« PreviousContinue »
a hearing. * So far was this assembly from listening to the groans of an afflicted people, that they dismissed the complaints, against the settlement of Mr. Stark at Kinross, one of the most scandalous intrusions that ever was made on a christian con
* Unto the very reverend, &c.—The representation and petition of the ministers and elders under subscribing,
Humbly sheweth, That we being much weighted and aggrieved with several things in the present state of our mother-church of Scotland, and having for some time longed and looked for redress, (for which the ordinary means have been used without success,) and now with deep concern, observing, that instead of obtaining redress, our grievances are increasing daily; we find ourselves obliged, in duty to God and his church, and for our own exoneration, to lay before this venerable assembly the following grievances, with such remedies as occur to us, humbly begging you may be pleased to take the same into serious consideration, and give such orders thereanent, as in your great wisdom shall be found most proper for redress thereof.
1mo. Whereas several grievous encroachments have been made on the legal rights of this church, and contrair to our known principles, since the Union of the two kingdoms, specially towards the latter end of queen Anne's reign, thro' the influence of persons, no less disaffected to the protestant succession than to the church of Scotland; particularly (1mo.) by imposing the sacramental test, and conformity to the hierarchy, liturgy, and ceremonies of the church of England, upon the members of this church, while serving her majesty in England or Ireland. 2do. By establishing an almost boundless toleration in Scotland, whereby error, superstition, and profaneness, are much encouraged, and the discipline of this church greatly weakened, by withdrawing the concurrence of the civil magistrate. Stio. By restoring the justly abrogated right of presentation to patrons, subversive of the right of election belonging to Christian congregations by the word of God, and the constitutions of this church. 4to. That addresses from this church, offered in queen Anne's reign to the house of peers, were not received, because not directed to the lords spirituall; which not being agreeable to our known principles and reserved rights, will, if insisted on, preclude the judicatories and members of this church from addressing that honourable house, even on the most pressing occasions. 5to. The form of swearing introduced from England into some courts in Scotland, by laying their hands upon, and kissing the gospels ; which is an innovation in that solemn piece of worship, and not agreeable to the scripture pattern, but superstitious, and justly offensive. Now, altho' several presbyteries and synods especially after king George the First, his happy accession to the throne) have, by their instructions, often desired, that the General Assembly might address his majesty and parliament for redress of these and other grievances, yet ever since that happy period, this has been delayed, to the great prejudice of this church, as we apprehend. 'Tis true, indeed, the General Assembly, 1715, did approve of a memorial prepared by the commis
gregation, commanded the presbytery of Dunfermline to enrol him as one of their number, and discharged any one of them to admit the parishioners of that parish to church fellowship, without a line from Mr. Stark, though they had declared him
sion of the preceding assembly, representing several of the above-mentioned grievances, and appointed it to be sent to the secretary of state; they have also addressed the king on other heads, and have frequently transmitted congratulatory addresses; but it doth not appear that ever any address has been sent by the assemblies of this church, either to our present gracious sovereign, or his royal father of blessed memory, for redressing the foresaid grievances; nor has any petitions thereanent been offered to the parliament during all that period, altho' it is evident, that most of the above grievances cannot be removed without the parliament. We therefore humbly move, that the venerable assembly may be pleased to prepare such addresses and petitions to the king and parliament on the foresaid heads, and also against that heavy grievance of popery, which still continues, as you shall judge most proper, for obtaining redress; and appoint fit persons to present and prosecute the same, in the name of this national church, not leaving it to the commission. As this appears necessary for the exoneration of this church, so we are hopeful it will not fail of the desired success, when we have such a gracious sovereign upon the throne, who has solemnly engaged inviolably to maintain and preserve the settlement of the true protestant religion, with the government, worship, discipline, rights, and privileges of the church of Scotland, as established by the laws made there, in prosecution of the claim of right. And particularly by an act, intituled, Act for securing the protestant religion, and presbyterian church government; and by the acts past in the parliaments of both kingdoms, for Union of the two kingdoms; and likewise when this present parliament is far more friendly than that, which in the latter end of queen Anne's reign, brought upon this church some of these grievances under which she presently groans; and that this our desire is agreeable to law, appears from the claim of right, which allows private persons, much more the established church, humbly to petition the king and parliament, for repealing of such laws as are grievous to them, and prejudicial to their just rights.
2do. Altho' this church, (through the mercy of God) has been famou; for purity of doctrine ever since the reformation; yet gross and dangerous errors have been lately vented therein, and that by a professor of divinity, Mr. John Simson, in teaching his students, as has been found evidently proven by the General Assemblies 1727, 1728, in the following articles : imo. The profese sor's denying the necessary existence of our Lord Jesus Christ, in teaching his students. 2do. His teaching his scholars, that the necessary existence of our Lord Jesus Christ, was a thing we know not. Stio. His teaching, that the term necessary existence was impertinent, and not to be used in talking of the Trinity. 4to. His teaching, as his own opinion, that the three persons of the Trinity are not to be said to be numerically one, in substance or essence. 5to. His teaching, that the terms necessary cristence, supreme Deity, and the
to be thrust upon both parish and presbytery without any proper authority but the tyrannical exertion of power; and upon a motion for marking a dissent, and protestations offered against their decision, the clerk was prohibited from entering
title of the only true God, may be taken, and are by some authors taken, in a sense that includes the personal property of the Father, and so not belonging to the Son; and that, tho' he said, that necessary existence, supreme Deity; and the title of the only true God, might belong to the Son, in such a sense as included not the personal property of the Father; yet he told not what that sense was, but without doing so, he inculcated the foresaid distinction, as a caution that might be necessary for students, in reading both ancient and modern authors, whether friends or adversaries to the truth: for which errors he stands censured by the General Assembly, tho' not to that 'degree which most presbyteries by their instructions, and many members of assembly, judged he deserved; with whom we concur in our sentiments. And it being also evident, from the printed report of the assembly's committee for purity of doctrine, that the said professor Simson has contravened the act of assembly, 1717, and taught the opinions and hypotheses thereby discharged to be vented: yea, several dangerous errors contained in the second libel drawn up against him, tried and found proven by the said committee; and it is to be feared, that many of the students and others may be too far infected with his
We therefore, upon the whole, beg leave humbly to move, that a solemn warning may be emitted by this assembly against his errors, and others, which too many in this land may be tainted with, and in danger of, by points spread therein, contrary to the word of God, our excellent Confession of Faith, and solemn engagements.
3tio. It being the undeniable right of Christian congregations to have the free choice of their own pastors, and their call and consent being necessary to found the pastoral relation betwixt gospel ministers and such congregations, according to the word of God, books of discipline, acts of the General Assembly, and the concurring suffrages and unanswerable arguments of the most eminent divines, both at home and abroad, whose writings are well known to this venerable assembly. It is therefore a heavy grievance to us, and to many mo of the Lord's servants and people through the land, to see and hear of the open encroachments made on the church's just rights, especially by imposing and forcing in ministers on several Christian congregations, not only without their call, but in direct opposition to their declared mind, and strongest remonstrances, and so dissentiente et renitente ecclesia ; and that (not to mention what has been done in some inferior courts) even by sentences of the commissions of the General Assembly, not only where presentations were insisted on, but also where the right was fallen into the hands of presbyteries and that without the consent and against the mind of presbyteries, or synods immediately concerned, as is notour in the late cases of Hutton, Balphron, West-Kirk, and Kinross, and several other instances which we forbear to mention. But we beg leave to add, that such proceedings appear to
any such dissents or protestations on the records of assembly. *
Still farther to aggravate the feelings of a people already driven to distraction, this assembly proceeded to enact the
us highly prejudicial to the just rights of Christian congregations, and radical judicatories, and inconsistent with the professed principles of this church; yea, with the limited commissions and instructions given by General Assemblies to their commissions; and of dangerous consequence, not only in the cases specified, but in many others, seeing they may be improven as precedents, and have too visible a tendency to grieve many of God's people, alienate their affections, cause divisions, pave the way for introducing in all corners of the land, a ministry utterly unacceptable, and so not fit to edify and rule the flock of Christ, and to wreathe the heavy yoke of patronage about the church's neck, and strengthen the hands of enemies, who may design to model the church, according to their own mind, and bring in a corrupt, time-serving ministry into it, to serve their carnal political interests, and to ruin the coremanted work of reformation, mercifully established in this church. And in. deed, such settlements, contrary to the mind of Christian congregations, are the more offensive, when it is remembered, that the intrusion of ministers on congregations was one of the heavy grievances justly complained of, under prelatical persecution; and that the eonvention of estates and parliament, at the happy revolution, expressed so great regard to the inclinations of the people, in abolishing prelacy, and settling presbyterian church government, and also in their acts anent calling of ministers to vacant churches, and abolishing the patron's right of prezentation subversive of the people's just right of election; wherefore we humbly beg this venerable assembly may seriously consider the premisses, and disapprove, yea, repeal such of these deeds as may come regularly before them; and with all due respect to beritors well affected to church and state, discharge in time coming, all settlements of vacant congregations, without the call and consent of the elders and Christian people thereof; and apply timeously such other remedies, for the cure of the dangerous maladies above pointed at, as in their great wisdom shall be judged most proper and effectual,
4to. Whereas, of late, some settlements have been ordered on calls not supervised or sustained by presbyteries, yea, and some attested only by notars publick, and the commission has appointed committees to try and ordain ministers for vacant congregations, not only without the concurrence and consent of presbyteries and synods concerned, who have best right, and are fittest to judge therein, but in direct opposition to their mind; and that in such haste, as to prevent remedy by the ensuing assembly's just decision, in causes coming regularly before them, by protestation and complaint of parties; it is therefore humbly moved, for preventing the like evils, that the General Assembly declare and enact, that no call shall be sustained, but that which is moderated in, and attested by orders of presbyteries; nor subscriptions admitted, but those made
* Index to Unprinted Acts of Assembly, 1732.
overture of last year, which had awakened so many apprehensions into a standing law of the church in manner as follows :-" The General Assembly taking to their serious consideration how necessary it is, that until it shall please God in
or verified by the subscribers before the ministers appointed to moderate, or the presbytery itself. And that, if commissions or synods in time coming shall appoint committees or correspondents, to try or ordain ministers without consent of the congregations and radical courts immediately concerned, the said committees or correspondents shall be discharged to proceed, till the assembly give their judgment, in case the causes are sisted before the assembly by complaint or appeal.
5to. It being evident from the printed index of the acts of Asseinbly, 1724, that it was referred to the commission to consider what is proper to be done as to ministers or probationers, who shew a willingness to accept of presentations from patrons, and to propose an overture hereupon to the next assembly; and nothing having been yet done herein, tho' that grievance not only continues, but increases; and the good effect of the amendment made in the patronage act, anno 1719, is like to be totally defeated, by ministers and probationers their accepting presentations (contrary to our known principles) without calls from vacant congregations, yea, long before any meetings were appointed for chusing and calling pastors; and some judicatories who have testified their just displeasure against presentees for their said unworthy and offensive practice, instead of being supported (as might have been expected) were condemned by the commission: it is therefore earnestly desired, that the General Assembly may seasonably interpose, in the way they shall judge most proper, to give an effectual check to such dangerous practices of ministers and probationers of this church, and that none be licensed or ordained that favour this course.
6to. Concerning the seventh Act of Assembly, 1730, discharging the recording reasons of dissent against the determinations of church judicatories; as several presbyteries and synods did, by their instructions strongly remonstrate against it, and craved it might be repealed last assembly, so we find ourselves obliged here to represent, that the said act appears to us inconsistent with the Act of Assembly 1644, concerning dissenting voices, appointing dissenters to urge their dissents be marked in the registers; and if that be refused, that they protest, &c. For as reasons are a necessary part of dissents to be recorded therewith, so this act 1644, seems plainly to require dissents with their reasons to be recorded ; seeing the dissents warranted thereby, are such as may evidence the determinations dissented from, to be contrary to the word of God, Acts of Assembly, or received order of this kirk; especially, while it is declared in the said act, that the dissenters shall be censurable, if their dissents shall be found otherwise: Wherefore, the reasons they judge necessary to justify their dissents, according to that act, and to secure them against censure, must be recorded therewith, that superior judicatories may be capable to judge from the register itself, if the dissents be according to