Deed of Separation of 14th August 1893, by which the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland was formed
Deed of Separation by Ministers and Elders From the Church Calling Herself the Free Church of Scotland
WE, the undersigned Ministers and Elders of the Free Church of Scotland, considering that the constitution of said Church as settled in 1843 is contained in the Westminster Confession of Faith, as approved by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1647, the First and Second Books of Discipline, the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, the Claim Declaration and Protest of 1842, the Protest of 1843, the Act of Separation and Deed of Demission executed in the last mentioned year, the Formula appointed to be subscribed by probationers before receiving license, and by all office-bearers at the time of their admission, together with the Questions appointed to be put to the same parties at Ordination and Admission, and the Acts of Assembly of the Church of Scotland prior to 1843; and, further considering that the Establishment Principle—that is the national recognition and encouragement of religion and the Church of Christ by the State as such—is part of the Constitution of the Free Church of Scotland as settled in 1843, and since repeatedly affirmed in Acts and Proceedings of her General Assemblies, and that the maintenance of said Principle is binding and obligatory on all Ministers and Office-bearers of said Church; and now seeing
(1st) That the present subsisting Church now calling herself the Free Church of Scotland, through majorities of her Commissioners in General Assembly met, has, in violation of one of the fundamental principles embodied in the Constitution of the Free Church of Scotland, of late years repeatedly passed resolutions having for their object the separation of Church and State, and the abandonment of the distinctive testimony of the Free Church of Scotland in favour of a national recognition of religion, and that without any declaration in favour of any Scheme for the Reconstruction of a National Church on the basis claimed by the Church of Scotland in 1842;
(2nd) That the present subsisting Church, calling herself the Free Church of Scotland, by sanctioning the use of uninspired hymns, has departed from the original Standards of the Free Church of Scotland; and by the authorisation of instrumental music in the public worship of God has altered the ancient and universal practice of the Church of Scotland, and violated the purity of worship as understood by the Free Church of Scotland in 1846;
(3rd) That the said present subsisting Church, calling herself the Free Church of Scotland, through judgments of her General Assemblies, now not only tolerates but supports office-bearers who do not hold the “whole doctrine” of the Confession of Faith—especially the doctrine of the Divine Authorship and entire perfection of all the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, which “whole doctrine” by their ordination vows said office-bearers vowed and declared to be the true doctrine which they would constantly adhere to;
(4th) That by passing the Declaratory Act of (1892) the said present subsisting Church, calling herself the Free Church of Scotland, through her General Assemblies, has, in so far as said Church is concerned, destroyed the integrity of the Confession of Faith as understood and accepted by the Disruption Fathers and their predecessors, and instead of the Westminster Confession of Faith as the recognised Standard of orthodoxy in the Church, in all its heads and articles, has substituted what is called “the Substance of the Reformed Faith therein set forth,” the Church, through the majorities of the Members of her Courts, being by the said Declaratory Act made the sole judge of the particular points that are to be included under this category of doctrines—a provision which overthrows the fixed Doctrinal Constitution of the Free Church of Scotland, and lays its Creed at the feet of an irresponsible majority to determine the same as it will; and
(5th) That the majority of the Ministers and Elders who for the present rule and guide the said present subsisting Church, calling herself the Free Church of Scotland have, in the instances above set forth, abandoned one of the most vital principles of the Free Church of Scotland; have practically embraced Voluntaryism; and have passed Acts and Resolutions under which the Standards of the Free Church of Scotland can be, and are violated; whereby they have ceased to represent the Church of Scotland as settled in 1843.
In consequence whereof we resolved to separate from the said present subsisting Church calling herself the Free Church of Scotland; therefore, and in order the more formally and effectually to carry out said resolution, we, the Ministers and Elders, hereto subscribing for ourselves and all who may now or hereafter adhere to us—under the solemn declaration that we and they now adhere as we and they have heretofore done to the Constitution and Standards of the Free Church of Scotland as settled in 1843, and set forth in the several documents above named and to the whole principles therein embodied—and in humble dependence on the Grace of God, the help of our Lord and Saviour and the presence and blessing of the Holy Spirit have separated, as we do hereby separate, from the present subsisting Church, calling herself the Free Church of Scotland; declaring, however, as we hereby specially provide and declare that we for ourselves, and all who may now or hereafter adhere to us in no degree abandon or impair the rights belonging to us as Ministers of Christ’s Gospel and Pastors and Elders of particular congregations, to perform freely and fully the functions of our offices towards our respective congregations or such portion thereof as may adhere to us;
That signature or adherence to this Deed of Separation shall in no way prejudice our right to maintain the Doctrines and Principles of the Free Church of Scotland as set forth in her Authorised Standards and authoritative documents as recognised and understood in 1843, and to take all steps that may be necessary to vindicate said Doctrines and Principles;
That we are and shall be free to exercise government and discipline in our several judicatories separate from the said Church, according to God’s Word and the Constitution and Standards of the Free Church of Scotland as understood in 1843; that henceforth we are not and shall not be subject in any respect to the ecclesiastical judicatories of the said present subsisting Church calling herself the Free Church of Scotland;
That the rights and benefits accruing to the Ministers subscribing or who may hereafter adhere hereto in connection with the Free Church of Scotland Ministers’ and Missionaries’ Widows’ and Orphans’ Fund are hereby reserved;
That this Deed of Separation shall no ways be held as a renunciation on the part of such of said Ministers as are Ministers of Churches or occupants of Manses built by private contribution, or of any rights which may be found to belong to such Ministers or to their congregations or to the office-bearers of such congregations, or to existing or future Trustees on behalf of such congregations or their Kirk-Sessions in regard to the same, by virtue of the intentions and destination of the contributors to the erection of said Churches or Manses, and to the acquisition of any lands thereto attached or otherwise according to law; and that there is hereby specially reserved to us, the subscribers hereto, and to all who may now or hereafter adhere to us, power and authority to take all steps that may be necessary to vindicate our or their status, and all advantages, rights and privileges, both sacred and civil, of whatever nature and description whatsoever, which may righteously be found to belong to us and to those who, by adhering to her Constitution and Standards as settled in 1843, claim to represent the Free Church of Scotland, and we consent to the registration hereof for preservation.
In testimony whereof, these presents, written on stamped paper by Æneas Fraser, Clerk to Innes & Mackay, Solicitors, Inverness, are subscribed by Mr Donald MacFarlane, Minister at Raasay; Mr Donald MacDonald, Minister at Shieldaig, and Alex. MacFarlane, Teacher of the Public School at Raasay, Elder, all at Portree on the fourteenth day of August, 1893, before these witnesses—John Robertson MacKay, Preacher of the Gospel at Gairloch, and Allan MacKenzie, Student of Divinity, residing at Inverness.
(Signed) DONALD MACFARLANE, Minister.
DONALD MACDONALD, Minister.
ALEX. MACFARLANE, Elder.
(Signed) JOHN R. MACKAY, Witness.
ALLAN MACKENZIE, Witness.