AN Historical Representation OF THE TESTIMONIES OF THE CHURCH OF SCOTLAND, With the true state of the same in all the Periods thereof. WITH A Vindication of the present Testimony.
THE church of Christ, in the impression of all that have the least spark of the day’s spirit is now brought to such a doleful and dreadful case and crisis, that if it may not be reckoned the killing of the witnesses; yet all that have or desire the knowledge of the times, will judge it no impeachment to the prophecy to say, It is either very like, or near unto it. When now the devil is come down in great wrath, as knowing his time is but short; and therefore exerting all the energy of the venom and violence, craft and cruelty of the dragon, and Antichrist, alias Pope, his captain general, is now universally prevailing, and plying all his hellish engines, to batter down, and bury under the rubbish of everlasting darkness, what is left to be destroyed of the work of reformation: and the crowned heads, or horns of the beast, the tyrants, alias kings of Europe, his Council of War, are advancing their prerogatives upon the ruins of the nations and churches privileges to such a pitch of absoluteness, and improving, and employing their power, for promoting their masters (the devil and Antichrists) interests, to whom they have gifted the churches, mancipated their own, and sacrificed the nations interest; and that with such combination of counsels, and countenance of providential success, that all the powers of hell, the principalities of earth and the providence of heaven, overruling all things for the accomplishment of the divine purpose, and purchase, and prediction, seem to conspire to produce that prodigious period, and last attempt of the church’s enemy. And the commencement is so far advanced, that now in all the churches of Europe, either the witnesses of Christ are a killing, or the witness for Christ is in a great measure killed; either the followers of Lamb, who are called, and chosen, and faithful, are killed for their testimony, or fainting in their zeal, and falling from their first love; they are cooled or cajoled from their testimony. Some are indulging themselves in their ease, settling on their lees, and sleeping in a stupid security; and, while the Lord is roaring from above and his, and their enemies, raging about them, and designing to raze them after they have ruined their neighbors, they are rotting away under the destructive distempers of detestable neutrality, loathsome, lukewarmness, declining and decaying in corruptions, defections, divisions, distractions, confusions; and so judicially infatuated with darkness and delusions, that they forget and forego the necessary testimony of the day. Others again, outwearied with the length and weight of the trial, under the temptation of Antichrist’s formidable strength on the one hand, and a deceitful prospect of an ensnaring liberty on the other, are overcome either to be hectored, or flattered from their testimony. And so, in these churches, comprehending all that are free from persecution at this time, the witness for Christ is in a great measure killed. Other churches, which are keeping and contending for the word of Christ’s patience, are so wasted, and almost worn out, with persecutions, afflictions, and calamities, that, after they have been, and are (so much) daily killed for the word of God, and the testimony of Jesus, it may well be said, there hath been, and is, a great slaughter of the witnesses. And it were hard to determine, which of them can give the largest and most lamentable account of their sufferings, or which of them have had the greatest and most grievous experiences of the treachery and truculency [cruelty], violence and villainy of Atheistical and Papistical enemies: whether the Reformed Church of France, howling under the paw of that devouring lion, the French tyrant; or the Protestants of Hungary under the tearing claws of that ravenous eagle the Tyrant of Austria; or those of Piedmont, under the grassant [raging] tyranny of that little Tiger of Savoy. The accounts they give in print, the reports they bring with them in their flight from their respective countries, and the little hint we have in Gazettes, and News Letters, must needs enforce a conviction, if not extort a compassion of the greatness of their pressures; and that with such a parity, that it is doubtful which preponderates. I shall not make comparisons, nor aggravate, nor extenuate the sufferings of any of the churches of Christ, beyond or below their due measures: but will presume to plead, that Scotland, another ancient, and sometimes famous Reformed Church, be enrolled in the catalogue of suffering churches, besides these mentioned; and crave, that she may have a share of that charity and sympathy, which is the demand and desire of afflicted churches of Christ, from all the fellow members of that same body: and so much the rather is this her due; that, whereas, among all the rest of the churches, Christ’s witnesses are killed in some particular respect, and each of them have their own proper complaint of it; some upon the account of persecution, some of defection, division, etc. of this it may be said, in all respects, both the witnesses of Christ, and a witness for Christ, are killed with a witness. This is the case of the sometimes renowned, famous, faithful, and fruitful, Reformed, Covenanted church of Scotland, famous for unity, faithful for verity, fruitful in the purity of doctrine, worship, discipline, and government; which now for these 27 years past, under the domination of the late Tyrant, and present usurper of Britain, hath been so wasted with oppression, wounded with persecution, rent with division, ruined with defection, and now she is as much despised, as there was before admired: and her witness and testimony for reformation, is now as far depressed, and suppressed in obscurity as it was formerly declared and depreciated in glory and honour. And yet, which should move the greater commiseration, her witnessings and wrestlings, trials and temptations, have not been inferior, in manner or measure, quality or continuance, to any of the fore-mentioned churches, though in extent not so great; because her precinct is not so large, whereby the number of her oppressed and murdered children could not be so multiplied, though her Martyrs be more, and the manner of their murder more illegal, than can be instanced in any of them, during that time. A particular enumeration or enarration [exposition] whereof, cannot be here exhibited, but is referred and reserved to a peculiar treatise of that compendious account of the kinds and causes, grounds and heads of their sufferings, who have been most slighted, and least sympathized with, though they have sustained the greatest severities of any; and in end, endeavour to vindicate the merit of their cause, in the most principal heads, upon which their sufferings have been stated: whereby it will appear to impartial men, that will not be imposes upon, there hath been, and yet is, a great and grievous, and some way unparalleled, persecution in Scotland, at least inferior to none: which hath not hitherto been duly considered, with any proportion to the importance thereof.
But though this be the scope, it is not the sum of what is intended in this discourse. The method I have proposed to prosecute it withal, will discover it: which is, 1. To give a brief and summary account of the series and succession, success and result of the several contendings of the witnesses of Christ, against his enemies in Scotland from time to time; that it may appear, whether or not the present sufferings, as now stated, can be condemned, if the former be approven. 2. To rehearse some of the chief means, methods and measures, that the Popish, Prelatical and Malignant faction have managed, for the ruin of this witnessing remnant, and some of the most signal steps of sufferings sustained by and from these within these 27 years; by which it will appear, that the persecution in Scotland hath been very remarkable (though little regarded) both in respect of the injustice, illegality and inhumanity of the persecutors, and in respect of the innocency, zeal and ingenuity of the persecuted. 3. To clear the state, and vindicate the merit of the cause of their sufferings, as, to the most material heads of it, that are most controverted at this time. In the first of these, I must study all compendious brevity, as may consist with the clearing of my scope; which is not to enlarge an historical deduction of the rise and result, progress and prosecution, occasion and continuation of every controversy the hath had with her several adversaries in several periods; but only to hint at the chief heads of their contendings, with a design to make it appear, that the most material heads of sufferings that are now condemned, as new and nice nations, have been transmitted from age to age, from the beginning even to this present time, through all the periods of this church.