Acts of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland 1638-1842. Originally published by Edinburgh Printing & Publishing Co, Edinburgh, 1843.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
The principal acts of the general assembly, holden and begun at edinburgh, the 19th day of february 1701.
I. Sess. 1, February 19, 1701.—The recording of His Majesty's Commission to William Earl of Annandale, for representing his Majesty's Royal Person in this Assembly.
This day, the General Assembly of the ministers and elders of this National Church being convened and constituted, there was produced to them by a noble Lord, William Earl of Annandale, 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 the registers of this Assembly, the tenor whereof follows:—
Right Reverend and well-beloved,
We greet you well. The proofs we have had of your affection to our person and government, and of your good conduct and management in the last and former Assemblies, gives us full confidence of your meeting at this time in the same good disposition. We think it not necessary, on this occasion, to repeat the assurances we have often given you of our resolution to maintain the government of the Church, as it is now established, not doubting but you are sufficiently convinced of it; as also of our readiness to countenance and protect you in your endeavours to preserve the purity of the Christian doctrine, to promote piety, and settle good order in the Church. We have thought fit to appoint our right trusty and entirely-beloved cousin and councillor, William Earl of Annandale, to represent our royal person in this Assembly, whose abilities and fitness to discharge this trust will (we doubt not) render him acceptable unto you; him we have fully instructed in what may be further necessary, and therefore you may give him entire trust and credit. So, recommending to you calmness and unanimity in your proceedings, and the avoiding unseasonable questions and debates, which you must be sensible may be of bad consequence in this juncture, we bid you heartily farewell.
Given at our Court at Kensington, the 7th day of February 1701, and of our
reign the 12th year.
By his Majesty's Command,
To the Right Reverend and well-beloved, the Moderator, Ministers, and Elders, of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
III. Sess. 4, February 24, 1701, ante meridiem.—The General Assembly's Answer to His Majesty's gracious Letter.
May it please your Majesty,
The renewed and repeated evidences of your Majesty's tender care and concern for this Church, so fully signified in your gracious Letter, have been received and entertained by us with all satisfaction and thankful acknowledgment. And we do further acknowledge the signal proof we have lately had thereof by your Majesty's giving the royal assent, in this last session of Parliament, to the acts therein made for ratifying and further confirming our Confession of Faith, and the present established Presbyterian government of this Church, for the more effectual preventing of the growth of Popery, and for suppressing profaneness and immoralities; all which do lay a new obligation on us to endeavour the preserving of the purity of the Christian doctrine, the promoting of piety, and the settling of good order in the Church, which we acknowledge to be already our duty, according to the trust committed to us by our great Lord and Master Jesus Christ, the only Head of this Church, and in doing whereof your Majesty is pleased to assure us of your royal protection and countenance. We are resolved also, by the grace of God, and through his strength, to observe that calmness and unanimity in our proceedings, which do so much become us in the station wherein God has placed us, and which your Majesty recommends unto us; and to avoid unseasonable questions and debates, which we are all convinced and persuaded would be a matter of bad and dangerous consequence at all times, and especially in this juncture.
The Earl of Annandale, whom your Majesty has made choice of to represent your royal person, and to give countenance and protection to this Assembly, is, for his fitness and abilities, as also for the good offices he has done this Church, in the other honourable stations wherein he hath been employed under your Majesty, very acceptable.
Give us leave, great Sir, to take notice, that the last Assembly having given commission to some ministers of their number to travel to the most northern parts of this your ancient kingdom, the islands of Orkney and Zetland, for planting churches, and advancing the knowledge of God amongst that people, they have, in a good measure, executed the same; and we are sensible of the favour of your Majesty's bounty for promoting so good and necessary a work, and which we know will not be wanting to advance and render it complete.
That your Majesty's reign may be long and prosperous; that you may be guided
and directed of God, in the great and weighty affairs of your government, and that
your councils and undertakings may be still successful for preserving and defending
the Reformed religion, and the Protestant interest at home and abroad, are the earnest
and servent prayers 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
Tho. Wilkie, Moderator.
IV. Eadem Sessione.—Act anent the Overtures transmitted by the last General Assembly to Presbyteries.
(This Act appoints the said overtures to be re-transmitted.
V. Sess. 8, February 27, 1701, ante meridiem.—Approbation of the Actings and Proceedings of the Commission of the last General Assembly, appointed to meet at Edinburgh.
The General Assembly, having had this day reproduced in their presence the register of the actings and proceedings of the Commissioners appointed by the late General Assembly to meet at Edinburgh, and having heard the report and observations of a committee of this Assembly's own number (that were not members of that Commission) appointed to revise, examine, and consider the said register, all the members of the said Commission (whereof the Moderator was one) were desired to remove, and Mr James Hay being chosen Moderator pro tempore, it was desired by him, that if any persons had any thing to object against the conduct or proceedings of the said Commission, they might propose the same; and the Assembly having heard all that was represented to them thereanent, together with the answers made thereto by the Moderator and other members of the said Commission; and having seriously and maturely considered the same, and finding by the said report that the whole actings, proceedings, and conclusions, of the said Commissioners, contained in the said register, subscribed by Mr George Meldrum, Moderator, and Nicol Spence, underclerk of the said Commission, beginning the 21st day of February 1700 years, and ending the 18th of February current, do evidence much wisdom, prudence, diligence, and faithfulness, and that the said Commission 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, proceedings, 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 of this Assembly took his place.
VI. Sess. 13, March 4, 1701, ante meridiem.—Act anent the Supply of the North with Ministers and Probationers.
The General Assembly, taking into consideration that there are yet some vacant kirks in the North, did, and hereby do, enact and appoint that four actual ministers be sent, in manner after mentioned, for supplying thereof, from the first of April next till the next General Assembly; two whereof to be sent to the united Presbyteries of Dundee, Meigle, and Forfar; one to the united Presbyteries of Brechin and Aberbrothwick; and one to the province of Moray, to be proportioned as follows:—viz. the Provincial Synod of Lothian and Tweeddale to send one actual minister quarterly, to supply the province of Moray; the Provincial Synod of Glasgow and Ayr to send one actual minister quarterly, to supply the united Presbyteries of Dundee, Meigle, and Forfar; the Provincial Synod of Fife to send one actual minister quarterly, to supply the united Presbyteries of Brechin and Aberbrothwick; the Synod of Merse and Teviotdale, with the Synod of Perth and Stirling, to send one actual minister quarterly, to supply the united Presbyteries of Dundee, Meigle, and Forfar, viz.: Merse and Teviotdale for the first three quarters, and Perth and Stirling for the last quarter. And because the foresaid Synods cannot now meet to send up the first three months' supply timeously, therefore, the General Assembly do hereby appoint the said first three months' supply to be made as follows:—viz. by Mr Walter Allan, minister at Colinton, for the Synod of Lothian and Tweeddale; by Mr Francis Finlayson, minister of Kilmarnock, for the Synod of Glasgow and Ayr; by Mr Patrick Tullidelph, minister at Ferry-Port-on-Craig, for the Synod of Fife; and by Mr William Millar, minister at Chirnside, for the Synod of Merse and Teviotdale. And suchlike, the General Assembly do hereby enact and appoint that seventeen probationers be sent North; of which two to the united Presbyteries of Dundee, Meigle, and Forfar; two to the united Presbyteries of Brechin and Aberbrothwick; four to the pro vince of Moray, two of them having the Irish language, three to Ross and Suther land, all of them having the Irish, three to Caithness, one to Orkney, and two to Zetland. And it is hereby declared, that the said probationers are to be sent or the same terms, and with the same encouragement given to probationers sent by former Assemblies and their Commissions. And what further relates to the nomination, and other things requisite to this mission of probationers, the General Assembly refers the same to their subsequent commission.
VII. Sess. 13, March 4, 1701, ante meridiem.—Act disjoining the Provincial Synod of Angus and Mearns from the Synod of Aberdeen.
The General Assembly, having heard the opinion of the Commission sent by the last Assembly to the provinces of Angus, Mearns, and Aberdeen, anent the affair after mentioned; and finding that there are now a competent number of ministers legally settled in the said provinces, do therefore appoint them to meet in time coming, in two distinct Synods, in their usual places of meeting, according to the Act of the General Assembly held in the year 1638, entitled, "Act anent the Order of the Provincial Assemblies in Scotland, according to the Presbyteries therein contained;" and that the next meeting of the Synod of Aberdeen be at the time and place appointed at their last sederunt. And as to the Synod of Angus and Mearns, the General Assembly does hereby appoint their first meeting to be at Dundee, upon the third Tuesday of April next, and that the Synods after named send the following number of ministers as Correspondents to the Provincial Synod of Angus and Mearns, viz.; the Synod of Lothian and Tweeddale two, the Synod of Perth and Stirling three, the Synod of Fise four, and the Synod of Aberdeen two, and this correspondence to continue till the General Assembly shall see cause to alter it.
VIII. Sess. 14, March 4, 1701, post meridiem.—Recommendation to Synods anent maintaining Bursars of Theology having the Irish Language.
The General Assembly, taking into their consideration the great scarcity of probationers having the Irish language to supply the vacancies of the North Highlands, notwithstanding there are several young men who might be useful in these places if they had due encouragement to prosecute their studies; therefore, the General Assembly recommend to the Synods after mentioned, that they maintain bursars of theology having the Irish language, besides the usual Presbytery bursars, and that out of the ministers of the said Synods their own proper money, and that this be done as follows: viz., That the Synod of Lothian and Tweeddale, the Synod of Merse and Teviotdale, the Synod of Glasgow and Ayr, the Synod of Argyle, the Synod of Perth and Stirling, and the Synod of Fife, each of them maintain one bursar; the Synods of Dumfries and Galloway one; and the Synods of Angus and Mearns and Aberdeen one: And it is recommended to the foresaid Synods to proportion the quota of the maintenance to be given to the said bursars among themselves, which is at least to be ten pounds sterling, the one-half whereof to be collected and advanced at every Synod, beginning at the next ensuing Synod; and that the said Synod books bear an account of their diligence in the same, and that each of the said bursars continue four years at the profession of theology, as other bursars do; and it is hereby recommended to all Presbyteries, that they search out for any such well qualified young men who have passed their course of philosophy at some university, and send in their names to the Commission of the General Assembly, with sufficient testimonials, that they may be by them recommended to the said Synods; and the foresaid act to continue during the Assembly's pleasure: And for enlarging of the said funds, the Ge neral Assembly renews and revives the 9th Act of the General Assembly, 1699, "Anent Planting of the Highlands."
IX. Sess. 14, March 4, 1701, post meridiem.—Act for a Solemn National Fast and Humiliation.
The General Assembly of this National Church, laying seriously to heart the many tokens of God's displeasure that are gone forth against this land; as the many years of dearth and scarcity that we have been under whereby many have perished, the land greatly impoverished, and the number of the poor vastly increased; the amazing and astonishing rebukes against and blasting of the undertaking of the African and Indian Company of this nation, for advancing the wealth and trade thereof, and relief of the poor, and that in a great measure from the visible and immediate hand of God, though by that undertaking there was a fair prospect of spreading the Gospel amongst infidels, together with the loss of many of our countrymen, and even some of our dear and worthy brethren in the ministry, and of a great part of the nation's treasure and substance; as also, the stupendous wasting fire in the city of Edinburgh, whereby its best buildings have been laid in ashes, and many families reduced to extreme poverty; considering also the many sad and great calamities which threaten not only this, but all other reformed and Protestant Churches, from the present alteration of the state of Europe so lately fallen out, whereby the hands of the implacable enemies of our religion seem to be greatly strengthened, and occasion given for executing their wicked designs, in order to the ruin of the reformed religion and Protestant interest; by all which the reformed and Protestant Churches everywhere, and more eminently in these nations, together with our brethren in the United Provinces of the Low Countries, are sadly threatened: And the Assembly, considering that our holy and gracious God doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men, nor doth he without cause threaten his people with such sad things; we have therefore too good ground to infer, that our sins must be great and heinous in the sight of God, which is also obvious to every discerning eye, the land being filled with wickedness and abominations, violences and disorders amongst persons of all ranks and degrees, for whose sins our holy and jealous God may justly contend with us, which are so much the more aggravated, that they are against so many solemn repeated vows and engagements unto and Covenants with our God, which have been openly violated and broken by persons of all ranks, and treated with public contempt, indignities, and affronts, the particulars of which are too many to be here inserted; but having been by other Assemblies largely and particularly enumerated in causes of fasts by them emitted, especially 1690 and 1700: This Assembly thereto refers, in so far as they quadrate with our present circumstances, and recommend to ministers to give an account of the same; yet one thing farther is greatly to be lamented, that though the Lord hath been for many years calling to weeping and to mourning, and public national fasts have been from time to time appointed, that we might truly humble ourselves before God, confess our sins, repent of and turn from them, by renewing our engagements unto God, and convenanting with him for that end, yet the most part have instead thereof given themselves over to jollity and wantonness, few having fasted unto the Lord, and returned to him with all their hearts.
Upon all these considerations, this Assembly have thought fit to set apart a day for solemn fasting and humiliation, and the exercise of sincere and unfeigned repentance, and for serious, servant, and earnest prayer to the throne of grace, which they appoint to be kept upon the twenty-fourth day of April next to come, being the last Thursday of the said month: And do hereby earnestly obtest, and in the bowels of our Lord Jesus Christ, exhort and beseech all people and of all ranks, suitably to prepare themselves for so solemn a work, to deal unfeignedly and sincerely with the Lord in this matter, to put away the evil of their doings, and flee unto Christ, the Mediator of the New Covenant, and seek in and through him to be reconciled unto God, to take on sincere resolutions and engagements, that henceforth they will be the Lord's humbly depending upon him for grace to perform accordingly, that they may earnestly and vigorously set about sincere and thorough reformation of their lives, as they would themselves find mercy in the day of the Lord, and have the present strokes upon the land removed, and judgments threatened averted. And for that end, we recommend to all ministers within this Church, that they be plain, full, and free, in holding forth the evil of the sins that abound, according as they are enumerated in the Causes of Fasts above specified, and what sins else may be peculiar to any congregation, to the end that they, and all who sincerely love our Lord Jesus Christ, may earnestly apply to the throne of grace, that a spirit of grace and supplication and of sincere and unfeigned repentance may be poured out upon the inhabitants of the land, and for a day of the Mediator's power upon the hearts of many, making them a willing people, that so they may flee to him, and make application of his blood for the purging and pardoning of their sins;—that the Lord would shine upon us in Gospel-ordinances, and by the powerful enlivening breathings of his Spirit, make them more successful for the enlargement of the kingdom of Christ, and destroying Satan's kingdom, that in some places so much prevails, even by witchcraft, sorceries, &c.;—that of his great bounty, and in pity and compassion to this poor land, he would give seasonable weather, and thereby prevent the return of scarcity and dearth, and that he would also avert the other sad and heavy judgments which threaten us for our sins;—that the Lord would deliver such of his poor churches or people as are already under the feet of cruel enemies, and protect others that are in great and imminent hazard; and, for that end, break the power of their enemies, make their wrath to praise him, defeat their counsels, and turn them into foolishness, that all may know that he whose name alone is Jehovah is the most high over all the earth;—that God would preserve and protect our King, bless him in his person and government, animate him more and more with true heroic courage and zeal for the defence of the true religion and Protestant interest;—that he would direct his councils, and those of other Protestant princes and states, to such measures as may, at this juncture, be for the glory of God, the preservation of the true religion and Protestant Churches, and the peace of Europe;—that piety may flourish in this land, and effectual ways may be fallen upon for that end, and both magistrates, ministers, and others in their stations, animated vigorously to prosecute them, for suppressing the sins and immoralities that abound in the land; and for restraining idleness and bagabonds, being the occasion and nursery of much sin and wickedness, and for reducing these to order, labour, and industry, and supplying the necessities of indigents; and that this Church may yet prosper, both peace and truth still flourish in her, so as the Lord may yet take delight in us, and glory may dwell in our land, and have her habitation there.
X. Sess. 15, March 5, 1701, post meridiem.—Act Condemning the Book, entitled, An Apology for M. Antonia Bourignion.
The General Assembly, taking into their serious consideration a reference made by the Commission of the late General Assembly sent to Angus, Mearns, Aberdeen, &c., anent Doctor George Garden in Aberdeen, alleged to be the author of a book entitled, "An Apology for M. Antonia Bourignion,"with an abbreviate made by the said Commission of the errors contained in the said book, they did appoint a committee of their own number to consider that affair, and to compare the said abbreviate with the foresaid Apology, and to bring their report and opinion to the General Assembly anent the whole; and the General Assembly having this day heard the report and opinion of the foresaid committee, and also having heard read in their presence an abbreviate and abstract of several errors excerpted forth of the said Apology by the foresaid committee; and having likewise had produced in their presence the said book itself, the General Assembly found the same to contain a mass of dangerous, impious, blasphemous, and damnable errors; and, therefore, by their unanimous vote did, and by these presents do, condemn the said book called "An Apology for M. Antonia Bourignion;" and for preventing the spreading of the said errors therein contained, the General Assembly did, by their unanimous vote, and hereby do, seriously recommend to all Synods and Presbyteries within this National Church, and particularly to the Synods of Aberdeen and Perth, to advert to, and inquire anent the spreading of the said errors, and to use all effectual means for preventing the same, conform to Acts of former Assemblies made against spreading of errors, and particularly the Act of the General Assembly, anno 1647, entitled, "Act discharging the Importing, Vending, or Spreading of Erroneous Books and Papers." And, moreover, the General Assembly recommend to the said judicatories, that in perusing of the said book, and inquiring anent the spreading of the errors therein contained, any thing found to fall under the 11th Act of the fifth Session of the current Parliament, or under any other Act of Parliament made against blasphemy, &c., be represented to his Majesty's Advocate, to the effect the said laws may be put to due execution.
XI. Sess. 15, March 5, 1701, post meridiem.—Sentence of Deposition against Dr George Garden in Aberdeen.
The which day, the General Assembly of this National Church, taking into their consideration the proceedings of the Commission of the late General Assembly appointed for visiting the bounds of Angus, Mearns, Aberdeen, Moray, and Ross, and finding a process raised by the said Commission against Dr George Garden in Aberdeen, and a sentence of suspension passed by them against him upon weighty grounds, with a reference of him for further censure to this Assembly, to which he was cited by order of the said Commission; all which the foresaid sentence does at more length bear, and the Assembly having caused call the said Dr George Garden, several times at the most patent door of the church, and he not compearing, they entered upon the serious consideration of the particular grounds of the said sentence of suspension, and of the whole proceedings of the said Commission in that affair; and did, likeas they hereby do, find that he has not only given great ground to suspect his being tainted with dangerous and blasphemous opinions, in causing a certain book called "An Apology for M. Antonia Bourignion" to be bound, and selling the same, and causing it to be sold by others for his use, and recommending the perusal thereof, without giving a caveat against the errors contained therein, and that he refused to disown his being the author of that book, when questioned thereupon by the said Commission; and that he likewise declined to give a positive answer, when asked by them if he judged M. Antonia Bourignion to have been divinely inspired as she pretends, but also that he hath given clear and evident proof of his being led away with the spirit of error and very gross delusions, and infected with impious, blasphemous, and damnable error, by declaring openly before the said Commission, that the said Apology, as to the bulk of the book, did represent the great end of Christianity, which is to bring us back to the love of God and charity, and further declared, that the essentials of Christianity are set down in the said book, and that the accessories contained therein are not contrary thereto; and further he added, that he had a high esteem of the writings that go under the name of M. Antonia Bourignion, because they represent the essentials of Christian religion, and direct us to a Christian temper, with more force and vigour than many writings of this age he had seen, and for her singular sentiments, they ought not to be reckoned heresies, for they contradict no article of the Christian religion; and further, he subjoined that her sentiments tended to unite Christians in their differences, and to promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and on that account he values them, and heartily embraces them, and that the design of the apologist, in representing the accessory sentiments of M. Antonia Bourignion, was to vindicate them from the misrepresentations of others, that the world may know what they are; yea, he had the confidence to carry it so high before the said Commission, as to say he counted it his honour to be singled, out for owning the principles of M. Antonia Bourignion, which have such a tendency to promote Christian love and charity: The Assembly also finds, that the writings which go under the name of the said M. Antonia Bourignion are fraught with impious, pernicious, and damnable doctrines, as they are represented in the very Apology, that exhibits to the world an epitome of them in the fairest dress; such as, 1mo, The denying of the permission of sin, and the infliction of damnation and vengeance for it. 2do, The ascribing to Christ a twofold human nature, one of which was produced of Adam before the woman was formed, the other born of the Virgin Mary. 3tio, The denying of the decrees of election and reprobation, and the loading of those acts of grace and sovereignty with a multitude of odious and blasphemous aspersions, particularly wickedness, cruelty, and respect of persons. 4to, That there is a good spirit and an evil spirit in the souls of all men beforeq they are born, 5to, That the will of man is unlimited, and that there must be in man some infinite quality whereby he may unite himself to God. 6to, The denying of the doctrine of Divine prescience. 7mo, The assertion of the sinful corruption of Christ's Human Nature, and a rebellion in Christ's Natural Will to the Will of God. And, 8vo, The asserting a state of perfection in this life, and a state of purification in the life to come; that generation takes place in Heaven; that there are no true Christians in the world, and several other errors contained in the said book; upon which grounds, together with his contumacy in not appearing before this Assembly, the General Assembly of this National Church, after mature deliberation, being moved with love to the truth of God, and zeal for his glory, as also an earnest desire for purging this Kirk of error and heresy, and every thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, did, and hereby do, ratify and confirm the sentence of suspension passed by the said Commission against the said Dr George Garden; and further did, and hereby do, in the name and authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Head and King of the Church, and the only Lord and Lawgiver of the same, according to the power entrusted by him to them, and his peremptory command, actually depose the said Dr George Garden from the office of the ministry, prohibiting and discharging him from exercising the same, or any part thereof, in all time coming, under pain of the highest censures of the Church, appointing public intimation to be made hereof from all the pulpits in the Synod of Aberdeen, after sermon in the forenoon, upon such a Lord's day as the said Synod shall appoint.
XII. Sess. 15, March 5, 1701, post meridiem.—Approbation of the Actings and Proceedings of the Commission sent by the last Assembly to Zetland, Orkney, and Caithness.
The General Assembly, having this day had reproduced before them the register of the actings and proceedings of the Commissioners sent by the late General Assembly for visitation of the bounds of the Presbyteries of Zetland, Orkney, and Caithness; and having heard the report and observations of a committee of this Assembly's own number, appointed to revise, consider, and examine the said register, with the answers made thereto by the Moderator and other members of that commission, they were removed; and the General Assembly having seriously and maturely considered the same, and finding by the said report that the actings, proceedings, and conclusions, of the said commissioners contained in their register now produced, subscribed by Mr James Hart, Moderator, and Mr John Sandilands, Clerk thereto, beginning upon the eighteenth day of April last, and ending the twentyfourth day of June thereafter, consisting of 190 pages, do evidence the great pains and diligence of the said commissioners, and the great danger they were exposed to in their voyage by sea, and likewise the fatigue they had by land, in travelling to accomplish the design they were sent on, and that they have proceeded orderly and formally in the things that came before them, according to their commission and instructions, and thereby given proof of their wisdom, prudence, faithfulness, and zeal: Therefore, this General Assembly, by their vote, unanimously did, and hereby do, ratify and approve the actings, proceedings, and conclusions, of the said commissioners contained in their register; and the members of the said commission being called in, the premises were intimated to them, and the Moderator, according to appointment, gave them the thanks of this Assembly for their good service.
XIII. Eadem Sessione.—Approbation of the Actings and Proceedings of the Commission sent by the last Assembly to Angus, Mearns, Aberdeen, Moray, and Ross.
The General Assembly, having this day had reproduced before them the register of the actings and proceedings of the commissioners sent by the late Assembly, for visitation of the bounds of the Presbyteries in the provinces of Angus, Mearns, Aberdeen, Moray, Ross, and Sutherland; and having heard the report and observations of a committee of this Assembly's own number, appointed to revise, consider, and examine the said register, with the answers made thereto by the Moderator and other members of that commission, they were removed; and the General Assembly having maturely considered the same, and finding by the said report, that the actings, proceedings, and conclusions, of the said commissioners, contained in their register now produced, subscribed by Mr Patrick Cumming, Moderator, and Mr Hugh White, Clerk thereto, beginning upon the twelfth day of June last, and ending upon the twenty-second day of August thereafter, consisting of 190 pages, do evidence much wisdom, prudence, diligence, zeal, and faithfulness; and that the said commissioners have proceeded orderly and formally in every thing according to their commission and instructions: Therefore, this General Assembly, by their vote, unanimously did, and hereby do, ratify and approve the actings, proceedings, and conclusions, of the said commissioners, contained in the register thereof; and the members of the said commission being called in, the same was intimated to them, and the Moderator, according to appointment, gave them the thanks of this Assembly for their good service.
XIV. Sess. 18, March 7, 1701, ante meridiem.—Act against Persons who shall be Irregularly Licensed or Ordained.
The General Assembly, upon report of their committee for overtures, did, by their vote, and hereby do, enact and declare, that any persons who shall for hereafter receive either licence of ordination from any of the late Prelates, or any others not allowed by the authority of the Church, shall be incapable of ministerial communion for the space of three years simpliciter, and even after that time, ay and until the Presbytery to which he shall apply be satisfied concerning his repentance.
XV. Sess. 20, March 8, 1701, ante meridiem.—Commission to some Ministers and Elders for Planting vacant Kirks, and other Affairs remitted to them.
The General Assembly, considering that there are yet some vacant Churches on the North side of Tay, as likewise that there are yet 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, commissionate, and appoint Mr Robert Elliot, minister at Kinglassie, &c., &c., to be Commissioners, &c., with full power, &c., (the powers granted to the Commission are the same as in the corresponding acts of the three preceding years.)
XVI. Eadem Sessione.—Instructions by the General Assembly to their Commission.
1. 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 judica tories of the Church, in what the law allows, and for putting the laws in execution against profaneness, regulating the poor by providing maintenance and labour for them, and particularly anent settling vacant congregations, and redressing any grievances which may fall out.
2. 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 a share of the government of the Church, the General Assembly do empower and recommend to their Commission to receive them, according to the 13th paragraph of the 16th Act of the General Assembly, anno 1697: And that the said Commission be careful to get due information from the Presbyteries where the said person applying does, or did officiate, and for the time resides.
3. That this Commission, in disposal of his Majesty's gifts to this Church, do particularly take care, that the encouragement granted by the General Assembly, anno 1699, 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 Churches, and other public affairs of the Church there.
4. The said Commission is to cognosce and finally determine in all references already made, or to be 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 by the General Assembly, anno 1699.
5. This Commission is also to correspond with the State anent fasts and thanksgivings, as occasion requires, and to specify the causes thereof.
6. 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: As also, this Commission is empowered to proceed according to the 7th Act of the General Assembly, 1700, made in favour of the Presbyteries of Caithness, Orkney, and Zetland.
7. This Commission is empowered to inquire how ministers transported by former Assemblies and their Commissions, or by this General Assembly and their Commission, have obeyed, or shall obey, and, in case of disobedience, that they suspend the disobedient persons for three months, and, in case they do not obey after these 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.
8. 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.
9. This Commission, or their Moderator, in the intervals of the Commission, are empowered to receive calls legally proceeded in, and to transmit the same to the respective Presbyteries interested; and, in case of references or appeals to the said Commission, that they proceed and finally determine therein, according to the former acts of Assemblies for expediting transportations to the North.
XVII. Eadem Sessione.—Act for rendering effectual the Supplies of the North.
The General Assembly, taking into their consideration the 24th Act of the General Assembly, 1700, "For rendering Effectual the Supplies of the North," do declare the same to stand still in full force, and refers to the Commission to see to the observation thereof.
XVIII. Eadem Sessione.—Act against Intruders into Kirks.
The General Assembly appoints Presbyteries to send in to the Commission an account of such ministers or preachers as intrude into parishes, that application may be made to the Government for removing them according to law.
XIX. Eadem Sessione.—Recommendation anent the more frequent Administration of the Lord's Supper.
The General Assembly recommends to Presbyteries to take care that the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper be more frequently administered within their bounds, and that the number of ministers to serve thereat be restricted, so that neighbouring churches be not thereby cast desolate on the Lord's Day.
XX. Eadem Sessione.—Act against Abuses at Likewakes, Penny-Bridals, and promiscuous Dancing.
The General Assembly did, and hereby do, revive the act of the General Assembly, 1645, against Likewakes, as also the act of the said Assembly for restraining Abuses at Penny-Bridals, and likewise the act of the General Assembly, anno 1649, discharging promiscuous dancing; and appoints the said acts to be read in churches before the congregation, and that Synods inquire at Presbyteries concerning their diligence anent the observance of the said acts, and recommends to Presbyteries to have their thoughts upon what further may be necessary for suppressing and preventing abuses at such occasions, and give their opinion thereanent to the next General Assembly.
XXI. Overtures transmitted by the General Assembly, held in the Year 1701, to the several Presbyteries within this National Church, that they may consider the same, and send their Opinion thereanent in Writing to the next General Assembly, who may pass the same in Acts, if the more general Opinion of this Church agree thereunto
[These Overtures are, 1. Anent Scandalous Persons turning Popish; 2. Protestants marrying Papists; 3. Anent Excommunication; 4. Anent irregular absolving of Scandalous Persons; 5. Anent Students passing Trials; 6. Against Profaneness, with a Reference to the Commission thereanent. The greater part of these appear to have been passed into Acts in 1704.]
The next General Assembly of this National Church is to be held at Edinburgh the sixth day of March, in the year 1702.
The Assembly being closed, the members were dismissed with prayer, singing the 132d Psalm, from the 11th verse to the close, and pronouncing of the blessing.
Collected and extracted from the Records of the General Assembly, by me,
Dav. Dundas, Cls.