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another act for preventing division in the church, respecting the oath of abjuration, which was probably equally ineffective as those that had preceded it. They also appointed a com
and hardship’upon the established church of Scotland, that those of her communion, who are employed in his majesty's service in England or Ireland, should be obliged to join in communion and conformity with the church of England; whereas, conformity to this church is not required (nor do we plead that it should be) of members of the church of England, when called to serve his majesty in Scotland, who here enjoy the full liberty of dissenters without molestation; and the common and equal privileges of the subjects of the united kingdom, stipulated by the Union, claim the same liberty to the members of the church of Scotland, when employed in his majesty's service in England or Ireland. 2do, By the act restoring the power of presentation to patrons, the legally established constitution of this church was altered in a very important point, and while it appears equitable in itself, and agreeable to the liberty of christians and a free people, to have interest in the choice of those to whom they intrust the care of their souls, it is an hardship to be imposed upon in so tender a point; and that frequently by patrons, who have no property nor residence in the parishes; and this, besides the snares of simonaical pactions, and the many troubles and contests arising from the power of patronages, and the abuses thereof, by disaffected patrons putting their power in other hands, who as effectually serve their purposes; by patrons competing for the right of presentation in the same parish ; and by frequently presenting ministers, settled in eminent posts, to mean and small parishes, to elude the planting thereof; by all which, parishes are often kept long vacant, to the great hinderance of the progress of the gospel
The General Assembly, considering the circumstances of the church of Scotland, with respect to the oath of abjuration, as they are fully represented in the humble addresses of the commission and General Assembly held in anno 1712, copies whereof are herewith transmitted, do humbly and earnestly entreat, that suitable remedies may be thought of.
W. CARSTARES, Moderator. And the General Assembly recommended to all their members to use their best endeavours with friends at London, that the ends of the addresses of the commission and General Assembly, 1712, and act of the General Assembly the 14th of May that year, concerning the oath of abjuration, may be obtained, and most humbly desired his majesty's high commissioner that he would be pleased to use his good offices for that end.
The General Assembly did appoint this memorial to be put in the hands of their commission, and did enjoin them to use all proper and due means to obtain redress, and particularly at their first meeting, to send the same to the duke of Montrose, principal secretary of state, most humbly entreating his grace to take a fit opportunity to acquaint his majesty thereof.-Acts of General Assembly 1715.
mittee for the trial of professor Simson, on a charge of error, by the Rev. James Webster of Edinburgh-recommended a collection to be made at all the church doors, for the society for propagating christian knowledge—made “An act against popery and profanity”—“ An act discharging prelatical preachers, and some who profess to be presbyterians, and separate from this church, to exercise discipline;” and, “ An act for prosecuting some, who, professing to be presbyterians, do separate from this church,", &c. In this act, “the assembly taking into consideration the representations made to them, concerning the irregularities of Mr. John Mackmillan, late minister at Balmaghie, Mr. John Taylor, late minister at Wamphray, both now deposed, Mr. John M‘Niel, and Mr. John Adamson, pretended preachers, Mr John Hepburn, minister at Urr, and Mr. James Gilchrist, minister at Dunscore; they do refer it to their commission, at their first meeting, to take the irregularities of the foresaid persons, under their consideration; and if the said commission think fit, the General Assembly does impower them to summon the said Mr. John Mackmillan, Mr. John Taylor, Mr. John M‘Niel, and Mr. John Adamson, before them, and to proceed to further censure, or apply to the civil magistrate against them, as shall be thought most fit; and the assembly instructs their commission, if need be, to apply to the civil government, for suppressing the disorders of the said Mr. John Mackmillan, Mr. John M Niel, Mr. John Adamson, Mr. John Hepburn, and Mr. James Gilchrist,” &c. &c. have already spoken of the differences between these venerable fathers of the dissenting churches of Scotland and the assembly. The consequences of this act were, the deposition of Mr. James Gilchrist, by the presbytery of Dumfries, in the same way some of the worthy men with whose names his is here associated had been before him, and the proclaiming some others of them, rebels against his majesty's government, which was followed with no particular effects, farther than confirming them in that course of opposition they had adopted, and probably strengthening their party, by additional numbers. The same act is concluded with a clause respecting papists and episcopalians, which, if meant to classify them with the foregoing, was a disingenuous
contrivance, worthy of a persecuting church.* The moderator of this assembly, was principal Carstares, and it was the last he lived to see. He was struck with an apoplectic fit, 'in the month of August, which greatly impaired his faculties, and carried him off on the twenty-eighth day of December, when he had nearly completed his sixty-sixth year.
In Scotland, principal Carstares was certainly the most important man of his day, and of all the characters who figured in that busy period, there is no one, whom it is so difficult to appreciate. He has left no written memorials, whereby we might estimate the extent of his acquirements, or the particular leaning of his opinions; and from the peculiarity of his situation, holding no office of state, but enjoying the particular friendship and confidence of king William, being always about him, and having his ear, either by night or by day,f it is difficult to determine,
* Acts of Assembly, 1715.
+ Of that free intercourse Mr. Carstares enjoyed with king William, and the great confidence his majesty reposed in him, we have a remarkable instance recorded in his life, written by Dr. M'Cormick, minister of Prestonpans: After the Scotish parliament in the year 1699 had passed an act requiring every person in public office to take the oath of allegiance, and sign the assurance, which, by the rotten and bloody remnant, instruments of the former tyranny, who had unfortunately still a share in the government, was immediately improved to ruin the presbyterians, by imposing it on the ministers of the church, as a qualification for their sacred office, which no honest presbyterian they well knew would do. The privy council had the power of disa pensing with the oath where they saw reason for so doing; but so far were they from indulging the presbyterian ministers in this way, that they recommended it to his majesty to impose it upon every member before allowing him to take his seat in the assembly, which his majesty, with no little reluctance, had allowed to be indicted in the following year. Instructions to this effect were accordingly transmitted to lord Carmichael, the commissioner, to that assembly. When his lordship communicated these orders to some of the clergy, whom he met at Edinburgh, he found them obstinately determined to refuse compliance, and they assured him, that if the measure was persisted in, it would kindle a flame over the nation, which it would not be in the power of those who had given his majesty this pernicious counsel to extinguish. Lord Carmichael was a presbyterian, and of course sincerely attached to his majesty, and aware that the dissolution of this assembly would not only be fatal to the church of Scotland, but to the interests of his majesty in that kingdom, sent a flying packet to the king representing the difficulty of the case, and requesting further instructions. Some of the ministers of the
how far he was, or was not, consulted, with regard to the affairs either of the church or the state—what his advice really was, or how much of it was acted upon. From the almost innumerable letters addressed to him, hy the chief actors of all parties, it appears to have been their opinion, that his advice was always asked, and but rarely dissented from. Presbyterians who admit this, will have some difficulty in freeing him from the charge of having made defective, if not false representations of Scotish
church of Scotland, sent up a memorial at the same time to Mr. Carstares, and requesting his good offices on the occasion.
The flying packet arrived at Kensington on a forenoon when Mr. Carstares was not there, and his majesty, who was as fond of stretching prerogative where he could do it safely, as any Stuart who had preceded him, with the advice of the trimming lord Stair and the infamous lord Tarbat, both of whom concurred in representing the obstinacy of the clergy as rebel. lion against his majesty, renewed his instructions to the commissioner, and sent off the flying packet without a moment's loss of time. Mr. Carstares having arrived at this critical moment, immediately inquired what was the nature of the despatches his majesty had sent off for Scotland, and, on learning their contents, went directly, and in his majesty's name, required the messenger, who was just setting off, to deliver them up to him. It was now late at night, and, as he knew there was no time to be lost, he ran to his majesty's apartment, where he found his majesty was gone to bed. Having informed the lord in waiting that his business was of the last importance, and that he must see the king, he was admitted into his chamber, where he found him fast asleep. Turning aside the curtain, and falling down upon his knees, he gently awoke his majesty, who, astonished to see him at that hour in such a place and such a posture, inquired eagerly what was the matter? I am come, he replied, to ask my life! And is it possible, said the king, that you have been guilty of a crime that deserves death? Mr. Carstares acknowledged he had, and, drawing the packet from his pocket, presented the despatches he had brought back. And have you indeed, said the king, presumed to countermand my orders, at the same time gathering up his brows into a severe frown? Mr. Carstares only begged to be heard for a few moments, when he would be ready to submit to any punishment his majesty should think proper to inflict. His majesty beard him with great attention, and when he had done gave him the despatches to read, and desired him to throw them into the fire. He then bade hiio draw up instructions to the commissioner in what terms he pleased, and they should be instantly signed. Mr. Carstares then wrote to the commmissioner, that it was his majesty's pleasure to dispense with putting the oaths to the ministers ; his majesty signed it, and the messenger, with all the haste he could make, arrived in Edinburgh with the joyful tidings, only on the morning of the day in which the assembly was to meet. Vide Life of Mr. William Carstares, pp. 57–61.
affairs; and, as an adviser, of having been guided more commonly by the dictates of a crooked and worldly policy, than by plain christian simplicity. That he was presbyterian in his principles there can be no doubt, but there can be as little, that he was one rather of the modern than the ancient school. He appears to have been perplexed with an idea, common to almost all statesmen, that the free and legitimate exercise of ecclesiastic authority, had a natural and necessary tendency, to encroach upon that, which is purely civil, and that there was danger in allowing christians the full enjoyment of that liberty wherewith Christ hath made them free, and hence, probably, arose his system of management in church courts, and his tenderness of what, by an abuse of language, is called the rights of patrons, which has been unhappily imitated and improved upon by every succeeding leader in the Scotish church. He was a sincere friend to learning, and exerted bimself successfully, in procuring from queen Anne and her ministry, a very seasonable gift to the Scotish universities, out of the bishops' rents. That portion allotted to the university of Edinburgh, was committed to his distribution, and he expended it—a rare instance of disinterestedness—without retaining one farthing for himself, an example which none of the heads of the other universities chose to follow. He had also formed a plan for accommodating the youth belonging to the dissenters in England, at the college of Edinburgh, which, while it would have been a national benefit, would have greatly promoted the interests of the college. It was intended to raise the necessary means by subscription, and considerable sums were actually subscribed, but the death of the principal, put an end to the project.
As a preacher, he is represented by his biographer Dr. M‘Cormick, to have been so popular, that the magistrates of Edinburgh, in order to enjoy the benefit of his talents in that way, erected a new charge for him, which he accepted, after he had been installed into the principalship of the university. That his talents were good we see no ground to question; that there was abundance of room for a new charge in Edinburgh we do not dispute, and that properly qualified persons for the office of the ministry were at that time scarce