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ACT AND DECLARATION
ANENT THE PUBLICATION OF THE SUBORDINATE STANDARDS AND
OTHER AUTHORITATIVE DOCUMENTS OF THE
FREE CHURCH OF SCOTLAND.
At Edinburgh, the 31st day of May 1851 years. Sess. 19. Which day the GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE FREE CHURCH OF SCOTLAND being met and duly constituted,
The General Assembly, on considering the Report of the Committee to which this matter was referred at a previous diet, unanimously agreed to sanction, as they hereby sanction, the publication of a volume, containing the subordinate standards, and other authoritative documents of this Church. And with the view of directing attention to "all the way by which the Lord has led us,” as well as to the testimony which He has honoured this Church to bear for the whole truth of God regarding His Church, and His glory therein, the General Assembly did, and hereby do, adopt the following Act and Declaration:—
When it pleased Almighty God, in His great and undeserved mercy, to reform this Church from Popery by presbyters, it was given to the Reformers, amid many troubles, to construct and model the constitution of the Church, in doctrine, worship, discipline, and government, according to the Word of God, and not according to the will of earthly rulers. Our fathers, accordingly, in singleness of eye and simplicity of heart, without regard to the favour or the fear of man, so applied themselves to the work to which they were called, that they were enabled, with remarkable unanimity, to settle it upon the basis which, by the blessing of God, has continued unaltered down to the present time.
Of this settlement, besides that profession of the evangelical faith which is common to all the Churches of the Reformation, the peculiar and essential features are:-I. The government of the Church by presbyters alone, or by that order of men which is indicated in the New Testament indiscriminately by the terms presbyters and bishops or overseers—πρεσβύτεροι and επισκοποι.—and, II. The subjection of the Church, in all things spiritual, to Christ as her only Head, and to His Word as her only rule.
From the beginning these principles have been held as fundamental by the Reformed Church of Scotland; and as such they were recognized in her earliest standards,—the First and Second Books of Discipline,-adopted by her own independent authority, before the full