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the succession AS entailed by such acts of parliament, in which these conditions were contained. Others again understood these conditions as no part of the oath, seeing when the oath was first framed in the English parliament in the year 1701, and a clause was offered to be added to it for maintaining the church of England, it was rejected, because the Dissenters could not take it: and at the union the parliament had expressly exeemed these of this church from all oaths inconsistent with their principles: and consequently, that the AS in the oath was not reduplicative upon the qualifications of the successor, but merely indicative, as only pointing out the act wherein the succession was settled, and the illustrious family and persons on whom it was entailed failing the heirs of king William, queen Anne and her heirs, &c. And therefore they understood that the oath brought them under no other obligation, but to allegiance to the sovereign, and to an engagement against a Popish pretender, and to the succession in the Protestant line: and, to prevent mistakes and misrepresentations they might be liable to in this matter, they resolved to give in written declarations to this purpose upon instrument, at taking of the oath, which generally they did. At this time the commission addressed the queen (as also did the assembly) in favours of these who still scrupled at the oath, as if the AS in it did some way refer to the conditions required of the successor, that such might be favourably dealt with, as her loyal subjects. As also they petitioned her, that their declarations of loyalty to the queen, their renouncing the Pretender, and engagements to support the succession to the crown in the Protestant line in the family of Hanover, as contained in their address, might be accepted by her as their sense of the said oath,
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without respect to the condition scrupled at.—In answer thereto, the queen, in her letter to the assembly, declared that the address of the commission did so much manifest their loyalty to her, and their true concern for the succession in the Protestant line by law established, that it could not but be acceptable. This answer did very much confirm these who judged that the AS in the oath did not reduplicate upon the qualifications of the successor, and gave freedom to many to take it.
After king George I came to the throne, and understood our difficulties by the representation of assembly 1715, and former addresses, he interposed for the relief of these who scrupled at the oath, and got the parliament to turn the AS into WHICH, as also to declare that the oath was not meant to oblige his majesty's subjects in Scotland to any thing inconsistent with their church establishment according to law. This removed the scruples of many; but nevertheless there were not a few worthy ministers who remained uneasy and scrupulous upon account there was still mention, made in the oath of the act of parliament that required the conditions of the successor, and therefore wanted to have it wholly taken out of the oath. Which, upon application, the king was so good as to grant, by an act of parliament in the 5th year of his reign.—Thus did the Lord in his mercy settle the great commotions that were in the church by reason of that oath, and extricate her out of some of her difficulties; yea, so far, that the most strict and zealous ministers in Scotland were brought to declare both from the pulpit and the press, that the embracing or refusing the oath of abjuration did not afford the least ground for separation.
It is remarkable, that in the midst of all these
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grievances and pressures which the church groaned under, the Lord did not suffer her to sink.—The times indeed became very cloudy and dark; the church's friends were turned out of place, and her enemies were exalted in power; Jacobites were put in places of highest trust, and many of them became so insolent, as to maltreat and abuse the
ministers of the gospel, and sometimes to cause burn at market-crosses the acts of synods for fasts, because in them they appointed prayers to be made for maintaining the Protestant succession, and for defeating the designs and plots then forming for overturning it, and for bringing in a Popish Pretender. Yet even then the Lord inspired the commission with courage and resolution to emit their famous seasonable warning at their meeting 19th August 1713, which was read from the pulpits; wherein they obtest all good Protestants and lovers of their country to look to themselves, that they be not deluded by the subtile devices of a Jacobite party, who would bring us under the yoke of a Popish Pretender.—Here the commission mention their artifices at large; one whereof is, They with great appearance of zeal, espouse and promote the English liturgy through the land, though neither they nor their fathers would receive it heretofore; and at the same they omit all, the prayers for queen Anne and princess Sophia.—Likewise they make a great outcry, especially in distant places, of their having suffered grievous persecutions because of their being of the Episcopal persuasion though withhout ground. Blessed be God (say they) we ran appeal to the consciences of all who know our conduct, that we have never since the late happy revolution in the least returned the severities, and unparalleled cruelties, which we
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met with when they had the ascendant; and which we from their present temper, as well as from their former behaviour may reasonably conclude they want nothing but power to renew against the ministers and members of this church.—Wherefore they, seriously obtest and beseech all ranks of persons to humble themselves deeply under the many sad causes and tokens of the Lord's anger, and turn to him with all their hearts, and flee to the blood of sprinkling for reconciliation, and pray earnestly to God to disappoint the designs and hopes of a Popish and Jacobite party, preserve the Protestant succession in the house of Hanover, sanctify the troubles which have afflicted our Zion, and turn us from all these sins which have procured them, &c.
And glory be to a prayer hearing God, who soon blasted all the Jacobites’ plots and hopes, and made the Protestant succession take place, by the accession of K. George I within less than a year, to the of this poor oppressed church, and of all true Protestants.
Towards the end of the queen's reign the Jacobites turned so uppish, that they encouraged Episcopal ministers to intrude into vacant churches, and ministers and preachers who were sent to preach in them were rabbled. They and their preachers did publicly solemnize the Pretender's birth day, set up bonfires, drink his health as king before great multitudes, and confusion to all the Presbyterians. But upon the accession of king George I these riots and insults were suppressed, and the laws and good order began again to take place. The church represented her grievances from the laws lately made; but the breaking out of the rebellion in 1715 put a stop to designs of that sort for a time. Until then, there were a good number
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of Episcopal ministers continued in churches through the North; but they, joining with others in that rebellion, were soon afterwards turned out. The Lord was pleased again to pity us, and work a great deliverance for us: for though the Jacobite and Popish party rose of a sudden, and gathered together in great numbers, threatening to carry all before them, to cut off our sovereign king George and all the friends of the Protestant succession, attacked the king's forces, and killed many; yet the Lord soon brake all their measures, poured shame upon their attempt, and made many of them flee their native country: so that in a wonderful manner God delivered us from the bloody sword, and the cruel designs of Papists and Jacobites, and restored peace in all our borders, in the year 1716.
It might have been expected, that such astonishing mercies and deliverances would have produced humility and thankfulness to God, have led us to repentance and reformation, and have animated our zeal for God and his truths, and our activity to get the church's grievances redressed, when such a fit opportunity seemed to offer.—But, alas! we became unthankful to God, and soon for got his goodness; we turned secure and confident under king George's protection and favour, and began to lose that zeal for preserving the purity of doctrine and worship, for suppressing error and immorality, and for the advancement of religion and godliness, which former assemblies manifested. Now our old zealous suffering ministers were generally gone off the stage, and a woeful lukewarmeness and indifferency began to seize upon the following generation.
At this time there was a great noise of Mr. John Simson, Professor of Divinity at Glasgow, his
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venting and teaching Arminian doctrine and gross errors. The worthy Mr. James Webster, one of the ministers of Edinburgh, having conversed with him thereupon, was the first that complained of him: And he was therefore appointed to process him before the presbytery of Glasgow; though it seems hard that Mr. Webster should have been burthened with an affair which was the common cause of the church. But Mr. Webster's appeal, the libel he gave in against Mr. Simson, and Mr. Simson's answer thereto, came before the assembly 1716, who remitted the same to a committee to consider the whole process, and to make a full and distinct report to the next assembly. In Mr. Simson's answer to this libel, and his letters to Mr. Rowan, there were found several very dangerous errors, contrary to the word of God, and our Confession of Faith and Catechisms; such as,
"That there is nothing to be admitted in religion, but what is consonant to reason.— That regard to our own happiness in the enjoyment of God ought to be our chief motive in serving him; and that our glorifying God is subordinate to it.—That the Heathen may know by the light of nature, that there is a remedy for sin provided; and if they would pray sincerely for the discovery of the way of salvation, God would grant it to them.—That if men would with diligence, sincerity and faith use the means for obtaining saving grace, God has promised to grant it: and that the using of the means in the foresaid manner is not above the reach of our natural powers.—That there was no proper covenant made with Adam for himself and his posterity; and that he was not our federal head.—That it is inconsistent with God's justice and goodness to create souls wanting original
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righteousness; and that the souls of infants since the fall are created pure and holy.—That it is probable there are more of mankind saved than damned; And it is more than probable that baptized infants, dying in infancy are all saved.—That there is no sinning in hell after the last ‘ judgment,' &c."
All which erroneous scheme of doctrine is fully refuted and exposed by the reverend Mr. John Flint and Mr. John M'Claren, both ministers of Edinburgh, in two different books, the one written in Latin, and the other in English, to which Mr. Simson never offered any reply.—Mr. Simson, when before the assembly and their committee, declared his adherence to our Confession of Faith, and studied to put senses upon his doctrine to make it seem to agree therewith, and made use of very subtile distinctions for that end: but such hath been the zeal sometimes of our assemblies against error and for purity of doctrine, that they would have had no great difficulty to have agreed that Mr. Simson, or any man that vented or taught such doctrine as above, was not fit to be continued a professor of divinity, to instruct and train up young men for the holy ministry.—But, when his process came to be finished by assembly 1717, there were so many members in it, who either had been his scholars, or were his relations, comrades or acquaintances, who stood up for saving him, that the assembly were brought to dismiss him with a very gentle censure, by their 9th act; wherein they only say,
"He hath given offence, and hath vented some opinions not necessary to be taught in divinity, and that hath given more occasions to strife, than to the promoting of edification: That he hath used some expressions that bear and are used by adversaries in a bad and
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sound sense, though he doth disown that unsound sense. And, for answering more satisfyingly, (as he supposeth) the cavils and objections of adversaries, he hath adopted some hypothesis different from what we commonly used among orthodox divines, that are not evidently founded on Scripture, and tend to attribute too much to natural reason, and the power of corrupt nature; which undue advancement of reason and nature is always to the disparagement of revelation and efficacious free grace. The general assembly, for the reasons above mentioned, prohibits and discharges the said Mr. John Simson to use such expressions, or to teach, preach, or otherwise vent such opinions, propositions, or hypothesis as foresaid."
But, as a just rebuke upon the assembly for their lenity, Mr. Simson persisted in his unsound doctrine, contemned their sentence, and still went on in a course of error, till in a few years he is arraigned before the assembly for Arianism.
About this time there arose debates and great noise, as if some ministers were bringing in a new scheme of doctrine, because in their sermons they disused and censured several old approven words and phrases as too legal, and affected some new modes of speaking; and because they recommended to their people an old book called the Marrow of modern Divinity.—This book was laid before the assembly 1620,as containing gross Antimonian [Antinomian] errors; and several passages and propositions being excerpted from it by a committee, the assembly proceeded in a hurry to pass a condemnatory act against them all in cumulo; and, among the rest, they condemned as erroneous two propositions, viz. That believers are altogether set free from the law as a covenant of works;—And that they are set
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free both from the commanding and condemning, power of the covenant of works. Which two are surly sound and orthodox propositions in themselves.—Likewise that same assembly, by another act, recommended to ministers to insist in preaching several doctrines, and among others,—the necessity of a holy life in order to the obtaining of everlasting happiness. This certainly was very ill worded, however sound their meaning was.
Although there were several stumbling and unjustifiable expressions in that book called the Marrow, &c. yet before the assembly had proceeded to pass their acts concerning them, it had been their wisdom, to have first remitted them (as in other cases) to the consideration of Presbyteries; which happy step would have prevented the oversight or mistakes of the assembly aforementioned, and consequently the Twelve brethrens' representation against the foresaid acts, given in to the assembly 1721, which was once likely to have landed in a schism. But it must be owned, that, when the assembly 1722 came to review and explain these hasty acts past in 1720, they did justice to truth, and declared their minds, concerning, the acts and propositions quarrelled, in very sound and orthodox terms.—And particularly, as to the necessity of holiness for obtaining everlasting happiness, they declare the expression is meant of obtaining the enjoyment and possession, of everlasting happiness, but not of the right and title to it, which (they say) all justified persons have already attained, viz. through the imputation of the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Thus peace and truth were preserved in the church at that time.
No doubt it had been much for the interest of truth, as well as the honour of our assemblies, that
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they had manifested as much zeal against other erroneous books which have been published or recommended before or since that time by other ministers of this church, and some of them far more dangerous than the Marrow, such as Dr. Whitchcot’s sermons, &c. Oh that our ancient and trite zeal for truth and purity, and against all kind of error and corruption, were again happily revived in the land!—But, alas! how little ground have we in an ordinary way to expect any national reviving or reformation in the church and land, while the flood gates of error and corruption are still kept wide open by the laws for the Toleration and Patronages?
In consequence of applications to the king by the church, some amendments were made upon these laws by the parliament in 1719; As, 1mo, They discharged any person to preach or pray in any Episcopal meeting house in Scotland, that did not pray for king George, and take the abjuration oath, under the pain of six months imprisonment, and having the meeting house shut up. This act, had it been executed, would have put a stop to many of the erroneous Jacobite preachers; but not being executed against them, they still went on in disseminating many popish errors through the land.
2do, The parliament enacted, That presentations given by patrons to vacant churches shall be effect, if the person presented do not accept or declare his willingness to accept of the presentation given him.—By which act the parliament put it (as it were) in the church's power to ease herself of the great grievance of patronage; which was ground of joy to many: for, at that time, it was generally thought that this limitation was equivalent to plain repealing of the patronage act, and that no
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Presbyterian would ever expressly declare his accepting of a presentation, or go so far to approve or comply with patronage, which Presbyterians had always declared heavy yoke and burden on the church of God. And accordingly there was no man that presumed to take, accept or make use of a presentation to a church for several years after this act was past; and so the church was easy, and continued to settle vacant churches upon the call of congregations, without any molestation from patrons.
During this lucid interval, the church seemed to turn secure, as if she feared no danger from the acceptance of presentations; and therefore was at no pains to shut or bar the door against such acceptances. Had this been done, the church was effectually delivered by the foresaid favourable act from the yoke of patronage. Now was the proper juncture for our assemblies to have made a new declaration, in corroboration of what former assemblies had done, concerning the woful corruption and evil consequences of patronage; and to have warned all the members of this church of the evil of encouraging or promoting the same, and particularly all ministers and preachers of the sin and danger of complying with this corruption, by accepting of presentations; especially seeing there was no law requiring it as necessary, but, by the late act of parliament, an open door was left for their entering into churches in a gospel way, if they pleased to chuse and accept of it. No doubt, if things had been set in such clear light by our general assemblies, the authority of the church would have restrained these woful acceptances.—But, alas! while the church slept, the enemy was busy sowing his tares, and prompting some to
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devise subtile conditional acceptances, wherein they might disapprove of patronages, and declare for Presbyterian principles with respect to the people's rights, and yet, in the mean time, take such hold of the stipend presented to, that another could not make a legal title to it. When this was complained of to superior judicatories, some leading men, alas! were found to patronize these accepters, till at length they proceeded to the most open and barefaced acceptances. For these practices indeed some preachers were censured and silenced, but they were reponed [replaced] by superior courts; whereby at length acceptances went on without controul. So that, by such defections, the yoke of patronage is faster wreathed upon the church than ever, and her condition under it more lamentable than in any former period: for informer times all honest men groaned under patronage as a burden; and though they were presented by patrons to churches, yet they neither said nor wrote any thing in favour of the patron's deed, but silently submitted the presbyteries proceeding to their settlement, when they had parishes concurring in it: but, alas! By such active written acceptances as now in use, the whole church shall in process of time be involved in approving of patronages, in such away as was never done by the church of Scotland since the reformation.
Wherefore we judge it the duty of all the lovers of truth and purity in the church of God, to bear open testimony against the yoke of patronage, and the acceptance of presentations, as we herebv desire to do, especially seeing they have been productive of such dreadful evils in this church of late years.
It is well known that the church of Scotland hath
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ever since her reformation remonstrated against patronages, and asserts in her 2nd book of Discipline, chap. 12. That patronages have flowed from the pope, and the corruption of the canon law; and the intruding of persons this way into churches, hath no ground in the word of God, but is contrary thereto, &c.—Likewise the parliament 1649, in their act abolishing patronage, do say, It is an evil and bondage under which the Lord's people and ministers have long groaned; and that it is a custom popish, brought into the church in times of ignorance and superstition; and that it is contrary to the 2nd book of Discipline, &c.—Also the assemblies 1712 and 1715 give plain testimonies against patronages to the same purpose, and assert, That they lay a foundation for Simoniacal pactions, and many other evils. To these testimonies we do adhere, and likewise shall add some further reasons against patronages;
1mo, Patronages are neither agreeable to the rules of God's word, nor to the apostolical practice: seeing it is evident from the word, that it was only the church herself, with her officers, that exercised the power of nominating and electing ministers and officers to the church, according to the authority derived to them from Christ their Head and Founder, Acts i. 15—vi. 2—viii. 14.—xiii. 3.—xiv. 23.—xvi. 9—1 John iv. 1—2 John 10. So that a patron's right of nominating the officers of the church, is nothing but a manifest usurpation over the church of God.
2do, Patronage is also contrary to the practice of the primitive and purest ages of the church, and was not known in the church until true religion and Christianity began to decline, and then it came in gradually with other Popish corruptions and
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abuses. We find Cyprian, Athanasius, the apostolical constitutions, with many ancient councils and fathers, declaring in the plainest terms for the free liberty and power of the church to chuse her own pastors, without any extrinsic influence whatsomever [whatsoever].
3tio, As it is disagreeable to Scripture and antiquity, so it is contrary to reason, and to the interest and safety of the church, that the power of chusing her pastors should at anytime be lodged in the hands of heretics and profane men, as frequently the right of patronage is, being conveyed to them with their earthly inheritances. Can there be any thing more unreasonable and absurd than that the power of chusing officers to the church, should fall into the hands of the declared enemies of the church! or that this power, which is a spiritual and ecclesiastical privilege, should be conveyed, disponed [given to another], sold, or bought with money, like other civil rights or heritages, and so be lodged frequently with infidels and the worst of men.
4to, For patrons to impose ministers upon Christian congregations, is a plain incroachment upon the natural rights of mankind, and upon the laws of free societies; as much as it would be for them to impose physicians and lawyers upon societies, to take care of their bodies or estates. The churches of Christ are as free societies as any in the world, having their liberties from Christ to chuse their own pastors; and ought not to be brought in bondage to any in this matter.
5to, It is cruel imposition to oblige societies of men, who duly value their immortal souls, and would place them under proper spiritual guides, to intrust the edification, comfort, and eternal concerns of these precious souls, to the care of
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patrons; many, whereof are indifferent about the concerns of their own souls, being negligent, erroneous or profane; and so are not like to be much concerned to chuse proper pastors to take inspection of the souls of others. How can serious Christians be easy who it be that chuse their pastors, or these who know that patrons cannot secure them against the bad consequences of a wrong choice, nor be responsible for their souls at the great day.
Lastly, Patronage by long experience has been found to be an open door for a corrupt ministry to enter into the church; and this is sadly exemplified in these churches where this corruption doth reign without controul.
Upon all which accounts, we judge it our duty to hear testimony against the usurpation of patronage, as most sinful in itself, and injurious to the church of God; and to pray that God may open the eyes of all patrons, that they may be convinced and repent of it, and cease from in oppressing Christ's church any more.
And as we bear testimony against patrons and their usurpation, so we judge ourselves bound to testify against all these who encourage and voluntarily comply with this Sinful usurpation, and particularly by accepting or declaring their willingness to accept of presentations from patrons, which, alas! is now become the common practice; and, being so common and general, both preachers and people are like to lose all sense of the evil of it.—But that these acceptances are sinful, and provoking to a holy God, is evident from these considerations:
1mo, If a patron be guilty of a sinful usurpation over the church of God, in spoiling her of the right
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she hath from Christ to chuse her own officers (as certainly he is) then the accepter of a presentation doth become partner with the patron in his sin, by homologating [approving of] his usurped power, and strengthning him in it. Now, the scripture expressly forbids us to be partakers of other mens' sins
2do, As the law now stands, the accepter is more guilty of robbing the church of her right than the patron is: for the legislature have been so tender of the church by their act 1719, as to put it absolutely in the power of ministers and preachers to accept or reject the usurpation of patronage as they please; so that a patron can give no trouble to the church, if he be not encouraged and assisted in it by an accepter. His presentation would be but like a dead serpent, altogether lifeless and harmless to the church, if an accepter did not come and inspire it with life, and put a sting in it. Though patronage be a grievous usurpation and burden on the church, yet it is now so limited and tied up in Scotland by law, that the church would not feel the burden of it, if it were not pulled down upon her by accepting presentees; so that now the accepters are properly the oppressors of the church of Christ. If Christ condemns the Pharisees for binding heavy burdens, grievous to be borne, and laying them upon other mens' shoulders; how condemnable must accepters of presentations be, who bind such a grievous burden as patronage on the shoulders of Christ's church?
3tio, The minister or preacher, who accepts of a presentation, doth not only bring sin upon himself, by oppressing the church, and spoiling her of her just right; but also takes the ready way to encourage and harden a patron in his guilt and sinful usurpation, and to obstruct his conviction, repentance
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and reformation: for he will readily think that his conscience needs not be more strait-laced than theirs, who should inform his. Wherefore we earnestly wish and pray, that God would bring accepters, with their advisers and supporters, calmly to consider what a sinful hand they have in ensnaring patrons in a corrupt course and in hardening them in their usurpation over the church of God.
4to, This way of accepting presentations doth open a door to many sad evils, such as Simoniacal pactions and intrigues, unchristian contentions and divisions in judicatories, oppressive concussions in parishes, vexatious prosecutions and appeals, and many scandalous intrusions into churches, to the great discredit of religion, and reproach of the ministerial character: hereby congregations are robbed of their just rights to call their own ministers, and very often Christ's flock is scattered and broken in pieces, the godly are grieved, and the wicked hardened: hereby ordinances come to be neglected, the Lord’s day profaned, ignorance and vice encouraged, and church-discipline weakened. Yea, this pernicious practice has given occasion to many violent settlements, and to a wofull schism in the church, to the deposing of several worthy ministers, and to the discouragement of many pious students and preachers from serving the church: so that our accepters have need to consider how they will answer for all these direful consequences of their practice, and whether the commonness of it will excuse the sinfulness of it; O that we could look to God, who only can open their eyes!
5to, Accepters of presentations, act contrary to the known principles of Presbyterians, and to their
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own engagements; and so are chargeable with sad defection and breach of faith. Our second book of Discipline, which is sworn to in our national covenant, declares patronages to be contrary to the word of God, chap. 12. And it was the general opinion of this church in the year 1719, that accepting of presentations was inconsistent with Presbyterian principles, and with the rights and rules of this church, which all ministers and preachers oblige themselves to maintain; upon which account, none adventured to meddle with them for a good many years thereafter. In our opinion, they act contrary to their engagements which they come under by the assembly’s formula 1711; wherein they subscribe and promise, that they will never directly or indirectly endeavour the prejudice or subversion of the discipline and government of this church, but that they will to the utmost of their power maintain and support the same. Now, it was still reckoned a branch of our discipline and government, for parishes to have the liberty of free elections, and for Presbyteries to have access to free moderations in the calling of ministers. And it is visible to all, that accepters of presentations do stop and hinder this free liberty and access, contrary to their engagements by the formula, and also by the national covenant.
6to, Seeing it is notour [well known] that the design of accepting, presentations is to secure the stipend to the presentee, so as another cannot have a title to it; it is plain that the accepter doth hereby invert the order, which Christ hath appointed in his church, viz.—That a minister’s right to maintenance should be consequential to his ordination to the ministry: whereas, by the method he takes, he would make a minister’s ordination to the ministry consequential
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to his having a right to the maintenance; which is contrary to Christ's stated order, and the nature of things.
7mo, By accepting presentations, ministers do sadly prejudge the success of the gospel and their own ministry, by offending and stumbling the parishes concerned, besides many others, at their conduct. And is it any wonder though a parish he offended with a man for going about to secure a title to their stipend, before they have access to know him, or shew any inclination for him; and for his binding the yoke of patronage upon them, and spoiling them of their just right of chusing their own pastor; and for hindering them to get another worthy pastor whom they dearly love? What must they think of a man that tells a reclaiming parish by word or deed, I'll be your minister in spite of your teeth, I'll have the charge of your souls whether ye will or not ; and, if ye refuse ordinances and means of salvation from me, ye shall have none? Nay, come of your souls what will, though they should perish in a state of ignorance and prejudice, I'll possess the kirk, manse and benefice, and hold out another minister from you. Have they not too good ground to suspect such a man, of earthly-mindedness, greed of filthy lucre, or of being more concerned for his own things, than for the, things of jesus Christ, and the salvation of their souls? Which apprehensions are sufficient to stuff the breasts of people with prejudice against him at his entry, and to blast his ministrations to them for many years thereafter. For it is no wonder, though they think such language or practice is not like that of one who sincerely designs to advance Christ's kingdom, and win souls to him, as a faithful minister ought to do ; but
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rather of one that hath base worldly ends in view! The language of a pastor, whom Christ sends, is that in 2 Cor. xii. 14. I seek not yours, but you; whereas that of an accepter seems to be the very reverse, I seek not you, but yours.
8vo, It increaseth the prejudice of many against such accepters, when they see there is no necessity for their accepting of presentations. Indeed, if there were no coming to a church or stipend but by the Patron's right, something might be said to alleviate the crime: but at present there is no necessity from the law to accept of them; nay, on the contrary, the law leaves an open door, by which ministers and preachers may have an orderly gospel access, both to churches and benefices, without having any dealing with Patrons at all, if they would but exercise a little patience till six months elapse. Now, how can people think charitably of these who refuse to enter by the safe gospel-door, and chuse, rather to climb up by the window of presentations and violence, when they cannot but see their so doing tends to blast their own ministry, and bring a,
heavy yoke on their mother-church, after she was in effect freed of it by the tenderness of the legislature in 1719? Now, seeing these acceptances were unnecessary, and of the most pernicious consequence to the church and the interest of the gospel, it cannot but be surprising that our general assemblies were at so little pains to discourage or
prevent them, when it might have been easily done at the beginning. We find indeed that the assembly 1724, referred it to their commission, to think of an overture thereanent [concerning or in reference to anything], and lay it before the next assembly; but it doth not appear that there was any more done, notwithstanding of repeated instructions from Presbyteries concerning the same.
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We know no reason can be assigned for the assembly's indolence in this matter, but their pusillanimity [cowardice], or sinful fearfulness of offending the government: but this fear of man hath brought a woeful snare upon the poor church. Several synods indeed shewed a willingness to restrain these acceptances but, Presentees knowing where to have recourse, their acts were soon disregarded. At first one or two probationers began to mint at accepting presentations; but the outcry against them was so great, that they soon retracted, and past from them again. But sometime after, when Principal George Chalmers adventured to accept a presentation to the church of Old-Machir, several young men took courage and followed his example; and though at first they qualified their acceptances with having the peoples' consent, yet they would not retract them after the people shewed their aversion to them; which occasioned many intrusions and violent settlements through several places of the church, contrary to our known principles, these intrusions came gradually into the church, but were act commonly practised, nor countenanced by superior courts, till after the year 1728. For we find the assembly 1725, after a great struggle about calling a minster to Aberdeen, appointing, that besides the voting of the magistrates, town-council and elders in the call, the inclination of heads of families shall be consulted about it. And the assembly 1725 censured the commission for proceeding to transport Mr. James Chalmers from Dyke to Aberdeen, without having due regard to the inclinations of the people of that city, who opposed his call. But, alas! our assemblies did not continue long in such a dispostion; for they and their commission began soon afterwards to pay more regard
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to patrons and heritors in planting of churches, though few of these were hearers, than they did to the whole body of the people that attended ordinances. The crown having the patronage of most of the churches of Scotland, this melancholy turn of affairs was thought to be brought about by strong court influence, and by the activity of several leading ministers, who had their dependence upon or expectations from that airth [probably "direction"]. These began to vent themselves in judicatories against the rights of the Christian people and to assert that there were no stated rules nor directions in Scripture about the calling of ministers, or who should be the electors. Some of them wrote pamphlets against the peoples' rights, pretending to answer the Scripture-arguments for them; and maintained that the clergy or judicatories were the proper electors. These were sufficiently answered by Mr. Currie, Mr. Hill and others; but their opponents had the ascendant in judicatories, and carried things there as they pleased.
At this time the church of Scotland was in a most lamentable condition, and the wrath of the Almighty seemed to be kindled against her, in letting loose many adversaries at once to attack and destroy her: for at the same time we find her many ways dreadfully tossed and shaken: as by patronages, and intrusions pushed on by the court and great men;—By Independent schemes and constitutions of churches zealously promoted by Mr. Glas and Mr. Archbald;—By Arian errors taught and propagated by Professor Simson;—By many gross errors vented by others, both Presbyterian and Episcopal;—And by legal sermons and moral harangues (to the neglect of preaching Christ) introduced by many of the young clergy. All these
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evils, working and fermenting through the land at once, occasioned dreadful shocks and convulsions in this national church, likely to rend her in many pieces. Yet, alas! We were not sensible of, nor suitably affected with our danger and misery, nor with the sins which were the procuring cause of all.—Turn us, 0 God of our salvation, and cause thine anger towards us to cease. Oh, wilt thou be angry with us for ever? wilt thou draw out thine anger to all generations?—Whatever the Lord think fit to do with this backsliding church and land, we Judge it incumbent upon us to bear witness against the foresaid evils.
As to the impugning and invading the rights which congregations have to chuse and call their own ministers, and the intrusions made upon them, which, alas! still continue to be practised; we shall give our reasons for testifying against them, and for the rights of the people. And the first and great reason is, because by the rule and pattern of God's word, and by the dictates of sound and sober reason, the Christian people have an unquestionable interest in the choice of these pastors to whom they are to intrust the care of their souls: and particularly, this right of the people is established by several passages of the Acts of the Apostles, a book intended to give us the apostolical practice and pattern in the settlement of the Christian church.
1 mo, In Acts i. 13, 14,15, &c. when the eleven apostles met for the choice of an apostle, the laity present with them, were allowed a share in the election of two, of which God did chuse one to fill the vacancy of the apostolical college. From which we infer, That ministers should much more consult them in the choice of ordinary pastors, who
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are to have the stated inspection of their souls, and that this condescension of the apostles to the people in this case, doth condemn their practice who violently impose ministers upon Christian congregations, while they are dissenting and reclaiming against them, and willing to receive others every way as fit for them. And we find our reformers
and Protestant divines, such as Calvin, Beza, Junius, Zanchy, Chamier, Voetius, Amesius, Turretine, Cartwright, Calderwood, Gillespie, Forrester, Lauder, and many others, improving this passage for the, peoples’ rights against Papists, Prelatists and patronages.
2do, In Acts vi. the apostles called the multitude, or body of the disciples to the choice of first standing church-officers which they appointed, viz. the deacons for taking care of the poor; from which we infer, If the disciples have a right to chuse these officers who are to dispose of their charity, then much more these who are to oversee their souls. And if these apostles reckoned the people competent to judge who had the qualifications for deacons which they prescribe, viz. who were most eminent for honesty, wisdom, and the gifts of the Holy. Ghost;. why are they not competent to give their judgment of the like qualifications in those who are to be their pastors? The apostles
being under immediate Divine direction, were abundantly capable to chuse these officers without the people; yet they will needs have them concurring in it, as a pattern to the church in their after chusing of church-officers. And it is observable, the apostles took this method, to silence the complaints among the people about providing for the
poor. Which loudly calls upon judicatories to follow their example, in order to silence
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peoples' complaints of violent intrusions made upon them, contrary to the apostles practice and our acknowledged principles, to the great hindrance of the gospel and the edification of souls. Likewise we have the forecited Protestant divines concurring to improve this passage of the deacons for the peoples rights: and it might be expected that the ministers of the church of Scotland would not oppose them, or join with the Papists in this question.
3tio, The apostles practice in the election of church-officers being sufficiently evident by the foresaid two instances, the sacred penman of the Acts insists no more upon this subject, save that he hints at their known practice in ordinations. Acts xiv.23. In cur version it is, And when they had ordained them elders in every church. Now, the word here rendered ordained, is but half translated; for in the original it is Cheirotonesantes, which Erasmus renders cum suffragiis creassent; and Beza, agreeing with him, hath it per suffragia creassent: So that according to these learned men, and many others, the passage should have been rendered, When they had by suffrages appointed to them elders in every church. So it is in all old English translations, and so it was brought in by our last translators, until the version was committed by king James to some of the English bishops to be revised, who altered no less than fourteen passages of the New Testament, and this among the rest, to make them speak the language of the church of England; but the original language, being that of the Holy Ghost, is to be our rule. The word here is not Cheirothesia, which signifies the action of ministers in ordaining; but it is Cheiro tonia, which is expressive of the peoples act in electing of pastors, by stretching or lifting up the
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hand, as was the custom: and in this sense doth the apostle make use of the word Cheirotonia, and ascribe it to the people, 2 Cor. viii. 19.
4to, The spoiling congregations of their right of calling their ministers, and imposing pastors upon them, is not only against the example of the apostles, but also contrary to the commands of our glorious Head, to our own prayers, and to the very spirit of the gospel. Doth not Christ enjoin us in his word to glorify him in all things, to do all to the glory of God, and to do all things to the edification of his people! to condescend to men of low estate, and to be gentle towards all men ? Doth he not forbid us to exercise dominion over the church, to set at nought our brother, and rule over his people with rigour? Doth he not command all Christians to judge of what they hear, to try the spirits, to beware of false prophets? Are not all ministers and others bound to pray that God's name may be hallowed, that his kingdom may come, and that the whole earth may be filed with his glory? And do not they act the very reverse of these commands and prayers, who would in a magisterial way intrude ministers upon Christian congregations, and thereby stop the spreading of his gospel, the conversion of souls, and the increase of his kingdom upon earth? Are forced settlements agreeable to the meekness and gentleness of Christ our Master and Pattern? Or are they like the mild disposition and condescensions of the apostle Paul, who used the most tender, soft and condescending methods to advance the gospel among men, and was willing to become all things to all menfor their spiritual good? and, when he saw it needful to for the winning of their souls, he laid aside his authority, and fell to intreaties and beseechings with them, Rom. xii. 1. 2 Cor. v. 20.—x. 1. Philemon
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9, 10. And observe what he says, I Thess. ii. 7, 11. We were gentle among you as a nurse cherisheth her children; And (saith he) we exhorted you as a father doth his children. Now, as a tender nurse or father will not impose any upon weak children to feed them at whom they have the greatest aversion, nor tell them that they shall have no food unless they take it from such hands; so neither ought judicatories to intrude pastors upon dissenting or reclaiming parishes. They pray for the spreading of Christ's glory and kingdom, and therefore should not counteract their prayers, as they manifestly do by violent settlements; for thus they lay the foundations of strong prejudices in peoples breasts against ministers and the success of the glorious gospel, and frequently drive people quite away from the gospel-net, to the great increase of ignorance and immorality. This course is directly against the Bible, that forbids us to give any occasion of stumbling or prejudice unto others, whereby their edification may be hindered, Rom. xiv. 13, 19, 21. Alas! people have naturally strong enough prejudices against the gospel itself, be the pastor never so acceptable; and what a pity it is that occasion should be given them to conceive prejudice also against the preacher of it? seeing thereby the strong holds of Satan are rendered more impregnable. For how can it be expected that a parish will be free of stumbling or prejudice against a man, that makes it his first business to obtain a right to their stipend, and will not part with it when they shew the utmost aversion to him, but gets himself viis & modis thurst [sic] in upon them? Will they not be ready to look upon him as an earthly-minded man, greedy of filthy lucre, that thrusts himself into the priest's office for a piece of
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bread, that seeks the fleece more than the flock, and minds his own things more than the things of Jesus Christ? Is not this the way to bring both the person and ministry of such a man into contempt among the people, to shut their ears against his admonitions, and render his labours among them unsuccessful? Whereas, should a minister come among a people by their call, he has a fair door opened to him to promote their salvation: they think themselves bound to attend his ministry, receive him into their houses, hearken to his counsels, and submit to his reproofs; and so the gospel hath free course among that people.
5to, Seeing the right of Christians to judge for themselves in matters of religion, is undeniably secured to them both by the light of nature and of revelation; they must consequently have an interest in the choice of their teachers. For if a man may judge for himself concerning the schemes of doctrine and ways of salvation laid before him, and
may prefer one to another; it must follow, that he hath also a right to judge who is fittest to instruct him according to it; otherwise he might fall into the hands of these who would lead him into schemes quite opposite to what he hath chosen. It is evident that both Scripture and reason allow men a judgment of discretion about the pastors to whom they are to commit the instructing, guiding, and edifying of their precious souls. That text is plain for it, in I John iv. 1. Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they be of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world, Likewise that text, Mat. vii. 15, 16. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheeps clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. And that in
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2 John,ver.10. If there come any to you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not. From all which texts it is evident, that Christians have right to judge concerning these who bring them true gospel doctrine, and whom they are to receive, and whom not. The Bereans are highly commended for their using this right, Acts xvii. 11. And
Christ declares it to be the privilege of his people to distinguish the voice of a stranger or hireling from the voice of
a true shepherd, and to flee from the one, and follow the other, John x. 4. 5.
6to, The consent of parishes to the settlement of a minister is requisite to constitutethe pastoral relation betwixt
him and his flock, and the obligation of mutual offices and duties one to another. It was anciently a received maxim
among Presbyterians, That the consent of the flock is as necessary to fix the pastoral relation, as the consent of the
minister; seeing the tye is mutual and reciprocal.
7mo, The apostles' example in ordaining pastors by the choice and consent of the people, was followed by the primitive church for many centuries after them, as Eusebius and others testify. And the learned Turretine, vol. 3. ques. 24. De jure vocationis, quotes many of the ancient fathers and councils as maintaining the peoples' right. And Mr. Petrie in his church history, pag. 63, 65. observes, That the church of Rome in the 7th century had not given up with this principle of Christianity. It hath been the fixed principle of this church, and of our reformers from the very dawning of the reformation, That congregations ought to have ministers settled among them with their own consent. This can be made evident from our books of discipline, and many acts of assemblies; and this is confirmed by assembly 1736, act 14. Wherein
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in they declare, that it is and hath been since the reformation, the principle of this church, that no minister shall be intruded into any parish contrary to the will of the congregation; and therefore they seriously recommend to all the judicatories of this church, to have a due regard to the said principle in planting vacant congregations, as they regard the glory of God, and the edification of the body of Christ.—But it is to be regretted, that neither the ancient principles of this church, nor the recommendation of assembly, 1736, are much regarded in the settlement of churches at this day, more than the Scriptural arguments aforementioned for the peoples' right. O how great ground hath this backsliding church to imitate that famous general assembly 1596, who made the thrusting of men into congregations one special cause of their keeping a day for solemn fasting and humiliation before the Lord! Likewise it is to be noticed, what they observe of these intruders, That they manifest thereafter, that they were not called of God. O that judicatories would keep in mind the apostle’s warning against being Partakers of other mens’ sins, by laying hands suddenly upon them; and would consider how far they may be accountable for these souls, who may perish in an ignorant and Christless condition during the scatterings and prejudices of congregations intruded upon! Surely that text hath an alarming sound to all concerned in intrusions, Jer. xxiii. 1, 2. Wo be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pastures, saith the Lord. Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel, against the pastors that feed my people, Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them; behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the
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Lord. Likewise the 34th chapter of Ezekiel hath some very awful things relative to this case. O that the Spirit of God would carry them home to the hearts of men, with such power and efficacy, that their eyes may be opened in time; so that intrusions, scatterings, and contempt of Christ’s flock, may not issue in the destruction of vital religion, and of this once famous national church!
This woful contempt and disregarding of the flock of Christ, by intruding pastors upon them, neglecting their petitions, and otherwise, could not but be very provoking to a holy God: wherefore he was pleased to visit this church with several awful rebukes, and particularly with violent attacks upon her beautiful constitution, running it down, and promoting Independent schemes of government, and setting up new models of congregational churches with new improvements. This was first attempted by Mr. John Glas minister at Tealing, and Mr. Francis Archbald minister of Guthrie.—After a while's more secret management, they came at length to vent their principles openly, and go about preaching them in the streets, fields, &c. and printed several pamphlets in favours of their new opinions. They found fault with our Confession of Faith and Formula, and refused to subscribe them.—They maintained, That there is no warrant for national churches under the New Testament, but only for congregational; That single congregations are not subject to any superior judicatory, nor censurable by them: That they may ordain their own pastors, and that all the members have right to govern. That the church of Israel was but a typical church, and their kings were ecclesiastical officers; That their national covenanting with God was typical, and not to be imitated by
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Christian nations. That our national covenanting was unwarrantable and is not obligatory on us; That our martyrs, who suffered for adhering to our covenants, were so far unenlightened. That, Christian magistrates have no more power in religious matters than others, and ought not to employ their power to advance religion, to make laws with penalties favours of it, nor to restrain or punish heretics or false teachers, nor to give encouragement to good Christians more than other good subjects; That the Christian religion ought not to be defended by arms; That the example of the reforming kings of Judah in punishing idolatry and false worship, or encouraging true religion, is not to be imitated. These and a great many other new and strange doctrines they spread; and would by no means be reclaimed, nor forbear venting them.—At length the church did process them both for their singular doctrines and practices. It was the opinion of many, that seeing they were both very pious men acting according to their light, and had been and might be further useful in the church, they should not be severely dealt with, but only brought under prohibitions and restraints; and if they could be engaged to stay with their own congregations, and no more to spread their new opinions, they might be connived at. Likewise many had greater sympathy with Mr. Archbald than with the other, in regard he was led off by him in his simplicity to these new things, neither did he vent himself so against our covenants as he did: but, seeing none of them would promise to forbear, they were both suspended; and, upon their contemning the church's sentence, they were afterward deposed. Yet the church shewed much regard to them both; for, sometime after, they took off the sentences,
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and reponed [replaced, restored] them both to the ministry in general, though not to their churches.—They did all they could to shake the established church-government, by setting up Independent churches in several places of the land, and ordaining several mechanics and illiterate persons to be their ministers: and they preached and wrote for Independencey: but their pamphlets are confuted, the Divine right of Presbytery established, and the absurdities of the Independent scheme laid open, by Mr. Aytone in his Original Constitution of the Christian church, and by several others: so that we need add no more to what is already written, but our approbation thereof.
At the same very time the Lord was pleased to visit this church with a far more terrible rebuke, by permitting Professor Simson to vent Arian error's among his students at Glasgow, for which a process was commenced against him by the presbytery of Glasgow; and after some time it came to the assembly, and continued before them, assemblies 1727, 1728 and 1729. And though the process was drawn out to a great length, by the extraordinary methods he took to defend himself; yet it must be acknowledged that all the three foresaid assemblies manifested their zeal and concern for the orthodox faith against any thing that tended to Arianism, as appears from the long process in print. At length the assembly found proven that Mr. Simson had denied the necessary existence of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the numerical oneness of the three Persons of the Trinity in substance or essence; and had utterred several other words derogatory to the supreme Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ. Notwithstanding the Professor still refused that he taught these opinions as
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he calls them (the assembly in their act calls them gross errors) and said, They were contrary to the sentiments of his mind; and, if he uttered such words, they must be only a slip of his tongue. He likewise came to give it under his hand that he disclaimed and renounced all these erroneous expressions, and made an orthodox confession of his faith concerning the glorious Trinity and the supreme Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, both before the Ass. 1728 and 1729. And whereas he had said that Christus est summus Deus, is to be taken cum grano salis; and that summus Deus, and the only true God, may be understood in a sense as including the Father's personal property, and so not applicable to the Son; he declared he was exceeding sorry for giving any offence by such ways of speaking, and said, That summus Deus, and the only true God, are equally applicable to the Father and the Son, and not in any lower sense to the Son than to the Father; and that he adhered to the truth of Christ’s necessary existence, and the numerical oneness in essence of the blessed Trinity. But notwithstanding of all these renunciations and declarations (which came so very late) many in the assembly declared that he deserved deposition, because at the beginning of the process he refused to answer questions for clearing himself, and had neglected many opportunities for two years time of giving satisfaction to the judicatories as to the soundness of his faith concerning these important articles, when called upon to do it. But the assembly 1728, because of his confessions and orthodox declarations, and for other considerations, proceeded no further than to suspend him from preaching and teaching, and all exercise of any ecclesiastical power or function and delayed the finishing of the process till next
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assembly, that they might know the mind of Presbyteries concerning him.—When the assembly 1729 met, he made a long moving speech before them, declaring his orthodoxy; which was printed. The assembly finished the affair, by confirming the sentence of suspension formerly past, and giving it as their judgment, "That it is not fit nor safe that he be further employed in teaching divinity, and instructing of youth designed for the holy ministry." The generality of Presbyteries, notwithstanding of his confessions and declarations, had sent up to this assembly their instructions for his deposition, with which they ought to have complied; especially seeing by a former process in the year 1717 he had been found teaching Arminian doctrine, which the assembly discharged him to do for the future: and yet, contrary to that prohibition, it was found proven by a committee of assembly, that he persisted to teach the foresaid doctrine. This the assembly knew very well, and might have called for that other process.—Some alledged, it would be better to keep it over his head undiscussed, to prevent after designs of reponing him to teach.—And some said, it would be safer for truth to bind up his pen by a suspension, and by keeping him under it, than by a deposition to provoke a man of his learning to make open attacks upon the most important truths of our holy religion. And it must be owned that he replied nothing to all that was written against him, but continued silent under the suspension for many years until the day of his death, without any motion or mint by any to get it taken off. It is desirable also to find the assembly, in their last act concerning him, expressing their thankfulness to God, for directing all the judicatories of this
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church which had this process under their consideration (which includes all the Presbyteries thereof ) so happily, that there hath not appeared the least difference of sentiment; but on the contrary, there hath been the most perfect and unanimous agreement among them, as to the doctrine of the glorious Trinity, and the proper supreme Deity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, according as the same is revealed in the holy Scriptures, and contained in our Confession of Faith and Catechisms.
It was much feared that the seeds of Arianism were sown in this church by Professor Simson and others: wherefore there were many excellent books written at this time against Arianism and Socinianism, and in defence of the foresaid doctrine of the glorious Trinity, and the proper supreme Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ; and, being so well written, we need add nothing, but join our testimony therewith, and pray that Arianism may never more set up its head in this land. Amen.
Although God was thus visibly contending the judicatories of this church, for their disregarding his flock and remnant in the land; yet it is matter of deep regret, that, in stead of reforming they proceeded to greater heights in their arbitrary decisions relating to them: for in the, years 1729, 1730, 1731, and afterwards, we find the complaints of worthy ministers, elders, and bodies of Christian people, concerning intrusions upon congregations greatly increased; which occasioned many remonstrances, dissents and protestations in the assemblies, commissions, and inferior judicatories. In the assembly 1730, when the stream of violence began to run very high, many entered their dissents against the settlements of Sutton and
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Old Machir, but were denied liberty to record them; which made a great noise, and increased the ferment among the people, but, instead of yielding or doing any thing to quiet them, that assembly did summarily make an act, discharging the recording (as usual) of reasons of dissent against the determination of church-judicatories; without remitting the affair to presbyteries to know their mind about it, according to former acts of assembly.—There were several remonstrances and petitions presented by numbers of people to the synods of Merse and Lothian, but not regarded. Likewise they gave in a paper, signed and adhered to by great numbers, to assembly 1731, complaining of violent settlements; but got no hearing.—All which proceedings did awaken many honest and zealous ministers to correspond and meet for drawing up a representation and petition to the assembly 1732, concerning the intrusions and other grievances; which was accordingly drawn up, signed and adhered to by 42 ministers and three elders; wherein: they expressed, not only their own sense of these evils but also the sense of many officers through the church, who had not access to sign the said paper. And seeing we think ourselves called to adhere to the honest testimony given therein against many of the evils of the present time, we shall, as an evidence of our approbation and adherence, briefly insert the contents of it in this our testimony.
In their petition offered to the assembly 1732, they humbly move that the assembly should address the king and parliament concerning several grievances of this church, which they only can redress such as the imposing of the sacramental test, and conformity to the English liturgy mid ceremonies,
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upon the members of this church, when serving the king in England and Ireland: The, toleration established in Scotland, whereby error, superstition and profaneness are greatly encouraged, and church discipline weakened:—The establishing of patronages, subversive of the right of congregations to chuse their pastors:—The not receiving addresses from this church to the house of peers, because not directed to the Lords Spiritual:—The introducing from England into some courts in Scotland a new form of swearing, by laying the hands and kissing the gospels. Also, they represent, that notwithstanding it is the undeniable right of Christian congregations to have the free choice of their own pastors, and their call and consent is necessary to found the pastoral relation betwixt ministers and them, according to the word of God, our book of discipline, acts of the general assembly, and the concurring suffrages and unanswerable arguments of the most eminent divines both at home and abroad; yet many ministers have been imposed and forced upon Christian congregations when dissenting and reclaiming, and that especially by sentences of the commission, for several years past; and not only where presentations were insisted upon, but also where there was none, but the right fallen into the presbytery’s hands. And the commission have appointed committees to try and ordain ministers for vacant congregations, not only without the concurrence of Presbyteries and synods concerned, who have best right, and are fittest to, Judge therein, but in direct opposition to their minds: and calls have been received, not moderated in Presbyteries, but attested only by notars public. Likewise the commission have repealed several sentences of synods, when they had but a
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scrimp quorum of ministers, much inferior in number to these who past them: and of late years especially in the years 1729, 1730 and 1731, there were many supernumerary elders named to be members of commissions, beyond the proportion allowed by acts of assembly, many, whereof reside at Edinburgh, and are brought in to vote upon occasions; and there is ground to question if they be qualified according to acts of assembly.—Wherefore, for remedying and preventing such intrusions, the they humbly move, that the assembly should repeal the commission's sentences appointing them, such as may come regularly before them; and discharge in time coming all settlements without the consent of elders and, Christian people and enact, that no call or subscriptions for ministers be sustained but such as are attested by order of Presbyteries, or verified before them or their committees; and, if the commission shall in time coming appoint committees to try or ordain ministers without consent of the congregation and Presbyteries immediately concerned, that the said committees shall be discharged to proceed, until the assembly give their judgment, in case the causes are sisted [summoned] before the assembly by complaint or protestation: and that appeals from sentences of synods be not referred in time coming to the determination of the commission, but reserved for the assembly's decision, unless it be provided that the sederunt [meeting of the court] of the commission judging there in be supernumerary to the synod in ministers as well as elders; it being disagreeable to our principles, that a greater number of ministers should be subjected to the authority of a lesser: and that the commission be better regulated both as to the number and qualifications of elders therein
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than at present: and that the assembly enact, at appointing of their commission, that if any of their actings shall be found contrary to the acts, constitutions and known principles of this church, that they shall not only be censured for the same, but their said acts shall also be reversed; and, if any protestation or complaint be entered against their sentences, it shall be sufficient to gist all parties concerned before the general assembly.—Also they plead, that the assembly may repeal the 7th act of assembly 1730, discharging the recording reasons of dissent, as being past irregularly without consulting Presbyteries, and which must prove a very heavy grievance to many, if it stand in force.
They complain likewise, that sonic judicatories who have testified their just displeasure against ministers and Probationers for their unworthy and offensive practice in accepting presentations contrary to our known principles, have been condemned by the commission for it. And therefore desire the assembly may give an effectual check to such dangerous practices, and that none be licensed or ordained that favour this course.—Also they complain of several innovations in the method and strain of preaching introduced of late by some preachers and young ministers, which are very offensive to many of God's people, and an obstruction to spiritual edification. And, though some former assemblies have referred it to their commissions to bring in an overture thereanent [in reference to], nothing is yet done; therefore they humbly move that the assembly may provide an antidote against these evils.—They also desire the assembly to emit a solemn warning against Professor Simson's errors, and others which are spread through the