A Poor, wasted, misrepresented, Remnant of the Suffering, Anti-Popish, Anti-Prelatick, Anti-Erastian, Anti-Sectarian, True Presbyterian Church of Christ in
S C O T L A N D,
United together in a General Correspondence;
By way of Reply to Various Accusations, in Letters, Informations & Conferences, given forth against them.
The united Societies of some Presbyterians in SCOTLAND,
who contend against the defections of the time.
Containing a brief deduction of the Series & Tract of some signal steps of our Church's Defection, which from time to time some have witnessed against.
NONE that ever heard of the Church of Scotland, can be altogether ignorant, how, when the Lord was graciously pleased, to confer upon this Land the inestimable benefit of the pure & clear shining light of the Gospel, & to advance the Reformation therein begun to a very high degree from mere Heathenism, even to the extirpation of Popery, Prelacy, & Erastianism (which our Church hath had chiefly to wrestle against) & the Abjuration of all Heretical & Sectarian Errors, whether in Doctrine, worship, Discipline, or Government) that then all ranks of the land were brought into Holy & Solemn Covenants with God, the Church did enjoy her power & privileges; Then, when our ministers were clothed with Righteousness & salvation, their faithfulness to God, & zeal against Sin & all lukewarmness in the Lord’s cause, were so much seen and shown, that Ministers for their not applying their doctrine against the corruptions of the time, were to be censured, & if obstinate they were to be deposed, according to the Act of the General Assembly Aug. 3, 1648, Sess. 26. & likewise Compliers with the public Enemies of this Church & Kingdom, were according to the degree of their offence to be rebuked & censured, by that Act of the General Assembly, June 17, 1646, Sess. 14. In those days the work of the Lord prospered; His Gospel flourished; & Iniquity was made to stop her mouth; Our Church was glorious to all beholders, & terrible to her Enemies as an army with banners; the Lord delighted in us, & our Land was married unto him; Salvation was written upon our walls, & praise upon our gates. But alas! we did quickly turn away from following the Lord, forgetting what great and eminent privileges He had bestowed upon us; how He had subdued our Enemies under us, & made them to yield, & prospered us in what we did put our hands unto: We did, alas! soon fall from our first love, the edge of our zeal became blunted, & our eyes were darkened that we could not see: so we have gone further astray, from one degree of defection unto another, until we have brought ourselves into such misery of dissolution & desolation, division & confusion, reproach & contempt, that our case is now as deplorable & despicable, as ever it was formally admired & envied.
Wherefore, to make it the more clearly appear, whence it is that now our manifold breaches are so wide, alienation of Spirits so heightened, various & contrary Informations so flying abroad, & we redacted to such paucity; we shall here premise a brief deduction, in cumulo, of the series and tract of some signal steps of our Church’s Defection; shewing also, notwithstanding thereof, how the Lord hath continued & conveyed down the testimony to the Reformation: Although to us it is a matter of grief & sorrow, to discover our mother’s nakedness, which is also our own shame. But the clearing of the Testimony, & the Vindication of Truth, doth necessitate us thereunto.
While our Church was enjoying her Privileges, & was terrible to her adversaries; a great part, both of the Church & State, fell upon Public Resolutions; whereby known Malignants, & men disaffected to the work & people of God, were admitted to places of power & trust both in Judicatories & Armies, which notwithstanding was faithfully protested & contended against, by several ministers & Professors of all ranks, at that time: As also the toleration of Sectaries in Cromwell's time, & even his Usurpation was witnessed against by some. But as it was our great sin, first & last, to meddle with Charles the Second, while he gave all along such clear evidences of his being an enemy to the Cause of God; so we found the bitter effects of it, in that, when he was restored again, he did quickly forget all his oaths & vows to the most High (wherein he had been, as some did clearly see by many discoveries, a mocking & dissembling Hypocrite) & did, at one blow, cut off the neck of our noble constitution of Church and State, & reintroduce abjured Prelacy; Which many ministers did embrace; while others left their Charges at his command, even without so much as a joint & formal Protestation, entered against that Heaven daring act of Tyranny, except that some were found witnessing against it in their singular capacity for themselves. And when Congregations were so destitute of faithful Pastors, the most part, both of ministers & Professors, did countenance Prelacy, in hearing of Hireling Intruders; yea, as if no Testimony had been required in this point, very few continued preaching the Gospel, as they had opportunity. Howbeit, as the Lord always had, & will have come witnesses against such heinous indignities; So he did stir up a company, both of ministers and professors, who did appear at Pentland anno, 1666, & and there did bear Testimony to the Covenanted work of Reformation, to the shedding of their blood, both in fields and scaffolds; but were concurred with & countenanced by few, in respect of those who were obliged. Also, after that breach was made upon the Lord’s camps, the most part of Ministers became sinfully Silent, forbearing to encourage, warn, & teach people, by the preached Gospel; But some, notwithstanding of the ominous & badly presaging face of affairs, setting the trumpet to their mouth, ventured to give a certain sound, & to go forth Hero-like to display the banner of Christ’s blessed Gospel; who, for their so doing, were censured by their brethren, in a meeting at Edinburgh. Then enemies, seeing that by their cruelty they could not prevail; as, at the overturning of the work of Reformation, they had brought upon the stage that Monster of a Christ-degrading & Dethroning Supremacy, & by Law established it upon the Usurper (which also passed without a joint & publick Testimony) so they began now to exert that usurped power, & to work by ensnaring & destroying Policy; &, knowing that nothing would more fortify it, than Ministers their homologating & acknowledging it, therefore they offered the first Indulgence, a court-contrived license, bounded with so many restrictions & instructions, flowing forth from that Idol of jealousy, the foresaid Supremacy; of set purpose, to divide Zion’s builders, according to the Machiavellian principle, divide & impera, divide & then Command; which many embraced; like unto the silly Trojans; beguiled by another deceitful Sinon, to bring in the wooden horse through their own walls, already broken down with their own hands, to their own destruction: Many others gaped after it, who could not enjoy it: And many pleaded for the countenancing of it, when embraced. And as it had few who opposed it at first; so these that afterwards contended against it as a defection, how were they suspected, reproached, & contradicted; & some of them in sundry Presbyteries censured & rebuked as namely, Mr. Cameron, at Sundowall in the Parish of Dunscore in Nithsdale, & in Edinburgh, & others elsewhere. Yet, notwithstanding of the lukewarmness and indifferency of many, the Lord stirred up a handful to publish the testimony at Rutherglen, May 29, 1679, bearing witness against the Sacrilegious Supremacy, the Declaration condemning our Covenants, the Act for keeping the 29th of May as an Holy Anniversary day of thanksgiving for the upsetting of the Tyrant, & against other nefarious Acts of Parliament & all prejudices done to the interest of Christ in the Land; And, for confirmation of their Testimony, they did burn the foresaid Acts, according as the adversary had burnt our holy Covenants, & did extinguish the Bonfires upon the same Anniversary day. Nevertheless, when the Lord’s people did appear at Bothwell the same year to recover the Church’s due Privileges & people’s Liberties, many Ministers & Professors did plead for taking in the Tyrant’s Interest, into the Declaration of that Army, thereby misstating the quarrel to the offence of many; & opposed the inserting of the Indulgence among the steps of our Defection. Likewise, the Lord making us then to fall before our Enemies, for our sins, & because we refused to return, Several Ministers accepted of the adversarys Indemnity, in terms that inferred a condemning of themselves, though no transgression was committed. And when the triumphing Enemies were erecting Trophies of victory after Bothwell defeat (setting up the Heads of the renowned Martyrs, Mr. Kid, & Mr. King, to witness, not only for Religion & Liberty, against the destroyers of both, but also against the unfaithfulness of their declining brethren in the Ministry) and insulting over the Captives of the Lord’s people, & imposing an ensnaring Bond of Peace, which did imply a plain betraying of the Cause, & condemning of all that had been done for promoving the work of Reformation; many Ministers were silent, & some were not ashamed to persuade these Prisoners, to put forth their hand to that iniquity; many also voted, in that so-called Assembly, for embracing the last Indulgence with the Cautionary Bond (which is no better, if not worse than the former) at least approved of, & consented unto, that deed: Yea many, from that time, did forebear preaching in the open fields, but kept within houses, or near to houses, in homologation of the Tyrant’s orders, or at least that the rigour of the Law might not be execute against them, while they went so near the borders of obedience. But this did not continue long; for the Enemies soon deprived them of this pretended Liberty. Howbeit the Lord had always some, both of Ministers & Professors, to bear Testimony against these publick sins & heinous defections: And even in the midst of this general yielding to the foresaid Indulgence, there were sundry Ministers who did not give a formal consent to the embracement of it; though it is true, as they were few who dissented therefrom, so they were far fewer who resolutely opposed the same. Yea when Mr. Richard Cameron came from Holland, before his going to the publick work, he went to some Ministers, desiring their concurrence with him, in keeping up the Testimony in the fields, according to the former manner which was followed before Bothwell by many Ministers, wherein they were much countenanced of the Lord; but after his waiting sometime upon the same, was denied thereof: However he went forth, in great hazard, & against much opposition, as a valiant & Heroic Contender for all the prerogatives of his Master, wherein he was signally owned of the Lord; & continued so, until he sealed that noble & necessary Testimony with his blood shed in the open fields. Also, how few were not displeased with him! & any else concurring in holding up the standard of the Gospel, in that faithful manner, so much called-for especially at that time; that it might be a witness & Testimony, both against the adversaries encroachings, & also against the shameful & sinful yielding of the most part of Ministers & Professors thereunto. Further, when the Declaration was published at Sanquhar, June 22, 1680. Many of the Ministers did condemn it, & few, concurring with the Publishers & Consenters, did appear publicly for it, even because of its disowning & disclaiming the Tyrant’s Interest: many accounting such as died upon that head to have laid down their lives upon insufficient grounds, which notwithstanding from that time downward the Lord hath honoured many Martyrs to seal with their blood, greatly countenancing them therein. This Testimony did more & more side us & set us alone: For from thence forth, several, who had not formerly so openly opposed, began to express themselves against that handful & action. However, the Testimony being thus stated against the acknowledging of, & complying with, the Tyranny then raging, & any way strengthening the hands of the Persecuting party, it pleased the Holy and Wise God, for our further trial & his own Glory, to deprive us of these worthies, who had so stated it, & did so valiantly vindicate it, & at their death did stoutly seal it with their blood, at Airs Moss; many there be murdered & others Martyred afterward: Particularly Mr. Hackstoun, who, as he had the honour of being Protomartyr against Tyranny, & of a most Positive declining his Murderers pretence unto Authority, So had the Grace & Glory of the Lord’s Assistance & acceptance in his Sufferings as signal, as the barbarous severity of his Butchers was every way singular. After which time, none of our Ministers did concur with us in that part of our Testimony (except famous & faithful Mr. Donald Cargil) which made our case very deplorable, & yet by the most part little regarded or pitied, for any evidences that we experienced of their Sympathy. Especially after the death of the never to be forgotten Martyr Mr. Donald Cargil, sad was the case of the Land for some space of time. For now the abominable & damnable errors of John Gib had been discovered: who, first pretending to outstrip others in a hot & vigorous zeal against all the then current corruptions of the time, did draw some poor well-meaning people, stumbled especially at Ministers defections, into a consortship with himself in his delirious delusions; though not all of them alike to the full length of his Sorceries & Blasphemies; Neither did his followers increase to such a number as was then feared & reported; being within Thirty, & most part women; Nor yet could he have access to propagate his Heresy in the Western Shires, where most of our friends had their residence (though they & we both have been most iniquitously reproached herewith) being discovered by many, particularly by Mr. Cargil, whose Ministry he rejected: yet his foresaid followers did go a great way with him (as they have with remorse resented since in their Confessions, being through mercy reclaimed, partly by Mr. Cargil's writing to them, & partly by their own discoveries of him) & did not forsake him, till, after all his execrable cursing of the Ministers, & others not of his way, being incarcerate he put forth a blasphemous paper, not only condemning all the work of the Reformation, but also the English Bible, in the form as it is now extant, as a human invention, and containing many other abominations; in all which he pleased the Duke of York, & received extraordinary favours from him; & thereafter being freely let go, he proceeded to the height of profanity & contempt of God, that he burnt the Bible, & belched forth many other Blasphemies, which would be offensive to Christian ears to rehearse. Again in some process of time, James Russell did discover some unwarrantable excesses, pressing indifferent things as the most necessary duties (as about naming the days of the week, & months of the year &c.) & otherwise imposing upon men’s consciences; whereupon he & we parted: after which he branded & aspersed us with false charges, as if we had turned aside to gross defections & palliated & plastered the corruptions of our time, consorting in this with some few, & even some who had given little satisfying resentment of their former extravagancies with Gib, being by them applauded & strengthened in his foresaid excesses. In the mean while there was no publick Testimony by preaching kept up, by reason of that sad sleep of dark & deep silence into which Ministers had fallen: which occasioned very many lamentable confusions; so that one could not understand the language of another, the face of affairs being obscured, & matters looking so hopeless & helpless like. Yet it pleased the Lord, by a poor contemptible handful, to convey down the Testimony, by publishing another Declaration at Lanerk, Jan. 12, 1682, confirming the preceding at Sanquhar, in its disowning the interest of the Tyrant, & bearing Testimony against the immediately foregoing pretended Parliament, where James Duke of York did preside as Commissioner, & in particular against the abominable Test framed by them. But as the former was much condemned, so also this, even because of its coming from us, & confirming Sanquhar Declaration as said is. From thenceforth many did more plainly & positively oppose us, as if we had turned aside to some erroneous & unhappy course. And thus they proceeded to inform against us, both at home and abroad, as such; without trying whether or not we maintained such things as they laid to our charge, & taking pains to admonish us as became watchmen, especially when they apprehended people to be drawn aside with Errors: For surely it was never yet heard, that an erring people (if we had been as they informed against us) were reclaimed by such means, as they used. However the Lord (who is not wanting to provide means for the strengthening & encouraging of his people) even then when we were few in number, without the concurrence of Pastors, & scattered abroad, not well knowing the minds of one another, nor who concurred with us through the Land in the foresaid part of our Testimony, did make some instrumental (immediately before the publication of Lanerk Declaration) to gather us together in a General Correspondence which we have hitherto by the Lord’s providence keeped up, both through the Shires severally, & all the Shires conjunctly, where such as owned our Testimony did reside; Whereby we attained to a better understanding of one another, & were put in capacity to contribute more to our mutual advantage. Whence it came to pass, that being thus jointly & harmoniously knit together, we began, after the publication of the foresaid Declaration at Lanerk, in the next General Meeting or Correspondence, to deliberate about some method, whereby our broken and low case might be represented & made known to strangers (not that we might carry on a faction or separation from the Scottish true Presbyterian Church, as we were misrepresented, but) that we might declare our adherence to the principles thereof. Hereupon it was resolved & thought fit, that some of our number should be particularly sent, both to the other Covenanted & Foreign Churches, to make known our broken and low case to them, to wipe off reproaches that were cast upon us, to represent the justness of our Cause, & that we might see what help thereby might be made unto us. After which, by the special providence of God, a door being opened for the instruction of some Students at a College in the Netherlands, we sent thither some young men unto their studies; not to become a reproach to the Scottish Church (as some say) but to be instructed in Theology, that so they might be in better capacity to keep up the Testimony of our Lord Jesus Christ according to our covenanted Reformation: Whereupon in some process of time, we received back Mr. James Renwick an Ordained Minister, whose Labours God hath blessed with fruit & increase to the praise of Grace. Hereafter, while we continued to keep up our General meetings & Correspondences, & also endeavoured to contribute what aid we could in our places & stations to uphold the banner of the Gospel, the Persecutors fury did rage against us in a very great measure; in putting out cruel Acts & Laws, for all subjects to apprehend or cause apprehend us wherever we might be found, & raise the Hue & Cry after us, also inhibiting all to reset us, or correspond any manner of way with us, under the hazard & pain of being liable to the same rigour of their Laws that we ourselves were. Whereupon, many of us being taken & killed, & very many banished & sent to be sold as slaves, while we could not escape falling into their hands in great numbers, partly by their vigilancy & diligence, & partly through the Information & Intelligence that they got from many in the country where we wandered; we were then necessitate to put forth another Declaration, November 1684, which was affixed upon some Market Crosses & several Parish Church doors, to deter & scare the country from giving intelligence of us, & also explain the latter part of the foresaid Declaration at Sanquhar, concerning the declaring of war against the Tyrant & his accomplices, & to wipe off that most odious & false calumny, of being of the Judgment to kill all who were not of our own opinion. Which Declaration, though many cried out against it, yet was not condemned by so many as the former: And though it was the occasion of a greater trial to the people of the Land than any formerly, because the Enemies pressed an Oath for abjuring the same, so violently & generally, & with such a fair & lying face, that many yielded to it, some Ministers taking it, & others pleading for it (but as the Lord had many in the Land bearing Testimony against the foresaid abjuration, some of them even unto death, so diverse who had complied with it expressed afterward great sorrow & remorse for that deed) yet the foresaid Declaration was so far effectual, as to deter many from their former diligence in Informing against us, & also to draw out some to join with us, & own the work more publickly in their places & stations, than before this they had done. But in the mean time, when they were persecuting us most hotly, their Soldiers & some Gentlemen killing us where ever we could be found, without either trial or sentence before any of their so called Judicatories, & when they were holding their Courts concerning the abjuring of that same Declaration; the Lord did remove by death that Tyrant Charles the Second. Whereupon instantly followed the Proclaiming of James Duke of York, a professed and known Papist, an avowed Enemy to God & Godliness, by a party of his own creatures, as King of great Britain, France, & Ireland; And afterwards, his convocating a Parliament in Scotland, to authorize & confirm the foresaid Proclamation, & to establish him in his usurpation & tyranny. Therefore we thought such a deed could not pass without some witness & Testimony against the same by us, unless we had forgotten the method of our worthy, zealous, & resolute Reformers, & our Solemn Bonds & Covenants to the Lord; & also His great kindness shown unto us in preserving a Remnant of us in this hot fiery furnace. Hence we published another Declaration at Sanquhar, May 28, 1685, Testifying against the foresaid Proclamation, & Protesting against the then pretended Parliament, convocate by him to establish his Tyranny & carry on his other designs, & also bearing witness & Testimony against all kind of Papistry, in general and particular heads, as is fully expressed in our National Covenant, against its entering into this Land again (which he & his accomplices were clearly seen to be driving at, before, at that time, & much more since) & and against anything which might make way for the same &c. Which Declaration, as it was not so much condemned by others as any of the former, so Enemies were so far restrained by God, & diverted by other means of present occurring exigences, that it never as yet became any trial to the Land. This was done in the mean time of the Earl of Argyle's expedition: with which we were much pressed to concur, & several embodied with us were drawn away with the importunity of some Ministers & others of that Association: Yet we could not join with them, nor espouse their Declaration as the state of our quarrel; because it was not concerted according to the ancient plea of the Scottish Covenanters, in defence of our Reformation, expressly according to our Covenants National & Solemn League, of which they made no mention in their Declaration, nor of Presbyterial Government, which was of purpose lest the Sectarians should be irritate; & because it opened a door for a Confederacy with the Sectarians & Malignants, of which Malignants they had some among them guilty of shedding our blood at Airs Moss. After the defeat of this Expedition, in answer to the desire of some Ministers, who came over with the foresaid Earle (at least it was reported to us they desired such a thing) we had a Conference with them, July 22, 1685, In which, instead of allaying differences, the proposals that were made for Union did heighten our breaches, both with them & among our selves, as did appear by the consequence: for herein, though they offered accommodation, yet, in Conference to bring it about, they maintained & did not disown that which bred alienation; to wit, A previous Information they had sent to strangers, accusing us of heavy things, that we had not only cast off all Magistrates, but had constitute among ourselves all kinds of Magistrates & were for cutting off all as open Enemies who did not acknowledge our Imaginary Government, that our Societies were only an Erroneous Faction & have no power of calling Pastors, &c. Which information so full of Calumnies, though they did extenuate, alleging that copy of it which we produced was forged; yet they confessed some such information was written, & went on to prosecute in effect the same crimination, & said, they excerpted all out of our publick Papers; & further challenged us for falsely accusing them in our Protestation against the Scottish Congregation at Rotterdam, where they with others were promiscuously charged with sundry things in cumulo, which they were not guilty of. We confessed, it was an oversight conjunctly to accumulate these charges without distinction, but taking them separately we offered to make out everything there charged, upon the names inserted. Furthermore, in inveighing against Mr. Renwick's Ordination, they accused the Church of Holland of Erastianism, & of three Sprinklings in Baptism which they called Popish, & some other Corruptions: To which he only replied, That he had received his Ordination from the Presbytery of Groningen, & they being Foreigners, & not chargeable, either with our Defections, or any declining from the Testimony of their own Church, but advancing and groaning under some Corruptions from which they were never Reformed, would come under another Consideration, than Ministers of our own Church, defending a course of Defection. Howbeit as he protested in the face of their Presbytery, when he received Ordination, against all things that he knew among them dissonant to the Reformation of the Church of Scotland, so he told his purpose to inform that Venerable Presbytery, how they were represented in Scotland, & if they could not clear themselves at least of some of the grossest of these things, he would be willing to acknowledge, before such as were competent, that he had offended in meddling with them. The accommodation they offered was upon terms which we thought destructive to our Testimony, to lay aside all debates, & let bygones pass, & go on in the publick work: which we did not think was the way to heal our sore, but we offered, if differences & exceptions could be removed in a right & honest way, we would be most willing to Join with them: which exceptions were given in, in these particulars following, viz. Their leaving the Country & deserting the Publick work, when it was so necessary to concur in the Testimony, in a time of so great a famine of the Gospel; And not only not concurring in the Testimony, but condemning it in Sanquhar & Lanerk Declarations, even as to the matter of them; And not condemning the paying of the Locality imposed for maintaining soldiers against the work & people of God; Their countenancing the Compliers of the time, while in the Land; &, when abroad, joining with the Scots Congregation at Rotterdam, & hearing the indulged preach there; Their informing against us, & aspersing us with slanders, such as these in the forementioned Information; And their concurring in the Earle of Argyle's Association, against which we had so many things to object, as above hinted. Which exceptions (though among the least we have against many other Ministers, with whom we have no clearness to join in our now circumstances, yet) we thought sufficient to demur upon, when, after many fruitless janglings, we would receive no satisfaction about them, nor a publick Testimony satisfyingly stated, wherein we might both agree & concur: Albeit we made an overture in the end, that they & we should endeavour it, in this sort, that they severally by themselves should draw up all the sins of the time, & we by ourselves; that so, when compared together, it might be seen where we differed, & how far we should unite; but though they seemed to be as much for it as we at first, yet in the end when it was offered they rejected it. So the Conference broke up: And thereafter we were more untenderly dealt with by them, & also deserted by several Joined with us in fellowship, who from that time began to leave off coming to our General Meetings, & to take separate ways without respect to our former consented to agreement; & also did hear, receive, & spread some false reports given forth against us, without premonishing us about the same, & drew many off from our Societies by such means. With some of which we had a Conference, Jan. 28, 1686, Who said, they had a verbal Commission from some Societies in Carrick, &c. The effect whereof (whatever was the intent of their coming) tended to a further breach, though we were not conscious to our selves of any untender dealing with them. For first, we did endeavour to remove all supposed grounds, upon which they might stumble into alienation from us, by clearing our minds about all these things the Ministers laid to our charge: Then several Questions of weight about our present differences were proponed to the Meeting. viz. about a letter of Accusation spread against us; which they did not positively disclaim, about the Earle of Argyle's Declaration (which they would own or disown according as it was diversely interpreted) about the exceptions given in against the Ministers (which they alleged were not valid) And finally we asked the foresaid Persons, whether or not they were clear to join us, in general & particular fellowships, now when they had heard us speak our minds so freely? This they refused to Answer, putting the Question back, whether or not we would join with them? And generally, in all questions, they declined freedom & plainness, & seemed averse from satisfying us, & to be rather for contending than a free communing for Union. Chiefly they stickled about a general Conclusion, previously agreed to & resolved upon among us, That nothing relative to the publick, & concerning the whole, should be done, without the consent or at least the knowledge of the whole: Which Conclusion, though formerly they agreed to, yet now they called an Imposition; alleging that thereby they might not hear a faithful Minister, when occasion offered: Though we told them, we did not take that Conclusion in an absolute sense, but exponed it as it is after qualified, with the several Cautions, mentioned Head first, § 3. In fine, for the result of this Conference, when we were urged as above, (whether we would join with them as formerly?) by way of retortion to our proposal of the same to them; we told them, we could not answer in name of our Societies, having no direction from them for that effect, & that for our own part we would not refuse accidental or occasional Communion with them, as Brethren & Christians; but in the present circumstances, we could not be clear to concur with them as formerly, in carrying on the publick work, until our exceptions were removed: which were, Their breaking that Conclusion of Brotherhood formerly condescended to, in their Calling Ministers against whom we had exceptions unremoved, without acquainting us therewith; in their drawing together in Arms without our knowledge, & contrary to what was concluded by themselves with our friends; & their siding with other persons in points of disagreement against us. Whereupon they broke away abruptly; And their carriage since hath been very disengaging, by their labouring many ways to represent us unto the world as odious, in their Informations given in to Ministers against us. But now we must bear many obloquies from them & others, waiting in dependence on the Lord’s Vindication, who will bring forth our righteousness (or rather the righteousness of his own Cause by us maintained) as the light, & our Judgment as the noonday, in his own time. But shunning to be Prolix, & studying all brevity possible, we shall here desist from such a sad & lamentable relation, wherein we have but touched some of the many steps of our defection, & our poor & insignificant Contendings against the same.
Of the Present state of our Testimony.
THE former Deduction we have premised that the state of our present Controversies may be the more fully and clearly represented, & that what follows may the better understood; having discovered how our Defections & breaches began, & how they have multiplied & increased, & how notwithstanding the Lord hath never wanted a Company of living witnesses to bear Testimony against the same. But seeing, as it hath been the lot of the more faithful in all ages of the church, so in our day, these whom the Lord hath honoured & helped to witness for him, against the crooked ways of the generation, have had it for their trial to be much suspected, reproached, contradicted, censured, & opposed by many of lukewarm, backdrawing, & indifferent tempers, & we have not wanted our share, by reason of the dreadful imputations of Persecutors, & the misrepresentations of pretended friends; Whereby many of Zion’s well-wishers have been nonplused, what to think of us & of our cause: Therefore, for the glory of God, the vindication of Truth, the satisfaction of puzzled Consciences, clearing of differences, wiping off reproaches, removing of mistakes upon our part, reclaiming such as through ignorance, misinformation, or misconceiving apprehensions, have heretofore mistaken, at least have become jealous of our Principles & practices, for convincing of these (if the Lord will) who mostly oppose us, for maintaining according to our power & places the Covenanted work of Reformation, & that the young generation may not be stumbled (who are greatly in hazard thereof, by the turnings aside that have been from the right & left hand) & finally that all the Christian Reformed world, who will impartially weigh matters in the balance of the Sanctuary, without affection or prejudice, may see with their own eyes, & attain unto a better understanding concerning us; Upon these & the like grave & important considerations, We for ourselves, & all who adhere unto us in the stated Testimony, against Popery, Prelacy, Erastianism, Sectarianism, Schism, & Defection, find ourselves obliged to give an account of our Principles to the world, & then Proceed to offer a brief Reply to the material accusations, which were given forth against us in Letters, Informations, & Conferences.
We shall now therefore, in the first place, give a short Declaration of Our Testimony: Shewing first, what we maintain, & positively own, as the matter of it: And secondly, what we disown as prejudicial thereunto, & inconsistent therewith.
As to the First, we sincerely, unanimously, & constantly Testify & Declare, our hearty embracing of & adherence unto the written Word of God, contained in the Scriptures of the Old & New Testaments, as the only rule of faith & manners, & whatsoever is founded thereupon & consonant thereunto; Such as the Confession of Faith, our Catechisms Larger & Shorter, our Covenants National & Solemn League, the Acknowledgement of sins & Engagement to duties, the Causes of God's Wrath, the ordinary & perpetual officers of the Church by Christ’s own appointment; such as Pastors, Doctors, Elders, & Deacons, & the Form of Church Government which is commonly called Presbyterial, either in Congregational, Presbyterial, or Synodical Assemblies, whether Provincial, National or Œcumenical; together with all the Acts & proceedings of our General Assemblies, (especially from the year 1638 to 1649 inclusive) yea & every piece of the attained unto Reformation of the Church of Scotland. In like manner we Testify & Declare, our cordial adherence unto all the faithful Contendings, that have been owned & prosecuted by Ministers or Professors, for promoval & defence of Reformation in former times; as these against the Publick Resolutions, Cromwell's usurpations, the vast Toleration of Heresies & Sects in his time; as also to all the faithful Contendings of Ministers & Professors since the unhappy Restoration of Charles the Second (when the work of Reformation was overturned) unto this very day; whether against the Sacrilegious Usurpation & Tyranny of the Malignant party, or against the Compliances, Defections, & Unfaithfulness of Ministers & Professors: More Particularly, unto all faithful Protestations, Testimonies, & Declarations, that have been given in these latter times, for the work of the Reformation, & against all Usurpations of & Encroachments upon the Prerogatives of Christ’s Crown & Privileges of his House, & anything else of whatsoever sort prejudicial to the Reformation: & expressly we declare our adherence unto the Declarations published at Rutherglen, Sanquhar, (first & last) & at Lanerk, together with the Apologetical Declaration, affixed upon some market Crosses & several Parish Church doors, for the matter, substance, & scope of them, as accommodated to the times wherein they were exhibited, according as we explain them afterward, Head 2. Finally we Testify and Declare, our cordial owning & approving of the faithful & free preaching of the Gospel in the open fields, as well as in houses, both before & since Bothwell; & of the duty of defending the Gospel & ourselves by arms, & the Lawfulness of Defensive war against Usurpers of our Ecclesiastical & Civil Liberties; & consequently, all these appearances in a Martial manner against the publick Enemies of this Church & Kingdom, at Pentland, Drumclog, Bothwell, & Airs Moss: And also our adherence unto the Testimonies given by Martyrdom on the fields, scaffolds, & Seas; or otherwise, by Banishment, Imprisonment, Stigmatizings, Tortures, or suffering any other ways, for their adherence unto the Reformation, & noncompliance with the God-provoking courses of the time, & for not owning the Authority or rather Tyranny of Usurpers, in place of magistracy qualified according to the word of God.
As to the Second, We sincerely, Unanimously, & Constantly Testify & declare, our rejecting of whatsoever is contradictory or contrary unto the Written Word of God, or not founded thereupon, either expressly or by direct near or necessary consequence: And more particularly, in like manner, we Testify & Declare our Rejecting & Disowning of Popery, Quakerism, Libertinism, Antinomianism, Socinianism, & all other Heresies under whatsoever designation, together with the Blasphemies, Heresies, & wild extravagances of John Gib: All errors upon the right hand, such as Anabaptism, Independency, Millenarism, & all other sects & Schisms, together with the divisive courses followed by any others, especially in our day, & the Usurping of any upon the Ministerial Function not duly called thereunto, as upon this ground (beside other reasons) we have excepted against Mr. John Flint; And all Errors upon the left hand, as Prelacy & Erastianism (against which our Church hath had much wrestling & contending) together with all kinds of Idolatry, Superstition, & Prophaneness, & whatsoever else is found contrary to sound Doctrine & the power of Godliness.
Moreover, considering what heinous & God-provoking sins have been committed in this Land against God, in contempt of & with prejudice to his Cause & Covenants, since we began to turn away from Him, we shall briefly enumerate some of these, Declaring our detestation & abhorrence of the same. Therefore in the first place, we declare our Testimony against all Compliances with the iniquities of this time established by Law, in obedience to their Cursed commandments directly or indirectly; All countenancing of & complying with Prelacy, Supremacy, or Tyranny, or any Usurpation on Church or state made by this Malignant Enemy, All hearing of Curates or Indulged, or paying either of them Stipends exacted by iniquous [wicked] Law setting them up; All answering to the Courts of Persecutors, Taking any of their Oaths as the Declaration renouncing the Covenants, the Oaths of Supremacy & Allegiance, the Test, the Oath of Abjuration, The Oath Super inquirendis, and all others of like nature; particularly the late new contrived oath of Allegiance, substitute in the place of all former, & comprehending in its bosom the extract of all their iniquities, requiring the acknowledgement & Maintenance of the most open faced & declared absolute Tyranny of the Duke of York, in his invading the Sovereignty of the Most High, & all his subservient Popish & Atheistical designs, which is contained in the late Proclamation for the abominable Toleration; Likewise all subscribing any of their Bonds, imposed to fetter & defile the Conscience, as the Bond of peace, Bond of Regulation, The Bond of Compearance, & all others partaking of affinity with these; As also the paying any of their wicked Impositions for bearing down the Gospel & work of Reformation, as Militia money, Cess, Locality, Fines, or stipends, or anything that may strengthen the hands of such evil doers: and in like manner, we declare our Testimony against all the steps of defection, declining from or contradictory unto the Covenanted Reformation of the Church of Scotland; And therefore we disown, as inconsistent with our Ancestors Testimony, that promiscuous Association in the late Expedition 1685, & all Associations & Confederacies whatsoever with Sectaries & Malignants, & any other thing that opens the door for their introduction & toleration, or whereby the state of the quarrel is not proposed according to the ancient plea, against both right & left hand opposites.
But more particularly, because our principles are most suspected upon the Ordinances of Magistracy & the Ministry; Therefore we shall plainly unbosom our hearts about these also. We profess then concerning Magistracy (to obviate the suspicion of any unfriendliness towards that Ordinance, & disloyalty to rightful Magistrates) & Declare our minds in these Assertions. (1.) As we distinguish between Magistracy, or the Office (in the abstract) & the Persons invested with the Office; so of Magistracy in itself considered, we say, that as it is not subjectively founded upon grace, so it is a holy & Divine institution, for the good of human Society, the encouragement of Virtue & Piety, & curbing of Vice & Impiety, competent unto & honourable amongst both Christians & Heathens. (2.) As for such Magistrates as, being rightly and Lawfully constitute over us, do act as the Ministers of God, in a direct line of subordination to God, in the defence of our Covenanted Reformation, & the subjects' Liberties; We declare, whensoever we can obtain & enjoy such rulers, we will own, embrace, obey, & defend them to the utmost of our power, & prove encouraging, subject, & obedient to them in our places & stations. (3.) In things Civil, though we do not say that every Tyrannical act or action doth make a Tyrant, yet we hold, that habitual, obstinate, & declared opposition to, & overturning of Religion, Laws & Liberties, & making void all contracts with the Subjects, or when he usurps a power without any compact, or giving any security for Religion & Liberties, or when he is such as the Laws of the Land do make incapable of Government; These do sufficiently invalidate his Right & Relation of Magistracy, & warrant subjects, especially in Covenanted Lands, to revolt from under & disown allegiance unto such a power. In such a case, when the body of a Land collectively considered, or the more faithful & better part of that Land, in the time of National & universal Apostacy, & complete & habitual Tyranny, adhering closely to the fundamental constitutions & Laudable practices of that Covenanted Land (when the fundamental Laws of the Kingdom are directly overturned, & the essential conditions of the mutual Compacts are broken, & such as cleave closely to the Reformation & Liberties of the Kingdom are accounted Rebels, & prosecuted as such) may reject and refuse the Magistratical Relation between the Tyrant & them: yet, before the erection of formal Magistracy, they may not Lawfully arrogate to themselves that Authority which the Tyrant hath forfeited, or claim to themselves the Authority of Judges; though radically they have the Authority of the Law, by their Natural right, & fundamental power, which God allows & is Nature’s attendant; & the Municipal privilege of these subjects; but they cannot act judicially, in either Civil or Criminal Courts, only in the interim they may Lawfully do that which may most conduce to the securing of themselves, Religion, & Liberty. (4.) In Church affairs, we allow the Magistrate a power over the outward things of the Church, viz. what belongs to the bodies of Church officers & members; but not over the inward things of the Church, such as Doctrine, worship, discipline, & Government: We own he may & ought to preserve both Tables of the Law, & punish by corporal & temporal punishment, whether Church officers or members, as openly dishonour God by gross offences, either against the first or second Table; but this he may not do every way, but after his own manner, not intrinsically, but extrinsically, not under consideration of a scandal, but of a crime: We grant he may order such things as are for the well-being & subsistence of the Church, & for that end may Convocate Synods in some cases of the Church, pro re nata [according to circumstances], beside their ordinary Meetings (according as that part of Article 2, chapter 31, of our Confession of Faith, is fully and clearly explained by the Act of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, convened at Edinburgh, Aug. 27, 1647, Session 23, approving the foresaid Confession of Faith) & may be present there in external order; but not preside in their Synodical debates & resolutions; He may add his Civil Sanction to Synodical results, but we deny him any power to restrain Church Officers in Dispensing of Christ’s ordinances, or forbid them to do what Christ has given them in Commission: We own that as he ought to take care of the maintenance of the Ministry, Schools, & poor, so imperatively he may Command Church officers to do their duties; yet we deny him an elicitive power, either to do himself what is incumbent to Church officers, or to Depute others to administer Ordinances in his name, or by any Ministerial power received from him: Finally we allow him a Cumulative power, whereby in his own way he assisteth, strengtheneth, & ratifieth what Church officers do by virtue of their office; but we deny unto him a Privative power, which detracteth any way from the Church’s Authority, for he is a Nursing father & not a step-father. In sum, we grant this to be the full extent of the Magistrate’s Supremacy in the Church affairs, to order, whatsoever is commanded by the God of Heaven that it be diligently done for the house of the God of Heaven, Ezra 7.23. And what further he may Usurp, we Disown & Detest.
But considering the God-contemning & Heaven-daring wickedness, Usurpation, & Tyranny, of the present & latter pretended Rulers over this Land, & what grievous affronts, bold & open defiances, they have given to the Most High God, & what unparalleled abuses they have done to the Ordinance of Magistracy; Therefore We disown, detest, & abhor the corruption, perversion, & eversion of that Ordinance in this Land; And in the first place, for the late Tyrant; As we do abhor the memory of his first erection, & unhappy restoration, after by many evidences he was known to be an Enemy to God & the Country; his nefarious wickedness in ejecting the Ministers of Christ from their Charges, & introducing abjured Prelacy; his atrocious arrogance, in rescinding all Acts of Parliament for the works of Reformation; his unparalleled perfidy & Perjury, in making void, & burning the Covenants; his Heaven-daring Usurpation, in arrogating to himself that Blasphemous & Christ dethroning Supremacy; his audacious & treacherous exerting of that usurped power, in giving Indulgences to outed Ministers, to divide & destroy the Church; his arbitrarian & manifest Tyranny, over the consciences of poor people, pressing them to conformity with the time’s abominations, contrary both to Religion & reason, & imposing upon them conscience-debauching Oaths; His absolute domination over the whole Land, in levying Militia & other Forces, Horse & Foot, for carrying on his wicked designs, of advancing himself to an arbitrary power, & bearing down the work of Reformation, & enslaving the people; particularly in sending an Host of Savage & barbarous High-landers several times, upon a poor innocent people, to waste & destroy them; And imposing wicked taxations for the maintenance of these forces, professedly required for suppressing Religion & Liberty, & preserving & promoting his Absoluteness over all matters & persons sacred and Civil; His cruelty over the bodies of Christians, in chasing, catching, & killing upon the fields, many, without sentence past upon them or time previously to deliberate upon death, yea & without taking notice of any thing to be laid against them, according to the worst of their own Laws; Drowning Women, some of a very young & some of an exceeding old age; Imprisoning, Laying in irons, exquisite torturing by Boots, Thumbkins, & Firematches, Cutting pieces out of the ears, Banishing & selling as Slaves old & young, men & women, in great numbers, bloodily butchering upon Scaffolds, Hanging some of all Sexes & ages, Heading Mangling, dismembering alive, Quartering dead bodies; oppressing many others in their Estates, Forfeiting their Possessions, Robbing, Pillaging their goods, Casting Men, Women, & Children out of their Habitations, Interdicting any to reset [take in] them, under the pains of being treated after the same manner; & all this for their adherence unto the Covenanted work of Reformation, while in the mean time many murderers, Adulterers, & incestuous persons, Sodomites, witches, & other malefactors, were pardoned or passed without punishment: So for the continued & habitual tract of these, & many other, Acts of Tyranny, we have disowned, & yet adhere to our revolt from under, the yoke of the Tyranny of Charles the Second, & Declare that his whole Government was a complete & habitual Tyranny, & no more Magistracy than Robbery is a rightful possession. And in like manner, in the Next place, we disown the Usurpation of James Duke of York, succeeding & insisting in the same footsteps of Tyranny, Treachery, & Cruelty; with the same domineering over men & Women’s Consciences, & cruelty towards their bodies, & Estates, & oppression over the Land; arrogating to himself an absolute power, more declaredly than any other formerly; & labouring to bring these Lands again in Subjection to the yoke of Anti-Christ; being a professed Papist; & therefore, what ever right he may pretend by lineal succession, suffrage of Iniquitous Laws & packed Parliaments, he hath no legal or lawful right to the crown; especially, seeing many Acts of ancient Parliaments, declare Papists altogether incapable of bearing any Rule, or any other whomsoever, except they be maintainers of the true Protestant Religion, according to the National Covenant, as it is Statute by the 8 Act. Parl. 1. repeated in the 99 Act. Parl. 7. ratified in the 23 Act. Parl. 11. & 114. Act. Parl. 12 of K. James 6. & 4. Act of K. Charles the first. And here we stand as to the point of Magistracy.
Concerning the Ministry; To Obviate the suspicion of any aversation from the holy Ordinance of the Ministry & of denying obedience in the Lord to true & faithful Pastors, we in like manner declare, (1.) As we distinguish between the Ministry & Ministers, as between the Office & the Persons invested therewith; So as for the Ministry itself, we own the lawfulness & necessity thereof, against Quakers & all its other opposers; & hold it our duty (as we would not be rebellious against Christ) to own, obey, & encourage in the Lord, all true and faithful Pastors, & highly to honour them in Love for their work’s sake. (2.) We look upon it as unlawful, for any man never so well qualified otherwise, to take upon him the work of the Ministry, without License, or a Lawful Call, & Ordination by laying on of the hands of the Presbytery, or any competent number of these to whom Christ hath committed the power of the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. (3.) We hold, that power of Church Government & discipline, together with the exercise of the Ministerial Function, by divine appointment is neither committed, nor doth appertain, to Pope, Prelate, Magistrate, nor multitude of Believers, Presbyterated or Unpresbyterated; But only unto the Ministers & Officers, which Christ hath appointed over His own Church (which is his Mediatory Kingdom) as the subject & receptacle of Church Power: And say, that believers are the end of the Church power, & the Object thereof, or the party to be Governed; but not the Subject, or Governours, or in any measure endued with that power of themselves, either formally or radically. (4.) We hold, that Schism, or disowning and Rejecting of, or groundless & unwarrantable Separating from, true & faithful Ministers, to be a very heinous, hateful, & hurtful sin; yet this doth not hinder, but that it may be duty, in a broken state of the Church, to withdraw from Ministers chargeable with defection. For, seeing this Church hath attained to such a high degree of Reformation; & seeing, by Solemn Covenants to the Almighty, we have bound our selves to maintain & defend the same; Seeing by reason of the Enemies subtlety & cruelty, & the fainting, falling & failing of Ministers, so many dreadful defections have been introduced, embraced, & countenanced; Seeing, in these times of distempering confusions, we are now deprived of the remedy of settled Judicatories, whereunto we might recur for rectifying of disorders; And Seeing we are bound to witness against these Complying & backsliding Courses, whereby the wrath of God is so much kindled against the Land: Therefore we hold it as our duty, that when a backsliding or defection is embraced, avowed, & obstinately defended, in such things as have been Reformed, either expressly or equivalently, especially being witnessed against doctrinally, & further confirmed by other Testimonies; We judge it Lawful, reasonable, & necessary; in a declining, backsliding, & troubled state of the Church, to leave that part of the Church which hath made such defection, whether Ministers or Professors, as to a joint concurrence in carrying on the publick work (according as it is given in Command to Jeremie, chapter 15, verse 19: Let them return unto thee, but return not thou unto them) & to adhere unto the other part of the Church, Ministers & Professors, whether more or fewer, who are standing steadfastly to the defence of the Reformation, witnessing against others who have turned aside & declined therefrom; until the defections of the backsliding party be confessed, mourned over, & forsaken: This is no separation from the Church of Scotland, but only a departing & going forth from her sins, backslidings, & defections, as we are commanded by the Lord.
But considering how this course of defection & revolting from the Lord, hath either been carried on, complied with, countenanced, or covered, by the most part of the ministers of the Church of Scotland; whereby the Prerogatives of Christ have been surrendered, & the usurper established in the peaceable possession of His Royal Throne the privileges & Liberties of His Kingdom (the purchase of his blood, transmitted to us through the many valiant witnessings of our worthy Ancestors) abandoned & yielded to the most declaredly stated Enemy to Christ that ever was engaged in opposition to him, & whereby the holy Ordinance of the Ministry is so much wronged, corrupted, & perverted; & such indignities & affronts given unto Christ; the giver & granter of their Commission, & Ministers themselves made contemptible before the people: We declare our Testimony against all Compliances, defections, backslidings, turnings aside, & prejudices done to the work of God, by the Ministers of the Church of Scotland. Howbeit as we acknowledge to the Lord’s praise that there have been faithful Ministers in this Church from time to time who have valiantly, zealously, faithfully wrestled, contended, & witnessed against, not only the heinous indignities done to their Princely Master by the open & avowed Enemy, but also the wrongs done to his Cause & Kingdom by the compliances, defections, & lukewarmness of other Ministers: So we mention not these things to reflect upon the holy Office, or from any prejudice at their persons, Neither to justify our selves, but to show our respect unto them & esteem of the holy ordinance, to clear Truth, & to vindicate the Cause. Therefore we must testify against these great defections of many Ministers, viz., In the first place against that concurrence given by many Ministers to the Treaty of Breda, for bringing home the King, after many discoveries of his Treachery & inclinations to Tyranny, notwithstanding of many seasonable & necessary warnings of the General Assembly, to be very wary & Circumspect in trusting when treating with him; Against their falling upon Publick Resolutions, even when our Church had arrived at her Highest pitch of Reformation; And the fainting of others, in forbearing to give faithful warning of so great & dangerous a sin, when some for their freedom and faithfulness were suspended from their Ministry; Against their Compliances with Cromwell; Against not standing for the intrinsic Privileges of the Church, in protesting against that Heaven-daring Usurpation, of dissipating & dissolving all the Church Assemblies, & free Courts of Christ; Their Sinful & General succumbing, & yielding the charge & oversight of their peculiar Flocks, at the Command of man, as if they had not received their commission from Christ; & that instead of faithful witnessing against the fatal overturning of the work of God, & Introduction of Abjured Anti-Christian Prelacy, the most part did forthwith embrace it, Many others countenanced it by hearing these intruded Hirelings; Their exhibiting no publick plain Testimony, against the nefarious wickedness committed in that day when our solemn League & Covenant was broken, & declared null, by contrary imposed Declarations, & Conscience-ensnaring oaths. Their unfaithfulness & disloyalty to the Prince of the Kings of the Earth, in not giving Testimony against the Supremacy, in the day when it was by Law established upon the Usurper of Christ’s Royal dignities; Their general laying aside the exercise of their office, after the work of the Reformation was overturned, whereby poor people wanted warning of the sins & snares of the time; Their embracing of the Indulgence; Their gaping after that pretended privilege, who could not enjoy the same; & others dealing unfaithfully in not witnessing plainly against the granters & receivers thereof: some pleading for it as no defection, & others pleading for union with these who had embraced it: And the Meeting of sundry Ministers in several Presbyteries, for rebuking & Censuring the more faithful servants of Christ, for discovering the sinfulness of that defection: And their laying bonds on others not to preach against the same; Likewise when the Lord stirred up some Ministers to go forth & preach the Gospel freely in the fields, & was seen to countenance these Meetings, that some abode still in their habitations, & did not concur with their more valiant & faithful Brethren in displaying the banner of the Gospel, in that publick manner: And others who not only lay by from the exercise of their ministry, but also countenanced Prelacy in hearing of Curates, & the Indulgence, in preaching with & hearing these who accepted it; Their being embraced both by Ministers & people, without any acknowledgment of such offences: Moreover when some were forced to appear in arms for defence of Religion, Laws, & Liberties, That they had so little concurrence of Ministers, to countenance & encourage to these Expeditions: As also the great hurt that some Ministers (together with others) did at that appearance at Bothwell, putting in the late Tyrant’s Interest in the Declaration of that Army (as also was done at Pentland.) And their opposing the mentioning the Indulgence among the publick Sins, & likewise of a day of Humiliation, lest it should have been numbered as one of the causes of God’s controversy with the Land: The meeting of many Ministers after Bothwell, calling themselves an Assembly, & voting for the acceptation of the Indemnity, & the Indulgence or new Liberty (together with the people’s Cautionary Bond) for such Ministers as would live peaceably to preach in these bounds, that the Enemies restricted them unto: And when an ensnaring Bond of peace was imposed upon the prisoners taken at Bothwell, Their being silent or not giving their advice: And others persuading these Captives to put forth their hand to that abomination: And the great Unfaithfulness of the most part, in not giving faithful warning to people, of the hazard of many other ensnaring Bonds, and Oaths imposed for debauching of peoples' Consciences: Their not taking part with the more faithful Messengers of Christ, in preaching the Gospel in the fields, when they were mostly called to that duty, in time of abounding snares from the right and left hand; and reproaching and condemning others, who did jeopard and lose their lives, for their faithfulness in the work of the Ministry, and denying allegiance to these unrighteous Rulers: Some leaving of the Land, when they were mostly called to stay in it to discharge the duty of faithful Watchmen; And their long continued silence, in not giving the people faithful warning of the snares & abominations of the time, when Enemies were most cruelly pressing for Compliance, and passing through with Circuit Courts of unparalleled Inquisitions: Their Complying with the Enemies, in bonding with their Courts (some to that length, as to come under obligations to forebear the exercise of their Ministry.) And finally, the concurring and joining of some with such Confederacies and Associations, as did open a door for the Introduction both of Malignants and Sectaries, contrary to our Covenant Engagements. But as we desire to mourn, that these things should be mentioned, and that we are necessitate to make such a sad and unpleasant rehearsal; so also we desire, that what particular Steps of defection may be here more indefinitely proposed as to the Ministers, may be understood only of these to whom they are duly applicable.
But that our Testimony, as managed by us, may be better understood, and exceptions brought against us on that account more easily preoccupied; before we proceed to the Heads of our Vindication, we desire that these few things may be Christianly constructed, by way of Caution & Concession.
I. We do indeed own and adhere unto all these parts of our Testimony, essential and integral, former and latter, of greater and lesser consequence; but we do not press every part or pendicle, clause or consequence, of every one of our latter declarations, as the bond of our Communion (as is more fully explained afterward, Head 2, and in the insufficient grounds of withdrawing, laid down Head 5,) but if so be our brethren will own and avouch, in profession and practice, every part of our Covenanted Reformation, & join with us in the matter of all our Declarations and Testimonies, against Popery, Prelacy, Tyranny, Supremacy, Sectarianism, and all the above mentioned Compliances and Defections, we will not require that they come all the same length in the manner & form.
II. As the Cause of God, viz. the Covenanted Reformation, is to be distinguished from the persons who do espouse or formerly have owned that quarrel; so it is the Cause we desire to contend for, and not the justification of persons, in things extraneous to the Cause: Therefore whatever personal Infirmities, or scandals of any sort, have appeared among these who profess to own the same Cause with us, when not vindicated by the whole, ought not to reflect upon the cause, nor to be imputed to all its honest Lovers, So we desire (which is just and equal) that scandalous transgressions or extravagances that any among us have fallen into, to the detriment of the publick Cause, either by their Latitudinarian laxness falling into defection, or over much rigidity and strictness running beyond the bounds of mediocrity and truth, may not be made use of as an occasion of an ill report, either upon the Cause or the Owners thereof.
III. If in anything (abstract from our faithful & well-bottomed Contendings) we have in the manner of Managing affairs, in reference to the publick Cause, through Ignorance or imprudence, jointly miscarried, having good designs, & the thing not attended with obstinacy; our weakness & insufficiency, in the abounding confusions of these preceding times, our faithful guides & men of understanding, by death & otherwise, being removed, should be compassionately looked upon & tenderly handled: Yea in very deed, we fear that this shall be found to lie heavy upon these, who, forbearing to witness & contend publickly for the Lord, had forsaken us, while endeavouring to follow duty. However, so soon as any Error or mistake did or doth appear amongst us or any of us, presently by degrees we endeavoured & do endeavour, both severally & together in Societies particular & general, the amendment & forsaking thereof. And albeit possibly our Method in rectifying some disorders, while the matter at first was proposed to consideration, some times was not so desirable, yet it was & is our work, by piece & piece to attain unto a more exact manner.
IV. Whatever may have been our miscarriages, this is our sincere & professed design, purpose, & resolution, to lay out ourselves to the utmost of our power, according to our places & stations, for promoting & propagating the work of Reformation, closely adhering to our worthy Reformers, & those who have constantly walked in their footsteps, steadfastly wrestling against the Corruptions & innovations of the times, continuing successively the Testimony for the Reformation: And that our study is, to keep our selves unpolluted with the abounding Abominations of this our day, & to hold fast the Truths of God, not losing them among our hands, but conveying them down to the succeeding generation, equally guarding ourselves against right & left hand extremes.
Our Vindication from many Calumnies cast upon us by some Brethren that have left us, represented in Several Heads.
NOW having with all brevity possible declared the matter of our Testimony, what we positively own & what we disown; we shall proceed thence to remove mistakes, obviate unjust exceptions against us, & to clear our selves of Calumnious charges: Though we must not think it strange, that we have been (through their ignorance of matters of fact) mistaken by some, & so also of our being reproached by very many. For we find in Scripture records, & in the records of former ages, of our own & other Churches, that the faithful have been branded with strange aspersions, & odious Calumnies; Satan always labouring to put odious names upon real duties, & to bury the Truths of God under the base ashes of vile reproaches: Yet as the Lord hath in former times by His appearance blown away the same, So we desire to believe that he will yet do the like, & vindicate his Truths from Error, mistake, & Contempt.
But to come to the present purpose: being represented by some, as having erected amongst us a formal Authoritative Community, & Erastian Republic; Taking unto us the Government both of Church & State; Attributing unto the people the power of Church Government; Imposing sinful & unjust restrictions upon Ministers & Professors; & unwarrantably dividing & separating from them; & consequently overturning the very Foundation of Presbyterian Government & the Covenanted Reformation: We shall speak to sundry Heads, which may make the contrary appear, & free us of such a heavy imputation, & declare us to be endeavouring only the promoving of that, which we are said to have overturned.
Concerning our Generall Meetings.
WE are said by some to handle, in these General Meetings & Correspondencies, matters both of Church & State & that Judicially & by the same persons & assembly: Therefore we desire that these things following may be considered, for clearing the Nature of these Meetings, & wiping away reproaches, & removing mistakes about the same.
I. We look upon ourselves, as, by constant & habitual Tyranny, reduced to our Native & Radical Liberty in this matter; & desiring faithfully to adhere unto the fundamental Laws & Laudable Constitutions of our Church & Covenanted Nation, with the rest of the purer & better part: And therefore, though we cannot & do not assume to ourselves a power of Magistracy; yet after we had considered what would be best, & contribute most to the securing of ourselves & religion, we Judged it Lawful, expedient, & Necessary to join together into one meeting all the particular Societies, who were of one judgment & practice in reference to the matter of our Stated Testimony, by formal Consent, for mutual help & correspondence.
II. This Union being founded on Common consent, consonant to Scripture & reason, for this end, the promoval of Reformation & preservation of ourselves; The general Conclusion we observe & lay down, in order to the managing affairs for the best by deliberation amongst us thus united, is, That Nothing relative to the publick, & which concerns the whole, be done by any of us without harmonious consent, sought after & rationally waited for, & sufficient deliberation about the best means & manner. But seeing this conclusion hath been much spoken against by some, & condemned as an imposition, we shall here explain the same by adding some few concessory Caveats. (1.) That foresaid Conclusion is not to be taken in an absolute sense, as a restriction simply necessary for all times, all places, all persons, all Cases, & things. (2.) Though the Conclusion imports, that even in necessary duties which concern the whole, a part ought not go on therein without proponing the same to the rest, For that which concerneth the whole ought to be handled by the whole: Yet if these shall sinfully deny their concurrence, that part may lawfully, without a breach of the Conclusion, do it for themselves. (3.) As for points doubtful & controverted, this conclusion is necessary to be observed, as an orderly and rational Method, for advising & deliberating about the present controversy; & so we look upon it as an hedge against precipitancy & rashness, helpful for the preservation of Union, excluding of Confusion, curbing of petulant Spirits, & right managing of affairs. Thus when according to this Conclusion a right Method is followed, we choose that which is agreeable to the Law & to the Testimony.
III. These meetings, as they are neither Civil nor Ecclesiastic judicatories, so they are of the same Nature with particular Christian Societies, in the time of this extreme persecution, gathered together in their general Correspondence, by mutual advice & common consent, endeavouring Jointly to know the sins & duties of the day, that so we may be helpful & encouraging to one another, in Concluding what is necessary for our preservation, & the propagation of our Testimony, according to the word of God, the Law of Nature, the fundamental Constitutions & laudable practices of our ancient Covenanted Church & Nation, acting Jointly & harmoniously, by way of consultation, deliberation, & admonitory determination.
IV. These determinations & resolutions, condescended upon after that manner, though they be no formal Statutes of either Civil or Ecclesiastic Judicatories; yet they are understood to be of a binding force upon all them who are consenters, partly by reason of the nature of the thing, & partly by virtue of their consent; but no ways obtruded as extending over the whole Kingdom, because coming from us, though we think there lieth upon them also a moral obligation to perform such necessary duties.
V. All these things, as they are handled or considered among ourselves in our general Correspondences, are not absolutely resolved upon antecedently to the knowledge of the Societies several & apart, but consequently: that is, for the preservation of the Union, & shunning Separation & Division, we absolutely resolve nothing in the foresaid meetings, but that for which we have the advice & consent of our brethren; & when it is reported unto the meeting what any of the Societies agrees upon & advises unto, if the matter concern the whole (especially if it be of any dangerous consequence to be mismanaged) nothing is done therein peremptorily, until the rest of the Societies get time to consider the thing also, otherwise hardly can Errors & divisions be prevented. This we hold to be our duty, & have been endeavouring the same, not intentionally keeping anything from any Societies that ever was handled at any of our Correspondences: Albeit the unconcernedness of some, & the neglect of others, who were particularly sent to our general meetings, hath prejudged their Societies of what was allowed them, which we wish in time coming may be amended.
VI. If so be any thing pro re nata [according to circumstances] should be resolved upon in the common Correspondence, for which they had no delegations, & which might be liable to debates before the Societies severally & apart should know & consider it, it is not to be reckoned the deed & fact of the Societies, but of these persons then present speaking merely in their own names, not in the name of their brethren, from whom they have no direction for such a thing: neither are the Societies bound to stand unto it if they see it either unlawful or inexpedient: neither is their not standing unto it, any way to be interpreted a drawing back from harmonious agreement, seeing their consent was not previously required, the matter never being imparted to them before the determined resolution. Yea in very deed the breach of harmony would lie rather at their door, who had so resolved upon anything either unlawful or inexpedient, without previous advice & consent. However, when anything is conditionally resolved upon in the Correspondence, & then imparted to the Societies severally, by their giving their consent thereto, it becometh their proper fact & deed also.
VII. Lastly when things incident & controverted amongst ourselves, cannot be instantly composed & agreed upon, neither in Societies, nor the general Correspondence: then according to reason & Religion, everyone is to take sufficient time to inform themselves, & deliberate about the thing, before we proceed to any determination, that so things may not be carried on rashly & hand-over-head, but a right way followed & no sudden nor unwarrantable division occasioned.
Hence it may be evident how in these Meetings we have not gone out of our Stations, by concluding matters Judicially as Judges either Civil or Ecclesiastic, or by Erastian practices confounded Church & State together, but acted therein as was competent & incumbent to us.
Concerning our Declarations.
Seeing the unjust imputation, of acting as Judges either Civil or Ecclesiastic, or as an Erastian Republic, & other sad accusations, are unfriendly drawn from our Declarations, particularly the first Declaration published at Sanquhar, & the following published at Lanerk: Therefore to remove such a charge, concerning both these Declarations we in general plainly Declare, that we never did neither do look upon these as Authoritative actions, & as such extended over, & binding the whole Land (though they were all morally obliged to do what we did, & more than we were able to do, & to own what we have done thereby, because of the duty of the thing) but as Declarations published in the name of these who adhere unto, & consent with us in, the matter of the Testimony. But to speak more particularly: first, as to the first Declaration published at Sanquhar, We shall notice three things in it. First the designation, by which the publishers & consenters are termed, viz. The Representatives of the true Presbyterian Church & Covenanted Nation of Scotland. Secondly, The principal part of the Declaration. viz. The disowning of & revolting from under Charles the Second. Thirdly, The extensive Declaration of war against that Tyrant & Usurper.
As to the First, to wit, the Designation; We declare, that by it we understand only these, who in the time of Tyranny & Apostacy cleave most closely to the fundamental Laws of the Kingdom, & to the parts & degrees of the Reformation already attained in this Reformed & Covenanted Land, or the Remnant that is left bearing witness unto the same; not these who ordinarily are understood by this word, to wit, persons formally invested with Authority & delegation from these whom they represent, but only a poor people appearing most publickly for pursuing the ends of our Covenants, some way representing the body that should have done it, in that they did it in their stead, though they could not have their concurrence. Therefore, as we utterly disclaim, as an unsound & Erastian principle & practice, that the same party, persons, & assembly formally invested with Authority, should take upon them to perform actions Civil & Ecclesiastic representing both Church & State; so we declare that neither the Authors nor we ever intended or practiced any such thing. Hence it may be evident, that we use not the word Representative, according to its ordinary & strict acceptation; but more improperly, as it denotes the more faithful & better part of the Church & Kingdom, representing others who should deserve the same signature, who, in the time of complete Tyranny & National Apostacy, are for themselves & such as do adhere unto them endeavouring closely to adhere unto the degrees of Reformation, in the best times of the Church & state, acting jointly according to the word of God, the Church Constitutions, & fundamental Laws of the Land, by virtue of that natural right, which is competent to Subjects & men merely private, in time of necessity, in reference to things Lawful, laudable & necessary: Seeing in such case, the persecuting party have de jure forfeited their right, & the backsliding party fled from their Testimony; Therefore the more faithful & better part may do for themselves in that interim.
Secondly, As for the principal and most material part of the Testimony, to wit, The disowning of Charles the Second; We distinguish between a judicial & Authoritative deposing, & a private Lawful & necessary disowning, & refusing any more to own him in a Magistratical relation over us, for ourselves & all who adhere unto & consent with us in our Declaration against him, as Head of the Malignants. The former we altogether deny to be done by us; The latter we have done, & own it as our duty; And that because of these reasons expressed in the Declaration, & hinted above pages 32,33. Chiefly for this, in the complex (which comprehends all) that he had inverted all the ends of Government, & everted & perverted Religion, Laws, & Liberties, which he was obliged to maintain, both by his office & trust, & by the superadded tie & obligation of sacred & solemn Oaths & Covenants; By breaking which, he had ruined & razed the very foundations, upon which both his right to govern & the peoples allegiance were founded, & thereby he had loosed the people from all obligation to own his Authority: For the Articles & Conditions, agreed upon & mutually covenanted unto, betwixt a people & the Person or persons whom they entrust to rule over them for their good, are the only fundamental Laws, whereupon the Ruler’s right to govern & the peoples' obligation to obey are founded, & which continues & regulates the relation of each to other, in their respective spheres & duties; And no Law, Divine nor Humane, does oblige one party to the performance of a mutual Condition to the other, while the other does not mutually observe nor perform his to them. And because he had usurped & exerced that Sacrilegious Supremacy.
Thirdly, As for the war there Declared in expressions to this purpose; We Declare a war against such a Tyrant & Usurper, & all the men of his practices, as Enemies to our Lord Jesus Christ, His cause, & Covenants & against all such as have any way strengthened him, sided with, or acknowledged him in his Usurpation Civil & Ecclesiastic, or shall acknowledge any other in the like Usurpation & Tyranny: For understanding whereof, & our minds concerning the same, we offer these few things to be considered.
I. We have ingenuously inserted the words, as they most frequently occur in the most common Copies, capable of the worst sense that usually is put upon them; though we have found some far otherwise, & more favourably worded, & which probably seem more like the Authors' genuine expressions & meaning: And we cannot conceal, how we have observed, the only Alteration in the Copies of that paper to be in that extensive declaration of war; which gives us some ground to Jealousy, that some industry hath not been wanting to misrepresent them.
II. We will not offer to put a determinate sense upon the Authors' words, who we are confident had an honest intention, though their expressions (if these be their expressions) cannot bear an ordinary sense without exceptions; only we are free to signify in what sense we allow them. We distinguish therefore, between a Declaring of a hostile war & martial insurrection, And Declaring a war of contradiction & opposition by Testimonies &c. As for the former, we look upon that only to be Declared against the Tyrant, & such as should rise with him in arms, mustering themselves under his banner, displayed against the Cause & people of God, for destroying the Covenanted work of Reformation, & extirpating all the owners thereof; But as for the latter, we cannot but think, that is declared against all such, as any way strengthen, side with, or acknowledge the said Tyrant, or any other in the like Tyranny & Usurpation, Civil or Ecclesiastic; Not that we would martially oppose & rise up against all such, but that by our profession, practice, & Testimony, we would contradict & oppose them, & their profession & practice, as to that thing.
III. We positively disown, as horrid Murder, the killing of any because of a different persuasion & opinion from us; albeit some have invidiously cast this odious Calumny upon us, from this extensive Declaration of war: for against the latter sort, to wit, such as acknowledge the Usurper, or any way side with & strengthen him, & do not rise in a hostile manner under his banner, no killing is intended at all. But,
IV. We maintain it is both Righteous & rational, in defence of our lives, liberties, & religion, after an orderly & Christian manner, to endeavour by all means Lawful & possible to defend ourselves, rescue our Brethren, & prevent their Murder, in a martial opposition against wicked persecutors, who are daily seeking to destroy them & us, & imbrue their hands in our blood; according to the true import of the Apologetical Declaration, whereby this at Sanquhar is confirmed & explained.
SECONDLY, as to the Declaration published at Lanerk: From what hath been already said, our minds of it may be plainly understood. Howbeit to remove mistakes, we offer these things particularly to be considered.
I. We look not upon it as a judicial or Authoritative action, but as a Declaration of a poor oppressed Community, necessitated to that manner of contending for their Covenanted privileges, Confirming & Approving the preceding at Sanquhar, & as a Testimony against the preceding packed & prelimited Parliament, convocate by Charles the Second, wherein the Duke of York did preside as his Commissioner; & against all their iniquitous Acts and Laws, particularly that abominable Test, & everything done by them at that time against the Cause of God.
II. But considering some Expressions in the foresaid Declaration to be very exceptionable, such as the attributing to the publishers of the Sanquhar Declaration the Title of a Convention of Estates, & in other expressions seeming to appropriate Authority to its own Authors: Therefore we do hereby acknowledge, that such names & styles are not applicable to us, & therefore inexpediently & unadvisedly inserted in our Declarations; So we pass from the Defence of the same, resolving to use Names & Titles in all time hereafter, that may be duly & truly applied to us, in the circumstances wherein we may stand.
III. Notwithstanding of this; we adhere unto the Testimony then & there given, as not improper for or inconsistent with Persons in our capacity to give it, though we wanted the concurrence of great ones. For we think indeed, great men when faithful are great helps & fit instruments under God for promoving the Common Cause; but their simple absence doth not altogether incapacitate or invalidate the faithful endeavours of a remnant, adhering to the Reformation & keeping their integrity, to maintain & promote the same, in such circumstances as we in this Land are in; for this is our radical right, & not the donative of Princes, or dependent of greatness. At the furthest, great men are for the wellbeing, not simply necessary for the being of Armies, Commonwealths, or Societies; we mean these who are strictly called the Primores Regni or Ephori by birth, & not ennobled by qualifications & enduements. Indeed where excellency of virtue & Nobility of blood meet together, the Persons are much to be preferred; but simple birth gives little right.
IV. When we desire of others a formal & explicit consent unto this publick Declarations, we only desire their consent & agreement, not with every incident expression & word (as these foresaid styles) but with the intentional scope & the things themselves materially & substantially considered; & that chiefly because antecedently to our action, these things which are the matter of the Testimony are bound upon all, both divinely by the word of God, & Ecclesiastically by our Church Constitutions, & by the superadded & subjective bond of our holy Covenants, that so in the prosecution of the Lord’s Cause, we may be of one mind & practice: for except we be joint in one thing as to the heads of our stated Testimony, (especially in this confused & disturbed state of affairs) we cannot strengthen but rather weaken one another’s hands.
Concerning the first joint & Written Call given to the Ministers.
THERE is another brand put upon us, of imposing sinful & unlawful restrictions & impositions upon Ministers. The occasion whereof is taken from the first Call given to the Ministers: Therefore we desire these things to be considered concerning it.
I. That Call, when it was concluded, was not condescended unto by all of us, some still opposing the same.
II. When better considered a little afterwards, it was found several ways dissatisfactory, & in some things unsound; whereupon it was immediately retracted, even by the next general Meeting, & never more owned by us, but all the Copies (so far as was possible) desired to be called in again; which was publickly & frequently told, when we had our Conference with some Ministers about several things in controversy. Hence there can be no ground of objecting it unto us now.
But as to Impositions & unjust conditions, restrictions, & qualifications, which we are said to impose upon Ministers & professors: For removing of that heavy Imputation, & satisfying of doubting & well-meaning persons, as it was publickly told in the face of the Meeting Jan. 28, 1686, (together with several other things, preceding & following in this Vindication) in the Conference with some persons who are now gone out from us; So now we ingenuously profess & Declare, that we require nothing either of Ministers or professors, but that which, antecedently to our humble desire, is bound over both upon them & us in our places & stations, divinely by the Authority of God’s word, & Ecclesiastically by the subordinate Authority of our Church Constitutions. Therefore what we require consent & agreement unto, let it be first brought unto the Word of God, which is the only rule of Faith & manners, & compared with the laudable degrees of Reformation already attained unto, according to our Covenants & Church Constitutions founded upon the same word; & if it be not agreeable thereunto, expressed therein, or necessarily consequential therefrom, let it be rejected, but if consonant thereunto, let no man call it our sinful Imposition or Restriction.
Concerning that heavie though false charge of casting off the Ministry, & Schismatical Separation from the Ministers of the Church of Scotland.
IN the next place, being aspersed with Schism, & unwarrantable Separation from the Ministers of the Church of Scotland, Yea with that odious & heavy charge of casting off the Ministry thereof: Therefore, tho' the Theme be most unpleasant, & matter of sorrow to us to speak on such a lamentable subject, & neither our desire nor credit to discover our Mothers nakedness; yet we are necessitated, for vindication of Truth & taking off such a Calumny, to touch a little this sad & intricate head: in prosecution whereof, according to our weak & mean capacities, we shall speak a little to these few things. (1.) We shall make mention of some distinctions, which in some measure may conduce to the clearing of the case, & more easy solving of difficulties, relating to our practice. (2.) We shall shew some things, which we look upon as insufficient in point of withdrawing from Ministers, even within this Covenanted Land. (3.) We shall shew some grounds, which we look upon to be sufficient for withdrawing (in a case of such differences & so circumstantiated) from ministers of this Church to whom they are applicable, who are obliged to maintain with us in their places & stations the same word of Testimony. (4.) We shall shew what we judge to be required, according to the written word of God, our Church Constitutions, & our Covenants, in Ministers whom we are to countenance, own, & embrace, in the present circumstances. (5.) We shall propose some things by way of Caution, in order to the preoccupying of objections, & further Declaring of our minds.
As to the first, We shall distinguish:
I. Between a Church in her infancy & growing up into Reformation; And an adult Church, which hath arrived at a higher pitch of Reformation: In the former many things may be tolerated, which may not in the latter; & therefore our Fathers might have born with many things in Ministers, which we cannot, because we have been Reformed from these things, which they were not.
II. We distinguish between a Church in a growing case, coming forward out of darkness & advancing in Reformation; And a Church Declining & going back again: In the former, many things may be born with, which in the latter are no ways to be yielded unto; as in the time of the former Prelacy many did hear Prelatical men, which now we cannot do, & so in other things.
III. We distinguish between a Church in a Reformed & settled state, & confirmed with the Constitutions of General Assemblies, & the Civil sanction of Acts of Parliament; And a Church in a broken and disturbed state: In the former, abuses & disorders can be orderly redressed & removed by Church judicatories, but not so in the latter; Wherefore the most Lawful, expedient, & conducible mean, for maintaining the attained unto Reformation, is to be followed in the time of such confusions & disturbances, & that is (as we think) abstraction & withdrawing from such disorders in Ministers, which we cannot otherwise get rectified.
IV. We distinguish between a Reformed Church enjoying her Privileges & Judicatories; And a Reformed Church denuded of her Privileges & deprived of her Judicatories: In the former, people are to address themselves unto Church Judicatories, & not to withdraw from their Ministers (especially for ordinary Scandals) without making prior application to these; But in the latter, when Ministers are really Scandalous (though not juridically declared so) & duly censurable according to the Word of God, & their own Church’s Constitutions, & censures cannot be inflicted through the want of Church Judicatories, & yet they still persist in their offensive courses, people may do what is competent to them, & Testify their sense of the Justness of the censure to be inflicted, by withdrawing from such Ministers, even without the Presbyterial Sentence.
V. We distinguish between the Ministry in the abstract, or the Office itself which is Christ’s institution; And the Ministers in the concrete, or the persons invested with the Office: So albeit the ministry can by no means be disowned, without the highest rebellion against God & rejecting of man’s salvation; yet such Ministers (that belong to the presbyterial Church of Scotland) against whom there are solid & Just exceptions, according to the Word of God & the Acts of the General Assemblies striking against them (persisting in their courses) even unto Deposition, may be withdrawn from by people who would rightly see to the approving of themselves faithful in their station unto God.
VI. We distinguish between a faithful, & a sinless Ministry: The former we have ground to expect; but in no case the latter: & for the want of the former qualification, we have ground to withdraw, that is, when they are not faithful, but from none because they are not sinless.
VII. As to what we require of unfaithful Ministers before we can join with them, we distinguish between Ministers condemning Doctrinally, & confessing privately by Conference with offended Brethren, or resenting to them after some more publick manner their Defections & offences; And their confessing these Ecclesiastically before Church Judicatories, & submitting to their just & equal censures: The former we judge sufficient in the present circumstances; Howbeit we confess that the latter, if afterward they be called unto it, should not be refused & denied, when there shall be any Judicatory to require it.
VIII. We distinguish between a Separation negative, whether actively or passively considered; And a Separation Positive: A positive separation is, when a party not only leaves communion with a Church, whereunto they were formerly Joined in Christian & Ministerial duties, but also gathers up new distinct Churches, different from the former in Doctrine, worship, Discipline, & Government: A negative passive separation is, when the better part of a Church, standing still & refusing to follow & concur with the backsliding part of the same Church, after they have become obstinate in their declinings from former sound principles & practices, holds closely by & adheres unto what parts of Reformation were graciously attained among them: Separation Negative & Active respects the declining part of the Church, who have deserted their faithful brethren, & after brotherly admonition refuse to return, but hold on in their new course. Hence as for us, we absolutely deny a Positive Separation from the Scottish Covenanted Church, yea also separation Negative, if it be considered Actively; at the furthest, herein we acknowledge a Separation Negative Passively considered, in our being left alone (at first in the time of our greatest straits) & forsaken by the rest; for we are endeavouring to our utmost (with many failings & much weakness) to retain & maintain, according to our Station & capacity, the Covenanted work of Reformation of the Church of Scotland, against Popery, Prelacy, Erastianism, & Sectarianism both more refined & more gross, together with Schism & Defection. So we deny & altogether disown a Separation from communion with this Church, in her Doctrine, worship, discipline, & Government, as she was in her best & purest days: For we only oppose the transgressions & defections of this Church; & endeavour to Separate from these; while we choose to stand still, & not go alongst with others in declining & offensive courses, but to follow the footsteps of such faithful Ministers & Professors, as have gone before us witnessing in their places & stations against both Tyranny & Apostacy, until defections be condemned & offences removed.
As to the Second; viz. what we judge insufficient in point of withdrawing from Ministers & members of this Covenanted Church.
I. Infirmities or weakness, whether natural, spiritual, or Moral are not sufficient to found a withdrawing, even from Ministers of this Covenanted Church. Natural weakness is the infirmity of parts, knowledge, courage, & the like; which infirmities are disadvantageous to them that labour under them, but in such things (if there be not altogether an ineptitude to teach, or ignorance incapacitating them for the discharge of their duty) we ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, Rom. 15:1, under which rule ministers also must be comprehended. Spiritual weakness, is the weakness of Grace, Faith, Love, Zeal, Patience, & the like; As when we perceive some evidences of misbelief, coldness, security, impatience, or some rising of Passion, & the like, we must not cast at one another for such things, but with all lowliness & meekness, with longsuffering, forebear one another in Love, Eph. 4:2. especially when such things are mourned over & wrestled against. Moral infirmities & failings, are such evils as men fall into through the stress of temptation in time of persecution, Satan’s suggestions &c. being either sins of ignorance, or personal escapes not allowed, or such as the person hath been hurried into by a surprising temptation out of fear, which otherwise he durst not nor would he have done, if he had been himself: for though we ought to reprove one another for these things, & not suffer them to lie upon our brother, yet we must not disjoin from one another upon that account, but restore such an one in the spirit of meekness when overtaken in a fault, considering ourselves lest we also be tempted. Gal. 6:1, such being but fainting fits, lamented over & not persisted in nor allowed. Consequently, we understand not hereby scandalous omissions & commissions, done deliberately & with a high hand, or palpable & gross abominations; seeing such things, coming within the compass of Church censure, ought to come under another consideration, & the persons for these transgressions discountenanced, ay & while the scandal given be removed by confessing & forsaking.
II. Difference in Judgment is not sufficient to found a withdrawing, if it be either in things indifferent in their own Nature, which may be done or not done, after this manner or after another, without any breach of a divine precept: Such things, its true, may be made inexpedient, & may become matter of stumbling to a weak brother; Therefore in these we must be fully persuaded in our own minds, & also observe the rules of charity, careful not to offend any of Christ’s little ones: all things indeed are pure, but it is evil for any to do them with offence, it is good not to do any thing whereby our brother stumbleth, or is offended, or made weak, Rom. 14:20,21. Or if it be in things that are not material, or not the word of patience & matter of Testimony; for in such things, these who are stronger & more knowing, ought to receive the weak but not to doubtful disputations, Rom. 14:1. Nor that which follows upon the former, to wit, every difference in practice, according to the Judgment & light of Conscience, in things that are not disorderly: For though we could not allow such a thing in ourselves, yet it ought not to hinder are joining, but whereto we have already attained we ought to walk by the same rule & mind the same thing, hoping if in anything any be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto them, Phil. 3:15,16. It is evident, we mean not here such things as are parts of the Testimony, wherein of necessity there must be some oneness in Judgment & practice.
III. We conceive that ignorance of matters of fact, when nothing else can be charged, ought not to hinder joining; that is, if our brethren either know not what we hold as our Testimony, or have been misinformed concerning principles or practices: In that case we hold it our duty to use all diligence to inform such as have had no occasion to know the matter of the present Testimony, & with all due patience to wait upon them.
IV. Such circumstantial & controversial points, which were never Ecclesiastically Reformed by our Church in her best & purest times, nor Doctrinally condemned & witnessed against by any of the faithful Ministers of Jesus Christ, according to the word of God, since by Tyranny & Apostacy our Church began to decline from her wonted zeal & purity, will not hinder our joining with them.
V. Nor any such points of controversy of lesser moment, which may be incident among Christians, overturning no part of the Church’s Testimony against Popery, Prelacy, Erastianism, Sectarianism, together with Defection, Schism, & Error.
VI. Even real Scandals, not attended with obstinacy but confessed, mourned over, & forsaken are not sufficient in point of withdrawing.
As to the Third, we shall plainly lay down these grounds which we look upon as sufficient for withdrawing (especially in the case of such differences & so circumstantiated) from Ministers to whom they are applicable, who are obliged, by holy Covenants & as Ministers of the same organical Church, to own & maintain the same word of Testimony with us: which grounds of withdrawing from Ministers, whether Nominal or real, we shall deduce from that fountain which we desire to make the constant unerring rule of our practice, the Holy Scriptures of Truth, wherein we find such precepts, admonitions, reproofs, threatenings, & examples, as without any strained consequence must determine us to a resolved withdrawing from all these following, whom we do not nor can not join with in the exercise of their Ministry, in the case so circumstantiated; And for confirmation shall back the same with the approven subordinate rule of the Acts & Constitutions of our General Assemblies, as they occur. Premitting only in the entry two generals, that we be not mistaken.
1. Our Scope here is to give account, upon what grounds we are constrained, as the case now stands in this broken state of the Church, to withdraw from, discountenance, & maintain a negative passive Separation, from these whom we Love in the Lord, & acknowledge to be Ministers of this Church, with whom we some times had sweet fellowship, while they were faithful in their Master’s work, & with whom again we would desire to have communion in ordinances, if these our just exceptions were removed: but we shall mention others also, that our mind in this Head may be fully known.
2. We desire to be understood to walk and build our grounds upon these solid principles in Thesi, which we think will not readily be rejected in the general:—
(1.) We can join with none but such as we must acknowledge (as they desire to be accounted) Ministers of Christ set over us by the Holy Ghost, & faithful Stewards of the Mysteries of God, & that then & there when & where we join with them 1 Cor. 4:1,2.
(2.) We can join with none but such as we must own Church Communion with, in all the Ordinances administered by them, both as to matter & manner, & right of Administration, then & there: So that if a Minister either want a right to administrate, or be wrong as to the matter or the manner of dispensing any of the ordinances of Christ, not according to his Institution, we can have communion with him in none. For in our joining with them in ordinances, we must own & take on that Tessera & sign of our incorporation with them in their fellowship: for when we partake of the bread, we become one bread & one body, & they that eat of the Sacrifice are partakers of the altar, 1 Cor. 10:17,18. Hence
(3.) We can join with none, but such as we can conscientiously approve in the circumstantiate way of his dispensing Ordinances, as it must be regulated by the Word: for otherwise, suppose a thing might be lawful materially, yet circumstances may make it sinful, & a countenancing of it so circumstantiated doth infer a communion in these circumstances that make it so sinful. They that eat of the Sacrifice are partakers of the altar, & if the altar be not of God’s approbation the sacrifice lawful cannot justify the eaters: an Idol is nothing, & that which is offered in Sacrifice to Idols is nothing, yet they who eat of it when they know it is so circumstantiated have fellowship with Devils, 1 Cor. 10:18-21. And it is called Idolatry (compare verse 14), And consequently
(4.) We can join with none, with whom we must in our countenancing of them partake of their evil deeds, & make ourselves in the righteous Judgment of God obnoxious to their punishments. And therefore, where we know Persons guilty of such things, as we find they are branded with who are under a recorded sentence of dreadful punishment, both against them & their partakers, We think it is as sufficient a ground & necessary to withdraw from them, as if we had an express command for it; for then we dare not be partakers with them, nor have fellowship with these unfruitful works, that we must reprove, & that we find the Lord reproves & condemns Eph. 5:7,11. Lest in partaking of their sins we receive of their plagues, Rev. 18:4.
(5.) We can join with none, whose sin we may be interpreted to homologate, either in their entry to or discharge of their Office, or which might be so looked upon as a test of our submission to them, or badge of our compliance with them, or sign of our approbation of their sin, directly or indirectly. For in our joining in worship or Church communion, we must advert to what it may be interpreted either in Law, or in our own & others Consciences: For to that we must also have special respect, lest we offend & stumble others as well as our own Consciences: some things must be forborne, not only for our own unclearness, but out of respect to the Consciences of others; Conscience, we say, not our own, but of others; for why is our liberty Judged of another man’s Conscience. 1 Cor. 10:28,29.
(6.) We can join with none, from whom a Church duly constitute, invested with the orderly power of Christ & capacity to exerce & improve it, would enjoin us to withdraw. For, though we do not take upon us a Presbyterial or Synodical Church power, to inflict juridical Church censures upon them that deserve them, yet we think this in our capacity & discretive Judgment is incumbent upon us; to wit, According as we know they would manifestly incur the sentence of Excommunication, Deposition, Deprivation, Suspension, or rebuke, according to the degrees of their Offence after rejected admonitions; We may by our discountenance testify our dislike of their ways, not inflicting this as a censure, but signifying, hereby our sense of the moral obligation, & equity of these censures when legally inflicted. For though none have the power of the keys, but Church Officers; yet people have a discretive power over their own practice, anticipating that power when it cannot be in Christ’s Method exerted. Which Hypotheses being premitted, the grounds we lay down for withdrawing from Ministers are these:
I. We find these are not to be acknowledged as Christ’s Ambassadors, by hearing or receiving Ordinances from them, who either never had a Call to preach, or never were clothed with Christ’s Commission in his orderly appointed way, but took it up either by Usurpation beyond their Sphere, or pretend an insufficient mission which they cannot clearly instruct, or have it only from them who have none themselves to give. For we dare hear none that run unsent, for how shall they preach except they be sent? Rom. 10:15 We dare hear none, with whom the Lord hath not promised his countenance & concurrence, but hath threatened they shall not profit us, Jer. 23:21,22. We dare hear none of the Thieves and robbers that enter not by the door, but climb up some other way; but we are ambitious to have & keep the mark of Christ’s sheep, & followers that will not follow strangers, John 10:15. And upon this ground, we withdraw from all Popish priests, that have their mission from Anti-Christ; From all Prelatic Curates that have theirs from the Episcopal Hierarchy which is also Anti-christian; And also from gifted brethren who preach at their own hands, or have their mission from the people.
II. We judge these are not to be owned or countenanced, in their administration of Ordinances, who either have subjected their Ministry to the disposal of strange Lords, by laying it aside in obedience to their Mandates, or taking a new potestative mission from them; or if they pretend to keep their old one, which they had from Christ in his legal & appointed way, yet they have consented to take a new holding from & upon a new architectonic usurped power & headship in the exercise of it, by accepting a new grant, license, & warrant from the Usurpers of their Master’s Crown. We dare not homologate such an affront to the prerogative royal of our only Kingly Lawgiver, who sent them to negotiate a treaty of peace with us, in giving them the respect of His Ambassadors, after they have so foully broken their instructions, & become servants of men, & subjects even in Ministerial functions to another Head than Christ. We dare have no more meddling with such Changelings, in things that they & we dare not come & go upon Prov. 24:21. We dare not partake with such Prophets, as so evidence themselves to be light & treacherous persons, who have so palpably betrayed their trust (& so great a trust as that) that was committed to them; Nor with such Priests as have polluted the Sanctuary, & done violence to the law of their Princely Master, lest the just Lord (who is in the midst of us, & will resent this unparalleled indignity) bring forth his Judgment, & make us partake with them, as being so accessory if we so own them Zeph. 3:4,5. We cannot countenance them who have so corrupted the Covenant of Levi, by misregarding the honour of him who called them to be His Messengers, by departing out of the way, & causing many to stumble at the Law; For which Cause they are in holy Justice deservedly made contemptible & base before all the people, according as they have not kept his ways, & have been partial in the Law, Mal. 2:7,8,9. We cannot join in worship with these, who either teach for Doctrines the Commandments of men, figments of men’s traditions, or teach true Doctrine by the Commandments of men, suspending their function, & depending in the exercise of it, upon men’s Authority; for both are vain, & both are plants which shall be rooted up, & in reference to both we reckon ourselves under that command, Let them alone, blind guides, Matt. 15:9,13,14. And upon this ground, in this broken & declining state of the Church, not only do we withdraw from these old Presbyters, now turned Curates, who conformed to Prelacy; Not only from such Ministers, who submitted to their Deposition by the Act of Glasgow, & never avouched publickly their Ministerial Exercise since, though privately they would preach now & then; Not only from those ministers, who have consented to the giving of a bond not to exercise their ministry for longer or shorter time, as many of the Indulged have done; But upon this complex ground, we withdraw from all the Indulged ministers, who have embraced any of the Christ dishonouring & Church destroying Indulgences, obtruded upon this Reformed Church, to divide & destroy, rend & ruin the Remnant thereof, by an insulting Enemy, who had broken down our Covenanted work of Reformation, Usurped the prerogatives of Christ, & set themselves down in his Mediatory chair, arrogating & claiming a preeminency or wicked supremacy, over his house. The sinfulness of which Indulgences we shall not now decipher, but it may be evident, from their derivation from that arrogated Supremacy, from the gross perjury & breach of Covenants committed by the Embracing thereof, from their dividing the acceptors from the duties & sufferings of the Church, & her Ordinances, as to manner of administration, & from their being the mother of all our Divisions, & tending to suppress & bury the Covenanted work of Reformation.
III. We Judge we have sufficient ground to withdraw from all these, who pervert & corrupt their Ministry, by preaching & maintaining Errors, either in Doctrine, Worship, Discipline, or Government, contrary to the Scriptures, & our Confessions, & principles of our Covenanted Reformation, & contradictory to our present Testimony, founded thereupon & agreeable thereunto. Hence, not only must we withdraw from these Ministers, that maintain Errors fundamental, overturning the doctrine of Salvation: But, in this broken & Declining state of the Church, from all these also that oppugn & withstand our common Confession of all Orthodox Truths received by the Church of Scotland, or maintain Errors condemned thereby, or condemn truths maintained thereby; And now, in the case circumstantiated, from all that contradict, oppose, or overturn the matter of the Church of Scotland's Testimony, & do desert, deny, or pervert the Word of Christ’s Patience, given her now to contend for. For as to the first sort, we are commanded, if any seek to turn us away from the Lord our God, to put away that evil, & not to consent & hearken to any that will entice us to Error or Idolatry, Deut. 13:5,8. And in perilous times, especially when impostors do abound, we are commanded to turn away from such, how specious soever their forms be 2 Tim. 3:5. &c. And a man that is a Heretic (be who he will) after the first & second admonition, we must reject at all times, Titus 3:10. So also we must, without respect or exception, observe these General rules, concerning teachers of Errors or contradicters of Truth. We must cease to hear the Instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge, whatever these words be, especially if they be words of Christ’s Patience, Prov. 19:27. We must withdraw from these Leaders that will cause us to err, by leading into snares or perverting the right ways of the Lord, or cause us decline any way to the right hand or to the left from any of his Truths, for we are afraid of the threatening to be destroyed, even though the Error be not fundamental, Isa. 9:16. We must mark them who contradict the doctrine, which we have learned (what ever it be) from the Law & the Testimony, & avoid them, Rom. 16:17. If any man teach otherwise, & consent not to the wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, & to the doctrine which is according to Godliness, especially that point of Doctrine which is depositated to us to contend & suffer for, We must look upon him as a proud perverse disputer (if he refuse information) & must withdraw ourselves from such 1 Tim. 6:3,5. If there come any & bring not this Doctrine, though he were never so sound in other things, yet if he bring Doctrine contradictory to this that Christ hath given as the word of his Patience, we must not receive him, nor bid him God speed, in that work of his, preaching or practicing against any of the Truths we have received, 2 John 10,11. Now upon this very comprehensive ground, we withdraw not only from gross Heretics, & sectarians, & Malignant Prelatists, & such as run into wild extravagances upon the right hand, passing over the bounds of holy Truth, & doing injury to the Covenanted work of Reformation, leading people out of the way & rending the bowels of the Church: But, in this broken & declining state, even from many Presbyterian Ministers, who have overturned a great part of our Church’s Testimony; Which, as it is now both stated & owned by us, is of greatest importance, concerning no less then the great Prerogatives of God, the supreme Lord & King of all the world, in his Kingdom of power, usurped & encroached upon by Tyranny, brought in & established in stead of His Ordinance of Magistracy; And also the Royal Prerogatives of Christ our Lord & mediator, in his Kingdom of Grace, invaded by the blasphemous Supremacy, overturning all the Church’s Liberties; than which nothing greater can concern us to contend for, either as we are men or as we are Christians, & which hath been signally sealed by the blood of many Martyrs, who in laying down their lives for his Testimony have been singularly countenanced of the Lord: yet, we say, by many of our Ministers this in a great measure hath been deserted & perverted, by their condemning the Martyrs that dyed for it, as well as us who have desired to witness for it, by their homologating the Supremacy, by their owning & approving, or preaching, & persuading it to be duty to own & approve the pretended Authority (really Tyranny) of Charles the Second, & James the Seventh, Disowned in the Declarations published at Sanquhar, first & last, & at Lanerk; which Declarations have been condemned, even materially & Substantially, insofar as they disown the pretended Authority of these Tyrants. Howbeit, seeing that we have publickly disowned that so called Authority, for ourselves & all who will adhere unto us in that deed, And seeing it is a part of our stated Testimony, & unto us confirmed by sufficient reasons to be both Lawful & necessary; we cannot reverse it, nor concur with others who overturn it, because where there is a difference in the stated Testimony, the publick work cannot be jointly carried on.
IV. We Judge we have sufficient ground to withdraw from Ministers, guilty of gross Compliances with the publick Enemies of this Covenanted & Reformed Church & Nation, who have broken the Covenant, destroyed the Reformation, & are still & by all means seeking the extirpation of all the owners of the Cause of God. Compliances with such have a great charge, & are liable to a grievous sentence: And if we should countenance in our communion Persons so chargeable, we should incur a heavy Censure from the Lord. For this, Abiathar was thrust from the Priesthood, because he complied with Adonijah the Usurper, 1 Kings 1:7. compared with 1 Kings 2:27. It’s time now we were scared from all Compliances, after we have felt the smart of them from sad experience, & should we again break his commandments, & join in affinity with the people of these abominations, would he not be angry with us until he had consumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping? Ezra 9:14. We dare not partake with them, for fear of inveigling ourselves in their snares, & involving ourselves in their guilt & Judgment, for by their example, if not by their Doctrine, they may cause us to err, & engage us to all the countenancing they require of us of their practical Errors, which we dare not do, but must stand aloof & witness our detestation of them, & neither directly nor indirectly, formally nor interpretatively, approve their sin: But on the contrary, we must homologate the equity of their censure, appointed by the Lord, & which would be inflicted by the Church if Constitute in order & power. For when Israel goes a-whoring from God, by open & avowed defection, we dare not join in their wine offerings for they are not pleasing unto the Lord, & their Sacrifices are as the bread of mourners, all that eat thereof shall be polluted, Hos. 9:1,4. We must have a care not to be unequally yoked with such unrighteousness, but as we would be the Temple of God, & have Him to dwell amongst us, we must come out from among them, & be separate, & touch no unclean thing, & then He will receive us, 2 Cor. 6:14,17. He is now loudly calling to us, Depart ye, Depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing, They should be clean that bear the vessels of the Lord, Isa. 52:11. The Lord, we hope, hath instructed us better, that we should not walk in the way of this people, nor say a confederacy to them to whom this people says a confederacy, nor fear their fear, but sanctify the Lord, & wait upon Him in an abstracted way of following duty, though we should be accounted for signs & wonders in Israel, & branded with singularity, Isa. 8:11,12,18. And upon this ground, in this broken & declining state of the Church, We withdraw from many Ministers of the Church of Scotland; both these that were Indulged & not Indulged, for their manifold Compliances: Such as the Compliance of many Ministers in countenancing of abjured Diocesan Erastian Prelacy, by hearing of Curates; And the Compliance of others in compearing before the Tyrannical Courts of Inquisition against the people of God; In subscribing & swearing of Oaths; And in subscribing of Bonds, imposed by Enemies, for debauching of people’s Consciences, & destroying the Reformation, contrary unto & inconsistent with the Oaths of our holy Covenants, & contrary unto the Acts of the General Assembly, June 28, 1648, Session 18, against all new oaths & bonds in the common Cause without consent of the Church; And in paying of Impositions, Taxations, & Exactions, imposed & required by the Enemies of this Church & Kingdom, whereby they become helping Causes to them in their Wickedness, making their bows to abide in strength, & strengthening the hands of these evil doers, the like whereof is declared an horrible thing, Jer. 23:14. And also is contrary to the Act of the General Assembly, 1646, Session 14, Whereby persons in any Ecclesiastical office, guilty of the equivalent degrees of Compliance, are discerned to be suspended from their office, until all the Exercise thereof, & such time as the quality of the offence & condition of the offender shall be found to deserve; And the Compliance of others any other manner of way, really scandalous, duly censurable, & discerned either expressly or equivalently by our Church Constitutions, & Acts of our General Assemblies: to deserve Deposition.
V. We Judge we have sufficient ground to withdraw, not only from these who are actively & actually guilty of the foresaid Compliances, & involved in gross steps of defection; But also from such Ministers who take the Defence & Patrociny of these courses, & palliate, & plaster them, & strengthen the hands, & harden the hearts, of these that are engaged in them, so that none doth turn from such wicked things: Which was that horrible thing the Lord saw in the Prophets of Jerusalem, for which He threatens sad things, & for which he commands, not to hearken to them, Jer. 23:14,16. We dare not join with either builders or daubers of such a work, as is carried on to the dishonour of Christ & ruining of Reformation, nor by our countenance & concurrence strengthen either builders or daubers, lest we be consumed in the midst thereof, as we have that certification, Ezek. 13:10,14; Where also a woe is pronounced against such as sew pillows under armholes, & make kerchiefs upon the head of every stature, & make the heart of the righteous sad, & strengthen the hands of the wicked verses 18,22. We desire to keep ourselves free, of having any hand in that conspiracy of the prophets, like a roaring lion ravening the prey, & the Priests that violate the Law, & profane the holy things, & put not difference between the holy & profane, & that daub with untempered mortar, seeing vanity & divining lies, Ezek. 22:25,28. We cannot reckon ourselves free of this Conspiracy, if we incorporate ourselves with them. And upon this ground, we hold ourselves obliged, in this broken & declining state of the Church; to withdraw from many Ministers of the Church of Scotland, who have defended, & do yet defend, all or any of the foresaid Compliances, & who vindicate palpable & gross defections: such as these who plead for & maintain the Indulgence, have gaped after the supposed Privilege thereof, & opposed the inserting the embracing of it amongst the steps of defection; And who have taken part with Indulged, & other Complying Ministers, against the more faithful, choosing rather to concur with them than to countenance & encourage the more faithful; And who have met in Presbyteries to censure them, for declaring the sinfulness of the Indulgence, contrary to that Act of our General Assembly, Aug. 3. 1648, Session 26; Who have preached in favours of the Indulged, & pleaded for Union with them; And who have defended the people’s taking of the Bonds & Oaths, contrived & tendered to ensnare the Conscience; & have advised Prisoners & others thereunto.
VI. We judge, Unfaithfulness in the Exercise of the Ministerial Function, or a smooth flattering general way of applying the Doctrine to the times, is a sufficient ground of withdrawing. For Ministers are commanded to be faithful, & to cry aloud & not spare, shewing Jacob his sins &c. Isa. 58.1. And a deficiency in this makes them liable to a dreadful & detestable brand, that they are called by the Spirit of God, blind watchmen; Ignorant, sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber, Isa. 56.10. There is a terrible threatening against such unfaithful ministers, Jer. 14.14,16. Where the Lord declares, He did not send them to preach that way, & that He would consume them, & the people to whom they prophesied shall be cast out in the streets &c. Therefore we dare not admit them to prophesy to us. Likeways the Lord takes to Himself the punishment of such, who keep not his ways, & are partial in the Law, in making them base & contemptible before all the people, Mal. 2.9. This is a great part of Zion’s misery, when her prophets see vain & foolish things for her, & do not discover her Iniquity, Lam. 2.14. And upon this ground, we hold ourselves obliged, in this broken & declining state of the Church, to withdraw from many Ministers of the Church of Scotland, who have been unfaithful in forbearing to preach against the Sins of the time, & palpable steps of our defection, & in shunning to declare the whole counsel of God concerning the necessary duties of our day, contrary to what a Minister’s commission bears, & contrary to the Act of our General Assembly, Aug. 3, 1648, Session 26, where Ministers, for continuing in such negligence, after admonition & due trial of the offence, are declared to be censurable with Deposition, for being pleasers of men rather then servers of Christ, for giving themselves to a detestable neutrality & indifferency in the Cause of God, & for defrauding the souls of people: Such Ministers are these who have been silent of the abounding sins & snares of the time, forbidden in the Scriptures, condemned by the Acts of our General Assembly & engaged against by our Covenants; who, forgetting the holy bonds of our Covenants, have desisted from pursuing the ends thereof; Who have not maintained the received Principles of the Church of Scotland, nor followed approven & laudable practices in Ministerial duties; Who have refused & denied their concurrence with the more faithful, in asserting this Church’s Testimony; Who, instead of asserting the Ancient & honest plea of the Scottish Covenanters against both Sectaries & Malignants, in defence of the Reformation & Presbyterial Government, according to our Covenants, National & Solemn League, have taken the Patrociny of & concurred with sinful Associations, whereby the state of the Lord’s Cause is altered & perverted, & a door opened to the introduction of Sectaries & Malignants, which our worthy Reformers many ways opposed, as may be seen in their proceedings, Letters, & warnings, & particularly in the Declaration of the General Assembly, July last, 1648, Session 21, concerning the dangers of Religion &c. We find already what hurt we have incurred, by favouring & inbringing of Malignants, & if we shall continue to do so, or begin in end to introduce Sectaries, what may we expect but utter consumption from the Holy One? We look upon the Bonds of our Covenants to be so morally obliging, that the solving [dissolving] of conditional ties (such as the Relation between Magistrate & people) will not be sufficient salvo for laying them aside. Though we may explain & add unto them, yet by no means do we Judge it Lawful, to state our quarrel in Associations & by open Declaration upon another Basis.
VII. We Judge we have sufficient ground to withdraw, from Ministers guilty of lying by from the publick work of preaching the Gospel, & deserting their Ministerial duty, when the peoples urgent necessity & pressing Call doth make it indispensable, when people are destitute of publick & faithful warning, in the time when snares are most abounding, yea when the poor flock is in greatest hazard to be turned aside. For as this is a dreadful sin, & we are afraid to partake in it, & a sad woe is denounced against these that are guilty thereof, 1 Cor. 9.16; And is expressly contrary to that clear Command, to preach the Word, & be instant in season & out of season, 2 Tim. 4.2. So it is among the Characters of the Hirelings & strangers, whose voice Christ’s sheep will not hear, if when they see the wolf coming, they leave the sheep & fly away, John 10.5,12. Yea we find Paul refusing to take John Mark with him, because he had departed from them, & went not with them to the work, Acts 15.37,38. This is not according to the Apostles' practice, who did not behave themselves so disorderly; for this is to be reckoned & carried towards as a very gross disorder, when a Minister is so far out of order, that he will not work the work of the Lord; from such we are commanded to withdraw 2 Thess. 3.6,7,11,14. This is far from keeping this command, without spot unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Tim. 6.13,14. Therefore it is a disorder that we cannot countenance. And upon this ground, in this broken & declining state of the Church, we withdraw from many Ministers of the Church of Scotland, who, in this day of Desolation & famine of the Word, when it was precious & there was no open vision, did tender their own ease & Interest more than Christ’s, & lurked & lay by from the necessary work of preaching the Gospel in the Land, when no physical impediment did necessitate them thereunto, & poor people were in greatest want of it, & in greatest hazard to be turned aside, by the cruelty & subtlety of Enemies, & the overunning Extravagancies of others; contrary to Scripture, & contrary to the tenor of the Advice of the Brethren, deputed for penning the Enormities & corruptions of the Ministry, allowed by the Church Assembly convened at Edinburgh 1596, to wit, that Ministers not resident with their flocks be deposed, according to the Acts of the General Assembly, otherwise the burden to be laid on the Presbyteries, & the foresaid Ministers to be censured therefore; or who left the Land & the flock committed to their Charges, especially when people were destitute of publick & faithful warning, in the time of abounding snares from the right & left hand, which is also contrary to Scripture, & the foresaid Tenor of the Advice of the Brethren. But we do not here speak of Ministers' leaving this Land & Church, with consent of the Church, & when there was little or no need of their remaining in it, or when they had a sufficient Call to another place, & could either be as useful or more useful there. Neither do we intend this against such, as may at a time leave this Land in the case of extreme hazard, through a fainting fear, sorrowing for their weakness, & longing to be restored again, & heartily applauding & approving the faithfulness & valiantness of other Ministers, unto whom the Lord may give a spirit more fitted for dangerous & difficult days.
VIII. We Judge Schismatical & Pragmatical dividers of the Church, & wideners of the breaches thereof, already broken & divided, And who sow discords among the Brethren, & promote their contentions by invidious reproaches or other ways, are to be withdrawn from. Such turbulent Schismatics were Korah & his company, who affected a preheminency above their Brethren, & to erect & exalt themselves on their ruins, & arrogated to be as high in respect & esteem as Moses & Aaron, & degraded from their dignity, by reproaching them as taking too much upon them, & lifting up themselves above the Congregation of the Lord, thereby thinking to divide between them & the people, for which Cause, the Lord Commands all to separate themselves from that congregation, lest they be consumed with them Numb. 16.12, meaning the Congregation of Korah, Dathan &c. verse 24. We are expressly commanded to note such Schismatics, & Mark such causers of divisions & offences, which they effectuate both by their practice & by their words, crying up their own party, and informing against the more pure & faithful Remnant, Rom. 16.17,18. Such an one was Diotrephes, prating against the Apostles & the Brethren with malicious words, & receiving them not, but casting them out; which the Apostle threatens he would animadvert upon, by the severity of Discipline & condign sentence, 3 Epistle John 9,10. Upon which ground, in this broken & declining state of the Church, not only do we withdraw from the Prelatic Schismatics, who have aspired to a predominating preheminency, & advanced themselves upon the ruins of the Church of Scotland; Neither only from the Indulged, who have made themselves guilty of a formed Schism in & from the Church of Scotland; But also from Non-indulged Presbyterian Ministers, who have widened the breach, & cast oil into our flames, by their taking so many ways to crush a poor wasted Remnant, reproaching, misrepresenting, misinforming, both by word & writ, at home & abroad, against Zealous & faithful Contenders & sufferers for Christ; either by condemning them for real duties, & putting the name of odious transgressions thereupon, or imputing heavy charges & false Accusations unto them, & that without previous & prerequisite admonition, & trial of the verity of these things, disowned by them, & whereof they could clear & vindicate themselves. Howbeit we speak not this from an invective, or to resent injuries done to us: for we look more to what of this kind hath been done against the valiant & faithful witnesses of Christ, who have gone before us & sealed his Truths with their blood, & especially unto what prejudice the Cause of Christ hath sustained thereby, & how Truth is like to be buried under the vile ashes of lies & contempt, than anything can be said or done against us.
IX. We Judge Scandalous disorders & miscarriages, in either the Ministerial or personal walk, carriage, or Conversation of Ministers, are a sufficient ground to withdraw from them. Such were the profane Scandals of the sons of Eli, which made men abhor the offering of the Lord, 1 Sam. 2.17. From such Brethren especially (from which rule ministers cannot be exempted, for if they be not first our Brethren, they can never be our Ministers) we are expressly commanded to withdraw our company, if they be Fornicators, or Covetous, or Idolaters, or Railers, or drunkards, or Extortioners, to which we may add, Thieves, Cheats, Liars, Cursers, & swearers, or profane, including all the like scandalous disorders, 1 Cor. 5. 11. Upon which ground, in this broken & declining state of the Church, we do & may withdraw from any Ministers of the Church of Scotland, to whom any of the foresaid scandals are really applicable, for we can have no fellowship with such unfruitful works of darkness, Eph. 5. 11. Neither dare we be partakers with them verse 7. Howbeit let none look upon this as a reflection upon Ministers, who are not guilty of such a charge: For we intend not the application hereof to any, who are free of such scandalous disorders.
Further, what we look upon as sufficient in point of withdrawing from Ministers of a Reformed Covenanted Church, in a broken & declining state, we Judge the equivalent, so far as they may be applicable, sufficient for grounding a withdrawing from Professors of the same Church, in the same broken & declining state, as to that peculiar Church Communion in Selected Christian Fellowships, & General Correspondences, for a joint carrying on of the publick work & Testimony.
But now when we are shewing what we Judge to be grounds sufficient of withdrawing from Ministers of this covenanted & Reformed Church, in this her broken & declining state, to the end that our minds may be more fully known, & to obviate any unjust suspicion of standing at a distance from Ministers upon insufficient or slender grounds; we shall here, in the Fourth place, Declare what we judge, according to the Written Word of God & our Church Constitutions, to be required in Ministers, whom we will countenance & embrace as our own.
Therefore our judgment is, that all or any Ministers, whom we are to countenance or embrace, must be clothed with Christ’s Commission in His orderly & appointed way, & have a sufficient Call to administrate His Ordinances. So it is needful in the First place, we must be clear as to their entry & mission to the Ministry: For how shall they preach except they be sent? Which being clear, in the next place they must be free of scandal as to their Ministerial or Personal walk, & of a blameless life & conversation, according as Paul describes it, 1 Tim. 3.2,3,4, &c. (for such as have not this qualification, bring the Ordinance of Christ & the sacred office of a Minister into contempt, as the scandals of the sons of Eli made men to abhor the Sacrifice of the Lord, & such can have no weight with the people, & cannot expect the presence of God with them.) They must also be free of palpable & manifest defection; For so hath the Lord taught us, expressly declaring that the Priests the Levites that should come near to Him, to Minister unto Him to stand before Him, should be the sons of Zadok that kept the charge of the sanctuary, when the children of Israel went astray from Him, Ezek. 44.15. Yea we do plainly profess, that we will not separate from any, but heartily hear & cordially countenance all, that are free of these things that we mention as grounds sufficient of withdrawing. But if they be guilty of any steps of Scandalous defection through this declining time, we think it necessary, before we can join with them, that they duly resent, confess, & forsake the same. Albeit we do in no ways assume to ourselves the power of Censure or Ecclesiastic Rebuke, yet we think the persons guilty of these sins, for which a publick & Ecclesiastic Rebuke is due, ought in some publick way or other to resent the same, for the honour of God, & the satisfaction of the Consciences of the offended; & we hope that no Minister, either free of these things, or sensible of the guilt of them, will think this an imposition. For further clearing of what we understand by this, see distinction 8. Further we desire & expect of these Ministers that we can have clearness to Join with, that they must discharge what they have in Commission from Christ faithfully: So Paul charges Timothy before God & the Lord Jesus Christ, who should Judge the quick & the dead at his appearing & his Kingdome, to Preach the Word, to be instant in season & out of season, to reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long suffering & doctrine, & to make full proof of his Ministry, 2 Tim. 4.1,2,5. And also gives him charge in the sight of God, that he should keep the commandment without spot unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Tim. 6.13,14. And exhorts him to keep that good thing that was committed unto him, 2 Tim. 1.14. Likewise the Apostle exhorts Titus, to speak the things which become sound doctrine, in all things shewing himself a pattern of good works, in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech that cannot be condemned, Titus 2.1,7,8. Therefore they must take up the right state of the Lord’s Cause against both right & left hand opposites, & maintain the present Testimony, & condemn & preach down the present defections, & propagate the received Principles of the Church of Scotland, according to the word of God, the Constitutions of our Church, & the Oath of our holy Covenants: Otherwise they do but desert & pervert the Word of Christ’s Patience, & are men of corrupt minds, perverse disputers, 1 Tim. 6.5. Now we are confident, that none but such as are blinded with prejudice, will for this say, that we prescribe rules to Ministers; for there is nothing here required, but that which is bound upon them by the divine Authority of God in the Scriptures, & the Ecclesiastic Authority of our Church in the Acts of our General Assemblies. And therefore, however we be reproached as that we have cast off all the Ministers of the Church of Scotland, & will hear none of them, We indeed profess withdrawing from such of them as practically contravene these rules, & to whom the forementioned grounds of withdrawing are applicable: Yet here we declare, that if any Minister will come forth, or wherever we can find any Minister so qualified, that is, clothed with Christ’s Commission, Righteousness, & Salvation, free of scandals Ministerial & personal, free of Errors, Defections, & Compliances, And discharging their Commission faithfully, or if any will come forth & clear himself of these forementioned exceptions, or remove them by a declared Confession & forsaking of their offences, which have stumbled the Godly in the Land; we will Call them, Hear them, own, Countenance, & embrace them, obey, & submit ourselves to them in the Lord, & defend & Maintain them to the uttermost of our power. And we desire that this may be taken, as a serious & Solemn Invitation from us, to all faithful Ministers, tender of their Master’s honour, & zealous for His Kingdom’s propagation, to come forth & take part in the Day’s work & Testimony, & take trial of our earnestness herein.
In the fifth & Last place, we shall propose some things by way of Caution, for the better understanding of the foresaid grounds, which we look upon to be sufficient in point of withdrawing, as is said.
I. We do not look upon all these Ministers that we withdraw from, upon more or fewer of the foresaid grounds, to be no Ministers, yea or no more Ministers of the Church of Scotland, or that their Pastoral Acts are invalidate or null; But only that we cannot lawfully embrace them as our Ministers, & concur with them in the publick work, as they & we are now circumstantiated.
II. We do not look upon all these Ministers, that we withdraw from, to be equally guilty of defections or offensive courses; Howbeit we have not only one but more of the foresaid grounds, for withdrawing from the most part that we refuse to concur with, though any one of them, if rightly considered & applied, doth carry a sufficiency in point of withdrawing in these circumstances.
III. We have not fixed such a stated withdrawing from all Ministers forementioned, upon the foresaid grounds, as that we will never concur with them any more, even though they should confess & forsake their offensive courses, & give due satisfaction to the Consciences of the offended; But only a conditional withdrawing, that is, as we choose to stand still in this case, & refuse to concur, until offensive & backsliding courses be turned from, according as it is prescribed to Jeremie chapter 15.19. So whenever the causes of distance shall be rightly removed, offenses & defections acknowledged & forsaken, we shall with all readiness concur: yea we would account it a day of our joy & hope in Israel, if the Lord would give us occasion to evidence the same. Wherefore we reckon it not so much the giving the offence, as defending of & continuing in it, that doth warrant our withdrawing.
IV. We acknowledge, as Ministers have been untender of people, & have not done that which their office called them unto, in pitying the ignorant, & taking pains upon them, by preaching, rebuking, exhorting, & admonishing, but rather have condemned & misrepresented people, in their faithful & Zealous endeavors, before trying what they were owning & aiming at; So people have not been innocent & blameless, & free of untenderness towards Ministers, in being rather embittered against their persons, when they turned aside to defections, then mourning over their faults.
V. As we Judge it the height of arrogancy, & encroachment upon the Sacred office, for people to Judge Ministers, or prescribe rules unto them; So we look upon it as competent, & granted unto people by the Lord, to have a judgment of their own duty, how to carry towards Ministers, & not to take matters upon trust from them, but to prove all things before they choose, & to hold fast what they find agreeable to the Law & to the Testimony, searching the Scriptures whether these things be so or not, for which the Noble Bereans are commended: And it is given in command, 1 John 4.1, Not to believe every spirit, but try them whether they are of God; which is not written only to Church guides, though Church guides are to try after their own way Judicially, & people in a private way competent unto them: We look upon this as a privilege, which the people (if they would not prostitute their true Christian Liberty) are bound to defend: And that not only extended to Ministers' Doctrine, but also to their practices & professions (to know with some satisfaction to the Conscience, what they have been) which through this vast tract of defections have been so different, while they have not clearly sided themselves, in making a difference between the precious & the vile, nor given people distinctly to understand what they are aiming at, & where they resolve to stand.
Concerning our Delegating & Commissionating some, to represent our Case to Foreign Reformed Churches: And our sending some young men to the study of Theology in the Netherlands.
THIS Head hath two parts to be considered. As to the First, we are branded with that heinous arrogation, of taking the power of Church Government into our hands (which we have abundantly refuted already) And are said to have sent Delegations in that capacity, to the Churches of Holland, Helvetia & Geneva: Therefore, to wipe away this calumny, we offer these things following to consideration.
I. Our design in these delegations was, to declare our adherence to all the sworn & received principles of the Church of Scotland, our wrestlings against the Current of the times defections, & our detestation of the blasphemies, execrations, errors, & extravagancies of John Gib, wherewith we had been most foully & unjustly branded; And also to represent, unto foreign Reformed Churches, our sad broken & Low case, to the end they might commiserate & help us, by their prayers & otherwise: And that we might also know, in what state affairs are amongst them, which things might conduce both to their & our advantage, putting them & us, according to our places & power, to endeavour the strengthening of ourselves & of the Interest of Christ, against the plots, underminings, & cruelties of the adversary.
II. We profess & declare, that it was for no bad design, whether to carry on a schism, or to discover the nakedness of our Mother; But to give them to understand, to what a low, lamentable, & broken state, the sometimes famous Church of Scotland was now redacted, being made, by the violence of prevailing Enemies, a ruinous heap; And that yet there was a Remnant of her Children, taking pleasure in the stones & dust of her rubbish; to the end that, when we could get few at home, we might provoke some abroad to sympathize with us.
III. We did not send such a Delegation, or give such a Commission, as a thing determined by, or issuing from, Ministerial or Magistratical Authority; nor yet as from the whole Church of Scotland, of which more fully see in the explication of our mind concerning the Title of the Protestation against the Scottish Congregation at Rotterdam. Head. 6. But
IV. As a poor oppressed & distressed Remnant of this Church, embodied together in a General Correspondence, & endeavouring to stand by the principles of this True Presbyterian Church, in doctrine, worship, discipline, & Government; And as a poor wasted handful, whom God hath hitherto preserved in the midst of the fires from utter consumption: Wherefore we are the more bound to profess & Confess his name, notwithstanding all opposition.
But further, understanding that we are excepted against because of a Letter, directed to the Reformed Churches of Helvetia & Geneva, giving a short account of our deplorable case; particularly because of some Words in that foresaid Epistle, which are as follows—But the ingredient which is most bitter in our cup is this; we are as sheep scattered without a shepherd, having no Ministers at this present time, to flourish the Gospel’s banner amongst us (saving one) the rest of our Ministers, who continued faithful are taken away, by the violent hand of the Adversaries; And others of them, having laid aside their work, becoming cruel like the Ostriches of the wilderness. To obviate & remove exceptions against us from these words, we offer these things to be considered.
I. The case of affairs amongst us, at the writing of that Letter, is to be remembered. For, as it appears by our words, we spoke only of that time then present: & certain it is (as ourselves & many others know) that then there was no Minister (save one) concurring with us in our stated Testimony, & publickly preaching the Gospel amongst us.
II. In that Letter we spoke only of ourselves, embodied together in particular & General Correspondences, as may appear from the forerehearsed words, compared with the Tenor of the whole: & so concerning ourselves, the same might very well be affirmed.
III. As to the comparison used, whereby it is said, Others are become cruel like the Ostriches in the wilderness: we desire, that the design & scope of the comparison be adverted unto, which, as it is obvious from the comparison, was to hold forth this: That as these cruel creatures do not kyth [manifest] Natural affection to that which is their own, So our Ministers in that time did not teach & preach God’s Word unto us, But did then leave us, in the midst of snares, void of council & assistance, which gave us that occasion, with grief & lamentation, to speak so concerning them, while we were seeking help in our low case.
Moreover on this occasion, though it may seem preposterous for order, & that we should have cleared the case before in the foregoing Head: yet because mention is made in that Letter, of one only flourishing the Gospel’s banner amongst us, we shall here exoner ourselves from another reproach. We are branded with that Ignominious Calumny, that we are of the mind to Call & hear no Ministers, but that foresaid one only: To wipe off such a heavy imputation, we profess & Declare.
I. That as we look upon the thing to be ignorant, factious, & detestable; So we never declare nor did plead a principle, to restrict our Calling & Hearing of Ministers to that one only: But as we said above, are willing & longing, to receive & embrace all faithful Ministers, free of the Gross defections of the time, or that will come cleanly off from them as is abundantly evidenced by our present practice, in Calling & Hearing of such, beside the foresaid one. Though we do refuse to Call and Hear others in this broken time, against whom we have Just exceptions, until differences be removed, in the mean while acting abstractly, not as a New erected Church, but as a poor broken Remnant of the old True Presbyterian Church of Scotland.
II. Though we be falsely accused of separating from others, because they own it as their duty to Hear & Call faithful Ministers; Yet we declare that we own it as our duty, to Call & Hear Ministers, with such Qualifications as they themselves speak of viz. Who have owned, do own, & adhere unto, the true received Principles of the Church of Scotland, founded upon the written Word of God, & whatsoever Declarations or Testimonies, former or latter, particular or more General, are agreeable thereunto. And we profess that we own it as our duty, to Call & Hear all Ministers, against whom we have not Just, solid & valid exceptions. Yea
III. We profess & declare, that we will Call & Hear such Ministers as now we have Just exceptions against, whensoever the right removal thereof shall satisfy our Consciences, by their condemning their Defections, testifying before God & the world their resentment of the same, & taking up the right state of the quarrel. Yet we must still stick at this, that we will not Call or Hear any Ministers, against whom we have just, solid, & valid exceptions, until the same be rightly removed, in manner foresaid.
As to the SECOND part, viz. the sending some young men to the study of Theology, & to receive Ordination in the Netherlands: we shall (1.) shew some things that concurred as Motives, Causes, & Occasions thereof, And (2.) Insert some thing about the Ordination of one of them.
As to the First; we shall mention these following, which concurred among other as moving causes of that resolution.
I. At that time, being left alone, & these of the Ministers with whom we did most agree being various ways removed from us, & seeing so many opposed our Testimony, which we thought ourselves very insufficient to maintain or promote, Therefore, that we might have some more capacitated to do it, & that we might be preserved from Errors, We Judged it expedient, to send some young men abroad to these Colleges, that they might be soundly principled in the Christian Faith, seeing our Colleges were sadly corrupted.
II. At that time (yea more & more since) a great part of our Church was either gone aside to Defection, in Compliance with the Enemy, or else was pleading for favorableness towards union with the men of these defections, in their defections & Compliances; Therefore we desired to furnish ourselves with some means, to make opposition to these courses. For at that time, after the death of Mr. Richard Cameron & Mr. Donald Cargil, the Testimony by publick & frequent preaching of the Gospel did fall (though, it’s true, the only Wise God did then keep up this Testimony by other means, to wit, Banishments, Martyrdoms upon scaffolds &c. Yea in a special manner Martyrs then were so signally countenanced of the Lord, that safely it may be said, the then shed blood of the Martyrs hath become a seed unto the Church; for, as by hearing & seeing them some were reclaimed from their evil ways, So many others were daily more & more confirmed in the ways of the Lord) & Ministers became Generally silent: So that (whatever might have been done privately in some secret Chamber, & some other retired places, yet) as for the body of the Land, little remedy by faithful warning was prepared; Therefore we thought it our duty, not to be wanting for our parts, & this was the most ready expedient we could fall upon.
III. Because there was so great opposition made unto some of the witnesses of Christ, who had more faithfully witnessed against the defections of the time, we could not suffer them altogether to be buried, which in all appearance was then designed: for it cannot be altogether unknown, how they had designed to bury our forementioned Testimony in our Declarations, which was evident from their so much opposing the same.
IV. In opposition to which design, resolving to maintain these Testimonies, we could not but conclude, that none conscientiously adhering to these Testimonies given against the Tyranny & Apostacy of our time, could expect either License or Ordination from them; neither could it be safely sought in such circumstances, upon the account of such imposed restrictions which some before had been troubled with, even when matters in controversy were not come to such height.
V. Because in several Presbyteries, some faithful witnesses had been sharply rebuked, for their faithfulness & contending freely & publickly against some sins & corruptions of the time; But very rarely have they been in Presbyteries rebuked & censured, in these latter times, for their unfaithfulness: Therefore, after so many discoveries of much unfaithfulness in our Presbyteries at home, we were much discouraged in our expectations of help from them, & thought it safer to send abroad to take trial of other Churches.
VI. We knew assuredly, that the Reformed Churches of Christ abroad had a power to License & ordain Ministers, either to the Church Universal, or in particular cases to particular Churches, upon the request of a people, cumulatively not privatively, That is, for to help & confirm these Churches in their own power, But not to deprive them of their rights, or to usurp Authority over them; Not as an Act of Authority over, but as an Act of charity to them. Finally, as was said above, hereby we designed neither to bring up an evil report upon the Church of Scotland, Neither to carry on a Faction nor Schism in it; But, upon the contrary, to Declare our standing to the Reformation attained unto in this Land, And to satisfy our own Consciences.
More particularly in the Second place, as to the Ordination of one of these young men, it is to be considered:
I. When he went abroad, he was not in capacity for being Ordained, nor any way accomplished for offering himself to previous trials.
II. There was then no hope of ordination here in Scotland, to any who agreed with us in all the parts of our Testimony, neither could it be safely sought after upon the foresaid considerations.
III. Though the Classis of Groningen, by whom he was Ordained, differ from the Reformation of Scotland in her best times in some things: yet considering (1) That in these differences they were never Reformed, & so cannot be charged therein with defection. (2) That they agree with the true Presbyterial Church of Scotland, in all Principles against Popery, Prelacy, Erastianism, & all Heretical & Sectarian Errors. (3) That they did then object nothing against our present Testimony. (4) That they come under a General & far other consideration, being of a Foreign Church, than Ministers of the same Organical Church, & under the same Bond of Covenant with ourselves; for which cause, joining with them in that Act of Ordination, came under another consideration. (5) That in the Act of ordination, they did obtrude none of these differences, but did take him engaged to teach according to the Word of God, & the Confession of Faith of the Church of Scotland, & the discipline thereof. Upon all which considerations, it was thought Lawful to accept of Ordination from the foresaid Classis; especially seeing these differences were openly before them & plainly & particularly Protested against, which was sufficient in such circumstances.
IV. As the foresaid Classis did not hereby assume any Authority to the detriment of the Church of Scotland, So the Church of Scotland did never monopolize to herself the sole power of ordination, of all that would officiate in her service, in a broken state of the Church, Neither did reject or invalidate the ordination of any sister Church, lending her helping hand in the case of her necessity.
V. The foresaid Classis is to be considered, as contradistinguished from the impure Cocceian party in these Lands, there being none such concurring in the foresaid ordination: Yea ordination by the University was refused, because of a Cocceian Professor there, who was to examine previously to the ordination. And so a Testimony was given against the toleration of that impure party in these Lands. However their Errors were both preached against, & otherwise witnessed against, by Ministers in that place.
Concerning the Protestation given against the Scottish Congregation at Rotterdam.
BECAUSE we are much opposed, & cried out against, upon the account of the Protestation given in against the Scots Congregation at Rotterdam; Therefore, that our minds may be plainly understood as to that, we offer the following particulars to consideration.
I. The chief occasion of entering that Protestation was Mr. W[illiam] B[rakel] his writing to Mr. [Robert] H [amilton]. That they at Rotterdam together with Mr. G. B. Mr. T. H. younger, Mr. R. L. & others, did take it in evil part that any of our young men were studying at Groningen, And did accuse our Societies of false & grievous things: As, That we had disowned the King & all Ruling under him; (which we own as our duty, as is expressed before, but we deny what followeth) & had chosen all kinds of Magistrates amongst ourselves, as Chancellors, Lords, Presidents, & other orders; And were for killing all as Enemies, who would not own our Government fabricated amongst us; That our Societies were not pure in Religion; And that they were a Faction &c. Whereupon, finding ourselves & the Cause much wronged by their Calumnies, to vindicate ourselves, & invalidate their charge, We resolved upon this Protestation against that Congregation, for such things as we could truly make out.
II. We acknowledge that the persons, who entered that Protestation, ought to have given previous admonition, to the persons Protested against: &, by their failing in this, something of the due method of going about such an action was omitted. But though we are not to Justify the failings that are in our actions by the failings of others, yet the authors of the foresaid accusations did cast us a bad copy, in giving out such things against us without prerequisite admonition.
III. As to the Title of the foresaid Protestation, viz. True Presbyterian Church of Scotland (which is also to be found in some Papers) We do confess it unsuitable to express it so comprehensively: But thereby we do no ways understand, That unto the Societies in any sense belongs the title of the Church Ministerial, for this belongs alone to Church guides; Nor do we understand that it should in any other sense be astricted to our Societies, as if they only were to be reckoned Believers (for that is as large as Conversion or Effectual Calling) or as if they only were to be reckoned sufferers for Christ, or that He hath no other Martyrs but from amongst them; Nor in a word do we reckon them the only Members of the visible Church of Christ in Scotland: But we would have them to be looked upon, as a poor distressed & Contending Remnant, of the suffering & witnessing, Anti-Popish, Anti-Prelatic, Anti-Erastian, Anti-Sectarian, True Presbyterian Church of Christ in Scotland, which hath been labouring to cleave close to the parts & degrees of our attained Reformation, & cordially concurring in their places & stations with such of the Ministers & Professors, as have gone before them, & with them, more resolutely & faithfully witnessing both against Tyranny & Apostacy.
IV. We desire that the Charges in the second article, wherein some Ministers names are expressed, be understood separately & distributively, not Collectively & Copulatively, every one of these Ministers not being guilty in his own Person of all & every one of these charges. But as we acknowledge, that it was an oversight to express these charges so indefinitely, & to cast them & the names of the Persons all in a heap together, without making particular application: So we are not convicted of any falsehood in these, as we desire them to be understood. For there is nothing there said, that is not applicable to some of the Persons named; yea we may safely say, that the foresaid Information against us, spoken of in Mr. W. B. his letter, mentioning some Ministers names, did give occasion of inserting of names in this Protestation, especially of these Ministers who were given up in the said letter, as the principal Authors of the foresaid Information.
V. We do not mean by the word Treacherously in the second Article, a design to betray; Neither does the word itself always import so much; but only a practical betraying of trust, whether it be designed or not: Nor do we mean that the Epithets given to the Associating party, viz. Godless &c. are applied to all & every one of that Company (for we do not doubt of the Godliness of many of them) but only to some of them: Nor yet these words in the Conclusion, concerning the foresaid Congregation, viz. That no pendicle [i.e., that which pertians] of Christ's Crown was asserted by them, are so extensively & Universally understood by us, as that no pendicle at all of Christ’s Crown was asserted by them, but only that our Controversies with some of the Complying party of our Church, concerning Christ’s Prerogatives as King, & what belongs to his Crown, was not asserted by them, we mean the necessary Testimony against the Supremacy, Tyranny, & compliances with the same. However we profess, as we are not to Justify any expression whatsoever in that foresaid Protestation, which is too extensively proposed, or savours of real bitterness; So we are not to condemn the scope thereof: Albeit we acknowledge several unsuitable expressions in it.
VI. Considering that the Causes inserted, materially considered & rightly applied, are both true & sufficient for a Protestation: We desire that it may be looked upon as a standing Testimony (together with what contendings have formerly been by some faithful Scottish sufferers in that Land) for the vindication of Truth, & against the sad wrongs & abuses in that Congregation, ay, & while the causes inserted are maintained, & the offence & scandal given not removed, Yea in very deed, a deep sense in the mean time of the sins witnessed against by the foresaid Protestation, would make all therein involved more favourably & charitably to construct of the action.
Concerning the Charge of making Canons, in which are expressed the Qualifications of the members of General Meetings & Societies: & trying of Scandalous Persons.
THE Societies being likeways misrepresented, in that they are said to make Canons, expressing qualifications of the members of their Meetings particular & more General, & accordingly take to themselves the trial of scandalous persons: Therefore, to shew the groundlessness of such an imputation, We shall speak a little both to the one & to the other.
First, as to the alleged making of Canons, the alledgance is founded upon a Question usually proponed to the members of our General Meetings, which is this, Are you free of Joining with the unfaithful silent & Complying Ministers of the time? which being so much displeasing to many & much carped at, & also the occasion of the foresaid Charge being taken from it: We shall therefore propone some things concerning the Charge in general, imputing to us the making of these so called Canons, & imposing such qualifications on the members of our Meetings & then touching the forementioned Interrogation in particular.
First, We think it an odious calumny invidiously cast upon us by our Traducers, that we have taken upon us to make Canons: Neither do we understand what they mean by making Canons: for (1) If by Canons be understood such Constitutions or Acts, as flow from politick or Ecclesiastic Authority, that the Societies did or do assume to themselves the making of such, we altogether deny. (2) If they understand by them impositions or sinful restrictions, these we also deny & disown. (3) If they understand them to be General & absolute rules, laid down by us for all times & cases of the Church, or for Church fellowship & Communion of Saints in all its degrees, these we also deny to be among us; But if they mean some Interrogations for discovering the Persons we may concur with in our General Meetings, these we own & acknowledge: But these are very impertinently called Canons, Neither did we ever call them by such a name, nor look upon them as such a thing.
Secondly, Whereas they say we make Canons expressing qualifications of the members of our Meetings, the truth is we would have them so qualified as we may with comfort & confidence join with them, in our selected fellowships, being of one accord of one mind in the matter of our Testimony; but hereby we make no rules prescribing qualifications of Church members, in other kinds & degrees of Church Communion. And that this may be better understood, we shall here briefly & plainly express our minds. We deny not the Communion of Saints to & with others, in many other degrees, whether they be Natives or Foreigners under divers considerations: For we distinguish betwixt a joining which we may call Catholic or Universal, among Christians considered as such; & an Ecclesiastical Joining among members of one Particular Organical Church, considered as members of that Church:
As for the first, we subdivide it also into its degrees; For we may join with some as Christians, holding the same fundamentals, Eph. 4.3-6; Act. 2.5-9, comprehending all that are sound in Religion, excluding all Heretics; We may Join with others considered more strictly, & upon stricter conditions, as Protestants, Providing they hold nothing contrary to any of the Reformed Churches' Testimonies, but especially if they be faithful in their own particular Testimony, though the Word of theirs be not the same with ours; We may join with others upon yet stricter conditions, as our Covenanted Brethren, such as the members of the Churches of England & Ireland, Joined together with us in the same League & Covenant, providing they own it & prosecute the ends of it, & maintain the word of their Testimony according to it, & their attained Reformation, albeit they have not the same Word of Testimony every way with us:
As for the Second, We own a Communion, upon stricter conditions & with stricter qualifications, amongst the members of one Church & formed Society, under subjection to the same Reformed doctrine, worship, & Government, as for instance this Covenanted Church of Scotland; Which Ecclesiastical Communion (Particularly in reference to our own Church) is to be considered divers ways, & accordingly is capable of diverse degrees; For either the Church must be considered as constitute in good order, having Judicatories for redressing abuses, in which case we think it were an usurpation, for private Societies to assume the regulation either of Joining or separating; without recourse to the Judicatories; or it must be considered as ascending & growing up gradually unto Reformation, in which case many things also may be born with, especially by persons in a private capacity, & not made a matter of separation, because never Reformed; or Lastly (which comes more home to our case) it may be considered as declining & falling back from some degrees of Reformation attained unto, & as it is broken down by complete & habitual Tyranny & Epidemical Apostacy, in which case our strictest degree of Communion, in Selected Fellowships at least, must be qualified with strictest conditions, considering the present state of affairs in this broken case of the Church: For in these we must necessarily endeavour after oneness & agreement, as to the word of our Testimony, among the constituent members of these Societies, with whom we concur in a joint carrying on the publick work. For we desire not to forget how the quarrel of our Zealous & Ancient Covenanters was stated, against Papists, Malignants, & Sectaries, defection & Schism, And against sinful Union as one extreme, & sinful Separation as another; & all that join with us in our selected Communion, we would have concerting the same quarrel.
Thirdly, More particularly, as concerning that Question, called by them Canon, which among others is proposed to the members of our General Meetings, concerning their joining or not joining with the silent, unfaithful, & Complying Ministers of the time, we shall add these few things. (1.) The occasion of the proponing this Interrogation amongst us was & is, because since our Persecution began to increase, Ministers generally had fallen into such sad & lamentable defections, as is shewed above; Therefore we would inform ourselves, by that Question to the members of our Meetings, whether they had their countenance as formerly, or not. However (2.) By that Question, we understand no Ministers, but these only to whom all (or at least some) of the foresaid adjective Epithets are applicable; that is either these who had complied with the Enemy, or were become silent in lying by from the publick work, or not discovering the palpable sins of the time, or were in such a measure unfaithful, as would be discernedcensurable by our Church constitutions.
SECONDLY, As to the other thing objected against our Societies, to wit, the taking to ourselves the trial of scandalous persons: We profess & declare, that all the trial of scandals or scandalous persons which we Judge lawful, expedient, & competent to private persons, notwithstanding of the greatest necessity, is merely popular & private, for information about the case or practice of the persons, in order to the regulating our Consciences in our duty & carriage towards them, that so, according to the Judgement of discretion, we may be fully persuaded in our minds, as to what is right or wrong, false or true, & may not remain staggering or doubting in our duty & deportment towards them; Not Judicial & Authoritative: For we by no means Judge it Lawful to commit unto the people the power of discipline, no more than it is lawful for them to preach & administrate the Sacraments. Yea so far are we from that Sectarian principle, that, under no consideration whatsoever, we Judge it warrantable to assert, that radically & originally the power of Church Government is seated in the people, & from them derived unto the Pastors & Elders; as it is in Civil Government, which cometh from God the supreme Lord & King of all the world, & is radically seated in the people, & from them derived unto & conferred upon their Magistrates & Civil Governours; whereas Ecclesiastick Government cometh from Christ the Mediator, & King of his own Church, & by him immediately conferred upon the Rulers & Officers of his house, with whom He hath promised his presence unto the end of the world.
But to conclude, we desire a few things of our Brethren, unto whose hands this shall come:
1. That none may look upon us, from what we have professed & declared in this our Vindication, as having new sentiments about these Heads. For we did never hold or maintain opinions, as to these particulars, contrary to what we have here expressed; So that this is not a change, but an explication of our minds: And if any well-meaning person & Zealously inclined amongst us, hath through ignorance or mistake uttered themselves otherwise than we have here explicated, we are not to maintain the same.
2. We desire that no advantage may be taken against us, from words or expressions in this paper through our weakness, But that the scope & design of the whole may be weighed & considered; And so that one part of it may not be divided from another, but that all the parts of it may be together considered, & impartially pondered without affection or prejudice.
3. Seeing the Cause of God hath suffered great hurt, by persons their too much credulity in believing ill & false reports, & spreading the same as real certainties, without ever trying or searching into the truth or falsehood thereof; And seeing that thereby our divisions & distractions have been greatly multiplied: Therefore we desire (which we are also willing to grant unto others) that none hereafter may give ear & credit to the bare reports of our Accusers & Traducers, without due trying & searching into the truth thereof (at least if not for our sakes, yet that they would forebear for the Gospel’s) seeing that from henceforth they may be convinced of our being so much wronged by such sad misrepresentations.
4. We desire that in time coming, any who shall hear or suppose such opinions or practices, as are unsound & hurtful, to be maintained & followed by us, may deal so friendly & Christianly with us, as to admonish us thereof, in order to evince & convict us of the same, before they publickly vent such things, or Inform against us.
5. That nothing in this paper, which may seem more freely expressed, may be constructed as flowing from prejudice at any person or persons whatsomever, or from a glorying in our Mother’s nakedness which is also our own, or an humor to debate: for we desire herein singly & simply to have a respect to the glory of God, the Vindication of his Truths, & (if the Lord will) the advantage both of the givers & receivers of misreports against us. In the mean time we commit the Cause unto the Lord, & desire to wait until He shall arise & give Testimony for His Truths. For, as we are firmly persuaded in our Consciences before God, that this is His Cause & the Covenanted Reformation which we are owning & suffering for: So we are hopeful that He shall, in His own appointed time, make Himself known unto the world, owning the same, how long soever it be now: And that as He hath been pleased, even in these times of hot & heavy persecution of cruel & crafty Enemies, & of sinful & shameful defection of the Generality of Ministers & professors, to raise up & signally to spirit not a few honoured worthies (thô mean, weak & contemptible in the eyes of the world) valiantly to contend, faithfully to witness, & patiently to suffer for the same Cause, even to resisting unto blood, in their steadfast adhering unto their sworn duties & principles (wrestling, as men & as Christians, as well for their natural & Civil rights & Liberties against Usurpation & Tyranny, as for their Covenanted Religion against Popery, Prelacy, & Sacrilegious Supremacy, & also against the Apostacy, Compliances, & detestable neutrality of others) Which worthies, following the footsteps of the faithful Cloud of witnesses that have gone before them, have portrayed a noble & renowned Example of virtue, faithfulness, & Courage to the present age, & have sealed & transmitted an honest & honourable Testimony to posterity: So we hope the same Testimony shall be continued to the Reformation, amongst men of our principles & profession, until at length He shall make the blood, which hath been shed sealing the same, appear above ground to be the seed of the Church, & cause his people to reap the fruit of this present fiery furnace, according to His word promising that all things shall work together for good to them that Love Him & wait for Him.
Finally, we add no more, but desire that this may be taken as the unbosoming of the genuine thoughts, & exhibiting the minds & sentiments (as to the controversies of this present time) of a poor wasted, wounded, afflicted, bleeding, misrepresented, & reproached Remnant, & handful of suffering people, who desire to throw down what God will throw down, & to build what He will establish, when He comes. To whom be the Kingdom & Dominion forever & ever. Amen.
Because the Reader may desiderate these Declarations, so fervently exclaimed against, & here so frequently mentioned; & may impute it to disingenuity, to Conceal those things that are everywhere bespattered; & may reckon he is imposed upon, in having the faults of things both aggravated & extenuated, & yet cannot see the things themselves: Therefore, to the end that both the Reader may be satisfied, & the Owners of these Declarations may be cleared of any prevarication in the case, & that also more abuses of transcribers may be prevented, Care hath been taken to get the most correct Copies, that could be found at the publishing hereof, and to subjoin the same in the following pages. Giving the Expressions most excepted against in different Characters.
The Testimony published at Rutherglen. May 29, 1679.
The Declaration & Testimony of the true Presbyterian, Anti-Prelatick, Anti-Erastian, Persecuted Party in Scotland, Published at Sanquhar. June 22, 1680.
The Act & Apologetick Declaration of the true Presbyterians of the Church of Scotland, Published at Lanerk. January 12, 1682.
The Apologetick Declaration, & Admonitory vindication, of the True Presbyterians of the Church of Scotland: Especially anent Intelligencers & Informers. October 28, 1684.
The protestation, & Apologetick Admonitorie Declaration, of the Contending & suffering Remnant, of the true Presbyterians of the Church of Scotland. Against The Proclaiming James Duke of York, King of Scotland, England, France, & Ireland, The Lawfullness of the present pretended Parliament, And the apparent inlet of Popery &c. Published at Sanquhar. May 28, 1685.