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guardian of your people's rights and privileges, and, in name and behalf of our constituents, most humbly to implore :That it may please your most excellent majesty to favour the repeal of the foresaid act of the tenth of queen Anne, that so the church and people of Scotland may be restored to their just right and privilege as to the settling of ministers, secured to them by the above mentioned act of Union: And that Almighty God may greatly bless and prosper your majesty's royal person and family, and may remarkably countenance your government, and direct the same to his own glory, your majesty's honour, and the welfare of your people, is the hearty prayer of, &c. &c. Alexander Anderson, James Gordon, John Erskine.”
All members and ministers of the church were requested by the assembly to use their influence with members of parliament to forward the ends of this petition, and it was recommended to all to be instant in prayer to God, that he may prosper the commissioners in their endeavours to have the church relieved of this great grievance. This embassy, however, had not better success than that which preceded it, it does not even appear to have at any time received so much countenance as to have the subject brought fairly before parliament.
This assembly, of which the Rev. Alexander Anderson of St. Andrews, was moderator, and to which, William, marquis of Lothian, was commissioner, had a petition laid before it for Archibald Rennie, who had been obtruded upon the parish of Muckbart, that he might be enrolled a member of the presbytery of Auchterarder, which, it would appear, like the presbytery of Dunfermline in the case of Mr. Stark of Kinross, had refused to acknowledge him as a brother. The affair was sent back to the synod of Perth and Stirling, with injunctions to continue their endeavours to obtain harmony in that quarter, and accommodate the affair in the manner best tending to edification. The case of James Pursell, who had in like manner been obtruded upon the parish of Troquire,
Printed Acts of Assembly, 1736.
and was not enrolled among the members of the presbytery of Dumfries, was remitted to the synod of Dumfries in nearly the same terms. Summary judgment was also given by this assembly in the case of Mr. James Yair, presentee to the parish of Carridden; and with regard to the parishioners of Muckhart, Troquire, and Kinross, who refused to receive ordinances from the men who had been forced upon them as their ministers, it was remitted to their respective synods, whether to allow them to receive privileges in other parishes or not, as they found to be best for edification. It was reported to this assembly that a minister in the presbytery of Dornoch had accepted the office of sheriff depute, but that he had been rebuked for the same, and had given it up.
Upon the whole this assembly was far from answering the expectations that had been indulged respecting it, and the seceding brethren thought it now full time for them to give to the world “ Reasons why they have not acceded to the judicatories of the established church," which they did in this same month of May, 1735, at considerable length, and in a very plain and dispassionate manner. Speaking of the assembly 1734, they say, " as that assembly was composed of a body of reverend and honourable members, many of them of a considerable standing in the ministry, and whom we regard as faithful labourers in the Lord's vineyard, so it was matter of joy and refreshment, not only to us, but to many others through the land, that a stop was put to the unwarrantable and violent proceedings of some former assemblies and their commissions, and if the difficulties that lie in the way of our accession to the judicatories of the church are not removed, we do not impute it to the intentions and inclinations of many of the worthy members of the last assembly, but to the opposition they met with from some who had an active hand in carrying on, or concurring with the former course of defection.” And when enlarging upon the lordly and magisterial power that had been exercised over christian people, they add, “ We are far from charging the assembly, 1734, with carrying on such arbitrary measures;" and they mention
* Index to Unprinted Acts of Assembly, 1735.
some of its proceedings with thankfulness and particular approbation.*
Upon the whole they admitted that by the repeal of the acts 1730 and 1732 part of the grounds of their secession was removed, but the principal grounds thereof they found to be still remaining. More particularly the act 1732 they found was reversed merely on account of its having been enacted without going through the appointed forms, without any regard to its inconsistency with the spirit and principles of the Scotish church, or its contrariety to the word of God; that though the assembly 1734 did not countenance violent intrusions themselves, yet they gave no sufficient testimony against the many that had been already made; that the act restoring them to the communion of the church, and to their several charges, did not proceed upon the sinfulness and injustice of the sentences pronounced against them by the assembly and commission, but upon the lamentable consequences that had followed, or might follow upon the separation of these brethren, so that these sentences were left to be constructed as in themselves legal, formal, and valid-precedents that might be imitated where no such consequences were to be apprehended, thus leaving these brethren still under the character of criminals, but criminals whose just sentences had been relaxed for the sake of peace; and they found, finally, that the act 1734, concerning ministerial freedom, so far from repealing the act of 1733, was a vindication and confirmation of it, in as much as the act 1734 declares, that “ due and regular ministerial freedom was not anywise impaired or restrained by the said act of assembly 1733.” These reasons they concluded with a statement of some things, that if done would take their difficulties out of the
way, which we shall give in their own words at the foot of the page.t
• Reasons why Messrs. Ebenezer Erskine, William Wilson, Alexander Moncrief, and James Fisher, have not acceded to the Judicatories of the Established Church, pp. 4, 11.
+“imo. That a seasonable warning be emitted against the infidelity and gross errors prevailing among us at this day; and particularly, that the true and supreme Deity of the Son of God, our Saviour, his independency and necessary existence, be expressly asserted, in opposition to those terms in which
The General Assembly of the church of Scotland was again convened on the thirteenth of May, 1736, the Rev. Lauchlan M'Intosh, minister of Errol, moderator, and William, marquis of Lothian, commissioner. This assembly, like the two pre
Mr. Simpson attempted to subvert that important and fundamental doctrine, as has been found proven against him upon the first libel, for which he de. served the highest censure of the church; and, likewise, that the gross and dangerous errors, found proven against him by the committee in the second libel, be, in plain and express terms, condemned. And in regard it has been found proven against William Nimmo, that he has made a bold and daring attack upon the whole of divine revelation, that the highest censure of the church be inflicted upon him: and also, since Mr. Campbell, at St. Andrews, has vented some propositions reflecting both upon natural and revealed religion, and a committee of the commission having entered upon the consideration of them, the said affair be proceeded in, and brought to an issue ; and likewise, that an inquiry be made into the errors vented by Mr. Wallace, in disparagement of the principles of revealed religion; and if these gross errors are found proven against the said Mr. Campbell, and Mr. Wallace, that the same high censure be inflicted upon them.
2do. That the act of assembly, 1733, censuring Mr. Erskine for impugning the act 1732, and the arbitrary proceedings of church judicatories, and appointing high censures to be inflicted on the four brethren for protesting against the said decision, as suppressing ministerial frecdom and faithfulness, be rescinded, and all that has followed thereupon, be declared null and void in itself; and that all ministers of this church be enjoined to give faithful warning and testimony against the prevailing corruptions of the times, according to act of assembly, August 3d, 1648, intituled, Act for censuring of ministers for their silence, and not speaking to the corruptions of the times.
ztio. That the act of the same assembly, 1739, concerning some brethren in the presbytery of Dunfermline, be also rescinded ; and that it be declared, that ministers shall be allowed to dispense sealing ordinances to all such as have had ministers intruded upon them contrary to the word of God, and the rules of this church founded thereupon, and who have not freedom to submit to the ministry of such, or to receive the ordinances of Christ from their hands, providing they be sufficiently attested, as to their christian life and conversation.
4to. In case the patronage act shall not be rescinded, that it be declared that the acceptance of presentations is contrary to the principles of this church; and that preachers who accept of the same, be censured, by taking their license from them; and that ministers for such a transgression, be suspended, and if they tenaciously adhere to it, that they be deposed. And farther, that it be declared and enacted, that in all time coming, no minister shall be settled in any vacant congregation, without the call and consent of the majority of that congregation, who are admitted to full communion with
ceding, aimed at maintaining the appearance of reformationthe better part of the church “ still hoping the four brethren would bethink themselves, and cease from their dividing course,"*-but there was an incongruity and contrariety in their decisions, which showed them to be the effect of any thing but steady and consistent principle. Upon the report of the committee from London, appointed by the late assembly, they resolved, “ That the church is by her duty and interest obliged to persist in using her best endeavours from time to
the church, in all her sealing ordinances; and that there be no preference of voices in this matter, upon the account of any worldly consideration.
5to. That in licensing and ordaining men to the holy ministry, all presbyteries be strictly enjoined, not only to inquire into their literature, but also their acquaintance with the power of godliness, and the work of the Spirit upon their own souls; and that they admit none to trials, in order to preaching, but such as are known to be of sound principles, of a good report, of a sober, grave, prudent, and pious behaviour, and who have the other qualifications required in the scriptures, and in the acts of the assemblies of this church, particularly act December 17, and 18, assembly 1688, and act 10, assembly 1694, and many others. And farther, that an act be framed against the present dangerous innovation both in the strain and method of preaching, practised by many ministers and preachers lately entered into this church; and that the contraveners of the said act be condignly censured.
6to. In regard the just grounds and causes of the Lord's controversy with this land, have not been particularly acknowledged for many years past, and the lamentable steps of defection and backsliding, which have lately come to a great height, have not been confessed, to the glory of God, by the commission of the last assembly, in their grounds of fasting; that therefore, in the grounds of a national fast, for which there seem to be as weighty reasons as ever, there be an acknowledgment of the great guilt of this land, in having gone on into such a course of backsliding, contrary to the word of God, and the obligations these lands are under, to promote reformation, by our covenants, national and solemn league; and that they make a full and particular enumeration of the steps of defection that have been made in our day, according to the pattern of reformation in the word, and the example of our ancestors in reforming periods of this church; particularly in the years 1698, 1646, and 1648.
If the above things were done, we might have the comfortable prospect of a pleasant and desirable unity and harmony with our brethren, in concurring with them, according to our weak measure, in all other necessary steps towards a further reformation:"--Reasons by Messrs. Ebenezer Erskine, William Wilson, Alexander Moncrief, and James Fisher, why they have not acceded to the Judicatories of the Established Church, pp. 41-44.
* Willison's Fair and Impartial Testimony.