hitherto been employed by the Christian Church for their spiritual
good, and with what success,—whether there are any openings for a mission to their
nation, and where these are most promising,—and, generally, with full power to take
all prudent measures, both at home and abroad, for the advancement of the cause,
and report to next General Assembly.
IX. Sess. 7, May 24, 1838.—Act in favour of India Missions.
The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland did, and hereby do, nominate
and appoint the ministers of the Presbytery of Edinburgh, and the following elders,
who are members of Assembly, viz., James Stark, Esq., &c.; to be a committee for
the propagation of the Gospel in foreign parts, and for managing the funds subscribed
and given for that purpose, in any manner of way, with the whole powers conferred
by former Acts of Assembly; with power also to appoint a sub-committee of their
number in Edinburgh, consisting of nine, for more effectually furthering the grand
end in view. Of the general committee nine shall be a quorum, and of the sub-committee three are hereby declared a quorum. The general committee shall hold stated
monthly meetings, for dispatch of business, on the first Monday of every month, at
two o'clock, with power always to adjourn, as shall be needful, and to meet on all occasions when needful business shall demand. And the said general committee are
hereby enjoined and required, by themselves, and through their sub-committees, to
attend to the instructions and regulations formerly approved by the General Assembly for the propagation of the Gospel abroad, with power to make and carry into effect
such farther regulations, and to adopt such measures as to them may seem most beneficial; such farther regulations, and the measures adopted, to be submitted to next
Assembly. And the said general committee are hereby appointed to report their
diligence, and that of their sub-committees, in calling forth the benevolence and support of the Christian public in Scotland, their prudence in the expenditure of the
funds obtained, and generally their management, and the success and extent of their
operations in foreign parts. The General Assembly renew their former recommendations to the ministers throughout the Church, that they continue their exertions, and
put forth farther exertions, in aid of the funds of the mission, and earnestly recommend that in every parish there be a collection yearly on behalf of this most important cause.
X. Sess. ult., May 28, 1838.—Act recommending Collections for the Four Schemes of the General Assembly.
The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, considering the obligation
which lies on this Church to promote, to the utmost extent of the means with which
God hath entrusted them, the progress of the Gospel of Christ among their own
people, their brethren in the colonies, and the heathen throughout the world; and
considering farther, how greatly their efforts have been impeded from a want of due
arrangements for properly collecting the contributions of their several congregations,
and confiding in their liberality and Christian zeal, were fit occasions regularly presented to them for contributing to the advancement of the four great Schemes now
prosecuted by the Church, earnestly recommend to all the ministers of this Church
to make collections on behalf of each of these objects, viz; (1.) Colonial Churches;
(2.) Education; (3.) Foreign Missions; (4.) The Church Extension Scheme; and
the Assembly direct, that the committees of Assembly for the several Schemes shall
make up a joint state of the whole collections of the several Presbyteries for each
of the said objects, up to the first day of June in each year, and that each committee shall publish the same in an appendix to their annual reports. And the Assembly appoint every minister, on the Sabbath immediately preceding that on which
each collection is to be made, to give due intimation thereof from the pulpit, accompanied with such information on the object of the collection as he may deem fitting:
Farther, the General Assembly strongly recommend that in all parishes, but especially
in those in which circumstances may render a separate collection for each of the four
objects inexpedient, parochial subscriptions, by means of parochial associations or
otherwise, be promoted and encouraged, the funds collected to be appropriated to the
several objects, in such proportions as the contributors shall appoint, and failing any
appointment by them, as shall be directed by the minister and session; and that all
Presbyteries of the Church adopt the measure already beneficially carried into execution in several parts of the country, and of which the Assembly highly approve, of
appointing a yearly meeting of Presbytery, of which due intimation shall be given in
all the parish churches within its bounds, and which the public shall be invited to
attend, in order to afford to every minister of the Presbytery an opportunity of stating
what has been done within his parish in furtherance of the said objects, and to give
to the persons present, by means of addresses by one or two of the members specially
appointed for that purpose, such information as to the progress of Christianity at
home and abroad, as may be best calculated to arouse the benevolence of the Christian public, and to maintain their interest in the prosperity of the said objects; and,
particularly, the General Assembly appoint the several Presbyteries to require an account of the diligence of all the ministers within their bounds in this matter, and to
record the report of every minister in their Presbytery-books; and likewise ordain
the several Synods to take a particular account of the diligence of their respective
Presbyteries, and to record it in their Synod-books. And the Assembly earnestly
urge on their faithful people seriously to consider the duty of contributing liberally
towards the advancement of Christ's cause, according to the ability wherewith God
has blessed them.
The General Assembly appoint the minister of every parish within the bounds of
this Church to read this Act from the pulpit on the first Sabbath of July next to
come, or where there is no service on that day, or where it is the communion, Sabbath, on the first Sabbath thereafter.
XI. Sess. ult., May 28, 1838.—Act anent the Election of Commissioners to the General
Assembly from the Presbyteries of the Northern and Western Islands of Scotland.
The General Assembly enacts and ordains, That, in respect of the situation of
the Northern and Western Islands frequently rendering it difficult or impossible for
the Presbyteries in these Islands to assemble on particular days during the months
of winter and spring, it shall be competent for these Presbyteries to elect their
Commissioners to the General Assembly at any time before the first day of May
in each year, due notice of the intention to elect having been given fifteen days
XII. Sess. ult., May 28, 1838.—Act anent the Appointment and Ordination of Professors of
The General Assembly, on the Report of the Committee for classing Returns to
Overtures, having found that the Overture anent the appointment and ordination of
Professors of Theology has received the approbation of a majority of the Presbyteries of the Church, did, and hereby do, enact the said Overture into a Standing
Law of the Church, as follows:—
Whereas, by the law and practice of this National Church, Professors of Theology
are declared to be ordinary officers in the Church, and have hitherto been constituent members of the ecclesiastical judicatories of the bounds within which the universities of which they are members are severally included; and whereas it is manifestly expedient, as well as conformable to the principles of this Church, as expressed
in the form of Church government approved by the General Assembly in 1645, that
every one who has the charge of giving instructions in any of the branches of theological learning to students of divinity, should himself have passed through a complete course of theological study, and have been not only licensed to preach, but
actually ordained as a minister of the Word; and whereas ordination must be the
act of the Presbytery; the General Assembly enact and ordain, That if at any time
hereafter a preacher of the Gospel shall be nominated a Professor of Divinity, or
Ecclesiastical History, or Biblical Criticism, or Hebrew, in any of the Universities
of Scotland, who has not been previously ordained as a minister of a charge in communion with the Church of Scotland, the Presbytery, within the bounds of which
the University lies shall be bound to take him on trials, for the purpose of ascertaining the proportion of his gifts to the station which he is to occupy, in the same
manner as if he had been appointed to the charge of a congregation within their
bounds, in order that, after being found qualified for the particular office, he may be
ordained as a minister of the Gospel, previously to his induction to his office in the
XIII. Sess. ult., May 28, 1838.—Act anent the Standing Orders of the Church.
On the Report of the Committee on Standing Orders, the General Assembly agree
to the following Standing Orders; and appoint them to be printed among the public
Acts of the Church, along with all other Standing Orders now in force:—
1. The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland direct and ordain, That, hereafter,
all applications for the erection of New Churches, and the relative documents, after passing through the respective Presbyteries, shall, alongst with the feudal titles of the site, or
drafts thereof, be transmitted one month before the meeting of each Assembly to the Standing Committee for Church Extension, or such other committee as the preceding Assembly
may have specially appointed for receiving the same; and that such committee shall revise
the proposed constitutions and titles, and report, to the Assembly their opinion as to any
alterations they may recommend to be made therein,—the said committee giving to all
parties who may have appeared before the respective Presbyteries eight days' notice of
the day fixed for the consideration of their case, in order that they may attend for their
interest; certifying all parties applying for the erection of new churches, that if they fail
so to transmit for revisal the documents aforesaid, their applications will not be entertained
by the Assembly: Provided always, that where the said documents have been transmitted,
they must also be thereafter regularly passed to the Assembly, through their Committee of
Bills, in common form; and that all parties who have made compearance in the Presbytery
shall be entitled, as at present, to be heard before the Assembly to which the application
is so passed, or any committee to be appointed by them, on their objections to the erection
of the proposed church, or to the report of the Church Extension or other specially appointed committee, as aforesaid.
2. That all papers appointed by former Standing Orders to be printed shall be lodged
with the agent four days before the meeting of the Assembly, excepting when they relate to
matters arising after that date, otherwise they shall not be received nor founded on in the
3. That no report of any committee shall be read to the Assembly till the principal copy
of the same shall have been lodged with the clerk.
4. That the clerk shall not give back or lend out the principal copy of any report to any
5. That all reports to the Assembly shall be written upon foolscap paper, so as to admit
of their being bound up in volumes; after which it shall not be necessary to engross them
in the record.
STANDING ORDERS FORMERLY AGREED TO.
Sess. 9, May 26, 1832.
The General Assembly called for the report of the commission on the Form of Process,
which was given in by the Procurator. The General Assembly agree to convert the first
eight resolutions in page 3 of the Report into Standing Orders of this House.
1. That the Committee of Overtures shall be appointed to meet on the evening of the
first Thursday of the Assembly, immediately after the rising of the Committee for Revising Commissions, and again on the following morning at ten o'clock.
2. That there shall be two sessions held on the first Friday of the Assembly, the one
thereof at twelve o'clock noon, to be spent in prayer, as at present; the other as soon thereafter as the Assembly may choose to appoint, for the purpose of hearing the reports of the
Committees on Bills and Overtures, and for the arrangement and dispatch of business
generally. (These two articles have since been rescinded.)
3. That the practice of reading the Answer to the King's Letter, or any address, paragraph by paragraph, in the Assembly itself, be dispensed with in future, reserving the right
of members to make such observations as may occur to them thereon as at present.
4. That on the second Thursday of its sitting, the Assembly shall determine when reports of committees not previously lodged and disposed of by special order, shall be taken
5. That rolls of the order of Causes, Overtures, Reports, and other matters of business,
shall be printed for the use of the members of Assembly.
6. That in as far as may be possible, separate days shall be set apart for the hearing of
causes, and consideration of overtures.
7. That when a Presbytery acquiesces in the sentence of a Synod, it shall not be entitled to appear as a separate party at the bar of the Assembly; but the members of Presbytery shall nevertheless be heard as members of Synod.
8. That in no case shall there be more than two speeches for each party at the bar, besides the reply to which the appellant or complainer shall be entitled. And when there
are more than two parties, there shall only be one speaker, and one speech for each, besides
the reply. It being understood, that where there is more than one complainer, each shall be
considered as a different party, only in case of its appearing to the Assembly that the complaints rest upon distinctly separate grounds.
Sess. ult., June 2, 1834.
The General Assembly, having heard the report of the Procurator on the following Resolutions, which, in terms of the appointment of last Assembly, (May 27, 1833,) had been
transmitted to the several Presbyteries of this Church, did, and hereby do, convert the same
into Standing Orders of this House.
1. That all papers, whether forming part of the Record, or produced in evidence in any
of the inferior courts, shall, at the time when they are lodged, be dated and numbered by
the clerk of such court, and marked with his initials; and no paper not so authenticated
shall be received in the Courts of Review, unless upon special cause shown.
2. That, in future, all overtures transmitted through the committee, and all petitions or
other applications to the Assembly, transmitted through the Committee of Bills, shall be
printed and laid on the Assembly's table in sufficient numbers for the use of members, on
or before the first Monday of its sitting; excepting in the case of matters which may come
to the knowledge of the Assembly during its sitting,—in which case, the overtures, petitions, &c., shall be printed and laid on the table at least one day before they are discussed.
(See, as to this, No. 2 par. 1, page 1083, supra.)
3. That the libel and defences, or, when the case commences without a libel, the petition or other initiatory step, and the answers thereto, with the sentences of the inferior
courts, shall be considered as the record.
4. That in all references, complaints, and appeals, under the exception mentioned in
article 8th, (infra,) the same, together with the evidence adduced, shall be printed in sufficient numbers to afford a copy to every member of Assembly; which copies shall be laid
on the table of the Assembly in sufficient time to admit of the cause being taken up on one
of the days during it sitting, otherwise the appeal or other application shall be held to
have been fallen from. (See, as to this, No. 2 par, 1 page 1083, supra.)
5. That when the appeal, complaint, or reference, is made merely on a point of law or
relevancy, it shall only be necessary to print such parts of the evidence, if any, as the party
may think requisite for the determination of such point of law or relevancy; but in such
cases the papers shall be printed in such time as to enable the respondent to print any
other parts of the evidence which he may deem material for the right understanding of the
case. (See, as to this, No. 2 par. 1, page 1083, supra.)
6. That reasons of dissent or appeal, and the answers thereto, when made, as well as all
other papers not included in the record, shall be produced to the Assembly, as heretofore, but shall not be held as included in the regulation as to printing.
7. That in causes, the expense of printing shall be borne by the appellant, when there is
one. When the inferior court shall refer a cause to the Assembly, without pronouncing
judgment, the expense shall be borne by the parties mutually, under the certification that
the party refusing to pay his share thereof, before the time appointed for laying the same
on the table, shall be considered as having deserted the cause, and shall not be entitled to
8. That when there is no appeal or reference, it shall be optional to individual members
of inferior courts, who may find it their duty to bring the proceedings of these courts under
the review of the Assembly by complaint, either to comply with the regulations as to printing, or to furnish a complete written copy of the whole papers and proceedings to the Clerk
of the Assembly.
9. That in all other cases, such as petitions, &c., the expense shall be borne by the party
bringing the matter under the notice of the Assembly.
10. That causes arising out of trials for licence or ordination, and matters relating to
church ordinances, as also references on matters which do not affect the interests of the
parties in the cause, shall be excepted from this rule, excepting when the parties may think
proper to print of their own accord.
11. That a copy of every printed paper shall be kept by the Clerk of Assembly, to be
bound up and kept in the Records of Assembly, with a copy of the judgment annexed.
Sess. ult., June. 1, 1835.
The Procurator, as Convener of the Committee on the Form of Process, submitted a
series of Resolutions on the subject of making motions and putting the vote, and also on
the printing of papers; and the Assembly agreed to convert these into Standing Orders of
1. On Motions and Votes.
1. A motion, whether original or amended, shall be given in to the Clerk in writing, as
soon as it shall have been made to the House, and immediately read to the House by the
2. When a motion is duly seconded, and in possession of the House, it shall not be competent to make any alteration upon it, excepting in the shape of an amendment, or second
or third motion, as the case may be regularly proposed to the House, unless it shall be
consented to by the mover and seconder of any other motion or amendment then before the
3. The person who makes the first motion shall have a right to reply; after which the
debate shall be held to be definitively closed; and no other person shall be entitled to speak,
excepting with regard to the manner of putting the vote.
4. All motions except the first shall be considered as amendments on the first, and disposed of accordingly.
5. When there are only two motions before the House, the question put to the vote shall
be, Motion or Amendment.
6. When there are three motions, the first question shall be, whether the second or third
motion shall be put as the amendment against the first; and the second question shall be,
whether the first motion, or the amendment so fixed, shall be the determination of the
7. When there are more than three motions, the first question shall be, whether that last
proposed shall be put as the amendment, and so on till only three remain, when the procedure shall be as prescribed in Article 6.
8. In causes, it shall not be competent to move an amendment to the motion, unless it
be of such a nature as to decide the case, or to forward it in its progress.
2. On the Printing of Papers.
1. That all papers laid on the table of the Assembly shall be printed in the quarto form
used in the Court of Session.
2. That it shall not be necessary to print petitions for the opinion of the Procurator, or
for aid; or any other merely formal applications, which do not contain any statement on
3. That the extracts from the minutes of the inferior courts shall always be printed
XIV. Sess. 6, May 23, 1838.—Resolution anent the Independent Jurisdiction of the Church
The General Assembly, having heard and considered the Overtures on the Independent Jurisdiction of the Church of Scotland, agreed, by a majority, to the following resolution:—
"That the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, while they unqualifiedly
acknowledge the exclusive jurisdiction of the Civil Courts in regard to the civil rights
and emoluments secured by law to the Church, and ministers thereof, and will ever
give and inculcate implicit obedience to their decisions thereanent, do resolve, That,
as is declared in the Confession of Faith of this National Established Church, 'The
Lord Jesus, as King and Head of his Church, hath therein appointed a government
in the hand of church officers, distinct from the civil magistrate;' and that in all
matters touching the doctrine, government, and discipline of this Church, her judicatories possess an exclusive jurisdiction, founded on the Word of God, 'which
power ecclesiastical' (in the words of the Second Book of Discipline) 'flows immediately from God and the Mediator Jesus Christ, and is spiritual, not having a temporal head on earth, but only Christ, the only spiritual King and Governor of his
Kirk;' and they do farther resolve, that this spiritual jurisdiction, and the supremacy
and sole Headship of the Lord Jesus Christ, on which it depends, they will assert
and at all hazards defend, by the help and blessing of that Great God, who, in the
days of old, enabled their fathers, amid manifold persecutions, to maintain a testimony, even to the death, for Christ's kingdom and crown; and, finally, that they
will firmly enforce submission to the same upon the office-bearers and members of
this Church, by the execution of her laws, in the exercise of the ecclesiastical authority wherewith they are invested."
XV. Sess. 9, May 26, 1838.—Overture anent Re-union with Seceders.
(See Act 8th, Assembly, 1839.)
XVI. Sess. ult., May 28, 1838.—Overture anent the Importance of Establishing and Endowing
a Professorship of Biblical Criticism.
(See Act 9th, Assembly, 1839.)
XVII. Sess. ult., May 28, 1838.—Overture anent the Qualification of Representative Elders.
XVIII. Sess. ult., May 28, 1838.—Overture and Interim Act, with Regulations for carrying into
effect the Act of Assembly, May 29, 1835, on the Calling of Ministers. (fn. *)
The General Assembly, without a vote, re-transmit the following Overture and
Regulations to Presbyteries for their consideration; and, in the mean time, they con
vert the same into an Interim Act,—and direct the suggestions of Presbyteries to be
transmitted to the committee on or before the 1st day of March 1839.
Whereas the General Assembly have declared, enacted, and ordained, in terms of
their Act, passed into a law of the Church on the 29th May 1835, on the subject of
the moderating in of calls; and whereas it is necessary, for regulating the forms of
proceeding under that Act, that some precise and definite rules should be laid down,
the General Assembly do, therefore, with the consent of a majority of the Presbyteries
of this Church, declare, enact, and ordain, that the following directions and regulations shall be observed:—
I. RULES TO BE OBSERVED IN MAKING UP AND ADJUSTING THE ROLL TO BE USED IN THE MODERATION OF CALLS.
1. That at the first meeting of any Presbytery, after a vacancy occurring in any parish,
or on any application regularly brought before the Presbytery for the appointment of an
assistant and successor, the Presbytery shall ascertain that a roll of the members of the kirksession and male heads of families, being members of the congregation, and communicants
in the church, has been completed in the manner herein after directed; and that, if such a
roll has been made, they shall proceed to purge the same, by striking off the names of all
persons who shall be ascertained to be dead, or to have ceased to be members of the congregation, or to be under church censures.
2. That in case a roll has not been so completed, they shall, at that meeting, appoint one
of their number to act as moderator, with the elders of the parish, to constitute a kirksession, or, where there are no elders, two or more of their own number to act as a kirksession, in making up a roll, in terms of the regulations hereby enacted, and shall ordain
the said roll, duly attested, to be produced to them at their next meeting, or any special
meeting to be appointed for that purpose.
3. That in no case shall the day for moderating in the call be appointed until the roll
shall have been completed and purged, to the satisfaction of the Presbytery.
4. That in order to ascertain definitively the persons entitled, at any particular time, to
give in dissents, every kirk-session which has not already made up a roll, in conformity to
the enactment of last General Assembly, shall, within three months of the rising of this
present General Assembly, prepare a roll of the members of the kirk-session, and of the male
heads of families who are members of the congregation, and, in country parishes, resident
within the parish, and who are, at the date thereof, and have been for at least twelve months
previous thereto, in full communion with the church; but declaring, that, in the special case
where new churches have been erected ecclesiastically, persons who are heritors or tenants,
having a legal right to sittings in the original parish church, and who continue to be members of that congregation, shall be entered on the roll of the said original church, though
resident in that part of the parish which has been disjoined from it. And, lest any doubt
should arise as to who are heads of families, it is hereby declared, that the term includes
unmarried men and widowers, as well as married men, provided they occupy house of
which they are proprietors or tenants, and the eldest of the sons who reside in the same
house with their mothers, when their fathers are deceased, provided they are of the age of
twenty-one years or upwards, they being always in full communion with the church.
5. That the roll so prepared shall be open to inspection, in the hands of the session-clerk,
by any parishioner or member of the congregation, for the space of one week, of which
notice shall be given from the pulpit, and thereafter, with any corrections or additions
which may have been made upon it by the kirk-session, it shall be authenticated by the
moderator and session-clerk, and then transmitted to the Presbytery; and after being
inspected by the Presbytery, and countersigned on each page by the moderator, shall be
returned to the kirk-session, and form part of its record for the foresaid purposes.
6. That the said roll shall be revised and re-adjusted, in conformity to rule fourthimmediately after the occasion of dispensing the sacrament of the Lord's Supper in the parish
which shall have last preceded the 22d of November in each year, and shall be open for
inspection in the same manner as before, and shall be re-transmitted to the Presbytery
before the expiry of the second week of December.
7. That the said list or roll, as last revised before the vacancy in the parish, or before
any application, as aforesaid, for the appointment of an assistant and successor, where a roll
has been duly made up, revised, and authenticated, after being examined and purged as
above provided, or the roll made up immediately after such vacancy or application, where
none had been made before, shall be the only roll for determining the persons entitled to
be reckoned in any dissents to be offered against the admission of any presentee to be minister, in the moderating in a call; but it shall still be the duty of the Presbytery to remove
from the said roll the names of all persons who may have died, removed from the parish, or
who are under church censures, previous to the time appointed for moderating in the call.
II. RULES TO BE OBSERVED IN MODERATING IN THE CALL.
1. That when a presentation shall be received by the moderator of a Presbytery, he shall,
within two days after it comes to his hand, call a meeting of Presbytery, to take place not
less than eight, nor more than twelve, days from the date of such intimation; provided
that no meeting of Presbytery shall have been already fixed to take place within three
weeks;and he shall lay the presentation on the table at that meeting.
2. That when any Presbytery shall be prepared to appoint a day for moderating in a
call to the person presented, they shall appoint one of their own number to preach in the
church of the parish, on a day not later than the second Sabbath thereafter; that he shall,
on that day, intimate from the pulpit that the person presented will preach in that church
on the first convenient Sabbath, so as it be not later than the third Sabbath after such intimation, and also on some other Sabbath; and that he shall further, at the same time,
intimate, that on another day to be fixed, not less than three, or more than six, days after
the last day appointed for the presentee to preach, the Presbytery will proceed, within the
said church, to moderate in a call to such person to be minister of the said parish in the
usual way; but the Presbytery, if they deem it expedient, may appoint the presentee to
preach oftener than twice, provided that the day for moderating in the call be not more
than six weeks after that on which it was appointed.
3. That on the day appointed for moderating in the call, the Presbytery shall, in the first
instance, proceed in the same manner in which they were in use to proceed before the passing of the Act of Assembly, 1835, anent Calls.
4. That if dissents are tendered by any of the male heads of families, whose names stand
on the roll above referred to, such dissents shall either be personally delivered in writing
by each of the persons dissenting separately, or taken down from his oral statement by the
moderator or clerk of the Presbytery; but that no person shall be entitled so to dissent who
shall have previously petitioned the patron for the appointment of the person presented, it
being always open to him to state special objections at the proper time.
5. That if the Presbytery shall find that dissents have been lodged by an apparent majority of the persons on the said roll, it shall be competent to the patron or presentee, or any
person duly authorised to act in their behalf, or to any member of Presbytery, to require
all or any of the persons dissenting then and there to declare, in terms of the Act of Assembly, 1835, viz., "That he is actuated by not factious or malicious motives, but solely
by a conscientious regard to the spiritual interest of himself or the congregation;" and that,
if any person having so dissented shall refuse to declare in the terms required, the name of
such person shall be struck off the list of persons dissenting: And the Presbytery shall,
in the commencement of the proceedings, give intimation that all persons who may intend
to dissent must remain till the termination of the proceedings of the day. That it shall not
be competent to receive any dissents, except such as shall be duly given in at the meeting
for moderating in the call, as above provided.
6. That if the Presbytery shall find that there is not a majority of persons on the roll
dissenting, and if not special objections be stated, they shall sustain the call, and proceed to
the trials and settlement according to the rules of the Church: But if the Presbytery shall
find that there is a major part of the persons on the roll dissenting, they shall reject the
person presented, so far as regards the particular presentation, and the occasion of that vacancy in the parish; and shall, within two days thereafter, intimate this their determination
to the patron, the presentee, and the elders of the parish.
7. That if, at the meeting for moderating in the call, dissents by a majority on the roll
shall not be stated, and if any special objections to the settlement of the person presented,
of whatever nature such objections may be, shall then be stated to the Presbytery by any
person entitled to object by the general laws of the Church; and if such objections appear
to be deserving of deliberate consideration or investigation, the Presbytery shall delay the
farther proceedings in the settlement till another meeting, to be then appointed, not later
than eight days thereafter, and give noticeapud acta to all parties concerned then to attend,
that they may be heard.
8. That if the special objections so stated affect the moral character or the doctrine of
the presentee, so that, if they were established, he would be deprived of his licence or of his
situation in the Church, the objectors shall proceed by libel, and the Presbytery shall take
the steps usual in such cases.
9. That if the special objections relate to the insufficiency or unfitness of the presentee
for the particular charge to which he has been appointed, the objectors shall not be required
to become libellers, but shall simply deliver, in writing, their specific grounds for objecting
to the settlement, and shall have full liberty to substantiate the same; upon all which the
presentee shall have an opportunity to be fully heard, and shall have all competent means of
defence: That the Presbytery shall then consider these special objections, and, if it shall
appear that they are not sufficient, or not well-founded, they shall proceed to the settlement
of the presentee, according to the rules of the Church: But if the Presbytery shall be satisfied
that the objector or objectors have established that the presentee is not fitted usefully and
sufficiently to discharge the pastoral duties in that parish, then they shall find that he is
not qualified, and shall, within two days thereafter, intimate the same to the patron; it
being always in the power of the different parties to appeal from the sentence pronounced
by the Presbytery, if they shall see cause.
10. That the Presbytery shall not receive such special objections in any case, until after
it has been finally ascertained whether there are dissents by a majority of the persons on
the roll; but it shall always be competent, as soon as this is ascertained, to state special
III. RULES TO BE OBSERVED IN THE ULTIMATE PROCEEDINGS.
1. That if the Presbytery shall have rejected the presentee, and if the patron shall give
a presentation to another person within the time limited by law, the proceedings shall again
take place in the same manner as above laid down, and so on in regard to successive presentations within the time.
2. That if no presentation shall be given within the limited time, to a person from whose
settlement a majority on the roll do not dissent, or who shall not be excluded in consequence
of special objections, the Presbytery shall then supply the vacancy, tanquam jure devoluto.
3. That cases of settlement by the Presbytery jure devoluto shall fall under the operation
of the regulations in this and the relative Act of Assembly. But every person who shall
have been previously rejected in that parish, shall be considered as disqualified to be inducted into that parish on the occasion of that vacancy.
4. That in case any appeal shall be taken against any judgement or proceeding of the
Presbytery, previous to the time when they are prepared either to proceed to the settlement,
or to declare the presentee to be disqualified, and reject the presentation, such appeal shall
not sist procedure; but the Presbytery, if they resolve to proceed to the settlement, shall
delay doing so till the appeal be disposed of; and if they reject the presentee, it shall be
still competent to him to discuss the merits of any appeal which may have been duly entered.
IV. TIME EXTENDED IN DISTANT SYNODS, &C.
1. That in the districts of Orkney and Zetland, the Synod of Glenelg, and the Synod of
Argyle, the number of days appointed by this Act, with regard to meetings, and for other
purposes, shall be double the number above provided.
2. That the regulations in this Act shall be applied to all cases of vacancies in which
the Presbytery has not already appointed a day for moderating in the call: But the General Assembly hereby renew and continue the Interim Act with regulations, enacted and
transmitted by last Assembly, in regard to all cases in which the day for moderating in
the call may have been already appointed, and also the Interim Act of Assembly, 1835, as
to all cases previously falling under it, and also the Interim Act of Assembly, 1836, as
such cases respectively, but no others.
3. That the Presbyteries of the Church are hereby enjoined to use all diligence to see
that the regulatious hereby laid down are duly observed and followed out; and also to use
their utmost endeavours to bring about harmony and unanimity in congregations, and be
at pains to avoid every thing which may excite or encourage unreasonable exceptions in
people against a worthy person, who may be proposed to be their minister.
The General Assembly, in transmitting this revised and amended Overture, &c.
(Same as last year.)
XIX. Sess. ult., May 28, 1838.—Act appointing the Diet of next General Assembly.
The next General Assembly of this National Church is appointed to be holden
at Edinburgh, on Thursday, the 16th of May 1839.
Extracted from the Records of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, by
John Lee, Cl. Eccl., Scot.
The following Pastoral Letter was issued by the Commission of 1838:—
PASTORAL LETTER TO THE PEOPLE OF THE CHURCH OF SCOTLAND.
Edinburgh, June1, 1838.
The Commission of the General Assembly unanimously agree, that, in terms of
various Overtures transmitted to the Assembly, a Pastoral Address shall be framed in
the name of the Commission, and transmitted to all the ministers of this Church, to
be read to their several congregations:—
Dearly Beloved Brethren,—We account it a high privilege, and we trust you will not
otherwise regard it, that an opportunity is granted us of communicating with you by a Pastoral Address. In this we follow an example, which, to the comforting of the Church, has
recently, as well as during former times, been set before us. And, desirous of following
that example, and in the same spirit, we would earnestly seize on the occasion for directing
your thoughts to some things which we are persuaded nearly concern your own peace, the
welfare of your families, the prosperity of the nation, and the good of our beloved Zion.
What we state to you, indeed, may be well known by you already. Yet, "to write the
same things to you to as is not grievous, but for you it is safe." We that are "put into
the ministry of the Word" are engaged to declare such things, "in season and out of season," and "here a little and there a little." And we must consider ourselves as "watchmen unto the house of Israel, who are to warn them from the Lord, by the word of his
mouth." This, even the Word of the Lord, is our authority. Unto this we would bring
whatever message we give for trying the soundness and utility of our own teaching—and
unto this you are to bring whatever directions you receive for ascertaining their truth and
obligation. We ask no blind submission to our counsels. We make our appeal "to the
law and to the testimony." And it is only when we speak "the word from the Lord"
that we hold up the solemn responsibility by which you are constrained to hear.
Let us, first of all, remind you of the signal mercies which God has bestowed on our
land in bestowing on it the Protestant Faith. He chose our land out of heathenism. He
formed in it the vineyard of his own planting. And, when the vine that had borne much
pleasant fruit was overwhelmed with noxious weeds, "he looked down from heaven, and beheld, and visited this vine." He took away the miserable corruptions of the Papacy from
our land. He caused true religion to flourish in it with exceeding beauty and richness;
and he graciously settled the Protestant faith in Scotland, by the institutions of our own
Church—a Church, in her government, "founded on, and agreeable to, the Divine Word"
in her discipline, fitted to guard the purity of communion—in her worship, simple and edifying—in her Confession and Catechisms, prepared both to defend and spread the truth—and in her salutary union with the State, receiving aid, without sacrificing one of her religious principles or ecclesiastical distinctions.
Let us next remind you, however, that while the impression made on us by these signal mercies of the Lord is grateful and pleasing, it still suggests what is humbling to us. Our religious
privileges have not been improved, have not even been valued as they ought to have been.
Neither public virtue in our land, nor family religion, nor personal godliness, have corresponded with the means and opportunities for promoting them. The charge of unprofitable
ness and aggravated sin, even under the highest incentives and occasions of improvement
and righteousness, is a charge that must be laid against us. Truly, these words of confession, employed by the prophet Daniel, for himself and his people, may suitably be uttered by
ourselves: "We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly,
and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments; neither
have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings,
our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee; but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day."
Let us remind you, farther, that while, for our personal salvation,"the long-suffering and
mercy of God should lead to repentance," the hope, too, of perpetuating our blessed privileges forms another motive to an immediate and universal turning unto the Lord. It is our
devotedness, in a life of piety, to "the Author and Finisher of our faith," that raises the
best of human guards over the ordinances of our faith. It is fidelity of private and official
duty in the members of the Church that best ensures protection from the Head of the
Church, amid all occasions of anxiety for her safety. Occasions of anxiety, indeed, for her
safety, may now be gathered from many of the circumstances of the times. Enemies to
revealed truth are not inactive. Associations of unbelievers are publicly formed. Sceptical
and blasphemous works and pamphlets are circulated. Encroachments on the sanctity of
the Lord's Day are, in many places, increasing. Men, whose opinions on religious subjects
are professedly very different, are leagued in enmity against the Church. Lukewarmness
in the service of Christ, and worldliness, are prevalent. And where "iniquity abounds,
the love of many waxeth cold." But amid these causes of alarm for the safety of our Zion,
be assured, brethren, that it is in the spreading of vital godliness among ourselves that her
safety is chiefly to be found. Be assured, that whatever our Church were to possess, either
of learning and eloquence in her ministers, or of countenance and support from statesmen, or
of zeal and wealth among her people, for rearing places of worship within her bounds, or
whatever besides, for "building up the walls of Zion, and strengthening the bars of her
gates;" yet all would be vain, unless the privileges given by the Divine mercy were employed for promoting the Divine glory. Be assured that it is in an increase of family and
personal religion, in the prevalence of Sabbath sanctification,—in the deepening of the
stamp of holiness on the Church, so as to mark out her people for a "peculiar people,
zealous of good works,"—it is in these, be assured, that our safety in the day of trial shall
chiefly be found. These are earnests and also means by which we may expect that, whatever be the flames that surround it, "the burning bush is not to be consumed."
For such reasons, brethren, we request you, along with us, to give thanks unto God for what
signs have appeared among us that these things are on the increase. We request you to
give thanks, too, for all such provisions for their spread, as the stated privileges of our Church
supply. And we request you, moreover, to join with us in gratefully acknowledging those
additional excitements to the spread of vital godliness among ourselves, which our Church
is affording by her calls on us to forward the grand interests of the Saviour's kingdom. She
calls on us to aid her in diffusing Scriptural education over our own country, and in sending
Christianity to the heathen, and in extending ordinances of grace among parishes at home,
where the population has outgrown the spiritual provision, and in transplanting to the
Colonies, for the benefit of our emigrants, the religion and worship of their fathers. She
calls on us, besides, to give our prayers, and, as opportunity arises, to exert zeal on behalf of
the once favoured people of Israel, with whose name and ancient privileges, with whose
outcast state and after restoration the final triumphs of the Gospel are themselves so mysteriously united. These, though pointing to foreign objects, are yet incentives to personal
good; and while we counsel you to regard them as the precious occasions of furthering the
welfare of others, we counsel you, at the same time, to regard them as the precious occasions of furthering the improvement of your own souls, and the stability of all your own
Christian advantages. Remember what is written in Scripture, "The liberal deviseth
liberal things, and by liberal things shall he stand." And in these you prepare a blessing
for your country and your Church, as well as for yourselves and your families.
But now, turning to yourselves, we exhort you, dearly beloved brethren, to employ with
diligence the means of personal religion; and, by the daily reading and studying of the
Word of God, and by the daily prayer and self-examination of a devout retirement, let increase of Christian seriousness in your hearts, and of Christian righteousness in your lives,
be the chief objects at which you aim.
And, turning also to your families, we exhort you to employ with diligence the means
of domestic religion; and by maintaining the daily worship of God,—by hallowing the
Lord's Day, and showing, to the inmates of your home, that you "esteem the Sabbath a
delight, holy, and honourable,"—by setting a godly example before the eyes of all around
you,—by asserting and keeping up, in your whole circle, the purity and order, and very
decorums of the Christian habits,—let this be your desire and endeavour, that your house
be rendered "a Bethel," a dwelling-place of Jehovah, and thus a fit preparative both for
the sanctuary on earth, and for the heavenly temple.
And ye, who are parents, be entreated by us, on behalf of the religious and holy upbringing of your children. Follow no plan of educating them, in which the Word of God
is either forbidden, or employed for historical instruction merely, to an omission of the
peculiar doctrines of its salvation. Consider that, even where a direct assailing of the
Gospel is abstained from, irreligion is produced where a direct communicating of the Gospel is not made. While you are to desire for your children the acquisitions of secular
knowledge, let none of these, however valuable, form a substitute for the attainments of
Divine knowledge;—and never forget that the supreme object in a Christian education is
the training of souls as the offspring of God, as the purchase of the Saviour's blood, and
the heirs of eternal life.
Be it your care, then, to "bring up your children in the nurture and admonition of the
Lord." Introduce them early to the knowledge of the Bible. Endeavour to impress them
with reverence for it. Secure their attendance on the House of God, that they may hear
the faithful exposition of it. Teach them prayer for the Holy Spirit, that He may cause
them to feel the power of Scripture truth. And thus, praying with them, as well as on
their behalf, it shall come to pass that their supplications at the throne of grace being
united with yours, the blessing promised to "the families that call on the name of the
Lord" shall descend richly on you and on them.
Nor can we here omit to remind you, that, along with the Bible, your supreme guide in
the religious training of your children, you are favoured, as a subordinate guide, with the
Shorter Catechism of the Church. And we most earnestly beseech you to value it highly,
and to use it diligently for that purpose. Great is the benefit which, under the blessing of
God, has been derived from employing this Catechism, in the religious instruction of youth.
Much of the sound religious knowledge that prevails in our native land may be traced to
it. Never was a summary of Christian doctrine and duty compiled, that, for correct, and
clear, and impressive statement of divine truth, equals it, or comes near it. Arranged with
exactest method,—expressed in a style peculiarly definite.—comprehensive in its bearings,
however brief in its details,—stating the Scripture mysteries, without any vain attempts to
solve them,—illustrating the Scripture precepts, by concise and forcible views of moral obligation,—and enriched throughout with Bible proofs of every answer,—the Shorter Catechism is an incomparable religious manual, and well worthy of being used, constantly and
prayerfully used, in your families. By your explaining those terms in it, which comprise
so much of important meaning within so small a compass,—by breaking down the answers
into their portions, and opening up the scope and tendency of each,—by putting questions
of your own on them, and raising new inquiries, according to the replies that are given
you,—by showing the connection that subsists between the several parts of the Catechisa,—and especially by impressing the Scripture proofs, in their suitableness for confirming its
statement of doctrines and duties, you will find that, as subordinate to the Bible, this offers
you a " form of sound words," the use of which, through the blessing of the Holy Spirit,
shall render your children wise unto salvation.
But, dearly beloved brethren, the time should fail us, did we try to say all that, in the
fulness of hearts, earnest for your welfare, we would think of addressing to you. We just
entreat you, therefore, out of concern, not only for yourselves and families, but also for
your country and your Church, that you give serious attention to the things, such as have
now been spoken. And let us assure you, that if, in answer to prayer, the influences of
"pure and undefiled religion" be more and more widely spread, through the personal experience of the several flocks under our charge, we shall then anticipate, with joy, the
stability, even to remotest generations, of our endeared privileges. Such were, indeed, a
token from God that " He is in the midst of our Zion:" such were an earnest from Him
that our Zion "is not to be moved;" such were, as the light and glory over the ark of the
covenant, at once a sign of Jehovah's presence, and the proof that his covenant shall not
And, in desiring this earnestly for you and for yours, "we now commend you unto God,
and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance
among all them which are sanctified."
Subscribed, in name of the Commission of the General Assembly, by
William Muir, Moderator.