PERIOD. IV. - Containing the Testimony of the first Contenders against Prelacy and Supremacy, from the year 1570. to 1638.
HITHERTO the Conflict was for the Concerns of Christ’s Prophetical & Priestly Office, against Paganism & Popery. But from the year 1570. And downward, the Testimony is stated, and gradually Prosecuted, for the Rights, Privileges, & Prerogatives of Christ’s Kingly Office: which hath been the peculiar Glory of the Church of Scotland, above all the Churches in the Earth, that this hath been given to her as the word of her Testimony; and not only Consequentially & Reductively, as all other Churches may challenge a part of this dignity, but Formally & Explicitly to contend for this very head, The Headship & Kingship of Jesus Christ, the Prince of the Kings of the Earth, and His Mediatory Supremacy over His own Kingdom of Grace, both visible & Invisible. This is Christ’s supremacy, a special radiant Jewel of His Imperial Crown: which, as it hath been as explicitly encroached upon in Scotland, by His Insolent Enemies, as ever by any that entered in opposition to Him; so it hath been more expressly witnessed and wrestled for, by His suffering Servants in that Land, than in any place of the world. This was in a particular manner the Testimony of that Period, during the reign of King James the Sixth; as it hath been in a great measure in our day, since the year 1660. Which, as it is the most important Cause, of the greatest Consequence that Mortals can contend for; So it hath this peculiar Glory in it, that it is not only for a Truth of Christ, of greater value then the standing of Heaven & Earth, but also it is the very Truth, for which Christ Himself died, considered as a Martyr; And which concerns Him to vindicate & maintain as a Monarch. The Witnesses of that day made such an high account of it, that they encouraged one another to suffer for it, as the greatest Concern; ‘being a witness for Christ’s Glorious & free Monarchy, which as it is the end of the other two Offices, so the Testimony is more Glorious to God, more honourable to His Son, and more Comfortable to them, then the Testimony either for His Prophetical office, or for His Priesthood, because His Kingdom was specially impugned at the time;’ As Mr. Forbes & Mr. Welsh write in a Letter to the Ministers at Court. The Corruptions & Usurpations wronging this Truth, that they contended against, were Prelacy and the Kings Supremacy in Ecclesiastical matters: which will be useful to hint a little, how they Prosecuted the Conflict. When Satan (whose Kingdom was then declining) by several instruments & means, both by force & fraud, did endeavour to put a stop to the Reformation, by reintroducing the Antichristian Hierarchy of Prelacy, when he could not reestablish the Antichristian Doctrine of Popery; he left no means unessayed to effectuate it. And first he began to bring the name Bishop in request, that was now growing obsolete & odious, by reason of the abuse of it (as it ought to be still; for though the name be found in the Scriptures, yet neither is that Catechrestical [strained] application of it to Prelates to be sound, nor was there any other reason for the translation of it after that manner, except it were to please Princes; seeing the native signification of it is an Overseer, proper and common to all faithful Pastors.) And indeed his first essay reached little further then the bare name, for they were to be subject to & tried by Assemblies, and hardly had so much power as Superintendents before. But it was a fine Court-juggle for Noblemen, to get the Church revenues into their hands, by restoring the Ecclesiastical titles, and obtaining from the titulars either Temporal Lands, or Pensions to their dependers: so they were only Tulchan Bishops, a Calfskin to cause the Cow give milk. Yet, though this in our day would have been thought tolerable; The faithful Servants of Christ did zealously oppose it. Mr. Knox denounced Anathema to the Giver, and Anathema to the Receiver. And the following Assembly condemned the office itself, ‘as having no sure warrant, authority, nor ground in the Book of God, but brought in by the folly & corruption of men’s invention, to the overthrow of the Church; and ordained all that brooked the office, to demit simpliciter, and to desist & cease from preaching, while they received de novo admission from the General Assembly, under the pain of excommunication.’ Hereby they were awakened & animated, to a more vigorous Prosecution of the establishment of the House of God, in its due Government. In pursuance whereof, the Assemblies from that time until the year 1581. Did with much painfulness & faithfulness attend the work; until, by perfecting of the Second Book of Discipline, they completed their work, in the exact Model of Presbyterial Government, in all its Courts & Officers. Which was Confirmed, & Covenanted to be kept inviolate, in the National Covenant, subscribed that year by the King, his Court, & Council; and afterwards by all ranks of People in the Land. Whence it may be doubted, whether the impudence of the succeeding Prelates that denied this, or their perjury in breaking of it, be greater. This was but the first brush: a brisker assault follows. Wherein, for the better establishment of Prelacy, that what it wants of Divine right, might be supplied by the accession of humane Prerogative, and not only Diocesan but also Erastian Prelacy might be set up, to destroy Christ’s Kingdom & advance Satan’s; the Earl of Arran & his wicked Complices, move the King, contrary both to the Word & Oath of God, to usurp the prerogative of Jesus Christ, and assume to himself, a blasphemous Monster of Supremacy, over all Persons, & in all Causes, as well Ecclesiastical as Civil. But this also the faithful Servants of God did worthily & valiantly resist: and at the very first appearance of it, gave in a Grievance to the King, anno 1582. ‘That he had taken upon him a spiritual Power, which properly belongs to Christ, as only King & Head of the Church; the Ministry & execution whereof, is only given to such as bear office in the Ecclesiastical Government in the same: so that in the Kings Person, some men press to erect a new Popedom, as though he could not be full King of this Commonwealth, unless as well the spiritual as temporal Sword be put in his hand, unless Christ be rest of His Authority, and the two Jurisdictions confounded, which God hath divided, which directly tendeth to the wrack of all true Religion.’ Which being presented by the Commissioners of the General Assembly; the Earle of Arran asked, with a frowning Countenance, who dare subscribe these treasonable Articles? Mr. Andrew Melvin [Melville] answered, we dare, & will subscribe, & render our Lives in the Cause. And afterward, that same Assembly presented Articles, shewing, ‘that seeing the spiritual Jurisdiction of the Church, is granted by Christ, and given only to them, that by preaching, teaching, & overseeing, bear Office within the same, to be exercised, not by the injunctions of men, but by the only Rule of God’s Word—hereafter, no other of whatsomever degree, or under whatsomever pretense, have any colour to ascribe, or to take upon them any part thereof, either in placing or displacing of Ministers, without the Churches admission, or in stopping the mouths of Preachers, or putting them to silence, or take upon them the judgment of trial of Doctrine &c.’ But in contempt & contradiction to this, and to prosecute & exert this new usurped Power, Mr. Andrew Melvin [Melville] was summoned before the secret Council, for a Sermon of his, applying his doctrine to the Times Corruptions: whereupon he gave in his declinature against them as incompetent Judges; and told them, ‘they were too bold, in a Constitute Christian Church, to pass by the Pastors, Prophets, & Doctors, and to take upon them to judge the Doctrine, and to control the Ambassadors of a Greater then was there, which they neither ought nor can do. There are (saith he, Loosing a little Hebrew Bible from his girdle) my Instructions & Warrant: see if any of you can control me, that I have past my injunctions.’ For this he was decreed, to be warded in the Castle of Edinburgh, but he being informed, that if he entered in ward he would not be released, unless it were for the scaffold, he conveyed himself secretly out of the Country. Hereafter when the Parliament 1584. had enacted this Supremacy, and submission to Prelacy, to be subscribed by all Ministers; the faithful first directed Mr. David Lindsey to the King, desiring that nothing be done in Parliament prejudicial to the Churches Liberty: who got the Prison of Blackness for his Pains. And then when they could not get access for shut doors to Protest before the Parliament; yet, when the Acts were proclaimed at the Cross of Edinburgh, they took public Documents, in name of the Church of Scotland (though they were but two) that they protested against the said Acts: and fled to England, leaving behind them reasons that moved them to do so. And Mr. James Melvin [Melville] wrote against the subscribers at that time very pertinently: Proving, first, ‘that they had not only set up a new Pope, & so become Traitors to Christ, and condescended to that chief error of Papistry, whereupon all the rest depend; but further, in so doing they had granted more to the King, than ever the Popes of Rome peaceably obtained &c.’ And in the end, as for those that Lamented their own weakness & feebleness, he adviseth them, to remove the public slander, ‘by going boldly to the King & Lords, and shew them how they had fallen through weakness, but by God’s power are risen again; and there by public note & witness taken, free themselves from that subscription, and to will the same to be delete, renouncing & detesting it plainly, and thereafter publicly in their Sermons, and by their Declaration & retractation in writ, presented to the faithful, manifest the same, let them do with stipend, benefice, & Life itself what they list.’ This I insert, because this Counsel is now condemned, and when poor people, offended with Ministers subscriptions of Bonds & other Compliances, desire acknowledgments of the offence, they reject it as an impertinent imposition, and plead they are not obliged to manifest any retractation but to an Ecclesiastical Judicatory. To which I shall say nothing here, but this is no novelty. After this, it is known what bickerings the faithful witnesses of Christ had, in their Conflicts with this supremacy, upon the account of Mr. David Black’s Declinature, which they both advised him to, & approved when he gave it in, against the King & Council as Judges of his Doctrine. And the Commissioners of the General Assembly ordained all, to deal mightily with the power of the word, against the Councils encroachments; for which they were charged to depart forth of Edinburgh. After which he added a second Declinature: ‘Declaring, there are two Jurisdictions in this realm, the one Spiritual the other Civil; the one respecting the Conscience, the other externals; &c.—Therefore, in so far as he was one of the spiritual office-bearers, and had discharged his spiritual Calling in some measure of grace & sincerity, should not nor could not be Lawfully judged, for preaching and applying the word, by any Civil power; he being an Ambassadour & Messenger of the Lord Jesus, having his Commission from the King of Kings, and all his instructions set down & limited in the book of God, that cannot be extended, abridged, or altered by any mortal wight [living man], King or Emperour; And seeing he was sent to all sorts, his Commission & discharge of it should not nor cannot be Lawfully, judged, by them to whom he was sent; they being sheep & not Pastors, to be judged by the Word and not to be judges thereof in a judicial way.’ The Interlocutor being past against him for this; the Brethren thought it duty, that the Doctrine of the Preachers should be directed against the said Interlocutor, as against a strong & mighty hold set up against the Lord Jesus, and the freedom of the Gospel; and praised God for the force & unity of the Spirit, that was among themselves. And being charged to depart out of Town, they leave a faithful Declaration at Large; shewing, how the Liberties of the Church were invaded & robbed: But all this was nothing, in comparison of their wrestlings for the Royalties of their Princely Master, and Privileges of His Kingdom, against that Tyrants Insolencies, after he obtained he Crown of England. For then he would not suffer the Church to indict her own Assemblies. And when the faithful thought themselves obliged to counteract his Encroachments, and therefore convened in an Assembly at Aberdeen, anno 1605. they were forced to dissolve: and thereafter, the most eminent of the Ministers there assembled, were transported Prisoners to Black-ness. Whence being cited before the Council, they decline their Judicatory. And one of their Brethren, Mr. Robert Youngson, who had formerly succumbed, being moved in Conscience, returned: and when the rest were standing before the Council, desired to be heard; and acknowledged his fault, and therefore, howbeit not summoned by the Lords, was charged by the Living God, and compelled to compeer that day, to justify that Assembly, to the great astonishment of the Lords, and comfort of His brethren; He subscribed the Declinature with the rest: And for this they were arraigned, and condemned, as guilty of Treason, and banished. Before the execution of which sentence, Mr. [John] Welsh wrote to the Lady Fleming, to this effect. ‘What am I, that He should first have called me, and then constituted me a Minister of glad things, of the Gospel of Salvation, these fifteen years already, and now last of all to be a sufferer for His Cause & Kingdom? To witness that good Confession, that Jesus Christ is the King of Saints, and that His Church is a most free Kingdom, yea as free as any Kingdom under Heaven, not only to convocate, hold & keep her Meetings, Conventions, & Assemblies: But also to judge of all her affairs in all her Meetings & Conventions, among His members and Subjects. These two points. (1) That Christ is the Head of His Church. (2) That she is free in her Government from all other jurisdiction except Christ’s, are the special Cause of our imprisonment, being now convict as Traitors, for maintaining thereof. We have now been waiting with joyfulness to give the last Testimony of our blood in confirmation thereof. If it would please our God to be so favourable, as to honour us with that dignity.’ After this, the King resolving by Parliament to advance the estate of Bishops again, as in the time of Popery, without Cautions as before; and further to establish not only that Antichristian Hierarchy, but an Erastian Supremacy: The faithful Ministers of Christ, thought themselves bound in Conscience to protest. And accordingly they offered a faithful Protestation to the Parliament July—1606. Obtesting [beseeching], ‘that they would reserve into the Lord’s own hands, that Glory which He will communicate neither with man nor Angel, to wit, to prescribe from His holy Mountain a Lively pattern, according to which His own Tabernacle should be formed: Remembering always, that there is no absolute & undoubted Authority in this world, except the sovereign Authority of Christ the King; to whom it belongeth as properly to rule the Church, according to the good pleasure of His own will, as it belongeth to Him to save His Church by the Merit of His own Sufferings: All other authority is so entrenched within the marches of Divine Command, that the least overpassing of the bounds set by God Himself, bring men under the fearful expectation of Temporal & Eternal judgments.—If ye should authorize Bishops, ye should bring into the Church the ordinance of man, which experience hath found, to have been the ground of that Antichristian Hierarchy, which mounted up on the steps of Bishop’s preeminence, until that man of sin came forth, as the ripe fruit of man’s wisdom, whom God shall consume with the breath of His own mouth. Let the sword of God pierce that belly, which brought forth such a monster: And let the staff of God crush that egg, which hath hatched such a Cockatrice: And let not only that Roman Antichrist be thrown down from the high bench of his usurped authority, but also let all the steps whereby he mounted up to that unlawful preeminence, be cut down & utterly abolished in this Land: And beware to strive against God with an open displayed banner, by building up again the walls of Jericho, which the Lord hath not only cast down, but also hath laid them under an horrible Interdiction & execration, so that the building of them again must needs stand to greater charges to the builders, then the reedifying of Jericho, to Hiel the Bethelite in the days of Ahab.’ Yet notwithstanding of all opposition, Prelacy was again restored in Parliament. And to bring all to a Compliance with the same, Presbyteries & Synods universally charged, under highest pains, to admit a constant Moderator without change: which many refused resolutely, as being the first step of Prelacy. Upon this followed a great Persecution of the faithful, for their Nonconformity, managed by that Mongrel & Monstrous kind of Court, made up of Clergymen & Statesmen, called the High Commission Court, erected anno 1610. whereby many honest men were put violently from their charges & habitations; the Generality were involved in a great & fearful Defection. But the Copestone of the wickedness of that Period, was the Ratification of the five Articles of Perth;’ kneeling at the Communion, private Communion to be given to the sick, private Baptism, and Confirmation of Children by the Bishop, and observation of festival days.’ Which were much opposed & testified against by the faithful, from their first hatching anno 1618. to the year 1621. when they were ratified in Parliament: at what time they were also witnessed against from Heaven, by extraordinary Lightnings & Tempest. And against this the Testimony of the faithful continued, till the Revolution anno 1638. Here we see how the Cause was stated in this Period; and may gather also, wherein it aggress, and how far it differs from the present Testimony, now suffered for under all rage & reproach.
I. The matter of the Testimony was one with that that we are suffering for, against Popery, Prelacy, & Supremacy; except that it was not so far extended against Tyranny, because that Tyrant was not such an usurper, nor such a violator of the fundamental constitutions of the Civil Government, as these that we have had to do with all. But as to the managing the Testimony, they far out stripped their successors in this generation, in conduct & courage, Prudence & zeal, as is above hinted in many instances: to which we may add some more. When several plots of Papist Lords had been discovered, conspiring with the King of Spain, And they were by the Kings Indulgence favoured, and some were also persuaded to treat with them: famous Mr. Davidson opposed with great resolution; Declaring before the Synod of Lothian, ‘that it savoured much of defection in these days, that such notorious rebels to God, His Church, & the Country, should be so treated with; we should not rashly open a door to God’s Enemies, without better proof of their manners nor were yet seen.’ And when a convention in Falkland was consulting to call home these conspiring Traitors: Mr. Andrew Melvin [Melville] went thither uncalled; and when found fault with by the King for his boldness, he answered, ‘Sir, I have a call to come here from Christ & His Church, who have special Interest in this Turn, and against whom this Convention is assembled directly: I charge yow, and your Estates, in the Name of Christ & His Church, that ye favour not His Enemies whom He hateth, nor go about to call home nor make Citizens of these, who have traitorously sought to betray their City & native Country, with the overthrow of Christ’s Kingdom.’ And further challenged them of treason against Christ, His Church & the Country, in that purpose they were about. About the same time in a private Conference with the King, he called the King God’s silly vassal; and taking him by the sleeve, told him; ‘Sir, you, and Church & Country is like to be wracked for not telling the Truth, and giving you faithful Counsel; we must discharge our duty, or else be enemies to Christ & you: Therefore I must tell you, there are two Kings and two Kingdoms; There is Christ and His Kingdom, whose subject King James the 6th is, and of whose Kingdom he is not a King, nor a Head, nor a Lord, but a member, and they whom Christ hath called to watch over & govern his Church, have sufficient Authority, and Power from Him, which no Christian King should control but assist, otherwise they are not faithful subjects to Christ. Sir, when you were in your swaddling clothes, Christ reigned freely in this Land, in spite of all His enemies; but now the wisdom of your Council, which is Devilish & pernicious, is this, that you may be served of all sorts of men to your purpose & grandeur, Jew & Gentile, Papist & Protestant, because the Ministers & Protestants in Scotland are too strong, & control the King, they must be weakened & brought low, by stirring up a party against them, and the King being equal & indifferent, both shall be fain to flee to him, so shall he be well settled: But, Sir, let God’s wisdom be the only wisdom, this will prove mere & mad folly; for His curse cannot but light upon it, so that in seeking both yow shall lose both.’ To the like effect, Mr. Robert Bruce, in a Sermon upon Psal, 51. gives faithful warning of the danger of the times. ‘It is not we’ (says he) ‘that are Party in this cause; no, the quarrel is betwixt a greater Prince and them. What are we, but silly men? Yet it has pleased Him to set us in this Office, that we should oppose to the manifest usurpation that is made upon His Spiritual Kingdom. Is there a more forcible mean to draw down the wrath of God, than to let Barabbas that nobilitate [ennobled] Malefactor pass free, and to begin the war against Christ and His Ministry. It putteth on the Copestone, that so many of our brethren should not be so faithful, as their Calling & this Cause craveth. Fy upon false brethren, to see them dumb, so faint hearted, when it comes to the Chock: Not only are they ashamed to speak the thing they think, which is a shame in a Pastor, but speak directly against their former Doctrine. They will speak the Truth a while, till they be put at, but incontinent they will turn and make their gifts weapons to fight against Christ; for there is none so malicious as an Apostate when he begins to slide back &c.’ The same faithful witness, because he would not preach as the King would have him, against his own conscience, to justify & Proclaim the King’s Innocency, in a forged conspiracy against him, was put from his Church in Edinburgh, and being requested in an insinuating manner to desist from preaching but for nine or ten days; he condescended at first, thinking the matter of no great importance: yet that night his body was cast in a fever, with the terror of his conscience, and he promised he should never obey their Commandment any more. These were faithful men, yet we find they challenge themselves in deep humiliation, for their short comings & defections, at the renovation of the National Covenant, March, 30. 1596. the greatest solemnity ever had been seen in Scotland before that time, so that the place might worthily have been called Bochim. O when shall we see such a day, when even the most faithful among us, shall mourn over our far more aggravated defections! but if they mourned then for these first degrees of declensions, we may say, quam gravius ingemiscerent illi fortes viri, qui propter Ecclesiae Scoticanae Libertatem. olim in acie decertarunt, si nostram hanc ignaviam (ne quid gravius dicam) conspicerent! [How heavily would these valiant men groan, who formerly contended so stoutly for the liberty of the Church of Scotland, if they beheld this our laziness (that I may call it by no worse name!).] I know notwithstanding of all this, that some encourage themselves in a base Compliance with the present corruptions of our Church, from the practice of these Worthies; Alleging, they did not scruple to hear & join with Prelatical men, dispensing the ordinances. But this Objection will be easily refelled [refuted], if we consider, first, the Period wherein they were but growing up to a more perfect Reformation, and therefore might bear with many things which we cannot, after we have been reformed from them: They were then advancing and still gaining ground, we are now declining, and therefore should be more shy to lose what we have gained. They had then of a long time enjoyed their Judicatories, unto which they might recur for an orderly redress of such grievances that offended them; and when they were deprived of them, yet they were still in hopes of recovering them, and so suspended their total secession from that corrupt Church, until they should recover them; in the meantime still holding their right and maintaining their cause against these Invaders. But we were at the very first beginning of this unhappy Revolution, totally deprived of our Judicatories, and denuded of all expectation of them in an ordinary way, and of all place, but what they are Masters of to contend with them that way; therefore must keep our selves free of their Communion. But next if we consider their practice, we shall find these Worthies were not such Conformists, as our Compliers would make them. What if we find among them Meetings, that were Called & Counted as Seditious & Schismatic, as Ours are now? we find a field Meeting, yea a General Assembly, at Dumfermling without & against the King’s warrant, when the ports were shut against them, anno 1585. But that is not so pat to the purpose, as that we find Private-Meetings at Edinburgh, and that in the very time of public Service in the Churches, discharged by open Proclamation anno 1624. wherein it is charged, that they had no respect to the ordinary Pastors, contemned & impugned their Doctrine, disobeyed & controlled their Discipline, abstained to hear the Word preached, and to Participate of the Sacraments. And long before that, we find the sincerer sort scrupled to hear Bishop Adamson, notwithstanding that he was absolved in the Assembly. And that afterwards, the doubt being proponed to the Assembly, if it be a slander to a Christian, to absent himself from the Sermons of them that are suspended from all function in the Ministry. The Assembly Answered, there is no slander in the Case but rather it is slanderous to resort. And why is not this ground to think it slanderous or scandalous to resort to them, who deserve to be suspended (all of them by a Spiritual cognizance, and some of them to be suspended Corporally, for their villainy) when there can be no access orderly to do it. And the rather, because we find in this Period, that sometimes Ministers were so faithful & zealous against the Corruptions of the Ministry, that they decreed Ministers to be suspended for far smaller faults, than many now could exempt themselves from; viz. if they were not powerful & Spiritual, if they did not apply their Doctrine to Corruptions, if they were obscure & too Scholastic before the people, cold & wanting zeal, flatterers, dissembling at public sins for flattery or fear &c. As we may read in the Advice of the Brethren, deputed for penning the Corruptions in the Ministry, anno 1596. I wish our silent prudent Ministers now would consider the justness of this Censure, and what ground people have to be offended at such censurableness. But not only this may answer the false imputation of Conformity on these witnesses of Christ at that time, but I shall set down a part of a Letter of one of the banished Ministers at that time, discovering his mind about hearing these men, that were then serving the times. Mr. John Welsh, writing to Mr. Robert Bruce,—‘what my mind is concerning the root of these branches, the bearer will shew yow more fully. They are no more to be counted Orthodox, but Apostates; They have fallen from their Callings by receiving an Antichristian, and bringing in of Idolatry, to make the Kingdom culpable, and to expose it to fearful Judgments, for such an high perfidy against an Oath so solemnly enacted & given; And are no more to be counted Christians, but strangers, Apostates, & Persecutors, And therefore not to be heard any more, either in public, or in Consistories, Colleges, or Synods; for what fellowship hath light with darkness?’ We see then as to that part of the Testimony, they were not dissonant to the witness of the present reproached sufferers.
II. As the matter & manner of their Testimony against all the invaders of the Church’s privileges, did speak forth a great deal of sincere & pure zeal; so their practice was conform, shewing forth a great deal of strictness, and averseness from all sinful Compliances, even with things that would be now accounted of very minute & inconsiderable consequence, and for which honest sufferers now are flouted at as fools. When that Oath was formed for acknowledging the Supremacy, there was a Clause added which might have been thought to salve the matter, according to the Word of God. I fear many now would not stand to subscribe, with such a qualification. Yet the faithful then perceived the Sophistry, that it made it rather worse, affirming that that brat of Hell was according to the word of God: And therefore, though there were several eminent men to persuade them to it both by advice & example, yet they could not in conscience Comply; And pleaded also from the illegality of that imposition, that they should be charged with the subscription of Laws, a thing never required before of any subject; if they offended against the Laws, why might they not be punished according to the Laws? When many honest faithful Patriots, for their attempt at Ruthven to deliver the Country from a vermin of Villains that abused the King, to the destruction of the Church & Kingdom, were charged to crave Pardon, & take remission; they would do neither, judging it a base condemning of duty: which puts a brand upon our sneaking Supplicators, & Petitioners, & Pardon-mongers, as unworthy to be called the race of such Worthies, who scorned such baseness, and choosed rather to endure the extremity of their unjust Sentences, of Intercommuning & Banishment &c. And when the Earle of Gowrie accepted of a Remission, he afterwards condemned himself for it, and desired that his old friends would accept of his friendship, to whom he had made himself justly suspected. Mr. Black, when he had the same favour offered to him, refused altogether, left so doing he should condemn himself, and approve the Courts Proceedings: And the Brethren, conferring with the Counselors, craving that some penalty should be condescended unto for satisfying his Majesty in his honour, would not condescend to any how light soever; lest thereby they should seem to approve the Judicatory & their Proceeding. The Imprisoned Ministers, for declining the Council, had it in their offer, that if they would without any confession of offence only submit themselves to his Majesty, pro scandalo, accepto non dato [for scandal received, not given], they should be restored to their places: But it pleased God so to strengthen them, that they stopped their Mouths, and convinced them in their Consciences, that they could not do it without betraying of the Cause of Christ. Again in another case, we have Instances of such strictness, as is much scorned now a days. The Ministers of Edinburgh were committed to ward, for refusing to pray for the Queen, before her execution in Fothringham Castle 1586. they refused not simply to pray for her, but for the preservation of her life, as if she had been innocent of the crimes laid to her charge, which had imported a condemnation of the proceedings against her. Afterwards in the year 1600. the Ministers of Edinburgh, would not praise God for the delivery of the King, from a pretended Conspiracy of the Earle of Gowrie at that time, of which they had no credit nor assurance; and would not crave Pardon for it neither. For this Mr. Robert Bruce was deprived of the exercise of his Ministry, and never obtained it again in Edinburgh: But now for refusing such compelled & imposed Devotion, to pray or praise for the King, poor people are much condemned. I know it is alleged, that these faithful sufferers in those days, were not so strict as they are now, in submitting to unjust Sentences, and obeying & keeping their Confinements. I shall grant, there was much of this, and much might be tolerate in their circumstances, when the Court procedure against them was not so illegal, their Authority was not so Tyrannical, nor so necessary to be disowned, and they were so stated, that they were afraid to take guilt upon them, in making their escapes: whereas it is not so with us. Yet we find very faithful men broke their Confinements: As Mr. John Murray, confined about Dumfries, perceiving there was no end of the Bishops malice, and that he would be in no worse case than he was, he resolved without License either of King or Council to transport himself: So did also Mr. Robert Bruce.
III. For resistance of Superior Powers, we have in this Period, first the practice of some Noblemen an Ruthven, anno 1582. who took the King, and seized on that Arrant Traitor, Enemy to the Church & Country, the Earl of Arran; declaring to the world the Causes of it, the Kings Correspondence with Papists, his usurping the Supremacy over the Church, and oppressing the Ministers, all by means of his wicked Counselors, whom therefore they removed from him. The King himself emitted a Declaration allowing this deed. The General Assembly approved of it, and persuaded to a Concurrence with it, and nothing was wanting to ratify it, as a most Lawful & laudable action. At length the Fox escapes, & changes all, and retracts his former Declaration. The Lords again rally, and enterprise the taking of the Castle of Stirling, and gain it; but afterward surrender it: after which the Earle of Gowrie is executed, and Ministers are commanded to retract the Approbation of Ruthven business, but they refused: and many were forced to flee to England, and the Lords were banished. But in the year 1585. they return with more success, and take the Castle of Stirling. The cowardly King does again acknowledge & justify their Enterprise, that they needed no Apology of words, Weapons had spoken well enough, and gotten them audience to clear their own Cause: but his after carriage declared him as crafty & false, as he was cowardly & fearful. Again we have the advice of the General Assembly, for resisting, when the Ministers were troubled, upon Mr. Black’s business, and there was an intention to pull them out of their Pulpits: They advised them to stand to the discharge of their Calling, if their flocks would save them from violence, and yet this violence was expected from the King and his Emissaries. As to that point then there can be no dispute.
IV. There was little occasion for the Question about the King’s Authority in this Period, but generally all acknowledged it: because they were not sensible of his usurpation, and his cowardice made him incapable of attempting anything that might raise commotions in civil things. Yet we remark, that whatsoever Authority he usurped beyond his sphere, that was disowned & declined by all the Faithful, as the Supremacy. Next that they resented, & represented very harshly, any aspiring to Absoluteness; as Mr. Andrew Melvin [Melville] could give it no better name, nor entertain no better notion of it, then to term it, The bloody Guillie, as he inveighs against it in the Assembly, 1582. And next, in this same Period, we have a very good description of that Authority, which the King himself allows not to be owned, which out of a King’s mouth abundantly justifies the disowning of the present Tyranny: This same King James, in a speech to the Parliament in the year 1609. saith, A King degenerateth into a Tyrant, when he leaveth to rule by Law, much more when he beginneth to invade his Subjects’ Persons, Rights, & Liberties, to set up an Arbitrary Power, impose unlawful taxes, raise forces, make War upon his Subjects, to pillage, plunder, wast, and spoil his Kingdoms.