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whole asche assembly, without any regard to the declinature of the met, and beding brethren,“ named a committee to consider the process s, but havit now stands, and prepare an overture as to the assembly's - appointearther procedure therein,” which overture was on the nineteenth r. Upo:of May turned into an act, as follows :—“The General Assembly mittee having considered the libel drawn up by the commission of the ould plast assembly, and executed in pursuance of an act of the assemof the bly, against Messrs. Ebenezer Erskine at Stirling, William
Wilson at Perth, Alexander Moncrief at Abernethy, James
seid defenders before this assembly, and that after the moderatheir i
tor, in name of the assembly, had signified to them, That
The said defenders, instead of accepting or being thankful for such lenity, produced and offered to read as their answer, a paper, entitled, Act of the Associate Presbytery, finding and declaring that the present judicatories of this national church are not lawful nor right constitute courts of Christ, and declining all authority, power, and jurisdiction that the said judicatories may claim to themselves over the said presbytery, or any of the members thereof, or over any that are under their inspection, and particularly declining the authority of a General Assembly now met at Edinburgh, the tenth of May, 1739. Upon which, the assembly caused the said libel to be read, and then permitted the said defenders, by the said Mr. Thomas Mair, who spoke as the mouth of them all, to read the said paper, and thereafter to give in the same, to which all the defenders declared their adherence, whereupon they were ordered to withdraw, after being directed by the moderator to attend, when they
now met in Edinburgh, the tenth day of May, one thousand seven hundred and thirty-nine years ;” and contains a reiteration of all these charges which we have already noticed in their previous papers. It is to be found at large in Acts of the Associate Presbytery, printed at Glasgow, 1776, pp. 129–143.
should be again called upon by the assembly. And they havin been this day again called, and not compearing, the General Assembly found, and hereby find the said libel relevant to infect deposition, and do find the same also proven in its most material articles, by the said paper produced by them as aforesaid. And particularly finds it by the said paper, proved that the said defenders have seceded and separated from this church, and have taken upon them to associate themselves into a presbytery, and, as such, have framed and published, and do adhere to the pretended act, declaration, and testimony libelled, wherein they endeavour to assign the grounds of their unreasonable and irregular conduct, and take upon them to condemn this church and the judicatories thereof for their proceedings, and to cast many groundless and calumnious reflections upon her and them. And further, find that the said defenders, by the paper given in to this assembly, have had the unparalleled boldness to appear before the highest judicatory of this church, to which they had vowed obedience, and instead of answering for themselves, as pannels or defenders at the bar, pretended to appear as a separate, independent, and constituted judicatory, and to read or pronounce an act of theirs, condemning this church and the judicatories thereof, upon several groundless pretences, and to decline the authority of the same, and that they have further, in presence of the assembly, by their said paper, taken upon them to speak in most injurious, disrespectful, and insolent terms concerning the highest civil authority. Therefore, the General Assembly do find, and declare that the said defenders, for the offences so found relevant and proven, do justly merit the highest censures of this church, and particularly that of deposition. But in respect, that in this assembly, before they proceeded to call the said defenders, an inclination had been expressed by several members not to proceed to a final sentence against them at this time, but to forbear the same yet another year, in order to give them a further time to return to their duty, and to render them still more inexcusable if they should persist in their unwarrantable separation, and though, from their behaviour at their appearance, and the paper given in by them, there is little hope left of their being reclaimed to their duty; but they seem determined to continue in their most
unwarrantable and schismatical courses, and as far as in them lir, to ruin and destroy the interests of religion in this church, tuis assembly have thought fit to forbear inflicting the just censure upon
them at this time, and to refer the same to the next General Assembly, to which this assembly do earnestly recommend to inflict the censure of deposition without further delay, upon such of the said defenders as shall not betwixt and that time, either in presence of the commission to be named by this assembly, or of the ensuing General Assembly, retract the said pretended act and declinature, and return to their duty and submission to this church. And the assembly farther recommend to all the members of this assembly, and particularly such of them as shall be members of the next assembly, there to urge and insist for their compliance with this recommendation, which this assembly cannot allow themselves to doubt will be granted, as it will then be absolutely necessary for the interests and credit of this church, that the foresaid censure be pronounced and inflicted against such of the said defenders as shall then be persisting in their separation. And in respect the said defenders have not appeared, though called this diet, the assembly order their commission to cause cite them again to appear before the next assembly, to abide the judgment thereof, upon the said libel and the said paper given in by the defenders, instead of an answer, to which assembly the said libel and process is hereby continued and referred as above; and as to one of the defenders, Mr. James Thomson, minister at Bruntisland, who was not contained in the act of the last assembly, the General Assembly, without determining on the objection offered by his parish to the citation of him, did agree and resolve that their commission do cite him, de novo, to answer to the next assembly for the matters contained in the said libel and paper, given in by him and the other defenders. And to the end the like schismatical and divisive courses which have so much disturbed the peace and quiet of the church, and of the country, and are so very contrary to serious religion and godliness, may be for hereafter effectually discouraged and prevented, the General Assembly ordains all presbyteries and synods strictly to observe the sixth act of the assembly, 1708, intituled, act for suppressing schisms and disorders in the church,
by which it is strictly enjoined and peremptorily appointed that all the presbyteries and synods take particular notice of all their members, preachers, or others, under their inspection; and if they find any ministers or others to fall into irregularities or schismatical courses, that they duly call them to an account, and censure them according to the merits of their fault, even to deposition of ministers and elders, and to apply to the commission for their advice, as they shall see cause. And, without derogating from the generality thereof, the assembly ordains all presbyteries to whom any minister shall presume to give in a secession or separation from this church, forthwith to give notice thereof to the moderator of the commission of assembly for the time, and to instruct the members of their presbytery, who shall be members of such commission, to ask the opinion and direction of that commission at their first diet, after offering such secessions, to the end that if such presbyteries cannot in the meantime prevail with the brethren, who shall so presume to secede, to retract their secession, such brethren may be forth with proceeded against according to the above act of assembly; and what opinions and directions of the commission for the time, as presbyteries shall receive, agreeable thereto, these presbyteries are hereby strictly enjoined to follow the same. And in case any presbytery to whom such secession or separation shall be given in, shall fail in their duty in the premises, the assembly ordains the synods within whose bounds they may lie, without delay, to do therein as they shall think fit, agreeable to the above act of assembly. And in case such synod shall fail in their duty, the assembly ordains the commission to be appointed by this assembly to take such matters into their own cognizance; and in all such cases, the presbyteries, synods, or commission to be appointed by this assembly respectively, if they cannot quickly reclaim such seceding brethren, are hereby ordained to proceed against them by way of libel, to the sentence of deposition. And the assembly appoints that a short state of the proceedings of the judicatories of this church, with relation to the foresaid ministers, setting forth the gentle methods used for reclaiming them, and their undutiful behaviour to this church, be drawn up by a committee to be named for that effect, and printed, and copies thereof to be
transmitted to each presbytery; and that all the ministers of this church shall be careful to exhort the people, both publicly and privately, to guard against all divisive courses, and to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace, as they would consult the true interests of serious religion and the quiet of their coun
· Here the Assembly might safely have rested. It was evident, from the first rash act of the commission in 1733, that without some healing measures on the part of the judicatories, an irreparable breach had been opened. Measures of that kind had been adopted, but they wanted consistency, and now it was obvious that there could be no reconciliation without conceding something on both sides. One side considered themselves in possession of right, and had the popular voice in its favour-the other possessed authority, prescription, and the most wealthy, though probably not the most enlightened or pious part of the community, and of course neither could be expected to yield. Influenced, in all probability, by the opposition that it was evident they had now to struggle with, this assembly removed one ground of general complaint, they provided, “ that when any presbytery or synod of this church shall decline to comply with the sentences of the commission, or to give the same a full execution, in that case the commission is hereby prohibited to execute the same, by appointing any such correspondent meetings as has been the practice of late, but shall allow the same to lie over to the ensuing assembly, to which such presbyteries and synods shall be answerable for such their conduct, and are hereby appointed to send up with their commissioners their reasons for the same.” The assembly also instructed the commission “ to make due application to the king and parliament, for redress of the grievance of patronage, in case a favourable opportunity for so doing occur during the subsistence of the commission."
This assembly, which enjoined so warmly the deposition of the seceders by the next assembly, took off, by a very curious act, the sentence of deposition, that had been passed upon Mr. John Glass, who had adopted many peculiar views, and of
• Printed Acts of Assembly, 1739.