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, May 4, 1727.
- I. Sess. 1, May 4, 1727.—The King's Commission to James Earl of Findlater and Seafield produced, and ordered to be recorded.
- II. Sess. 1, May 4, 1727.—The King's most gracious Letter to the General Assembly, presented to them by his Majesty's Commissioner.
- IV. Sess. 15, May 16, 1727.—Commission to some Ministers and Ruling Elders for discussing divers Affairs referred to them.
- V. Sess. 17, May 17, 1727.—Commission to some Ministers and Ruling Elders for Reformation of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, and for Management of the King's Bounty for that end.
- VI. Sess. 18, May 18, 1727.—Act concerning the Printing of Papers in Processes brought before the Judicatories of this Church.
- IX. Sess. 19, May 18, 1727, post meridiem.—Act and Recommendation in favour of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge.
- X. Sess. 19, May 18, 1727, post meridiem.—Act and Commission of this Assembly for preserving Purity of Doctrine, and concerning Mr John Simson.
- XII. Sess. ult., May 19, 1727.—Act concerning the Licensing of Probationers for the Holy Ministry, and Students of Divinity.
The principal acts of the general assembly, holden and begun at Edinburgh, May 4, 1727.
I. Sess. 1, May 4, 1727.—The King's Commission to James Earl of Findlater and Seafield produced, and ordered to be recorded.
The General Assembly, &c.
II. Sess. 1, May 4, 1727.—The King's most gracious Letter to the General Assembly, presented to them by his Majesty's Commissioner.
Right Reverend and well-beloved, we greet you well. It is with the greatest pleasure and satisfaction that we reflect upon the wise and prudent behaviour of your former Assemblies; and as we doubt not but you come together with the same zeal for the honour and glory of God, for the advancement of true religion and piety, the preventing the growth of Popery, and the suppressing of vice and irreligion, we do most willingly countenance this your present meeting by our approbation and royal authority.
We have had so many proofs of the loyalty and affection of the Church established by law in Scotland to our person and government, and of its steady adherence to the succession in our family, and to the Protestant interest in general, that you may always depend upon our firm resolution to maintain the said Church in the full enjoyment of all its just rights and privileges.
You may also be fully assured of our readiness to concur in whatever may tend to the promoting of its peace and prosperity, not doubting but you, on your part, will be equally careful to do all that in you lies which may conduce to our service, and to the welfare of our people; and that your debates and proceedings will be conducted with that spirit of concord and brotherly love, which so much become this venerable Assembly; carefully avoiding whatever may create unhappy divisions among you, as the most effectual means that the enemies to our happiness and tranquillity could make use of, to disappoint and frustrate the good ends for which you are convened.
The experience you have already had of the abilities and integrity of our right trusty and entirely beloved cousin and councillor, James Earl of Findlater and Seafield, and of his concern for the Church, and zeal for our service, will, we doubt not, render the choice very agreeable to you, which we have made of him, to represent our royal person in this Assembly; and we are persuaded that his diligence and application, in the discharge of so important a trust, will be assisted and encouraged by the unanimity and dispatch with which you will go through the several affairs that are proper for your consideration. And so we bid you heartily farewell.
Given at our Court at St James's, the 18th day of April 1727, in the thirteenth year of our reign.
By His Majesty's Command,
Directed thus,—To the Right Reverend and well-beloved, the Moderator, Ministers, and Elders, of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
III. Sess. 3, May 6, 1727.—The General Assembly's Answer to the King's most gracious Letter.
May it please your Majesty,
We humbly beg leave to acknowledge, with hearts full of joy and thankfulness, the honour of your Majesty's gracious letter to us, approving the behaviour of former Assemblies, and expressing your Majesty's confidence of our zeal for the honour and glory of God, for the advancement of true religion and piety, the preventing the growth of Popery, and the suppressing of vice and irreligion; duties to which your Majesty's favourable expectations from us do greatly oblige and excite us, and the more, that our meeting is countenanced by your Majesty's approbation and royal authority.
We account it the great honour and happiness of this Church, that the testimonies of our loyalty and affection to your Majesty's royal person and government, and our steady adherence to the succession in your royal family, and to the Protestant interest in general, have been acceptable to your Majesty; and it fills our hearts with joy, and quickens our zeal for your Majesty's service, that in your great goodness, you are graciously pleased to renew the assurances of your firm resolution, to maintain this Church in the full enjoyment of all its just rights and privileges, and readily to concur in whatever may tend to the promoting of its peace and prosperity; upon which your royal assurances we entirely depend. And we should be altogether inexcusable, to be wanting on our part to do all that in us lies for your Majesty's service and the welfare of your people, or should we not conduct ourselves with that spirit of concord and brotherly love which becomes us; and we judge we are bound to watch strictly against all divisions among ourselves, which may tend to disappoint the good ends for which we are convened, by affording your Majesty's enemies any handle to disturb the happiness and tranquility of your Majesty's auspicious administration, which is, under God, our great safety.
Our experience of the Earl of Findlater and Seafield's abilities and integrity, and of his concern for the Church and zeal for your Majesty's service, renders your Majesty's choice of him to represent your royal person in the Assembly most obliging and acceptable to us, and the full confidence we have of his diligence and application in the discharge of this high and important trust, obliges us to give him the best assistance and encouragement, upon our part, by unanimity and dispatch, in going through the affairs proper for our consideration.
We have received from your Majesty's Commissioner your most pious and bountiful donation for this year, to be employed in maintaining itinerant preachers and catechists, in places where ignorance and Popery prevail, which we accept with the most profound respect and thankfulness, and shall use our utmost care in employing it for the pious ends to which it is designed, and account for it as your Majesty's royal warrant directs.
May it please your Majesty,
The present critical juncture of affairs, which has moved others of your loyal subjects to address your Majesty, expressing their duty and loyalty upon occasion of formidable alliances and designs framed against your Majesty, and the happiness of your people, under your wise administration, calls us to embrace, with the greatest cheerfulness, this opportunity to testify our utter abhorrence of all the designs and attempts of your open or secret enemies against your royal person, and the happy constitution of your government, which we account our great security under God, for all that is dear to us as men and Christians. The early humble address of the Commission of the last Assembly to your Majesty, expressing the duty and loyalty of this Church, we heartily approve and concur with, being deeply concerned, that our gracious God, who has eminently appeared in behalf of your Majesty, and blessed your people with your signal preservation hitherto, may now, when you are attacked with open hostilities, bless your councils and arms remarably, and enable your Majesty to carry on a successful war, or to procure a safe and lasting peace to Europe, for the relief of our oppressed Protestant brethren abroad, and security of the valuable rights of your own subjects; and that he may defeat all designs of restless and deluded abettors of the desperate cause of a Popish Pretender, who, should they succeed in their wicked attempts, which God forbid, nothing could remain for your loyal and dutiful subjects to expect but utter ruin.
It is, therefore, with the most ardent desires, and in the greatest sincerity of our
hearts, that we pray the most High God long to preserve your Majesty's precious
life, to bless your Majesty, their Royal Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Wales,
and all their royal offspring, with the best of heaven's blessings; and, after a long
and happy reign upon earth, to crown your Majesty with immortal glory. These are
the prayers of,
May it please your Majesty, your Majesty's most faithful, most obedient, and most loyal 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
Will. Hamilton, Moderator.
IV. Sess. 15, May 16, 1727.—Commission to some Ministers and Ruling Elders for discussing divers Affairs referred to them.
The General Assembly, taking into their consideration that there are divers and weighty affairs which they cannot overtake, do nominate, commission, and appoint, their reverend brethren, Mr William Hamilton, Professor of Divinity in the University of Edinburgh, their Moderator, &c.; to be commissioners of this General Assembly, to the effects after mentioned; with power to the said commissioners, or their quorum, &c. (The Act proceeds in the same terms as the corresponding Acts of the five immediately proceding years.)
V. Sess. 17, May 17, 1727.—Commission to some Ministers and Ruling Elders for Reformation of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, and for Management of the King's Bounty for that end.
The General Assembly, taking into their consideration that it has pleased the King, out of his royal bounty, again this year to grant the sum of L.1000 sterling, to encourage the itinerant preachers and catechists to go to the Highlands and Islands, for instructing the people in the principles of the true religion; and the Assembly being desirous to carry on the reformation in the foresaid places, and to prosecute the design of his Majesty's grant, do hereby continue Mr John Dundas of Philipstoun, procurator for the Church, to be receiver of the foresaid sum, in the terms of the 6th Act of the General Assembly, anno 1725; and suchlike, do nominate, commission, and appoint, the Rev. Mr William Hamilton, Professor of Divinity in the University of Edinburgh, their Moderator, &c.;to be a committee for disposing upon the foresaid royal bounty, for the ends mentioned in the foresaid royal grant, and for carrying on a reformation in the foresaid places, according to the powers granted by the foresaid 6th Act of the General Assembly, held in the year 1725, also in the 6th Act of the late General Assembly; and which powers are hereby renewed. And, further, this General Assembly do instruct and empower the said committee, as they shall see cause, to apply to his Majesty, and those in the government, or any magistrate, for assistance in carrying on a reformation, and the interest of true religion in the foresaid places; and the said committee are appointed to keep a correspondence with the Presbyteries, Protestant heritors, ministers, preachers, and catechists, in the above mentioned places, and to do all that is competent for them towards the encouragement of ministers and Protestants in these countries; and the said committee are enjoined in their management to have a particular regard to the regulations and resolutions of the late committee for reformation of the Highlands and Islands, and to use their endeavours to make the same effectual; and to report their diligence to the next General Assembly.
VI. Sess. 18, May 18, 1727.—Act concerning the Printing of Papers in Processes brought before the Judicatories of this Church.
The General Assembly, finding that the Act of Assembly inhibiting the printing of papers in processes before Church judicatories has not had the desired effect; therefore, they hereby enact and declare, that, in case parties concerned in processes brought before the judicatories of this Church shall think fit to print states of their case, or other papers relating to the said processes, such printing is permitted only under the provisions, and with the restrictions, following, viz.; that a written copy of such printed papers be given in to the clerk of the judicatory, subscribed by the party or his commissioner, and that the printed copies have the name of the party or his commissioner subjoined thereto, to the end that if any facts that are false, or not instructed, be therein inserted, or any indecent expressions be used, the subscriber may be censured according to the demerit of the fault; and the Assembly do hereby strictly discharge parties to disperse, or the members of the Church judicatories to regard, any printed paper concerning matters depending before them, not subscribed in the terms of this act.
VII. Sess. 18, May 18, 1727.—Act concerning the Duties and Qualifications of Ruling Elders.
The General Assembly, finding that the Acts of Assembly, made with respect to the duties and qualifications of elders, are not so duly observed as they ought to be, do, therefore, enjoin the several Presbyteries of this Church to have a strict regard to what is required as to the duties and qualifications of elders by the 9th Act of the General Assembly held in the year 1722, especially in choosing of elders to represent them in General Assemblies, and in attesting the commissions of such as are chosen either by themselves, by universities, or by royal burghs.
VIII. Sess. 18, May 18, 1727.—Act concerning the admitting of Persons to the Lord's Table.
The General Assembly, having considered an overture from the Synod of Merse and Teviotdale, about admission of persons to the Lord's Table, they strictly enjoin the observation of the Act, February 7, anno 1645, § 12, "Of the Opinion of the Committee for keeping greater Uniformity in this Kirk, in the practice and observation of the Directory in some points of Public Worship;" and leaves it to the several Church judicatories to give directions in cases of this nature, as the same do occur.
IX. Sess. 19, May 18, 1727, post meridiem.—Act and Recommendation in favour of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge.
The General Assembly, finding, from a representation laid before them by the committee of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge, in name and by order of the general meeting thereof, that it is now above eighteen years since this Society was first erected, by letters patent from the Sovereign, upon an application from this Church, and, ever since, the utmost diligence has been applied to make it answer the great and for which it was obtained, to promote Christian knowledge and virtue, to suppress error and vice, and to preserve our happy constitution both in Church and State; and by the blessing of God their endeavours have proved successful in attaining some of these ends, as is sufficiently attested from many parts in this nation, by reports from Presbyteries, ministers, and gentlemen their correspondents, which have been read to them at their meetings, and heard with the greatest pleasure and satisfaction; that in several places not only great numbers of children, but persons far advanced in years, crowded to their schools to learn reading, writing, arithmetic, and Church music, who never probably could have had any measure of knowledge had it not been for the Society's schools, and few of them left their schools till they had learned the Assembly's Catechism by heart. By the benefit of these schools, and the masters' diligence, together with the supplying them with useful books, such as Bibles, New Testaments, Confessions of Faith, Vincent's Catechism, and Guthrie's Trial of a Saving Interest, and others, many of these poor people have been happily delivered from their ignorance; the schoolmasters have been useful in remote islands and large parishes by reading the Scriptures, praying, and singing of psalms, and catechising the people on the Lord's Day in the places of public worship, by the minister's allowance, when he himself is employed in other places of his parish. The discipline used in these schools has had great influence upon the morals of the people; some children of Popish parents have been trained up in the principles of the true Protestant religion; and the English language is become more universal. The remarkable advantages and success that have attended these schools have encouraged the Society, being also thereto excited by the pressing recommendations of the Committee of Assembly for Reformation in the Highlands, to settle more schools. By this addition, in those places where they were so necessary, their number increased to eighty, the salaries of the schoolmasters, and other incidents, amounted to the sum of L.526, 18s. 105/6d. sterling in one year, and the charges of books, carriage, &c. that year came to near L.200 sterling, besides the great expense of maintaining hopeful youths of more than ordinary capacity, having the Irish language, who were not in a condition to maintain themselves, and whose parents and nearest relations became bound that these boys should serve as schoolmasters; and some of them are now teaching schools for smaller salaries than others either would or could, to the satisfaction of all concerned.
The Society, upon a review of the state of their funds, found that the income would by no means balance their charge; and they being tied down by their patent not to encroach upon their stock, were forced to sink some of their schools in places where they were much wanted. The Society had, indeed, flattered themselves with more donations, and that Presbyteries would have sent up their collections according to the General Assembly's recommendation; but both these have failed in great measure.
Upon this the Society inquired how the recommendations of the General Assembly and Commission for collections and donations had been obeyed, and found that several had contributed very liberally, whose names are recorded as promoters of this noble design, and to whose bounty its success is much owing; but, on the other hand, it was not a little discouraging, that it appeared from the Society's books, that some Synods, excepting a very few ministers and parishes, and not a few Presbyteries, have never sent up their collections to the Society's treasurer; and it is even suspected that the Assembly's recommendations have not been so much as published to the people. The Society, in the years 1715, 1716, 1717, and 1718, gave in to the General Assembly a particular state of their affairs, as also to the Commission in the year 1723; and, that every particular person might be satisfied, they printed their letters patent, with an account of their rise, constitution, and management, as also lists of their schools, bearing the dates of erection, with the names of Presbyteries, parishes, and places where each school was settled, and names of schoolmasters, number of scholars, both boys and girls. Letters have been frequently written to Presbyteries to satisfy them about the Society's management, and also to put them in mind of deficients; and because few or no returns came to these letters, the Society, in March last, by their preses, wrote to Synods, to inquire into the diligence of their Presbyteries about collections, and to acquaint them that a list of deficients was to be laid before this venerable Assembly; but the Society were averse to the doing of any thing which might give offence, or put to the blush any who might be in the least deficient in promoting so good a design, and yet are inclined to contribute, and therefore chose rather to delay the giving a particular condescendence of deficients, that they might have a new opportunity of contributing; and new intrants, and others transported to better benefices, might have an opportunity of sending their donations up with the collections. That there were also several who, since the Assembly's recommendation, are grown up, and others who have either come to estates, or are preferred to places of profit, who, it was hoped, would not be wanting to promote that pious and charitable undertaking, not to mention those who have already given something, and have promised to give more liberally; and the present situation of affairs seemed to call every true Christian, as God gives them ability and opportunity, to concern themselves in this matter. Our Gracious Sovereign does countenance the design, and has given liberally out of his own royal bounty for maintaining preachers and catechists in those places which very much need the same. Our ancestors never had such a price put in their hands, and it should be improven for advancing the interests of religion.
The General Assembly, having much at heart the success and advancement of the pious and charitable design of the said Society, and being much concerned that their most useful and painful endeavours should meet with so much obstruction from the forgetfulness or backwardness of some, and slothfulness of others, who are otherwise well and charitably disposed, in not contributing to the encouragement of the foresaid good work; do, therefore, most seriously and earnestly recommend to all the Presbyteries within this Church, that they diligently inquire at kirk-sessions and ministers within their bounds how the recommendations of former Assemblies, with respect to donations, subscriptions, and collections for the above pious and laudable design, have been obeyed. And the Assembly orders such ministers as have not collected, forthwith to do the same, and to use their endeavours to persuade charitable persons to contribute something towards the buying of books and maintaining of poor scholars; and the General Assembly does appoint every Presbytery to enjoin the several kirksessions within their bounds to give a particular account to them what has been collected for the end foresaid in their parishes since the year 1709, and that betwixt and the term of Martinmas next to come. And the Assembly ordains every Presbytery to keep distinct minutes of their proceedings in this matter until full reports are made to them from all their parishes, and then to transmit the said reports to the anniversary general meeting of the said Society, the first Thursday of January next, and that they send therewith a list of subscribers who have not yet paid in their money. And the General Assembly does likewise hereby recommend to the several Synods within this National Church, that they call Presbyteries to an account of their diligence in this matter; and that they report an account of their own diligence therein to the next General Assembly. And, lastly, the Assembly appoints this their act and recommendation to be printed, and copies thereof to be sent to the several parishes in Scotland; and that the same be read from the pulpits, immediately after divine worship in the forenoon, upon the first Lord's Day of August next.
X. Sess. 19, May 18, 1727, post meridiem.—Act and Commission of this Assembly for preserving Purity of Doctrine, and concerning Mr John Simson.
The General Assembly, considering that it is not practicable for them to overtake what yet remains of the process laid before them, from the reports of the last Assembly's committee for purity of doctrine, and the Presbytery of Glasgow, concerning Mr John Simson, Professor of Divinity in the University of Glasgow, in such a manner as the variety of the matter, and great importance thereof, and also the clearing and vindicating of divine truths require; and yet that it is fit that the supreme judicatory of this Church only should give a final determination therein, did therefore agree that the same be delayed till the next General Assembly; and in order to the further preparing and ripening this whole affair, did appoint the persons after mentioned, viz.:—Mr William Hamilton, Professor of Divinity in the University of Edinburgh, their Moderator, Messrs James Haddow, Principal of the New College of St. Andrews, William Wishart, Principal of the College of Edinburgh, George Chalmers, Principal of the King's College of Aberdeen, Thomas Blackwell, Principal of the College of New Aberdeen, David Anderson, Professor of Divinity in the King's College of Aberdeen, Matthew, Crawfurd, Professor of Ecclesiastical History in the University of Edinburgh, William Mitchell at Edinburgh, James Ramsay at Kelso, Allan Logan at Culross, Thomas Black at Perth, Thomas Linning at Lesmahagow, William M'George at Pennycuik, John Hamilton at Glasgow, Samuel Semple at Libberton, James Mercer at Aberdalgie, Robert Wodrow at Eastwood, James Smith at Cramond, James Bannatyne at Edinburgh, James Craig there, John Brand at Borrowstounness, William Miller at Edinburgh, Alexander Anderson at St Andrews, John Mathison at Edinburgh, John Scott at Glasgow, and Alexander Robertson at Tinwald, Ministers; the Right Honourable Adam Cockburn of Ormiston, Lord JusticeClerk, Mr James Erskine of Grange, Mr James Hamilton of Pencaitland, and Mr Hugh Dalrymple of Drummore, four of the Senators of the College of Justice, George Drummond, Esq., Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Mr Robert Dundas of Arniston, advocate, Colonel John Erskine of Carnock, and Mr James Boswell of Auchinleck, advocate, Ruling Elders; to be a committee, whereof thirteen to be a quorum, and nine always to be ministers; and that their first meeting shall be in the Old Church Aisle of Edinburgh, upon Monday the 22d instant, at nine o'clock in the forenoon, and their subsequent stated meetings to be upon Tuesday, before each quarterly meeting of the Commission of this General Assembly, in the same place, at four o'clock in the afternoon; with power to them to choose their own moderator and clerk, and to adjourn themselves to such times and places as they shall see cause. And the Assembly hereby earnestly obtests all the members of the said committee punctually to attend, as they shall be accountable to the next General Assembly. And it is hereby declared, that any ministers of the Presbytery of Glasgow, who shall attend the meetings of this committee, shall be members thereof, though not of the above nomination. And the General Assembly gives full power to the said committee to proceed upon the articles in the process, both as to the libel and queries, and what has followed thereupon, not judged by this Assembly, and upon what else is contained in the Act of the last Assembly for preserving purity of doctrine, which the Presbytery of Glasgow and former committee could not overtake. And that they proceed in the whole hereby committed to them, conform to the powers and directions of that act, and usque ad sententiam; but shall not pass a sentence either absolving or condemning Mr Simson, but report their diligence to the next General Assembly; all being reserved to their judgment. And it is recommended to the Presbytery of Glasgow to be assistant to the committee as they shall be required by them. And Mr Simson is appointed to attend upon the said committee, when called by them, and upon the next General Assembly, when and where they shall happen to meet. And the General Assembly, in the interim, on account of the articles in the libel charged on Mr Simson, which have been found relevant and proven, judged he ought to be suspended; likeas they hereby suspend him from teaching and preaching till the meeting of the next General Assembly.
Follows the Act of the General Assembly, held in the year 1726, referred to in the foresaid act, viz. "At Edinburgh, 17th May 1726.—The General Assembly, considering that several Presbyteries have instructed their Commissioners to propose that inquiry be made into the grounds of some reports of unsound doctrine, concerning the persons of the Blessed Trinity, being taught at Glasgow, and that the Committee for Instructions having called their brethren Commissioners from the Presbytery of Glasgow to give them an account what they knew about these reports, and what they had done about the same? These brethren answered, that upon some surmises of Mr John Simson, Professor of Divinity in Glasgow, his having taught erroncous doctrine, particularly with respect to the Blessed Trinity, the Presbytery of Glasgow had sent two of their number to converse him thereupon, that he had sent to the Presbytery a letter, owning that there were such reports; but that they were false and calumnious, and giving an account of what he said he taught upon that article, and that the Presbytery had appointed a committee of their number to consider his said letter; but that their committee had not yet made report to the Presbytery; and the General Assembly, being zealously concerned for the preservation of the purity of doctrine in this Church, and for preventing the entry and spreading of any error, especially in such a weighty and fundamental article; do, therefore, recommend to, and appoint the Presbytery of Glasgow to proceed with all diligence in their inquiry into Mr Simson's opinions concerning the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, and, particularly, as to the passages and expressions relative thereto, contained in his letter to them, or other letters or papers written by him; and also that they make inquiry into what he hath taught or vented concerning the Trinity, and also how he has obeyed the injunctions of the General Assembly, in anno 1717, as to the points which they had then prohibited him to teach. And, further, if they shall see ground to suspect him to be unsound in any other Article of our Confession of Faith, they shall likewise make inquiry into his opinion and sentiments concerning the same; and for the help and assistance of the said Presbytery in these matters, the General Assembly do hereby nominate and appoint the Reverend Mr William Mitchell, one of the ministers of Edinburgh, Messrs James Haddow, Principal of the New College of St Andrews, Allan Logan at Culross, William Wishart, Principal of the University of Edinburgh, William Hamilton, Professor of Divinity there, James Craig at Edinburgh, James Bannatyne there, James Smith at Cramond, James Alston at Dirleton, William M'George at Pennycuik, John Brand at Borrowstounness, Michael Potter at Kippen, John Hunter at Ayr, Hugh Fauside at Loudoun, Robert Wodrow at Eastwood, Thomas Linning at Lesmahagow, John Currie at Old Monkland, and James Bayne at Bonhill, Ministers; the Right Honourable Sir Hugh Dalrymple of North Berwick, Lord President of the Session, Adam Cockburn of Ormiston, Lord Justice-Clerk, Mr James Erskine of Grange, Mr James Hamilton of Pencaitland, Sir Walter Pringle of Newhall, Senators of the College of Justice, Sir James Stewart of Goodtrees, Bart., and Mr Robert Dundas of Arniston, younger, Ruling Elders; to be a select committee, and thirteen of them to be a quorum, whereof nine are always to be ministers; and appoints their first meeting to be in the Old Church Aisle of Edinburgh, upon the next day after the dissolving of this present Assembly, at nine of the clock in the forenoon, and that their subsequent stated meetings be upon the Tuesdays before each ordinary meeting of the Commission of the General Assembly, at four o'clock in the afternoon, with full power to them to choose their own moderator and clerk; that they give advice and direction in these affairs to the Presbytery, as they shall be applied to for the same, and that the Presbytery send an account of the steps of their procedure to the several meetings of this committee that are or shall be afterwards appointed, that they may give advice and direction as the case shall require;—that the moderator of the committee shall correspond with the Presbytery; and he is hereby empowered to call meetings of the said committee pro re nata, as he shall be advised by the said Presbytery, or as occasion shall require. And the Assembly hereby gives full power to the said committee to adjourn themselves to such times and places as they shall see cause; and also to meet and join with the Presbytery, in the trial of the affair recommended to them; but neither committee nor Presbytery, jointly nor separately, shall pass a judgment, either absolving or condemning Mr Simson, but shall only prepare this affair by all proper ways of inquiry, and proceed usque ad sententiam, and then report their diligence to the next General Assembly. Yet, if Mr Simson shall refuse or decline to answer questions that shall be proposed to him by the said Presbytery or committee, and conform to the direction of this act; or if he shall give such answers, or behave himself with relation to the premises in such manner as that it shall appear to them to be unsafe to the Church of God, that he continue to teach or preach, in any of these cases, the Presbytery, or Presbytery and committee, are empowered to suspend him till the next General Assembly. And the General Assembly appoint that the select committee, at their meeting in March next, shall order an abstract of their procedure to be sent to the several Synods within this Church, and that in all their actings, the Presbytery and committee be careful to proceed according to the Word of God, the Confession of Faith, and Larger and Shorter Catechisms of this Church founded thereupon, and they are not to insist upon any articles not contained therein.
XI. Sess. ult., May 19, 1727.—Address to the King in regard to the Growth of Poperty, &c.
TO THE KING'S MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY,
The humble Address of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
May it please your Majesty,
Your Majesty having been graciously pleased, on many occasions, to express your royal confidence in our loyalty and duty to your Majesty's sacred person and government, and our hearty affection and zeal for the Protestant succession in your royal family, and your firm resolution to maintain the Presbyterian government of this Church; and having recommended to us the promoting religion and piety, and using our best endeavours to prevent the growth of Popery, ignorance, and immorality, as we have the greatest encouragement, we are thereby laid under the strongest ties to apply ourselves with the utmost diligence to the accomplishing of those pious ends.
It is from our sincere desire faithful to answer this great trust, that we now crave leave most humbly to represent to your Majesty, that the Papists, especially in the Highlands and Islands, and northern parts of this country, continue still to diffuse their corrupt and pernicious doctrines among your subjects, their bishops and priests taking upon them to say mass publicly, and exercise other parts of their superstitious worship, and even to train up great numbers of youth at schools in a most open manner, in manifest contempt and defiance of your Majesty's laws, disowning them, as established by unlawful authority, to which no manner of obedience is due; and instilling into the people an opinion, contrary to the rules of the Gospel, and destructive of society and good order, that, under no less than the pain of damnation, they are bound to oppose them, and to do every thing which may contribute to sap and undermine their foundations; and maintaining that nothing can be more meritorious than to propagate these impious maxims by all means whatsoever. For a more ful account of this, we beg leave to refer to former memorials, particularly to one in November 1725, from the Commission of the General Assembly, laid before the Lords. Justices in your Majesty's absence.
We reckon ourselves also obliged humbly to inform your Majesty, that the Nonjuring pretended Protestant bishops, and those who are put in orders by them, restlessly endeavour to sow the seeds of disaffection to the present happy establishment in your royal person and family, especially this last year, both in city and country; and in everything that tends to this they unite in measures with professed Papists. Their preachers do not only forbear to pray expressly for your Majesty, but, on the contrary, they pray in terms by which their hearers understand that none else can be meant but the Pretender. They take every opportunity to insinuate into their minds that they are oppressed under your Majesty's administration, and can have no prospect of redress but from his success. By these means their followers entertain favourable impressions of Popery, and are the more easly perverted to it; concerning which we have sent to your Secretary of State a particular memorial.
With the greatest thankfulness we acknowledge your Majesty's pious and princely care to prevent the growth of Popery, and to promote the reformed religion. It remains only that your subjects should follow your royal example; that all persons in public stations, and, more particularly, inferior judges, should conform to your royal intentions, lay themselves out towards a vigorous execution of the laws, which the well-affected among them cannot but incline to, and would probably effectuate, were they furnished with proper funds necessary for defraying the charges thereof.
We presume, therefore, with all submission, to offer these matters to your royal consideration, and humbly pray that such effectual measures may be taken against these growing evils above mentioned as to your Majesty, in your consummate wisdom, shall seem fit.
That God may long preserve your Majesty, for the good of all your people, the
maintaining of the true Protestant religion, and the protection and comfort of all the
churches of Christ; that he may direct your councils, and prosper your arms against
all your enemies; and that a Protestant in your royal family may always sit on the
throne, shall be the earnest and constant prayers of,
May it please your Majesty, your Majesty's most faithful, most obedient, and most loyal subjects, the Ministers and Elders met in the National Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
Signed in our name, and at our appointment, by
Will. Hamilton, Moderator.
XII. Sess. ult., May 19, 1727.—Act concerning the Licensing of Probationers for the Holy Ministry, and Students of Divinity.
The General Assembly, finding it needful now, when the number of probationers is so great, to take all due care that no persons be entered on trials for the holy ministry but with all due caution and deliberation; do, therefore, enjoin the strict observation of all former Acts of Assembly made with respect to the entering of students upon trials for the end foresaid. And further, they do appoint and ordain that when any Presbytery, who is about to enter a person upon trials, shall receive a letter from another Presbytery showing their dissatisfaction with the person to be entered, and giving grounds for the same, the said person shall not be licensed until the Synod give their directions in that matter, unless the above mentioned Presbytery, who showed their dissatisfaction, do afterwards signify their consent that the said trials should go on. And the General Assembly appoints Presbyteries who shall receive such letters about students from any other Presbytery, to write a return to the said letters with the first post after their meeting. And the Assembly like wise appoints, that when any young man comes to wait upon the profession of divinity in any university, he shall bring along with him a testimonial from the minister of the parish from whence he comes; and when he leaves the profession, he shall also take with him, beside the professor's certificate, a testimonial from the minister of that parish in which he resided when he attended the profession.
XIII. Sess. ult., May 19, 1727.—Act appointing the Diet of the next General Assembly.
The next General Assembly of this National Church is appointed to be held at Edinburgh, upon the first Thursday of May next to come, 1728 years.
This General Assembly was concluded with prayer, singing of the 133d Psalm throughout, and pronouncing the blessing.
Collected and extracted from the Records of the General Assembly, by
Jo.Dundas, Cls. Eccl. Scot.