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PERIOD. I. - Comprehending the Testimony of the Culdees.

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PERIOD. I. - Comprehending the Testimony of the Culdees.

James Dodson

 

IT is not without reason reckoned among the peculiar prerogatives of the renowned Church of Scotland, that Christ’s conquest in the conversion of that Nation, is one of the most eminent Accomplishments of Scripture Prophecies, of the propagation of His Kingdom in the New Testament Dispensation: Not only because it was, when called out of Gentile Paganism, among the rudest of Heathen Nations, & in the acknowledgment of all, among the uttermost parts of the Earth, which were given to Christ for His inheritance & possession; Whereunto He had, & hath still, undoubted right, by His Fathers grant, & by His own purchase; and took Enfeoffment of it by a glorious conquest, of that Land which the Roman Arms could never subdue, & erected His victorious Trophies there, whither their Triumphs could never penetrate, obtaining & thereby accomplishing that predicted Song of praise, From the uttermost parts of the Earth have we heard Songs, even Glory to the righteous; Which gives us ground to expect, that however Christ’s Interest there be now very low, and like to be lost as a prey in the Dragon’s Mouth, Yet Christ, having such undoubted & manifold right to it, will not so easily quit or forego His possession: But also because, He hath so constantly continued His possession, & maintained His Title, by a long course of Contendings, by the Testimonies of His witnesses, against the Invaders thereof, through all the Periods of the Church, from the very infancy of this new Dispensation: And because, Scotland’s conversion into the Christian Faith was among the first fruits of the Gentiles, of the oldest date, that any standing Church holding the head Christ this day can deduce its original from. For it is clear from Ancient Records, the Christian Faith was embraced here, a few years after the Ascension of our Saviour, being taught by the Disciples of John the Apostle; & received afterwards great increment from the Britons, flying to Scotland to escape the Persecution of the Emperour Domitian, & was long promoted by the ancient Culdees or Cultores Dei [worshippers of God]; men whose memory is still fragrant, for piety & purity of faith & life, who continued some hundreds of years, under various vicissitudes of Providence, before either Prelacy or Popery was known in Scotland. They were first universally encouraged by King Cratilinth, in the time of the last Persecution under Diocletian, which brought many of Christs witnesses hither for Shelter, who were very helpful for the settling of Truth, & the total extirpation of the Idolatry of the Druids, the Heathen Priests; whereby the pure Doctrine, Worship, & Government also of Christ’s Institution, was established & continued many years, while these Witnesses of Christ had no other emulation but of well doing & to advance Piety. In this Period, these ancient & first Confessors & Witnesses of Christ, did wrestle strenuously, according to their strength & light, for the Truths & words of Christ’s patience, controverted in their day, both against professed Enemies, Pagan Persecutors & Priests, & pretended friends, corrupters of the Faith. Their Testimony was stated, in a peculiar manner, for the verity, value, & virtue of Christ’s Natures & Offices, in asserting His truths relative to either, against the Malignants & Sectaries of their time: particularly for the concerns of His Prophetical Office. And though we be at a loss, that for the most art their witness is buried in oblivion, through the darkness of the times succeeding: yet the scraps & fragments that are left, do furnish us with these few Remarks.

I. They maintained the verity of the Christian Doctrine, against both Pagan Persecutors, & Heretical perverters; And the purity of His instituted worship, without the vanity of humane inventions, or conformity with, either the Druids on the one hand, or the Heretics on the other: with which, sometime before the end of that Period, they were infested: Chiefly the Pelagians, with whom the faithful would have no communion, but abstracted themselves in a Monastical life, living & exercising their Religion in Cells, from whence many places in the Country yet retain the name, as Kilmarnock, Kil-Patrick &c. that is the Cells of these eminent men among the Culdees. And their Government also, was that of the primitive order without Bishops, with little vanity, but great simplicity & holiness. Many Authors do testify, that near about 400 years the Church of Scotland knew nothing of the Episcopal Hierarchy, until Palladius brought it in, & not without great opposition.

II. In these Recesses, they had the advantage, both of outward peace when others were in trouble, & of inward peace of conscience, when others were debauched with many conjurations, & abjurations, combinations & confederacies, imposed & exacted by them that prevailed for the time: whereby they might both keep themselves free of ensnaring Oaths, perfidious compliances, & Associations with the wicked, & also entertain & encourage the oppressed for equity, who fled unto their sanctuary for safety. We find they refused to enter into League with malignant Enemies. One memorable passage I shall insert (though strictly it belong not to this Period, as I distinguish it, yet falling out, within 80 years thereafter, in the time of the Culdees, it will not obscurely evidence the truth of this) Goranus the 45 King of Scots, earnestly dissuaded Lothus, King of Picts, to entertain the League with the Saxons, not only because they were treacherous & cruel, but because they were Enemies to the Country & to the Religion they professed, concluding thus, Homini vero Christiano id longe omnium videri &c. But to a Christian nothing must seem more grievous, than to consent to such a Covenant, as will extinguish the Christian Religion, & reduce the profane Customs of the Heathen, & arm wicked Tyrants the enemies of all humanity & piety against God & His Law: whereupon Lothus was persuaded to relinquish the Saxons. Buchan. Histor. rer. Scotic.

III. Though they were not for partaking in wicked unnecessary Wars, without authority or against it; yet we have ground to conclude, they were for War, & did maintain the principle of resisting Tyranny: since there was never more of the practice of it, nor more happy resistances in any age, than in that. Where we find, that, as their Ancestors had frequently done before, so they also followed their footsteps, in resisting, reducing to order. repressing, & bringing to condign punishment, Tyrant; & Usurpers; And thought those actions, which their Fathers did by the light of nature & dictates of reason, worthy of imitation, when they had the advantage of the light of Revelation & dictates of Faith; the one being indeed moderate & directed but no ways contradicted by the other. Therefore we read; that, as their Predecessors had done with Thereus the 8th King of Scotland, whom they banished in the year before Christs Incarnation 173. With Durstus the II King, whom they slew in Battel, in the year before Christ 107. Evenus 3. who was imprisoned & dyed there, in the year before Christ 12. Dardanus, the 20th King, who was taken in Battel, beheaded by his own Subjects, his head exposed to Mockage, & his body cast into a sink, Anno Christi 72. Luctatus the 22. King, who was slain for his Lechery & Tyranny, anno 110. Mogaldus the 23. King, slain anno 113. Conarus the 24. King, a Leacherous tyrant, dyed in Prison, anno 149. Satrael the 26. King, hanged anno 159. So, after the Christian Faith was publicly professed, they pursued Athirco, the 29. King, when degenerate into Tyranny, who was forced to kill himself anno 231. They slew Nathalocus, the 30. King, & cast him into a privy anno 242. They beheaded Romachus, the 36. King, and caryed about his head for a show, anno 348. As they did with many others afterwards, as witnesseth Buchan. lib. 4. Histor. Scotic,

IV. Whence it is evident, that as they attained, even in these primitive times, & maintained the purity & freedom of their Ministry, independent on Pope, Prelate, or any humane Supremacy (that Antichristian Hierarchy, & Erastian blasphemy, not being known in those days) so they contended for the order & boundaries of the Magistracy, according to Gods appointment & the fundamental constitutions of their Government; & thought it their duty to shake off the yoke, & disown the Authority of these Tyrants that destroyed the same. Yea we find that even for incapacity, stupidity, & folly, they disowned the Relation of a Magistrate, & disposed of the Government another way, as they did with Ethodius 2. whose authority they did own, but Titulo tenus [only to the title]. See Buchan. loco Citato [in the before cited place].

[go to PART I.-PERIOD II.]