And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.—Luke 24.27.

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August 3. 1648. Antemeridiem, Sess. XXVI.

Act for censuring Ministers for their silence, and not speaking to the corruptions of the time.

By the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

Enacted during the Time when the Spirit of God moved a Second Reformation.

THE Generall Assembly, taking to their serious consideration, the great scandals which have lately encreased, partly through some Ministers their reserving and not declaring of themselves against the prevalent sins of the times, partly through the spite, Malignity, and insolency of others against such Ministers as have faithfully and freely reproved the Sins of the times without respect of persons, Do therefore for preventing and removing such scandals hereafter, Appoint and Ordain, that every Minister do by the word of Wisdom apply his Doctrine faithfully against the publick Sins and Corruptions of these times, and particularly against the Sins and Scandals in that Congregation wherein he lives, according to the Act of the General Assembly 1596, revived by the Assembly at Glasgow 1638, Appointing that such as shall be found not applying their Doctrine to corruptions, which is the Pastoral gift, [also, such as are] cold, and wanting of Spiritual zeal, flatterers {39} and dissembling of publick sins, and especially of great Personages in their Congregations, that all such persons be censured according to the degree of their faults and continuing therein be deprived [of ministerial functions and privileges]; And according to the Act of the General Assembly 1646, Sess. 10, That beside all other scandals, silence, or ambiguous speaking in the publike Cause, much more detracting and disaffected speeches be seasonably censured: As therefore the Errours and exorbitancies of Sectaries in England are not to be passed in silence, but plain warning to be given of the danger of so near a contagion, that people may beware of it, and such as neglect this duty to be Censured by their Presbyteries, So it is thought fit and Appointed by the Assembly, conform to the foresaid Acts, that the main current of applications in Sermons may run along against the evils that prevail at home, and namely against the contempt of the Word, against all profaneness, against the present defection[1] from the League and Covenant, against the unlawful Engagement in War, against the unlawful Band and Declaration of the date of the 10[th] of June ordained to be subscribed by all the Subjects, and other unjust Decrees established by Law, against the Plots and Practices of Malignants, and against the Principles and Tenents of Erastianism, which spread among diverse in this Kingdom; For the better confutation whereof, it is hereby Recommended to the Ministry to study that point of controversy well, that they may be the more able to stop the mouths of gainsayers: Tis also hereby Recommended to the several Presbyteries and Provincial Synods, that they make special enquiry and trial concerning all the Ministry in their bounds, And if any be found too sparing general, or ambiguous in the foresaid applications and reproofs that they be sharply rebuked, dealt with, and warned to amend under the pain of suspension from their Ministry; And if after such warning given they amend not, that such be suspended by Presbyteries, and in case of their negligence by the Synods till the next General Assembly; But if there be any, who do neglect and omit such applications and reproofs, and continue in such negligence after admonition and dealing with them, they are to be cited, and after due trial of the offence to be deposed, for being pleasers of men rather than servants of Christ, for giving themselves to a detestable indifferency or neutrality in the Cause of God,[2] and for defrauding the souls of people, yea for being highly guilty of the blood of souls in not giving them warning:[3]  Much more are such Ministers to be censured with Deposition from their Ministry who preach for the lawfulness or pray for the success of the present unlawful Engagement, or that go along with the Army themselves, or who subscribe any Bands or take any Oaths not approved by the General Assembly or their Commissioners, or [who] by their counsel, countenance or approbation make themselves accessory to {40} the taking of such Bonds and Oaths by others: It is to be understood that if any Minister preach in defence of or pray for the success to the Sectaries in England, he is likewise to be censured by deposition.  and this we add as a general rule to be observed on both hands, but not as if we had found any of the Ministry of this Kingdom to be favourers of the Sectaries in England.

And in case any Minister for his freedom in preaching, and faithful discharge of his conscience shall be in the face of the Congregation or elsewhere upbraided, railed at, mocked, or threatened, or if any injury or violence be done to his person, or any stop and disturbance made to him in the exercise of his Ministerial calling, The Presbytery of the bounds shall forthwith enter in process with the offender, and whoever he be Charge him to satisfy the Discipline of the Kirk by publick Repentance, which if any do not, or refuse to do, That then the Presbytery proceed to Excommunication against him; In all which Presbyteries and Synods are to give an account of their diligence: And the Assembly Appoints this Act to be intimate in the several Congregations of this Kirk.


Footnotes:

1. Various items against Reformation-era defection from the Solemn League and Covenant can be considered, such as a sermon by Edmund Calamy against Covenant-refusing and Covenant-breaking, also a Testimony to the Truth of Jesus Christ by the ministers of London, and a Testimony to the Truth of Jesus Christ by the ministers of Perth and Fife.  Later defection from the Solemn League and Covenant also warrants our attention.  For example, the reader should consult a collection of resources relating to the 1871 defection from the Solemn League and Covenant, demonstrating the sinfulness of its displacement by the Pittsburgh Bond adopted by the RPCNA.

2. See the sixth article of the Solemn League and Covenant.

3. See the 33rd Chapter of the Prophet Ezekiel.  The subsequent chapter describes another sin, also characteristic of the ministry in our day.  The Lord’s children still have this for their primary comfort in this world: that the Lord himself is a Good Shepherd, and knows how to take care of them that are his.