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, april 4, 1706.
I. Sess. 1, April 4, 1706.—The Queen's Commission to David Earl of Glasgow produced, and ordered to be Recorded.
The General Assembly of the ministers and ruling elders of this National Church, being convened and constituted, there was produced to them by the Right Honourable David Earl of Glasgow, her Majesty's commission under the Great Seal of this kingdom, appointing him her Majesty's High Commissioner and representative in this National Assembly; which commission being publicly read with all due honour and respect, the General Assembly ordained the same to be recorded in their registers, the tenor whereof follows:— "Anna," &c.
II. Eadem Sessione.—Her Majesty's gracious Letter to the General Assembly.
Her Majesty's High Commissioner presented the Queen's most gracious Letter directed to this General Assembly, which was publicly read with all due honour and respect, and is appointed to be recorded in the registers of this Assembly, the tenor whereof follows:—"ANNE, R." &c.
III. Sess. 3, April 6, 1706.—The General Assembly's Answer to the Queen's gracious Letter.
May it please your Majesty, &c.
IV. Sess. 4, April 8, 1706, ante meridiem.—Act and Recommendation concerning the Scripture Songs.
The General Assembly, having heard and considered an Overture, transmitted to them from the Committee for Overtures, to whom it was remitted to consider the reference of the Commission of the late General Assembly in relation to the Scriptural Songs, they did, and hereby do, recommend it to the several Presbyteries of this Church to endeavour to promote the use of these Songs in private families within their bounds, according to the recommendation of the late Assembly; and for facilitating the Assembly's work in preparing the said Songs for public use, the Assembly hereby do recommend it to Presbyteries to buy up copies of the said songs that are printed, and to be sold here at Edinburgh; and ordain the report of the committees appointed by the Commission of the late Assembly to revise these songs with the amendments made thereupon by the committee that met at Glasgow, to be printed and transmitted to the several Presbyteries, that they may consider the same, and compare them with the book itself; and the General Assembly recommends it to the said Presbyteries also diligently to compare these songs with the original texts, and to make what further amendments they shall see needful upon the said printed copies of these songs, both as to the translation and metre, keeping always to the original text.
V. Sess. 5, April 9, 1706, ante meridiem.—Act anent the Form of Process.
The Form of Process in the judicatories of the Church of Scotland, in relation to scandals and censures, being all publicly read in presence of the General Assembly, were ordered to be printed and transmitted as overtures to the several Presbyteries within this National Church, and the said Presbyteries are ordained to consider the same, and send in their opinions thereanent, and such amendments as they shall judge fit to make upon the same, to the next General Assembly, according to the 9th Act of the General Assembly, anno 1697, thereanent.
VI. Sess. 6, April 9, 1706, post meridiem.—Recommendation concerning the Method of giving in Overtures, References, &c., to the General Assembly.
The General Assembly, to the end that ensuing Assemblies of this Church may with greater facility expede the affairs that shall come before them, do hereby recommend to all the Presbyteries within this National Church, in their instructions to their commissioners, carefully to distinguish betwixt what they propose as overtures to be transmitted by the General Assembly to the several Presbyteries in order to their being passed into acts; and those things which are only matter of complaint, or grievances to be presently redressed, or things wherein they desire to be advised; that overtures and matters of advice may be given in to the Committee for Overtures, and the rest to the Committee for Bills, References, and Appeals, and yet in matters of weight, these two committees may advise with one another.
VII. Sess. 11, April 12, 1706, post meridiem.—Act approving the Proceedings of the Commission of the General Assembly, anno 1705.
The General Assembly, having had this day reproduced in their presence the register of the actings and proceedings of the Commission appointed by the last Assembly, and having heard the report of a committee (who were not members of the said Commission) appointed to revise, examine, and consider the said register, with their observations thereupon, and answers made thereto by the moderator and other members of the said Commission, the members of the foresaid Commission were removed, and the General Assembly having maturely considered the said report and answers made thereto, do find, that the whole actings, proceedings, and conclusions, of the foresaid Commission, contained in their register, subscribed by Mr William Carstairs, moderator, and Mr John Dundas, Advocate, clerk, do evidence much wisdom, prudence, zeal, and diligence, and that the said Commission have proceeded orderly and formally in everything according to their commission and instructions; and, therefore, this General Assembly did, and hereby do, ratify and approve of the whole actings, proceedings, and conclusions, of the said Commission, contained in their said register, beginning the 13th day of April in the year 1705, and ending the 3d day of April 1706, inclusive; and the members of the said Commission being called in, the same was intimated to them, and the moderator gave them the thanks of the Assembly for their good service done to the Church.
VIII. Sess. 12, April 13, 1706, ante meridiem.—Act concerning the method of approving the Commission Book.
The General Assembly appoint and ordain, that in all time coming, the same formula be observed in the approbation of the registers of the actings and proceedings of the Commissions of Assemblies, that is prescribed by the Acts of the Assembly, to be observed in the attestation of the Synod books.
IX. Eadem Session.—Act anent Registers.
The General Assembly recommends it to all the judicatories of this Church to take special care that the registers be correctly written, and that they allow no blottings or interlinings thereing, and if anything shall happen to be blotted out as superfluous, that it be marked on the margin how many words or lines are blotted out, and that it was done by the authority of the judicatory, and that it be subscribed by the moderator and clerk; and if anything be omitted, that it be written upon the margin, and subscribed by the clerk of the judicatory.
X. Eadem Sessione.—Act anent Lecturing.
The General Assembly, considering that the acts of former Assemblies, concerning lecturing and expounding of the Holy Scriptures, are much neglected in many places, do, therefore, enjoin and appoint the several Presbyteries, at their privy censures and parochial visitations, diligently, to inquire how ministers observe the said acts.
XI. Eadem Session.—Recommendation concerning Admission to the Lord's Supper.
The General Assembly hereby recommends it to the several ministers within this National Church, to take as strict a trial as can be of such as they admit to the Lord's Supper, especially before their first admission thereto, and that they diligently instruct them particularly as to the Covenant of Grace, and the nature and end of that ordinance, as a seal thereof and charge upon their conseciences, the obligations they lie under from their baptismal covenant, and seriously exhort them to renew the same.
XII. Eadem Sessione.—Act and Recommendation concerning Stipends and Mortifications.
The General Assembly recommends it to Presbyteries to give information to the Commission, anent mortifications and stipends that have been dilapidated or suppressed, and appoints the Commission to be assistant to ministers in recovery thereof.
XIII. Sess. 12, April 13, 1706, ante meridiem.—Recommendation and Act concerning Schoolmasters and Schools, and Bursaries.
The General Assembly recommends it to such as have power of settling school masters in parishes, to prefer thereto men who have passed their course at colleges or universities, and taken their degrees, before others who have not, cæteris paribus. And the General Assembly recommends it to Presbyteries to take special care that all the schoolmaster within their bounds be such as have subscribed the Confession of Faith, and that Presbyteries do visit all the public grammer schools within their hounds by some of their number appointed for that effect, at least twice every year; and also appoints Synods, at their privy censures, to inquire at Presbyteries how they have obeyed this recommendation. The General Assembly recommends it to the respective Presbyteries in the Lowlands who are appointed to contribute for bursaries, to be bestowed on Students having the Irish language, that they pay the same punctually, conform to the Acts of Assembly thereanent.
XIV. Eadem Session.—Recommendation concerning Penny Bridals.
The General Assembly recommends it to Presbyteries to apply to the judges ordinary, for putting the laws relating to penny bridals in execution, and appoints their Commission, upon representations from Presbyteries of the judges their refusal, to apply to the Government for obliging them to execute their office in this matter.
XV. Eadem Sessione.—Act and Recommendation against Profaneness.
The General Assembly seriously exhorts all magistrates, ministers, and others, in their respective capacities, to hold hand to the execution of the laws against profaneness, according to the 11th Act of the General Assembly, held in the year 1697, and 7th Act of the General Assembly, anno 1699, made thereanent; and particularly, it is hereby recommended to ministers and kirk-sessions to apply to the civil magistrate in that matter, as the law allows and requires, and upon the inferior magistrate's neglect or refusal to put the laws against profaneness in execution, that the KirkSession, with the concurrence of their Presbytery, complain to the Government for redress according to law; and, lastly, it is recommended to Presbyteries to inquire diligently, at their privy censures and parochial visitations, how ministers and kirksessions have obeyed this recommendation.
XVI. Eadem Sessione.—Act and Recommendation concerning Visitation of Parishes, and also Ministerial Visitation of Families.
The General Assembly, considering that frequent Presbyterial Visitation of Parishes would be of great advantage to the Church, and might tend much to promote piety and holiness and suppress sin; do therefore seriously recommend to and enjoin Presbyteries to be more frequent and conscientious in visiting parishes, conform to the Acts of former General Assemblies thereanent, and appoints the Commission to draw up and prepare a Directory for Ministerial Visitation of Families, and present the same to the next General Assembly.
XVII. Sess. 14, April 15, 1706, post meridiem.—Commission to some Ministers and Elders, for considering and discussing several Affairs referred to them.
The General Assembly, taking into consideration, that there are several weighty affairs which they cannot overtake, do therefore nominate, commission, and appoint their reverend brethren, Messrs William Crichton, minister at Edinburgh, &c. &c., to be commissioners of this General Assembly to the effect after mentioned, with full power to the said persons or their quorum, which is hereby declared to be any twenty-one of the said commissioners, whereof fifteen are always to be ministers, to meet and convene within the Assembly-House at Edinburgh, the first day after the dissolution of this Assembly, at ten hours in the forenoon, and afterwards to meet the first Wednesday of August, and penult Wednesday of March next, and oftener, when and where they shall think needful and convenient, with power to the said Commission to choose their own moderator: And suchlike, the General Assembly fully empowers and authorises their said commissioners, or their quorum, to cognosee and finally determine, as they shall see cause, in every matter referred, or that shall be referred to them, by any Act or order of this Assembly, and to do every thing contained in, and conform to the instructions given by the late Assembly to their Commission, which are held as herein expressed, and to stand for instructions to this Commission; and, finally, with power to the said Commission to advert unto the interest of the Church on every occasion, that the Church, and present establishment thereof, do not suffer or sustain any prejudice which belongs to them to prevent, as they will be answerable; and they are hereby strictly prohibited and discharged to meddle in any other matters than what are committed or referred to them as above mentioned, and in all their actings they are to proceed according to the acts and constitutions of this Church, and do nothing contrary thereto, or to the prejudice of the same; declaring, that in and for all their actings they shall be accountable to and censurable by the next General Assembly, as they shall see cause, and this Commission is to continue and endure till the next General Assembly; and the members of the said Commission are required punctually to attend the diets thereof, as is appointed by the 6th and 15th Acts of the late General Assembly, and the clerks are appointed not only to mark the absentees, but also to send lists of these absentees to the several Synods, in order to censure, according to former acts thereanent: and also, the Commission is ordered to present to the next General Assembly a list of the names of such of their members as shall be absent without a relevant excuse sustained by them, that the same may be read in the Assembly, who may take what farther course they shall think fit in that matter.
XVIII. Sess. ult. April 16, 1706.—Act concerning the Libraries, and containing some additional Instructions by the General Assembly to their Commission.
The General Assembly empowers their Commission to receive any delations or references that shall be made to them by the respective judicatories of this Church, in matters of schism and disorder, and not only to assist judicatories by their advice in such cases, but also to pass sentence and finally determine therein, as they shall see cause.
And the Commission are appointed to take care that the precepts already drawn by the preceding moderators of the Assembly, or Commission thereof, for payment of any sums out of the money gifted by her Majesty for defraying the public charges of the Church, be paid, and that, in the first place, before others that may be granted afterwards.
The Presbyteries of Edinburgh, Linlithgow, and Dalkeith, are appointed to supply one diet of preaching before the Parliament, and the Commission to supply the other diet by naming and appointing ministers out of other Presbyteries, and the Synod of Lothian and Tweedale are to adjust the diets of the three Presbyteries above named in their bounds.
The Commission is to require a full and clear account from the committee, to whom the disposal and distribution of the libraries was recommended, anno 1705, how they have distributed the same, and from the agent, how he hath obeyed the orders of that committee anent the sending of these libraries and Irish Bibles to the respective places appointed.
And to call for an account from the respective Presbyteries of their receipt of their proportion of these Bibles and libraries, and how they have disposed of them according to the order of the General Assembly, 1705, and their said committee, and appoints the said Presbyteries to send these accounts to the commission or committee to be appointed by them for this affair, and that these accounts be sent in writing, subscribed by the moderator and clerk of the Presbytery; and ordains the commission to take care that the account of all these be recorded in a particular register for that purpose; and the General Assembly hereby recommends it to their commission, or their said committee, which they are hereby empowered to appoint for that effect, to distribute the eleven boxes of books lately sent down from England, and any libraries or books that shall be sent down betwixt and the next Assembly, to such places of this Church and nation as have most need, and may best answer the design of the donors.
The General Assembly hereby recommends it to their Commission to inquire into the state of the Highlands and Islands, how they are planted with ministers, and of the remaining Paganish customs among them, and of the increase of Popery, and how they are provided with schools, what places most need help in these matters, and what encouragement these may expect who incline to enter into a society for erecting and maintaining charity schools, for educating poor and indigent children.
And the General Assembly appoints all the Synods and Presbyteries concerned in the Highlands and Islands to send in accounts thereof to the commission, who are hereby ordained to prepare overtures thereanent, and give in the same to the next Assembly, to whom the said commission and others concerned are to be accountable for their diligence and management in the premises.
XIX. Sess. ult. April 16, 1706.—Act concerning a Solemn National Fast and Humiliation.
The General Assembly, considering this nation's unthankfulness for, and unfruitfulness under the Gospel, and how sin and wickedness doth abound every where in the land, and profaneness and Popery, and other gross errors, increase and grow, and the great danger the Protestant religion and the Reformed Churches are in, through the sad distress and grievous persecution of some of them, and the dangerous condition of others, the continuance of a bloody war, the decay of trade, and impoverishing of the nation; and, likewise, considering how much the welfare and safety of this Church and nation dependeth on the preservation of the Queen's Majesty's person, and the conduct and success of ther councils, and the result of the treaty now on foot, concerning the Union of both kingdoms of Scotland and England: Upon these and diverse other weighty considerations, the General Assembly find it their duty to call all ranks of persons, in this Church and nation, to solemn fasting and prayer, and to humiliation and reformation, beseeching and obtesting all and every one to search and try their ways, and turn unto the Lord, and to seek his face and favour.
And the General Assembly recommends to all the ministers of this Church, that with due prudence and zeal they do, in their preaching, reprove and warn of, and in prayer confess and acknowledge, the national and epidemical crying sins, both of former and present times, particularly enumerated in the causes of former public fasts, especially in the years 1690, 1700, and 1701, and those chiefly which abound in the respective places where the ministers labour.
And the General Assembly recommends and appoints that servent prayers be poured out to God, that he would, of his abundant grace and mercy, grant to all an humbling sight and sense of former and present sins, and give repentance for and remission of them, for the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour; and that God would continue the Gospel with us, and bless it with more success, and that it would please him graciously to put a stop to the growth of profaneness and Popery, and other errors, and that magistrates and ministers, and every one in their due place, may be directed and animated to more effectual and vigorous endeavours for discouraging, suppressing, and punishing, Popery and profaneness, and all error and ungodliness, and for reforming themselves and the land; and that all schism, division, dissension, and discord, may cease, and we may all become one in the Lord.
That God would long preserve and eminently bless our gracious Sovereign the Queen, direct her councils, and bless and prosper her forces, and those of her allies, by sea and land, in defence of the Reformed Protestant religion, and just liberties of Europe.
And that God would pity and relieve such of his Churches and people as are under the cross, and suffering for the truth, and support and establish them, and refine them in and bring them out of the furnace, and that he would preserve his Churches which are in danger, and would defeat all designs against the Reformed Churches and Protestant religion, and that God would bless the season of the year, that there may be food for man and beast.
And, lastly, that God would mercifully and graciously direct such as are commissioned both in this and the kingdom of England, for treating about a Union of both kingdoms, that all may be done to the glory of God and good of this Church, and all her Majesty's dominions.
And the General Assembly appoints the said fast and humiliation to be observed in all the parishes on this side of Tay upon the 23d day of May next, and in those on the other side of Tay upon the 6th day of June also next; and do appoint the Rev. Mr William Carstairs, Principal of the College of Edinburgh, Mr George Meldrum, Professor of Divinity there, Mr John Stirling, Principal of the College of Glasgow, and Mr George Anderson, Professor of Divinity at Aberdeen, Ministers; and Sir James Agnew of Lochnaw, Sheriff-Principal of Galloway, Ruling Elder; to apply to the Lords of her Majesty's most Honourable Privy Council, for their civil sanction to this fast.
The next General Assembly of this National Church is to be holden at Edinburgh, the second Tuesday of April 1707, being the eighth day of that month.
This Assembly was concluded with prayer, singing of the 72d Psalm, from verse 16 to the close, and pronouncing of the blessing.
Collected and extracted from the Records of the General Assembly, by
Jo. Dundas, Cls. Eccl.