[return to PART I.]
Containing the grounds of the presbytery’s testimony against the constitutions, both civil and ecclesiastical, at the late Revolution, anno 1689; as also against the gross Erastianism and tyranny that has attended the administration both of church and state, since that memorable period; with various instances thereof, etc.
AFTER the LORD, for the forementioned space of twenty-eight years, had, because of their manifold sins, sorely plagued this church and nation with the grievous yoke of prelatical tyranny, bloodshed, oppression and fiery persecution, and thereby had covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in his anger, and cast down from heaven unto the earth the beauty of Israel, and had thrown down in his wrath the strong holds of the daughter Judah, yea, brought them down even to the ground; he was pleased in his holy sovereignty, to put a stop to that barbarous cruelty that was exercised upon his people, at the last national Revolution, by the instrumentality of the prince and princess of Orange; which is the more remarkable, in that those whom the Lord employed as the rod of his anger, to strike off that monstrous tyrant James, duke of York, from the British throne, were natural branches sprung up from the same stock: and this at a juncture, when not only the church of CHRIST was in the greatest danger of being totally extirpated, but the whole land in hazard of being again overwhelmed with popish darkness and idolatry. But although a very fit opportunity was then offered the nations for reviving the long buried work of a covenanted reformation both in church and state, and re-establishing all the ordinances of God in purity, according to their scriptural institution; yet, alas! how deeply is it to be lamented, that, instead thereof, the multitude of his tender mercies being forgotten, there was a returning, but not to the Most High; yea, a turning aside like a deceitful bow; so that, in many respects, our national guilt is now increased above what it was in former times: wherefore, as the presbytery desire with the utmost gratitude to acknowledge the divine goodness, in giving a respite from the hot furnace of persecution; so they likewise find themselves, in duty to their princely Master and his people, obliged to testify and declare against foresaid revolution settlement, in a variety of particulars, with the many defections and backslidings flowing therefrom. Likeas they hereby do testify against the constitution, both civil and ecclesiastic, at the Revolution, anno 1689, in these respects, and for these reasons:—
1. Because that in the civil constitution, these nations once united together in a scriptural and covenanted uniformity, unmindful of their former establishment upon a divine footing, wherein king and people were to be of one perfect religion, and the supreme magistrate obliged by solemn oath to maintain and preserve the same inviolable, did call and invite William and Mary, prince and princess of Orange, unto the possession of the royal power in these lands, in a way contrary to the word of GOD, as Deut. 17:15: "Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee whom the LORD thy GOD shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother." 2 Sam. 23:3 "The GOD of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, the that ruleth over men, must be just, ruling in the fear of GOD."
In opposition to these clear precepts, the nations did choose the foresaid persons to sway the civil sceptre over them, who were neither brethren by birth, nor religious profession, being educated in a church where Erastianism prevails, as appears from their ascribing such an extensive power to the civil magistrate, as is inconsistent with the intrinsic power of the church. Accordingly, by these principles, said prince of Orange did regulate his conduct, in the assumption of his regal authority, consenting to swear two distinct oaths, whereby he obliged himself to preserve and maintain the two distinct and contrary religious (or modes of religious worship), presbytery and prelacy, and so betrayed both to GOD and man his politic, worldly views, and proclaimed himself destitute of that truth and religious fear, which is the essential character of every person who may warrantably be invested with supreme authority over the Israel of GOD. And as they wanted scriptural, so likewise covenant qualifications, namely, known integrity, approven fidelity, constant affection, and zeal to the cause and true church of GOD; and therefore could not in a consistency with the covenanted constitution, and fundamental laws of the crown, be set up as king and queen of these covenanted lands.
Again, as during the persecuting period, the nations generally were involved in the guilt of perjury and deep apostasy, by the many sinful contradictory tests, oaths and bonds then imposed; so, in a particular manner, those who, by virtue of their birth and dignity, ought to have been the defenders of the nation’s privileges, both sacred and civil, on the contrary, as privy counsellors to the two impious brothers in their rage against the Lord and his Anointed, and as members of their iniquitous, parliaments (where, perverting, equity and justice, they trained the most heaven-daring and abominable mischiefs into a law, and then with the utmost cruelty prosecuted the same), had many of them brought themselves under the fearful guilt of these atrocious crimes of murder, perjury, tyranny and oppression; and thereby, according to the law both of God, and man, not only forfeited their lives, had the same been duly executed; but also divested themselves of all just right and title to act the part of the nation’s representatives, in choosing and installing any in the office of supreme civil governor, until at least they bad given suitable evidence of their repentance. Yet such were the constituent members of that committee of estates, and first parliament, employed in the Revolution settlement, without so much as making any suitable public acknowledgment of their wickedness in the active hand the generality of them had in the former bloody persecution, as appears from a comparative view of the lists of the members of parliament, and particularly the duke of York’s last parliament, with act second of the acts and orders of the meeting of estates, anno 1689. Yea, by viewing the lists of James VI,, his privy council, annexed by Wodrow to the second volume of his history, it is evident that a great number of the nobility alone, members of that bloody council, were also members of foresaid convention of estates, the members of which convention (seven bishops excepted) were exactly the same with the members of the first parliament at the Revolution. For this, compare second act of the meeting of estates, with act first, parliament first of William and Mary. By all which it is evident, that from princes who had thus removed the bound, and discovered no just remorse for their sins, there was little ground left to expect a happy establishment of religion, in restoring the flock of CHRIST to the full possession of those valuable privileges and liberties wherewith he had made them free.
The character of the constituent members being considered, the constitution itself, and wherein it is inconsistent with our covenanted establishment, and is therefore hereby testified against, comes next to be considered. Although the declaration of the meeting of estates in this kingdom, containing their claim of right, comprehended much more of their civil liberties, and formal rights of government, than was enjoyed under the former monstrous tyranny, yet by no means sufficiently provided for the legal establishment of our former happy reformed constitution, which necessarily obliged the civil rulers to employ their power to maintain and defend, not only the doctrine, but also the presbyterian worship, discipline and government, as the only and unalterable form instituted by Christ in his house. Whereas this craves the abolition of prelacy, and the superiority of an office in the church above presbyters in Scotland, simply as it has been a great and insupportable grievance and trouble to this nation, and contrary to the inclinations of the generality of the people ever since the reformation from popery, without regarding the divine right of presbytery, and the contrariety of prelacy to scripture revelation. In agreeableness to which demand, when the first parliament met in Scotland, immediately after the Revolution, which began the day of April, 1689, in Act 2d, Sess 1st, entitled Act abolishing Prelacy, they abolished prelacy for the foresaid reason, and further declare, that they will settle by law that church government in this kingdom, which is most agreeable to the inclinations of the people. Accordingly, in the second session of the same parliament, Act 5th, June 7th, 1690, the parliament establishing the presbyterial, church government and discipline, as it had been ratified and established by the 14th Act, James VI, Parl. 12th, anno 1592, reviving, renewing and confirming the foresaid act of parliament, in the whole heads thereof, except that part of it relating to patronages, afterward to be considered of. Likewise, in the above mentioned Act at the Revolution, the thirty-three chapters of the Westminster Confession of Faith (exclusive of the catechisms, directory for worship, and form of church government formerly publicly authorized, and Covenants National and Solemn League) were ratified and established by the parliament. And the said Confession being read in their presence, was voted and approven by them, as the public and avowed Confession of this church, without taking any notice of its scriptural authority. And further, in the same session of parliament, by the royal power allenarly [i.e., only], the first meeting of the general assembly of this church, as above established, was appointed to be held at Edinburgh, the third Thursday of October following, the same year, 1690. And by the same civil authority and foresaid act, many of the churches in Scotland were declared vacant.
2. The presbytery testify against the ecclesiastical constitution at the Revolution; particularly, in regard, 1st—That the members composing the same were no less, it not much more exceptionable, than those of whom the state consisted; the whole of them one way or another being justly chargeable with unfaithfulness to CHRIST, and His covenanted cause, by sinful and scandalous compliance with the public defections of the former times, or actively countenancing the malignant apostasy of the lands, which will appear evident, by considering that the Revolution Church consisted of such office-bearers, as had, in contradiction to their most solemn covenant engagements, fallen in with, and approven of the public resolutions. And these public resolutioners, who had betrayed the LORD’S cause, which they had in the most solemn manner sworn to maintain, were, without any public acknowledgment demanded or offered, or adequate censure inflicted (even, after that the LORD had remarkably testified his displeasure against that leading step of defection by suffering these vipers, which we thus took into our bosom, to sting us almost to death) for this their scandalous defection and perjury, admitted and sustained members of the Revolution Church. Again, the Revolution assembly consisted of such ministers as had shamefully changed their holding of CHRIST, and sinfully submitted, in the exercise of their ministry, to an exotic head, Charles II, who had, by virtue of his blasphemous supremacy, and absolute power, taken the power of the keys from Christ’s ministers, and afterward returning only one of them (viz: the key of doctrine) to such as accepted his anti-christian, church-destroying, and Christ dethroning indulgences, attended with such sinful limitations and restrictions, as were utterly inconsistent with ministerial freedom and faithfulness, declaring the acceptors to be men pleasers, and so not the servants of Christ (of which above). Of this stamp were the most of them, who, without any public acknowledgment of that horrid affront they had put upon the church’s true Head, dared to constitute and act as the supreme judicatory of the church of Christ, anno 1690. Again, the foresaid assembly was almost wholly formed of such as had petitioned for, accepted or, and pretended to return a God mocking letter of thanks for that blasphemous unbounded toleration, which that popish tyrant, the duke of York (as is noticed formerly), granted, with a special view to reintroduce abjured popery; and therefore while it extended its protection to every heresy, did exclude the pure preaching of the gospel in the fields; which toleration (according to Wodrow) was joyfully embraced by all the presbyterian ministers in Scotland, the honored Mr. Renwick only excepted, who faithfully protested against the same.
But further, the Revolution assembly did partly consist of such members as, contrary to our solemn covenants, had their consciences dreadfully polluted, by consenting unto, subscribing, and swearing some one or other of the sinful wicked oaths, tests and bonds, tyrannically imposed in the persecuting period, or by persuading others to take them, and declining to give warning of the danger of them, or by approving the warrantableness of giving security to the bloody council, not to exercise their ministry, but according to their pleasure. Moreover, they were all, generally, manifestly guilty of the sin of carrying on and maintaining schism and defection from the covenanted church of Christ in Scotland. As also (which from the history of these times is evident), the ruling elders in that assembly, being generally noblemen, gentlemen, and burgesses, were mostly such as had an active hand in the tyranny and persecution that preceded, and in one respect or other, were stained with the blood of the manyrs of Jesus. Thus, that assembly was packed up, chiefly, of such blacked compilers, as, one way or other, were deeply involved in the apostasy, bloodshed and cruelty of the preceding period, yet had not broke off their iniquities, by a public confession of these crying sins, before that meeting; nor can it be found, that any adequate censure was inflicted on any of them for the same. Therefore, the presbytery testify against the Revolution church, as consisting mostly of such scandalous schismatical members, as could not, in a consistency with the scriptural rule, and laudable acts of this reformed church, have been admitted to church privileges, far less to bear office in the house of God; until, at least, they had been duly purged from their aggravated scandals, and given evident signs of a real repentance, according to the Word of God, 2 Chron. 23:3 "For they could not keep the passover at that time, because the priests had not sanctified themselves sufficiently." And Ezek. 44:10: "And the Levites that are gone away far from me, when Israel went astray, which went astray away from me after their idols, they shall even bear their iniquity;" verse 13 "And they shall not come near unto me, to do the office of a priest unto me, nor to come near to any of my holy things, in the most holy place; but they shall bear their shame, and their abominations which they have committed."
Next, the presbytery declare and testify, against the Revolution church, because plainly Erastian, and utterly inconsistent with the covenanted constitution of the reformed church of Scotland, anno 1648: the truth of which charge will appear obvious, from considering the act of parliament, on which the civil power settled the constitution of the Revolution church, viz: Act 114, James VI, Parl. 12th; where, inter alia, it is expressly declared, "That it shall be lawful to the kirk ministers, every year at least, and oftener, pro re nata, as occasion and necessity sall require, to hald and keepe general assemblies, providing that the king’s majesty, or his commissioner with them, to be appointed by his highness to be present at ilk general assembly, before the dissolving thereof; nominate and appoynt time and place, quhen and quhair the next general assemblie sall be halden: and in case neither his majesty nor his said commissioner beis present for the time, in that town, quhair the said general assemblie beis halden, then, and in that case, it shall be lesum for the said general assembly be themselves, to nominate and appoint time and place, quhair the next general assembly of the kirk sall be keetd and halden, as they have been in use to do these times by-past." Here, in this act, a manifest invasion and traitorous attack is made upon the headship and supremacy of Christ, as a Son in, and over his own house. He who is God’s annointed King in Zion, and sits on the throne of his holiness, is hereby robbed of his crown rights; the intrinsic power, the spiritual liberty and freedom, granted by Christ to his church, is encroached upon. It is a received opinion among all true Presbyterians, that the church hath an intrinsic power to meet in the courts of Christ’s house, from the lowest to the highest, by virtue of the power committed to her by the Lord Jesus Christ, without dependence on the civil power. This is agreeable to scripture, Matth. 16:19, and 18:8, 19, where the apostles receive the keys immediately from the hands of Christ, their Lord and Master. And as one principal part of that trust Christ has committed to his church, this has been the constant plea of the reforming and reformed Presbyterian church of Scotland. Let us hear what that renowned and faithful minister, and venerable confessor for Christ, the Rev. Mr. John Welsh, says to this particular, in his letter to the Countess of Wigton from Blackness, 1606, when a prisoner for this same truth, Having asserted the independence of the church, the spiritual kingdom of Christ, upon any earthly monarch, and her freedom to meet and judge of all her affairs, he adds: "These two points, 1st, that Christ is Head of his church; 2d, that she is free in her government from all other jurisdictions, except Christ’s. These two points, I say, are the special causes of our imprisonment, being now convicted as traitors for maintaining thereof. We have been ever waiting with joyfulness to give the last testimony of our blood in confirmation thereof, if it should please our God to be so favorable as to honor us with that dignity. Yea, I do affirm, that these two points above written, and all other things that do belong to Christ’s crown, scepter and kingdom, are not subject, nor cannot be, to any other authority, but to his own altogether: so that I would be glad to be offered up as a sacrifice for so glorious a truth." So far he. But now this assembly of treacherous men, by settling themselves upon such a constitution, have openly given up this scriptural truth and Presbyterian principle handed down to us, sealed with the sufferings and dearest blood of the faithful Confessors and Manyr’s of Christ, and have consented that it is unlawful tot the office-bearers in the Lord’s house to exert their proper power in calling and appointing general assemblies, however loudly the necessity of the church may call for them, unless the king authorize their diet of meeting, which he may, or may not do, according to his pleasure.
Again, it is evident that the revolution church is constituted in the same Erastian manner with the late prelacy in Scotland. For proof of which, observe, that as prelacy was never ecclesiastically asserted to be of divine authority, neither has presbytery, by any explicit and formal act of Assembly, at or since the revolution. As the prelates’ high ecclesiastical court was called, adjourned and dissolved, in the king’s name, so likewise are the assemblies of the Revolution Church. As the Episcopalians owned the king, in the exercise of his Erastian supremacy over them, so the Revolution Church, instead of opposing, did take up her standing under the covert of that antichristian supremacy, and has never since declined the exercise thereof. And, as the civil power prescribed limits unto, and at pleasure altered, the prelatic church, so this church has accepted of a formula prescribed by the civil power, requiring that all the ordinances within the same be performed by the ministers thereof, as they were then allowed them, or should thereafter be declared by their authority, as act 23d, sess 4th, parl. 1st, 1693, expressly bears. By what is said above, it may appear, that this church is Erastian in her constitution. But it is further to be observed, that the present constitution is no less inconsistent with the scriptural and covenanted constitution of the church of Scotland, in regard that the retrogade constitution, to which the church fled back, and on which she was settled at the revolution, was but an infant state of the church, lately after her first reformation from popery, far inferior to her advanced state betwixt 1638 and 1649 inclusive. It was before the church had shaken off the intolerable yokes of Erastian supremacy and patronages; before she had ecclesiastically asserted, and practically maintained, her spiritual and scriptural claim of right, namely, the divine right of presbytery, and intrinsic power of the church, the two special gems of Christ’s crown, as King on his holy hill of Zion; before the explanation of the national covenant, as condemning episcopacy, the live articles of Perth, the civil power of churchmen; before the Solemn League and Covenant was entered into; before the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Catechisms, larger and shorter, the Directory for worship, Form of Presbyterian church government and ordination of ministers, were composed; and before the acts of church and state, for purging judicatories, ecclesiastical and civil, and armies from persons disaffected to the cause and work of God, were made; and all these valuable pieces of reformation ratified with the full and ample sanction of the supreme civil authority, by the king’s majesty and honorable estates of parliament, as parts of the covenanted uniformity in religion, betwixt the churches of Christ in Scotland, England and Ireland. And therefore, this revolution constitution amounts to a shameful disregarding—yea, disclaiming and burying—much (if not all) of the reformation attained to in that memorable period, and is a virtual homologation and allowance of the iniquitous laws at the restoration, anno 1661, condemning our glorious reformation and sacred covenants as rebellion; and is such an aggravated step, of defection and apostasy, as too clearly discovers this church to be fixed upon a different footing, and to be called by another name, than the genuine offspring of the true covenanted church of Christ in Scotland. Besides what has been already noticed, respecting the sinfulness both of the members constituent, and the constitutions at the revolution, it is to be further observed, as just matter of lamentation, that, at this period, when such a noble opportunity was offered, no suitable endeavors were made for reviving the covenanted cause and interest of our Redeemer; no care taken that the city of the Lord should be built upon her own heap, and the palace remain after the manner thereof; but, on the contrary, a religion was then established, not only exceeding far short of, but in many particulars very inconsistent with, and destructive of, that blessed uniformity in religion, once the glory of these now degenerate isles. The presbytery, therefore, in the next place, do testify against the settlement of religion made at the revolution, and that in these particulars following:—
1. Instead of abolishing prelacy in England and Ireland, as it had been abjured in the Solemn League and Covenant, and stands condemned by the word of God, and fundamental laws of the nations, conform to the divine law, it was then, with all its popish ceremonies, anew secured, confirmed and established, in both these kingdoms, as the true religion, according to the word of God, to be publicly professed by all the people; and the supreme civil magistrate solemnly sworn, at his inauguration, both that he himself shall be of the Episcopal communion, and that he shall maintain inviolably the settlement of the church in the kingdoms of England and Ireland, and territories thereunto belonging. Thus the revolution has ratified the impious overthrow, and ignominious burial, of the covenanted reformation in these two kingdoms, that was made in the persecuting period, and has fixed a legal bar in the way of their reformation, in agreeableness to the sacred oath the three nations brought themselves under to God Almighty.
2. As to the settlement of religion in Scotland, the presbytery testily against it: because it was a settlement, which, instead of homologating and reviving the covenanted reformation between 1638 and 1650, in profession and principle, let the same buried under the infamous act recissory, which did, at one blow, rescind and annul the whole of the reformation, and authority establishing the same, by making a retrogade motion, as far back as 1592, without ever coming one step forward since that time, and herein acted most contrary to the practice of our honored reformers, who always used to begin where former reformations stopped, and after having removed what obstructed the work of reformation, went forward in building and beautifying the house of the Lord.
That this backward settlement at the revolution, was a glaring relinquishment of many of our valuable and happy attainments, in the second and most advanced reformation (as is said), and consequently, an open apostasy and revolt from the covenanted constitution of the church of Scotland, is sufficiently evident, from the foresaid act of settlement, 1690; where (after having allowed of the Westminster confession) they further add, "That they do establish, ratify and confirm the presbyterian church government and discipline, ratified and established by the 114th act, James VI, parl. 12th, anno 1592." So that this settlement includes nothing more of the covenanted uniformity in these hinds, than only the thirty-three articles of the Confession of Faith, wanting the scripture proofs. Again, that the Revolution settlement of religion did not abolish the act recissory, nor ratify and revive any act between 1638 and 1650 authorizing and establishing the work of reformation, is clear from the same act: whereto, after abolishing some acts anent the late prelacy in Scotland, they declare: "That these acts are abolished, so far allenarly, as the said acts, and others, generally and particularly above mentioned, are contrary or prejudicial to, inconsistent with, or derogatory front, the protestant religion, or presbyterian church government, now established." Where observe, that this general, clause is restricted to acts and laws, in so far only, as they were contrary to the religion settled in this act; and therefore, as this act includes no part of the covenanted reformation between 1638 and 1649, so this recissory clause abolishes laws, not as against foresaid reformation, but only in so far as they strike against the revolution settlement, which the act recissory could not do. Again, in another clause of the same act, it is added: "Therefore, their majesties do hereby revive and ratify, and perpetually confirm, all laws, statutes and acts of parliament, made against popery and papists." The only reason that can be given for the revival of laws, not against prelacy, but popery, when abolishing prelacy, is, that the parliament, excluding the covenanted reformation from this settlement of religion, resolved to let the whole of it be buried under the act recissory. For as, in reality, there were no laws made expressly against prelacy before 1592, but against popery and papists; so, had they said, laws against prelacy and prelates, they thereby would have revived some of the laws made by the reforming parliaments, between 1640 and 1650; wherein bishops and all other prelates, the civil places and power of kirkmen, &c., are expressly condemned. Again, in the foresaid act, they confirm all the article of the 114th act, 1592, except the part of it anent patronages, which is to be afterward considered. Now, had the revolution parliament regarded the reforming laws to have been revived, and so the act recissory to be rescinded, by their act 5th, 1590, they would not have left this particular to be again considered of, seeing patronages were entirely abolished by an act of parliament, 1649; but, having the ball at their foot, they now acted as would best suit with their political and worldly views. Once more observe, that when the revolution parliament ratified the act, 1592, they take no notice of its having been done before, by a preceding parliament in 1649. All which plainly says, that the reforming laws and authority of the parliaments by which they were made, are not regarded as now in force. To conclude this particular, if the settlement of religion, made in 1690, had revived and ratified the authority of our reforming parliaments, and laws made by them; then, as these obliged the king to swear the covenants before his coronation, and all ranks to swear them, and obliged to root out malignancy, sectarianism, &c., and to promote uniformity in doctrine, worship, discipline and government, in the three nations, so the revolution settlement would have obliged all to the practice of the same ditties, and that, before ever king, or any under him, could have been admitted to any trust; while all that would not comply therewith, would have been held as enemies, not only to religion, but to their king and country also, as was the case when reformation flourished. But, as the very reverse of this was authorized and practised at the revolution, it convincingly discovers, that the settlement of religion, made in 1690, left the whole of the reformation attained to, ratified and established by solemn oaths and civil laws, between 1640 and 1649, buried under that scandalous and wicked act recissory, framed by that tyrant, Charles II, after his restoration. Nor is there to be found, in all the acts, petitions, supplications and addresses, made by the assemblies at or since the revolution, any thing importing a desire to have that blasphemous act rescinded, which stands in full force, to the perpetual infamy and disgrace of the revolution settlement of religion, so much gloried in, by the greatest part, as happily established.
2. The presbytery testify against the Revolution settlement of religion, not only as including avowed apostasy from the covenanted constitution of the reformed church of Scotland, and a traitorous giving up of the interests and rights of Christ, our Lord and REDEEMER, in these, and especially in this land; but also, as it is an Erastian settlement, which will appear, by considering—1st, The scriptural method then taken, in establishing religion: instead of setting the church foremost in the work of the Lord, and the state coming after, and ratifying by their civil sanction what the church had done; the Revolution parliament inverted this beautiful order, both in abolishing prelacy, settling presbytery, and ratifying the Confession of Faith, as the standard of doctrine to this church: 2d, In abolishing prelacy, as it was not at the desire of the church, but of the estates of Scotland; so the parliament did it in an Erastian manner, without consulting the church, or regarding that it had been abolished by the church, anno 1638, and by the state, 1640, in confirmation of what the church had done. Thus, Act 3d, 1689, ‘tis said, "The king and queen’s majesties with the estates of parliament, do hereby abolish prelacy." Again, when establishing presbytery, Act 5th, 1690, they act in the same Erastian manner, whereby the order of the house of God was inverted in the matter of government; in regard that the settlement of the government of the church in the first instance, properly belongs to all ecclesiastical judicatory, met and constituted in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ; and it is afterward the duty of the state to give the sanction of their authority to the same. This Erastianism further appears the parliament’s conduct with respect unto the Confession of Faith: see Act 5th, sess 2d, parl. 1st, wherein thus they express themselves: "Likeas they, by these presents, ratify and establish the Confession of Faith, now read in their presence, and voted and approven by them, as the public and avowed confession of this church." Hence it is obvious, that the parliament, by sustaining themselves proper judges of doctrine, encroached upon the intrinsic power of the church: they read, voted, and approved the Confession of Faith, without ever referring to, or regarding the act of the general assembly 1647, or any other act of reforming assemblies, whereby that confession was formerly made ours, or even so much as calling an assembly to vote and approve that confession of new. That the above conduct of the state, without regarding the church in her assemblies, either past or future, is gross Erastianism, and what does not belong, at first instance, to the civil magistrate, but to the church representative, to whom the Lord has committed the management of the affairs of his spiritual kingdom, may appear from these few sacred texts, besides many others, namely, Numb. 1:50, 51: "But thou shalt appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of testimony, and over all the vessels thereof, and over all the things that belong to it: they shall bear the tabernacle and all the vessels thereof, and they shall minister unto it, and shall encamp round about the tabernacle; and when the tabernacle setteth forward, the Levites shall take it down, and when the tabernacle is to be pitched, the Levites shall set it up, and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death." See also chapters 3, and 4, throughout; also Deut. 23:8, 10; 1 Chron. 15:2; 2 Chron. 19:11; Ezra 10:4. So David, when he had felt the anger of the Lord, for not observing his commandments in this particular, says, 1 Chron. 15:12, 13, to the Levites, "Sanctify yourselves that ye may bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel. For because ye did it not at the first, the Lord our God made a breach upon us, for that we sought him not after the due order." Likewise Hezekiah, a reforming king, did not himself, at first instance, set about reforming and purging the house of God; but having called together the priests and Levites, says to them, 2 Chron. 19:5 : "Sanctify yourselves and sanctify the house of the Lord God of your fathers, and carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place;" compared with ver. 11; Mal. 2:7; Matth. 16:19. "I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven." And 28:18, 19, 20: "All power is given unto me, to ye therefore and teach all nations, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." From all which it may safely be inferred, that its the Lord Jesus Christ, the King and Lawgiver of his church, has committed all the power of church matters, whether respecting the doctrine or government thereof, to church officers, as the first, proper receptacles thereof; so, for civil rulers, at first instance, by their own authority, to make alterations in the government of the church, and to settle and emit a standard of doctrine to the church, is a manifest usurpation of ecclesiastical authority, and tyrannical encroachment upon the ministerial office. It needs only to be added, that this Revolution conduct stands condemned by the Confession of Faith itself, in express terms (as well as in the holy scriptures), chap. 23, sect. 3, "The civil magistrate may not assume to himself the administration of the word or the keys." And also, by the beautiful practice off our reformers, betwixt 1638 and 1649, who observed the scriptural order, the church always going foremost, in all the several pieces of reformation attained to, and then the state coming after, by exerting their authority, in ratification and defense of the church’s acts and deeds, in behalf of reformation.
3. The Erastianism of this settlement of religion, appears plain from the act of parliament 1592, noticed above upon which the Revolution parliament did found it, as in act 5th, sess 2, 1690, by which the forementioned act 1592, is ratified, revived, renewed and confirmed, in all the heads thereof, contains patronage excepted. Now, in regard that act in 1592 contains an invasion upon the headship of Christ, and intrinsic power of the church, and ascribes an Erastian power to the civil magistrate over the church, making it unlawful for the church to convocate her superior judicatories, but in dependence upon the king for his license and authority; and in regard the Revolution parliament did revive and renew this clause in foresaid act 1592, as well as other heads thereof, it must needs follow, that this settlement of religion cannot be freed of the charge of Erastianism. Nor is it very strange that statesmen, who had been educated in the principles of Erastianism, should be fired of reviving an act that robbed Christ of his crown rights, and the church of her spiritual liberty; but most surprising, that professed Presbyterian ministers should so greedily embrace and approve of Erastianism, as a valuable and glorious deliverance to the church of Christ! In agreeableness to this Erastian article of the above act, the parliament, in their act 1690, indicted and appointed the first general assembly, as a specimen of their Erastian power over their newly constituted church; and it has ever since been the, practice of the sovereign, to call, dissolve and adjourn her assemblies at his pleasure, and sometimes to an indefinite time. It is further observable, that the king’s commission to his representative in assembly, runs in a style that evidently discovers, that he looks upon the assembly’s power and right of constitution as subordinate to him. Thus it begins, "Seeing by our decree that an assembly is to meet,"&c. Yet not withstanding of this, the assembly 1690 (nor any after them, so the as was ever known to the world) did not by any one formal act and statue expressly condemn Erastianism, and explicitly assert the alone headship of Christ, and the intrinsic, independent power of the church, in opposition to these encroachments made thereupon, and therefore may be justly construed consenters thereto. To conclude this particular, of the Erastianism of the present settlement of religion, it may be observed that although the revolution parliament, from political views, did by act 1st, sess 2d, rescind the first act of second parliament of Charles II, entitled Act asserting his majesty’s supremacy over all persons and in all causes ecclesiastical; yet, from what is above hinted, it may be inferred, that the Revolution state has still preserved the very soul and substance of that blasphemous supremacy (though possibly they may have transferred it from the person of the king, abstractly considered, and lodged it in the hand of the king and parliament conjunctly, as the more proper subject thereof): for, in the words of Mr. John Burnet, in his testimony against the indulgence, quoted by Mr. Brown in his history of the indulgence, "To settle, enact and emit constitutions, acts and orders, concerning matters, meetings and persons ecclesiastical, according to royal pleasure (and parliamentary is much the same), is the very substance and definition of his majesty’s supremacy, as it is explained by his estates of parliament." But the Revolution act of parliament settling religion, is just to settle, enact and emit such constitutions, acts and orders concerning matters, meetings and persons ecclesiastical, according to parliamentary, instead of mere royal pleasure: and therefore the act authorizing the Revolution settlement of religion, is the very substance and definition of a royal parliamentary supremacy. The truth of this will further appear by the sequel.
4. The presbytery testify, against the Revolution, constitution and settlement of religion, as it is not a religious, but a mere civil and political one; "not built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;" but upon the fluctuating inclinations of the people, as the formal foundation thereof. For proof of which, consider the acts of parliament relative to the abolition of prelacy, and the establishment of presbytery. In consequence of an article of the claim of right made by the estates of Scotland, the act 3d, sess 1st, parl. 1689, declares, "That whereas the estates of this kingdom, in their claim of right, declared that prelacy, and the superiority of any office in the church above presbyters, is and hath been a great and insupportable grievance to this nation, and contrary to the inclinations of the generality of the people ever since the reformation, they having been reformed from popery by presbyters, and therefore to be abolished: our sovereign lord and lady, with advice and consent of the estates of parliament, do hereby abolish prelacy, and all superiority of any office in the church in this kingdom above presbyters; and do declare, that they, with advice aforesaid, will settle by law that church government in this kingdom, which is most agreeable to the inclinations of the people." Agreeable to this, one of king William’s instructions to the parliament 1690, is, "You are to pass an act establishing that church government which is most agreeable to the inclinations of the people." Accordingly we have the act 5th, sess 2d, 1690, settling Presbyterian church government in the same form, and on the same footing. And so much king William, who, doubtless, was perfectly acquainted with the true intent and meaning of that act, declares in his letter to the assembly indicted by him that same year. From all which (without noticing the Erastian form of these acts, &c.) it may be observed, that there is somewhat done that is materially good; but then there is nothing importing the contrariety of prelacy to the scriptures of truth, nor the divine right of Presbyterian church government, so that the whole of this settlement is purely political, done for the pleasure of the good subjects of Scotland: for, 1st, the only reason why prelacy is complained of and abolished, is, because it was grievous and contrary to the inclinations of the generality of the people. It is not so much as declared contrary to law, though well known that it was condemned by many of the reforming laws; far less is it declared contrary to the word of God, and reformation principles founded thereupon. Neither is it, said to be a grievance to the nations, though it is manifest, by the nations their entering into a solemn covenant to extirpate it, that it was an insupportable burden to all the three. And the great reason assigned for the people’s dissatisfaction to prelacy, is antiquity, "they having been reformed from popery by presbyters," as if our reformers bad only contended for a church government merely human; whereas they strenuously maintained the divine right of presbytery, and condemned prelacy as contrary to the word of God. This reason would be equally strong against presbytery, on supposition that prelates had got the start of presbyters in the reformation from popery. Again, 2d, upon the same, and no better ground, was presbytery established, namely, because it was more agreeable to the inclinations of the people, and as it was of a more ancient standing in Scotland than prelacy. Further, that the divine right of presbytery is not acknowledged in this settlement, appears from the express words of the act itself, wherein it is designated, "the only government of Christ’s church in the nation;" not the only government of Christ’s church laid down in the word of God, received and sworn to by all the three nations, ratified by both civil and ecclesiastical authority. A clear evidence, that church government was regarded as only, and what might be altered at pleasure, Hence, while the king was settling presbytery in Scotland, he was also maintaining, as bound by oath, prelacy in England, &c. And so presbytery, for peace’s sake, as most agreeable to the inclinations of the people, was settled in Scotland as the government of Christ’s church there. Thus, there is a settlement of religion, and yet not one line of scripture authority, or reformation principles legible therein: and, as one said (though a strenuous defender of the settlement), "The glory of that church is at a low pass, which hangs upon the nail of legal securities by kings and parliaments, instead of the nail which God has fastened in a sure place;" which, alas! is the case with the church of Scotland at this day. It is true, that the parliament call their settlement, "Agreeable to God’s word;" but it is as true, that, from their conduct toward both (abolishing prelacy, and establishing presbytery, from these political motives above mentioned), it is abundantly plain, that they believed neither of them to be formally and specifically agreeable to, and founded upon the word of God; but that they regarded all forms of church government as indifferent, and thought themselves at liberty to pick and choose such a particular form as best the suited minors and inclinations of the people, and their own a worldly advantage. Accordingly, we find the parliament 1689, appointing a committee to receive all the forms of government that should be brought before them, to examine them for this purpose, and then report their opinions of them to the house.
That the parliament at this time, or the king and parliament conjunctly, acted from the above lattitudinarian principle, is further evident, from their establishing and consenting to the establishment of these two different and opposite forms of church government, presbytery in Scotland, and prelacy in England and Ireland, and both of them considered as agreeable to the word of God, and the only government of Christ’s church in the several kingdoms, where they were espoused; which, as it is self contradictory and absurd, so it is impossible they could ever have done this, if they had believed the divine right of either of them. And finally, by this conduct of theirs, the state declared their approbation thereof, and resolution to copy after the 16th act,sess 2d, parl. 1st of Charles II (yet in force), which ascribes an Erastian power to the king, of settling church government as be shall think proper. By all which it appears quite inconsistent with the Revolution settlement, to consider church power in any other light, than as subordinate to the power of the state. And yet with this political and Erastian settlement of religion, the Revolution Church have declared themselves satisfied; they have not condemned Episcopacy, as contrary to the word of God, nor positively asserted the divine right of presbytery, and disclaimed the claim of right and act of settlement, as their right of constitution; but, on the contrary, approved of both, as appears from the commission’s act, 1709, and their address to the parliament, 1711, both homologated by the succeeding assemblies. Whereby they declare, that they have dropped a most material part of the testimony of the reformed church of Scotland, and are not faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ, in maintaining the rights of his crown and kingdom. From the whole, it may too justly be concluded concerning the Revolution settlement of religion, what the prophet Hosea declares of the calf of Samaria, Hos. 8:6: "For from Israel was it also, the workman made it, therefore it is not God; the calf of Samaria shall be broken in pieces." It is not a divine institution founded upon the word of God, and regulated by his revealed law; but a human invention, owing its original in both kingdoms to the inclinations of the people, an governed by laws opposite to the laws of Christ in the word.
Hence we have the idolatrous institutions of prelacy, established in the one nation, and Erastianism under the specious pretext of presbytery, in the other; and both under an exotic head of ecclesiastical government.
From what is said above, respecting the Revolution constitution, and settlement of religion in the nations, it will appear, that the same are opposite to the word of God, and covenanted constitutions of both church and state, and to the reforming laws, between 1638 and 1650, ratifying and securing the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government of the church, and all divine ordinances, sacred and civil, according to scripture revelation; and therefore cannot be acknowledged as lawful, by any that make the law of God their rule, and desire to go out by the footsteps of the flock of Christ.
The presbytery proceed now to consider the administration since the late Revolution, as standing in immediate connection with the forementioned constitutions and settlement: only, in the entry, it may be observed, that as the mal-administrations, civil and ecclesiastical, are increased to almost an innumerable multitude, so that it would be next to an impossibility to reckon them all; the presbytery propose only to observe so many of the most remarkable instances, as shall be sufficient to justify a condemnation of the present course of the nations, although the constitutions could not be excepted against as sinful. And,
1. The presbytery declare and testify against the gross Erastianism that has attended the administrations of both church and state, since the Revolution. As the constitutions of both (above noticed) were Erastian and anti-scriptural, so their conduct ever since has been agreeable thereto, tending evidently to discover that, while the state is robbing our Redeemer of his crown, and his church of her liberties, this church, instead of testifying against, gives consent to these impieties.
Particularly, 1, as at the forementioned period, so ever since, the king has continued, by his own authority, to call, dissolve, and adjorn the national assemblies of this church. The first Revolution Assembly was held, by virtue of an Erastian indictment, and by the same power dissolved. The next was, by royal authority, appointed to be at Edinburgh, 1691, but by the same power, adjourned to 1692, and then dissolved, without passing any act; and though again indicted to meet 1693, yet was not allowed to sit until March 1694, near a year after the parliament had made an humble address to the sovereign for granting that privilege. But it would be endless to attempt an enumeration of all the instances of the exercise of Erastianism in this particular, which is annually renewed. How often, alas! have the assemblies been prorogued, raised, and dissolved, by magistratical authority, and sometimes without nomination of another diet? How frequently, also, have they been restricted in their proceedings, and prelimited as to members, and matters to be treated of, and discussed therein; depriving some members of their liberty to sit and act as members, though regularly chosen, merely, because such had not taken the oaths appointed by law? All which exercise of Erastian supremacy natively results from the parliamentary settlement 1690. And when no adequate testimony was ever given by the church against such Erastian usurpations, but they are still crouched under and complied with, it may justly be constructed a tame subjection and woful consent to his supremacy. That this is no forced inference from the continued practice of this church appears from this (besides other evidences that might be adduced), viz: That as the Revolution parliament, when ratifying the Confession of Faith, entirely left out the act of Assembly 1647, approving and partly explaining the same (wherein these remarkable words are, "It is further declared, that the Assembly understand, some parts of the second article of the 31st chapter, only of kirks not settled or constituted in point of government") as being inconsistent with the Erastian impositions of the magistrate. So this church, when they cause intrants into the ministry subscribe the Confession do not oblige them to subscribe it with this explanatory act (which does by no means admit of a privative power in the magistrate, destructive of the church’s intrinsic power), but they only do it as the parliament ratified it.
2. Another instance of Erastianism practiced by both church and state, is, that when the king and parliament did bind down episcopal curates upon congregations, forbidding church judicatories the exercise of discipline upon the impenitent, and enjoining the Assembly to admit such, without any evidence of grief or sorrow for their former apostasy, upon their swearing the oath of allegiance, and subscribing a formula homologating the Revolution settlement, substituted in the room of the covenants; the church approved of this settlement, and protection granted by the civil powers to such curates all their lifetime in their churches and benefices, who yet were not brought under any obligation to subject, themselves to the government and discipline of the church. The truth of this is manifest, from sundry of king Willam’s letters to the Assemblies, together with after acts of parliament, relative thereto. In his letter, dated February 13th, 1690, to the commission of the Assembly, he says, "Whereas there has been humble application made to us by several ministers, for themselves and others, who lately served under episcopacy; we have thought good to signify our pleasure to you, that you make no distinction of men, otherwise well qualified for the ministry, though they have formerly conformed to the law, introducing episcopacy, and that ye give them no disturbance or vexation for that cause, or for that head: and it is our pleasure, that, until we give our farther directions, you proceed to no more process, or any other business." In another letter, dated June 15th, 1691, he says, "We are well pleased with what you write, to unite with such of the clergy, who have served under episcopacy; and that you are sufficiently instructed by the General Assembly to receive them; from all which, we do expect a speedy and happy success, that there shall be so great a progress made in this union betwixt you, before our return to Britain that we shall then find no cause to continue that stop, which at present we see necessary; and that neither you, her any commission or church meeting, do meddle in any process or business, that may concern the purging out of the episcopal ministers." And in a letter to the episcopal clergy, he says, "We doubt not of your applying to, and concurring with, your brethren the presbyterian ministers, in the terms which we have been of pains to adjust for you; the formula will be communicated to you by our commissioners," &c. See also the 27thact, parl. 1695, where it is declared, "That all such as shall duly come in and qualify, themselves, shall have and enjoy his majesty’s protection, as to their respective kirks and benefices, they always containing themselves within the limits of their pastoral charge, within their said parishes, without offering to exercise any part of government, unless they be first duly assumed by a competent church judicatory; providing nevertheless, that as the said ministers are left free to apply, or not, to the foresaid church judicatories," &c. To which agree, act 2d, parl. 1700; act 3d, parl. 1702; act 2d, parl. 1703, &c, Behold here the civil magistrate, exercising the supremacy in matters ecclesiastical, in that he both establishes the old Scots curates in their respective parishes, upon their former footing, limits them in the exercise of their function, discharging them from exercising any part of ecclesiastical polity, but upon their uniting with the presbyterians, on the terms he had adjusted for them. And further, by his authority stops the exercise of church discipline against these curates (though the most of them were notoriously scandalous); nay, even discharges the Assembly from proceeding to any other business, until they received other directions from the throne. Which palpable instance of Erastianism in the state, was not only peaceably submitted to, but heartily acquiesced in by the church: for as they had declared they would censure no prelatical incumbent for his principles anent church government, however much disaffected to a covenanted reformation, and had given frequent discoveries of their readiness to receive into communion the episcopal curates, according to the terms prescribed by the parliament (as appears front the Assembly records): so the Assembly 1694, act 11th, having framed a sham formula, for receiving in the curates, containing no such thing as any renunciation of abjured prelacy, the abominable test, and other sinful oaths these creatures had taken, but only an acknowledgment of the Revolution settlement of religion, as established by law, by the foresaid act, appointed their commission to receive all the episcopal clergy who applied, and being qualified according to law, would also subscribe their formula, and that without requiring the least show of repentance for their scandalous public sins, and their deep guilt of effusion of the blood of God’s faithful saints and witnesses during the tyranny of the two brothers. Thee instructions to the commission and other judicatories (as appears by their acts), were successively renewed by the Assembly upward of twenty times, from 1694 to 1716, and were indeed attended with good success, as is evident from their address to the queen, recorded act 10th, 1712; where they declare, as an instance of their moderation, "That since the Revolution, there had been taken in, and continued, hundreds of the episcopal curates upon the easiest terms," viz: such as were by the royal prerogative adjusted to them. Which practice, as it declares this church homologators of Erastianism, so is directly opposite to Presbyterian principles, the discipline and practice of our reformed church of Scotland, and to the laws of Christ, the supreme lawgiver, Ezek. 44:10-15; 2 Cor. 6:17, 18, &c.
3. A third instance of the Erastianism practiced since the revolution, is, that the king and parliament have taken upon them to prescribe and lay down, by magistratical authority, conditions and qualifications, sine qua non, of ministers and preachers. For proof of which, see act 6th, sess 4th, parl. 1st, 1693, where it is enacted, "That the said oath of allegiance be sworn the same with the foresaid assurance, be subscribed by all preachers and ministers of the gospel whatever—certifying such of the foresaid persons as are, or shall be, in any public office, and shall own and exercise the same without taking the said oath and assurance in manner foresaid,—ministers provided to kirks shall he deprived of their benefices or stipends, and preachers shall be punished with banishment, or otherwise, an the council shall think fit." Also, act 23d, 1693, it is ordained, "That no person be admitted or continued to be a minister, or preach within this church, unless that he have first taken and subscribed the oath of allegiance, and subscribed the oath of assurance in manner appointed. And further statute and ordain, that uniformity of worship be observed by all the said ministers and preachers, as the same are at present performed and allowed therein, or shall hereafter be declared by the authority of the same: and that no minister or preacher be continued and admitted hereafter, unless that he subscribe to observe, and do actually observe, the foresaid uniformity." The Erastianism in these acts seems screwed up yet a little higher, by act 7th, sess 5th, parl. 1st, 1695; where, after appointing a new day to such ministers as had not formerly obeyed, it is ordained: "With certification that such of the said ministers as shall not come in between and said day, are hereby, and by the force of this present act, ipso facto, deprived of their respective kirks and stipends, and the same declared vacant, without any further sentence." The Erastianism in these acts is so manifest at first sight, that it in needless to illustrate the same; only it may be remarked, that, by these acts, the civil magistrate prescribes new ministerial qualification, viz: the oaths of allegiance and assurance; and these imposed instead of an oath of allegiance to Zion’s King, viz: the oaths of the covenants. As also, that ministers are hereby restricted from advancing reformation, being bound down to observe that uniformity at present allowed, or that shall hereafter be declared by authority of parliament. And further, Erastianism is here advanced to the degree of wresting the keys of government out of the bands of the church altogether—taking to themselves the power of deposing all such ministers as shall not submit to their anti-christian impositions, and of declaring and ascertaining, by their own authority, what mode of worship or government shall take place in the church hereafter. This Erastian appointment of ministerial qualifications, &c:, is evidently injurious, both to the headship of Christ in his church, and to the church’s intrinsic power. It pertains to the royal prerogative of Christ, to appoint all the qualifications of his officers, which he has done in the Word. And it pertains to the church representative, by applying the laws of Christ in his Word, to declare who are qualified for the ministry, and who are not. But here the civil power, without any regard to church judicatories, by a magisterial authority, judges and determines, the qualifications that gospel ministers must have, otherwise they cannot be acknowledged ministers of this church. At the same time, it must be regretted, that the church, instead of faithfully discovering the sinfulness of foresaid conduct, and testifying against it, as an anti-christian usurpation, have declared their approbation thereof, by taking the above named illimited oaths, according to the parliament’s order; and also by the assembly’s enjoining their commission to act conform to the parliament’s directions respecting ministerial qualifications, in their admission of those that had formerly conformed to episcopacy, and refusing to admit any into their communion without having these ministerial qualifications.
4. A fourth piece of Erastianism exercised since the commencement of the revolution settlement, against which the presbytery testify is, the civil magistrate, by himself and his own authority, without consulting the church, or any but his parliament, privy council, and diocesan bishops, his appointing diets and causes of public fasting and thanksgiving. A number of instances might here be condescended on. So an act of the states, anno l689, for public thanksgiving. An act of parliament 1693, appointing a monthly that, declares, "That their majesties, with advice and consent of the said estates of parliament, do hereby command and appoint, that a day of solemn fasting and humiliation be religiously and strictly observed, by all persons within this kingdom, both in church and meeting-houses, upon the third Thursday of the month of May, and the third Thursday of every month thereafter, until intimation of forbearance be made by the lords of their majesties’ privy council; and ordains all ministers to read these presents a Sunday before each of these fast days, nominated, by authority; and ordains all disobeyers to be fined in a sum not exceeding 100l., and every minister who shall not obey, to be processed before the lords of their majesties’ privy council." But it is to no purpose to multiply instances of this kind, seeing it has been the common practice of every sovereign since the revolution, to appoint and authorize national diets of fasting, with civil pains annexed. And as the state has made these encroachments upon the royalties of Christ, so this church, instead of bearing faithful testimony against the same, have finally submitted thereto. In agreeableness to the royal appointment, they observed the monthly fast for the success of the war against Lewis XIV (of which above), and in favor of the Pope, which king William was bound to prosecute by virtue of a covenant made with the allies at the Hague, February, 1691, to be seen in the declaration of war then made against France, wherein it is expressly said, "That no peace is to be made with Lewis XIV, till he has made reparation to the Holy See for whatsoever he has acted against it, and till he make void all these infamous proceedings (viz: of the parliament of Paris) against the holy father, Innocent XI." Behold here the acknowledgment of the Pope’s supremacy, and his power and dignity, both as a secular and ecclesiastical prince; and in the observation of these fasts, the church did mediately (tell it not in Gath—) pray for success to the man of sin—a practice utterly repugnant to protestant, much more to Presbyterian, principles, and which will be a lasting stain upon both church and state. As this church did then submit, so since she has made a resignation and surrender of that part of the church’s intrinsic right to the civil power, see act 7th, assem. 1710: "All ministers and members are appointed religiously to observe all fasts and thanksgivings whatever, appointed by the church or supreme magistrate; and the respective judicatories are appointed to take particular notice of the due observation of this, and act 4th, 1722, act 5th, 1725." From which acts it is manifest, that the Revolution Church has not only declared the power and right of authoritative indicting public fasts and thanksgivings for ordinary, even in a constituted settled national church, to belong, at least equally, to the civil magistrate, as to the church; but, by their constant practice, have undeniably given up the power of the same to the civil power altogether—it being fact, that she never, by her own power, appoints a national diet of fasting, but still applies to the king for the nomination thereof. And further, as a confirmation of this surrender, it appears from their public records, that when some members have protested against the observation of such diets, the assembly would neither receive nor record such protest. Now, the sinfulness of this Erastian practice still persisted in, is evident from the Scriptures of truth, where the glorious king of Zion assigns the power of appointing fasts, not to the civil magistrate, but to spiritual office-bearers in his house. Jer. 13:18: "Say unto the king and queen, Humble yourselves."
Here is the office of the prophets of the Lord, to enjoin humiliation work upon those that are in civil authority, contrary to the present practice, when kings and queens, usurping the sacred office, by their authority, say to ministers, "Humble yourselves." See also, Joel 1:13, 14, and 2:15, 16, compared with Numb. 10:8-10. Here whatever pertains to these solemnities, is entrusted to, and required of; the ministers of the Lord, without the intervention of civil authority. The same is imported in Matth. 16:19, and 18:18; John 20:23—it being manifestly contained in the power of the keys committed, by the church’s head, to ecclesiastical officers. Moreover, this Erastianism, flowing from a spiritual supremacy exercised over the church, is peculiarly aggravated by these particulars:—
1. That commonly these fasts have been appointed on account of wars, in which the nations were engaged, in conjunction with gross anti-christian idolaters, who have been most active in their endeavors to root out protestantism. Now, it cannot but be most provoking to the Majesty of Heaven for professed Presbyterians to observe fasts, the professed design of which, includes success to the interest of the avowed enemies of our glorious REDEEMER. Again, the above practice is aggravated from this consideration, that these diets of fasting, with civil pains annexed to them, are sent by public proclamation, directed to their sheriffs and other subordinate civil officers, who are authorized to dispatch them to the ministers, and inspect their observation thereof And while professed ministers of Christ tamely comply with, all this, it amounts to no less, than a base subjection of the worship of God, in the solemnity of fasting in a national way, to the arbitrament of the civil powers, when whatever time and causes they appoint, must be observed.
From all which, in the words of the ministers of Perth and Fife, in their testimony to the truth, &c., 1658, the presbytery testify against the above Erastian conduct, as being, in its own nature, introductory to greater encroachments, and putting into the hands of the civil powers, the modeling of the worship of God, and things most properly ecclesiastical.
5. Another piece of Erastianism, respecting the present administration, which the presbytery testify against, is the king and parliament their arbitrarily imposing several of their acts and statutes upon ministers and preachers, under ecclesiastical pains and censures; while this Revolution Church, by their silent submission and compliance therewith, have, at least, interpretatively given their consent thereto. Thus, as the oaths of allegiance and assurance were enjoined upon all in ecclesiastical office, under the pain of church censure (of which above), so likewise, act 6th, 1706, ordains, "That no professors and principals, bearing office, in any university, be capable, or be admitted to continue in the exercise of their said functions, but such as shall own the civil government, in manner prescribed, or to be prescribed by sets of parliament." In consequence of which, there is an act 1707, an act in first year of king George I, and another in the fifth year of his reign; by all which statutes, ecclesiastical persons are enjoined to take the oath of abjuration, with other oaths, under the pain of having ecclesiastical censures inflicted upon them. And they ordain, "That no person be admitted to trials, or licensed to preach, until they have taken oaths, on pain of being disabled." The foresaid act, in the fifth year of George I ordains "all ministers and preachers to, pray in express words for his majesty and the royal family, as in former acts." The king and parliament at their own hand prescribe a set form of prayer for the Church of Scotland, and that under Erastian penalties, upon the disobeyers. Again, by an act of 1737, framed for more effectual bringing to justice the murderers of Captain Porteous, it is enacted, "That this act shall be read in every parish church throughout Scotland, on first Lord’s day of every month, for one whole year, from the first day of August, 1737, by the minister of the parish, in the morning, immediately before the sermon; and, in case such ministers shall neglect to read this act, as is here directed, he shall, for first offense, be declared incapable of sitting or voting in any church judicatory; and for the second offense, be declared incapable of taking, holding or enjoying any ecclesiastical benefice in that part of Great Britain called Scotland." The Erastianism of this act is very plain, penalties thereof are ecclesiastical, and infer a kind of deposition; seeing disobeyers are hereby disabled from exercising and enjoying what is essential to their office. Moreover, the wickedness of this act appears, in that it was appointed to be read on the Sabbath day, and in time of divine service; whereby ministers being constituted the magistrates’ heralds to proclaim this act, were obliged to profane the Lord’s day, and corrupt his worship, by immixing human inventions therewith, which was directly a framing mischief into a law. Yet, with all these impositions above noticed, this church has generally complied; and thereby declared that they are more studious of pleasing and obeying men, than God, seeing their practice therein infers no less, than a taking instructions in the ministerial function, and matters of divine worship, from another head than Christ.
6. The last piece of Erastian administration in church and state, presbytery take notice of; and testify against, is that of patronages. When the parliament 1690, had changed the form of patronages, by taking the power of presentations from patrons, and lodging it in hands of such heritors and elders as were qualified by law, excluding the people from a vote in calling their ministers, this Erastian act, spoiling the people of their just privilege, was immediately embraced by the church, as is evident from their overtures for church discipline, 1696, where they declare that only heritors and elders have a proper right to vote in the nomination of a minister. Also their overtures, 1705 and 1719, do lodge the sole power of nomination of ministers in the hands of the majority of heritors, by giving them a negative over the eldership, and congregation. But, as if this had not been a sufficient usurpation of the people’s right, purchased to them by the blood of Christ, by an act of parliament, 1712, above act, 1690, is repealed, and patrons fully restored to all their former anti-christian powers over the heritage of Lord; which yoke still continues to oppress the people of God. While again, this church, as if more careful to please the court, and court parasites, than Christ and his people, have not only peaceably fallen in with this change, daily practicing it in planting vacant congregations, but, as fond of this child of Rome, have further established and confirmed the power of patrons, by the sanction of their authority, as appears from several acts of assembly, thereby declaring their resolutions to have this epidemic evil continued, though it should terminate in the utter ruin of the church. Patronage was always by the Church of Scotland since the reformation, accounted an intolerable yoke; and therefore she never ceased contending against it until it was at last utterly abolished by acts both of reforming assemblies and parliaments; and that as one of the inventions of the whore of Rome.
As this anti-christian practice was unknown to the church in her primitive and purest times, until gradually introduced with other popish corruptions, so it has not the least vestige of any warrant in word of truth: nay, is directly opposite thereto, and to the apostolical practice: Acts 1:15-24; chap., 6:2-7: as also, 14:23, and 16:9, with other passages therein;—a book, intended to give us the apostolical practice and pattern, in the settlement of the Christian church: and 2 Cor. 3:9, &c. Wherefore the presbytery testily against this Erastian usurpation, as most sinful in itself, most injurious to the church of Christ, and inconsistent with the great ends of the ministry; and against this church, for not only submitting unto, but even promoting this wickedness; which is evident, from her deposing some of her members, for no other reason but because they could not approve of this pernicious scheme. Witness Mr. Gillespie, minister at Carnock, who was deposed May, 1752: and against all violent intruders, who, not entering by door, can be regarded only as thieves and robber, John 10:1.
These are a few of the many instances of the Erastian usurpations of headship, of Christ, as a Son, in and over his own house, and of the church’s intrinsic power assumed by the state, and consented to by this church since the Revolution. And without condescending upon any more, the presbytery concludes this part, with observing upon the whole, that when Henry VIII of England did cast off the authority of the see of Rome, and refused to give that subjection to the pope formerly paid by him and his predecessors; he did, at the same time, assume to himself all that power in his dominions, which the pope formerly claimed; and soon afterward procured to have himself acknowledged and declared, by act of parliament, to be head of the church—head over all persons, and in all causes, civil and ecclesiastical. And which antichristian supremacy has, ever since, continued an essential part of the English constitution, and inherent right of the crown; so that all the crowned beads there, have ever since been as little popes over that realm: and that all such still appropriate unto themselves that blasphemous antichristian title of the head of the church, and supreme judge in all causes is undeniably evident from the known laws and canons England: and further appears from a declaration, made by King George I, June 13th, 1715, where he styles himself Defender of the faith, and supreme Governor of the church in his dominions; declaring, that before the clergy can order or settle any differences about the external policy of the church, they must first obtain leave under his broad seal so to do. Which title or authority for man, or angel, to assume, is a downright dethroning and exauctorating of Christ, the only and alone Head and Supreme Governor of his church. From this spiritual antichristian supremacy, granted, by English laws to the king of England, confirmed and established, by virtue of the incorporating union, in British kings by acts of British parliament, do flow all forementioned acts imposed upon the Revolution Church of Scotland. And as these acts and laws declare, that British monarch confines not his spiritual supremacy to the church of England, but it extends it also over the church of Scotland: so this Revolution Church, having never either judicially or practically lifted up the standard of a public free and faithful testimony, against these sinful usurpations, flowing from the fountain of said supremacy, and clothed with the authority of an antichristian parliament, where abjured bishops sit constituent members, but, on the contrary, has submitted to every one of them; therefore, this church may justly be constructed, as approvers and maintainers of Erastian supremacy. And hereby, indeed, the revolt of these degenerate lands front their sworn subjection and obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ, as supreme in his own house, is completed, when they have these many years substituted another in his place, and framed supremacy into a standing law, to be the rule, according to which their kings must lord it over the house and heritage of the living God. Again:
The presbytery testify against the manifold, and almost uninterrupted opposition to the ancient glorious uniformity in religion between the nations, that has appeared in the administrations of both church and state, since the last Revolution. The revolution constitution and settlement of religion, as has been already observed, laid our solemn covenants and work of reformation, sworn to therein, in a grave, and many stones have since been brought and east upon them: many ways and measures have both church and state taken to make sure the revolution sepulcher of a covenanted work of reformation, and prevent, if possible, its future resurrection: against all which, the presbytery judge themselves bound to lift up their testimony. Particularly,
1.The presbytery testily against the incorporating union of this nation with England; and as being an union founded upon an open violation of all the articles of the Solemn League and Covenant, still binding upon the nations; and, consequently, destructive of that uniformity in religion, once happily attained to by them: which will at first view appear, by comparing the articles of the union with those of the Solemn League. All associations and confederacies with the enemies of true religion and godliness, are expressly condemned in scripture, and represented as dangerous to the true Israel of God: Isa. 8:12, Jer. 2:28; Psal. 106:35; Hos. 5:13, and 8:8, 11; 2 Cor. 6:14, 15. And if simple confederacies with malignants and enemies to the cause of Christ be condemned, much more is an incorporation with them, which is an embodying of two into one and therefore a straiter conjunction. And taking the definition of malignants, given by the declaration o both kingdoms joined in arms, anno 1643, to be just, which says, "such as would not take the covenant, were declared to be enemies to their religion and country, and that they are to be censured and punished, as professed adversaries and malignants;" it cannot be refused, but that prelatical pany in England, now joined with, are such. Further, by this incorporating union, this nation is obliged to support the idolatrous Church of England; agreeable whereto, the Scottish parliament, in their act of security, relative to the treaty of union, declares, "that the parliament of England may provide for the security of the Church of England, as they think expedient." Accordingly, the English parliament, before entering upon the treaty of union with Scotland, framed an act for securing the Church of England’s hierarchy and worship, as by law established. Which act, they declare, "Shall be inserted, in express terms, in any act of parliament which shall be made for settling and ratifying any treaty of union, and shall be declared to be an essential fundamental part thereof." Hence, the act of the English parliament for the union of the two kingdoms, contains the above act for securing the Church of England. Which act being sent down to Scotland, stands recorded, among the acts of last Scottish parliament. Moreover, the last article of said union contains, that all laws and statutes in either kingdom, so far as they are contrary to, or inconsistent with the terms of these articles, or any of them, shall, from and after the union, cease and become void; which, as in the act of exemplification, was declared to be, by the parliaments of both kingdoms. Thus this nation, by engrossing the English act, establishing prelacy, and all the superstitious ceremonies, in the act of the union parliament, and by annulling all acts contrary to the united settlement, have sealed, as far as men can do, grave-stones formerly laid upon covenanted uniformity of the nations. To all which the revolution church, by consenting, and practically approving this unhallowed union, have said Amen; though, at first, some of the members opposed and preached against it, yet afterward changed, and (if some historians may be credited) by the influence of gold, were swayed to an approbation. This church’s consent to the union is evident, from their accepting of the act of security, enacted by the Scots parliament, as the legal establishment and security of the Church of Scotland; and from the assembly 1715, utterly rejecting a proposal to make a representation to the king, that the incorporating union was a grievance to the Church of Scotland; though it ought still to be regarded as such, by all the lovers of reformation principles, because it is a disclaiming of our sworn duty, to endeavor the reformation of England and Ireland. It is a consenting to the legal and unalterable establishment of abjured prelacy in them, obliges the sovereigns of Great Britain to swear to the preservation of the prelatical constitution, and idolatrous ceremonies of the episcopal church, and join in communion therewith; and, therefore, for ever secludes all true Presbyterians from supreme rule. This union establishes the civil, lordly power of bishops, obliging the Church of Scotland to acknowledge them as their lawful magistrates and ministers, to pray for a blessing upon them in the exercise of their civil power, and is therefore a solemn ratification of antichristian Erastianism. It has formally rescinded, and for ever made wild any act or acts, in favor of a covenanted uniformity in religion, that might be supposed to be is three before this union: and therefore, while it stands, it is impossible there can be a revival of that blessed work, which was once the glory of the nations of Scotland, England and Ireland.
2. The presbytery testify against the sinful practice of imposing oaths upon the subjects, contradictory to presbyterian principles in general, and the oath of the covenants in particular, as the allegiance, and particularly the abjuration; all which oaths, imposed by a British parliament, exclude our covenanted uniformity, and homologate the united constitution. But, to prevent mistakes, let it be here observed, that the presbytery do not testify against any of these oaths, out of the remotest regard to the spurious pretended right of a popish pretender to the throne and crown of these kingdoms; for they judge and declare, that, by the word of God, and fundamental laws of the nations, he can have no right, title or claim, to be king of these covenanted kingdoms—seeing, by our covenants and laws, establishing the covenanted reformation, which are well founded on the divine law, all papists, as well as prelatists, are forever excluded from the throne of these, and especially of this land. So that it is utterly inconsistent with principles maintained by this presbytery, constituted upon the footing of covenanted church of Scotland, and the oath of God they, with the nations, are under, ever to acknowledge and own the the popish pretender, or any of that cursed race, as their king but they testify against these oaths, because they bind to the acknowledgment of the lawfulness of a prelatic Erastian constitution of civil government, and homologate the incorporating union, in one article whereof, it is declared, that these words, "This realm, and the crown of this realm, &c.," mentioned in the oaths, shall be understood of the crown and realm of Great Britain &c.; and that in that sense the said oaths shall be taken and subscribed, and particularly the oath of abjuration, which whosoever takes, swears to maintain Erastian supremacy, prelacy, and English popish ceremonies; and so, at least, by native and necessary consequence, the swearing thereof is an abjuring of our sacred covenants. But that which puts it beyond all dispute, that the oath of abjuration, in the literal sense thereof, obliges to maintain the prelatic constitution of England, both in church and state, as by law established, and secured by the union act, is the express words of that act of parliament, by which this oath was imposed, and to which it expressly refers, viz: the act of further limitation, where it is said: "On which said acts (viz: of limitation, and further limitation), preservation of your majesty’s royal person and government, and the maintaining of the church of England, as by law established, do, under God, entirely depend. To the intent therefore, that these acts may be forever inviolably preserved, it is hereby enacted, that magistrates and ministers shall take the following oath," namely, of abjuration. The above act, then, declaring that said oath was directly intended for the support and establishment of the prelatic church of England, it follows, that this oath in a solemn abjuration of the covenanted reformation, as it is also expressly repugnant to Presbyterian principles. But though the above oath is so manifestly sinful, yet the ministers of this church did neither faithfully warn others of the sin and danger thereof, nor faithfully oppose it when imposed on themselves; but, agreeing that every one should act therein as he thought proper, they who refused it may be reputed socii criminis with the generality, who, contrary to their professed principles, did take and subscribe the same, and that (as says the oath) heartily and willingly; whereby they not only engaged to maintain a prelatic government, prelacy, with all its popish ceremonies, but to maintain only a prelatic government, and to oppose all others, even though Presbyterian, in their accession to the throne; and this by virtue of the sinful limitations and conditions, wherewith the oath is clogged. And hereby, these nominal Presbyterians discover that they are not possessed of a zeal for the advancement of the true Presbyterian cause and principles proportionable to that which the English discover for their will worship, and superstition.
3. The presbytery testify against a sinful and almost boundless toleration, granted anno 1712, a woful fruit of the union; by which toleration act, not only those of the Episcopal communion in Scotland have the protection of authority, but a wide door is cast open, and ample pass given to all sects and heretics (popish recusants and anti-trinitarians some way excepted, who yet are numerous in the nation), to make whatever attacks they please upon the kingdom and interest of our glorious Redeemer, in order to the advancement of their own and the devil’s, and all with impunity. The foresaid act warrants the Episcopal clergy publicly to administer all ordinances, and perform their worship, after their own manner, with all the popish canons and ceremonies thereof, and obliges all magistrates to protect and assist them, while it destroys the hedge of church discipline against the scandalous and profane, and is, therefore, a settling and establishing of prelacy in Scotland, giving it a security, little, if anything, inferior to that which the established church has. Again, by a clause in the toleration bill, the security given by former laws to presbyterian church government and discipline, is undermined and taken away, at least rendered ineffectual, and made the subject of ridicule to the openly profane, by the civil magistrate’s withdrawing his concurrence, in as much as it declares the civil pain of excommunication to be taken away, and that none are to be compelled to appear before church judicatories. There is nothing in religion of an indifferent nature; "For whosoever [saith Christ] shall break one of the least of these commandments, and shall teach men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven." It must, then, be the most daring wickedness, and an affronting of the Majesty of Heaven in the highest manner, for an earthly monarch to pretend to enact a toleration of religions, and thereby give a liberty where the divine law has laid a restraint; it implies an exalting of himself, not only to an equality with, but to a state of superiority above, the God of glory. Whatever principles are of divine authority require no toleration from man; it is wickedness to pretend to do it, seeing whatever comes under the necessity of a toleration, properly so-called, falls, at the same time, under the notion of a crime. And no less wicked is it for a magistrate to protect, by a promiscuous toleration, all heretics, heresies and errors; yea, it is a manifest breach of trust, and plain perverting the end of his office, seeing he is appointed to be custos et vindex utriusque tabulae, intrusted with the concerns of God’s glory, as well as the interests of men. Experience has, in every age, taught, that a toleration of all religions is the cut-throat and ruin of all true religion. It is the most effectual method that ever the policy of hell hatched, to banish all true godliness out of the world. But however manifold the evils be that toleration is big with, this church, instead of opposing, seems to have complied therewith, and to be of toleration principles; which is evident, not only from their receiving into communion the Scots curates, of which above; but from their joining in communion with Mr. [George] Whitfield (an English curate and member of that church, and ring-leader of the Methodists there), when he is in Scotland. Again, it is known, that when Scots gentlemen are sent to attend the British parliament, or at any time in England, they do, many of them, join in communion with the prelatic church—nay, are guilty of taking the sacramental test (that is, taking the sacrament after their superstitious manner, to qualify them for any public post); yet this church receives them into the closest communion, without requiring any satisfaction for these evils; whereby they act contrary to Christ’s example, in purging and keeping his house pure, and contrary to the Scripture Rev 2:14 15 20.
4. In like manner, the presbytery testify against the tyranny that has frequently appeared in the administration since the revolution, both in church and state. The civil powers have discovered not a little of tyrannical and arbitrary power, in imposing their laws, statutes and injunctions upon the church, as in the instances of particulars formerly noticed. But further, it has appeared in their fining and imprisoning persons, because (though endeavoring to live peaceably, as far as possible, with all men) they could not, in conscience, and in due regard to the covenanted cause, own the lawfulness of their authority, by swearing fidelity to the present constitution. Again, in their dispensing with, and counteracting the law of God in a variety of instances. Thus, while, without any divine warrant, the crime of theft is capitally punished, yet the grossest adulterers, who are capitally punishable by the divine law, pass with impunity. And frequently reprieves, and sometimes pardons (as in the case of Porteous), have been granted to murderers, expressly contrary to the law of God, which declares that "Whosoever sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed." Another astonishing and full evidence of the above charge, is in the act repealing the penal statutes against witches, &c., 1735, where it is enacted, "That no prosecution, suit or proceeding, shall be carried on against any person or persons, for witchcraft, sorcery, enchantment or conjuration," &c. This act, in plain terms, flatly contradicts and opposes the law of God, in the very letter thereof. See Levit. 20:6, 27; Deut. 18:10-12; Exod. 22:18. Not only has the state, in these and other instances (as the imposing almost intolerable taxations upon the impoverished subjects, for supporting the grandeur of useless and wicked pensioners, and for carrying on wars, often not only sinful in respect to their rise and causes, but in their nature and tendency unprofitable to the nations), been guilty of this evil, but also the Revolution Church has exercised a most tyrannical government. As many of the constituent members of the Revolution Church had shown a persecuting, tyrannizing spirit, against the faithful contenders for the truth, in the matter of the public resolutions, so the same spirit has still continued since the revolution, and frequently exerted itself in a most arbitrary manner, against all who have made any appearance for a covenanted work of reformation. Accordingly, soon after the revolution, this church raised some processes against Mr. John Hepburn, minister at Orr, under pretence of some irregularities, but in reality, for his making some appearance against their abounding defection and for a covenanted work of reformation, and continued their prosecution to suspension and deposition; and further, applied to the civil magistrate, to apprehend said Mr. Hepburn, who accordingly was imprisoned in Edinburgh, and then, because of his preaching to the people out of a window, was carried to Stirling castle, and kept close prisoner there for a considerable time, as a book, entitled Humble Pleadings, fully discovers. They likewise exercised their tyranny against Messrs. Gilchrist in Dunscore, and Taylor in Wamphray, whom they prosecuted, not only to deposition, but even excommunication, for no reason but their bearing testimony against that ensnaring oath of abjuration, and a number of other defections. Again, this church, still fond of suppressing the good old cause and owners thereof, framed and prosecuted a libel, most unjustly (some even of themselves being judges), against Mr. John McMillan, minister in Balmaghie, for presenting in a regular manner, a paper of real and acknowledged grievances; and, because he would not resile from it, but continued to plead for a redress, was at last deposed. As also Mr. John McNeil, preacher, for the same reason, had his license taken from him; and, by the authority of the assembly, both of them were prosecuted and censured, not for scandal, insufficiency or negligence error in doctrine &c., but only on account of their pleading for the covenanted reformation of the Church of Scotland, and maintaining a necessary testimony against the prevailing corruptions and defections of former and present times, as appears from their paper of grievances and joint declinature, printed 1708. Nay, such was their mad zeal against reformation principles, that, by the act 15th of assem. 1715, the commission was not only empowered to censure all the forementioned persons, but also enjoined to apply to the civil magistrate for suppressing and punishing them; and accordingly sundry of them were proclaimed rebels over public market crosses, only for their continued adherence to reformation. And besides other instances, their magisterial and lordly power exercised over the flock of Christ, in the violent intrusion of ministers into vacant churches over the belly of the people, and then excommunicating from sealing ordinances such as cannot in conscience submit to the ministry of these intruders, is a most glaring one; while at the same time, severe censures are inflicted upon such ministers as have the honesty to oppose these anti-christian measures. Loud complaints have likewise been made against their arbitrary and tyrannical conduct, with reference to Mr. Ebenezer Erskine, and others with him, designated by the name of the Associate Presbytery, because of their remonstrating against, and endeavoring to rectify, some of the forementioned evils in the church; the justness of which grievances and complaints may be instructed from their own writings on that head.
It must not be here omitted to remark, that as this church is justly charged with tyranny in government, so she is equally guilty of partiality in discipline. Though all that discover any measure of faithfulness in the concerns of Christ’s glory, are sure to meet with most severe treatment, yet the loose, profane and erroneous, have seldom any church censures put in execution against them. This church never made any suitable inquiry into the sinful compliances, and sad defections of her members and officebearers, during the persecuting period: and that unfaithfulness in the exercise of church discipline is still copied after. How few, guilty of the most gross scandals, are censured, such as notorious drunkenness, blasphemy, cursing, swearing, sabbath-breaking, uncleanness, especially among the rich, who are capable to give pecuniary mulcts to free them from church censure? (Thus, in conformity to the prelatical and anti-christian example, setting to sale the censures of the church, and dispensing with the laws of Christ for money.) Nay, not only are such overlooked, but many guilty of these gross sins, together with oppression, neglecters of family worship, and the grossly ignorant, are without any public acknowledgment of these sins, admitted to the highest and most solemn ordinances, viz: both sacraments. And this may be thought the less strange, when persons chargeable with most of these sins, are admitted, and continued to be office-bearers in the house of God. Persons, and even teachers maintaining most dreadful blasphemous errors connived at, patronized, or but slightly censured, and still kept in communion, without any open renunciation of these heresies. Play-houses, the seminaries of vice and impiety, erected in the principal cities of the nation, and stage players, commonly among the most abandoned of mankind, escape with impunity. Yea, this pagan entertainment of the stage is countenanced by the members and office-bearers of this church, and that to such a degree, that one of the ministers thereof has commenced author of a most profane play, called The Tragedy of Douglas, wherein immorality is promoted, and what is sacred, exposed to ridicule. Oh! how astonishing! that a minister in the once famous church of Scotland should be guilty of such abominations, and yet not immediately sentenced to bear the highest of all church censure!
5. The presbytery testily against this established church, for unfaithfulness of doctrine; which will appear by a few instances: although before the Revolution, the Lord Jesus was openly, as far as human laws could do, divested of his headship, and sovereignty in and over his church; although the divine right of presbytery had been publicly and nationally exploded, derided and denied, yet this church has never by any formal act, declared that our Lord Jesus Christ is sole king, the alone supreme head of his church—nor in the same manner declared that the presbyterian form of church government is of divine right, and condemned all other forms as contrary to the word. Such a testimony was the more necessary, when the civil powers have arrogated Christ’s power to themselves, and continue to exercise it over his church; and the want of it is an evidence of the church’s unsoundness in the doctrine of government, and of Christ’s kingly office. This church’s error in doctrine further appears, from their condemnation of a book entitled The marrow of modern divinity, as containing gross antimonian errors; whereby they condemned many great gospel truths as errors, particularly, that believers are altogether, set free from the law, as a covenant of works, both from its commanding, and condemning power, together with others; whereby they have made way for, and encouraged that legal, moral way of harranguing, exclusive of Christ and his most perfect righteousness (which is so common and frequent in all parts of the land), and opened a door for introducing Baxterian principles, which, in consequence hereof, have since very much prevailed. Another evidence of this church’s unsoundness and unfaithfulness in doctrine, is their excessive, sinful lenity toward the most gross heretics. Notwithstanding Arminian and Pelagian heresies, and Arian blasphemies, have been publicly taught; and although true godliness and effectual working of the Spirit on the souls of have been publicly exposed as enthusiasm, and many other damnable heresies vented, yet this church has never lifted u, the faithful standard of a judicial testimony, in condemnation of these heresies, and in vindication of the precious truths of Christ thereby impugned. And when the ministers and members of this church have been processed before her assemblies, and convicted of maintaining many gross errors no adequate censure has been inflicted. This particularly appears in the case of Mr. Simpson, professor of divinity in the college of Glasgow, when processed before the judicatories of this church, in the years 1715 and 1716, for several gross errors; such as, "That regard to our own happiness, in the enjoyment of God, ought to be our chief motive in serving him, and that our glorifying of God is subordinate to it: that Adam was not our federal head;" and other Arminian, Socinian, and Pelagian heresies, all to be found in his answers to Mr. Webster’s libel given in against him, and clearly proven: yet was he dismissed with a very gentle admonition. Which sinful lenity encouraged him, not only to persist in the same errors, but also to the venting of Arian heresies among his students.
Accordingly, he was again arraigned before the assembly’s bar in the years 1727-28-29, when it was found clearly proven that he had denied the necessary existence of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the numerical Oneness of the Three Persons of the Trinity in substance and essence, with other damnable tenets. Yet when these articles, whereby he had attempted to depose the Son of God from his supreme deity, were proven, and when (as one of the members of this church, in his protest against the assembly’s sentence, said) the Son of God, as it were, appearing at the bar of that assembly, craving justice against one who had derogated front his essential glory, and blasphemed his name, at which every knee should bow. Yet such was the corruption and unfaithfulness of this church, that the blasphemer was dismissed without any adequate censure passed upon him, and still continued in the character of a minister and member of this church.
Again, when Mr. Campbell, professor of church history at St. Andrews, was processed before the judicatories of this church, for maintaining a scheme of dangerous and most pernicious principles, which he published to the world, having a manifest tendency to subvert revealed religion, and expose the exercise of serious godliness under the notion of enthusiasm: to advance self-love, as the leading principle and motive in all human actions whatever, and to destroy the self-sufficiency of God, making him a debtor to his creatures: yet though these, with a number of God-dishonoring, creature-exalting, and soul-ruining errors, were notorious from his books, and were defended by him; the heretic, instead of being duly censured, was countenanced and caressed: whereby this church has given a most deep, wound to some of the most important truths of the christian religion, and becomes chargeable with the guilt of all the errors maintained by that erroneous professor.
A third instance of this church’s unfaithfulness, appears in the case of Mr. Glas, and others, who openly vented, by preaching and printing, independent schemes of church government, with some new improvements attacked our Confession of faith and Covenants, unhinging all order and government in the church, pulled up the hedge of discipline, to introduce all errors in doctrine, and corruption in worship; and, at last, openly renounced presbytery, name and thing (denying that there is any warrant for national churches under the New Testament), and asserted, that our manyrs, who suffered for adhering to the covenanted reformation, were so far in a delusion, with many other sectarian tenets: for which, the church at first suspended, and then deposed some of them. But afterward, as if this church repented of doing so much in favor of presbytery, they were reponed, to the great danger of the church: for having discovered no remorse for their errors, they immediately employed all their parts to shake presbytery, by setting up independent churches and ordaining several mechanics to be their ministers; and nothing done by the church for putting a stop, to these errors, and for reviving and vindicating the precious truths they had impugned.
Likewise, when Mr. Wishart was staged for error vented by him in some of his sermons, with respect to the influence of arguments taken from the awe of future rewards and punishments, and other erroneous notions; he was dismissed without any renunciation of his heterodox principles, and assoilzied by the judicatories of this church: and, as easy absolutions encourage error, so no sooner was he assoilzied, but he bad the assurance to recommend erroneous books, such as Doctor Whitchcot’s sermons, to his students. It is indeed no small evidence of the unsoundness of this church, when the heads of colleges are suffered, impune, to recommend such books for students and probationers to form upon.
Again, when professor Leechman was quarreled with for his deistical sermon on prayer, by the presbytery of Glasgow, and afterward carried before the assembly; yet although in all his sermons, he presents God as the object of prayer, merely as our Creator, without any relation to Christ, as Mediator; but recommends to his hearers, as the only acceptable disposition of mind, an assured confidence in the goodness and mercy of their Creator: not only has that Christless sermon been very much extolled, but the author dismissed from the assembly’s bar in such a manner, as if thereby he had merited their applause. From all which it sufficiently appears, that this church is unsound and unfaithful in point of doctrine; especially, if it is considered, that she has been frequently addressed by representations, declaring the necessity of all assertory act, affirming and ascertaining the precious truths injured and impuned, and that publicly, by the above mentioned errors; and that a solemn warning should be emitted, discovering the evil and danger of them: yet that necessary duty has still been contemned and disregarded.
The great truths of God, have, for many years, lain wounded and bleeding in our streets, trampled upon by their open and daring enemies; while this church has entirely forgotten and slighted the divine command, to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. And though the Westminster Confession of Faith continues to be subscribed by intrants into the ministry (the covenants owned by the Reformed Church of Scotland, as a part of her confession, being abstracted from the confession of this present church), yet how little of that system and order of doctrine is now taught? the generality having just as much of Christ, and the doctrines of his cross, in most of their discourses, as is to be found in the writings of Plato, Epictetus and Seneca and the rest of the Pagan moralists. So that this church appears orthodox, in little (or no) other sense than the church of England is so viz: by subscribing the thirty-nine articles, which are Calvinistical in the doctrinal parts; while yet the Arminian system of doctrine is generally received and taught by her clergy. Add to what is above, that this church maintains no suitable testimony against sins of all sorts, in persons of all stations; neither emits faithful warnings anent the snares and dangers of the nation, nor full and free declarations of present duty, as church judicatories, like faithful watchmen did in former times. But such faithfulness in God’s matters is not now, alas to he expected; seeing this church has made a formal concert, or mutual paction, binding up, one another from preaching against, and applying their doctrines to the .sins, corruptions and scandals of the times: see acts of assem. 16th, 17th, anno 1712; act 6th, 1713; act 8th, 1714; act 6th, 1715. The presbytery cannot also here omit observing, and that with deep, regret, that although the most damnable principles, which have a direct tendency to deny the being of God, and so to propagate opinionative atheism, to subvert all religion, to extol the power of corrupt nature, and exalt popery, as the best form of religion, to deny the subjection of the world to the providence of God, to destroy all distinction between virtue and vice and consequently affirm, that; there is no moral evil in the world, and to ridicule christianity, as destitute of divine authority, have been lately vented by David Hume, Esq.; and another designated by the name of Sopho: yet this church has passed no suitable censure upon the authors of these impious and blasphemous principles, though they justly deserve the very highest: nor have, they done anything to testify their dislike, or put an effectual stop to the spreading of these abominable tenets. The presbytery therefore, as they declare their abhorrence of these, and the other errors formerly mentioned, so testify against the church’s notorious unfaithfulness, in suffering these wretches to pass with impunity; and as being, on all these accounts noticed, unsound and corrupt, in the matter of doctrine, &c. It may also be here remarked, as an undoubted evidence of the corruptness of state, that, although there are civil laws presently in being, which declare the maintaining of antitrinitarian atheistical principles, to be not only criminal, but capital; yet the civil powers in nation have not so much regard to God, and the Son of God, as to punish treason openly acted against them.
6. The presbytery testify against both church and state, for their sinful associations with malignants: as declared enemies to the covenanted interest have engrossed the civil power wholly to their hands, since the public resolutions, that a door was opened for their admission; so such is the nature of the laws presently extant and in force, that one cannot be admitted to any office, civil or military, but by swearing away all friendship to a covenanted reformation. And, moreover, all along since the late Revolution, the nations have been the most earnest pursuing after friendship with the grosses idolaters; and, in express contradiction to the word of God, have confederated in the closest alliance with God’s declared enemies abroad; nay, have exhausted their strength and substance, in maintaining the quarrel of such as have been remarkable for their hatred at, and persecution of the protestant interest. The Revolution Church has also said a confederacy with such as have, on all occasions, shewed a rooted enmity and hatred at reformation principles: which appears front their admitting such (noticed above) to be office-bearers in the church: front their observing fasts and praying for success to the allied armies, though almost wholly composed of such, and many of them oftentimes gross popish idolaters: from their going in with, and approving of the sinful incorporating union with England: from their acknowledging the civil power of church men as lawful: from their joining in religious communion with Mr. Whitefield; and in many other instances.
Not to insist further in enumerating particulars, the presbytery finally, testily, against church and state, for their negligence to suppress impiety vice, and superstitious observance of holy days, &c. The civil powers herein acting directly contrary to the nature and perverting the very ends of the magistrate’s office, which is to be custos et vindex utriusque tablae; the minister of God, a revenger, to execute wrath on him that doeth evil. Transgressors of the first table of the law may now sin openly with impunity; and, while the religious observation of the sabbath is not regarded, the superstitious observation of holy days, even in Scotland, is so much authorized, that on some of them the most considerable courts of justice are discharged to sit. Stage-plays, masquerades, balls, assemblies, and promiscuous dancings, the very nurseries of impiety and wickedness, are not only tolerated, but even countenanced by law. And as these, with other evils, are permitted by the civil powers; so this church seems to have lost all zeal against sin. No suitable endeavors are used to prevent the growth of atheism, idolatry and superstition: and though prelacy, as well as popery, is growing apace in the lands, and organs publicly used in that superstitious worship; yet no testimony is given against them, but new modes introduced into the worship of God, for carnal ends, as a gradual advance toward that superstition. Yea, so unconcerned about suppressing vice and extravagent vanity, &c., that not only are the forementioned nurseries of sin frequented by ministers’ children, but ministers themselves have countenanced them by their presence, to the great scandal of their office, and manifest encouragement of these seminaries of immorality. And notwithstanding that by the late proclamation the penal laws against vice and profanity seem to be revived (which is in itself so far good), yet this cannot supersede or remove the ground of the presbytery’s testimony against church and state complexly, on the above account, or even against the thing itself, in the manner that it is gone about. For besides that, notwithstanding of all former endeavors of this kind, since the overthrow of our scriptural and covenanted reformation, immorality and wickedness have still increased and overflowed all these banks; partly, because, after all their pretenses, the laws were not vigorously put in execution (and as good, no law nor penalty, as no exception) and partly, because these law-makers, being also themselves the law-breakers, have entrusted the execution to such as are generally ringleaders in a variety of gross immoralities; it is not likely, that ever God will countenance and bless such attempts, whereby (contrary to scripture and all good order) the ecclesiastical power is subjected to the civil and ministers made the bare inspectors of men’s manners, and informers to inferior judges, without having it in the r power to oblige such transgressors (if obstinate) to compear before church judicatories, and conform and submit to the laws of Christ’s house. Nay, so far will God be from approving such Erastian methods of reformation, that he will certainly visit for this, among all other iniquities, and in his own due time make a breach upon us, because we sought him not in the due order. Wherefore, and for all these grounds, the presbytery testify against both church and state, as in their constitutions Erastian and anti-scriptural, including the substitution and acknowledgment of another head and governor over the church than Christ, as may be sufficiently evident; from proofs above adduced. And particular because the British united constitution is such as involves the whole land, and all ranks therein, in the dreadful guilt of idolatry, communicating with idolators, apostasy, perjury, &c.[see HERE] They declare they can have no communion therewith; but that is such an association as that God’s call to his people, concerning it, is, "Come out from among them. Be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you, saith the Lord."
 Besides the above instances of that unholy, tyrannical, and church robbing policy, which has been exercised by the supreme civil powers in these nations with reference to religion and the worship, of God, all of which existed when the presbytery first published their testimony, there has, of late, a very singular instance of the same kind occurred, in the course of administration, which the presbytery cannot forbear to take notice of, but must embrace the present opportunity to declare their sense of, and testily against; and especially, as it is one that carries a more striking evidence than any of the former, of our public national infidelity and licentiousness, and of our being judicially infatuated in our national counsels, and given up of heaven to proceed from evil to worse, in the course of apostasy from the cause and principle of the reformation. We particularly mean the instance of a late bill or act, which has been agreed upon by both houses of parliament, and which also, June, 1774, was sanctioned with the royal assent, entitled "An act for making more effectual provision for the government of the province of Quebec in North America." By which act, not only is French despotism, or arbitrary power, settled as the form of civil government, but, which is still worse, popery, the Religion of Antichrist, with all its idolatries and blasphemies, has such security and establishment granted it, as to be taken immediately under the legal protection of the supreme civil authority of these nations in that vast and extensive region of Canada, lately added to the British dominions of North America—a province so large and fertile, that it is said to be capable of containing, if fully peopled, not less than thirty millions of souls. This infamous and injurious bill, before it passed into a law, was publicly reprobated and declaimed against by sundry members of both houses. It has been petitioned and remonstrated against by the most respectable civil body corporated is Britain, or its dominions, the city of London; by all the provinces of North America south of Quebec; and even by the inhabitants of the city of Quebec itself. It has been, in the most public manner, in open parliament, declared to be "a most cruel, oppressive, and odious measure—a child of inordinate power," &c. All which are sufficient indications how scandalous, offensive, and obnoxious this act was. There was afterward, in the mouth of May, 1775, a bill brought into the house of lords, in order to effectuate repeal of the foresaid disgraceful act, when, in the course of the debate, it was represented by those few members of the house who appeared in the opposition, as "one of the most destructive, most despotic, most nefarious acts that ever passed the house of peers." But all in vain—the repeal could not be effected.
And moreover, let it be further observed here, that the bench of bishops in the house of peers, who assume the antichristian title of spiritual lords, and pretend to claim a seat is parliament for the care of religion, during the whole course of this contest, instead of appearing for the Protestant interest, have, to their lasting infamy publicly distinguished themselves in opposition to it, by—"Standing forth the avowed supporters of popery."
The presbytery, therefore, find themselves in duty obliged, in their judicative capacity, principally is behalf of the rights and interests of the great God and of his Son Jesus Christ our Redeemer—that is to say, in behalf of the rights of truth, true religion, and righteousness among men, which he ever owns as his, to add, as they hereby their testimony against this nefarious national deed, so manifestly injurious to all these.
The presbytery do not, as some others, found their testimony against this extravagant act establishing popery, &c, in Canada, solely or simply on its injuriousness to the private interests of men—their bodily lives, goods, or outward privileges; nor do they declare against and condemn it merely because that religion which is sanctioned with this national decree and engagement for its delouse is a sanguinary one: "Has deluged our island in blood, and dispersed impiety, persecution, and murder, &c, through the world." (See an address from the general congress to the people of Great Britain.) These are all indeed incontestible proofs that it is not the religion of the divine Jesus, but of antichrist. Nevertheless, the same have been known to be the staple and constant fruits of prelacy to, which, to the extent of its reach and influence, has as much Christian blood wrapped up in its skirts as popery, if not more. Nor yet is it merely on account that it is greatly injurious, as indeed it is, and a notorious breach of the public faith to the British Protestant settlers in that province. The presbytery’s particular objections against this extraordinary measure are of a different quality. They are briefly such as follow:—
1. The iniquity of it against God. It is certainly a deed highly provoking and dishonoring to the God of heaven. For (1), it is a giving that the protection and countenance to a lie, i.e., to idolatry and false worship, (and to antichristian idolatry, the worst of all other), which is only due to the truth of God. It is a devoting and giving our national power to the preservation of the life of the Romish beast, after the deadly wound given it by the Reformation. And therefore (2), a most wretched prostitution of the ordinance of civil power, sacred by its divine institution, to be a terror and restraint to evil doers, and a praise to them that do well, Rom. 13,—to the quite contrary purposes. What right have open idolaters and blasphemers to be protected and supported by any ordinance of God in the public acts of their idolatry? And how awful is it to think (3), that it is a setting ourselves openly to fight against God, in a national engagement to support and defend what God has declared and testified to us in his word, he will have destroyed; and wherein he expressly forbids giving the least countenance to idolatry. And shall we thus harden ourselves against God and prosper? (4), As this last instance of our profane national policy is a still more open discovery of our incorrigibleness in our apostasy, so it is also the most striking of all the limner of that Erastianism arid spiritual supremacy exercised by the civil powers in these lands over the church and kingdom or Christ. Herein we have an open and avowed justification of that antiscriptural right and power claimed by them to settle and establish whatever mode of religion they please, or is most agreeable to the inclinations of the people, or which best answers their worldly political purposes, although it should be the religion of Satan in place of that of Christ. This has been the great leading principle all along since the Revolution, but never more openly discovered than in this instance. Upon all which it may appear how sinful and provoking to the divine Majesty this act must be.
2. The folly and shamefulness of it as to ourselves. How disgraceful and dishonorable is this public act in favor of popery, even to the nation itself, and its representatives, who are the authors of it. How palpably inconsistent is it with our national character and profession as Protestant, and wills our national establishments, civil and ecclesiastical (both which are professedly built upon reformation from popery), to come to take that idolatrous religion under our national protection, and become defenders of the antichristian faith; nay, were it competent for the presbytery as a spiritual court, and spiritual watchmen, to view this act in a civil light, they might show at large, that it is a violation of the fundamental national constitutions of the kingdom, and reaches a blow to the credit of the legal security granted to the Protestant religion at home. We need not here mention how contrary this act is to the fundamental laws anti constitutions of the kingdom of Scotland, which are now set aside. But it is contrary to, and a manifest violation of the Revolution and British constitution itself; contrary to the Claim of Right, yea, to the oath solemnly sworn by every English and British sovereign upon their accession to the throne, as settled by an act of the English parliament in the first year of William III. By which they are obliged to "profess, and to the utmost of their power maintain, in all their dominions, the laws of God, the true profession of rise gospel, and the true reformed religion established by law." But these things the presbytery leave to such whom it may more properly concern. Let it, however, be observed that the presbytery are not here to be interpreted as approving of the abovesaid oath as it designedly obliges to the maintenance of the abjured English hierarchy and popish ceremonies, which might better be called a true reformed lie, than the true reformed religion. Nevertheless, this being the British coronation oath, it clearly determines that all legal establishments behoove to be Protestant, and that without a violation of said oath, no other religion can be taken under protection of law but what is called Protestant religion only.
The presbytery conclude the whole of this additional remark with observing, That as in the former instances of the exercise of this Erastian power above mentioned, the present church of Scotland never gave evidence of her fidelity to Christ, so far as to testify against them; so their assembly has, in a like supine, senseless manner, conducted themselves with reference to this last and most alarming instance. Notwithstanding all that has been remonstrated against it, and in favor of the reformed religion, they have remained mute and silent, which indeed evidences them not to be truly deserving of the character of venerable and reverend, which they assume to themselves, but rather that of an association; or, in the words of the weeping prophet, an assembly oftreacherous men: Jer. 9:2. [back]
Return to Homepage