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It has often been proposed that an authorised Digest of the laws and usages of our Church should be compiled; and there is no doubt that such a work, if executed with accuracy, would be extremely useful. But the General Assembly has always avoided lending its sanction to any work of this description, upon grounds which it is unnecessary to discuss :—and many projects for a revisal of the Form of Process in our Church Courts have been devised, but have proved abortive.
In these circumstances, a republication of those works which have heretofore been reckoned authorities in our Ecclesiastical Law, seems to be called for. “ PARDO VAN'S COLLECTIONS"_THE FORM OF PROCESS" and GILLAN'S ABRIDGMENT of the Acts of the GeNERAL ASSEMBLY, are now either out of print, or so rare and expensive, as to be almost inaccessible to the members of our Church Courts generally, many of whom never had an opportunity of consulting them, although called on frequently to act in the several judicatories, in the administration of our ecclesiastical affairs ;-and hence the numberless blunders, irregularities, and litigations, which annually are brought up for review to the Assembly from the inferior courts.
Indeed, the greater number of these appeals and com
plaints evidently arise from utter ignorance of, or inattention to, the very first principles of judicial procedure, and those established laws and forms which are universally acknowledged to be necessary to the due administration of justice in church as well as in civil courts.
It has therefore been resolved, that a new and comprehensive work on our Church Law shall be published, embracing the various materials which are necessary for giving a complete view of the constitution, government, and legal usages of the Church of Scotland; and it is determined that this shall be done in such a form, and at such a price, as will render it not only accessible to all the members of our Church Courts, but also to the lieges generally who are connected with the Establish, ment, and who have a clear and an important interest in being well acquainted with laws and practices by which their characters and rights may occasionally be affected. The First Part is now respectfully submitted to the public.
This Compend will form a compact pocket volume, adapted to practical use, which may be purchased at a moderate price, not merely by the Clergy and Elders of the Church, but also by heads of families and others, who desire to be acquainted with that constitution of government in the Church of which they are members.
This First Part (now completed) includes :1. A Chronological View of the Acts of Parliament, by
which the Presbyterian Church was established, and is
maintained. 2. The Books of Discipline of the Church. 3. The Form of Process in the several Judicatories of the
4. Pardovan's Collections, in Four Books; and, 5. Extracts from Principal Hill's Theological Institutes.
The Second Part will contain, 1. An Abridgment of the Acts of the General Assembly,
alphabetically compiled; and, 2. Important Decisions by the Venerable Assembly, and
Explanatory Notes on the various collected materials.
The Publisher need not dwell on the utility of such a work: without incurring any of the evils which have been supposed likely to arise from any authorised epitome of our Church Law, it will evidently serve the important purpose of furnishing to the members of our Church Courts, the most accurate information with regard to their powers and duties, and will enable them, when necessary, to resort to the fuller and authentic records, in which every thing useful for their guidance may be found.
This Compendium is intended to embrace also an Epitome of the Scots Poor Laws, and the Statutes and Decisions respecting Parochial Schools, so as to form a complete Code of Ecclesiastical Institutes.