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PART III.-THE PRESENT TESTIMONY Stated and Vindicated in its Principal Heads.

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PART III.-THE PRESENT TESTIMONY Stated and Vindicated in its Principal Heads.

James Dodson

 

BY what is above premitted, the Reader may see the Series & Succession of the Testimony of Christ’s Witnesses in Scotland from time to time, in all the Periods of that Church; how it hath been transmitted from one generation to another Down to our hands; how far it hath been extended; and what Increments it hath received in every Period; how it hath been opposed by a Continued Prosecution of an hereditary War against Christ, by an Atheistical, Papistical, Prelatical, and Tyrannical faction; and how it hath been concerted, contended for, maintained, & sealed actively & passively, by an Anti-pagan, Anti-Popish, Anti-Prelatical, Anti-Erastian, Anti-Sectarian, and Anti-Tyrannical Remnant of the Followers, Professors, Confessors, & Martyrs of Christ in all Ages. Now it remains in the third & last Place to consider the Merit of the Cause as it is now Stated, to see whether it will bear the weight of those great Sufferings wherewith it hath been sealed. I hope all the Lovers of Christ, who have an esteem even of His reproaches above all the Treasures of Egypt; will grant that if these sufferings be Stated on the least or lowest of the Truths of Christ's, then they are not Misstated, nor built upon a bottom that will not bear them, or is not of that worth to sustain them. For Certainly every Truth, the least of Truths, is of greater value than anything that we can suffer the loss of for it, yea of infinitely greater value than the whole world. So that if I prove these Heads of Suffering to be Truths, wherein Conscience is concerned, the Cause will be sufficiently vindicated from the loadings & lashings of such as prefer Peace to Truth, & ease to duty, who to Justify their own backwardness & detestable lukewarmness call some of them only State questions about things Civil, and not Gospel-Truths and Heads to State suffering upon: And if they be Truths & Duties, the Cause will some way be rendered more Illustrious, that it is Stated upon the smallest hoofs & hair-breadths of the Concerns of Christ's Declarative Glory; as being a greater witness of its Owners Love & Loyalty to Christ, and of their pure & tender zeal for His honour, than if for more substantial & fundamental Truths, which a Natural Conscience may reclaim to Decline, when for the meanest Circumstantials of Christ’s Truths they dare & are ambitious to bestow their dearest blood. But if the Complex of them be impartially Considered, no unprejudiced Arbiter will suffer himself to have such extenuating Impressions of the present Word of Patience, & Testimony of the suffering Remnant in Scotland this day: But it will appear to be a very weighty & worthy Concern, as any that either Men or Christians can be called to Witness for; being the Privilege of all mankind, the Duty of all Christians, and the Dignity of all Churches, to assert, It is for the Glory & Crown Prerogatives and Imperial Regalia of the King of Kings, with reference to His visible Kingdom, of which the Government is laid upon His shoulders, against the heaven-daring Usurpations & encroachments made thereupon, both as He is Mediator & King & Head of the Church, and as He is God & Universal King of the world. As He is Mediator, it is His Peculiar Prerogative to have a Supremacy & Sole Sovereignty over His own Kingdom, to institute His own Government, to constitute His own Laws, to ordain His own Officers, to appoint His own Ordinances, which He will have observed without alteration, addition, or diminution until His Second Coming: This His Prerogative hath been & is invaded by Erastian Prelacy, Sacrilegious Supremacy, and now by Antichristian Popery, which have overturned His Government, inverted His Laws, subverted His Officers, & Perverted His Ordinances. As He is God & Universal King, it is His in communicable Property & Glory, not only to have Absolute & Illimited Power, but to invest his Deputed Ministers of Justice with His Authority & Ordinance of Magistracy, to be administered in subordination to Him, to be regulated by His Laws, and to be improved for His Glory & the good of Mankind: This Glory of His hath been invaded by Tyrants & Usurpers arrogating to themselves an Absolute Power, intruding themselves without His investment into Authority, in a Rebellion against Him, in opposition to His Laws, and abusing it to His dishonour, and the destruction of Mankind. Against both which Encroachments the Present Testimony is stated, in a Witness for Religion & Liberty, to both which these are destructive. This will appear to be the Result & Tendency of the Testimony in all its parts, opposed by the Enemies of Religion & Liberty, and the end of all their oppositions, to bring it to this Crinomenon [point at issue in a debate], who shall he King? Jesus or Cesar? Let any seriously search into all their Proclamations & Edicts against Religion & Liberty, this will be found to be the soul & sense of them, practically & Really speaking to this purpose, especially since this man [James VII.] came to the Throne.

J[ames]. R[ex—i.e., king].

‘JAMES the 7/2 by the V. of G. King of Scotland, England, France, & Ireland, Defender of the Antichristian faith: To all & sundry our good subjects, whom these presents do or many concern, Greeting. We having taken into our Royal Consideration, the many & great inconveniences which have happened in that our Ancient Kingdom of Scotland, especially of late years, through the persuasions of the Christian Religion, & the great heats & animosities, betwixt the Professors thereof, and our good & faithful subjects, whose faith & Religion is subject & subservient to our Royal will (the Supreme Law, & Reason, & public Conscience) to the disappointment of our Projects, restraint of our pleasures, and Contempt of the Royal power, Converting true Loyalty & absolute subjection, into words & names (which we care not for) of Religion & Liberty, Conscience & the Word of God, thereby withdrawing some to the Christian faction from an absolute & implicit subjection to us & our will, as if there were a Superiour Law to which they might appeal; And considering that these Rebellious Christians do never cease to assert & maintain strange Paradoxes, such Principles as are inconsistent with the glory & interest of our Government, as that the Authority of Kings should be hem’d in with Limits, and that their Acts & Actions are to be examined by another rule than their own Authority to make them Lawful, that somethings in the Kingdom are not subject to the Kings Authority, That there is a Kingdom within a Kingdom not subordinate to the King, And that there is another King Superior to the Supreme whom they will rather obey than us, And that we must either take Laws from Him or otherwise we are not Magistrates; And Considering also their Practices are Conform to their, Principles, They will not obey our Laws but the Laws of Another inconsistent with ours, and will calculate their Religion according to His Laws and not according to ours, And continually make their Addresses to and receive Ambassadours from a Prince whom we know not, whom our Predecessors of truly worthy memory did crucify, One Jesus who was dead, whom they affirm to be alive, whose Government they allege is Supreme over all Kings Whom they acknowledge but as His Vassals; Being now by favourable fortune, not only brought to the Imperial Crown of these Kingdoms through the greatest difficulties, but preserved upon the throne of our Royal Ancestors, which from our Great founder Nimrod of Glorious Memory, and our Illustrious Predecessors Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, Herod the Great, Nero, Caligula &c. of blessed & pious Memory, hath been ever opposite to and projecting the Destruction of that Kingdom of Christ: Do, after their Laudable example, resolve to suppress that Kingdom by all the means & might we can use, because His Government is hateful to us, His yoke heavy, His sayings are hard, His Lawes are contrary to our lusts; Therefore we will not let this man reign over us, we will break His bonds and cast away His Cords, from us; And advance & exerce [exercise] our Sovereign Authority, Prerogative Royal, & Absolute Power, which all our subjects are to obey without reserve. And as by virtue of our Supremacy, whereby we are above all, but such as we are pleased to subject ourselves to, settled by Law and Lineally Derived to us as an Inherent right to the Crown, we have Power to order all matters of Church as well as State, as we in our Royal wisdom shall think fit, All Laws & Acts of Christ to the contrary notwithstanding; And accordingly in our Royal wisdom have overturned the plat-form of that Government which Christ hath instituted, razed all Courts fenced in His Name, and severely interdicted all Meetings of His subjects, and entertainment of His Ambassadours; many of whom, in contempt of Him that sent them, we have punished according to Law, for negotiating His Affairs in our Kingdoms without our pleasure, & requiring Allegiance & obedience to Him, after we had exauctorated [deprived of office] Him; we have also established our Right Trusty & Entirely beloved Clerks in Ecclesiastic affairs, and their underlings, by our Authority to have the Administration of the business of Religion, and empowered our Right Trusty & well beloved Cousins & Counselors, to Compel all to submit to them, by Finings, Confinings, Imprisonment, Banishment, Oaths, & Bonds, and all Legal means: So now having prosecuted this war against Christ to this length, that we have no fears of a Rally of His forces again so often beaten, we are now engaged with other Antichristian Princes to give our Power to our holy Father Antichrist, so far as may serve his purpose to oppose Christ in his way; but we reserve so much to ourselves, as may encroach upon Him in our Capacity. And therefore we have thought fit to restore to Antichrist our Ecclesiastical Supremacy, from whom we borrowed it, and for which we have no use at present: But we resolve to maintain & prosecute our Sovereign Authority, Prerogative Royal, and Absolute Power foresaid, against Christ, and without subordination to Him, from whom as we sought none so we received no Power by His Warrant & Grant, and against whom we mind to manage it to the utter most of our power. Yet reflecting upon the Conduct of the four last Reigns, how after all the frequent & pressing endeavours that were used in each of them, to reduce our Kingdoms to Antichrist, the Subjects of Christ were so stubborn, that the success hath not answered the design: We must now change our Methods a little, and tolerate that Profession of Christ which we cannot yet get overturned, His Subjects being so numerous, but always upon these terms, that they take a special care that nothing be Preached or taught among them, which may be a Testimony for Christ's Prerogatives in opposition to our Usurpation, or may any way tend to alienate the hearts of our People from us or our Government, or Preach his Truths which we have condemned as Seditious & Treasonable, under the highest pains these Crimes will import. Hereby we shall establish our Government on such a foundation, on the ruin of Christ's, as may make our subjects happy, and unite them to us by Inclination as well as Duty, in a belief that we will not constrain Conscience in matters of mere Religion: for which we have a Dispensation from our holy-Father, and also from our own Absoluteness, to be slaves to this Promise no longer then consists with our Interest: And which we have power to Interpret as we please: And would have all to understand, that no Testimony for Christ’s Supremacy against our Encroachments thereupon, shall be Comprehended under these Matters of mere Religion for which the Conscience shall not be constrained: But we will have the Consciences of such Subjects of his, that dare assert it, brought to a Test & probation how they stand affected in this Competition betwixt us & this King Jesus, and see whether they will own or decline our Authority, because not of him, nor for him, nor to him, but against him & all his Interests. Our will is therefore, that all who will Countenance any other Meetings of His Subjects than we have allowed, or connive at them, shall be prosecuted according to the utmost severity of our Laws made against them, which we leave in full force & vigour notwithstanding of the Premises. And for this effect, we further Command all our Judges, Magistrates, & Officers of our Forces, to prosecute all these Subjects & Followers of Christ, who shall be guilty of treating with, or paying homage to that exauctorated [deprived of office] King of theirs, in their Assemblies with His Ambassadours in the Fields, with the utmost rigor as they would avoid our highest Displeasure: for we are confident, none will after these Liberties & freedoms we have given to all without reserve, to serve God Publicly in such a way as we by our Sovereign Authority, Prerogative Royal, & Absolute Power foresaid, have prescribed & allowed, presume to meet in these Assemblies, except such whose Loyalty to Christ doth alienate them from us & our Government. As also under the same Certifications, by the same Sovereign Authority, Prerogative Royal & Absolute Power foresaid, We charge, empower, warrant, & Authorize, against all hazards (Hell excepted) all our foresaid Judges & Officers in their respective places, to Prosecute & execute our Laws, against all that may be suspected or convicted of their Adherence to Christ, or be found guilty of owning their Allegiance to Him as their Liege Lord by Solemn Covenant, which we have caused burn by the hand of the hangman, and declared Criminal to own it, or shall be found guilty of declining Allegiance to us & our Absolute Authority, stated in opposition to Him & His, or of maintaining that pernicious Principle, inconsistent with our Government that their lives are their own, which they will preserve without surrender to our Mercy: All which we Command to be executed to death, or banished as Slaves, as shall be found most conducible to our Interest. And to the end, the few that remain of that way may be totally exterminated, we straightly Command all our Soldiers, Horse & Foot, to be ready upon order, to march & make search, pursue & follow, seize & apprehend, kill & slay & cause to perish, all such whether they shall be found at Meetings, or in their wanderings, wherever they may be apprehended: And ordain all our good Subjects to be assistant to these our Forces, in prosecuting this War against Christ and his Followers, and Contribute their best help & encouragement, in giving them their required Maintenance, & duly paying the Cess & Locality imposed for that end; And that they shall not dare to Countenance, Converse with, reset, harbour, supply, or keep any manner of Correspondence with any of these Traitors that adhere to Christ, under the pain of being found airt & part with them, and obnoxious to the same Punishments to which they are liable; But on the contrary to Assist our Forces, to apprehend, and raise the Hue & Cry after them wherever they shall be seen, that they may be forthwith pursed, seized, cut off, & destroyed, which we order to be instantly done upon the place, where they or any of them are apprehended, & that without any delay or mercy to age or sex &c.’

On the other hand if any will take a look of the Declarations & Testimonies of the other Party, without prejudice or stumbling at some Expressions which may be offensive to Critics, he will find the Scope & Strain of them to have this Importance.

‘WE, a Poor Company of Persecuted, reproached, & despised Christians; who indeed have not many wise men among us after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, but are a few foolish, weak, base, & despised nothings in the world; Yet having this Ambition to be His called, chosen, & faithful Soldiers, who is King of Glory, King of Heaven, King of Saints, King of Nations, King of Kings, whose Kingdom is Everlasting & Universal; Considering the many insolent indignities, affronts, & reproaches cast upon His Name & Glory, and the many Usurpations, Encroachments, & Invasions made upon His Crown & dignity, by a Pestilent Generation of His Atheistical, Papistical, Prelatical, & Tyrannical Enemies, who have rebelled against Him, and have renounced, corrupted, & subverted His Royal Government, both in the Church & in the world, both in His Kingdom of Grace and of Power: Do bear Witness & Testimony against these Rebels, from the Highest to the Lowest: And assert the Interest & Title of our Princely Master, and own Allegiance & absolute obedience to Him and His Government, to which He hath all undoubted right; An Essential right by His Eternal God head, being the Everlasting Father whose goings forth have been of old from Everlasting; A Covenant right by Compact with the Father, to bear the Glory and rule upon His Throne, by virtue of the Council of Peace between them both; A Donative [by gift] right by the Fathers right of Delegation, by which He hath all Power given to him in Heaven & in Earth, and all Authority even because He is the Son of man; An Institute right by the Fathers Inauguration, which hath set Him as King in Zion; An Acquisite right by His own Purchase, by which He hath merited & obtained not only Subjects to Govern, but the Glory of the Sole Sovereignty over them in that relation, a Name above every Name; A Bellical right by Conquest, making the People fall under Him, and be willing in the day of His Power, and overcoming those that make war with Him; An Hereditary right by Proximity of blood & Primogeniture, being the first born, higher than the Kings of the Earth, and the first born from the dead, that in all things He might have the Preeminence; An Elective right by His People’s choice & surrender, a Crown wherewith His Mother Crowned Him in the Day of His espousals. In a humble recognizance of all which Rights, we own & avouch, that He hath that Incommunicable Prerogative of Sole Sovereignty, over his Visible Kingdom as well as Invisible, without a Copartner or Competitor, either Coordinate or subordinate; in Prescribing Laws, by no humane Authority to be reversed; in appointing Ordinances, immutable without addition or diminution, for matter or manner; instituting a Government, which no man or Angel can without Blasphemy arrogate a Power either to invert or evert, change or overturn; And Constituting Officers, which must depend only on His Authority and His alone; and must be clothed only with His Commission and His alone, guided by His Instructions & His alone, Acting according to His Laws & Prescribed Platform and His alone, without any dependence on, subordination to, License warrant or Indulgence from, any Mortal. And therefore We disown & detest everything that hath not the stamp of His Authority, either in Doctrine, Worship, Discipline or Government: And will discountenance Prelacy, Supremacy, Popery, and all Corruption contrary to His Institution, who is Sole & Supreme Lawgiver to the Conscience, and will submit to, or comply with nothing that may directly or indirectly signify our respect unto them. Hence we will take none of their Oaths, subscribe none of their bonds, yield to none of their Impositions, pay none of their Exactions: Neither will we hear or receive Ordinances from any Minister, but the faithful Authorized Ambassadours, of Christ our King, whatever either rage or reproach we suffer for it. We assert & affirm also, that our Exalted Prince is King of the whole world, by whom Kings reign & Princes Decree Justice, as His Ministers of Justice, in subordination to Him; whom He hath appointed to rule over us, with just boundaries that they may not exceed, and true Characters by which we should know them & pay them deference. And therefore, who soever shall arrogate to themselves and extend their power beyond & above His prescripts, being neither called to, nor qualified for, nor improving the Office, for the ends He hath appointed; We will acknowledge them no otherwise than Usurping Tyrants, & not Magistrates nor Ministers of Justice, to whom He hath given the Sword by His preceptive Will, only as Lyons, Bears, Wolves, to whom he hath given a rod by His providential Will: In that case we may be passively subject when we cannot do better, but will never own Conscientious Allegiance to them, nor own them as our Lawful Magistrates. And therefore we will not bow to their Idols they have set up, nor prostitute either Conscience or Liberty to their Lust, But will endeavour under our Masters Banner & Conduct to preserve whatever he hath entrusted to us, Religion, Life, Liberty, Estate, And whatsoever the Lord our God hath given us to possess, As they unjustly possess what their God gives them: And will maintain a war of constant opposition to them (against whom our Lord hath declared a war for ever) without parley, Treaty of peace, Capitulation, Composition, Truce or any Transaction: we will neither Meddle nor make with them less or more, nor seek their favour, nor embrace it when it is offered, on any terms that may imply any obligation to surcease from our duty to our King, and irreconcilable opposition to them &c.’

Now I shall come more Distinctly to the purpose, in offering a short vindication of the Heads & Grounds of our great sufferings: Dividing them into their principal parts, which I reduce to two, viz. Negatives & Positives. The Negative Grounds? I reckon three principally. 1. For Refusing to acknowledge a Corrupt Ministry. 2. For Refusing to own a Tyrannical Magistracy. 3. For Refusing to Swear & subscribe their unlawful imposed Oaths, Chiefly that of Abjuration, which was the occasion of suffering unto death. The positive Grounds are also three. 1. For frequenting field-meetings, to receive Gospel-Ordinances from faithful Ministers. 2. For maintaining the principle & practice of Defensive Resistance of Superior powers. 3. For maintaining the privilege & Duty of offensive revenge in executing Justice upon Murdering Enemies of Mankind in cases of extreme necessity. In prosecuting which, I shall intertexe [intertwine] some subordinate questions relating to their respective Heads, and endeavour to discuss them briefly.

[go to HEAD I.]