As in the former, the testimony was mostly passive; so, in the following period, when they were increased in number and strength that embraced the gospel, the Lord called, and spirited to an active testimony, for these two twins, religion and liberty, that were then sought to be stifled in the birth, and are now designed more declaredly to be destroyed, after they have grown up to some maturity: which, as it renders the cruelty of the present destroyers the more grassant [raging] and grievous, so it rubs the more indelible infamy, on the shameful security and ass-like stupidity of this generation, that have received such an excellent testimony deposited to their trust, transmitted to them through a continued tract of the witnessings and wrestlings of their worthy ancestors, and now let it slip and slide through their feeble fingers; and does the more justify, yea magnify, the poor endeavours of the present sufferers, who, at least, when they cannot react these mighty works in defending religion and liberty, do choose rather to die than to resign the testimony, or quit the least privilege that their progenitors possessed them of: and though they be superciliously despised, as little insignificant nothings, in the eyes of the bulk of the big boasters of this blind age; yet if these valiant heroes, who did such exploits for their God, in commencing and carrying on the work of reformation, were now to see the dull dotages of this dreaming generation, (not only suffering and consenting to, but congratulating and applauding, the introduction and reestablishment of idolatry and tyranny popery and slavery, upon the ruins of the work they built with so great expense); and were to read the pitiful petitions, and airy and empty, flattering and fawning addresses, to this antichristian tyrant, for the toleration of that religion and liberty, under the odious notion of a crime, which they had conveyed to them under the security of a fundamental law; they, if any, would be acknowledged as their children, who disdain and disown such dishonourable and dastardly yieldings, and are therefore most despised with disdain and despite. A brief rehearsal of their contendings will clear the case.
While the Queen Dowager regent reigned by the curse of God, and employed all her power and policy to suppress the gospel in Scotland; God so counteracted her, that the blood of the martyrs, she caused to be murdered, proved the seed of the church; and the endeavours of his servants had such success, that no small part of the barons and gentlemen, as well as commons, began to abhor the tyranny of the bishops: yea, men almost universally began to doubt, whether they could without sin give their bodily presence "to the mass, or offer their children to the papistical baptism? Whether these, that were in public trust, could with safe conscience serve the higher powers, in maintaining of idolatry, persecuting their brethren, and suppressing Christ’s truth? Or whether they might suffer their brethren to be murdered in their presence, without any declaration that such tyranny displeased them?" And, from the Scriptures, they were resolved, That a lively faith requires a plain confession, when Christ’s truth is impugned; and that not only they be guilty that do evil, but also the that consent to evil, and this they should do, if seeing such things openly committed, they should be silent, and so allow whatsoever was done. From doubts they came to determinations, to endeavour that Christ Jesus his glorious gospel should be preached, his holy sacraments truly ministered, superstition, idolatry, and tyranny should be suppressed in this realm; and that both as to the worship, discipline, and government, the reverend face of the first primitive and apostolic church should be reduced again to the eyes and knowledge of men. And in this they never fainted till the work was finished. To accomplish this, famous and faithful Mr. Knox, and other servants of the Lord, did preach diligently in private meetings. And for that, when they were summoned before the Queen; several zealous and bold men repaired to her, and plainly in the hearing of the Prelates, did charge them with the cruel device intended, and told her with a vow, They should make a day of it, because they oppressed them and their tenants, for feeding their idle bellies, they troubled the preachers, and would murder all; should they suffer this any longer? No; it should not be. Thereafter, the more effectually to prosecute the reformation begun, they entered into Covenants, to maintain and advance that work of reformation, and to stand to the defense thereof; and of one another, against all wicked power, that might intend tyranny or trouble against them, and to resent any injury done to any of their brethren, upon the account of the common cause as done to all. Of which covenants they entered into many very solemnly; one was at Edinburgh in the year 1557; another at Perth 1559; another at Stirling 1559, binding, that none should have any correspondence with the Queen, without notifying it to one another; and that nothing should proceed therein, without common consent of them all. Another at Leith, in the year 1560; another at Ayr, in the year 1562, of the same tenor. By which covenants, as their conjunction was the more firm among themselves, so was it the more fearful to their adversaries; when, according to the tenor of them, they kept their conventions, and held counsels with such gravity and closeness that the enemies trembled. I mention these things more particularly, because these same very things commended in our fathers, are now condemned in a poor handful, that would aim at imitating their example, in renewing and reiterating such covenants of the same nature and tenor, and binding to the same very duties, and prosecute in the same methods of keeping General Meetings for correspondence, and consultation about common mutual duties in common danger; whereunto they have not only worthies to encourage them, and their experience of comfort and tranquillity they reaped, by these Christian Assemblies and Godly conferences, as oft as any danger appeared to any member or members of their body. These beginnings, the zealous covenanted reformers left no means unessayed to promote, by protestations to the Parliament, and petitions, and many reiterated Addresses to the Queen Dowager: from whom they received many renewed fair promises; which she had never mind to keep, and wanted not the impudence, when challenged for breaking them, to declare, It becomes not subjects to burden their princes with promises, further than it pleased them to keep the same: and, at another time, that she was bound to keep no faith to heretics: and again, that princes must not be strictly bound to keep their promises; and that herself would make little conscience to take from all that sort their lives and inheritance, if she might do it with an honest excuse. Wherein she spoke not only the venom of her own heart, but the very soul and sense, principle and project, of all popish princes: whereby we may see what security we have for religion and liberty this day, though the most part make such a pretense a pillow to sleep on. But, after many discoveries in this kind of the Queen’s treachery, at length they would no more be bribed by promises, blinded by pretenses, nor boasted by her proclamations, (slandering their enterprise, as if it pertained nothing to religion) from their endeavours to prosecute the same: but finding themselves compelled to take the sword of just defense, against all that should pursue them for the matter of religion, they first signified unto her; "that they would notify to the king of France and all christian princes, that her cruel, unjust, and most tyrannical murder intended against towns and multitudes, was and is the only cause of their revolt from their accustomed obedience, which they owned and promised to their Sovereign; provided they might live in peace and liberty, and enjoy Christ’s gospel, without which they firmly purpose never to be subject to mortal man; and that better it were to expose their bodies to a thousand deaths, than to deny Christ; which thing not only do they, who commit open idolatry, but also all such, as, seeing their brethren pursued for the cause of religion, and having no sufficient means to comfort and assist them, do nevertheless withdraw from them their dutiful support." And thereafter, they published a Declaration to the generation of antichrist, the pestilent prelates, and their shavelings within Scotland, "That they should not be abused, thinking to escape just punishment, after that they, in their bind fury, had caused the blood of many to be shed; but if they proceeded in this their malicious cruelty, they should be dealt withal, wheresoever they should be apprehended, as murderers, and open enemies to God and to mankind. And that with the same measure they had measured, and intended to measure to others, it should be measured to them;—that is, they should, with all force and power they had, execute just vengeance an punishment upon them; yea begin that same war which God commandeth Israel to execute against the Canaanites; that is, contract of peace should never be made, till they desist from their open idolatry and cruel persecution of God’s children." I rehearse this declaration the more expressly; because in our day Declarations of this style and strain, and aiming at the same scope, is hideously hissed and hooted at as unheard of novelties. Finally, when by all their letters, warnings, admonitions and protestations, they could obtain no redress, but rather an increase of insupportable violence; they proposed the question in a general meeting: Whether she, whose pretenses threatened the bondage of the whole common wealth, ought to be suffered so tyrannically to domineer over them? Unto which the ministers, being required to give their judgment, answered, That she ought not. And accordingly they declared her deposed from all government over them; "because of her persecuting the professors of the true religion, and oppressing the liberties of the true lieges, never being called nor convinced of any crime; because of her intrusion of magistrates against all order of election; because of her bringing in strangers to suppress the liberty of the country, and placing them in greatest offices of credit; because of her altering and subverting the old laws of the realm, etc." Which I mention, because hence we may see what things, our fathers judged, did dissolve the relation between the people and their rulers: and, when applied to our case, will justify their reasons that have renounced the present tyranny. This was done at Edinburgh in the year 1559. And thereafter, while they vindicated themselves, and went on with the work of reformation, throwing down all monuments of idolatry, and propagating the Reformed religion; God so blessed their endeavours, that their confession of faith, and all articles of the Protestant religion, was read and ratified by the three estates of parliament, at Edinburgh, July 1560. And the same year the book of discipline, containing the form and order of Presbyterial government, was subscribed by a great part of the nobility. Thus, through the wisdom and power of God alone, even by the weakness of very mean instruments, against the rage and fury of the devil, and of all the powers of hell, was this work of reformation advanced and effectuated; and came to the establishment of a law, which did not only ratify and confirm the Protestant religion, but abolish antichristian popery, and appoint punishment for the professors and promoters thereof. Which law, often confirmed and ratified afterwards, though it be now called and rescinded by the prerogative of the present tyrant; because it annuls and invalidates his pretense to succession in the government, (it being expressly enacted afterwards, by a parliament at Edinburgh 1567, confirming this, that all princes and kings hereafter, before their coronation, shall take oath to maintain the true religion then professed, and suppress all things contrary to it), yet is still in force in the hearts of all honest men, that will not prostitute religion, law and liberty to the lusts of tyrants; and will be accounted a better bottom to build the hope of enjoying religion upon, than the perfidious promises of a popish usurper, pretending a liberty to dissenting Protestants, by taking away the penal statues, the legal bulwark against popery: all which yet, to the reproach of all Protestants, some are applauding and congratulating in this time by their addresses and petitions, to this destroyer of law and religion. I wish they would look back to see what the building of this bulwark cost our fathers, before they fell it at such a rate: and compare the present addresses, courting and caressing the papists, with the addresses of these worthy builders of what they are destroying. There is one dated, Edinburgh, May 27, 1561, presented to the council, showing, that honesty craved them, to make the secrets of their heart patent, which was: "That, before ever these tyrants and dumb dogs empire over them professing Christ Jesus within this realm, they were fully determined to hazard life, and whatsoever they had received of God in temporal things.—And let these enemies of God assure themselves, that if their council put not order unto them, that they should shortly take such order, that they shall neither be able to do what they list, neither yet to live upon the sweat of the brows of such as are no debtors to them." And when the mischievous Mary, the daughter of the degraded Queen returning from France, set up the Mass but in her own family, the godly at that time gave plain signification, that they could not abide, that "the land, which God had purged from idolatry, should in their eyes be polluted again. Shall that idol (say they) be suffered again to take place within this realm? It shall not." The idolatrous priests should die the death according to God’s law. And a proclamation being issued to protect the Queen’s domestic servants, that were papists; there was a protestation given forth presently, "That if any of her servants shall commit idolatry, say mass, participate therewith, or take the defense thereof, in that case this proclamation was not extended to them in that behalf no more than if they commit murder; seeing the one is much more abominable in the sight of God than the other; but that it may be lawful to inflict upon them, the pains contained in God’s word, against idolaters, wherever they may be apprehended, without favour." The words of John Knox upon the following Sabbath may be added, That one mass was more fearful unto him, than if ten thousand armed enemies were landed in any part of the realm, of purpose to suppress the whole religion: for (said he) in our God there is strength to resist and confound multitudes, if we unfeignedly depend upon him; but when we join hands with idolatry, it is no doubt, but both God’s amiable presence and comfortable defense will leave us, and what shall then become of us? Yea, when it was voted in the General Assembly, whether they might take the Queen’s mass from her? Many frankly affirmed, "That as the mass is abominable, so it is just and right, that it should be suppressed: and that in so doing, men did no more hurt to the Queen’s majesty, than they that should by force take from her a poisoned cup, when she were going to drink it." Thus we have some specimen of the zeal of our fathers against idolatry. But in a little time, court favours blunted it in many; and then had the servants of God a double battle, fighting on the one hand against idolatry, and the rest of the abominations maintained by the court. And upon the other hand, against the unfaithfulness of false brethren, and treachery of sycophants, who informed the court against the ministers, for their free and faithful preaching and warnings on all occasions; yet they sustained the brunt of all these assaults, and came off with honour. At length, to be short, in process of time, this Mary, a woman of a proud and crafty wit, and an obdured heart against God and his truth, insisted in the same steps of tyranny and treachery (but with greater aggravations) that her mother walked in, and was served according to her desert. For after that her darling Davie Rizio, the Italian fiddler (whom most men then supposed, and do still suspect to be the father of king James, this man’s grandfather; and some do think it not unlikely, that his successors have derived from this stock the Italian complexion and constitution, both of body and mind, spare and swarthy, cruel and crafty) received his due rewards in her presence, by the king’s consent and counsel; she conceived such contempt of, and indignation against the poor uxorious young king, Henry of Darnely, that she never rested, till she and Bothwel contrived and executed his murder, and then she married that murdering adulterer, the said Earl of Bothwel: whereupon the Protestant noblemen pursuing the murder, took her, and sent her prisoner to Lochlevin, where they made her resign the government to her son James, then an infant, and afterwards she was beheaded by Elizabeth Queen of England. We see now by this deduction, what was the Testimony of this Period, and how in many things it confirms the heads of the present sufferings, which we may particularly remark.
I. The reformation of Scotland had this common with all other Protestant churches, that it was carried on by resisting the opposing powers; but it had this peculiar advantage above all, that at once, and from the beginning, both doctrine and worship, discipline and government were Reformed: as Mr. Knox witnesseth, that there was no realm upon the face of the earth at that time, that had religion in greater purity. Yea, says he, we must speak the truth, whomsoever we offend, there is no realm that hath the like Purity; for all others, how sincere soever the doctrine be, retain in their churches and the ministry thereof, some footsteps of antichrist, and dregs of popery; but we (praise to God alone) have nothing in our churches, that ever flowed from the Man of Sin. The doctrine was purely Reformed, according to the rule of Christ, both as to matter and manner of delivery. As to the matter of it, what it was, the Confession of Faith ratified in parliament in the year 1560 doth witness. In the manner of it, they studied not the smooth and pawky [sly] prudence, that is now so much applauded, for not observing which, such as would fain be honest in this duty, are so much condemned; but they cried aloud against, and did not spare the sins of the time, with application to every degree of men; as we have it published and vindicated in Mr. Knox’s History. "They cried, that the same God who plagued Pharaoh, repulsed Sennacherib, struck Herod with worms, and made the bellies of dogs the grave and sepulchre of the spiteful Jezebel, will not spare misled princes, who authorize the murders of Christ’s members in this our time. Many now a days will have other religion than the Queen; the Queen no other than the cardinal; the cardinal no other than the pope; the pope no other than the devil: let men therefore consider what danger they stand in, if their salvation shall depend upon the Queen’s faith." And they used to defend such manner of free dealing, from the examples of the prophets reproving Kings personally. "Now, if the like and greater corruptions be in the world this day, who dare enterprise, to put to silence the Spirit of God, which will not be subject to the appetites of misled princes." Mr. Knox his defense before the Queen, when rebuked for speaking of her marriage in the pulpit, was: "The Evangel, saith he, hath two points, repentance and faith; in preaching repentance, of necessity it is, that the sins of men may be noted, that they may know wherein they offend." And in his dispute with Lethingtoun, requiring where any of the prophets did so use kings and rulers; he gave the example of Elias, "reproving Ahab and Jezebel, that dogs shall lick the blood of Ahab, and eat the flesh of Jezebel; which was not whispered in their ears, but so as the people understood well enough, for so witnessed Jehu after the accomplishment. Elizeus reproved Jehoram, saying, What have I to do with thee, if it were not for Jehoshaphat, I would not have looked toward thee; though a subject, yet he gave little reverence to the king." These were their arguments for faithfulness then, which are now exploded with contempt. Their worship was also Reformed from all dregs of popery, and fopperies [absurdities] of human ceremonies, retained in many other churches, especially in England; to whose bishops, in Queen Elizabeth’s time the assembly wrote; "That if Surplice, Corner Cap, Tippet, etc. have been the badges of idolaters in the very act of idolatry, what have preachers to do with the dregs of that Romish beast? Yea, what is he that ought not to fear to take, either in his hand or forehead, the mark of that odious beast?—We think you should boldly oppose yourselves to all power, that will dare extol itself against God, and against all such as do burden the conscience of the faithful, further than God hath burdened them by his own word." The discipline and government was from the beginning Presbyterial, even before the establishment: both in practice, among the persecuted ministers, who kept their private meetings; and in their doctrine. This was one of Mr. Knox’s articles he sustained at St. Andrews, upon his first entry unto the ministry. Art. 8. There is no bishop, except he preach even by himself without any substitute. But so soon as they attained any settlement, they assembled in their first national synod in the year 1560, by virtue of that intrinsic power granted by the Lord to his church; nor did they so much as petition for the indulgence of the then authority; but upon Christ’s warrant, they kept and held their courts in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ only; and in his sole authority, by direction of his word and Spirit, concluded all their counsels, votes and acts. And as they knew nothing of an exotic supremacy, so they put out and held out prelacy, and kept a perfect parity; which was nothing infringed by the extraordinary employments and commissions delegated to some superintendents, upon the account of the particular exigence of these times.
II. Next we find in the practice of these renowned reformers, many demonstrations of pure zeal, worthy of all imitation; which I remark the rather, because poor sufferers that would now imitate it, are condemned as blind and ignorant zealots. But why are not the reformers condemned for the same things? We find in the first place, that they were so far from complying with, or conniving at, or countenancing public sins, that they could not contain themselves from declaring their detestation of the sight of them; yea, the very boys did abominate it, as at the reformation of St. Johnstoun, a boy cried with a bold voice, this is intolerable, that when God by his word hath plainly condemned idolatry, we shall stand and see it used in despite. Whereupon he and others threw down all the monuments of idolatry in the place. But if now any should enterprise such a thing, when the idol of the mass is set up in every city, they might expect Jerubbaal’s censure of the Abiezrites; tho’ it is true they might have the same encouragement, because they have the same command as he had, to wit, the perpetual precept of throwing down idolatrous altars. Next, they were so far from complying with the enemies, in keeping the peace with them, that they thought it a great sin not to oppose them, when their brethren were forced to take the sword of self-defense, being persuaded by these arguments: "That by their fainting, and abstracting their support the enemies would be encouraged; and thereby they should declare themselves both traitors to the truth once professed, and murderers of their brethren, whom their presence and concurrence might preserve; and that if they should deny their brethren suffering for his name’s sake, they should also deny Christ, and be denied of him; and that God hath punished subjects with their princes, for winking at, and not resisting their manifest inquiry: and therefore, as he is immutable in nature, so would he not pardon them in that which he hath punished in others, etc." Which arguments prevailed with the noble Earl of Glencairn in zeal to burst forth in these words:—Albeit never man should accompany me, yet I will go to my brethren, and if it were but a pike upon my shoulder, I had rather die with that company than live after and them. But now professors cannot only fit at home in their shops and ceiled houses, when the Lord’s people are pursued and murdered in their fields, but also can hire their murderers, and strengthen their hands, by paying them cesses and localities, and what they require for help to do their work, and maintaining them in their iniquity. Which famous Mr. Knox disproveth very much in his day, arguing, "That if people thought they were innocent, because they were not the actors of such iniquity, they were utterly deceived; for God doth not only punish the chief offenders, but the consenters to such iniquity; and all are judged to consent, who give not testimony against it; as the rulers and bishops are criminal of all the innocent blood that’s shed for the testimony of Christ’s truth; so are all who assist and maintain them in their blind rage, and give no declaration, that their tyranny displeaseth them. This doctrine is strange to the blind world, but the verity of it hath been declared in all notable punishments from the very beginning. When the old world was destroyed by water, Sodom and Jerusalem were destroyed, were all alike wicked? Yet all perished: why? All kept silence, or did not resist; by which all approved iniquity, and joined hands with the Tyrants, as it had been in one battle against the omnipotent." Which words, if impartially applied, will condemn and confute the dull daubings of the present compliances, in maintaining tyrants and their emissaries, by emoluments which they require and exact, and that professedly, for promoting their accursed projects; and will justify conscientious sufferers, for refusing to pay these impositions. And this will the more appear, if we add some more of his pithy expressions in the same place, clearing the subject he is upon, and answering an objection, what poor people might do, when compelled to give obedience to all their rulers demanded? Ye may, saith that author, without sedition, "Withhold the fruits and profits, which your false bishops and clergy most unjustly received of you; upon which he subjoins the preceding arguments." Yet now a days these have no weight, but such as refuse either to pay oppressors exactions, or curates stipends, are condemned for giddy fools. Again we find, that when they were challenged for duty, they would never decline a declaration of its righteousness, nor do any thing directly or indirectly, which might seem a condemning of it. And therefore they would receive no pardons for these things which they could not confess to be offenses. John Knox, challenged for offending the queen; had her promise, that if he would confess an offense his greatest punishment should be, but to go within the castle of Edinburgh, and immediately to return to his own house; he refused absolutely. But now, if our pardon-mongers, and prudent men had been so circumstantiate, surely they could have helped themselves with their distinctions, they might confess and be pardoned for offending the queen, tho’ not confess it to be a fault in their conscience; but Mr. Knox had not learned that then. When they were pursuing the murderer of king Henry of Darnly, the queen finding her self not strong enough, offers to forgive and pardon that insurrection: the earl of Morton, in name of all the rest did not only refuse a cessation, but told her they would not ask a pardon. But now sufferers, for refusing of these base and unmanly, as well as unchristian compliances, are much condemned. Finally, because this strictness, especially in their severity against their enemies may be accused of Jewish rigidity, inconsistent with a gospel spirit of lenity, which also is imputed to the much condemned sufferers of Scotland at this time, for their testimonies against toleration, and liberty of conscience: let us hear what Knox says, "whatsoever God required of the civil magistrate in Israel or Judah, concerning the observation of true religion during the time of the law, the same doth he require of lawful magistrates, professing Christ Jesus, in the time of the gospel: and cites a large testimony out of Augustine to this purpose." And afterward objecting to himself the practice of the apostles, who did not punish the idolatrous gentiles; he answers, "That the gentiles, being never avowed to be God’s people before, had never received his law, and therefore were not to be punished according to the rigour of it, to which they were never subject, being strangers from the common wealth of Israel; but if any think, after the Gentiles were received in the number of Abraham’s children, and so made one people with the Jews believing; then they were not bound to the same obedience of Israel’s covenant, the same seems to make Christ inferior to Moses, and contrary to the law of his heavenly father; for if the contempt and transgression of Moses’s law was worthy of death, what judge we the contempt of Christ’s ordinance to be? And if Christ be not come to dissolve, but to fulfill the law of his heavenly father, shall the liberty of his gospel be an occasion that the special glory of his father be trodden under foot, and regarded of no man? God forbid; and therefore I fear not to affirm, that the gentiles be bound by the same covenant that God made with his people Israel, in these words, Beware that thou make not any covenant with the inhabitants of this land, but thou shalt destroy their altars, etc. When therefore the Lord putteth the sword in the hand of the people, they are no less bound to purge their cities and countries from idolatry, than were the Israelites, what time they received the possession of the land of Canaan."
III. For the head of resistance of superior powers, we have no clearer instances in any period than in this, whereof the above mentioned hints give some account, to which their sentiments and arguments may be here subjoined. They prized and improved the principle so much, that they put it in their Confession of Faith Art. 14. To save the lives of innocents, to repress tyranny, to defend the oppressed, are among the good works of the second table, which are most pleasing and acceptable to God, as these works are commanded by himself; and to suffer innocent blood to be shed, if we may withstand it, is affirmed to be sin, by which God’s hot displeasure is kindled against the proud and unthankful world. And if there were no more to render the late Test of Scotland detestable, that condemns all resistance of kings upon any pretense whatsoever this may make all christians, and all men, abhor the contrivance of it; that that same test that confirms this thesis, doth also impose the antithesis upon conscience. It obliges to this confession in the first part of it, and to deny it in the latter. But no wonder, that men of seared conscience can receive any thing, tho’ never so contradictory to itself and that men who deny sense, and that principle irradicated in human nature, may also deny conscience, and make a tool of it in soldering contradictories. But not only did our reformers assert this truth, for which now their children adhering to their testimony, suffer both rage and reproach; but also gave their reasons for it. As (1.) Mr. Knox, in his first conference with the Queen, argues thus, "There is neither greater honour nor obedience to be given to princes than parents; but so it is, that the father may be stricken with a frenzy, in the which he would slay his own children; now if the children arise, take his weapon from him, bind his hands, do the children any wrong? It is even so with princes, that would murder the children of God subject to them, their blind zeal is nothing but a very mad frenzy; an therefore to take the sword from them, and cast them into prison till they be brought to a more sober mind, is no disobedience against princes." (2.) In his conference with Lethingtoun, he proves the same point, from the consideration of the justice of God, punishing the people for not resisting the prince. The Scripture of God teacheth me (saith he) "Jerusalem and Judah were punished for the sins of Manasseh; if you allege they were punished, because they were wicked, and not because the king was wicked; the Scripture says expressly, for the sins of Manasseh, yet will I not absolve the people, I will grant the whole people offended with their king, but how? To affirm that all Judah committed the acts of his impiety, hath no certainty; who can think, that all Jerusalem should turn idolaters immediately after Hezekiah’s notable reformation? One part therefore willingly followed him in his idolatry, the other suffered him, and so were criminal of his sin; even as Scotland is guilty of the Queen’s idolatry this day." In the same discourse he makes it plain, that all are guilty of innocents murder who do not oppose it, from Jeremie’s words in his defense before the princes.—Know ye for certain, if ye put me to death, ye shall surely bring innocent blood upon yourselves, and upon the city, and upon the inhabitants thereof; Now, if the princes, and the whole people should have been guilty of the prophet’s blood; how shall others be judged innocent before God, if they suffer the blood of innocents to be shed, when they may save it? (3.) Ibid. He argues from the distinction between the person placed in authority, and the ordinance of God, the one may be resisted, the other cannot. The plain words of the apostle makes the difference, "The ordinance of God, for preservation of mankind, punishment of vice, which is holy and constant: persons commonly are profane and unjust: he that resisteth the power there, is only meant of the just power wherewith God hath armed his magistrates, which whoso resists, resists God’s ordinance; but, if men, in the fear of God, oppose themselves to the fury of princes, they then resist not God, but the devil, who abuses the sword and authority of God: it is evident the people resisted Saul, when he had sworn Jonathan should die, whom they delivered: The Spirit of God accuses them not of any crime, but praises them, and condemns the king: this same Saul again commanded the priests of the Lord to be slain, his guard would not obey, but Doeg put the king’s cruelty in execution; I will not ask, whether the king’s servants, not obeying, resisted the ordinance of God; or whether Doeg murdering gave obedience to just authority? The Spirit of God condemns that fact, Psal. 52. that God would not only punish the commander, but also the merciless executor; therefore they who gainstood his command, resisted not the ordinance of God, (4.) Ibid. He argues from examples, not only of resisting, but of punishing tyrants; chiefly the example of Uzziah is pertinent to this purpose, 2 Chron. 26, who after his usurping the priest’s office, was put out of the temple." When it was replied, that they were the priests that withstood the king, not simple people: he answered, "The priests were subjects, as Abiathar was deposed by Solomon, etc. yet they made him go out of the temple for his leprosy, and the people put him from the kingdom." It is noted also, that Mr. Knox, in that discourse, adduces examples of those, who use to be brought in as objections against defensive arms, even the primitive christians, before that passage last cited: "what precepts, says he, the apostle gave, I will not affirm; but I find two things the faithful did, the one was they assisted their preachers even against the rulers, the other was they suppressed idolatry wheresoever God gave unto them force, asking no leave of the emperor, nor of his deputies: read the Ecclesiastical histories, and ye shall find examples sufficient."
IV. In the next place, we may inquire into the judgment of these reformers, concerning that question that is now so puzzling to many; which indeed was never started before this time, as a head of suffering; but now, when it is stared, we may gather from our ancestors actings and determinations about it, how it ought to be answered. They were indeed in capacity, and accordingly did improve it, for disowning the authority of both the queens; for their capacity was not the thing that made it duty, if it had not been so before. Capacity makes anything possible, but not lawful: it does indeed make a duty seasonable, and clears the call to it, and regulates the timing of affirmative duties, but the want of it can never displease with negative precepts: and a duty, negative especially, may become necessary, when it hath not the advantage of seasonableness or capacity; certainly it were duty to depose the Pope from his usurped authority, and to disown it even in Rome itself, but there it would not be thought very feasible or seasonable, for twenty or thirty people to avouch such a thing there; yet, at all times, it is a duty never to own it. It is thought unseasonable and unfeasible to disown the tyrants authority; but it is made necessary, when urged, never to own it. And for this we have the grounds of our ancestors, showing who may be disowned, and must not be owned. I shall first insert here John Knox’s propositions, prosecuted in his second blast, extant at the end of Anton. Gilbie’s admonition to England and Scotland. 1. It is not birth only, nor propinquity of blood, that maketh a king lawfully to reign over a people professing Christ Jesus and his eternal verity; but, in his electing, the ordinance which God hath established in the election of inferior judges, must be observed. 2. No manifest idolater, nor notorious transgressor of God’s holy precepts, ought to be promoted to any public regimen, honour, or dignity, in any realm, province, or city, that hath subjected themselves to Christ Jesus, and his blessed evangel. 3. Neither can oath, or promise, bind any such people to obey and maintain tyrants, against God and his truth known. 4. But if rashly they have promoted any manifest wicked person, or yet ignorantly have chosen such an one, as after declareth himself unworthy of regimen above the people of God, (and such be all idolaters and cruel persecutors) most justly may the same men depose and punish him, that unadvisedly before they did nominate, appoint and elect. Accordingly, this was done in deposing both the queens; which is fully vindicated by the earl of Morton, in his discourse to the queen of England as [George] Buchanan relates it, book 20. page 746. "The deed itself, neither the custom of our ancestors of taking a course with their governors, will suffer it to be accounted new, nor the moderating of the punishment to be odious; for it were not needful to recount so many kings punished by death, bonds, and exile by our progenitors. For the Scottish nation, being from the beginning always free, hath created kings upon these conditions, that the government entrusted to them by the peoples suffrages, might be also (if the matter required) removed by the same suffrages: of which law there are many footsteps remaining even to our day; for both in the isles about, and in many places of the continent, in which the old language and institutions have any abode, this custom is kept, in creating their governors of clans: and the ceremonies, used at the entering into government, do yet retain the express representation of this law. When it is evident, that the government is nothing else but a mutual stipulation between kings and people: which further appears, from the inviolated tenor of the ancient law, since the beginning of the Scottish government, reserved even unto our memory, without the least essay either to abrogate it, or disable, or diminish it. Yea, even when our fathers have deposed, banished, and more severely punished so many kings, yet never was any mention or motion made of relaxing the rigour of that law, and not without reason, seeing it was not of that kind of constitutions, that change with the times, but of those which are engraven in the minds of men from the first original, and approved by the mutual consent of all nations, and by nature’s sanction continued inviolable and perpetual, which, being subject to no other laws, do command and rule all. This, which in every action doth offer itself to our eyes and minds, and whether we will or not, abides in our breasts, our predecessors followed; being always armed against violence, and ready to suppress tyrants.—And now for the present, what have we done, but insisting in the footsteps of so many kingdoms and free nations, suppressed tyrannical licentiousness, extolling itself above all order of laws, not indeed so severely as our predecessors in like cases; if we had imitated them, not only would we have been far from all fear of danger, but also have escaped the trouble of calumnies.—What would our adversaries be at? Is it that we should arm with authority tyrants convicted of grievous crimes, maintained by the spoils of the subjects, having hands embrued in loyal blood, and hearts gaping for the oppression of all men? And shall we put them upon our head, who are infamously suspected of parricide, both projected and perpetuated?" To which we may add, a foreign conclusion indeed, but adduced and maintained by Mr. Craig, in the assembly, in the year 1564. which had been determined by learned men in Bononia, All rulers, be they supreme or subordinate, may and ought to be Reformed, or bridled (to speak moderately) by them by whom they are chosen, confirmed, or admitted to their office; so oft as they break that promise made by oath to their subjects, because princes are no less bound by oath to their subjects, than are the subjects to their princes: and therefore ought it to be kept and performed equally, according to law and condition of the oath that is made of either party. By comparing which two testimonies together, we may see the reasons, why neither of the two royal brothers [i.e., Charles and James], that have ruled in our day, could be conscientiously owned as magistrates, in the case they have be in for several years past: the first testimony is for the second brother, the latter is for the first that’s gone. But, as for Mr. Knox’s opinion, it is evident he had written a book Against the Government of Women; which though he did not intend it particularly against Mary of Scotland, yet it did invalidate her authority as well as other women’s. This book he owns and maintains, in his first conference with her, and consequently could not own her authority as of the Lord, though he gave her common respect, as the title of majesty, etc. yet when he was particularly urged by the Queen’s question, you think, said she, That I have no just authority: he would not answer in the affirmative, but shifted it, by telling her: "That learned men, in all ages, have their judgment free, and most commonly disagreeing from the common judgment of the world. And tho’, he says, He could live under her government (so may, and I would the greatest disowners of tyranny, if they be not troubled with questions about owning it) yet he affirms that with the testimony of a good conscience, he had communicated his judgment to the world, and that if the realm found no inconveniences in her government, he would no further disallow than within his own breast." Certainly then, in his conscience, he did not, and could not own her, as the magistrate of God; and that though many things which before were holden stable, had been called in doubt, yet neither Protestant nor papist could prove, that any such question was, at any time, moved in public or private. Neither could ever such a question be moved, if the conscience were not posed; and then, when it must speak, it must of necessity be unpleasant to tyrants. Thus we have heard both the positions and scruples of this witness; let us also hear his arguings, that people may punish princes for their idolatry and murder, etc. And therefore much more may disown them: and therefore again much more may they forbear to own them, when called; for can a dead man, by law, be owned to be a magistrate, and keeper of the law. Idolatry (saith he in his conference with Lethington) ‘ought not only to be suppressed, but the idolater ought to die the death; but by whom? By the people of God, for the commandment was given to Israel; yea, a command, that if it be heard that idolatry is committed in any one city, that then the whole body of the people arise and destroy that city, sparing neither man, woman, nor child. But, shall the king also be punished? If he be an idolater, I find no privilege granted unto kings more than unto people, to offend God’s majesty. But the people may not be judges to their king.—God is the universal judge; so that what his word commands to be punished in the one, is not to be absolved in the other; and the people, yea, or a part of the people, may not execute God’s judgments against their king, being an offender; I am sure you have no other warrant, except your own imaginations, and the opinion of such as more fear to offend their princes than God.’ In the same conference we have the instance of Jehu adduced to prove that subjects may execute God’s judgments upon their princes. It was objected, Jehu was a king before he executed judgments on Ahab’s house, and the fact was extraordinary, and not to be imitated. He answered, He was a mere subject; ‘No doubt Jezabel both thought and said he was a traitor, and so did many others in Israel and Samaria. And whereas it was said That the fact was extraordinary; I say, It had the ground of God’s ordinary judgment, which commandeth the idolater to die the death; and therefore I yet again affirm, it is to be imitated of all those that prefer the true honour of the true worship and glory of God, to the affection of flesh and wicked princes. We are not bound, said Lethington, to follow extraordinary examples, unless we have the like commandment and assurance. I grant, said the other, if the example repugne [is contrary] to the law, but where the example agrees with the law, and is, as it were, the execution of God’s judgment expressed within the frame; I say, That the example approved of God, stands to us in place of a commandment; for as God, in his nature, is constant and immutable, so cannot he condemn, in the ages subsequent, that which he hath approved in his servants before us,’ Then he brings another argument from Amaziah who fled to Lachish, but the people sent thither and slew him there. Lethington doubted whether they did well or not: he answered, ‘Where I find execution according to God’s law, and God himself not accuse the doers, I dare not doubt of the equity of their cause: And it appears, God gave them sufficient evidence of his approving the fact, for he blessed them with peace and prosperity. But prosperity does not always prove that God approves the fact: yes, when the acts of men agree with the law, and are rewarded according to the promise in that law, then the prosperity succeeding the fact is a most infallible assurance that God hath approved it; but so it is, that there is a promise of lengthening out prosperity to them that destroy idolatry. And again, concluding Uzziah’s example, he says there, The people ought to execute God’s law, even against their princes, when that their open crimes, by God’s law, deserve punishment; especially when they are such as may infect the rest of the multitude.
V. There is another thing for which people have suffered much in our day of blasphemy, rebuke and trouble, which yet we find was not so odious in our reformers eyes as this dull and degenerate age would represent it. That in some cases it is lawful and laudable for private persons, touched with the zeal of God and love to their country, and respect to justice trampled upon by tyrants, to put forth their hand to execute righteous judgment upon the enemies of God and mankind, intolerable traitors, murderers, idolaters; when the ruin of the country, destruction of religion and liberty, and the wrath of God is threatened, in and for the impunity of that vermin of villains, and may be averted by their destruction, always supposed, that these, whose office it is to do it, decline their duty. The mind of our reformers as to this is manifest, both in their practice and opinion. We heard before of the slaughter of Cardinal Beaton, and of the fiddler Rizio: we shall find both commended by Mr. Knox, giving account how these that were carried captives to France for this cause from St. Andrew’s were delivered. "This (saith he) we write, to let the posterity to come to understand, how potently God wrought in preserving and delivering of those that had but a small knowledge of his truth, and for the love of the same hazarded all; that if we in our days, or our posterity that shall follow, shall see a dispersion of such as oppose themselves to impiety, or take upon the to punish the same otherwise than laws of men will permit, if such shall be left of men, yea as it were despised and punished of God: yet let us not damn the persons that punish vice, (and that for just cause,) nor yet despair, but that the same God that dejects will raise up again the persons dejected, to his glory and their comfort; and to let the world understand in plain terms what we mean; that great abuser of this commonwealth, that poultron and vile knave Davie [Rizio] was justly punished, March 9, 1565, by the counsel and hands of James Douglas Earl of Morton, Patrick Lord Lindsay, etc. who, for their just act, and most worthy of all praise, are now unworthily left of all the brethren." This is not only commended by the author alone, but we find it concluded by all the brethren at that time, when the queen brought in the idol of the mass again and the proud papists began to avow it: then let it be marked that, The brethren universally offended, and espying that the queen by proclamation did not delude them, determined to put to their own hands, and to punish for example of others; and so some priests in the West land were apprehended, intimation was made to others, as to the abbot of Cosragnel, the parson of Sanquhar, and such, that they should neither complain to the queen nor council, but should execute the punishment that God has appointed to idolaters in his law, by such means as they might, where ever they should be apprehended." Upon this the queen sent for Mr. Knox, and dealt with him earnestly, that he would be the instrument to persuade the people not to put hand to punish. He perceiving her craft, willed her majesty to punish malefactors according to law, and he durst promise quietness, upon the par of all them that professed Christ within Scotland; but if her majesty thought to delude the laws, he feared some would let the papists understand, that without punishment they should not be suffered so manifestly to offend God’s majesty. Will ye (quoth he) allow they shall take my sword in their hand? "The sword of justice (said he) Madam, is God’s, and is given to princes and rulers for one end; which, if they transgress, sparing the wicked, and oppressing the innocents, they that in the fear of God execute judgment, when God hath commanded, offend not God, although kings do it not: the examples are evident, for Samuel spared not to slay Agag the fat and delicate king of Amalek, whom king Saul have saved; neither spared Elias Jezabel’s false prophets, and Baal’s priests, albeit that king Ahab was present; Phineas was no magistrate, and yet feared he not to strike Zimri and Cozbi in the very act of filthy fornication; and so madam, your majesty may see that other than magistrates may lawfully punish, and have punished the vice and crimes that God commands to be punished." He proved it also at more length in his Appellation, from Deut. 13, If thy brother solicit thee secretly, saying, Let us go serve other gods, consent not to him, let not thine eye spare him, but kill him; let thy hand be first upon him, and afterward the hand of the whole people. Of these words of Moses, two things appertaining to our purpose are to be noted: The first is, that such as solicitude only to idolatry ought to be punished to death, without favour or respect of person; for he that will not suffer man to spare his son, wife, etc. will not wink at the idolatry of others, of what state or condition soever they be: it is not unknown that the prophets had revelations of God, which were not common to the people; now, if any man might have claimed any privilege from the rigour of the law or might have justified his fact, it should have been the prophet, but God commands, that the prophet that shall so solicit the people to serve strange gods, shall die the death, notwithstanding that he allege for himself, dream, vision, or revelation, because he teacheth apostasy from God: hereby it may be seen, that none provoking the people to idolatry, ought to be exempted from the punishment of death. Evident it is, that no state, condition, nor honour can exempt the idolater from the hands of God, when he shall call him to an account: how shall it then excuse the people, that they according to God’s command, punish not to death such as shall solicit or violently draw the people to idolatry? The second is, that the punishment of such crimes, as idolatry, blasphemy, and others that touch the majesty of God doth not appertain to kings and chief rulers only, but also to the whole body of the people, and to every member of the same, according to the vocation of every man, and according to that possibility and occasion which God doth minister to revenge the injury done against his glory: and that doth Moses more plainly speak in these words of the same chapter, If in any city which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt hear this bruite [report], there are some men sons of Belial.—Plain it is, that Moses speaks not, nor giveth charge to kings, rulers, and judges only; but he commands the whole body of the people, yea and every member of the same, according to their possibility. And who dare be so impudent as to deny this to most reasonable and just? For seeing God had delivered the whole body from bondage, and to the whole multitude had given his law, and to the twelve tribes had distributed the land of Canaan; was not the whole and every member addebted [indebted] to confess the benefits of God, and to study to keep the possession received? which they could not do, except they kept the religion established, and put out iniquity from amongst them. To the carnal man this may seem to be a rigorous and severe judgment, than even the infants there should be appointed to the cruel death; and as concerning the city, and spoil of the same, man’s reason cannot think but that it might have been better bestowed, than to be consumed. But in such cases, let all creatures stoop, and desist from reasoning, when commandment is given to execute his judgment. I will search no other reasons, than the Holy Ghost hath assigned; first, That all Israel should fear to commit the like abomination; and, secondly, That the Lord might turn from the fury of his anger: which plainly doth signify, that, by the defection and idolatry of a few, God’s wrath is kindled against the whole, which is never quenched, till such punishment be taken upon the offenders, that whatsoever served them in their idolatry be brought to destruction, etc." I have enlarged so far upon this period, that it may appear, there is nothing now in controversy, between the suffering and reproached party now in Scotland, and either their friends or enemies, which could fall under our reformers inquiry; but they have declared themselves of the same sentiments that are now so much opposed; and therefore none can condemn the present heads of suffering except also they condemn the reformers judgment; and consequently the imputation of novelty must fall.