David Hay Fleming
The Discipline of the Reformation Part 3
Copyright © 1997 Naphtali Press
In the old record of West Anstruther there are occasional cases of men being cited “for goufing on Sabbeth,” and women for laying out clothes on that day. But, as these cases are very exceptional, they show what a powerful hold the Reformation had taken of this district even at that early date. And this is the more surprising, as James Melville’s predecessor, William Clark, a pious and laborious minister, was burdened with the care of all the four parishes.
“After that all admonitions, both private and public, be past, as before is said, then must the Church proceed to excommunication, if the offender remain obstinate.” Accordingly, on the Sabbath after the third public admonition, the minister being before charged by the session, signified unto the Church, after the sermon, that, as they knew, the minister and the whole Church had with lenity and carefulness sought N. &c. to satisfy the Church, and declare himself penitent, but unavailingly; so his disobedience could be no longer winked at, and therefore the said N. must be given “into the hands and power of the devil, to the destruction of the flesh, if that, by that means he may be brought to the consideration of himself, and so repent and avoid that fearful condemnation which shall fall on all disobedient in the day of the Lord Jesus.” But lest any should think this to be mere presumption, the Scriptural command and authority to excommunicate, was manifested, from Christ’s commanding that such as would not hear the voice of the Church should be held as heathens and publicans; and from the fearful sentence, which Paul, though absent, pronounced against the incestuous person, with his sharp rebuke to the Corinthians for not expelling him with greater zeal and expedition from among them; and also from God’s precept given under the law, to expel the leprous from the midst of His people. The utility of excommunication was then briefly pointed out, in purging the Church of open evil doers; in retaining every member of the Church in obedience and fear; and in keeping the flock of Christ in purity of manners, and without danger of infection. The minister then stated that to avoid the appearance of usurping power over the Church, or doing anything without the knowledge and consent of the whole body, the sentence would be delayed for this present, and will such as had anything to object, either to propose the same next session-day, or signify it to some member of session. He then earnestly implored God that as he had “first sought, called, accused, and convicted our father Adam after his transgression,” and gave him a new life and strength to repent, “when he was to dead in sin and thrall to Satan, that he could neither confess his offence, nor yet ask mercy for the same;” so He would pitifully look upon this His creature, once baptized in His name, and pierce his heart with the fear of His severe judgments, and mollify and anoint it by the unction of the Holy Spirit, that he might unfeignedly turn unto Him, and give unto Him that honor and obedience required in the Word, and that he might humble himself to the just ordinance of the Church, and avoid that fearful vengeance that would most assuredly fall upon all the disobedient.
Next Sabbath after the sermon and public prayers, the minister, in audience of the whole Church, asked the elders and deacons if he who had last day been admonished under pain of excommunication to satisfy the Church, had by himself or by any other offered his obedience to them. They answered as the case might be, yea or nay. If he had promised obedience, further process was delayed, and he commanded to appear at the next meeting of session, that order might be taken for his public repentance. If he had not labored to satisfy the Church, then the minister remarked that though it was grievous to the body to have one member cut off, yet it ought to be more fearful to that member, who, without the body, could do nothing but putrify and perish. But as his rebellion might partly proceed from ignorance of what excommunication is, and what is the danger of the same; these were thus opened. “Lawful excommunication (for the thunderings of that Roman Antichrist are but vanity and wind) is the cutting off from the body of Jesus Christ, from participation of His holy sacraments, and from public prayers with His Church, by public and solemn sentence, all obstinate and impenitent persons, after due admonitions: which sentence, lawfully pronounced on earth, is ratified in heaven, by binding of the same sins that they bind on earth.” The great danger in being cut off from Christ’s body was then pointed out, and also the terrible vengeance that hung upon them and their posterity, was shown from examples recorded in Scripture. After charging his familiar acquaintances to declare these dangers to him, and to urge him not to tempt the uttermost, public prayer was again made for his conversion.
On the third Sabbath the minister put the same question to the elders and deacons that he had done on the second. If repentance was offered, order was taken, and the Church charged to praise God for the conversion of that brother: but if repentance was not offered, then the minister exponed wherein he had offended, and how oft, and by whom he had been admonished; and demanded of the elders and deacons if it were not so, and asked the whole Church if they thought that such contempt should be suffered among them. If none made intercession for the obstinate, then the minister declared that though most grievous to their hearts to give over the said N. into the hands of the devil, it must now be done, not only for his crime, but much rather for his proud contempt and intolerable rebellion, and desired them to join once more with him in praying to God for his conversion. If after this prayer the obstinate appeared not to offer his repentance, then the minister proceeded to say, that as this obstinate and impenitent person N., could by no means be brought to repentance, it was evident that he had fallen from the kingdom of heaven, and from the blessed society of the Lord Jesus; and therefore he would now pronounce the sentence of excommunication. But that it might not be of his own authority, but in the name and power of the Lord Jesus, His name was invoked in prayer to excommunicate the impenitent. “Our assurance, O Lord, is thine expressed word; and therefore, in boldness of the same, here in Thy name, and at the commandment of this Thy present congregation, we cut off, seclude, and excommunicate from Thy body, and from our society, N., as a person slanderous, a Proud contemner, and a member, for this present, altogether corrupted and pernicious to the body. And this his sin (albeit with sorrow of heart), by virtue of our ministry, we bind and pronounce the same to be bound in heaven and on earth. We further give over into the hands and power of the devil the said N., to the destruction of his flesh, straightly charging all that profess the Lord Jesus, to whose knowledge this our sentence shall come, to repute and hold the said N. accursed, and unworthy of the familiar society of Christians: declaring unto all men, that such as hereafter before his repentance shall haunt or familiarly accompany with him, are partakers of his impiety, and subject to the like condemnation.” The Lord was desired to ratify this sentence pronounced in His name; and yet, as he came to save that which was lost, if it was His good pleasure, that He would look in mercy upon him and convert him; and further that he would enable them to bridle their corrupt affections and keep them all the course of their lives. After the sentence was pronounced and the prayer ended, the minister admonished the Church, that all the faithful do hold the excommunicate as a heathen, that no man use his familiar company; and yet, that none accuse him of any other crime than this for which he is excommunicated, but that all secretly call to God to grant grace unto him. Ministers upon license of the Church might speak with him so long as hope rested of his conversion; but if he continued obstinate, then all the faithful were utterly to abhor his presence. And yet they were the more earnestly to pray that in the end, Satan might be confounded, and the creature of God set free from his snares by the power of the Lord Jesus. After the congregation had sung a part or the whole of that most appropriate Psalm, the 101st, they were dismissed with the benediction.
The three foregoing paragraphs are a mere abridgement of “The Form of Excommunication.” In the seventh head of the First Book of Discipline, it is ordained that: “As the order and proceeding to excommunication ought to be slow and grave, so being once pronounced against any person of what estate or condition that ever they be, it must be kept with all severity; for laws made and not kept engender contempt of virtue, and bring in confusion and liberty to sinne. . . . After which sentence may no person (his wife and family only excepted), have any kind of conversation with him, be it in eating and drinking, buying and selling, yea in saluting or talking with him; except that it be at commandement or license of the ministerie for his conversion: That he, by such meanes confounded, seeing himself abhorred of the godly and faithfull, may have occasion to repent, and so be saved. The sentence of excommunication must be published universally throughout the realme, lest that any man should pretend ignorance. His children begotten and born after that sentence and before his repentance, may not be admitted to baptisme till either they be of age to require the same, or else that the mother or some of his special friends, members of the kirk, offer and present the child, abhorring and damning [i.e., condemning] the iniquity and obstinate contempt of the impenitent.” (( Principal Baillie, writing in 1649, says: “Let excommunication be so seveer in Scotland as is possible, yet the hurt of it is but small: it is so rare an accident, men may live long in Scotland, and all their life never see that censure execute; I have lived in one of the greatest cities of that land and for fourty-seven years even from my birth to this day, that censure to my knowledge or hearing was never execute there in my dayes but twice; first upon one obstinate and very profaine Papist; and nixt on some horrible scandalous praelats.” Review of Bramble’s Faire Warning, p. 64. ))
According to the laws and custom of Scotland, civil penalties accompanied the sentence of excommunication, but they formed no part of ecclesiastical discipline, or even a necessary appendage to. The laws enacting them were allowed to remain in force at the time of the Reformation, but the government suspended their execution whenever they pleased. Some of the ministers would have been pleased with their abrogation, while others wished for their continuance, because the government was so remiss and partial in punishing certain vices and crimes, and also because they were a protection against the attempts of the papists. Dr. M’Crie says of the penal laws: “There can be no doubt that they were one means of saving the country from the Popish conspiracies about the time of the Spanish Armada; but still they were radically wrong, capable of being made an engine of the grossest persecution, and consequently were wisely and happily abolished at a subsequent period.” (( Life of Melville, vol. I. p. 156. ))
Sins of the first class, were those reckoned capital crimes, (( The Reformers generally held the untenable opinion, that Christian nations are bound to enact the same penalties against all breaches of the moral law, which were enjoined by the judicial laws of Moses. Life of Knox, 283. )) deserving both excommunication and death. Dr. Ross in his Pastoral Work in Covenanting Times, says (p. 162) “There is, no doubt, a class of crimes of an aggravated nature, regarding which the Reformers held the view that they should be dealt with capitally. In this class were placed such crimes as blasphemy, adultery, murder, and perjury.” And, on page 163, he adds: “One thing should not be forgotten, that the Reformers excepted from ecclesiastical discipline this aggravated class of crimes, deeming them to belong to the civil jurisdiction.” Here Dr. Ross has fallen into a serious mistake, for in 1565, the General Assembly declared that: “The Kirk may and ought to purge herself of all sic notorious malefactors, provyding the offender be lawfully called and convict, either be their owne confessione or be witnesses.” (( Booke of the Universall Kirk, p. 40. )) And in the “Order of Excommunication and of Public Repentance,” penned by John Knox at the desire of the Assembly, and ordained by them to be printed, we find that “it is to be noted, that all crimes that by the law of God deserve death deserve also excommunication from the society of Christ his Church, whether the offender be Papist or Protestant.” And after enumerating the crimes worthy of death, it is added: “Such, we say, ought to be excommunicated from the society of Christ’s Church.” Again, blasphemy, perjury, incest, and adultery are in the list of faults, which the king in 1586 agreed should be censured in the Presbytery. (( Ibid, 303. )) And again, if we turn to the act about the entry and conversation of ministers adopted by the Assembly of 1596, we find it ordained that discipline in kirk-sessions (for there all processes against church members do first begin) “strike not only upon gross sinnes, as whoredome, bloodshed, &c., but upon all sinnes repugnant to the word of God.” (( Ibid, 427. )) Proofs of this kind could be multiplied to any extent; but their production would be superfluous, more especially as we have still to refer to the manner in which such crimes were tried, how the sentence of excommunication was carried out, and how public repentance was to be made for them. In regard to the practice of the Church on this point, one well-known example will suffice. When the Good Regent was assassinated, “the General Assembly, at their first meeting, testified their detestation of the crime, by ordering the assassin to be publicly excommunicated in all the chief towns of the kingdom, and by appointing the same process to be used against all who should afterwards be convicted of accession to the murder.” (( M’Crie’s Life of Knox, pp. 312, 313. )) Dr. Ross has probably been misled by the first sentence under the seventh head of the First Book of Discipline; a sentence which clearly disproves his statement, for though it says that “blasphemy, adultery, murder, perjury, and other crimes capital, worthy of death, ought not properly to fall under [the] censure of the kirk;” it gives as the reason “because all such open transgressors of God’s laws ought to be taken away by the civil sword.” Of course, if the civil sword did its duty, the censure of the kirk was so far inept. “For scandals in matters criminal, if the magistrats sword of justice do strike, in removing the person from the land of the living, there is a prevention of any further dealing; if he neglect his duty, the Church is to follow the ordinary methods for gaining the person’s soul, and removing the scandal.” (( Forrester’s Hierarchical Bishops’ Claim, 1699, pt 3, p. 25. )) But further, the same sentence, in the First Book Of Discipline, explicitly states that ecclesiastical discipline, stands in reproving and correcting of the faults, which the civil sword either doth neglect, or [may] not punish.” And in the same “seventh head,” under “the Order for Public Offenders,” it is said: “we have spoken nothing of them that commit horrible crimes, as murderers, manslayers, adulterers; for such, as we have said, the civil sword ought to punish to death: but in case they be permitted to live, then must the kirk, as is before said, draw the sword, which of God she hath received, holding them as accursed even in their very fact.” See also under the article “of marriage” in the First Book of Discipline, where the magistrate is called upon to punish whoredom and fornication severely, and adultery with death, but “if the civil sword foolishly spare the life of the offender, yet may not the kirk be negligent in their office, which is to excommunicate the wicked, and to repute them as dead members.”
Sins that had both a civil and ecclesiastical aspect were only tried by the Church Courts concerning the slander. In the Act of Assembly of 1565 anent notorious malefactors, part of which has been already quoted, it is said: “For civil things we remitt to the magistrates.” And in answer to the question: “What order ought to be used against sic as oppress children?” the same Assembly said: “As concerning punishment, the civill magistrate ought therein to decerne. As touching the slander, the offenders ought to be secluded from participation of the sacraments whill [i.e., until] they have satisfied the kirk, as they shall be commanded.” (( Booke of the Universall Kirk, pp. 40, 42. )) Again the General Assembly in 1575 declared that: “The kirk hes power to cognosce and discerne upon heresies, blasphematione of God’s name, witchcraft, and violatione of the Lord’s day, not prejudge and the punishment of the civill magistrate.” (( Ibid., pp. 152, 153. )) As the civil and ecclesiastical powers are distinct in subject, object, and end, therefore the same sin, in the same man, may be punished one way by the civil, and another way by the ecclesiastical power; for as the magistrate’s power is to punish the outward man with an outward punishment, which the presbytery cannot hinder, so, “he may civilly bind whom the presbytery spiritually looseth, and civilly loose whom the presbytery spiritually bindeth, and that because the magistrate seeketh not the repentance and salvation of the delinquent by his punishment, as the presbytery doth, but only the maintenance of the authority of his laws, together with the quietness and preservation of the commonwealth. Whence it cometh that the delinquent escapeth not free of the magistrate, though he be penitent and not obstinate,” (( Assertion of the Government of the Church of Scotland, part I. chap. 12. )) Calderwood in his Pastor and Prelate, first published in 1628, says (part 6) The Pastor “joineth the censures and the spiritual sword of the kirk with the sword of the magistrate so impartially, that none are spared; with such expedition and diligence, that sin is censured and not forgotten; with such authority that the most obstinate hath confessed that the kirk had power to bind and loose; with such sharpness and severity, that malefactors have been afraid; and so universally, that, as there is no crime censured by the kirk but the same is punishable by temporal jurisdiction, so he holdeth no sin punishable by civil authority, but the same is also censurable by spiritual power, the one punishing the offender in his body or goods, the other drawing him unto repentance, and striving to remove the scandal.”
The Order of Excommunication explains how those charged with capital crimes (for a list of these crimes see above, p. 603) were to be summoned before the superintendent and his assessors, “except in reformed towns and other places where the ministry is planted with minister and elders,” (( Booke of the Universall Kirk, pp. 40, 41. )) to hear his crime tried “touching the truth of it, and to answer himself why the sentence of excommunication should not be pronounced publicly against him.” If he being lawfully warned, appeared not, inquisition being taken of the crime, the sentence was publicly pronounced next Sabbath. But if he appeared and alleged that he would not be fugitive from the law, but would “abide the censure thereof for that offence,” then the sentence of excommunication might be suspended, till the magistrate had been required to try that cause; wherein if the magistrate was negligent, then the church might proceed to public admonition, that he might be “vigilant in that cause of blood, which crieth vengeance upon the whole land where it is shed without punishment.” In striking contrast to the conduct of the Good Regent who was anxious that justice should have its course, King James, by his culpable negligence and favoritism, screened convicted and notorious murderers from punishment against his best interests. As Dr. M’Crie has well said, the joint influence of the doctrine and discipline of the Reformation “presented to James a powerful instrument, not possessed by any of his predecessors, for suppressing the feuds of the nobility, purifying the administration of justice, and civilizing and reforming the morals of the people. Had he known how to avail himself of this, his reign in Scotland might have been tranquil and happy.” (( Life of Melville, vol. i. pp. 373, 374. )) The Order of Excommunication further declares, that if the offender procured civil pardon, or illuded the severity of justice otherwise than by proving his innocence, he was to be excommunicated. But if the assize absolved him, then the Church was not to pronounce that sentence upon him, but might exhort him, and enjoin him to make such public satisfaction to the Church as would bear testimony of his obedience and unfeigned repentance. “If the offender be convicted, and execution follow according to the crime, then upon the humble suit of him that is to suffer, may the elders and ministers of the Church not only give unto him consolation, but also pronounce the sentence of absolution, and his sin to be remitted according to his repentance and faith.” And yet further, if the offender be fugitive from the law, the Church ought to delay no time, but upon the notice of his crime, and that he is fled from the judge, “it ought to pronounce him excommunicated publicly, and so continually to repute him, until such time that the magistrate be satisfied: and so whether the offender be convicted in judgment, or be fugitive from the law, the Church ought to proceed to the sentence of excommunication.” In public audience of the people, the minister named the culprit and his crime, and said that because the magistrate often winked at such crimes, the ministry was compelled to “excommunicate from the society of Christ Jesus, from His body the Church, from participation of the sacraments, and prayer with the same, the said N. And therefore in the name and authority of the eternal God, and of His Son Jesus Christ, we pronounce the said N. excommunicated and accursed in this his wicked fact, and charge all that favor the Lord Jesus so to repute and hold him (or her) until such time as that either the magistrate have punished the offender as God’s law commandeth, or that the same offender be reconciled to the Church again by public repentance; and in the meantime we earnestly desire all the faithful to call upon God to move the hearts of the upper powers so to punish such horrible crimes, that malefactors may fear to offend, even for fear of punishment; and also so to touch the heart of the offender, that he may deeply consider how fearful it is to fall into the hands of the eternal God, that by unfeigned repentance he may apprehend mercy in Jesus Christ, and so avoid eternal condemnation.”
The much more summary manner in which sinners of this class were dealt with than those of the other classes is very noticeable; as well as the ray of hope which was shed even upon these notorious criminals. Even in the act of pronouncing the sentence of excommunication, the final repentance of the erring one was not lost sight of. This Christ-like spirit is quite in keeping with the whole legislation of the Reformed Church. In “The Order of the Ecclesiastical Discipline,” it is said, that as excommunication is “the greatest and last punishment belonging to the spiritual ministry, it is ordained that nothing be attempted in that behalf without the determination of the whole Church; wherein also they must beware and take good heed that they seem not more ready to expel from the congregation than to receive again those in whom they perceive worthy fruits of repentance to appear; neither yet to forbid him the hearing of sermons who is excluded from the sacraments and other duties of the Church, that he may have liberty and occasion to repent; finally, that all punishments, corrections, censures, and admonitions, stretch no further than God’s word with mercy may lawfully bear.”
According to “The Order to receive the Excommunicated again to the society of the Church,” if those who had been excommunicated for other than capital crimes earnestly sought the favor of the Church, a day was appointed for him to present himself before the session, when diligent inquire was made into his behavior since he was excommunicated, the satisfaction he would give the Church, and to whom he had exposed “the grief and dolor of his heart.” If penitent and obedient in all things, the minister informed the congregation next Sabbath of His humiliation, and commanded them to call to God for increase of the same. Next session-day he was appointed such satisfaction as was most expedient, to which, if he fully agreed, then a day was appointed when he should fulfil the same. “For this is principally to be observed, that no excommunicated person may be received to the society of the Church again, until such time as he hath stood at the Church-door at the least, more Sundays than one.” This was to test his penitence. After the satisfaction was complete, some of the elders, when the prayer was ended, brought him into the Church, and conducted him to a “certain place appointed for the penitents,” where he stood “in the same habit in the which he made satisfaction,” till the sermon was ended. The elders who brought him into the Church, then presented him to the minister, who first rendered thanks to God for that part of his humiliation, desiring the Church of God to do the same with him, and then addressed the excommunicated person, laying his sin before him; the admonitions that had been given him to satisfy the Church; and the proud contempt and long obstinacy for which he had been excommunicated. He was required to make particular confession of each, accusing himself and detesting his impiety. God was then thanked for his conversion into which he had not so much ashamed himself, as he had confounded and overcome Satan. But as man can only see that which is external, prayer was then made that his humiliation might proceed from the heart, as was done in receiving the penitent according to “The Form and Order of Public Repentance;” in the same manner (see above, pp. 609, 610) the Church and the penitent were admonished with this exception that his crime was always mentioned. The Lord Jesus Christ was then implored to look mercifully upon this His creature whom Satan had so long held in bondage, that he had not only drawn him into iniquity, but so hardened his heart that he despised all admonitions; for which sin and contempt he had been excommunicated. And as the Spirit of the Lord had so far prevailed on him that he had returned to the society of the Church, that so it would please the Lord to accept of him, that his former disobedience might ever be laid to his charge, but that he might increase in all godliness, till Satan was finally trod under his feet by the power of the Lord Jesus Christ. The minister then pronounced the absolution as, viz.: “In the name and authority of Jesus Christ, I the minister of His blessed Evangel, with consent of the whole ministry and Church, absolve thee, N., from the sentence of excommunication, from the sin by thee committed, and from all censures laid against thee for the same before, according to thy repentance, and pronounce thy sin to be loosed in heaven, and thee to be received again to the society of Jesus Christ, to His body the Church, to the participation of His sacraments, and, finally, to the fruition of all his benefits, in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” The minister then calling him brother, admonished him to watch and pray, and be thankful for the mercy showed him, and to show the fruits of his conversion in his life and conversation. Thereafter the whole ministry embraced him, and so did others of the Church who were next him, and then a psalm of thanksgiving was sung. (( In Cyprian’s time, it seems that no one, who had been excommunicated, was received into church-communion again, without imposition of hands. SMECTYMNVVS, p. 40. ))
In 1570 the General Assembly ordained that those excommunicated persons who had not been members of the Church before, but were now anxious to submit themselves and be received into the society of the faithful, should be “receavit be the minister in low and humble habite, with sackcloth, observing the order prescryvit in the book of excommunicatioune in all uther poynts.” (( Booke of the Universall Kirk, p. 127. )) The General Assembly in 1573 enacted that: “Greit men offending in sic crymes as deserves sackcloath; they should receave the samen as well as the puire.” And further that: No Superintendent nor Commissioner, with advyce of any particular Kirk of their jurisdictione, may dispense with the extreamitie of sackcloath prescryvit be the acts of generall discipline, for any pecuniall souome ad pios usus.” (( Ibid., p. 139. ))
Those who had been excommunicated for capital crimes were not suddenly admitted to public repentance, albeit that pardon had been purchased of the magistrate. If a murderer, inquiry was made if he had satisfied the kindred of the slain man, which if he had not done, and was unwilling to do, then the Church would not hear him. And as in no case could the excommunicated be received by the Church at his first request, so if guilty of a capital crime, forty days at the least after his first offer were appointed to try his repentance. During which time the Church might comfort him by wholesome admonitions, assuring him of God’s mercy if he was verily penitent; and admitting him to the hearing of the word, but in nowise to participation of prayers either before or after sermon. After these forty days were expired, upon his new suit, the superintendent of session might enjoin such pains as would test his penitence. (( Order of Excommunication and Public Repentance. )) In 1568 the General Assembly ordained that “nane that hes committit slaughter, adulterie, or incest, or hereafter shall committ the same, shall be receavit to repentance be any particular kirk, will that first they present themselffss before the Generall Assemblie, thair to receave their injunctions; and thereafter they shall keep the same order that was prescryved to Paull Methven in his repentance; this being addeit, that he or they shall beir in their hand at all the tymes of their publick repentance the same or lyke weapon wherewith the murther was committit.” (( Booke of the Universall Kirk, p. 100. )) The said Paul Methven was enjoined to appear at the kirk-door of Edinburgh, when the second bell rang for public worship, “clad in sackcloth, bareheaded and barefooted, and there remaine whill he be brought into the sermone, and planted in the publick spectacle above the people, in tyme of every sermone,” on three several preaching days, the last being a Sabbath, he was at the close of the sermon to profess his sorrow before the congregation, and to request their forgiveness; upon which he was again to be “clad in his own apparell, and received in the societie of the kirk, as ane lyvely member thereof.” (( Ibid., p. 45. )) When they presented themselves before the General Assembly the second time to receive further instructions, they had to do so in linen clothes, bareheaded and barefooted. In 1570  it was ordained that, as diverse of the said offenders are far distant from the places of General Assemblies and others for poverty or deadly feuds could not or dared not travel so far through the country, they should therefore appear before the half-yearly Synods. And in 1588 when Presbyteries had been established through the country, they were to make satisfaction before them. (( Ibid, pp. 120, 125, 326. )) In March 1569  it was concluded that homicides, incestuous persons, and adulterers, not fugitive from the law, but “continually suteing to be receavit be the Kirk to publick repentance,” should be received, “to give the signes of their repentance in their owne kirks, according to the order appoyntit before, at qwilk tyme the minister shall publickly notifie their crymes, that thereby the civill magistrates may know the crymes, and pretend no ignorance thereof.” The same Assembly ordained that those who had not suffered the sentence of excommunication for their offences should make their public repentance in sackcloth, bareheaded and barefooted, three several preaching days, while those who had been excommunicated were to present themselves six preaching days. Those who had not been excommunicated, “shall be placit in the publick place where they may be knowne from the rest of the people, bareheaded the tyme of the sermones, the minister remembering them in his prayer in the tyme after preaching;” while those who had been excommunicated were to stand at the kirk-door, “secluded from prayers before and after sermone, and then enter in the kirk, and sit in the publick place bareheaded, all the tyme of the sermones, and depart before the latter prayer.” (( Ibid, p. 118. )) As it was then customary in the Church of Scotland for the people to keep their hats on during the sermon, the uncovering of the penitents distinguished them in another way from the congregation. (( “A man coming into one of our churches in time of public worship, if he see the hearers covered, he knows by this customable sign that sermon is begun,” English Popish Ceremonies. Part 3, chap. 5, sect. 6. )) According to the order of Excommunication, the murderer, while standing at the church door, with the bloody weapon in his hand was to confess his crime and its enormity; express his desire to be reconciled again to the Church; and crave the people entering to pray with him to God that his greivous sin might be pardoned, and that they would with him supplicate the Church, that he might not abide thus excommunicated to the end. After his satisfaction was completed, he was received back into the Church in the manner already described.