Acts and Proceedings of the General Assemblies of the Kirk of Scotland, 1560-1618. Originally published by [s.n.], Edinburgh, 1839.
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[In the month of June, the King called the Commissioners of the Assembly to a meeting at Falkland. They called the Presbytrie of Sanct Andrews before them, by vertue of a particular commission given to them, upon a complaint made be Mr John Rutherfurd. They reduced the sentence of deposition from the ministry of Kinnocher given out be the said Presbytrie, and pronounced against him, which was approved be the Synod of Fife.
Mr Robert Wallace, Minister at Sanct Andrews, was accused before the Presbytrie of Sanct Andrews be Mr John Lindsey of Balcarres, Secretary, for some words uttered be him in pulpit, having called him a Briber, and said, That albeit he had made conquest of fifty chalders victual in Fife, and built a house to the skies, yet his posterity should beg their bread, which some of his auditors should see, and that it was doubtful if ever God should grant him repentance. The Secretary had complained of this to the Presbytery, but they refused to admit his accusation, unless the same was assisted by two witnesses, who could affirm that the accuser had just cause to pursue the complaint, which they alledged to be the Apostles Canon in the I of Timothy ch. 5. v. 19. He pursued the complaint before his Majesty and Commissioners.
The Commissioners of the General Assembly convened at Falkland, take the cognition of the cause to themselves, and entered their process against him.
Mr Wallace being summoned to that Diet, and desired to answer to the complaint, declyned their Judicatour. C. Melvill's Diary, Spotswood.]
[The reasons of the declinatour of the Judicatory of certain of the Commissioners met at Falkland to cognosce in the process intended by Mr John Lindsay, Secretar to our Soverane Lord, against Mr Robert Wallace, Minister at Sanct Andrews.
The brethren Commissioners foresaid neither have, nor can have any commission to cognosce in the said matter, because it is of verity, that the said Mr Robert being challenged be his Majestie, for sundry of his speeches delivered be him in the face of the Assembly, and namely for certain words spoken against the Secretar, and for a letter written to him; lykeways the said Mr Robert craved a Commission, wherein he offered himself to be tryed in the truth and warrants of all his speeches, which Commission was not granted be the Assembly, thinking it most expedient, that that matter should be desert, the Moderator himself both privatly and publickly inclyning to that part, that the said Mr Robert should not urge a Commission; whereunto the said Mr Robert at length did condescend.
2. The brethren foresaid have not, nor cannot have any commission touching the matter foresaid, because that matter could never be referred to the Assembly General, in respect that matter came never in be ane lawfull proceeding before the Assembly, neither be appellation, neither be way of reference, from Presbytrie, or Synod, or complaint of party, as is the practice usuall in the Kirk.
3. In respect the process foresaid is once intended before the brethren of the Presbytrie of Sanct Andrews, undoubted judges thereto, and never orderly taken out of their hands: Therefore the said Mr Robert has good cause to decline the present Judicature, not as yet being dismissed be the former, his Presbytrie.
4. The Assembly General remitted the said Mr Robert home to his cure, not to try, but to use his function; which the Assembly would nor could not have done, in case the slander laying on him could not have been tane away but be a Commission: And his Majestie lykways dismissing gratiously and favourably, after long conference had with his Hienes, shewing that he was willing, that he should be in his own place, he behaving himself dutifully, shewing that there was no Commission understood be the Assembly, nor his Majestie, for taking further tryal: For which reasons, and others to be alledged, if need be, he most humbly beseeks the reverend brethren in Jesus Christ, that they would desist from this procedure against him in the matter foresaid, remembering that he has offered humbly to travell for the resolution of any offended with his doctrine, and namely the Lord Secretar, be all wayes possible, not prejudicial to the honesty of his ministrie, and loss of a good conscience thereinto, which as he craves of God may be unspoted to his end; so lykewise he beseeks your Wisdoms wisely to tender the same, as Ministers with him of the same Evangel, and Preachers of the same hope in Jesus Christ. Amen. C.]
[This declinator being proponed, compeired Mr Nicoll Dalgleish, Moderator of the Presbytery, and in their name protested against the proceedings of the Commissioners in that cause, as being once intended before them, seeing by that form of doing all the Presbyteries of Scotland should be prejudged, and that the General Assembly, of whom they had their commission, would not take unto them the trial of any cause, with a neglect of the inferior Judicatories.
Then said the King, I will likewise protest, that seeing one of the principal motives which induces me to crave, and the General Assembly to yield unto this Commission, was to have the like of these offences, when they did arise, removed, and justice done by the Ministers themselves, rather than to be brought before the Council, ye either proceed in examining the complaint, and do that which is right, or hold me excused if I take order with it by another form that will not please you so well.
The Commissioners having advised the reasons of the declinator and protestation, did find them all invalid and of no force, and that they had warrant sufficient to proceed and minister justice in that action, as well in respect of the general power contained in their commission, as of the particular commended to their care in the planting of the Church of Sanct Andrews. So the complaint was admitted, and the 5 of July appointed at Sanct Andrews for trying the same.
At the day the Secretary compeiring, accompanied with Master Robert Mauld, Commissar of Sanct Andrews, and John Arnot, Clerk to the Commissar, (whom he produced as assisting witnesses to take away the Presbyterys exception,) did insist in his complaint. Mr Wallace being asked if he had any thing to oppose against the witnesses, refused to answer in respect of his declinator: whereupon they were admitted, and upon oath declared that they knew the accusation to be just, and that the Secretary had not intended the same of any purpose to calumniate or slander the said Mr Robert, but only to be repaired to his credit and honor, as one who had bein greatly wronged by him.
The witnesses for probation being then called, and Mr Wallace inquired if he had any exception against them, refused, as before, to answer. So they likewise were received, and being sworn, deponed, that they heard the said Mr Wallace utter the words complained of, in his sermon. Not the less the Commissioners for their better information did think it meet to call his auditors of the University, who were of better judgment, and could truly relate what they heard. The Masters of the New College refusing to give any testimony, in respect of the Presbyteries Protestation at Falkland, all the rest affirmed what the witnesses had deponed.
After which Mr Wallace being again called, and desired to shew what reason or warrant he had for uttering such speeches, refused still to make answer; nor could any persuasion break his obstinacy, though he was earnestly labored by Mr Robert Rollock and Mr James Melvil apart, who did offer, upon the confession of the fault, that the process should cease.
The Commissioners seeing no way to eschew the pronouncing of sentence, in regard of his obstinacy, did yet take Council to visit the Church, and inquire both of his and Mr Blakes behavior in that Ministry, before they went farther.
A visitation for this effect being appointed the 11 of July, and Mr Blake summoned to the same day, the Elders and Deacons of the Church were inquired touching the behaviour of them both, and the verity of the accusations laid against them; who all upon oath deponed that the accusations were true, and that Blake had spoken all that whereof he was convicted before the Council; as also that the Secretaries complaint of Mr Wallace was most just. And being asked touching their behaviour otherwise, they declared that both the one and the other were given to Factions, and that they did not carry themselves with that indifferency which became Preachers.
This declaration made clear way to the Commissioners for ending that business, and providing Sanct Andrews with a more peaceable Ministry; whereupon sentence was given that both the Ministers should be removed, and Mr George Gladstanes (a man sufficiently qualified, serving then at Abirlot in Angus) translated and place in their room, till another helper might be found out to be joyned with him. This done, the Sunday following he was accepted of the people with a great applause, Mr Thomas Buchannan, Mr James Nicolson and Mr James Melvil entring him to the charge.
And because it concerned the peace of the Church no less to have the abuses of the University reformed, he calling the Governors thereof, and inquiring what order they kept; when he understood that, against the customed form, Mr Andrew Melvil had continued Rector in a number of years together, he commanded a new election to be made, and honoring the election with his own presence in the Schools of Sanct Salvator, Mr Robert Wilkie, Principal of Sanct Leonard was chosen Rector, and appointed to bear that charge unto the ordinary time of election: As also, for preventing the like disorders, a Statute was made, That none should be continued Rector above a year, nor admitted to the said office but after the space of three years. It was likewise declared, That any Suppost, having received the Degree of a Master of Arts, might be chosen Rector, he residing in the University during his office, or at least the most part of his time.
In the New Colledge, whereof the said Mr Andrew had the charge, all things were found out of order; the Rents ill husbanded, the Professions neglected, and in place of Divinity Lectures Politick Questions oftentimes agitated: as, Whether the Election or Succession of Kings were the better form of Government; How far the Royal Power extended; and, If Kings might be censured for abusing the same, and deposed by the Estates of the Kingdom. The King to correct these abuses did prescribe to every Prosessor his subject of Teaching, appointing the first Master to read the Common places to the Students, with the Law, and History of the Bible; the second to read the New Testament; the third, the Prophets, with the Books of Ecclesiastes and Canticles; and the fourth, the Hebrew Grammar, with the Psalms, the Proverbs, and the Book of Job.
For the better husbanding of the Rents as well in that as in the other Colledges, it was ordained, That there should be a Council chosin to the University, which should have power to elect a Oeconomus in every Colledge for uplifting the Rents, and take care to see all things rightly administrated. Of this Council were named the Chancellor of the University, the Conservator of the Priviledges, the Laird of Colluthie, Mr David Lindesay, Mr Robert Rollock and Mr Thomas Buchanan; without whose consent and subscriptions it should not be lawful to set any lease, or make other disposition whatsoever of any part of the Rents.
And lest they should be distracted by any other employment, it was concluded, That all the Doctors, Professors, and Regents, not being Pastors in the Church, should be exempted from the keeping of Sessions, Presbyteries, Synodical or General Assemblies, and from all teaching in Churches and Congregations, Exercises excepted; with a discharge to all and every one of them, to accept any Commission prejudicial to the said exemption, under the pain of deprivation and rebellion, at the Conservators instance, the one execution not prejudging the other. Yet that they should not be thought excluded from the General Assembly, it was appointed, That the Masters and Regents of the University should meet when any such occasion did offer, and condescend upon some three persons, of whom one should be elected by the foresaid Council, to be present at the General Assembly for that year; which persons so chosen should not for the space of three years thereafter be employed in that Commission.
These Articles being openly recited in presence of his Majesty, and of the whole members of the University, were accepted by the Masters and Regents, with solemn promise of obedience. Spotswood.]
[Mr Andrew Melvill was appointed to the office of Dean of the Faculty of Theologie, to stop the mouths of the people, and to content strangers, Polonians, Danes, Belgians, and Frenchmen, schollars, who at the same of Mr Androes lerning cam to the Vniversitie of Sanct Andros that yier, and war resident within the sam.
The Commissioners agreed, and moved the King to consent, that the Ministers of Edinburgh should continue in their general Ministrie in Edinburgh as before, till the Town was divided in quarters, and Collegues to fill the places might be had. C. & Melvill's Diary.]
[Upon the 13th of December the King held a Parliament in the Tolbuith of Edinburgh. The Commissioners of the General Assembly, in name of the Kirk, without any advice or direction from the General Assembly, beside the bounds of their commission, presented this Petition to this Meeting of Parliament, 'That the Ministers, as representing the Kirk, and Third Estate of the Kingdom, might be admitted to give voice in Parliament, according to the Acts made in favours of the Kirk, and the liberty and freedom thereof.'
The King was earnest to have the Petition granted, and at last obtained the following Act to be made. C. & Spotswood.]
Tenor of the Act of Parliament.
Our Soveraign Lord, and his Hienes Estates in Parliament having special consideration and regard of the great priviledges and immunities granted be his Hienes predecessors of most worthy memory to the holy Kirk within this realme, and to the special persons exercing the offices, titles, and dignities of Prelacies within the same; which persons have ever represented one of the Estates of this realme, in all Conventions of the said Estates; and the saids priviledges and freedoms have been from tyme to tyme renewed, and conserved in the same integrity and condition wherein they were at any tyme before; so that his Majestie acknowledging the same now to be fallen, and become under his Majesties most favourable protection: Therefore his Majestie, of his great zeal, and singular affection, which he alwayes hes to the advancement of the true religion presently professed within this realme, with advice and consent of his Hienes Estates, statutes, decernes, and declares, That the Kirk within this realme, wherein the same religion is professed, is the true and holy Kirk; and that such Pastors and Ministers within the same, as at any tyme his Majestie shall please to provide to the office, place, title and dignity of a Bishop, Abbot, or other Prelat, shall at all tyme hereafter have vote in Parliament, sicklyke and als freely as any other Ecclesiastical Prelat had at any tyme bygane. And als declares, That all and whatsomever Bishopricks presently vaiking in his Hienes, which as yet are undisponed to any person, or which sall happin at any tyme hereafter to vaike, sall be only disponed be his Majestie to actual Preachers and Ministers in the Kirk, or to such other persons as sall be found apt and qualified to use and exercise the office and function of a Minister and Preacher, and who, in their provisions to the saids Bishopricks, fall accept in and upon them to be actual Pastors and Ministers, and according thereto shall practise and exerce the same thereafter.
Item, As concerning the office of the said persons to be provided to the said Bishopricks in their spiritual policie and government in the Kirk, the Estates of Parliament have remitted, and remitts the same to the Kings Majestie, to be advised, consulted and agreed upon be his Hienes with the General Assembly of the Ministers, at such tyme as his Majestie sall think expedient to treat with them thereupon, but prejudice alwise in the mean tyme of the jurisdiction and discipline of the Kirk established by Acts of Parliament, made in any tyme preceeding, and permitted be the saids Acts to all General and Provincial Assemblies, and others whatsomever Presbyteries, and Sessions of the Kirk.
After that the Commissioners of the General Assembly had obtained this Act, they appoint a General Assembly to be holden in March following, and sent their missives to the Presbytries.
The tenor of the Missive sent to the Presbytrie of Hadintoun here followeth.
Grace and peace from God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Beloved brethren, as we have found continuance of mercy in staying the desolation, which was already begun, according to many threatenings against the contempt of this land; so wee see, through the lack of due consideration and foresight in such as principaly should have the most tender care of this work, and partly through the subtile wayes of dissembling friends, good occasions are likely to be turned to our hurt, unless remeed be wisely provided in tyme: For this cause wee have thought it needfull, and be consent of his Majestie concluded, that the General Assembly, which was ordained to be in May, should hold the first Tuesday of March next at Dundie, for preventing of inconveniences, that delay of tyme might draw to further evil, and for taking of solid resolution in such things as are necessary to be delinerat upon, concerning the Kirks vote in Parliament, and some other necessary points; whereanent, for your better information, wee have thought expedient to acquaint you with the effect of our travells here at this tyme.
According as it has been the continual custome of the Kirk at Parliaments to crave such things as were sound necessary to pass in lawes for their well and priviledges; so with advice of diverse Commissioners of Presbyteries, were found it requisite to insist in such articles as have been craved be the Kirk at Parliaments in tymes bypast; and namely wee urged the article anent the Kirks vote in Parliament, and the article anent the universal provision of the whole Kirk with stipends. In both wee found great opposition be the far greatest part of the Lords: but the Kings Majestie conveyed our suits with such wisdom and dexterity in our favours, that in end, after many hard answers, his Majestie procured, that he might dispone the whole great benefices to Ministers; and that such Ministers as should be admitted thereto, should have vote, but prejudice alwayes to the present discipline and jurisdiction of the Kirk in any point; as ye will understand be the act itself, whereof we have sent you here a copy, which his Majestie thinks shall be a mean, in short tyme, to vindicate the Ministry from their present contempt and poverty; and this is already perceived be many to their grief, who fear their hurt in our credit. For this cause we have been earnestly requested by sundry of the wisest of all Estates, who most favour the good cause, that without scruple we should accept this good occasion. The which point of present acceptation was urged be the Lords so straitly, that unless we wold give our consent thereto presently, in name of the Kirk, they would not suffer the foresaid act to pass in our favours; yet his Majestie was so favourable towards us, and so carefull to save our credit, and eschew offence, that, be his moyen, all is reserved free to this Assembly for our part: Therefore we beseek you, Brethren, to have a regard hereof with such wisdom and care as is necessary in a matter of so great importance, and send in commission to the said Assembly, the most wife, grave, and of best credit and experience among you, so far as infirmity and age may suffer; that good occasion may be used at this tyme, as that the good may be taken without any hurt, so far as is possible.
Anent the Platt and provision of stipends at every Kirk, commission is given to a number of Lords and Ministers, who are to essay that work with all diligence, and to crave your farther help in the information anent the estate of the kirks: which therefore ye shall take paines to have in readiness, as ye shall be required upon the next advertisement.
The Lord direct you in all sincerity and wisdom, that ye may find a blessing upon your labours alwayes.
From Edinburgh the 22 day of December 1597.
Your Brethren and fellow labourers, the Commissioners of the General Assembly, and in their name and command Mr Robert Rollock, Moderator of the General Assembly.
In the beginning of Januar there was much business about the choising of Collegues to the four ordinary Ministers of Edinburgh. The King and Commissioners would have had Mr Peter Hewat and Mr George Robertson. Much opposition was made to them be the Ministers, specially Mr Robert Bruce, because they were too young to be placed in such roomes, and the people was lykeways altogether unwilling to accept them. The Ministers were sent for to come before the Commissioners sitting in the Nether Tolbuith, when the King was present. Mr Robert Rollock being Moderator declared, that their places were vacant according to the dimission which was made at Dundie; and therefore it was his Majesties and the Commissioners will, that they should take them every one to the charge of a particular flock within Edinburgh. Mr Robert Bruce answered, Let me know who shall be my Collegue, and then I shall give a direct answer. Mr James Balfour answered almost to the same effect. Mr William Watson and Mr Walter Balcalquall referred the choise of the men to themselves, as they would be answerable to God. The King said to Mr Robert, that he would not know the men. Then said Mr Robert, if that be your minds, fill the roumes as ye please. The Commissioners not content with his answer directed Mr William Cowper and Mr George Glaidstanes to Mr Robert to assure him, that the other two, beside Mr George and Mr Peter, should be at his nomination. Whereupon Mr Robert sent to Mr Patrick Galloway to learn whether he might have Mr Patrick Simpson to be his Collegue, and failing him, Mr John Hall; and failing him, William Aird; failing William Aird, Mr Adam Colt; but any of the four was denyed to him.
The Commissioners meeting in the East Kirk, after consultation, were content that Mr Robert continue in his general Ministrie till the General Assemblie: for the rest of the Ministers had already consented to accept a particular charge, and such as there would joyne with them.
Within few days, the King sent for Mr Robert, and willied him either to tak on a particular charge or to leave the Toun. Mr Robert shewed, how the Commissioners had given him licence to continue till the General Assembly. The King answered, He would not suffer that licence to be of any valour, and willed him to be at a point instantly. Mr Robert craved eight dayes to be advised. The King would give him but one day, which sell to be the Presbytrie day.
Upon the Presbytrie day Mr John Hall laid to the charge of the thrie other Ministers, that the two young men themselves, and the Commissioners of the General Assembly affirmed constantly, that they had given their consents already, without Mr Roberts knowledge. They said, they would goe to the King and affirme the contrair.
The brethren of the Presbytrie advised Mr Robert to accept with protestation against the forme of their entrie. Mr Robert went doun to the Kings Palace, and did so.
Then the Commissioners urged the Session of the Kirk of Edinburgh to receive the two young men. It was answered, They could not resolve till the other two Collegues were heard. The commissioners refused to carry that answer to the King. It behoved therefore the Ministers themselves to go doun to the Palace, and deliver the answer. The King said, None should preach there, if they preached not. They answered, If his Majestie would needs have it done, they could not resist his will; but certainly they would euer protest against the forme of their entrie. Protest as ye will, said the King, I will have it done.
The next Presbytrie day, at a meeting of some Ministers of the Presbytrie afternoon, it was concluded, that there should be an act made in the Books of Session, touching the Provost his oversight, that his forme of dealing prejudge not the Kirk in tyme to come; and an act of Counsel, after the same forme, registred in their Books; and that the young men crave the approbation of the Presbytrie be their bill, or otherways, that they be not suffered to enter.
The Commissioners came to the Session of the Kirk, desire the young men to be received, shewing themselves willing, if there was any deformity in their entry, to remove it be the advice of the Presbytrie. The Commissioners being removed, and the Kings earnestness and their promise considered, Mr Bruce was content, they sould be received; but not till the condition was performed, and he had seen Gods blessing upon their travells.
The young men were called in, and the Moderator declared the Presbytries mind.
Upon the Presbytrie day following, when it was looked the condition sould have been performed, the matter was agitated before noon. Mr Patrick brought with him a number of the Commissioners of the General Assembly afternoon. They carried away the matter be plurality of votes. It was concluded, that the inserting of their process in the Books of the Session and Presbytrie, sall be a sufficient reformation for that tyme. Mr Robert declared, that if they would not reforme that work otherwise, he would have no fellowship with that entry.
Mr Walter Balcalquall that same night, at the desire of the young men, caused extract the decreet of the Presbytrie, which they presented to the Session of the Kirk the next Session day, whereupon they were both received, and satt doun.
In the Synodal Assembly holden at Edinburgh in the end of Februar, there was much disputation upon the Kirks vote in Parliament. At length the sincerest sort prevailed. The Ministers of Edinburgh were ordained to continue in their places till the General Assembly. C.]
[The Synod of Fyff convenit in Sanct Andros in the same month of Februar. To it was Sir Patrik Murrey direct from the King to moyen for the mater of Bischopes. It was far and fearlie brought about with a Letter thereanent from the Kings Maiestie to the Presbyteries. Item, an vther letter from the Commissioners of the General Assembly was presented, together with the last Act of Parliament concerning the vote of Ministers provided to the office, place, title, or dignity of Bishops, Abbots, Pryors, &c., to have vote in Parliament. They shewed in their letter, whow hardlie it haid been obteined by the Kings grait peanes and authoritie at the hands of the Lords of Articles, and what great commoditie might thereby com to the Kirk. Thereafter the questioun was proponit, Gif it war expedient and profitable for the Kirk, that the Ministers sould have vot in Parliament for and in nam of the Kirk. The quhilk seiming guid be maniest vottes of the breithring to be answerit affirmativé, Mr James Melvill planlie discouerit vnto thame the mystery of it, to the grait offence of the Kings Commissionar, schawing tham, that it being annes fund profitable and expedient, that Ministers sold vot in Parliament, these Ministers behoved to be Bischopes and Prelates, or els they wald nocht be admitted to vott; and sa they sould fall to wark and big vpe Bischopes quhilk they haid bein all thair dayes dinging down. Mr Andro Melvill insisted herein in his vehement maner; wha taken vpe rudlie be Mr Thomas Buchanan, that he sould nocht haue place in the Assemblie, (meining be reasoun of the act quhilk the King and Commissionars of the General Assembly haid maid at the last visitation of the Vniuersitie, debarring the Maisters thereof, namlie of Theologie, from the Assemblies,) he answerit, My professioun was to resolue questiounes in the Kirk of God out of his Word, and to reasone, vott and moderat in Assemblies, when yours was to teatche the Grammar rewlles.
Ester the quhilk, Dauid Fergusone, the auldest Minister that tyme in Scotland, spak graulie, cleirlie, and at lainthe, whow the corruptiones of that office of Bischopes had bein espyed be the Kirk of Scotland from the begining; what pein had bein taken bathe in doctrin from pulpites, and in Assemblies, for purging and alluterlie putting away therof. And now he perceavit a purpose till erect tham of new, conveyed in sic a maner as he could compear to nathing better nor that quhilk the Grecians vsit for the overthrow of the antient citie and kingdome of Troy, busking vpe a braue hors, and be a crastie Sinon persuading tham to pluk down the walles with thair awin hands, to receaue that in for thair honour and weilfear, quhilk seruit for thair vtter wrak and distructioun: Therfor he wald, with the breithring that haid giffen guid warning, cry, Equo ne credite Teucri.
Mr Jhone Dauidsone, an of the antient fathers of the Kirk, was present at that Assemblie, and mightelie and grauelie warnit, informit and movit the breithring. Amangs the rest he said mirrelie, Busk, busk, busk him as bonilie as yie can, and fetche him in als fearlie as yie will, we sie him weill aneuche,—we sie the hornes of his Mytre. C. & Melvill's Diary.]