Acts of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland 1638-1842. Originally published by Edinburgh Printing & Publishing Co, Edinburgh, 1843.
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- The principal acts of the general assembly, holden and begun at Edinburgh, December 17, 1695.
- VII. Sess. 4, December 20, 1695, ante meridiem.—The recording of his Majesty's Commission to John Lord Carmichael, for representing his Majesty in this General Assembly, with the Commissioner's and Moderator's Speeches.
- IX. Sess. 6, December 24, 1695. post meridiem.—Act anent Trafficking Priests, and the Education of young Noblemen, Gentlemen, and others, Children of Popish Parents.
- XII. Sess. 12, December 31, 1695, post meridiem.—Act approving Overtures anent a more expedite and certaing way of planting the North with fixed Ministers.
- XIV. Sess. 16, January 3, 1696, ante meridiem.—Act anent the Supply of Ross, Sutherland, and Caithness.
- XV. Sess. 17, January 3, 1696, post meridiem.— Act Nominating and Appointing Ministers to go North, by way of Mission.
- XVI. Eadem Sessione.—Act approving the Proceedings of the Commissions of the General Assemblies, 1690 and 1694.
- XVII. Eadem Sessione.—Act approving the Proceedings of the Committee for the North, appointed by the General Assembly, 1694.
- XXI. Sess. 18, January 4, 1696, ante meridiem.—Act against the Atheistical Opinions of the Deists, and for establishing the Confession of Faith.
- XXV. Eadem Sessione.—Act continuing the Supplies of Preaching for the North, conform to the Act of the General Assembly, 1694.
- XXVI. Eadem Sessione.—Act Declaring the Appeals made to this Assembly from the Committee of the Assembly, 1694, for the North, to be fallen from and null.
The principal acts of the general assembly, holden and begun at Edinburgh, December 17, 1695. (fn. 1)
I. Sess. 1, December 17, 1695, post meridiem.—The Meeting of the General Assembly.
The which day, after sermon preached by Mr John Law, one of the ministers of Edinburgh, Moderator of the last Assembly, upon 1 Corinth. iv. 2, the General Assembly of the Ministers and Ruling Elders of this Church of Scotland did convene in the Assembly-House; where, after prayer by the said Mr John Law, a roll was taken up of the commissioners delegated by the several Presbyteries, burghs royal, and universities, for holding this Assembly.
II. Eadem Sessione.—Act continuing Mr John Law Moderator till Friday next.
The said day, the General Assembly, considering that many of their members had not yet come to this town, did therefore put it to the vote, whether to chuse a new Moderator presently, or continue Mr John Law Moderator till Friday next; and it carried, nemine contradicente, that the said Mr John Law should be continued Moderator till Friday next.
III. Eadam Sessione.—Act appointing Mr John Bannatyne to officiate as Clerk till Friday next.
The General Assembly, considering that through the decease of Mr Robert Park, advocate, their clerk's place is now become vacant; therefore, they, by an unanimous vote, made choice of Mr John Bannatyne, minister of the Gospel at Lanark, and one of their own number, to officiate as clerk until Friday next.
IV. Eadem Sessione.—Appointment of a Diet to be kept by the Assembly for Prayer.
The General Assembly appoints to-morrow, being Wednesday, betwixt nine and twelve o'clock in the forenoon, to be set apart by the members of this Assembly for public prayer to the Almighty God, for his countenancing and directing this Assembly in the matters that shall come before them, and recommends to all the said members to meet in the Assembly-House timeously for that effect.
V. Sess. 2, December 18, 1695, ante meridiem.—Appointment of another Diet for Prayer.
The General Assembly being met, this diet was spent in prayer, according to the appointment made yesterday thereanent; and, further, it was agreed to that the members of this Assembly should meet again to-morrow for public prayer; and, accordingly, it was recommended to all the members to meet in the Assembly-House to-morrow, immediately after sermon, for the effect foresaid.
VI. Sess. 3, December 19, 1695, ante meridiem.—A Diet spent in Prayer.
The General Assembly being met, this diet was spent in prayer, according to the appointment made yesterday thereanent, and adjourned till to-morrow, at ten o'clock in the forenoon.
VII. Sess. 4, December 20, 1695, ante meridiem.—The recording of his Majesty's Commission to John Lord Carmichael, for representing his Majesty in this General Assembly, with the Commissioner's and Moderator's Speeches.
This day, the General Assembly of this National Church being met, and Mr Patrick Simson chosen Moderator, and Mr John Bannatyne clerk, there was produced to them by a noble Lord, John Lord Carmichael, his Majesty's Commission under the Great Seal of the kingdom of Scotland, nominating and appointing him to be his Majesty's High Commissioner and representative in this National Assembly, which Commission was publicly read with all due honour and respect; and the General Assembly appointed, and hereby appoints, the said Commission to be registered in the records of the General Assembly, therein to remain, ad futuram rei memoriam, the tenor whereof follows:—"Gulielmus," & c
After reading of which commission, Mr Patrick Simson, moderator, did, in the Assembly's name, represent to his Grace how great a mercy it was to this Church and kingdom, that his Majesty had called and countenanced this National Assembly with his authority, and honoured it with a representative of his royal person, who, by his former prudent conduct in two former General Assemblies, hath rendered himself most acceptable to this Assembly to represent his Majesty therein.
Whereupon his Grace, his Majesty's High Commissioner, delivered himself as follows:—Right Reverend, and you the remanent members of this Assembly, you are now met in this Assembly conform to the King's appointment; and his Majesty having honoured me to be his Commissioner, I am warranted to give you all assurance of his Majesty's resolution to maintain Presbyterian government in this Church, and to evidence his fatherly care for its welfare. His Majesty expects that at this time you will chiefly make it your work to regulate matters of order and discipline amongst yourselves. It is the King's great regret that there are so many churches vacant within this kingdom, which obviously suggests that it would be your best work, as indeed it would be most acceptable to his Majesty, that you should apply yourselves principally to the restoring the Gospel to such churches; and, in doing of this, you may be very assured of his Majesty's countenance and authority. It is also evidently convenient, and likewise expected, that if good men apply to you to be assumed, you will receive their applications with all charity and moderation.
I hope the good Spirit of God shall direct you in these matters to the best advantage; only I recommend to you to mind your business closely, without heats and unnecessary contentions, and to make all the dispatch you can to bring this Assembly to an happy issue, both for the Church's good and his Majesty's satisfaction.
VIII. Sess. 5, December 23, 1695, post meridiem.—Act anent Commissions to the General Assembly.
The General Assembly hereby recommends it to the several Presbyteries of this National Church to keep an uniform method, as near as may be, in granting commissions to the members of the General Assembly, and not to insert particular instructions in their commissions; and, for the better attaining the end foresaid, the General Assembly gives the form after inserted for a directory:—
At the day of years. The which day the Presbytery of did, and hereby do, nominate and appoint Mr minister at Mr minister at and ruling elders, their commissioners to the next General Assembly of this Church, indicted to meet at the day of next to come, or when or where it shall happen to sit; willing them to repair thereto, and to attend all the dicts of the same, and there to consult, vote, and determine, in all matters that come before them, to the glory of God and the good of his Church, according to the Word of God, the Confession of Faith, and agreeable to the constitutions of this Church, as they will be answerable; and that they report their diligence therein at their return therefrom. Extracted by me.
IX. Sess. 6, December 24, 1695. post meridiem.—Act anent Trafficking Priests, and the Education of young Noblemen, Gentlemen, and others, Children of Popish Parents.
The General Assembly recommends to all Provincial Synods, Presbyteries, and Kirk-Sessions within this National Church, to take particular notice of trafficking Papists, and appoints lists to be taken up of their names and given to the Privy Council, with an address for executing the laws against them; and the General Assembly recommends to Presbyteries to advert to the education of young noblemen, gentlemen, and others, children of Popish parents, and to put the 7th act of the General Assembly, 1690, thereanent, in execution.
X. Eadem Sessione.—Act anent Quakers.
The General Assembly of this National Church, for prevention of the growth of these abominable heresies of the Quakers, do recommend to all Provincial Synods, Presbyteries, Ministers, and Kirk-Sessions, to use all proper means for reclaiming them; and in case of their obstinacy, to proceed against them with the censures of the Church, and especially against the ringleaders, that are traffickers for seducing of others.
XI. Sess. 7, December 25, 1695, post meridiem.—An Overture and Act anent Novations.
The General Assembly of this National Church, having heard an overture brought in from the Committee for Overtures, that no new acts relating to the doctrine, worship, or government of this Church, be made until they be first transmitted to the several Presbyteries of this National Church; which, being considered, the General Assembly recommends it to the members of this Assembly to discourse upon the said overture with their respective Presbyteries, that the next General Assembly may be the more ripe to determine anent the conveniency thereof; and, in the mean time, the General Assembly hereby revives the acts of the former Assemblies made thereanent, and particularly the 13th act of the Assembly 1639, and 14th act of the Assembly 1641.
XII. Sess. 12, December 31, 1695, post meridiem.—Act approving Overtures anent a more expedite and certaing way of planting the North with fixed Ministers.
The General Assembly of this National Church, having considered the overtures underwritten, which were at two several diets publicly read over in open Assembly, and examined, and any members that desired were allowed to have doubles thereof, to the effect they might be perused by them, and intimation was made to give in their objections, if they had any, to a committee appointed for that end; and, last of all, upon the day and date hereof the said overtures were again a third time publicly read in presence of the General Assembly, as also the additional overtures annexed thereto, the tenor of both which follows:—
"1. That, for the more expedite planting of ministers on the North side of the Water of Tay, the Assembly nominate a commission of some of the most experienced ministers and elders to meet at Edinburgh, and there to sit monthly, from time to time, until there shall be settled on the said North side of Tay twenty-two ministers of some considerable standing and experience, now belonging to the Presbyteries on the South side of the said Water.
"2. That when any of the parishioners of the said North shall call any of the following ministers, they may, without sending any commissioner to prosecute the same, send the said call approven and concurred with by the Presbytery of the bounds, to the moderator of the said commission, who, for greater expedition, shall cause double the call and attest the copy, and send the same with the reasons of the desired transportation, in a letter to the moderator of that Presbytery to whom the minister called doth belong.
"3. That the moderator of the said Presbytery, upon the receipt of the said letter, shall be obliged to transmit the said call, with the reasons thereof, to the minister called, and shall cause summon the said minister and the parish he belongs to, the next Sabbath, in the ordinary way, to appear before the said Presbytery, and answer the call and reasons; and if the ordinary time of the meeting of the said Presbytery shall fall not to be within eleven days, then the moderator shall call a Presbytery pro re nata against that time."
4. That the Presbytery at their said meeting shall, without any delay, consider and determine the process of the said call thus brought before them, and if they shall not at the same time transport the minister called to the said parish he is called unto, they be obliged to transmit the said call, reasons and answers, and the Presbytery's determination, to the said commission, against the first ensuring diet thereof; providing there intervene ten days betwixt and the said diet, and shall summon the said minister called, and his parish, to appear before the said commission, to answer finally thereunto.
5. That the said commission, at Edinburgh, do thereupon without any delay, consider and determine the said process, and that whether the said minister and his parish thus summoned do appear or not.
6. That when the said commission or Presbytery pass a sentence of transportation, it shall be obeyed by the minister transported, against the time limited in the act of transportation, under the pain of suspension, which he is to lie under until he obey, and which censure the Assembly doth require the said commission to inflict upon him who doth disobey.
7. That there be forty-four ministers of some considerable experience, fit to be transported to the North, nominated by this Assembly, in manner following, of which the one-half shall, upon calls as above, be transported by virtue of this act.
8. That there may be some suitable proportioning of the said transportations, it is overtured, that where a Presbytery on the South side of Tay is two-third parts planted with fixed ministers, and hath eight fixed ministers therein, that two of these eight (and proportionally where there are sixteen or twenty-four) be nominated by the Assembly, making up in all the above number of forty-four ministers.
9. That out of these Presbyteries who furnish two, one of the said two shall be transported, and but one; and so proportionally where the Presbytery furnishes more, making up of all, twenty-two to be actually transported.
10. That the foresaid number of forty-four, out of which only twenty-two are to be transported, shall be furnished by the following Presbyteries, viz., by the Presbytery of Chirnside two, one of which is to be actually transported; by the Presbytery of Earlston two, one of which is to be actually transported; by the Presbytery of Jedburgh two; by Melrose or Selkirk two; by Dunbar two; by Dalkeith none, having already given one; by Linlithgow two, one of which is to be transported; by Peebles two, one of which is to be transported; by Biggar two, one of which is to be transported; by Dumfries two, one of which is to be transported; by Lochmaben two, one of which is to be transported; by Kirkcudbright two, one of which is to be transported, having given one already; by Ayr two, one of which is to be transported, having given one already; by Irvine two, one of which is to be transported, having given one already; by Hamilton two, one of which is to be transported; by Lanark two, one of which is to be transported; by Glasgow two, one of which is to be transported, having given one already; by Paisley two, one of which is to be transported; by Dumbarton two, one of which is to be transported; by Cupar two, one of which is to be transported; by Kirkaldy two, one of which is to be transported; by Dunfermline two, one of which is to be transported; all which make up the abovenamed number, out of which the half is to be transported to the North, after the way and manner above expressed.
11. That of these forty-four out of the Presbyteries above named, the half of them be appointed to go North, by way of mission to the several provinces they shall be allotted unto, so as to be there against the first Sabbath of March next, and to stay there three months, exercising their ministry according to the appointment of the Presbyteries unto which they come; and the other half to go North, after the same manner, and to stay the same length of time, against the first Sabbath of June next, and that these of them who have not been in the North already go first.
12. That the brethren from the North do meet among themselves, and proportion these twenty-two among the several provinces of Angus and Mearns, (comprehending Rattray parish,) Aberdeen, Moray, and Caithness, and that they concert among themselves out of which of the above written Presbyteries they will have their quotas, and that they do this before the nomination of the persons to be transported.
13. That besides these forty-four, there be some ministers and expectants out of Argyleshire, nominated, who being preachers of the Highland language, are to be allotted to supply Ross, Sutherland, Caithness, and the town of Inverness.
14. It is also overtured, that such as have been appointed by the judicatories of this Church since the last General Assembly for the supply of the North, and have not obeyed their appointments, be not only censured for their disobedience, but their appointments renewed, and they ordained to go with the first supplies.
15. That the General Assembly declare, that these parishes thus to be vacated by transporation, when they shall after come to be settled with another minister, that the said minister shall be declared not transportable from that parish without their consent, and unless he have unsupportable grievances therein.
16. That the Assembly name two or three out of each Synod on the South side of Tay, to meet with the brethren of the North, to concert the names of the above forty-four ministers, and to present the same to the Assembly, to be by them nominated and appointed.
Additional Overtures for a more Expedite Planting the North.
1. It is overtured that the Presbytery of Irvine be exempted from any being nominated to be transported, but not excused from quarterly supplies.
2. That besides the brother of the Presbytery of Dalkeith who is transported already, they send one to the North in mission.
3. That the Presbytery of Dumfries, because of the particular circumstances they are in, have the Presbyteries of Penpont and Middlebie to help them, and that two fit persons be named out of these Presbyteries, and not above one out of any one Presbytery of the three.
4. That in the nomination of the commission one at least out of every Presbytery be named, who send two of the forty-four above mentioned.
5. That the suspension to be inflicted, in the case above expressed, be taken of by the Synod of the bounds, or next Assembly, if they find insuperable difficulties arising in the minister transported his obeying the sentence; and providing they immediately nominate another fit person who shall effectually supply the other's room.
6. That out of St Andrews Presbytery two be named and added to the number.
7. That all these Overtures are condescended to only for the present exigent, and that this shall be no precedent for after times, but in case there be any transportations pursued afterward, that they shall proceed in the ordinary course, and not otherwise.
All these above-written Overtures, both principal and additional, being maturely considered, the General Assembly of this National Church, by an unanimous vote, did, and hereby do, approve the same, and recommends and appoints according thereto in all points.
XIII. Eadem Sessione.—Act anent Testimonials.
The General Assembly appoints all probationers who apply to Presbyteries, to bring not only sufficient testimonials, but also a letter from a known person to the Presbytery, and that the Presbytery write to them from whom the testimonials come, (if need be,) to know the verity thereof.
XIV. Sess. 16, January 3, 1696, ante meridiem.—Act anent the Supply of Ross, Sutherland, and Caithness.
The General Assembly of this National Church, taking into their serious consider ation the many vacant churches, and great desolations that are in the bounds of Ross, Sutherland, and Caithness, do therefore appoint, that there be sent in mission to the said bounds of Sutherland, Ross, and Caithness, the ministers and probationers after mentioned, in manner and to the effect under expressed, viz., Mr Robert Duncanson, minister, from the Provincial Synod of Argyle, who is declared already transportable, and upon a call to be transported, in case the commission shall see cause, to whom that matter is hereby referred; as also, that such as have the Irish language in Lowland congregations be sent in mission, and, upon calls, transported by the commission, and that in the same way that other ministers are appointed to be transported to the North; and, farther, that Messrs Thomas and Hector Frasers, probationers, (who were formerly appointed,) go there, and Mr Hugh Duff be sent to that Presbytery to pass his trials, in order to be settled there, and such other probationers that have the Irish language as the Synod of Argyle can spare.
XV. Sess. 17, January 3, 1696, post meridiem.— Act Nominating and Appointing Ministers to go North, by way of Mission.
The General Assembly of this National Church, taking into their consideration that by their act, dated the last day of December last, they have laid down a way for a more expedite planting of the vacant churches on the North side of Tay, and for that end appointed the number of forty-four ministers to be sent North, by way of mission; and now having, according to the said act, concerted the names of those to be sent to the North, do therefore nominate and appoint the ministers from the several Presbyteries after named to repair to their respective posts in the North, in manner, at the times, and according to the proportions under-written, viz., to the province of Angus and Mearns, &c. &c. The General Assembly hereby appoints the brethren who are first named in each Presbytery to go so, as to be there the first Sabbath of March, and the last named in each Presbytery against the first Sabbath of June next; as also, the General Assembly appoints, that those of the said brethren first named, who are actually present at their respective posts in the North, stay some time longer, and that to stand for their mission, by virtue of this act.
XVI. Eadem Sessione.—Act approving the Proceedings of the Commissions of the General Assemblies, 1690 and 1694.
The General Assembly of this National Church, having heard the report of a committee of their own number, appointed to revise, consider, and examine the actings and proceedings of the Commission for Visitations on the North side of Tay, appointed by the General Assembly, 1690, beginning the 14th day of November 1690, and ending the 30th of October 1691 years, inclusive of both days; as also, the actings and proceedings of the commissioners appointed by the General Assembly, 1694, to meet at Edinburgh, beginning the 18th April 1694, and ending the 5th day of April 1695, inclusive of both days; and, after serious and mature consideration thereof, finding that the whole acts, proceedings, and conclusions, of the said commissioners, contained in the register thereof, do evidence much wisdom, diligence, vigilancy, and commendable zeal; and that the said commissioners have orderly and formally proceeded in every thing according to their commissions and instructions; therefore, this General Assembly did, and hereby do, unanimously ratify and approve the said whole acts, proceedings, and conclusions, of the said commissioners appointed by the sai General Assemblies, 1690 and 1694 years.
XVII. Eadem Sessione.—Act approving the Proceedings of the Committee for the North, appointed by the General Assembly, 1694.
The General Assembly of this National Church, having heard the report of a com mittee of their own number, appointed to revise, consider, and examine the actings and proceedings of the committee of the North, appointed by the General Assembly held at Edinburghs in the year 1694, beginning the 14th day of June, and ending the 29th day of August next thereafter; and, after serious and mature consideration thereof, finding that the whole acts, proceedings, and conclusions, of the said committee, contained in the register thereof, subscribed by Mr William Mackie, clerk thereto, do evidence much wisdom, prudence, diligence, vigilancy, and commendable zeal, and that the said committee hath orderly and formally proceeded in every thing according to their commission and instructions; therefore, this General Assembly, by an unanimous vote, did, and hereby do, ratify and approve the said whole acts, proceedings, and conclusions, of the said committee appointed for the North, contained in the said register.
XVIII. Eadem Sessione.—Act recommending to Ministers to Preach Catechetical Doctrine.
The General Assembly of this National Church, considering how necessary and edifying it is that the people be well acquainted with the fundamental principles of the Christian religion, do, therefore, recommend to the care of ministers, that besides their ordinary work of catechizing, they also preach catechetical doctrine, at such times, and in such manner, as they shall find most conducive for the edification of their flocks.
XIX. Eadem Sessione.—Act anent Recommendations for Charity.
The General Assembly appoints that no minister, kirk-sessions, or elders, give recommendations for charity to any without the bounds of their own parishes, nor Presbyteries without the bounds of their Presbyteries, nor Provincial Synods without their bounds; and that any recommendations so to be given within their respective bounds shall be for a definite time.
XX. Eadem Sessione.—Commission of the General Assembly for some Commissioners to meet at Edinburgh.
The General Assembly of this National Church, considering the many vacant churches on the North side of Tay, and having laid down a way for a more expeditious planting of ministers therein, doth, therefore, by these presents, nominate and appoint Messrs John Dysert, minister of the Gospel at Coldingham, &c. &c., to be commissioners of the General Assembly to the effect after expressed, with full power and commission to the said persons, or their quorum, which is hereby declared to be any fifteen of the said commissioners, whereof nine are always to be ministers, to meet and convene within the Assembly-House at Edinburgh, upon the first Tuesday after the dissolution of this General Assembly, at ten o'clock in the forenoon, and afterwards to meet the first Wednesday of every month, and oftener as they shall see needful, during the continuance of this commission; and the General Assembly requires all the members of this commission to attend punctually the first meeting thereof, and all the quarterly meetings thereafter, and which commissioners, at their first and quarterly meetings, are to take into their consideration the particular affairs recommended to them by the General Assembly, and the monthly and quarterly meetings to consider the transportations of the twenty-two ministers from the South to the North, with power also to the said commissioners to choose their own moderator and clerk. And suchlike, the General Assembly fully empowers and authorises the said commissioners, and their quorum foresaid, to consider, cognosce, and finally determine, as they shall see cause, in all references, appeals, and other matters, that have been or shall be particularly remitted to them for that effect, by any act or order of this Assembly; all which are holden as herein expressed. And, finally, to proceed and cognosce in every thing contained in, and conform to the overtures and instructions thereanent, approving by this General Assembly upon the last day of December last, entitled, "Act approving Overtures anent a more expeditious and certain way for Planting the North with fixed Ministers," as fully and freely as if the same were in these presents at full length inserted and set down. This commission is also to correspond with the State for appointing fasts and thanksgivings as occasion falls out, and to specify the causes thereof. Likeas, the General Assembly hereby prohibit the said commissioners to meddle in any other matter than what is herein contained; declaring also, that in and for all their actings the said commissioners shall be accountable to and censurable by the next ensuing General Assembly of this Church; and, lastly, the General Assembly hereby declares that this commission shall continue till the meeting of the next General Assembly of this National Church.
XXI. Sess. 18, January 4, 1696, ante meridiem.—Act against the Atheistical Opinions of the Deists, and for establishing the Confession of Faith.
The General Assembly of this National Church, taking into their serious consideration, that, in many places, not a few, of Atheistical principles, who go under the name of Deists, and for the time refuse the odious character of Atheist, maintain and disseminate pernicious principles tending to Scepticism and Atheism; and that there is no small ground to fear the spreading of that gangrene through this land, where (as it is credibly informed) there are not wanting active factors for Satan, and his kingdom of darkness, who make it their great business to overturn and ridicule true and pure religion, Do, therefore, seriously recommend to, and enjoin the ministers of the Gospel, where there is any apparent hazard of such a contagion, to warn and guard the Lord's people against that infernal course, and to detect the abominableness of the tenets of those men, such as the denying of all revealed religion, the grand mysteries of the Gospel, viz. The doctrine of the Trinity—the incarnation of the Messiah—his satisfaction to justice—salvation through Him—justification by His imputed righteousness to them who believe on His name—the resurrection of the dead—and, in a word, the certainty and authority of Scripture revelation; as also, their asserting that there must be a mathematical evidence for each purpose, before we can be obliged to assent to any proposition thereanent, and that natural light is sufficient to salvation. It is also hereby required that authors, who treat well of those subjects, be named to the people, in order to perusal; as likewise, that ministers deal seriously with the seduced, and such as are mostly in hazard to be perverted; but especially with seducers and imposters, that, after sufficient instruction and admonition, these be proceeded against as scandalous and heretical apostates used to be; and, in general, the Assembly doth discharge all ministers, and other members of this Church, to publish or vent, either by speaking, writing, printing, teaching, or preaching any doctrine, tenet, or opinion contrary unto, or inconsistent with, the Confession of Faith of this Church, or any article, part, or proposition therein; and appoints that all such as contravene this act, or any part thereof, be censured by the Church according to their demerit.
XXII. Eadem Sessione.—Act anent Students.
The General Assembly, taking into their consideration the danger that ariseth to the Church and to the souls of people, and the contempt that may be brought on the ministry, by licensing or ordaining young men, without sufficient proof of their piety, gravity, prudence, sobriety, orthodoxy, and learning, do, therefore, appoint, that strict inquiry be made into all these qualifications of such as are offered to Presbyteries, in order to passing their trials, and that such be rejected who have not sufficient testi monials from universities of their good behaviour and proficiency; (and that the usual school-degrees be inquired after, though not made a necessary qualification,) or, at least, should not be found to have retrieved their lost time at schools by after diligence; as also, that such as are esteemed to be vain, or imprudent, or proud, or worldly-minded, by the generality of sober intelligent persons, who converse with them, shall be kept back from that sacred work.
In order to the education of young men for the ministry, it is recommended to Professors in Divinity, that they require of such students as they employ in any exercises, testimonials from universities where they have studied, and places where they have lived.
The General Assembly, considering how necessary it is that they who declare the oracles of God to others should themselves understand them in the original languages, do require that none be licensed to preach, or ordained to the ministry, unless they give good proof of their understanding the Greek and Hebrew; and the General Assembly recommendeth to all candidates for the ministry to study also the other oriental languages, especially the Chaldaic and Syriac, so far as they can.
It is also recommended that they be tried not only in the great controversies of religion, but also in the controversies concerning the government and discipline of the Church.
XXIII. Eadem Sessione.—Act anent Irregularities.
The General Assembly do seriously recommend it to all Synods and Presbyteries, that they advert to the many irregularities committed by vagrant unfixed ministers, many of whom are lying under ecclesiastical censures, to the great scandal and hinderance of the Gospel, and tending to the rending of churches and congregations; and prudently to proceed to take such course anent them as the circumstances of the case and time requires; and appoints Presbyteries, where any great difficulty occurs, in case of this nature, to consult their Synods, or the commission appointed by this Assembly thereanent, before they proceed to any further censure.
XXIV. The General Assembly's Letter to his Majesty.
May it please your Majesty,
As we do adore the infinite goodness and mercy of God towards Britain and Ireland, in setting your Majesty King over us, and in working by you so great deliverance for us; so we do from our hearts bless God, for mercifully preserving your sacred person, in midst of so many dangers as you have been exposed to by sea and land, and in granting such success to your arms the last campaign.
We do also, with humble gratitude, acknowledge your Majesty's many royal favours to this Church, and that not only under the shadow of your protection, and with the countenance of your Majesty's authority and laws, we may peaceably meet together in a National Assembly; but that your Majesty hath honoured us, to send as your commissioner to represent your Majesty's royal person among us, the Lord Carmichael, a person of known and approved integrity and loyalty to your Majesty, and who hath been formerly, and still, is most acceptable to us all.
We do humbly beg and confidently hope, your Majesty, as appointed of God to be the nursing father of his Church, will continue your royal favour and protection to us, and command the vigorous execution of your good laws, against all ungodliness and unrighteousness, that our land may be thoroughly reformed from vice, and purged of whatsoever doth offend.
We do sincerely profess, that next to our duty to God and our Lord Jesus Christ, it is our desire to approve ourselves dutiful subjects to your Majesty, and it shall be our endeavour, by doctrine and example, in our several capacities to promote your Majesty's honour and service in the Lord among the people.
That Almighty God may bless and long preserve your royal person, direct and
prosper your councils and government, grant you always dutiful and loyal subjects,
faithful and victorious armies and navies, give you the hearts of your subjects and
necks of your enemies, that religion and righteousness may flourish in your days, that
you may be a repairer of the breaches and builder of the house of God, and the restorer of the peace and liberty of Europe, is, and shall be, the incessant prayer of,
May it please your Majesty, your Majesty's most faithful, most obedient, and most humble subjects, the Ministers and Elders met in this National Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
Signed in our presence, in our name, and at our appointment, by
Patrick Simson, Moderator.
XXV. Eadem Sessione.—Act continuing the Supplies of Preaching for the North, conform to the Act of the General Assembly, 1694.
The General Assembly, considering that the vacancies on the North side of the river of Tay have increased greatly since the sitting of the last General Assembly; as also, the paucity of ministers in these parts, and having before them several petitions from noblemen, gentlemen, burgesses, and others, living in these parts, craving that the Assembly would increase the supply of these bounds, and promising that they should give all due encouragement to such as the Lord, by this Assembly, shall be pleased to direct to them; therefore, the General Assembly have ordained, and hereby ordains, the ordinary supplies for the North to continue till the next General Assembly, conform to the 14th Act of the last General Assembly, entitled, "Act appointing some Ministers for the Supply of the North;" and recommends to Presbyteries and Synods, that the same be made effectual, these named, and formerly appointed to be sent from the several Presbyteries, by way of mission, being always sustained as a part of the said supply; and, lastly, the General Assembly exempts the province of Perth, in their present circumstances, from all supplies to the North.
XXVI. Eadem Sessione.—Act Declaring the Appeals made to this Assembly from the Committee of the Assembly, 1694, for the North, to be fallen from and null.
The General Assembly, considering that they had, upon the second day of January instant, caused call these persons who had appealed from, protested against, and declined the committee appointed for the North by the last General Assembly, to have compeared before the last day of this Assembly, to prosecute their said appeals and protestations, and answer for their declinatures, with certification if they compeared not, to prosecute the same before that time, their said appeals and protestations should be declared to be fallen from, void and null. And now finding that the said persons have not compeared before this Assembly for the effect foresaid: Therefore, the General Assembly do hereby declare all the said appeals to be deserted, fallen from, void, and null, to all intents and purposes, because they have not been insisted in before this Assembly.
XXVII. Eadem Sessione.—Act and Sentence of Suspension against Mr John Hepburn.
The General Assembly of this National Church, taking into their serious consideration the references made, to them concerning Mr John Hepburn, minister, and having often caused call the said Mr John to have compeared before this Assembly, conform to the citation given him thereanent, to answer to these things wherewith he is charged, but he not compearing, the General Assembly, upon the 25th day of December last, appointed a committee of their own number to consider the whole process led against him, and make report; which committee did, upon the 3d day of January instant, bring in some overtures thereanent, and the said report, together with an extract of the process and depositions of witnesses led against him; as also his own confession being considered, the General Assembly found that several articles were sufficiently proven against him, and therefore were of the judgement, that though the said Mr John Hepburn deserved the highest censure of the Church, yet to manifest all tenderness and willingness to reclaim him, they did appoint that in case Mr John Hepburn would oblige himself under his hand, to walk orderly in all time coming, and embrace a call when offered to him, and oblige himself to attend the charge he should be fixed to, and submit himself to the respective judicatories of this Church, and forbear after this to preach or exercise any other part of his ministry without the consent of the said judicatories, in that case the Assembly declared they should let all processes led against him fall; but in case he either appeared not before this Assembly, or should not oblige himself as aforesaid, then the General Assembly appointed him to be suspended from the office of the ministry, with certification that he should be deposed by the Synod of Dumfries, if he should be found to contravene the said act of suspension, with which sentence the said Synod shall acquaint all other Presbyteries within this National Church. Likeas, in case the said Mr John shall be deposed, the General Assembly did appoint that the whole process led against him shall be printed, that all men may see the moderation and justice of the several judicatories that had occasion to process him; and in case that the Assembly should suspend him, and he submit thereunto, that it should be free for the said Synod or Presbytery of Dumfries to take off the said sentence upon his application and desire of the same, and embracing the terms above specified; and, upon the day and date hereof, the said Mr John Hepburn being again thrice publicly called at the most patent door of the church where the Assembly was sitting, and not compearing, the General Assembly, being well and ripely advised with the whole premises, did, and hereby do, actually suspend the said Mr John Hepburn from the exercise of his ministry, and appoints these presents to be intimated by the minister who is to preach in the New Church of Edinburgh the next Lord's Day; as also, that the sentence be afterwards intimated in all the parish churches within the Provincial Synods of Glasgow, Ayr, and Dumfries.
The next General Assembly of this National Church is to be held at Edinburgh upon the 2d day of January 1697 years.
The General Assembly being closed, the members were dismissed with prayer, singing of the 85th Psalm, from the 6th verse to the end, and pronouncing of the blessing.
Collected and extracted from the records of the General Assembly, by me,
J. Bannatyne, Cls. Syn. National.