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By issuing a decree requiring and ordaining a Church Court to take on trial and admit to the office of the holy ministry, in a particular charge, a probationer or unordained candidate for the ministry, and to intrude him also on the congregation, contrary to the will of the people; both in this and in the cases first mentioned, invading the Church's exclusive jurisdiction in the admission of ministers, the preaching of the Word, and administration of sacraments, recognised by statute to have been “given by God” directly to the Church, and to be .# the limits of the secular jurisdiction. By prohibiting the communicants of the Church from intimating their dissent from a call proposed to be given to a candidate for the ministry to become their pastor. By granting interdict against the establishment of additional ministers to meet the wants of an increasing population, as uninterruptedly practised from the Reformation to this day; against constituting a new kirk-session in a parish to exercise discipline; and against innovating on its existing state, “as regards pastoral superintendance, its kirk-session, and jurisdiction and discipline thereto belonging.” By interdicting the preaching of the Gospel and administration of ordinances, throughout a whole district, by any minister of the Church under authority of the Church Courts; thus assuming to themselves the regulation of the “preaching of the Word” and “administration of the sacraments,” and at the same time invading the privilege, common to all the subjects of the realm, of
having freedom to worship God according to their consciences, and under the guidance of the ministers of the communion to which they belong. By holding the members of inferior Church judicatories liable in damages for refusing to break their ordination vows and oaths (sworn by them, in compliance with the requirements of the statutes of the realm, and, in particular, of the Act of Security embodied in the Treaty of Union), by disobeying and setting at defiance the sentences, in matters spiritual and ecclesiastical, of their superior Church judicators, to which, by the constitution of the Church and country, they are, in such matters, subordinate and subject, and which, by their said vows and oaths, they stand pledged to obey. By interdicting the execution of the sentence of a Church judicatory prohibiting a minister from preaching or administering ordinances within a particular parish, pending the discussion of a cause in the Church Courts as to the validity of his settlement therein. By interdicting the General Assembly and inferior Church judicatories from inflicting Church censures; as in one case, where interdict was granted against the pronouncing of sentence of deposition upon a minister found guilty of theft by a judgment acquiesced in by himself; in another, where a Presbytery was interdicted from proceeding in the trial of a minister accused of fraud and swindhing; and in a third, where a Presbytery was interdicted from proceeding with a liber against a hcentiate for drunkenness, obscenity, and profane swearing. By suspending Church censures, inflicted by the Church judicatories in the exercise of discipline (which, by special statute, all “judges and officers of justice” are ordered “to give due assistance” for making “to be obeyed or otherwise effectual”), and so reponing ministers suspended from their office, to the power of preaching and administering ordinances; thus assuming to themselves the “power of the keys.” By interdicting the execution of a sentence of deposition from the office of the holy ministry, pronounced by the General Assembly of the Church; thereby also usurping the “power of the keys,” and supporting deposed ministers in the exercise of ministerial functions, which is declared by special statute to be a “high contempt of the authority of the Church and of the laws of the kingdom establishing the same.” By assuming to judge of the right of individuals elected members of the General Assembly to sit therein, and interdicting them from taking their seats; thus interfering with the constitution of the Supreme Court of the Church, and violating her freedom in the holding of General Assemblies secured to her by statute. By, in the greater number of the instances above referred to, requiring the inferior judieatories of the Church to disobey the sentences, in matters spiritual and ecclesiastical, of the superior judi. catories, to which, by the constitution in Church and State, they are subordinate and subject, and which, in compliance with the provisions of the statutes of the realm, their members have solemnly sworn to obey; thus subverting “the government of the Church by kirk-sessions, presby.
teries, provincial synods, and general assemblies,” settled by statute and the Treaty of Union as “the only Government of the Church within the kingdom of Scotland.” By all which acts, the said Court of Session, apparently not adverting to the oath taken by the Sovereign from whom they hold their commissions, have exercised powers not conferred upon them by the Constitution, but by it excluded from the province of any secular tribunal, have invaded the jurisdiction of the Courts of the Church, have subverted its government, have illegally attempted to coerce Church Courts in the exercise of their purely spiritual functions, have usurped the “power of the keys,” have wrongfully acclaimed, as the subjects of their civil jurisdiction, to be regulated by their decrees, ordination of layman to the office of the holy ministry, admission to the cure of souls, Church censures, the preaching of the Word, and the administration of the sacraments; and have employed the means intrusted to them for enforcing submission to their lawful authority, in compelling submission to that which they have usurped,—in opposition to the doctrines of God's Word set forth in the Confession of Faith, as ratified by statute, in violation of the Constitution, in breach of the Treaty of Union, and in disregard of divers express enactments of the Legislature: And whereas farther encroachments are threatened on the government and discipline of the Church, as by law established, in actions now depending before the said Court, in which it is sought to have sentences of deposition from the office of the holy ministry reduced and set aside, and minorities of inferior judicatories authorised to take on trial and admit to the office of the holy ministry, in disregard of, and in opposition to, the authority of the judicatories of which they are members, and of the superior judicatories to which they are subordinate and subject: And whereas the government and discipline of Christ's Church cannot be carried on according to His laws and the constitution of His Church, subject to the exercise, by any secular tribunal, of such powers as have been assumed by the said Court of Session: And whereas this Church, highly valuing, as she has ever done, her connexion, on the terms contained in the statutes hereinbefore recited, with the State, and her possesion of the temporal benefits thereby secured to her for the advantage of the people, must, nevertheless, even at the risk and hazard of the loss of that connexion and of these public benefits, deeply as she would deplore and deprecate such a result for herself and the nation, persevere in maintaining her liberties as a Church of Christ, and in carrying on the government thereof on her own constitutional principles, and must refuse to intrude ministers on her congregations, to obey the unlawful coercion attempted to be enforced against her in the exercise of her spiritual functions and jurisdictions, or to consent that her people be deprived of their rightful liberties: Therefore the General Assembly, while, as above set forth, they fully recognised the absolute jurisdiction of the Civil Courts in relation to all matters whatsoever of a civil nature, and especially
in relation to all the temporalities conferred by the State upon the Church, and the civil consequences attached by law to the decisions, in matters spiritual, of the Church Courts—Do, in name and on behalf of this Church, and of the nation and people of Scotland, and under the sanction of the several statutes, and the Treaty of Union hereinbefore recited, claim, as of right, that she shall freely possess and enjoy her liberties, government, discipline, rights, and privileges, according to law, especially for the defence of the spiritual liberties of her people, and that she shall be protected therein from the aforesaid unconstitutional and illegal encroachments of the said Court of Session, and her people secured in their Christian and constitutional rights and liberties.
And they declare that they cannot, in accordance with the Word of God, the authorized and ratified standards of this Church, and the dictates of their consciences, intrude ministers on reclaiming congregations, or carrying on the government of Christ's Church, subject to the coercion attempted by the Court of Session as above set forth; and that, at the risk and hazard of suffering the loss of the secular benefits conferred by the State, and the public advantages of an Establishment, they must, as by God's Grace they will, refuse so to do; for, highly as they estimate these, they cannot put them in competition with the inalienable liberties of a Church of Christ, which, alike by their duty and allegiance to their Head and King, and by their ordination vows, they are bound to maintain, “notwithstanding of whatsoever trouble or persecution may arise.”
And they protest, that all and whatsoever Acts of the Parliament of Great Britain, passed without the consent of this Church and nation, in alteration of, orderogation to the aforesaid government, discipline, right, and privileges of this Church, (which were not allowed to be treated of by the Commissioners for settling the terms of the Union between the two kingdoms, but were secured by, antecedent stipulation, provided to be inserted, and inserted in the Treaty of Union, as an unalterable and fundamental condition thereof, and so reserved from the cognizance and power of the federal legislature created by the said Treaty,)—as also all and whatsoever sentences of Courts in contravention of the same government, discipline, right, and privileges, are and shall be, in themselves, void and null, and of no legal force or effect; and that, while they will accord full submission to all such acts and sentences, in so far, though in so far only, as these may regard civil rights and privileges, whatever may be their opinion of the justice or legality of the same, their said submission shall not be deemed an acquiescence therein, but that it shall be free to the members of this Church, or their successors, at any time hereafter when there shall be a prospect of obtaining justice, to claim the restitution of all such civil rights and privileges, and temporal benefits and endowments, as for the present they may be compelled to yield up, in order to preserve to their officebearers the free exercise of their spiritual government and discipline, and to their people the liberties, of which respectively it has been attempted, so contrary
to law and justice, to deprive them. And, finally, the General Assembly call #. Christian people of this kingdom, and all the Churches of the Reformation throughout the world, who hold the great doctrine of the sole headship of the Lord Jesus over his Church, to witness, that it is for their adherence to that doctrine, as set forth in their Confession of Faith, and ratified by the laws of this kingdom, and for the maintenance by them of the jurisdiction of the office-bearers, and the freedom and privileges of the members of the Church from that doctrine flowing, that this Church is subjected to hardship, and that the rights so sacredly pledged and secured to her are put in peril; and they especially invite all the office-bearers and members of this Church, who are willing to suffer for their allegiance to their adorable King and Head, to stand by the Church, and by each other, in defence of the doctrine aforesaid, and of the liberties and privileges, whether of office-bearers or people, which rest upon it; and to unite in supplication to Almighty God, that He would be pleased to turn the hearts of the rulers of this kingdom, to keep unbroken the faith pledged to this Church, in former days, by statutes and solemn treaty, and the obligations, come under to God himself, to preserve and maintain the government and discipline of this Church in accordance with His word; or otherwise, that He would give strength to this Church, officebearers and people, to endure resignedly the loss of the temporal benefits of an establishment, and the personal sufferings and sacrifices to which they may be called, and would also inspire them with zeal and energy to promote the advancement of His Son's kingdom, in whatever condition it may be His will to place them; and that, in His own good time, He would restore to them these benefits, the fruits of the struggles and sufferings of their fathers in
times past in the same cause; and, thereafter, give them Grace to employ them more effectually than hitherto they have done, for the manifestation of His glory. Extracted from the Records of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, by John LEE, Cl. Eccl. Scot.
ADDREss To The QUEEN's Most Excellent MAJESTY.
May it please your Majesty,We, your Majesty's most loyal, dutiful, and devoted subjects, the Ministers and Elders of the Church of Scotland, met in General Assembly, relying with undoubted confidence on the gracious assurance repeatedly vouchsafed to us of your Majesty's determination to maintain inviolate the government, worship, discipline, rights, and privileges of this Church, humbly approach your Majesty, in order to lay before your Majesty a statement of the invasions which have recently been made on the said government, discipline, rights, and privileges of this Church.
We deeply lament that the invasions of which we complain have proceeded from the Court of Session, to whose determination in their own province we have ever yielded and inculcated implicit obedience.
We most respectfully submit to your Majesty's favourable consideration the Claim, Declaration, and Protest which we have adopted with reference to this matter, wherein are fully set forth the
legal and constitutional securities:
for the rights and privileges of this Church, and the encroachments thereon from which we desire to be protected. We fully rely on your Majesty's determination to uphold and maintain the government, discipline, rights and privileges of this Church, and while we cannot, in accordance with the dictates of our conscience and our views of the Word of God, submit to the coercion attempted over us in the exercise of our spiritual functions by the said Court, and must refuse to do so, even at the hazard of the loss of the temporal advantages we at present enjoy, we earnestly trust that such measures may be directed by your Majesty as will preserve to us the peaceable possession of those rights and privileges secured to us by statute and solemn Treaty. Given at Edinburgh this 30th day of May, 1842 years, by your Majesty's most faithful, obedient, and loyal subjects, the Ministers and Elders of this National Assembly of the Church of Scotland. (Signed) David Welch, Moderator.