Good Newes From the Assembly in Scotland, now sitting in consultation, Concerning their Ecclesiastical Government in the Church.
Exhibited to this Parliament in England,
Concerning this present Reformation in
England, with their heartie desires this
Ensuing Treatise may be forthwith enacted; for
the satisfaction of all good Subjects,
here or elsewhere.
From Edenburgh, August 4. 1642
London printed for J. W. 1642.
Good News from the Assembly in
Scotland, now sitting in consultation,
Concerning their Ecclesiastical
The Confession of Faith, and Reformation of the Kirk of Scotland, in doctrine, discipline, and worship, so far as the Reformers did conceive and understand were regulated by the word of God, & grounded upon Scripture, as is acknowledged by the Harmony of Confessions of the Reformed Kirks, and by the testimony of the best and most eminent Divines, which have been in the Kirk of England, or in the Reformed Kirks at that time, and to this day, amidst the greatest desolation, notwithstanding the ambition and usurpation of Prelates, no other Ministers and Office bearers have been acknowledged, or received by the Reformed Kirk of Scotland, but Pastours, Doctours, and Elders, with Deacons. These being warranted with Scripture, and being sufficient for all the necessarie uses of the Kirk of Scotland; yet so, that the Prince and Civill Magistrate, hold his owne eminent place and Civill Power, for the consolation and purgation of Religion.
No man here, were he never so wise and pious above others, or doth he never so much arrogate authoritie unto himselfe, hath the reines of Kirk government in his hands, to dispose or doe what seemeth good in his owne eyes; but all matters are advised and determined by Common Consent in the Conventions and Assemblies of the Kirk; which Assemblies were of foure sorts and degrees, commonly designed by names of Kirk-Sessions, or Consistories, Presbyteries, Provinciall Synods, and Generall, or Nationall Assemblies.
The Kirk-Sessions, or Consistorie, doe consist of one Minister at least, approved for his learning, life, and skill in government; and of Elders, men of best knowledge, and holiest of life in the parish, so many in number as the proportion of the Congregation doth require, who are chosen with consent of the people, and in the presence of the people solemnly admitted to their charge: These convene weekly for ordering such matters of worship of God, as are proper for that perish; as what dayes of the week are meetest for assembling to the publike worship, or catechizing; and what hours in the Lords day, before noone and after noone, are fittest for the exercise of that day, at what times the Communion shall be given, for consulting of Delinquents in swearing, cursing, profanation of the Lords day, drunkennesse, fornication: And for dilating greater offences, such as heresie, superstition, adulterie, if any be suspected: if there be any scandall within their bounds, that all Transgressours may be bought to repentance, or separated from the people of God, according to the Ordinances of Christ, and order of the Kirk. Here also the Deacons are present, to receive direction in their dutie.
Presbytery of Classicall meeting doth consist of particular Kirks, in such a circuit 12, 16, or 20. Or so many, as by convenience of the place, can weekly assemble here, one elder of each parish appointed by the particular Kirk-Session, and the whole Ministers of these, doe meet where the Ministers and others bee admitted to the Ministry, whom we call expectants, exercise their gifts by course in publike, the exercise or prophesie being ended, the Minister and Elders sit downe, and after prayer and censure of the Doctrine, they use the power of Jurisdiction, Ordination, Suspensation, Deprivation, Visitation of Kirks, tryals of the projects of Excommunication, deduced by the particular elderships and of direction to the Ministers of the parish, to excommunicate if need be. Here the Scandalous faults of Ministers in Doctrine or life, are declared, and all persons of whatsoever quality disobedient to their owne Ministers and Elders, are with great authority censured. Provinciall Synods doe consist of the whole Presbyteryes, shires, or provinces, so that the whole Kingdome is divided into Shires or Provinces in relation to those Synods. Here all the Ministers and one Elder from every parish doe meet twice in the yeare, and after preaching and calling upon the name of God by the Moderators of the preceding Synode: a new Moderator being chosen, they trie the Presbyteries by their Records, presented by the Clerk of every Presbyterie what was obscure or difficult for the Presbyteries, or might concerne them all in common, is determined and ordained, and if any difficultie doe arise which doth not fall under some Kirk constitution, it is referred to the National Assemblie: all matters are with such diligence, expedited that each Minister may returne to his charge on the Lords day.
In the generall or nationall assembly, the Kings Majesty in person, or Commissioner in his place useth to be present, who convene once in the year or oftener, pro re nata.
It doth consist of Ministers and Elders from each Presbytery and regall Burrough.
After solemne Humiliation the first day of the Assembly, one of the Ministers is chosen by the voyces of the whole Assembly to moderate and preside in that Assembly.
The records of the Synode, are perused and tried, Acts and constitutions of all the Churches, and agreed upon with common consent, and all mens doubts and scruples concerning them, are satisfied to the full. If they be propounded Animo edificandi non tentandi [on purpose of edifying not tempting], Appellations Grievances, Petitions and Complaints, are examined and determined by this supreme and highest Kirks Judicatory, and some Commissioners chosen to present grievances or Petitions agreed upon in the Assembly to the Parliament, the King, the Councell of the Kingdome, or convention of the Estates.
In this authority subordination of Sessions, Presbyteryesm provinciall Synodes and nationall Assemblies doe consist, the Order, Beauty, the strength of the Kirks of Scotland, comfortable to the Godly, both pastors and professors, terrible as an Army with Banners to Papists, be their places never so high, to all Hereticks, Schismaticks, hirelings and all ungodly men.
No scandalous fault of any person escapeth Censure.
No heresie or errors can sooner be hatched, but it is presently crushed by some of those inferiour Assemblies, or if it be kept on foot, or take strength, it is quite suppressed by the nationall Assembly convening once in a yeare, which hath beene a mayne cause why so few sects and errors in Doctrine and Worship have appeared in the Kirk of Scots for many yeares, and wheresoever those Assemblies have place and liberty, the names of Heresies and Sects have not almost been heard of.
In these particular Assemblies, the particular Hereticks are not governed by the extrinsecall power of any one or many set over them, as in the Monarchicall government of prelates, but they are ruled and judged by themselves, and their owne intrinsecall power, each member by the whole body in one orderly way. None of the whole communion of the faithfull being barred from the joynt and common government by those Assemblies, the gifts, the knowledge and zeale of all the members, especially of the Ministers, and stirred up quickened and strengthened, and holy emulation is excited by acquaintance, conference, and by perceiving the gifts one of another. And the best gifts are known for planting of Kirks and Colleges: whence it is that Ministers returne from those Assemblies ashamed and humbled in themselves, and furnished with fresh resolutions for every pastorall duty for the common benefit and edification of all the Kirks.