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, convened at Edinburgh, May 17, 1798.
I. Sess. 1, May 17, 1798.—The King's Commission to David Earl of Leven and Melville produced, and ordered to be recorded.
The General Assembly, &c.
II. Sess. 1, May 17, 1798.—The Kings'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. The experience of many years authorises us to repose the fullest confidence in the wisdom of your counsels and measures, and the temper of your minds, and calls upon us to repeat those assurances of our paternal affection towards you so justly due to your venerable body.
We are firmly persuaded, that our entire kingdom will derive the greatest advantages from the deliberations of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. At the same time, we trust that your proceedings will continue to be distinguished by that gravity and calmness, by that loyal attachment to our person, by that love for the people committed to your charge, and that spirit of Christian charity, one towards another, which cannot fail to confer dignity on yourselves, and to give authority to your decisions.
We recommend it to you, most earnestly, to persevere in your attention to the advancement of piety, and the practice of all Christian duties, both moral and positive; to the preservation of sound doctrine, and the checking those loose notions, both in faith and morality, which are the disgrace of these times, and which, unless timely counteracted, must operate to the destroying of all good principles in the hearts of men, to the dissolving all the bands of society, and to the provoking of the displeasure of Almighty God.
We have again constituted and appointed our right trusty and right well-beloved cousin, David Earl of Leven and Melville, to be our Commissioner, and to represent our royal person in this Assembly. We know his ardent zeal for the great cause of religion, and the steady regard which has ever filled his mind for the peace and prosperity of the Church of Scotland, and, therefore, we do, with the greater satisfaction, repose in his faithful hands the execution of this important trust.
We avail ourselves of this fresh opportunity of assuring you of our full determination to maintain and preserve the Church of Scotland in the complete enjoyment of all its just rights and privileges; and we do solemnly adjure you to reflect upon and fulfil, conjointly and individually, all those various duties which the well-being of the establishment, the interests of civil society, and religion itself, so forcibly, at this awful moment, demand. And so we bid you heartily farewell.
Given at our Court at St. James's, the 11th day of May 1798, in the thirty-eighth year of our reign.
By his Majesty's Command,
Addressed 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 19, 1798.—The General Assembly's Answer to the King's most gracious Letter.
May it please your Majesty,
Your Majesty's most gracious letter to this meeting of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland was received with the highest respect.
The full confidence which your Majesty is pleased to repose in the wisdom of our proceedings, and the renewed assurances of your paternal affection, are most endearing testimonies of your royal favour, and fill our minds with the warmest gratitude to our beloved Sovereign.
The persuasion your Majesty has condescended to express of the great advantages which will result to your entire kingdom from the deliberations of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, is a most powerful incitement to us, in all our proceedings, to conduct ourselves with that gravity and calmness, and that loyal attachment to your sacred person; and to cultivate that love for the people committed to our charge, and that spirit of Christian charity, one towards another, which will best secure the dignity of our order, and give authority to our decisions.
Feeling, as we do, the atmost abhorrence of those loose notions, both in faith and morality, which are the disgrace of these times; and animated by an ardent zeal to counteract their pernicious influence, we listen, with profound reverence, to your royal recommendation; and shall steadily persevere in our exertions for the preservation of sound doctrine, and for the advancement of genuine piety, and the practice of all Christian duties, both moral and positive; in the humble hope that we may thus prove the means of averting the displeasure of Almighty God, and of promoting the happiness of your Majesty's subjects, by contributing to the maintenance of pure religion, of good government, and of social order.
Your Majesty's knowledge of the ardent zeal of the Earl of Leven and Melville in the great cause of religion, and of his steady regard for the peace and prosperity of the Church of Scotland, and the long and pleasing experience we have had of his fidelity in the discharge of the duties of that high and important trust with which he is now invested, render the re-appointment of him to represent your royal person peculiarly acceptable to this Assembly.
Your royal donation for propagating Christian Knowledge in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, we receive as a continued proof of your Majesty's paternal concern for the spiritual as well as temporal interests of your subjects; and we shall study, by a wise and faithful application of it, to promote the pious and benevolent purpose for which it is granted.
We rely, with perfect confidence, on the fresh assurance of your Majesty's determination to maintain and preserve the Church of Scotland in the complete enjoyment of all its just rights and privileges. Deeply affected with the impressive charge of our Sovereign, who, with paternal affection, solemnly adjures us to reflect upon our sacred obligations, we pledge ourselves to your Majesty, that, through the help of God, we will, both conjointly and individually, fulfil all those various duties which the well-being of the establishment, and the interests of civil society and of religion do, at this awful moment, so forcibly demand.
That the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ may long preserve your sacred
person, direct your councils, and crown your undertakings with abundant success;
that He may bless our most gracious Queen, the Prince and Princess of Wales, and
all the Royal Family; that there may never be wanting one of your royal house to sit
on the throne of these kingdoms to latest ages; and that, after a long, useful, and
happy reign, you may exchange an earthly for a heavenly crown, are, and shall be,
the sincere 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 General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
Signed in our name, in our presence, and at our appointment, by
William Taylor, Moderator.
IV. Sess. 5, May 22, 1798.—Address to his Majesty on the present Situation of Public Affairs.
Most Gracious Sovereign,
We, your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the ministers and elders of the Church of Scotland met in the General Assembly, beg leave to embrace this opportunity of approaching your throne, in order to express the sentiments which we feel on occasion of the arduous contest in which this nation is engaged with a neighbouring hostile power.
During former times of tranquillity and peace, the ministers of this Church had always studied to confirm the people under their charge in principles of loyalty to your Majesty's person and government, and to inspire them with veneration for that happy constitution, civil and sacred, with which we have long been blessed. Now, when the day of trial is come, it is with the utmost satisfaction we behold the happy effects of those sentiments which we have long endeavoured to instil. We behold the great body of the people, in this country, united in zealous attachment to your Majesty's government, and in resolute endeavours to defend their ancient rights against every invader. We have the happiness of expressing to your Majesty our firm persuasion, that the spirit of the country is now fully roused among all ranks of men. They are sensible that all that is sacred to them as Christians, and dear to them as men, is at stake; and that, in resisting their impious and ourtrageous foes, they are not only defending a Sovereign whom they love and revere, and supporting a constitution under which they have long been happy, but defending, at the same time, their own families, their persons, and property. We can assure your Majesty that, on our part, nothing shall be wanting to cherish these patriotic dispositions, to stimulate the general ardour in the public cause, and to promote every measure which the wisdom of your councils shall deem necessary for the security of the realm.
We beg leave to congratulate your Majesty on the brilliant successes with which it has pleased the Almighty already to bless your arms in various quarters. Trusting to that gracious aid of Heaven, which has so often signally supported the British throne, and defeated the attempts of unjust and violent enemies, we entertain the firmest hopes that the insolent menaces of our present foes shall be completely baffled, and that an honourable and lasting peace shall terminate the contest in which your Majesty and the nation are now engaged.
That the God of battles may continue to bless your Majesty's fleets and armies;
that He may speedily give a check to the ambition and anarchy of those tyrannical
rulers who have disturbed the peace of so many surrounding nations; that He may
long preserve your Majesty's precious and important life, and still increase the lustre
and prosperity of your reign over a loyal and grateful people, shall ever be the fervent
May it please your Majesty, your Majesty's most dutiful, most faithful, and most obedient subjects, the Ministers and Elders met in this General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
Signed in our name, in our presence, and at our appointment, by
William Taylor, Moderator.
V. Sess. 6, May 23, 1798.—Act and Regulations respecting the Erection of Chapels of Ease.
The General Assembly, judging it expedient that no Chapel of Ease should be erected without the knowledge and approbation of the General Assembly, unanimously did, and hereby do, ordain, that in future, if any petition shall be laid before any Presbytery of this Church for the erection of a Chapel of Ease, the said Presbytery shall strictly observe the following regulations:—
"That in future, when a petition shall be laid before any Presbytery of this Church for the erection of a Chapel of Ease, it shall lie upon the table till their next ordinary meeting; and at that meeting, unless it shall appear to the Presbytery, from the circumstances in which the petition is offered, that the erection of the said Chapel of Ease is unnecessary and inexpedient, they shall cite the minister and kirksession of the parish within which the chapel is intended; and shall summon, by edictal citation, the heritors of the parish; and if there is a burgh in the parish, the magistrates of that burgh, to attend the next meeting of Presbytery, and to appear for their interest in the subject of the petition, if they shall see cause: That such Presbytery, after having heard the parties, shall sufficiently ascertain the circumstances on which the petition is founded,—the facts stated as reasons for the necessity or expediency of the chapel intended,—the general plan of the chapel itself,— the estimate of the expense to be incurred in completing it,—the scheme laid down for discharging the debts which it may be necessary to contract,—the plan on which it is proposed to dispose of the collections to be made at the chapel,—the names and designations of the persons in whom the property is to be vested,—the mode proposed for the election of the minister,—the stipend to be provided to him,—and the security offered for the regular payment of the stipend. That such Presbytery shall thereafter report the whole above mentioned circumstances of the case, from their minutes, to the next meeting of the General Assembly, and shall not pronounce any final judgment on the petition, till they shall have received the special directions of the Assembly thereon;—and that it shall be competent for the petitioners, and for all parties having interest, to be heard on the subject at the bar of the Assembly."
VI. Sess. 8, May 25, 1798.—Overture respecting the course of University Education to be observed by Students, previous to their entering the Divinity Hall. (fn. 1)
Whereas it has been represented, that students intended for the holy ministry do sometimes hurry over their course of philosophy in two sessions of the university, it is overtured, that it be recommended to students, previous to their entering a Divinity Hall, to study literature and philosophy at a university during a course of five complete sessions, in the following order, viz.:—
Session 1st, Humanity or Latin, with the elements of Greek in the first Humanity and Greek classes.
Session 2d, Latin and Greek, in the higher Humanity and Greek classes, with the elements of Mathematics.
Session 3d, Logic, with Greek and Mathematics in the higher classes.
Session 4th, Session 5th, Natural and Moral Philosophy, but not both in the same session; together with Latin again, or Greek, or Mathematics, in one or more of the higher classes.
But that it shall be expressly enacted, that no Professor of Divinity shall admit any student into the Divinity Hall, until he produce certificates of his having studied at a university during three complete sessions, in the following classes, viz.:—Logic, together with Greek in the higher Greek class, and Natural and Moral Philosophy; it being, in this case, understood that such students are well grounded in Latin and the elements of Greek, previous to their entering the University.
VII. Sess. 9, May 26, 1798.—Commission of the General Assembly to certain Ministers and Ruling Elders for discussing Affairs referred to them.
The General Assembly, &c.
VIII. Sess. 9, May 26, 1798.—Commission to some Ministers and Ruling Elders for the Reformation of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, and for Managing his Majesty's Royal Bounty for that end.
The General Assembly, &c.
IX. Sess. ult., May 28, 1798.—New Overture respecting the Licensing of Probationers.
X. Sess. ult., May 28, 1798.—Overture respecting the Attendance of Students on the Divinity Hall.
XI. Sess. ult., May 28, 1798.—Act appointing the Diet of the next General Assembly.
The next General Assembly of this National Church is appointed to be held within the New Church Aisle of Edinburgh, on Thursday, the 23d day of May 1799.
Extracted from the Records of the General Assembly, by
Andrew Dalzel, Cls. Eccl. Scot.
Sess. 7, May 24, 1798.—Regulations adopted by the General Assembly, 1798, for a new Gaelic Chapel in the City of Glasgow.
I. That the property of the house shall, for behoof of the congregation, be vested in Donald Munro, merchant, John Macintosh, manufacturer, and the other petitioners, trustees and managers of said chapel, and their successors in office.
II. That the house shall be used only as a Chapel of Ease, and that it shall not be competent to elect any minister or preacher to officiate therein but a licentiate of the Church of Scotland, or a person who is an ordained minister according to the rules of this Church; and who, before his ordination or admission, shall produce a certificate of his having taken the oaths to government, according to law; and that the minister of the Chapel of Ease shall be under the jurisdiction of the Presbytery within whose bounds the chapel lies, subject to censure or deposition by the Presbytery, and not removeable but according to the rules of the Church relating to ministers on the Establishment; and that the congregation which meets in said chapel shall remain subject to the jurisdiction of the Church of Scotland, and her different judicatories.
III. That the funds arising from the seat-rents shall be under the management of the said Donald Munro, John Macintosh, and the other trustees and managers of the said chapel, and their successors in office, and shall be applied, in the first place, to the payment of the minister's stipend, precentor, and church-officer; and that, if there is any overplus, it shall be converted into a sinking fund, out of which, as soon as the present debt of the chapel shall be paid, the stipend of the minister may, from time to time, be augmented.
IV. That the conduct of the managers, in the administration of the funds of the chapel, shall be under the inspection and control of the Presbytery of Glasgow; and, if the Presbytery shall see cause to summon them, the managers shall attend the Presbytery, upon a citation of ten free days.
V. That the present managers shall supply any vacancy that may happen in their number during the space of five years; that at the end of every five years there shall be a new election of managers, by the same persons, and in the same manner, as shall hereafter be directed in the case of the election of a minister.
VI. That the managers shall be liable and give security for the minister's stipend, which shall be payable half-yearly or quarterly, as may be most convenient for the managers.
VII. That the minister's stipend shall not be under seventy pounds sterling yearly.
VIII. That collections be made regularly at the chapel-doors, or in the chapel, and that the sum arising therefrom shall be, bona fide, paid into the hands of the treasurer of the General Sessions of Glasgow, and applied by them for the support of the poor of the said city.
IX. That the minister first chosen is to be elected by a majority of the managers, and all future elections shall be made only by those who possess seats in the chapel; and to prevent all confusion and faction, those of each pew shall name one of their number, on the day preceding the election, who shall vote for the minister; and the name of the person so nominated, with the number who occupy the pew, shall be immediately given in to the managers; provided always, that where a whole seat is set to one sitter, for himself, or his family, or others, he alone shall have the vote for such pew; that previous to any election the managers shall cause intimation to be made to be congregation in the chapel of the time fixed for the election, at least ten days previous to the time so fixed, that, in the meantime, the vote for each pew, where there are more sitters than one, shall be vested in one person. That the preses of the managers for the time being shall preside at such election, and the candidate having the majority of votes shall be preferred, and certified by the said preses; in consequence of which, the reverend Presbytery shall be requested to proceed to his trials and ordination or admission, according to the rules of the Church. That in any future vacancy, if no day of election shall be fixed by the managers within the space of six months, then it shall be in the power of the Presbytery to fix a day of election, by giving due previous intimation to the congregation of the said chapel.
X. That previous to the election a list of candidates, not exceeding five in number, shall be laid before the Presbytery of Glasgow.
XI. That when a vacancy happens in the Chapel of Ease, it shall be reported to the Presbytery by the minister of the parish. That during the vacancy the managers shall apply to the Presbytery of Glasgow, and shall have power, with consent of the Presbytery, to employ any minister or preacher of the Established Church to supply the chapel.
XII. That no candidate who is a probationer shall preach in said chapel before having laid his licence and other certificates before the Presbytery of Glasgow, and obtained their approbation; and no ordained minister, before he has produced to the Presbytery a certificate of his ordination from the Presbytery to which he belongs.
XIII. That the election of a new minister, when reported to the Presbytery, shall be accompanied with a letter of acceptance from the person elected, with a renewal of the security for payment of the stipend.
XIV. That after the candidate preferred is admitted and ordained a minister, it shall be lawful for him to perform all ministerial services for the members of his own congregation; particularly, to perform every part of public worship in his own pulpit, to which he shall have an exclusive right under the authority of the reverend Presbytery; to marry after legal proclamation of banns, and to baptize after legal registration.
XV. That upon a certificate of the moral character of the persons applying to be admitted to the Sacraments from members of the parochial sessions to which they belong, the minister may dispense the Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper to the people who shall attend his ministry in the chapel, according to the Word of God, and the Standards and practice of this National Church.
XVI. That as often as the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper shall be dispensed in said chapel, a sum not exceeding one hundred pounds Scots shall be allowed, from the collections made on these occasions, for communion-elements, &c.
XVII. That the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper shall be administered in the chapel on the same day in which that ordinance is dispensed in the parish churches of Glasgow; and that, during a vacancy, the minister to preside on that occasion shall be appointed with the consent of the minister of the parish in whose bounds the chapel lies.
XVIII. That as this chapel is intended for the accommodation of those who speak Gaelic only, or chiefly, seats shall be set to persons of this description only. That for the same reason, the service shall be performed in Gaelic in the forenoon of every Lord's Day; and that on occasion of dispensing the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, the sermons shall all be in Gaelic.
Note.— There is bound up with the original edition of the Acts of 1798 a "Warning and Admonition to the people of Scotland by the Commission of the General Assembly, March 1, 1798," issued on the occasion of the French Revolution. It will appear in the Appendix.—Ed. 1843.