I. Statement re the Free Presbyterian Church, and its History and Constitution.
- This Church represents the Free Church of Scotland as settled in 1843.
- This Church represents said Free Church of Scotland in direct historical and constitutional continuity.
- This Church’s constitution is the same as that of said original Free Church of Scotland, embodying the Westminster Confession of Faith, the First and Second Books of Discipline, the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, the Claim, Declaration and Protest of the Church of Scotland in 1842, the Protest of 1843, and the other recognised standard documents.
- This Church (the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland) entered upon its distinctive existence in 1893 by a Deed of Separation (herewith appended) from the then Church, calling herself the Free Church of Scotland.
- This Church entered upon said distinctive existence, not because its representatives had adopted any new belief or principle whatsoever, but because the majority of the then Free Church had adopted a new Declaratory Act (1892), which seriously altered the Church’s relation to the Confession of Faith and original standards, and which those who now form the Free Presbyterian Church strongly protested against.
- This Church, by its separation in 1893, continued the existence of the Free Church of Scotland, as settled in 1843, in a distinct, corporate body, without change in constitution or general practice.
- This Church holds the position enunciated in the Claim, Declaration and Protest of the Church of Scotland in 1842, and the Protest of 1843, and at the same time has always held, and continues to hold, in entire accordance with said documents, the principle of the National Recognition of Religion in opposition to what is known as Voluntaryism.
- This Church is the legitimate and consistent successor of the ancient Church of Scotland, which accepted the Confession of Faith as its Confession in 1647; a Confession which was acknowledged by the State as “the public and avowed Confession of this Church” in 1690 and at subsequent dates.
- This Church requires of all her office-bearers by her Formula and Questions, personal and unqualified adherence to the Confession of Faith, and the other standards of the Church.
II. Statement re the proposed ‘Enabling Bill’ with regard to the Established Church of Scotland and the United Free Church.
The Free Presbyterian Church would point out:
- That the larger Presbyterian Churches, notably the present Established Church and the United Free Church, do not adhere to the Confession of Faith, and the standards of the Church of Scotland, according to the original terms, but by Declaratory Acts have altered to a grave extent the original relation, and have modified the Formula of subscription, so that ministerial and other subscribers stand in a very indefinite relation to said standards.
- That the Articles presently put forward to Parliament provide no definition of fundamental doctrines, and propose a basis of Union with the United Free Church of the most latitudinarian description, which makes it competent for the united body to depart almost completely from the Protestant and Presbyterian principles and doctrines of the true Church of Scotland.
- That there have been for years a considerable party in the Established Church who favour Episcopacy, and even wish for re-union with the Roman Catholic Church, and that the United Free Church is not free from elements of this kind, so that, if the present proposal is adopted, it is hard to say what grave departures from “the faith” in connection with the united body may take place in the future.
- This Church therefore STRONGLY PROTESTS against the proposed “Enabling Bill” and the further serious loosening of the Established Church of Scotland from her subordinate standards, which is plainly involved therein.
III. Statement re the Ecclesiastical Endowments.
The Free Presbyterian Church would point out:
- That the Endowments now in possession of the Established Church are the common property of the Presbyterians of Scotland, and should not be considered as belonging to the present Established Church alone.
- That these Endowments cannot be consistently and legitimately held by any who do not adhere to the constitution and standards of the Church of Scotland, and that the present movement for relaxation of the standards with consent of the State, involves in all justice forfeiture of the Endowments.
- That if the Endowments are transferred to a united body (consisting of the Established Church and the United Free Church) on the proposed basis, they are given to parties who have forfeited all claim thereto, and the rightful heirs are kept out of their inheritance.
- That the proposed procedure is marked with extraordinary inconsistency in its relation to the United Free Church, inasmuch as the majority of the members of that body have been for many years professed ‘Voluntaries’, and have been protesting against Ecclesiastical Endowments as un-Scriptural.
- That the rightful heirs are those who assert and maintain the Creed and Principles of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland in their integrity, and that such persons, especially in the Highlands, are chiefly to be found outside the larger Presbyterian bodies.
- That the Government is justly bound, if the new proposal is carried through, to consider the valid claims of the people in many parishes, who are outside the pale of the present Established Church.
IV. Presentation of the Claim of Right, etc.
This Church, in conclusion, submits to Parliament the Claim, Declaration and Protest of the Church of Scotland in 1842, and the Protest of 1843 (hereby appended), and humbly appeals to the Legislature to do justice to the claims of truth and righteousness in connection with the various interests involved.
[Two documents were appended – (1) The Claim of Right of 1843, and (2) The Deed of Separation of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, 1893.] (Free Presbyterian
Magazine, vol. 25, pp. 175-7).