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, February 2,1700.
I Sess. 1, February 2, 1700.—The Recording of his Majesty's Commission to the Viscount of Seafield, for representing his Majesty in this Assembly.
This day, the General Assembly of the Ministers and Elders of this National Church being convened, there was produced to them by a noble Lord, James Viscount of Seafield, principal Secretary of State for this kingdom, his Majesty's Commission under the Great Seal of this kingdom, nominating and appointing him to be his Majesty's High Commissioner and representative in this National Assembly, which was publicly read in their audience, with all due honour and respect; and appointed to be recorded in the registers of this Assembly, therein to remain, ad futuram rei memoriam, the tenor whereof follows:—"Gulielmus," &c.
II. Eadem Sessione.—His Majesty's gracious Letter to the General Assembly.
The which day, his Majesty's High Commissioner presented his Majesty's most gracious Letter directed to this General Assembly, which was publicly read in their hearing, with all due honour and respect, and appointed to be recorded in their registers, the tenor whereof follows:—"William," &c.
III. Sess. 4, February 7, 1700, ante meridiem.—The General Assembly's Answer to his Majesty's gracious Letter.
May it please your Majesty, &c.
IV. Sess. 11, February 13, 1700, ante meridiem.— Act Disjoining the Presbytery of Strathbogie from the Synod of Aberdeen, and Annexing the same to Moray.
The General Assembly agreed that the Presbytery of Strathbogie be disjoined from the united Presbyteries of Turriff, Alford, and Fordyce, and again annexed to the province of Moray as formerly; in respect the cause of its former disjunction from Moray is now removed.
V. Sess. 12, February 14, 1700, post meridiem.— Act anent a Solemn National Fast and Humiliation.
The General Assembly of this National Church, taking into their serious consideration the many dreadful tokens of the Lord's anger, evidenced particularly in the continued pinching dearth, (notwithstanding of a favourable harvest, and relief thereby in some measure,) whereby the number of the poor and their necessities have been and are greatly increased;— the great and unusual sickness and mortality which hath gone over all the land, and doth yet in part continue;—the rebukes from God on the nation, in disappointing several undertakings to advance the trade and wealth thereof, and particularly in several cross providences that the African and Indian Company's Colony in America hath met with, notwithstanding of the many servent prayers made in their behalf;—and by a stupendous burning, within these few days, of so considerable a part of Edinburgh, the capital city of the kingdom;—and, lastly, under all these, by the woful heart-plagues of impenitency and security: And considering that all the judgments we groan under are the sad effects and bitter fruits of our heinous sins against God, such as the fearful backslidings and persecutions of the late times, mentioned in our former causes of humiliation, and not yet sufficiently mourned for, our continued unfaithfulness to God, notwithstanding of our Solemn Covenants and Engagements, and many professed resolutions to the contrary; the Athesistical and execrable principles, subversive of all religion, so much vented and spread amongst us—the gross immoralities of uncleanness of all sorts, drunkenes, swearing, Sabbath-breaking, and unrighteous dealing among men, and that amongst persons of all ranks and qualities, and these abounding and continued, in notwithstanding of many endeavours used to reclaim and reform transgressors— the excessive prodigality and profuseness of some, when others are afflicted with so much want and poverty—the great slighting of Christ, offered in the Gospel, and not receiving of him in our hearts, and walking worthy of him in our lives and conversation— the great contempt and despising of church discipline—the froward opposition in many places to the planting of churches and the progress of the Gospel—our ungratefull forgetfulness of the merciful and signal deliverances that God hath wrought for us, and our repining at God's afflicting providences, instead of submitting to his mighty hand lifted up against us: And the Assembly, likewise considering the deplorable state of the reformed Churches in France, Piedmont, the Palatinate, and other places, where our brethren, and the reformation among them, are either brought to desolation and ruin, or are in extreme danger, by cruel and long continued artichristian persecution; which, instead of abating upon the late peace of Europe, the great benefit of which we enjoy, hath, on the countrary, greatly increased: Therefore, the General Assembly, under the serious and deep sense of the above mentioned sins and judgments, hath thought fit to set apart a day for solemn fasting and humiliation, and the exercise of repentance and unfeigned purposes of amendment, which they appoint to be kept, upon the day of March next to come, being the Thursday of the said month, over this whole Church and kingdom; beseeching and obtesting all the Lord's people, sincerely and seriously to prepare themselves thereto, as in the sight of the holy and jealous God, lest either carelessness, formality, or sinistrous ends, turn our performances into sin, and, by adding to the provocation, draw upon us yet more dreadful strokes; and that they make more particular confession of the fore-mentioned sins and all others, with a deep sorrowing for and hearty detestation of the same; as also, with humble submission to, and acceptance of, the punishment of our iniquities in the judgments above mentioned, or any others that may be peculiar to congregations or particular persons: And that every one, in the most sincere and unfeigned manner, resolve and vow amendment, both of themselves and others, as may be incumbent upon them, whether as magistrates or ministers, or otherwise, in their respective stations: And that all and every one do, in like manner, resolve and vow the bringing forth fruits meet for repentance in their after lives, carriages, and administrations;— that servent application be made and continued in to the throne of grace, through our Lord Jesus Christ, for the pardon of sin to each particular person, and to the whole land;—that earnest prayers and supplications be made that the Lord would graciously return to us in Gospel ordinances, and by the breathings of his Spirit render them more savingly successful;—that our rulers and ministers, and all others, may be directed and animated to more effectual and vigorous endeavours for discouraging, suppressing, and punishing, all ungodliness, and for reforming both themselves and the land without exception;—that our King may be long continued a happy instrument for God's glory, and for the benefit and comfort of this nation;—that he may be blessed and preserved in his person and government, and all wicked designs and contrivances against either may be discovered, prevented, and confounded;—that all dissension, jealousy, and discord, may cease, and we all become one in the Lord;—that bowels of compassion may be drawn forth for relief of the poor and needy, and proper means effectually used for recovering them from idleness and want, and reducing them to labour and order;—that the spring and seed-time may be blessed;—that God would countenance and bless, and bring to a happy issue, all just and lawful designs and endeavours for advancing the trade of the nation; and be graciously pleased to preserve, protect, and prosper, those who are lately gone from us upon the great national concern of a plantation abroad, and that the same may, through the Divine blessing and favour, prove a happy and successful mean for propagating the Gospel, and converting the heathen in those parts;—and that the ministers sent from this Church may be supported and strengthened for their work, and ever encouraged in the Lord against all difficulties, and we refreshed with a comfortable account of them, and all with them;—that our brethren in captivity anywhere may be comforted and relived; that losses both at home and aborad may be sanctified, and also made up unto those who most immediately suffer by them. And,lastly, that our Protestant brethren of the neighbouring churches under persecution, may be supported and refined in the furnace, preserved faithful in adhering to the truth, and in the Lord's good time delivered.
Some members of the Assembly being appointed to apply to the Lords of his Majesty's Privy Council for their Lordships' civil sanction to the Fast, and for naming the day, did, upon the 16th day of February 1700, report, that their Lordships had granted their civil sanction, and named the 28th day of March next, being the last Thursday of that month, for the said Fast, and ordered a Proclamation to be emitted thereanent.
VI. Sess. 13, February 15, 1700, ante meridiem.—Letter from the General Assembly to Mr Alexander Shields, Mr Francis Boreland, Mr Archibald Stobo, and Mr Alexander Dalgleish.
Reverend and dearly beloved Brethren,
We, the ministers and elders met in this National Assembly of the Church of Scotland, are much refreshed with the account given us, by the Commission of the preceding Assembly, of your ready submission and willingness to undertake the hazardous but honourable service upon which they sent you, and with what we have heard since our meeting, by letters of November 9, from one of yourselves to some of our number, of your being got safe forward in your voyage the length of Mounstserat; that, through the mercy of God, you were then still alive and most of you in health, though dangerous sickness had afflicted you and many of your company by the way, and carried some off by death.
At your setting out, you could not but reckon upon losses and difficulties, but we heartily bless our God with you, that they have not been sorer and greater. We would not omit this occasion, offering at the very time of our sitting, to assure you, our dear brethren, that you are much upon our hearts, and the hearts of all the godly in this Church, who cease not to pour out fervent prayers at the throne of grace in your behalf, and in the behalf of the great Gospel work in which you are engaged.
We have with sorrow heard of the distresses that came upon our countrymen who went before you, and therein cannot but be sensible of the displeasure of the rightous Lord, justly gone forth against them and us, for our and their inquities, as loudly calling us all to humiliation and reformation, to dependence on and trust in the Lord.
We doubt not but you are endeavouring to improve so bitter and astonishing dispensations to the same blessed ends, both upon your own spirts and those of your people, and so as not to faint under the chastisements and rebukes of Providence, but to encourage yourselves in the Lord your God, who, though he smite for sin, yet will return in mercy to a penitent reforming people. He will, according to his promise, make the ends of the earth to see his salvation, and we hope will yet honour you and this Church, from which you sent to carry his name among the heathen. We are likewise exceedingly grieved to consider that there was so much profanity and irreligion observable in the company that you went with, which we fear doth in great measure continue, and is a heavy burden and grief of heart to you; yet it is comfortable to hear that there are serious and godly persons among you, whom we desire, together with you, to encourage in the Lord, and that you may persevere in your joint endeavours for reclaiming the rest; in order to which, we hope these here shall not be wanting, by taking all suitable care for the future, both with respect to those who may hereafter be sent to you, and by sending requisite instructions from hence for strengthening your hands.
We have appointed a day of solemn national humiliation and prayer to be set apart in this your mother church, for several weighty causes, and, among the rest, upon your account, and have ordered that continual mention be made of you in public prayers; and we hope that, through the mercies of our gracious God, you being safely arrived in Caledonia or to any happy settlement, where God, in his providence, shall direct, you have not omitted the instructions given you by the late Commission, of keeping a day, together with all the people there, for solemn prayer and fasting, bewailing former sins, renewing baptismal engagements, and, with the greatest seriousness, dedicating yourselves and the land unto the Lord: And that you do not neglect to pray daily for the Church of Scotland by name, and to pray for and stir up the people under your charge to be dutiful and loyal to our and their Sovereign Lord, King William.
We know the Commission hath given you such farther instructions as may be of use in the various exigencies of your work, and expect you will be careful, by every occasion, to transmit an account of your whole state to the Commission, we resolve to leave for your and other affairs, who, we doubt not, will acquaint you from time to time, as occasion may offer, of what may be further condescended on for your encouragement.
And now, dear brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might; to whose rich grace and tender mercies we commend you, and his honourable work in your hands, earnestly praying that you may be preserved, directed, and supported by Him, and not terrified through any amazement, but established in your duty, and your labours crowned with success.
Signed in the name, and at the appointment, of the National Assembly of
the Church of Scotland, by
D. Blair, Moderator,
Jo. Bannatyne, Clerk.
Directed—To the Rev. Mr Alexander Shields, Mr Francis Boreland, Mr Archibald Stobo, and Mr Alexander Dalgleish, the Ministers sent by the Commission of the former Assembly to the African and Indian Company's Colony in Caledonia, in America, or wherever they are.
Recommended to the care of the Directors of the said Company.
VII. Sess. 14, February 15, 1700, post meridiem.—Act of the General Assembly, and Reference to the Commission thereof, in favour of the Presbyteries of Caithness, Orkney, and Zetland.
The General Assembly, considering that the brethren of the Presbyteries of Caithness, Orkney, and Zetland, are but few in number, and that they cannot conveniently meet in a Synod for mutual advice and assistance, do, therefore, continue the advices and instructions given to the said Presbyteries at their erection, and refers to the Commission of the General Assembly at Edinburgh, to add to or alter the same, as they shall find causes; and empowers the said Commission to give advice and assistance to the said Presbyteries, or any of them, as they shall be applied unto or find needful; and to determine in all references, appeals, or petitions, made or to be made to them by the said Presbyteries, or any minister or parish within the bounds of the said three Presbyteries: And, particularly, to be assisting in purging and planting kirks, and in application to the civil magistrate for reparing and building kirks and manses, and settling of schools in these bounds; and likewise, to send probationers to the said Presbyteries, and give them the allowance appointed by the last Assembly and Commission thereof, upon application for that effect; and, in general, to do all things needful, with respect to the said Presbyteries, that other commissions might have done, or that was committed to them by former Assemblies.
VIII. Eadem Sessione.—Approbation of the Actings and Proceedings of the Commission appointed by the General Assembly, 1699.
The General Assembly, having this day had reproduced in their presence the register of the actings and proceedings of the Commissioners appointed by the late Assembly, and having heard the report of a committee of this Assembly's own number, that were not members of the said Commission, but appointed to revise, examine, and consider the said register, with their observations thereupon, all the members of the said Commission were desired to remove, and Mr John Lawrie was chosen Moderator, and Mr Thomas Russell, Clerk, pro tempore, the Moderator and Clerk of this Assembly having been members of the said Commission, and therefore removed; and the General Assembly having seriously considered the said report, and answers made by the Moderator of the Commission, and other members thereof, to the said observations, and finding thereby that the whole actings, proceedings, and conclusions, of the said Commissioners, contained in the registers subscribed by Mr John Bannatyne, Clerk thereto, beginning the sixth day of February last, and ending the thirty-first of January last, do evidence much wisdom, prudence, diligence, and faithfulness, and that the said Commissions, have proceeded orderly and formally in the things that came before them, according to their commission and instructions; therefore, this General Assembly, by their vote did, and hereby do, ratify and approve the said actings, proccedings, and conclusions, of the said Commissioners, contained in the register thereof; and the members of the Commission being called in, the same was intimated to them, and the Moderator gave them the thanks of this Assembly for their good service; and then the Moderator and Clerk of this Assembly did again take their places.
IX. Sess. 15, February 16, 1700, ante meridiem.—Act anent Revising of the Registers of Church Judicatories.
The General Assembly, taking into their consideration the overture transmitted by the late General Assembly to Presbyteries, concerning the revising of the registers of Church judicatories, and having heard the same several times read in their own presence; as also having heard the report of the Committee for Overtures concerning the opinion of Presbyteries thereanent; and the General Assembly considering the great import to this Church that all its registers be exact and well kept, do require all Provincial Synods and Presbyteries to be careful in revising of the registers of the judicatories under their immediate inspection; and that they appoint a competent number of the most fit and experienced ministers for that work; and when they find nothing to challenge in any register, they give the same the attestation following, viz.:—
"The Provincial Synod of having heard the report of those appointed to revise the Presbytery book of , and having heard their remarks therupon, and the said Presbytery's answers thereto; and it having been inquired by the Moderator if any other had any complaints to make against the actings of the said Presbytery, and nothing appearing censurable, ordered the Clerk to attest this in their Presbytery book."
And so for the registers of Provincial Synods and Kirk-Sessions, mutatis mutandis; but if there be anything truly censurable in the said book, and in itself material, with respect to discipline, that it be recorded as censured, both in the Synod book and attestation.
X. Eadem Sessione.—Act anent Schoolmasters, Chaplains, Governors, and Pedagogues.
The General Assembly took into their consideration the overture transmitted to Presbyteries by the late General Assembly, concerning schoolmasters, chaplains, governors, and pedagogues, and having heard the same read over in their own presence, as also the report of the Committee for Overtures thereanent, and concerning the opinion of Presbyteries thereupon, the General Assembly did, and hereby do, appoint all Presbyteries to take special, particular, and exact notice, of all schoolmasters, chaplains, governors, and pedagogues, of youth within their respective bounds, and oblige them to subscribe the Confession of Faith of this Church as the confession of their faith; and in case of continued negligence, (after admonition,) error, or immoralities, or of their teaching erroneous principles, or not being careful to educate those under their charge in the Protestant Reformed religion; the Presbytery, with respect to schoolmasters, is to apply to the civil magistrate in burghs, and heritors in landward; and with respect to governors, chaplains, and pedagogues, to masters, for removing such persons from these offices; and if this be not remedied by them, that the Presbytery, with respect to schoolmasters, apply to the Commission of Parliament for Visitation of Schools and Colleges. And it is hereby appointed that an account be given in every half year to the Presbytery by ministers, what schoolmasters, chaplains, governors, pedagogues, are in their respective parishes; and the General Assembly recommends to Masters of Colleges to take care and use their authority for the same ends, that the delinquents may be proceeded against by their respective Presbyteries, and censured upon clear evidence of their guilt.
XI. Sess. 16, February 17, 1700, ante meridiem.—Act anent subscribing the Confession of Faith.
The General Assembly appoints, that all ministers and ruling elders belonging to this National Church subscribe the Confession of Faith as the confession of their faith, according to the Act of Assembly, 1690, and the Formula agreed upon in the Assembly held in the year 1694, Act 11, paragraph 6; and that this be done betwixt and the next General Assembly.
XII. Eadem Sessione.—Commission to some Ministers and Elders to visit the Bounds of the Provinces of Angus and Mearns, Aberdeen, Moray, and Ross.
The General Assembly of this National Church, taking into consideration how requisite it is that some ministers and elders be appointed for visitation of kirks on the North side of Tay, and discussing such affairs as this Assembly shall think fit to refer thereto; doth, therefore, by these presents, nominate, commission, and appoint, Mr Patrick Cumming, minister at Ormiston, Mr John Stirling at Greenock, Mr Hugh white at Larbert, Mr James Haddow, Professor of Divinity at St Andrews, Mr James Ramsay at Eyemouth, Mr Samuel Charters at Inverkeithing, Mr Joseph Drew at New Monkland, and Mr Andrew Brown at Spott, Ministers; Walter Stewart of Pardovan, and James Pringle of Buckholm, Ruling Elders; to be a commission of this Assembly for the effect foresaid, and appoints them to have their first meeting in the church of Dundee, upon the second Wednesday of June next, at two of the clock in the afternoon, and then to proceed through the provinces of Augues and Mearns, Aberdeen, Moray, and Ross. And it is hereby declared, that the ministers and ruling elders of the bounds are to be members of the said Commission within their respective Presbyteries, unless any of them be found parties, with power to the said Commission to choose their own moderator and clerk; and the said Commission are hereby empowered to visit Presbyteries and parishes, purge and plant churches, redress grievances, and call to an account and try persons disseminating erroneous principles and heretical doctrines; and, generally, to do all things conform to the instructions given to the Commission sent North in the year 1694, and the Committee sent to Ross, Sutherland, Caithness, and Orkney, in the year 1698. And the said Commission are hereby appointed to make inquiry what growth Popery makes in these bounds; and in case they find trafficking Papists or Priests, and Jesuits, in any of these bounds, that they apply to the magistrates of the place for execution of the laws against them. And the General Assembly exhorts and requires the said Commission to act deliberately in all their procedure, and for that end to stay a competent time in each province they come to, as the exigency of the bounds requires; and the Presbyteries of the several bounds are desired and required to prepare any business they have to be cognosed by the said Commission; and for that end to cite parties, in the name of the said Commission, to appear before the same, thereby to gain time. And in case the Commission find it convenient, that any of the brethren of the Presbyteries, in whose bounds they shall be for the time, concur with them to visit the bounds of the next Presbytery, that then, upon the Commission's desiring the same, the said Presbytery, in whose bounds they are, are hereby required to nominate some of their number to join with the said Commission in visiting the neighbouring Presbytery, and that they discuss all references and appeals that shall be remitted to them by this Assembly; and the said Commission are prohibited to meddle in any thing but what is hereby committed to them. And, lastly, they are to be accountable to and censurable by the next ensuring General Assembly for all their actings.
XIII. Eadem Sessione.—Commission by the General Assembly to some Ministers and a Ruling Elder to visit Zetland, Orkney, and Caithness.
The General Assembly of this National Church of Scotland, taking into their consideration a reference made to them by the Commission of the late General Assembly, anent sending a committee to visit Zetland, and having heard some letters from the brethren of the Presbytery there, earnestly desiring the same; and being convinced of the great need there is of sending some ministers to these bounds, did, and do hereby nominate, commission, and appoint Mr James Hart, minister at Ratho, Mr John Brand at Borrowstounness, Mr John Sandilands at Dolphington, Mr Alexander Lauder at Mordington, Mr James Graham at Holm, in Orkney, Mr Patrick Guthrie at Sanday there, Mr William Blaw at Westray there, Ministers; and Samuel Maclellan Stewart, Principal of Orkney and Zetland, Ruling Elder; to be a Commission for visiting the said Presbytery of Zetland, churches within the bounds thereof, and for assisting the brethern of the said Presbytery in their presbyterial work; and appoints the brethren of the said Commission above named that live be-South Tay to meet at Edinburgh, upon the first day of April next, and be in readiness to take their voyage, and with the first fair wind thereafter to go to Zetland, and as soon as they can to meet with the brethren of the Presbytery thereof, (who are hereby declared to be members of the said Commission,) with power to them to choose their own moderator and clerk; and they are hereby empowered to do, and required to observe, what is committed to them by the particular instructions to be given them by this Assembly, or Commission thereof, appointed to meet at Edinburgh; and to proceed, in all things that come before them, according to the constitutions of this Church, and Acts of the General Assemblies thereof; and in case they shall find convenient, either to go by Caithness and Orkney, or return that way, they are hereby empowered to do all things in these Provinces for the good of the Church, that they have by their an account of their diligence in the said affairs to the next ensuring General Assembly, to whom they are to be accountable for all their actings.
XIV. Eadem Sessione.—Act in favour of the Ministers sent North on the several Commissions.
The General Assembly declares that the brethren named to go North upon Commissions, and that shall go to the places appointed according to their Commissions, shall be exonerated from going in supplies to the North when it comes to their turn; and the Presbyteries from whom they go are hereby appointed carefully to supply the churches of the said breathren with preaching, during their absence on the said Commissions.
XV. Sess. 17, February 19, 1700, ante meridiem.—Act anent Scandalous and Contumacious Persons.
The General Assembly took into their consideration the overture transmitted to Presbyteries by the late General Assembly, concerning scandalous and contumacious persons; and having heard the same read in their own presence, as also the report of the committee for overtures thereanent, and concerning the opinion of Presbyteries thereupon; the General Assembly did, by their vote, and hereby do, allow Presbyteries, if they find cause, to send in to the General Assembly, or Commission thereof, the names of scandalous persons, of whatever quality, gulity of gross immoralities, and contumacious to church discipline, with a full extract of the process, that they may proceed against them as they see cause.
XVI. Eadem Sessione.—Act anent the Method of making Overtures and Acts of the General Assembly.
The General Assembly took into their consideration the overtures transmitted to Presbyteries by the late Assembly, concerning the method of passing overtures and Acts of Assembly; and having heard the said overtures read in their own presence, as also the report of the committee for overtures thereanent, and concerning the opinion of Presbyteries thereupon; the General Assembly did, by their vote, and hereby do, enact and appoint, that when any thing of public concern and great weight is proposed to the General Assembly, to be passed as overtures or acts, for a standing rule to the Church, after the first reading, it be delayed till the next day of the Assembly's sitting, and lie on the table, to be seen and considered by all the members; and likewise, when any thing is passed as overtures by the General Assembly, it is ordained that all and every Presbytery read them publicly in their Presbyterial meeting once before the first meeting of the Synod next after the General Assembly, and consider of them; and that this be recorded in their Presbytery Book, and inquired into by their Synods in visiting Presbytery Books; as also, it is hereby recommended to all Presbyteries to send in an account of their judgment and opinion thereanent, with their Commissioners, to the General Assembly, in writing, but as briefly as may be, and the overtures to be printed after the Acts; and, lastly, it is hereby enacted and appointed, that each minister and kirk-session have a copy of all the printed Acts of the General Assembly, and that inquiry be made into this at Presbyterial and Synodical censures, and their diligence recorded.
XVII. Eadem Sessione.—Act Discharging the Printing of any part of Ecclesiastical Processes without Allowance.
The General Assembly took into their consideration the overture transmitted to Presbyteries by the late Assembly, against the printing of any paper to be presented to church judicatories without allowance; and having heard the said overtures in their own presence, as also the report of the committee for overtures therenent, and concerning the opinion of Presbyteries thereupon, the General Assembly did, by their vote, and hereby do, prohibit and discharge any person or persons to presume to print any petition, address, appeal, reasons, or answers, or any part of any process, to be brought in to the General Assembly, or any other church judicatory, without leave given by the respective judicatories before whom the same is in dependence; with certification that no respect shall be had thereto, in case they contravene this by reading or considering the same.
XVIII. Eadem Sessione.—Act Regulating the Reception of such as come off from Popery.
The General Assembly took into their consideration the overture transmitted to Presbyteries by the late Assembly concerning Papiats, and having heard the same read in their own presence, as also the report of the committee for overtures thereanent, and concerning the opinion of Presbyteries thereupon: The General Assembly did judge, that a private acknowledgement of a Papist renouncing that religion verbally, is not sufficient to admit them to church privileges; and, therefore, appoints that the reception of any that comes off from Popery to the communion of this Church be the deed of a church judicatory, and that they subscribe the Confession of Faith as the confession of their faith.
XIX. Sess. 18, February 19, 1700, post meridiem.—Commission by the General Assembly to some Ministers and Elders, to meet at Edinburgh, for Planting Vacant Kirks in the North, and other Affairs referred to them.
The General Assembly, considering that there are yet several vacant churches on the North side of Tay, as likewise that there are several weighty affairs which this Assembly cannot overtake, do, therefore, find it needful that there be a commission granted to some ministers and elders for planting these vacant churches, and doing what other affairs shall be referred to them; and for that end, do hereby nominate, commission, and appoint, Mr Daniel Campbell and Mr Daniel Mackay for the Presbytery of Inverary, &c. &c., to be Commissioners, &c., with full power, &c., (the powers granted are the same as in the two preceding years.)
XX. Eadem Sessione.—Instructions to the Commission appointed by the General Assembly to meet at Edinburgh.
I. That this Commission, as often as they shall see cause, apply to the Government, or any magistrate, for their countenancing of and concurring with the judicatories of the Church in what the law allows, and for putting the laws in execution against profaneness, and regulating the poor by providing maintenance and labour for them; and particularly, anent settling vacant congregations, and redressing any grievances which may fall out.
II. That when any of the ministers who served under the late Prelacy, whose lives and doctrines may render them useful to this Church, do apply for reception into the Government, the General Assembly do empower and recommend to this Commission that they receive them, according to the thirteenth paragraph of the sixteenth act of the General Assembly, 1697.
III. That this Commission, in disposal of his Majesty's gifts to this Church, do particularly take care, that the encouragement granted by the last Assembly to probationers who are to go North to preach be rendered effectual; and that they cause defray the extraordinary charges that several ministers of the North have been at in carrying on the planting of the North, and other public affairs of the Church there; and for defraying the charges of those sent on commissions, and of such probationers as shall yet be sent to the North, particularly Caithness, Orkney, and Zetland.
IV. The Commission is to cognosce and finally determine in all references made to them by this Assembly, and in all references and appeals for transporting ministers to the North, which shall be orderly brought before them, according to the overtures made thereanent the last Assembly.
V. This Commission is also to correspond with the State anent fasts and thanksgivings, as occasion requires, and to specify the causes thereof.
VI. This Commission is to give advice and assistance to any Synod or Presbytery in difficult cases, as they shall be applied unto by them for that effect.
VII. That this Commission be careful to supply with good and able ministers the ships and colonies of the African and Indian Company, as they shall be applied unto by the Court of Directors of the said Company from time to time, and to send ministers to them, either by mission, ordination, or transportation; and it is referred to this Commission to facilitate, by all means possible, their provision with ministers, and to do every thing for the encouragement of those that are or afterwards shall be sent, in regard this General Assembly cannot overtake it.
VIII. This Commission is empowered to inquire how the ministers transported by this General Assembly, or shall be transported by their Commission, obey; and, in case of disobedience, that they suspend the disobedient persons for three months; and in case they do not obey after the three months are elapsed, that then they be deposed simpliciter; and this particularly to be applied in the case of Mr David Pitcairn, formerly transported from Creich to Forres, if he disobey.
IX. This Commission, or their moderator, in the intervals of the Commission, are empowered to receive calls legally proceeded in, and to transmit them to the respective Presbyteries interested; and, in case of references or appeals to the said Commission, that they finally determine therein, according to the former acts of Assemblies for expediting transportations to the North.
X. This Commission is to give all due encouragement and assistance to any proposals that may be made to them anent endeavours for reformation of manners, and for the effectual curbing of profanity; and that they apply in a competent manner to the Government for that end.
XI. This Commission is to look out for some persons who may be fit to be clerk to the General Assembly, and propose them to the next Assembly.
XXI. Eadem Sessione.—Act anent the Supply of the North with Ministers and Probationers.
The General Assembly, taking into consideration, that there are yet several vacant kirks in the North, did, and hereby do, enact and appoint that nine actual ministers be sent, in manner after mentioned, for supplying thereof each four months, until the next Assembly, beginning the first day of March next; five whereof to the province of Angus and Mearns, of which three to the united Presbyteries of Dundee, Meigle, and Forfar, and two to the united Presbytery of Brechin, Aberbrothwick, and Mearns: Item, two to the province of Aberdeen, till Mr Thomas Blackwall be admitted there, and one only thereafter: Item, two to the province of Moray, to be proportioned as follows, viz., the provincial Synod of Glasgow and Ayr is to send three actual ministers, of which one to the united Presbyteries of Dundee, Meigle, and Forfar; one to the united Presbyteries of Brechin, Aberbrothwick, and Mearns; and one to Aberdeen:Item, the Provincial Synod of Fife is to send one actual minister to the province of Moray; and the Provincial Synod of Perth and Stirling is to send one actual minister to the province of Aberdeen: Item, the Provincial Synod of Merse and Teviotdale is to send one actual minister to the Presbyteries of Brechin, Aberbrothwick, and Mearns: Item, the Provincial Synod of Lothian and Tweeddale is to send three actual ministers, whereof one to the united Presbyteries of Dundee, Meigle, and Forfar, one to Aberdeen, and one to the Province of Moray; but after Mr Thomas Blackwall is settled at Aberdeen, the said Synod of Lothian is to be eased of the supply of that place.
And likewise, the General Assembly does hereby enact and appoint, that eighteen probationers be sent North, of which six are to be sent to the province of Angus and Mearns, viz., three to the united Presbyteries of Meigle, Dundee, and Forfar; three to the united Presbyteries of Brechin, Aberbrothwick, and Mearns: Item, five to the province of Aberdeen, whereof one is to have the Irish language: Item, five to the province of Moray, whereof two are to have the Irish language: Item, one to the Presbytery of Zetland; and, lastly, one having Irish to the bounds of the Presbytery of Dunkeld. And it is hereby declared, that the said probationers are to be sent on the same terms and conditions, and with the same encouragements, that the twenty probationers were sent by the last Assembly.
XXII. Eadem Sessione.—Act and Recommendation anent Mortifications and Visitations of Parishes.
The General Assembly recommends to all Presbyteries to be diligent and careful in visiting the parishes within their bounds, and take particular notice how all sums of money mortified, or otherwise belonging to the poor of the parish, have been managed, and applied from time to time; and if they shall find any dilapidations of any such sums, that those guilty thereof may be pursued according to law; and that the several Synods take account of the Presbyteries within their bounds as to their diligence therein.
XXIII. Sess. 19, February 20, 1700, ante meridiem.—Commission to some Ministers and Elders for visiting the Presbytery of Middlebie.
The General Assembly, having heard the report of the Committee for Overtures, anent the grievances represented by the commissioners from the Presbytery of Middlebie, judged, that in regard the grievances of the said Presbytery are so exceedingly great, it is expedient that a committee should be appointed to go thither against the end of July to consider these grievances, and to do what they can for remedy thereof; and that betwixt and that time the Synod of Dumfries, either by themselves or com mittee, do what they can to remedy these grievances; and that, accordingly, if they obtain any good effect, the said Presbytery is to advertise the Committee of this Assembly not to come. And the General Assembly does hereby declare, that there shall be no transportations from that Presbytery till the next General Assembly, without their own consent, upon any calls to be given; but it is always declared that this is without prejudice of any processes already commenced. And the General Assembly nominates and appoints Mr Gabriel Semple, minister at Jedburgh, Mr John Bannatyne at Lanark, Mr George Mullekine at Moffat, Mr Matthew Reid at Northberwick, Mr Alexander Orrock at Hawick, Mr Nicol Edgar at Hobkirk, Mr James Guthrie at Irongray, and Mr Robert Blair at Holywood, Ministers; the Lairds of Falnash and Whitelaw, Ruling Elders; to be members of the said committee, to meet at Langholm the last Wednesday of July next, with the members of the said Presbytery of Middlebie: And the said committee are hereby empowered to choose their own moderator and clerk, and to proceed against all persons guilty of gross immoralities, according to the Acts of the General Assembly, and order and discipline of this Church, and to endeavour to remove the grievances of the brethren of the said Presbytery; and in order thereunto to visit the said Presbytery in the usual manner, and endeavour to obtain the assistance of persons of interest and quality in these parts, to render the actings and proceedings of church judicatories the more effectual; and this committee is to be accountable to and censurable by the next General Assembly.
XXIV. Sess. 20, February 20, 1700, post meridiem.—Act for rendering effectual the Supplies of the North.
The General Assembly does hereby declare that all former acts for rendering effectual the supply of the North with ministers, not expressly rescinded, shall be in full force; and refers to the Commission to see to the execution thereof.
XXV. Overtures transmitted by the General Assembly, held in the year 1700, to the several Presbyteries within this National Church, that they may consider the same, and send their opinion thereanent to the next General Assembly, who may pass the same in Acts, if the more general opinion of this Church agree thereunto.
[These Overtures relate to "Commissioners to the General Assembly, and their subscribing the Confession of Faith," also to "Citations in Cases of Transportation of Ministers." They were passed into standing laws in 1704.]
The next General Assembly of this National Church is to be held at Edinburgh, the 19th day of February 1701.
The Assembly being closed, the members were dismissed with prayer, singing the 122d Psalm, from 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.