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1708, fully more than its usual share of civility. David, earl of Glasgow, a nobleman generally respected, as being favourable to the interests of the church, was appointed commissioner;* and the letter from the queen breathed nothing but kindness. “ We cannot but acknowledge,” says her majesty, “our satisfaction with the zeal and affection the ministers have shown at this juncture to our person and government, upon the appearance of an invasion by our enemies; and we doubt not of your being all in the same good disposition, and that ye will encourage the people in their loyalty to us, and in abhorrence of this design, which will subvert our religion and all that is dear to us. We again assure you of our firm resolution to maintain the government of the church of Scotland as it is by law established, and to protect you in the free enjoyment of all the rights and privileges that by law you are possessed of. And not doubting but you will act in such a manner in this assembly, as that we shall have new reasons to be satisfied with you, we bid you beartily farewell.”+ The assembly in return, after thanking the queen for the notice she had, with so much goodness, taken of the affection and loyalty of the ministers of the church, go on to say, “ We find ourselves obliged, under the most sacred ties of duty and gratitude to your majesty, our only rightful sovereign, to encourage more and more the people under our care in their lo; alty to your majesty, and firm adherence to the present happy establishment. The renewed assurance your majesty is pleased to give, of your firm resolution to maintain the presbyterian government of this church, as by law established, and to protect us in the enjoyment of all our rights and privileges, is to us most acceptable, and shall ever be
. “ All the presbyterians, and you in particular, have been very happy of having this opportunity to testify your zeal and loyalty to her majesty's person and government, and your fixed resolutions to withstand and oppose the popish pretender. This has rendered all the presbyterians very acceptable lo her majesty, and has also secured to them many friends here. My 1. Glasgow is sent down to be the commissioner to the ensuing assembly, and the letter to it, and the instructions, will give satisfaction." Earl of Seafield to Mr. Carstares, March 17th, 1708. State Papers, and Letters addressed to William Carstares, &c. p. 764.
+ Queen's letter to the assembly, 1708.
obliging upon us to manage ourselves so as to witness our sincere and deep resentment of this blessing of your royal favour."* They add further, in an address to her majesty, • We have had so many marks of your royal favour, and are so happy in having such a sovereign, that we should be enemies to ourselves, and regardless of all that ought to be dear to us, as men and as christians, as well as unaccountably undutiful to your majesty, if we were not earnest in our prayers to God, for your majesty's preservation, and for the stability of your throne; and if we had not the utinost abhorrence of the late no less bold than mischievous attempt that was made by the French monarch to invade this kingdom with an armed force, on design to assist a popish pretender, in usurping the sovereignty of your majesty's kingdoms, which you govern by a most unquestionable title, a title that we, in our stations, and by all means proper for us, are resolved to maintain with a firm and unbiassed zeal.”+ To mark still more strongly their feelings upon this point, the assembly, “ Considering what a surprising deliverance the gracious God hath been pleased in his infinite goodness to bestow upon us, in this land in particular, from a threatened invasion of cruel enemies, whereby, according to the unchangeable course of popery and tyranny, by which this invasion was managed, we were inevitably to lay our account, not only with the scattering of our families, and spoiling of our goods, but also the violent invading of our persons and consciences, by methods of cruelty worse than fire or faggot, as the known massacres of Paris, in the year 1572, and of the protestants in Ireland, in the year 1641; and the continued cruelties used against the protestants in France, especially since the year 1685, can testify and witness to the world; and that God did thus graciously appear for us, when we were unworthy of the least kind regard from him, being a people laden with iniquity, &c. &c. appointed a day of thanksgiving to be observed in all the parishes within this national church.”'
* General Assembly's answer to the Queen's letter, 1708. + Printed acts of assembly, 1708.
† Act concerning a solemn national thanksgiving, 1708. Mr. William Carstares, moderator, Mr. John Stirling and Mr. Robert Baillie, minister's,
This assembly passed an act against popery, and an act for suppressing schism and disorders in the church, directed particularly against Mr. James Farquhar, minister at Tyrie, who had been assisting to Mr. John Mackmillan, and Mr. John Hepburn, and Mr. John M.Neilie or Macneil, of whom we have already spoken, as going along with Mr. John Mackmillan. In their instructions to the commission, this assembly paid a most laudable attention to the erection of 'schools in every parish, and, with regard to the Highlands and Islands, that every thing might be done, tending to the advancement of religion and reformation, and “ that all due assistance and encouragement be given to any proposals that may be made for propagating the knowledge of God, and our Lord Jesus Christ, in these and other foreign parts of the world.” An act and recommendation was also passed by this assembly, concerning the ministerial visitation of families, which, if we may judge from the practice of many ministers, is now considered obsolete, but which contains so many excellent and plain directions for that most important duty, that it were to be wished the assembly would revive it. * The
with David, earl of Glasgow, ruling elder, were likewise commissioned to wait upon the queen, and testify the assembly's firm loyalty to her majesty, and to congratulate her upon the merciful deliverance of her dominions from the late threatened invasion from France, and to thank her majesty for her gracious promise, to cause put in execution the laws against popery, profaneness, and other disorders. Unprinted acts of assembly, 1708.
* Act and Recommendation concerning Ministerial Visitation of
At Edinburgh, April 27th, 1708, Session 13th, et ult. The General Assembly finding that overtures concerning the ministerial visitation of families have been transmitted to the several presbyteries within this national church for their opinions thereanent; and that the plurality of the presbyteries who returned their opinions about the same, have consented to the passing of these overtures in manner aftermentioned : and the General Assembly judging that what is therein proposed may be of great use to the ministers of the gospel, though not as binding rules, yet as an help to them when they go about that necessary work of family visitation; therefore, this General Assembly did unanimously, and hereby do recommend the same as such, to the several ministers of this national church; the tenor whereof follows:
Seeing, for the faithful discharge of minister's work, they ought, beside
due observation of the Sabbath, the licensing of probationers, and the orderly calling of ministers, came all under the consideration of this assembly, and were treated suitably to their great importance. The scripture songs, with the remarks
what is incumbent to them in the public congregation, to take special care and inspection of the particular persons and families under their oversight and charge; in order to which, it hath been the laudable custom of this church, at least once a year, if the largeness of the parish, bodily inability in the minister, or other such like causes, do not hinder, for ministers to visit all the families in their parish, and oftener, if the parish be small, and they he able to set about it.
For the more uniform and successful management of which work, although, in regard of the different circumstances of some parishes, families, and per. sons, much of this work, and the management thereof, must be left to the discretion and prudence of ministers, in their respective oversights; yet these following advices are offered and overtured as helps in the management thereof, that it may not be done in a slight and overly manner.
ist, First of all, it seems needful that ere a minister set out to this work, he should labour to have his own heart in a suitable frame for it, by exciting in himself the love of God, and the desire of the salvation of his people's souls, and the sense of the weight of the charge given him to watch for souls, as one wlio must give an account, and of the difficulty of this part of his work in particular; for, perhaps, it may be found no less difficult to apply to particular families and persons therein, teaching and warning every one, than it is to dispense the word in common in the public congregation.
2d, That such a time in the year be chosen for such ministerial visitation as the families whom he visits may be best at leisure to meet with him, when they may be expected at home, and least encumbered with affairs; and it were fit, that when a minister designs to visit any part of his parish, intimation thereof should be made, either in public from the pulpit, or some other way, that they may order their affairs so that he may have opportunity to meet with them at home.
3d, It's fit, when a minister designs to visit any part of the parish, that he be accompanied with the elder of the bounds; and that, before they go forth to the work, they may confer together concerning the state and condition of the persons and families of these bounds, that the minister may be able to speak the more suitably to their condition, and as may be most for edification,
4th, When they enter a house or family, after a short account of the design of the visit, and expression of their wishes and desires for the blessing of God upon the family, and that above all their souls may prosper; it were fit to take an account of the names of the family, parents, children, and servants, and to inquire for testificates from them who are lately come to the parish, and to mark them in their book or roll for catechising, and to take notice who can read, and of the age of children when capable to be catechised.
5th, After the minister has got an account of the persons dwelling in the family, he may speak to them all in general, of the necessity of regeneration,
of presbyteries upon them, were referred to the commission, which “ was empowered to conclude and establish that version, and to publish and emit it for the public use of the church, as was formerly done on the like occasion, and when
and the advantages of serious religion and godliness, of piety towards God, and justice and charity towards man.
6th, And next, more particularly, to the servants, of their duty to fear and serve God, and to be dutiful, faithful, and obedient servants, and of the promises made to such, commending to them the reading of the scriptnres as they can, and prayer in secret, and love and concord among themselves; and, in particular, a holy care of sanctifying the Lord's day.
7th, The minister may apply his discourse to the children, as they are capable, with affectionate seriousness, showing them the advantage of knowing, loving, secking, and serving God, and remembering their Creator and Redeemer in the days of their youth, and honouring their parents; and to mind them how they were dedicate to God in baptism; and when of age and fit, and after due instruction of the nature of the covenant of grace, and the seals thereof, to excite them to engage themselves personally to the Lord, and to desire, and prepare for, and take the first opportunity they can, of partaking of the Lord's Supper ; to be especially careful how they communicate at first, much depending thereon; (and such of the servants as are young are to be exhorted hereto in like manner) exciting them also to daily reading of the scriptures, and to secret prayer, and sanctifying the Lord's day.
8th, After the minister has spoken to servants and children, he should speak privately to the master and mistress of the family, about their personal duty toward God, and the care of their own soul's salvation, and their obligation to promote religion and the worship of God in their family, and to restrain and punish vicc, and encourage piety, and to be careful that they and their house serve the Lord, and sanctify the Lord's day, and after this, it may be fit to exhort masters to take care that God be worshipped daily in the family by prayer and praise, and reading of the scriptures. Secundo, Concerning the behaviour and conversation of the servants, and their duty towards God and man, and how they attend the worship of God in the family, how they attend the public worship on the Lord's day, and how they behave after sermons; if any of them be piously inclined, if they make conscience of secret prayer and reading the scripture. Tertio, If there be catechising and instructing the ignorant and weak; if due care be taken in educating the children, and particularly, if they be put timeously to school, and how they profit thereat, and how the Lord's day is spent after sermons in the family, and in secret; in all which, the minister may mix in suitable directions, encouragements, and admonitions, as he shall see cause, and most for edification.
9th, It may be useful to inquire who have bibles, and to encourage them who are able to get a bible of their own, and to make diligent and religious Use thereof, and to commend to parents and masters of families, to have the Confession of Faith, catechisms, and other good books for instruction, in
faith and manners.