The following period, was that fatal one, that brought in universal darkness on the face of the whole church of Christ, and on Scotland with the first of them; which, as it received very early Christianity, so it was with the first corrupted with Antichristianism: for that mystery of iniquity that had been long working, till he who letted [hindered] was taken out of the way, found Scotland ripe for it when it came; which, while the Dragon did persecute the woman in the wilderness, did valiantly repel his assaults; but when the Beast did arise, to whom he gave his power, he prevailed more by his subtlety, than his rampant predecessor could do by his rage. Scotland could resist the Roman legions, while heathenish, but not the Roman locusts, when Antichristian. At his very first appearance in the world, under the character of Antichrist, his harbinger Palladius brought in Prelacy to Scotland, and by that conveyance the contagion of Popery; which hath always been, as every where, so especially in Scotland, both the mother and daughter, cause and effect, occasion and consequence of Popery. These rose, stood and lived together, and sometimes did also fall together; and we have ground to hope, that they shall fall again; and their final and fatal is not far off. Whatever difficulty authors do make, in calculating the Epocha of the 42 months of Antichrist’s duration in the world, because of the obscurity of his first rise; yet there needs not be much perplexity in finding out that Epocha in Scotland, nor so much discouragement from the fancied permanency of that kingdom of wickedness. For if it be certain, as it will not be much disputed; that Popery and Prelacy came in by Palladius, sent legate by Pope Celestine, about the year 450: then if we add 42 months, or 1260 prophetical days, that is, years, we may have a comfortable prospect of their tragical conclusions. And though both clashings and combinations, oppositions and conjunctions, this day may seem to have a terrible aspect, portending a darker hour before the dawning; yet all these reelings and revolutions, though they be symptoms of wrath incumbent upon us for our sins, they may be looked upon, through a prospect of faith, as presages and prognosticks of mercy impendent [impending] for his name’s sake, encouraging us, when we see these dreadful things come to pass in our day, to lift up our heads, for the day of our redemption draweth nigh. This dark period continued nigh about 1100 years, in which though Christ’s witnesses were very few, yet he had some witnessing and prophesying in sackcloth all the while. Their testimony was the same with that of the Waldenses and Albigenses, stated upon the grounds of their secession, or rather abstraction from that mystery Babylon, mother of harlots, Popery and Prelacy, for their corruption in doctrine, worship, discipline and government. And did more particularly relate to the concerns of Christ’s priestly office, which was transmitted from the Culdees to the Lollards, and by them handed down to the instruments of reformation, in the following period. Their testimony indeed was not active, by way of forcible resistance against the sovereign powers; but passive, by was of confession and martyrdom, and sufferings and verbal contendings, and witnessings against the prevailing corruptions of the time. And no wonder it should be so, and in this someway different from ours, because that was a dispensation of suffering, when Antichrist was on the ascendant, and they had no call or capacity to oppose him any other way, and were new spirited for this passive testimony, in which circumstances they are an excellent pattern for imitation, but not an example for confutation of that principle of defensive resistance, which they never contradicted, and had never occasion to confirm by their practice. But, as in their managing their testimony, their manner was someway different from ours on this respect; so they had by far the advantage of us, that their cause was so clearly stated upon the greatest heads of sufferings, having the clearest connection with the fundamentals of religion; yet we shall find in this period our heads of suffering someway homologated, if we consider,
I. That as they did faithfully keep and contend for the word of Christ’s patience under that dispensation, in asserting and maintaining both the verity of Christ’s doctrine, and the purity of his worship, by testifying against the corruptions, errors, idolatries and superstitions of Popery; so they did constantly bear witness against the usurpation and tyrannical domination of the Antichristian prelates. And as the Culdees did vigorously oppose their first introduction, and after-aspiring domination, as well as the corruptions of their doctrine, as we have the contendings of eminent witnesses recorded from age to age; in the fourth and fifth age, Columbe, Libthac, Ethernan, Kintogerne or Mungo; in the sixth and seventh age, Colmanus, Clemens and Samson, with others; in the eighth and ninth age, Alcuin, Rabanus Maurus, Joannes Scotus AErigena, are noted in history. And the Lollards, by their examinations and testimonies, are found to have witnessed against the exercise of their power, and sometimes against the very nature of their power itself: so in their practice, they condemned Prelacy as well as Popery, in that their ministers did in much painfulness, poverty, simplicity, humility and equality, observe the institutions of our Lord. And so far as their light served, and had occasion to inquire into this point, they acknowledged no officer in the house of God, superior to a preaching minister, and according to this standard, they rejected and craved reformation of exorbitant Prelacy. And it is plain, that they were frequently discovered, by discountenancing and withdrawing from their superstitions and idolatrous worship; for all which, when they could not escape nor repel their violence, they cheerfully embraced and endured the flames.
II. That their adversaries did manage their cruel craft, and crafty cruelty, in murdering those servants of God, much after the same methods that ours do; except that they are many stages outdone by their successors; as much as perfect artists do outstrip the rude beginnings of apprentices. But, on the other hand, the sufferers of our day, that would follow the example of those worthies under Popery, would be much condemned by this generation, even by them that commend the matter of their testimony, tho’ they will not allow the manner of it to be imitated in this day. The adversaries of Christ, in this and that regeneration, are more like than his confessors and witnesses are. The adversaries then, when constrained by diversions of the time’s troubles, or when their designs were not ripe, pretended more moderation and adversation [opposition] from severity; but no sooner got they opportunity, (which always they sought,) but so from they renewed the battle against Jesus Christ; so now: when they had seven abominations in their hearts, and many cursed designs in their heads, they always spoke fairest; so now: when they had a mind to execute their cruelty they would resolve before hand whom to pitch upon before conviction; so now: and when so resolved, the least pretense of a fault, obnoxious to their wicked law, would serve their design; so now: they used then to forge articles, and falsely misrepresent their answers, and declarations of their principles; so now. Yet, on the other hand, if now poor sufferers should glory in that they are counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Christ, as they did then; if now they should suffer with as great cheerfulness, for the smallest points as for the greatest heads, as they did then, who endured the flames as gallantly, for eating a goose upon Friday, as others did for the doctrine of justification, or purgatory, or indulgences, or worshipping of images and saints; if now they should speak for every truth in question, with all simplicity and plainness, without reserves or shifts declining a testimony, as they did; if they should supersede from all application to their enemies for favour, and not meddle with either petitioning or bonding with them, as they did; nay, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection: then they might expect the severe censure of ignorant and precise fools, as the most part who suffer now are counted.
III. That they stood aloof from every appearance of a base compliance with them; not so much as to give them an interpretative sign of it; which, in their meaning might be thought a recantation, though, abstractly considered, it might be capable of a more favourable construction; as the required burning of their bill was; which might have been thought a condemning of their accusations; but because that was not their adversaries sense of it, they durst not do it. Not like many now-a-days, who will not be solicitous to consult that. Neither would they take any of their oaths, nor pay any of their ecclesiastical exactions, as we find in the articles brought in against the Lollards of Kyle, Knox’s History of Reformation. These things are easily complied with now: and such as will suffer upon such things are condemned.
IV. That while the love of God, and his blessed truth, and the precepts, promise, and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, did enable them unto all patience with joy, in a passive testimony, being by the call of a clear and necessary providence sent and set forth to be his witnesses; they did not indeed endeavour any resistance: yet we find they never resigned nor abandoned that first and most just privilege of resistance; nay, nor bringing public beasts of prey to condign punishment, in an extraordinary way of vindictive justice, for the murder of saints. As upon the murder of Mr. George Wiseheart, was done with Cardinal Beaton, who was slain in the tower of St. Andrew’s by James Melvin: who perceiving his comforts in the enterprise, moved with passion, withdrew them, and said; This work and judgment of God, although it be secret, ought to be done with greater gravity. And presenting the point of the sword to the Cardinal, said, Repent thee of thy former wicked life, but especially of the shedding of the blood of that notable instrument of God, Mr. George Wiseheart, which albeit the flame of fire consumed before men, yet it cries for vengeance upon thee, and we from God are sent to revenge it; for here, before my God, I protest, that neither the hatred of thy person, the love of thy riches, nor the fear of any trouble thou couldst have done me in particular, moved or moveth me to strike thee, but only because thou hast been and remaineth an obstinate enemy against Christ Jesus, and his holy gospel. Of which fact, the famous and faithful historian Mr. Knox speaks very honourably, and was so far from condemning it, that while, after the slaughter, they kept out the castle, he, with other godly men, went to them, and stay’d with them, till they were together carried captives to France. Yet now such a fact, committed upon such another bloody and treacherous beast, the Cardinal Prelate of Scotland [i.e., Archbishop James Sharp], eight years ago, is generally condemned as horrid murder.
V. However, though in this dark period there be no noted instances of these witnesses resisting the superior powers, for reasons above hinted: yet, in this period, we find many instances of noble and virtuous patriots, their not only resisting, but also revenging to the utmost of severity, rigorous and raging tyrants: as may be seen in histories. For, before the corruption of Antichrist came to its height, we find Ferchardus 1st, the 52d King, was drawn to judgment against his will, great crimes were laid to his charge, and among others the Pelagian heresy, and contempt of baptism, for which he was cast into prison, where he killed himself, in the year 636; Eugenius 8th, the 62d King, degenerating into wickedness, and rejecting the admonitions of his friends, and especially of the ministers, was killed in a convention of his nobles, with the consent of all, in the year 765; Donaldus 7th the imprisoned, where he killed himself, in the year 859; Ethus, surnamed Alipes, the 72d King, was apprehended, and his wicked life laid out before the people, and then compelled to resign the government, and died in person, in the year 875. Afterwards when the government was transmitted to the Stewarts, James the 2d, the 103d King, who killed William Earl of Douglas in the castle of Stirling, most treacherously, after he had pretended a civil treatment, was publicly defied by the Earl’s friends; who took the king’s public writ and subscription made to the said Earl, and tied it to a horse tail, dragging it through the streets; and, when they came to the marketplace, they proclaimed both king and nobles perjured covenant-breakers: and thereafter, when Earl James his brother was desired to submit, he answered, He would never put himself in their reverence, who has no regard to shame; nor to the laws of God or man, and who had so perfidiously and treacherously killed his brother and his cousins. James 3d, the 104th King, for his treachery and tyranny, was opposed and pursued by arms by his own subjects; who, finding himself under disadvantages, sent to the rebels (as he thought them and called them) an offer of peace, and received this answer; "That, seeing the king did nothing honestly, a certain war seemed better to them than a peace not to be trusted, that there was no other hope of agreement but one, that he should quit the government, otherwise it was to no purpose to trouble themselves with treaties." Thereafter, in a battle, he was slain at Bannockburn by Gray, Ker, and Borthwick. James the 4th the 105th King was also constrained, by the valour of Archibald Douglas Earl of Angus, called Bell the Cat, to reform the court, and put away some wicked sycophants from his counsel, and give way, though against his will, to the execution of judgment upon others which was the occasion of that foresaid agnomen [acquired name] to the Earl: for he, with other nobles, in a meeting at Lawder, consulting how to reform and repress the insolency of the court, had the apologue [moral fable] of the mice laid out before them; that the mice fell upon deliberating how to be rid of the cat, and concluded the best way was to put a bell about her neck; but when it came to be put in execution, never a mouse durst undertake it: the Earl quickly made application, saying, I will bell the cat, and forthwith went out, and meeting Cochan, one of these wicked counselors, took hold of him, and hanged him with a horse-halter over the bridge of Lawder; and, rushing into the king's presence, proceeded to snatch Ramsay, another of the country’s enemies, out of the king’s arms; but that he yielded at length to the king’s earnest entreaties to spare him. However we see how generously zealous these noble patriots were for the country’s good, against tyranny, though they were ignorant of religion: yet this all along was still the character of the Scots in these days, none more terrible to tyrants, none more loyal to kings than they.