PERIOD VI.-Containing the Testimony through the continued tract of the present reformation, from the year 1660 to this day.
Now comes the last Catastrophe of the deformation of the church of Scotland, which now renders her to all nations as infamously despicable, as her reformation formerly made her admired and envied; which in a retrograde motion hath gradually been growing these 27 years, going back through all the steps by which the reformation ascended, till now she is returned to the very border of that Babylon from whence she took her departure, and reduced through defection, and division, and persecutions, to a confused Chaos of almost irreparable dissolution, and unavoidable desolation. Through all which steps notwithstanding, to this day, Scotland hath never wanted a witness for Christ, against all the various steps of the enemies advancings, and of professed friends declinings; though the testimony hath had some singularities, some way discriminating it from that of former Periods, in that it had been more difficult, by reason of more desperate and dreadful assaults of more enraged enemies, more expert and experienced the accursed art of overturning than any formerly; in that it had been attended with more disadvantages, by reason of the enemies greater prevalency, and friends deficiency, and greater want of significant assertors than any formerly; in that it hath been entangled in more multifarious intricacies of questions and debates, and divisions among the assertors themselves, making it more dark, and yet in the end contributing to clear it more than any formerly; in that it hath been intended and extended to a greater measure, both as to matter and manner of contendings against the adversaries and stated upon nicer points, more enixly [forcibly] prosecuted and tenaciously maintained, and sealed with more sufferings than any formerly; in that it hath more opposition and contradiction, and less countenance from professed friends to the reformation, either at home or abroad, than any formerly; and yet it hath had all these several specialties together, which were peculiar to the former testimonies, in their respective periods, being both active and passive both against enemies and friends; and in cumulo stated against atheism, popery, prelacy, and Erastian supremacy, which were the successive heads of the former testimonies, and also now extended in a particular manner against tyranny: and not only against the substance and essence of these in the abstract, but against substance and circumstance, abstract and concrete, root and branch, head and tail of them, and all complying with them, conforming to them, or countenancing of them, or anything conductive for them, or deduced from them, any manner of way, directly or indirectly, formally or interpretatively. This is that extensive and very comprehensive testimony of the present period, as it is now stated and sealed with the blood of man; which in all its parts, points and pendicles [adjuncts] is most directly relative, and dilucidly [plainly] reducible to a complex witness for the declarative glory of Christ’s Kingship and Headship over all, as he is God, and as he is Mediator, which is the greatest concern that creatures have to contend for, either as men or as christians. This being the matter of this testimony, I shall give a short manuduction [introduction] to the progress and result of its management.
During the exile of the Royal Brothers, [Charles II. and James VII.], it is undeniably known that they were, by their mother’s caresses, and the Jesuits allurements, seduced to abjure the Reformed religion (which was easy to induce persons to, that never had the sense of any religion) and to be reconciled to the church of Rome: and that not only they wrote to the Pope many promises of promoting his projects, if ever they should recover the power into their hands again, and often frequented the mass themselves; but also, by their example, and the influence of their future hopes, prevailed with many of their dependents and attendants abroad, to do the like; yet it is also unquestionably known, that in the mean time of his exile, he renewed and confirmed, by private letters to Presbyterians, his many reiterated engagements to adhere to the covenant, and declared that he was, and would continue the same man, that he had declared himself to be in Scotland (wherein doubtless, as he was an expert Artist, he equivocated, and meant in his heart he would continue as treacherous as ever) which helped to keep a loyal impression of his interest in the hearts of too many, and an expectation of some good of him, of which they were ashamed afterwards. And immediately before his return, ‘tis know what promises are contained in that declaration from Breda (from whence he came also the second time, with greater treachery than at the first) to all Protestants that would live peaceably under his government; beginning now to weigh out his perfidy and perjury, and breach of covenant, in offering to tolerate that as an Indulgence, which he swore to maintain as a duty. But in all this he purposed nothing, but to ingere [presume] and ingratiate himself into the peoples over credulous affections, that they might not obstruct his return, which a jealousy of his intended tyranny would have awakened them to withstand. And so having seated himself, and strengthened his power against the attemptings of any, whom his conscience might suggest an apprehension that they ought to resist him, he thought himself discharged from all obligations of covenants, oaths or promises, for which his faith had been pledged. And from the first hour of his arrival, he did in a manner set himself to affront and defy the authority of God, and to be revenged upon his kingdoms, for inviting him so unanimously to sway their sceptre: in polluting and infecting the people with all debaucheries and monstrous villainies; and commencing his incestuous whoredoms that very first night he came to his palace, wherein he continued to his dying day, outvying all for vileness. Yet he went on deluding our church with his dissimulations, and would not discover all his wickedness hatched in his heart at first, till his designs should be riper, but directed a letter to the Presbytery of Edinburgh, declaring he was resolved to protect and preserve the government of the church of Scotland, as it is settled by law, without violation. Wherein it was observed he altered the style, and spake never a word of the Covenant, our Magna Charta of religion and righteousness, our greatest security for all interest entrusted to him, but only of law; by which, as his practice expounded it afterwards, he meant the Prelatical church, as it was settled by the law of his father, since which time he reckoned there was no law, but rebellion. This was a piece and prelude of our base defection, and degeneration into blind, blockish and brutish stupidity; that after he had discovered so much perfidy, we not only at first tempted him to perjury, in admitting him to the crown, upon his mock-engagement in the covenant, whereby God was mocked, his Spirit was grieved, his covenant prostituted , the church cheated, and the state betrayed: but after the Lord had broken his yoke from off our necks, by sending him to exile ten years [i.e., during the Protectorates of Oliver and Richard Cromwell], where he was discovered to be imbibing all that venom and tyrannical violence, which he afterward vented in revenge upon the nation; and after we had long smarted for our first transaction with him; yet notwithstanding of all this, we believed him again, and Issachar-like, couched under his burdens, and were so far from withstanding, that we did not so much as witness against the re-admission and restoration of the head and tail of malignants, but let them come in peaceably to the throne, without any security to the covenanted cause, or for our civil or religious interest; and by piece mail, at their own case, leisure and pleasure, to overturn all the work of God, and re-introduce the old antichristian yoke of abjured Prelacy, and blasphemous sacrilegious Supremacy, and absolute arbitrary Tyranny, with all their abominations; which he, and with him the generality of our nobility, gentry, clergy, and commonality by him corrupted, without regard to faith, or fear of God or man, did promote and propagate, until the nation was involved in the greatest revolt from, and rebellion against God, that ever could be recorded in any age or generation; nay, attended with greater and grosser aggravations, than ever any could be capable of before us, who have the greatest privileges that ever any church had, since the national church of the Jews, the greatest light, the greatest effects of matchless magnified love, the greatest convictions of sin, the greatest resolutions and solemn engagements against it, and the greatest reformation from it, that ever any had to abuse and affront. O heavens, be astonished at this, and horribly afraid! for Scotland hath changed her glory, and the crown had fallen from off her head, by an unparalleled apostasy, a free and voluntary, willful and deliberate apostasy, an avowed and declared, and authorized apostasy, tyrannically carried on by military violence and cruelty; a most universal and every way unprecedented apostasy! I must a little change my method; in deducing the narration of this Catastrophe, and subdistinguish this unhappy period into several steps; showing how the enemies opposition to Christ advanced, and the testimony of his witness did gradually ascend, to the pitch it is now arrived at.
I. These enemies of God, having once got footing again, with the favour and fawnings of the foolish nation, went on fervently to further and promote their wicked design: and, meeting with no opposition at first, did encourage themselves to begin boldly. Wherefore, hearing of some ministers peaceably assembled, to draw up a monitory letter to the king, minding him of his covenant engagements and promises, (which was, tho’ weak, yet the first witness and warning against that heaven-daring wickedness then begun,) then cruelly incarcerate them. Having hereby much daunted the ministry from their duty in that day; for fear of the like unusual and outrageous usage, the parliament convenes, January 1, 1661, without so much as a protestation for religion and liberty given in to them. And there, in the first place, they frame and take the oaths of Supremacy, exauctorating [depriving of office] Christ, and vesting his usurping enemy with the spoils of his robbed prerogative, acknowledging the king only supreme governor over all persons, and in all causes, and that his power and jurisdiction must not be declined. Whereby, under all persons and all causes, all church officers, in their most properly ecclesiastic affairs and concerns of Christ, are comprehended: And if the king shall take upon him to judge their doctrines, worship, disciple, or government, he must be declined as an incompetent judge. Which did at once enervate all the testimony of the fourth Period above declared, and laid the foundation for all this Babel they have built since, and of all this war that hath been waged against the Son of God, and did introduce all this tyranny and absolute power which hath been since carried to its complement, and made the king’s throne the foundation of all the succeeding perjury and apostasy. Yet, though then our synods and Presbyteries were not discharged, but might have had access in some concurrence to witness against this horrid invasion upon Christ’s prerogative and the church’s privilege, no joint testimony was given against it, except that some were found witnessing against it in their singular capacity by themselves. As faithful Mr. James Guthrie, for declining this usurped authority in prejudice of the kingdom of our Lord Jesus, suffered death, and got the martyrs crown upon his head: and some others, for refusing that oath arbitrarily imposed, were banished or confined. When they had gained this bulwark of Christ’s kingdom, then they waxed more insolent, and set up their ensigns for signs, and broke down the carved work of reformation with axes and hammers. In this Parliament 1661, they past an Act Rescissory, whereby they annulled and declared void the national covenant, the solemn league and covenant, Presbyterial government, and all laws made in favours of the work of reformation, since the year 1633. O horrid wickedness! both in its nature so atrocious, to condemn and rescind what God did so signally seal as his own work, to the conviction of the world, and for which he will rescind the rescinders, and overturn these overturners of his work, and make the curse of that broken covenant bind them to the punishment, whom its bond could not oblige to the duty covenanted; and in its design and end so base and detestable, for nothing but to flatter the king in making way for prelacy, tyranny and popery, and to indulge the licentiousness of some debauched nobles, who could not endure the yoke of Christ’s government, and to suppress religion and righteousness under the ruins of that reformation. But, O holy and astonishing justice, thus to recompense our way upon our own head! to suffer this work and cause to be ruined under our unhappy hands, who suffered this destroyer to come in before it was so effectually secured, as it should not have been in the power of his hand (whatever had been in his heart, swelled with enmity against Christ) to have razed and ruined that work as now most wickedly he did, and drew in so many into the guilt of the same deed, that almost the whole land not only consented unto it, but applauded it; by approving and countenancing another wicked Act, framed at the same time, by that same perfidious Parliament for an anniversary thanksgiving, commemorating every 29th of May [i.e., the anniversary date of the Restoration], that blasphemy against the Spirit and work of God, and celebrating that unhappy restoration of the rescinder of the reformation; which had not only the concurrence of the universality of the nation but (alas for shame, that it should be told in Gath, etc!) even of some ministers who afterwards accepted the indulgence, (one of which a pillar among them, was seen scandalously dancing about the bonfires). And others, who should have alarmed the whole nation, as it were for their religion and property, to rise for religion and liberty, to resist such wickedness, did wink at it. O how righteous is the Lord now in turning our harps into mourning! though alas! we will not suffer ourselves, to this day, to see the shining righteousness of this retribution: and though we be scourged with scorpions, and brayed in a mortar, our madness, our folly in these irreligious frolics is not yet acknowledged, let be lamented. Yet albeit, neither in this day, when the covenant was not only broken, but cassed [dismissed] and declared of no obligation, nor afterward when it was burnt, (for which Turks and Pagans would have been ashamed and afraid at such a terrible fight, and for which the Lord’s anger is burning against these bold burners, and against them who suffered it, and did not witness against it), was there any public testimony by protestation, or remonstrance, or any public witness? though the Lord had some then, and some who came out afterward with the trumpet at their mouth, whose heart then sorrowed at the fight: and some suffered for the sense they showed of that anniversary abomination, for not keeping which they lost both church and liberty. It is true, the ordinary meetings of Presbyteries and Synods were about that time discharged, to make way for the exercise of the new power conferred on the four prelates who were at court, reordained and consecrated, thereby renouncing their former title to the ministry. But this could not give a discharge from a necessary testimony, then called for from faithful watchmen. However, the reformation being thus rescinded and razed, and the house of the Lord pulled down, then they begin to build their Babel.
In the parliament, in the year 1662 by their first act, they restore and reestablish Prelacy, upon such a foundation, as they might by the same law bring in Popery, which was then designed, and so settled its harbinger diocesan and Erastian Prelacy, by fuller enlargement of the supremacy. The very act beginning thus. ‘Forasmuch as the ordering and disposal of the external government of the church doth properly belong to his Majesty, as an inherent right of the crown, by virtue of his royal prerogative, and supremacy in causes ecclesiastic,——whatever shall be determined by his Majesty, with advice of the archbishops, and such of the clergy, as he shall nominate, in the external government of the church, (the same consisting with the standing laws of the kingdom,) shall be valid and effectual. And, in the same act, all laws are rescinded, by which the sole power and jurisdiction with in the church doth stand in the church assemblies; and all which may be interpreted, to have given any church-power, jurisdiction, or government to the office-bearers of the church, other than that which acknowledgeth a dependence upon, and subordination to the sovereign power of the king as supreme.’ By which, prelates are redintegrated [restored] to all their privileges and preheminencies that they possessed in the year 1637. And all their church power (robbed from the officers of Christ) is made to be derived from, to depend upon, and to be subordinate to, the crown prerogative of the king: whereby the king is made the only fountain of church power, and that exclusive even of Christ, of whom there is no mentioned exception: and his vassals the bishops, as his clerks in ecclesiastics, are accountable to him for all their administrations; a greater usurpation upon the kingdom of Christ, than ever the papacy itself aspired unto. Yet, albeit here was another display of a banner of defiance against Christ, in altering the church government of Christ’s institution into the human invention of lordly prelacy, in assuming a power by prerogative to dispose then of the external government of the church, and in giving his creatures patents for this effect, to be his administrators in that usurped government; there was no public, ministerial, at least united testimony against this neither. Therefore the Lord punished this sinful and shameful silence of ministers, in his holy justice, though by men’s horrid wickedness; when, by another wicked act of the council at Glasgow, above three hundred ministers were put from their charges; and afterwards, for their non conformity in not countenancing their Diocesan meeting and not keeping the anniversary day, May 26. The rest were violently thrust from their labours in the Lord’s vineyard, and banished from their parishes, and adjudged unto a nice and strange confinement, twenty miles from their own parishes, six miles from a cathedral church, as they called it, and three miles from a burgh; whereby they were reduced into many inconveniencies. Yet, in this fatal convulsion of the church, generally all were struck with blindness and baseness, that a paper-proclamation made them all run from their posts, and obey the king’s orders for their ejection. Thus were they given up, because of their forbearing to sound the alarm, charging the people of God, in point of loyalty to Christ, and under the pain of the curse of the covenant to awake and acquit themselves like men, and not to suffer the enemy to rob them of that treasure of reformation, which they were put in possession of, by the tears, prayers, and blood of such as went before them; instead of those prudential fumblings and firstlings then and since so much followed. Wherefore the Lord, in his holy righteousness, left that enemy (against whom they should have cried and contended, and to whose eye they should have held the curse of the covenant, as having held it first to their own, in case of unfaithful silence in not holding it to his) to cast them out of the house of the Lord, and dissolve their assemblies and deprive them of their privileges, because of their not being so valiant for the truth, as that a full and faithful testimony against that encroachment might be found upon record. Nevertheless some were found faithful in that hour and power of darkness, who kept the word of the Lord’s patience, and who were therefore kept in and from that temptation, (which carried many away into sad and shameful defections,) though not from suffering hard things from the hands of men; and only these who felt most of their violence, found grace helping them to acquit themselves suitably to that day’s testimony, being thereby prevented from an active yielding to their imposition, when they were made passively to suffer force. However, that season of a public testimony was lost, and, as to the most part, never recovered to this day. The prelates being settled, and readmitted to voice in parliament, they procure an act, dogmatically condemning several material parts and points of our covenanted reformation, to wit, these positions, ‘That it was lawful for subjects, for reformation or necessary self defense, to enter into leagues, or take up arms against the king; and particularly declaring that the national covenant, as explained in the year 1638, and the solemn league and covenant, were and are in themselves unlawful oaths, and were taken by and imposed upon the subjects of this kingdom, against the fundamental laws and liberties thereof, that all such gatherings and petitions, that were used in the beginning of the late troubles, were unlawful and seditious: and whereas then people were led into these things, by having dominated among them such principles as these, that it was lawful to come with petitions and representations of grievances to the king, that it was lawful for people to restrict their allegiance under such and such limitations, and suspend it until he should give security for religion, etc. It was therefore enacted, that all such positions, and practices founded thereupon, were treasonable.—–And further did enact, that no person, by writing, praying, preaching, or malicious or advised speaking, express or publish any words or sentences, to stir up the people to the dislike of the king’s prerogative and supremacy, or of the government of the church by bishops, or justify any of the deeds, actings, or things declared against by that act.’ Yet notwithstanding of all this subversion of religion and liberty, and restraint of asserting these truths here trampled upon, either before men by testimony, or before men by testimony, or before God in mourning over these indignities done unto him, in everting these and all the parts of reformation, even when it came to Daniel’s case of confession, preaching and praying truths interdicted by law; few had their eyes open (let be their windows, in an open avouching them) to see the duty of the day calling for a testimony. Though afterwards, the Lord spirited some to assert and demonstrate the glory of these truths and duties to the world. As that judicious author of the Apologetical Relation [John Brown, of Wamphray], whose labours need no Elogium to commend them. But this is not all: for these men, having now, as they thought, subverted the work of God, they provided also against the fears of its revival making acts, declaring, ‘that if the ousted ministers dare to continue to preach, and presume to exercise their ministry, they should be punished as seditious persons; requiring of all a due acknowledgment of, and hearty compliance with, the king’s government ecclesiastical and civil; and that whosoever shall ordinarily and willfully withdraw and absent from the ordinary meetings for divine worship in their own churches on the Lord’s day, shall incur the penalties there insert.’ Thus the sometimes chaste virgin, whose name was Beulah to the Lord, the Reformed church of Scotland, did now suffer a violent and villainous rape, from a vermin of vile schismatical apostates, obtruded and imposed upon her, instead of her able, painful, faithful and successful pastors, that the Lord had set over her, and now by their faintness, and the enemies force, robbed from her, and none now allowed by law to administer the ordinances, but either apostate curates, who by their perjury and apostasy forfeited their ministry, or other hirelings and prelates journeymen, who run without a mission, except from them who had none to give, according to Christ’s institution, the seal of whose ministry could never yet be shown in the conversion of any sinner to Christ; but if the tree may be known by its fruits, we may know whose ministers they are; as the Lion from his claws, by their Conversions of reformation into deformation, of the work and cause of God into the similitude of the Roman beast, of ministers into hirelings, of their proselytes into ten times worse children of the devil than they were before, of the power of godliness into formality, of preaching Christ into orations of morality, of the purity of Christ’s ordinances into the vanity of men’s inventions, of the beautiful government of the house of God for edification, to a lordly preeminence and domination over consciences, in a word, of church and state constitutions for religion and liberty, all upside down into wickedness and slavery: these are the conversions of prelacy. But now this astonishing blow to the gospel of the kingdom, introducing such a swarm of locusts into the church, and in forcing a compliance of the people with this defection, and that so violently and rigorously, as even simple withdrawing was so severely punished by severe edicts of fining, and other arbitrary punishments at first; what did it produce? did it awaken all Christ’s ambassadors, now to appear for Christ, in this clear and clamant case of confessing him, and the freedom and purity of his ordinances? Alas! the backwardness and bentness to backsliding, in a superseding from the duties of that day, did make it evident, that now the Lord had in a great measure forsaken them, because they had forsaken him. The standard of the gospel was then fallen, and few to take it up. The generality of ministers and professors both went and conformed so far as to hear the curates, contrary to many points of the reformation formerly attained, contrary to their covenant engagements, and contrary to their own principles and practice at that same time; scrupling and refusing to keep the bishop’s visitations, and to countenance their Discipline and power of Jurisdiction, because it was required as a testification of their acknowledgment of, and compliance with the present Government. And yet not scrupling to countenance their Doctrine, and usurped power of Order required also by the same law, as the same test of the same compliance and submission. ‘Tis strange that some yet do plead for persisting in that same compliance, after all the bitter consequents of it. Other ministers lay altogether by, in their retired recesses, waiting to see what things would turn to: others were hopeless, turned Farmers and Doctors: others more wily, stayed at home, and preached quietly in Ladies Chambers. But the faithful thought that this tyrannical ejection did not, nor could not, unminister them, so as they might not preach the gospel wherever they were, as ambassadors of Christ,; but rather found themselves under an indispensable necessity to preach the gospel, and witness for the freedom of their ministry and thereupon, as occasion offered, preached to all such as were willing to hear; but at first only in private houses, and that for the most part at such times, when sermons in public surceased [stopped] (a surplus of caution.) But afterwards, finding so great difficulties entrapped, were constrained at last to keep their meetings in the fields, without shelter from cold, wind, snow, or rain. Where testifying both practically and particularly against these usurpations on their master’s prerogatives, and witnessing for their ministerial freedom, contrary to all law interdictions, without any licenses, or indulgences from the usurper, but holding their ministry from Jesus Christ alone, both as to the office and exercise thereof; they had so much of their master’s countenance, and success in their labours, that they valued neither hazards nor hardships, neither the contempt of pretended friends, nor the laws, nor threatenings of enemies, adjudging the penalty of death itself to preachers at Field Conventicles, as they called them. Now having thus overturned the Church Government, by introducing prelacy, to advance an absolute supremacy; the effects whereof, were either the corruption, or persecution of all the ministry, encouragement of profanity and wickedness, the increase and advancement of popery, superstition, and error, cruel impositions on the conscience, and oppressions for conscience sake, by the practices of cruel Supra-Spanish Inquisitions, and all manner of outcries of outrageous violence and villainy: the king proceeds, in his design, to pervert and evert the well modeled and moderated constitution of the State Government also, by introducing and advancing an arbitrary tyranny; the effects whereof, were an absolute mancipation of lives and liberties, and estates unto his lust and pleasure, the utter subversion of laws, and absolute impoverishing of the people. For effectuating which, he first procures a lasting imposition of intolerable Subsidies and taxations, to impoverish, that he might the more easily enslave the nation; next, a further recognizance of his Prerogative, in a subjection of persons, fortunes, and whole strength of the kingdom to his absolute arbitrement [control], "In a levy of militia of 20,000 footmen, and 2,000 horsemen sufficiently armed, with 40 days provision, to be ready upon the king’s call to march to any part of his dominions, for opposing whatsoever invasion, or insurrection, or for any other service." The first sproutings of tyranny were cherished, by the cheerful, and stupid submission generally yielded to these exorbitancies; under which, they who suffered most were inwardly malcontents, but there was no opposition to them by word or action; but, on the contrary, generally people did not so much as scruple sending out, or going out as militiamen: never adverting unto what this concurrence was designed, and demanded, and given for; nor what an accession it was, in the nature and influence of the mean itself, and in the sense and intention of the requirers, unto a confederacy for a compliance with, and a confirmation and strengthening of arbitrary tyranny.
After the fundamental constitutions of both church and state are thus razed and rooted up, to confirm this Absolute Power, he contrived to frame all inferior magistrates according to his mold: and for this end appointed, that all persons, in any public trust or office whatsoever, should subscribe a Declaration, renouncing and abjuring the covenants; whereby perjury was made the chief and indispensable qualification, and without which nothing could be had, of all that were capable of exercising any power or place in church or state. But finding this not yet sufficient surety for this unsettled settlement; because he well understood, the people stood nowadays obliged to acknowledge him, but only according to the solemn covenants being the fundamental conditions whereupon their allegiance was founded (as amongst all people, the articles mutually consented betwixt them, and these whom they set over them, are the constituent fundamentals of government) and well knowing, that he and his associates, by violating these conditions, had loosed the people from all subjection to him, or any deriving power from him, whereby the people might justly plead, that since he had kept no condition, they were now not obliged to him; he therefore contrived a new Oath of Allegiance to be imposed upon all in public trust, both in church and state; wherein they are made to oblige themselves to that boundless breaker of all bonds, sacred and civil, and his successors also, without any reciprocal obligation from him to them, or any reserved restriction, limitation, or qualification, as all human authority, by God’s ordinance, must be bounded. Whereby the swearers have, by oath, homologated the overturning of the very Basis of the government, making free people slaves to the subverters thereof, betraying their native Brethren and posterity to the lust of tyranny, and have, in effect, as really, as if in plain terms, affirmed, that whatsoever tyranny shall command, or do, either as to the overturning of the work of God, subverting of religion, destroying of liberty, or persecuting all the godly to the utmost extremity, they shall not only stupidly endure it, but actively concur with it, and assist in all this tyranny. Alas! there was no public testimony against this trick, to bring people under the yoke of tyranny; except by some who suffered for conscientious refusing it, while many others did take it, thinking to salve the matter by their pitiful quibbling senses, of giving Caesar his due. Whereas this Caesar, for whom these loyal allegiers [owners of subjection] plead, is not an ordinary Caesar, but such a Caesar, as Nero, or Caligula, that if he got his due, it would be in another kind. Strange! can Presbyterians swear that allegiance, which is substitute in the place of the broken and burnt covenant? Or could they swear it to such a person, who having broken and buried the covenant, that he who had sworn it, might have another right, and another allegiance than that of the covenant, had then remitted to us all allegiance founded upon the covenant? However; having now prepared and furnished himself with tools so qualified for his purpose, in church and state, he prosecutes his persecution with such fervour and fury, rage and revenge, impositions and oppressions, and with armed formed force, against the faithful, following their duty in a peaceable manner, without the least shadow of contempt, even of his abused authority, that at length, in the year 1666, a small party were compelled to go to defensive arms. Which, whatever was the desire of the court (as it is known how desirous they have been of an insurrection, when they thought themselves sure to suppress it, that they might have a vent for their cruelty; and how one of the brothers hath been heard say, That if he might have his wish, he would have them all turn rebels, and go to arms,) Yet it was no predetermined design of that poor handful. For Sir James Turner, pursing his cruel orders in Galloway, sent some soldiers to apprehend a poor old man; whom his neighbours compassionating, entreated the soldiers to loose him as he lay bound, but were answered with drawn swords, and necessitated to their own defense: in which they relieve the man, and disarm the soldiers, and further attacked some others oppressing that country, disarming 10 or 12 more, and killing one that made resistance. Whereupon the country being alarmed, and fearing from sad experience Sir James would certainly avenge this affront upon the whole country, without distinction or free and unfree, they gather about 54 horsemen, march to Dumfries, take Sir James Turner prisoner, and disarm the soldiers, without any more violence. Being thus, by providence, engaged without any hope of retreat, and getting some concurrence of their brethren in the same condition, they came to Lanerk, where they renew the covenant; and thence to Pentland-hills: where, by the holy disposal of God, they were routed, many killed, and 130 taken prisoners, who were treated so treacherously and truculently, as Turks would have blushed to have seen the like. Hence now, on the one hand, we may see the righteousness of God, in leaving that enemy to him, whom we embraced, to make such avowed discoveries of himself, without a blush to the world, and to scourge us with scorpions that we nourished and put in his hands: and also, how justly, at that time, he left us into such a damp, that like asses we couched under all burdens, and few came out to the help of the Lord against the Mighty, drawing on them Meroz’s curse, and the blood of their butchered brethren; after we had sitten, and seen, and suffered all things, civil and sacred we to be destroyed in our sight without resentment. And though the Lord, who called out these worthy patriots, who fell at Pentland, to such an appearance for his interests, did take a testimony off their hands with acceptance by sufferings, and singularly countenanced them in sealing it with their blood; yet he would not give success nor his presence to the enterprise, but left them in a sort of infatuation, without counsel and conduct to be a prey to devourers, that, by a sad inadvertency, they took in the tyrants interest into the state of the quarrel. Which should have warned his people for the future, to have stated the quarrel otherwise.
II. By this time, and much more after, the king gave as many proofs and demonstrations of his being true to antichrist [i.e., the Pope], in minding all the promises and treaties with him, as he had of his being false to Christ, in all his covenanted engagements with his people. For in this same year 1666, he, with his dear and royal brother the Duke of York, contrived, countenanced and abetted the burning of London, evident by their employing their guards to hinder the people from saving their own, and to dismiss the incendiaries the Papists, that were taken in the fact. The committee, appointed to cognosce [make inquiry] upon that business, traced it so far, that they durst go no further, unless they would arraign the duke, and charge the king: and yet before this it was enacted as criminal for any to say, the king was a Papist. But having gained so much of his design in Scotland, where he had established prelacy, advanced tyranny to the height of absoluteness, and his supremacy almost beyond the reach of any additional supply, yea, above the Pope’s own claim, and had now brought his only opposites, the few faithful witnesses of Christ to a low pass, he went on by craft as well as cruelty, to advance his own, in promoting antichrist’s interest. And therefore, having gotten the Supremacy devolved upon him by law (for which also he had the Pope’s dispensation, to take it to himself for the time, under promise to restore and surrender it to him, as soon as he could attain his end by it, as the other brother succeeding hath now done) he would now exert that usurped power, and work by ensnaring policy to effectuate the end which he could not do by other means. Therefore, seeing he was not able to suppress the meetings of the Lord’s people for gospel ordinances, in house and fields, but that the more he laboured by violent courses, the greater and more frequent they grew; he fell upon a more crafty device, not only to overthrow the gospel, and suppress the meetings, but to break the faithful and to divide, between the mad cap and the moderate Fanatics (as they phrased it) that he might the more easily destroy both, to confirm the usurpation, and to settle people in a sinful silence and stupid submission to all the encroachments made on Christ’s prerogatives, and more effectually to overturn what remained of the work of God. And, knowing that nothing could more fortify the supremacy, than ministers their homologating and acknowledging it; therefore he offered the first Indulgence, in the year 1669, signifying in a letter, dated that year, June 7th, his gracious pleasure was, ‘to appoint so many of the ousted ministers, as have lived peaceably and orderly, to return to preach and exercise other functions of the ministry, in the parish-churches where they formerly served (provided they were vacant) and to allow patrons to present to other vacant churches, such others of them as the council should approve; that all who are so indulged, be enjoined to keep Presbyteries, and the refusers to be confined within the bounds of their parishes: and that they be enjoined not to admit any of their neighbour parishes unto their communions, nor baptize their children, nor marry any of them, without the allowance of the minister of the parish; and if they countenance the people deserting their own parishes, they are to be silenced for shorter or longer time, or altogether turned out, as the council shall see cause: and, upon complaint made and verified, of any seditious discourse or expressions in the pulpit, uttered by any of the ministers, they are immediately to be turned out, and further punished according to law; and seeing by these orders all pretenses for Conventicles were taken away, if any should be found hereafter to preach without authority, or keep conventicles; his pleasure is, to proceed with all severity against them, as seditious persons, and contemners of authority.’ To salve this in point of law (because it was against former laws of their own) and to make the king’s letter the supreme law afterwards, and a valid ground to what the king pleased in matters ecclesiastic; he therefore caused frame a formal statutory Act of Supremacy, of this tenor: ‘That his majesty hath the supremacy over all persons, and in all causes ecclesiastic, within his dominions, and that by virtue thereof, the ordering and disposal of the external government of the church, doth properly belong to him and his successors, as an inherent right to the crown: and that he may settle, enact, and emit such constitutions, acts and orders, concerning the administrating thereof, and persons employed in the same and concerning all ecclesiastical meetings and matters, to be proposed and determined therein, as he in his royal wisdom shall think fit; which acts, orders and constitutions are to be observed and obeyed by all his majesty’s subjects, any law, act, or custom to the contrary notwithstanding.’ Whereupon, accordingly the council, in their act of July 27th, 1669, ‘do nominate several ministers, and appoint them to preach, and exercise the other functions of the ministry, at their respective churches there specified, with consent of the patrons.’ The same day also they conclude and enact the aforementioned Restrictions, conform to the king’s letter above rehearsed, and ordain them to be intimate to every person, who is by authority foresaid allowed the exercise of the ministry. These indulged ministers having that indulgence given only upon these terms, that they should accept these injunctions; and having received it upon these terms also (as an essential part of the bargain and condition, on which the indulgence was granted and accepted, as many following proclamations did expressly declare) do appoint Mr. Hutcheson, one of the number, to declare so much; in acknowledging his majesty’s favour and clemency, in granting that liberty, after so long a restraint: and however they had received their ministry from Jesus Christ, with full prescriptions from him for regulating them therein, yet nothing could be more refreshing on earth to them, than to have free liberty for the exercise of their ministry, under the protection of lawful authority: and so they purposed to behave themselves, in the discharge of the ministry, with that wisdom that became faithful ministers, and to demean themselves towards lawful authority, notwithstanding of their known judgment in church affairs, as well becometh loyal subjects; and their prayer to God should be, that the Lord should bless his majesty in his person and government, and the council in the public administration, and especially in the pursuance of his majesty’s mind in his letter, wherein his singular moderation eminently appears.’——Afterwards they issued out proclamations, reinforcing the punctual observation of the aforementioned injunction, and delivered them into the indulged. In the mean time, though cruel acts and edicts were made against the meetings of the Lord’s people, in houses and the fields, after all these Midianitish wiles to suppress them, such was the presence of the Lord in these meetings, and so powerful was his countenance and concurrence with the labours of a few, who laid out themselves to hold up the standard of Christ; that the number of converts multiplied daily, to the praise of free grace, and to the great encouragement of the few bands that wrestled in that work, through all human discouragement. Therefore king and council was put to a new shift, which they supposed would prove more effectual; to wit, because there was a great number of non-conformed ministers not yet indulged, who either did or might hereafter hold Conventicles; therefore, to remeid [remedy] or prevent this in time coming, they appoint and ordain them to such places where indulged ministers were settled, there to be convinced, with allowance to preach, as the indulged should employ them; thinking by this means to incapacitate many to hold meetings there or elsewhere; and to these also they give injunctions and restrictions to regulate them in the exercise of their ministry. And to the end that all the ousted ministers might be brought under restraint, and the word of God be kept under bonds, by another act of council they command, that all other ministers (not disposed of as is said) were either to repair to the parish churches where they were, or to some other parishes, where they may be ordinary hearers, and to declare and condescend upon the parishes where they intend to have their residence.
After this they assumed a power, to dispose of these their curates, as they pleased, and transport them from place to place; whereof the only ground was a simple act of council, the Instructions always going along with them, as the constant companion of the Indulgence. By all which it is apparent, whatever these ministers allege in vindication of it, to cover its deformity, in their Balms to take away its Stink, and in their Surveys to gather plaisters to scurf over its scurviness, viz. that it was but the removal of the civil restraint, and that they entered into their places by the call of the people (a mere mock pretense for a prelimited imposition, whereby that ordinance of Christ was basely prostituted and abused) and that their Testimony and Protestation was a Salvo for their conscience (a mere Utopian fancy, that the Indulgers, with whom they were faithful in testifying against their encroachments, they would soon have given them a bill of ease) it cannot be denied, that that doleful Indulgence, both in its rise, contrivance, conveyance, grant, and acceptance, end and effects, was a grievous encroachment upon the princely prerogative of Jesus Christ, the only Head of the church; whereby the usurper’s supremacy was homologated, bowed to, complied with, strengthened and established, the cause and kingdom of Christ betrayed, his church’s privileges surrender’d, his enemies harden’d, his friends stumbled, and the remnant rent and ruined; in that it was granted and deduced from the king’s supremacy, and conveyed by the council; in that, according to his pleasure, he gave and they received a license and warrant, to such as he nominated and elected, and judged fit and qualified for it, and fixed them in what particular parish he pleased to assign, under the notion of a confinement; in that he imposed, and they submitted to restrictions in the exercise of their ministry in these particular parishes, inhibiting to preach elsewhere in the church; and with these restrictions, he gave and they received instructions to regulate and direct them in their functions. All which was done without advice or consent of the church; and thereupon they have frequently been called and convened before the council, to give account of their ministerial exercise, and some of them sentenced, silenced, and deposed for alleged disobedience. This was a manifest Treason against Christ, which involved many in the actual guilt of it that day, and many others who gaped after it, and could not obtain it; and far more at that time, and since, in the guilt of Misprision of treason [hiding treasonable actions], in passing this also without a witness. Thus, in holy judgment, because of our indulging and conniving at the usurper of Christ’s throne, he left a great part of the ministers to take that wretched Indulgence; and another part, instead of remonstrating against the wickedness of that deed, have been left to palliate and plaister, and patronize it, in keeping up the credit of the king and council’s Curates, wherein they have showed more zeal, than ever against that wicked indulgence. Yet the Lord had some witnesses, who pretty early did give significations of their resentment of this dishonour done to Christ, as Mr. William Weir, who having got the legal call of the people, and discharging his duty honestly, was turned out; and Mr. John Burnet, who wrote a testimony directed to the council, showing why he could not submit to that Indulgence, inserted at large in the History of the Indulgence [by John Brown, of Wamphray]; were also we have the testimony of other ten ministers, who drew up their reasons of non-compliance with such a snare; and Mr. Alexander Blair, who, upon occasion of a citation before the council for not observing the 29th of May, having, with others, made his appearance, and got new copies of instructions presented to them, being moved with zeal, and remembering whose ambassador he was, told the council plainly, that he could receive no instructions from them in the exercise of his ministry, otherwise he should not be Christ’s ambassador, but theirs: and herewith lets their instructions drop out of his hand, knowing of no other Salvo, or manner of testifying for the truth in the case; for which he was imprisoned, and died under confinement. But afterwards, the Lord raised up some more explicit witnesses against that defection. All this trouble was before the year 1673; about which time, finding this device of Indulgences proved so steadable [helpful] for his service in Scotland, he was induced to try it also in England; which he did almost with the same or like success, and producing the same effects of defection, security and unfaithfulness. The occasion was upon his wars with the Dutch; which gave another demonstrative discovery of his treachery and Popish perfidy, in breaking league with them, and entering into one with the French, to destroy religion and liberty in Britain; ‘Wherein the king of France assures him an Absolute Authority over his parliaments, and to reestablish the Catholic religion in his kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland; to compass which it was necessary first to abate the pride and power of the Dutch, and to reduce them to the sole Province of Holland, by which means the king of England should have Zealand for a retreat, in case of need; and that the rest of the Low Countries should remain to the king of France, if he could render himself master of it.’ But, to return to Scotland: while, by the aforementioned device, he thought he had utterly suppressed the gospel in house and field meetings, he was so far disappointed, that these very means and machines by which he thought to bury it, did chiefly contribute to its revival. For when, by persecution, many ministers had been chased away by illegal law-sentences, many had been banished away, and by their ensnaring Indulgences many had been drawn away from their duty, and others were now sentenced with confinements and restraints, if they should not choose and fix their residence where they could not keep their quiet and conscience both; they were forced to wander and disperse through the country, and the people being tired of the cold and dead Curates, and wanting long the ministry of their old Pastors, so longed and hungered after the Word, that they behooved to have it at any rate, cost what it would: which made them entertain the dispersed ministers more earnestly, and encouraged them more to their duty. By whose endeavours, through the mighty power and presence of God, and the light of his countenance now shining through the cloud, after so fatal and fearful a darkness that had overclouded the land for a while, with such a resplendent brightness, that it darkened the Prelatic Locusts, and made them hiss and gnash their tongues for pain, and dazzled the eyes of all onlookers; the word of God grew exceedingly, and went through at least the southern borders of the kingdom like lightning, or like the sun in its meridian beauty; discovering so the wonders of God’s law, the mysteries of his gospel, and the secrets of his covenant, and the sins and duties of that day, that a numerous issue was begotten to Christ, and his conquest was glorious, captivating poor slaves of Satan, and bringing them from his power unto God, and from darkness to, light. Oh! who can remember the glory of that day, without a melting heart, in reflecting upon what we have lost, and let go, and sinned away, by our misimprovements? O! that in that day, we had hearkened to his voice, and had known the things that belonged to our peace! A day of such power, that it made the people, even the bulk and body of the people, willing to come out and venture upon the greatest of hardships and the greatest of hazards, in pursuing after the gospel, thro’ mosses and muirs, and inaccessible mountains, summer and winter, thro’ excess of heat and extremity of cold, many days and night journeys, even when they could not have a probable expectation of escaping the sword of the wilderness, and the barbarous fury of bloody Burrio’s [hangman’s] raging for their prey, sent out with orders to take and kill them; it being now made criminal by law, especially to the preachers and convocaters of those meetings. But this was a day of such power, that nothing could daunt them from their duty, that had tasted once the sweetness of the Lord’s presence at these persecuted meetings. Then had we such Humiliation-days for personal and public defections, such Communion-days even in the open fields, and such Sabbath-Solemnities, that the places where they were kept might have been called Bethel, or Peniel, or Bochim, and all of them Jehovah-Shammah; wherein many were truly converted, more convinced, and generally all reformed from their former immoralities: that even robbers, thieves, and profane men, were some of them brought to a saving subjection to Christ, and generally under such a restraint, that all the severities of heading and hanging, etc. in a great many years, could not make such a civil reformation, as a few days of the gospel, in these formerly the devil’s territories, now Christ’s quarters, where his kingly standard was displayed. I have not language to lay out the inexpressible glory of that day: but I will make bold to say two things of it, first, I doubt if ever there was greater days of the Son of man upon the earth, since the apostolic times, than we enjoyed for the space of seven years at that time: and next, I doubt, if upon the back of such a lightsome day, confusion, and a more universal impudent apostasy, than we have seen, since. The world is at a great loss, that a more exact and complete account, demonstrating both these, is not published, which I am sure would be a fertile theme to my faithful pen. But this not being my scope at present, but only to deduce the steps of the contendings of Christ’s friends and his enemies. I must follow the thread of my narration. Now when Christ is gaining ground by the preached gospel in plenty, in purity and power, the Usurper’s Supremacy was like to stagger, and Prelacy came under universal contempt, in so much that several country Curates would have had but scarce half a dozen of hearers, and some none at all. And this was a general observe that never failed, that no sooner did any poor soul come to get a serious sense of religion, and was brought under any real exercise of Spirit about their souls concerns, but as soon they did fall out with Prelacy, and left the Curates. Hence to secure what he had possessed himself of by law, and to prevent a dangerous Paroxysm which he thought would ensue upon these commotions, the king returned to exerce [exercise] his innate tyranny and to emit terrible orders, and more terrible executioners, and bloody emissaries, against all field meetings: which, after long patience, the people at length could not endure; but being first chased to the fields, where they would have been content to have the gospel with all the inconveniences of it, and also expelled from the fields, being resolute to maintain the gospel, they resolved to defend it and themselves by arms. To which, unavoidable necessity, in unsupportable extremity, did constrain them, as the only remaining remedy. It is known, for several years they met without any arms, where frequently they were disturbed and dispersed with soldiers, some killed, others wounded, which they patiently endured without resistance: at length the ministers that were most in hazard, having a price set upon their heads to be brought in dead or alive, with some attending them in their wanderings, understanding they wee thus appointed for death, judged it their duty to provide for the necessary defense of their lives from the violence of their armed assaulters. And as meeting increased, diverse others came under the same hazards, which enforced them to endeavour the same remedy, without the intention of prejudice to any. Thus the number of sufferers increasing, as they joined in the ordinances at these persecuted meetings, found themselves in some probable capacity to defend themselves and these much endeared and precious gospel privileges, and to preserve the memory of the Lord’s great work in the land, which, to transmit to posterity, was their great design. And they had no small encouragement to endeavour it, by the satisfying sweetness and comfort they found in these ordinances, being persuaded of the justness of their cause, and of the groundlessness of their adversary’s quarrel against them; and hereunto also they were incited and prompted, by the palpableness of the enemy’s purposes to destroy the remainder of the gospel, by extirpating the remnant that professed it. Wherefore, in these circumstances, being redacted to that strait, either to be deprived of the gospel, or to defend themselves in their meetings for it; and thinking their turning their backs upon it for hazard, was a cowardly deserting duty, and palpable breach of covenant engagements, abandoning their greatest interest, they thought expedient, yea necessary, to carry defensive arms with them. And as for that discouragement from the difficulty and danger of it, because of their fewness and meanness, it did not deter or daunt them from the endeavour of their day; when they considered, the Lord, in former times, was wont to own a very small party of their ancestors, who in extremity jeoparded their lives, in defense of reformation, against very potent and powerful enemies: these, now owning the same cause, judged themselves obliged to run the same hazard in the same circumstances, and to follow the same method, and durst not leave it unessayed, leaving the event to God: considering also, that not only the law of nature and nations doth allow self defense from unjust violence, but also the indissoluble obligation of their covenants, to maintain and defend the true religion, and one another in promoving the same, made it indispensable to use that endeavour, the defect of which through their former supiness [passiveness] gave no small encouragement to the enemies: they considered also what would be the consequence of that war, declared against all the faithful of the land, with a displayed banner, prosecuted with fire clamations, and written in characters of blood by barbarous soldiers, so that none could enjoy gospel-ordinances dispensed in purity, but upon the hazard of their lives: and therefore, to prevent and frustrate these effects, they endeavoured to put themselves in a posture. And hereunto they were encouraged, by the constant experience of the Lord’s countenancing their endeavours in that posture, which always proved successful for several years, their enemies either turning their backs without disturbance, when they observed them resolve defense, or in their assaultings repulsed: so that there was never a meeting which stood to their defense, got any considerable harm thereby. Thus the Lord was with us while we were with him, but when we forsook him, then he forsook us, and left us in the hands of our enemies. However, while meetings for gospel ordinances did continue, the wicked rulers did not cease from time to time to increase their numerous bands of barbarous soldiers, for suppressing the gospel in these field meetings. And for their maintenance, they imposed new, wicked and arbitrary, cesses and taxations, professedly required for suppressing religion and liberty, banishing the gospel out of the land, and preserving and promoting his absoluteness over all matters and persons sacred and civil: which, under that temptation of great suffering threatened to refusers, and under the disadvantage of the silence and unfaithfulness of many ministers, who either did not condemn it, or pleaded for the peaceable payment of it, many did comply with it then, and far more since.
Yet at that time there were far more recusants in some places, (especially in the western shires) than compliers: and there were many of the ministers that did faithfully declare to the people the sin of it; not only from the illegality of its imposition, by a convention of over awed and prelimitated [prelimited] states: but from the nature of that imposed compliance, that it, was a sinful transaction with Christ’s declared enemies, a strengthening the hands of the wicked, and obedience to a wicked law, a consenting to Christ’s expulsion out of the land, and not only that, but (far worse than the sin of the Gadarenes) a formal concurrence to assist his expellers, by maintaining their force, a hiring our oppressors to destroy religion and liberty; and, from the fountain of it, an arbitrary power domineering over us, and oppressing and overpressing the kingdoms with intolerable exactions; that to pay it, it was to entail slavery on their posterity; and from the declared end of it, expressed in the very narrative of the Act, viz. to levy and maintain forces for suppressing and dispersing meetings of the Lord’s people, and to show unanimous affection for maintaining the king’s Supremacy as now established by law; which designs he resolved, and would be capacitate by the granters to effectuate by such a grant, which, in effect to all tender consciences, had an evident tendency to the exauctorating [depriving of office] the Lord Christ, to maintain soldiers to suppress his work, and murder his followers, yet all this time ministers and professors were unite, and with one soul and shoulder followed the work of the Lord, till the Indulged, being dissatisfied with the meetings in the fields, whose glory was like to overcloud and obscure their beds of ease, and especially being offended at the freedom and faithfulness of some, who set the trumpet to their mouth, and showed Jacob his sins, and Israel his transgressions impartially, without a cloak or cover, they began to make a faction among the ministers, and to devise how to quench the fervour of their zeal who faithful to God.
But the more they sought to extinguish it, the more it broke out and blazed into a flame. For several of Christ’s ambassadors, touched and affected with the affronts done to their princely master, by the Supremacy and the Indulgence its bastard brood and brat, began, after long silence, to discover its iniquity, and to acquaint the people how the usurper had invaded the Mediator’s chair, in taking upon him to depose, suspend, silence, plant and transplant his ministers, where, and when, and how he pleased, and to give forth warrants and licenses for admitting them, with canons and instructions for regulating them in the exercise of their ministry, and to arraign and censure them at his courts for delinquencies in their ministry; pursuing all to the death who are faithful to Christ, and maintain their loyalty to his laws, and will not prostitute their consciences to his lusts, and bow down to the idol of his supremacy, but will own the kingly authority of Christ. Yet others, and the grater number of dissenting ministers, were not only defiant herein, but defended them, joined with them, and (pretending prudence and prevention of schism) in effect homologated that deed, and the practice of these priests, Ezek. 22:16. Teaching and advising the people to hear them, both by precept, and going along with them in that Erastian course; and not only so, but condemned and censured such who preached against the sinfulness thereof, especially in the first place, worth Mr. Welwood, who was among the first witnesses against that defection, and Mr. [John] Kid, Mr. [John] King, Mr. [Richard] Cameron, Mr. Donald Cargil, etc. who sealed their testimony afterwards with their blood; yet then even by their brethren, were loaden with the reproachful nicknames of schismatics, blind zealots, Jesuits, etc. But it was always observed, as long as ministers were faithful in following the Lord in the way of their duty, professors were fervent, and under all their conflicts with persecutors, the courage and zeal of the lovers of Christ was blazing, and never out braved by all the enemies boastings to undertake brisk exploits: which from time to time they were now and then essaying, till defection destroyed, and division diverted their zeal against the enemies of God, who before were always the object against which they whetted the edge of their just indignation. Especially the insulting insolency and insolent villainy of that public incendiary, the Arch Prelate Sharp, was judged intolerable by ingenious spirits: being employed as their delegate to oppose the threatened introduction of Prelacy, he had, like a perjured apostate and perfidious traitor, advanced himself into the place of Primate of Scotland, and being a member of council, he became a chief instrument of all the persecution, and main instigator to all the bloody violence and cruelty that was exerced [exercised] against the people of God; by whose means, the letter, sent down to stop the shedding of more blood after Pentland, was kept up, until several of these martyrs were murdered. Therefore in July 1668, Mr. James Mitchel thought, it his duty, to save himself, deliver his brethren, and free the land of the violence of that beast of prey, and attempted to cut him off which failing, he then escaped, but afterwards was apprehended; and being moved by the council’s oath, and act of assurance promising his life, he made confession of the fact: yet afterwards for the same he was arraigned before the Justiciary, and the confession he made was brought in against him, and witnessed by the perjured chancellor Rothes, and other lords, contrary to their oath and act produced in open court, to their indelible infamy; whereupon he was tortured, condemned, and executed. But justice would not suffer this murder to pass long unrevenged, nor that truculent traitor James Sharp the Arch Prelate, who was the occasion and cause of it, and of many more both before and after, to escape remarkable punishment; the severity whereof did sufficiently compense its delay, after ten years respite, wherein he ceased not more and more to pursue, persecute, and make havoc of the righteous for their duty, until at length he received the just demerit of his perfidy, perjury, apostasy, sorceries, villanies, and murders, Sharp arrows of the mighty, and coals of juniper. For, upon the 3d of May 1679, several worthy gentlemen, with some other men of courage and zeal for the cause of God, and the good of the country, executed righteous judgment upon him in Magus Muir, near St. Andrews. And that same month, on the anniversary day, May 29th, the testimony at Rutherglen, was published against that abomination of celebrating an Anniversary day, kept every year for giving thanks for the setting up an usurped power, destroying an interest of Christ in the land.—–And against all sinful and unlawful acts, emitted and executed, published and prosecuted against our Covenanted Reformation. Where also they burnt the Act of Supremacy, the Declaration, the Act Rescissory, etc. in way of retaliation for the burning of the covenants. On the Sabbath following, June 1st, a field meeting for the worship of God, near to Loudon hill, was assaulted by Graham of Claverhouse, and with him 3 troops of horse and dragoons, who had that morning taken an honest minister, and about 14 country-men, out of their beds, and carried them along with them, as prisoners to the meeting, in a barbarous manner. But, by the good hand of God upon the defendants, they were repulsed at Drumclog and put to flight, the prisoners relieved, about 30 of the soldiers killed on the place, and 3 of the meeting, and several wounded on both sides. Thereafter the people retreating from the pursuit, consulted what was expedient in that juncture, whether to disperse themselves as formerly, or to keep together for their necessary defense. The result was, that considering the craft and cruelty of those they had to deal with, the sad consequents of falling into their hands now more incensed than ever, the evil effects that likely would ensue upon their separation, which would give them access to make havoc of all; they judged it most safe in that extremity for some time not to separate. Which resolution, coming abroad to the ears of others of their brethren, determined them incontinently to come to their assistance, considering the necessity, and their own liableness to the same common danger, upon the account of their endeavours of that nature elsewhere to defend themselves, being of the same judgment for maintaining of the same cause, to which they were bound by the same covenants, and groaning under the same burdens; they judged therefore, that if they now withheld their assistance in such a strait; they could not be innocent of their brethren’s blood, nor found faithful in their covenant: to which they were encouraged with the countenance and success the Lord had given to that meeting in that defensive resistance. This was the rise and occasion of that appearance at Bothwell-bridge, which the Lord did in his holy sovereignty confound, for former defections, by the means of division, which broke their little army among themselves, before they were broken by the enemy. They continued together in amiable and amicable peace for the space of eight or nine days, while they endeavoured to put out, and keep out, every wicked thing from amongst them, and adhered to the Rutherglen Testimony, and that short Declaration at Glasgow confirming it; representing their present purposes and endeavours, "Where only in vindication and defense of the Reformed religion,——as they stood obliged thereto by the national and solemn league and covenant, and the solemn acknowledgment of sins and engagement to duties; declaring against popery, prelacy, Erastianism, and all things depending thereupon." Intending hereby to comprehend the defection of the Indulgence, to witness against which all unanimously agreed: until the army increasing, the defenders and daubers of that defection, some ministers and others, came in, who broke all, and upon whom the blood of that appearance may be charged. The occasion of the breach was, first, When in the sense of the obligation of that command, when the host goeth forth against thine enemies, keep thee from every wicked thing, an overture was offered to set times apart for humiliation for the public sins of the land, according to the practice of the godly, in all ages, before engaging their enemies, and the laudable precedents of our ancestors, that so the causes of God’s wrath against the nation might be inquired into and confessed, and the Lord’s blessing, counsel, and conduct to, and upon present endeavours, might be implored. And accordingly the complying with abjured Erastianism, by the acceptance of the ensnaring Indulgence, offered by, and received from the usurping rulers, was condescended upon among the rest of the grounds of fasting and humiliation, so seasonably and necessarily called for at that time. The sticklers for the Indulgence refused the overture upon politic considerations, for fear of offending the indulged ministers and gentlemen, and provoking them to withdraw their assistance. This was the great cause of the division, that produced such unhappy and destructive effects. And next, whereas the cause was stated before, according to the covenants, in the Rutherglen Testimony and Glasgow Declaration, wherein the king’s interest was waved; these dividers drew up another large paper, (called the Hamilton declaration) wherein they assert the king’s interest, according to the third article of the solemn league and covenant. Against which the best affected contended, and protested they could not, in conscience, put in his interest in the state of the quarrel, being now in stated opposition to Christ’s interests, and inconsistent with the meaning of the covenant, and the practices of the covenanters, and their own testimonies; while now he could not be declared for as being in the defense of religion and liberty, when he had so palpably overturned and ruined the work of reformation, and oppressed such as adhered thereunto, and had burnt the covenant, etc. Whereby he had loosed the people from all obligation to him from it. Yet that contrary faction prevailed, so far as to get it published in the name of all: whereby the cause was perverted and betrayed, and the former testimonies rendered irrite [void], and the interest of the public enemy espoused. Finally, The same day that the enemy approached in sight, and a considerable advantage was offered to do execution against them, these loyal gentlemen hindered and retarded all action, till a parly was beat, and an address dispatched to the Duke of Monmouth, who then commanded his father’s army. By which nothing was gained, but free liberty given to the enemies to plant their cannon, and advance without interruption. After which, in the holy all overruling providence of God, that poor handful was signally discountenanced of God, deprived of all conduct, divested of all protection, and laid open to the raging sword, the just punishment of all such tamperings with the enemies of God, and espousing their interest, and omitting humiliation for their own and the lands sins. About 300 were killed in the fields, and 1000 and upwards were taken prisoners, stripped, and carried to Edinburgh, where they were kept for a long time in the Gray Friars church yard, without shelter from cold and rain. And at length had the temptation of an ensnaring bond of peace: wherein they were to acknowledge that insurrection to be rebellion, and oblige themselves never to rise in arms against the king, nor any commissionate by him, and to live peaceably, etc. Which, through fear of threatened death and the unfaithfulness of some, and the impudence of other ministers that persuaded them to take it, prevailed with many: yet others resolutely resisted, judging it to imply a condemning of their duty, an abandoning of their covenant engagements, wherein they were obliged to duties inconsistent with such bonds, and a voluntary binding up their hands from all opposition to the declared war against Christ, which is the native sense of the peace they require, which can never be entertained long with men so treacherous. And therefore, upon principle of reason and conscience, they refused that pretended Indemnity, offered in these term. Nevertheless the most part took it; and yet were sentenced with banishment; and sent away for America, as well as they who refused it; and, by the way, (a few excepted) perished in shipwreck: whose blood yet cries against the imposers, and the persuaders to this bond.
III. This fearful and fatal stroke at Bothwel, not only was in its immediate effects so deadly, but in its consequents so destructive, that the decaying church of Scotland, which, before was beginning to revive, was then cast into such a swoon that she is never like to recover to this day. And the universality of her children, which before espoused her testimony, was after that partly drawn by craft, and partly drawn by cruelty, from a conjunction with their brethren in prosecuting the same, either into an open defection to the contrary side, or into a detestable indifferency and neutrality in the cause of God. For, first of all, the Duke of Monmouth, whose nature, more averse from cruelty than the rest of that progeny, made pliable to all suggestions of wicked policy, that seemed to have a show of smoothness and lenity, procured the emission of a pretended Indemnity, attended with the foresaid band of peace for its companion. Which were dreadful snares, catching many with flatteries, and fair pretenses of favours, fairded [coloured] over with curious words, and cozening names of living peaceably, etc. while in the mean time a most deadly and destructive thrust (as it were under the fifth rib) because most secret, was intended against all that was left remaining of the work of God undestroyed; and a bar put upon all essays to revive or recover it by their own consent, who should endeavour it. This course of defection carried away many at that time: and from that time, since the taking of that bond of peaceably living, there hath been an universal preferring of peace to truth, and of ease to duty. And the generality have been left to swallow all baits, tho’ the hook was never so discernible, all those ensnaring oaths and bonds imposed since, which both then and since people were left to their own determination to choose or refuse; many ministers refusing to give their advice when required and requested thereunto, and some not being ashamed or afraid to persuade the people to take them. The ministry then also were generally ensnared with that banded Indulgence, the pretended benefit of that Indemnity, which as it was designed, so it produced the woeful effect of propagating the defection, and promoting the divisions, and laying them by from their duty and testimony of that day, which to this day they have not yet taken upon their former ground. For when a proclamation was emitted, inveighing bitterly against field meetings, and absolutely interdicting all such for the future under highest pain, but granting liberty to preach in houses upon the terms of a cautionary bond given for their living peaceably: yet excluding all these ministers who were suspected to have been at the late rebellion, and all these who shall afterward be admitted by non-conform ministers: and certifying, That if ever they shall be at any field conventicle, the said indemnity shall not be useful to such transgressors any manner of way: and requiring security, that none under the colour of this favour continue to preach rebellion. Though there seems to be enough in the proclamation itself to have scared them from this scandalous snare; yet a meeting of ministers at Edinburgh, made up of indulged, avowed applauders of the indulgence, or underhand approvers and favourers of the same, and some of them old Public Resolutioners, assuming to themselves the name of a general assembly; yea, of the representatives of the church of Scotland, voted for the acceptance of it. And so formally transacted and bargained upon base, dishonest and dishonourable terms with the usurper, by consenting and compacting with the people to give that bond; wherein the people, upon an humble petition to the council, obtaining their indulged minister, to bind and oblige——"That the said——shall live peaceably. And, in order thereto, to present him before his Maj[esty’s] privy council, when they shall be called so to do: and in case of failzie in not presenting him, to be liable to the sum of 6000 merks." Whereby they condemned themselves of former unpeaceableness, and engaged to a sinful peace with the enemies of God, and became bound, and fettered under these bonds to a forbearance of a testimony, and made answerable to their courts, and the people were bound to represent them for their duty. The sinfulness, scandalousness, and inconveniences of which transactions, are abundantly demonstrated by a treatise thereupon, entitled, The Banders Disbanded [by Robert M’Ward], Nevertheless many embraced this new bastard indulgence, that had not the benefit of the former brat, of the same mother the Supremacy, and far more consented to it without a witness, and most of all did some way homologate it, in preaching under the sconce of it: declining the many reiterated and urgent calls of the zealous lovers of Christ, to come out and maintain the testimony of the gospel in the open fields, for the honour of their Master, and the freedom of their ministry. Whereupon, as many poor people were stumbled and jumbled into many confusions, so that they were so bewildered and bemisted in doubts and debates, that they knew not what to do, and were tempted to question the cause formerly so fervently contended for against all opposition then so simply abandoned, by these that seemed sometimes valiant for it, when they saw them consulting more their own ease than the concerns of their Master’s glory, or the necessity of the poor people hungering for the gospel, and standing in need of counsel in time of such abounding snares, whereby many became a prey to all temptations: so the more zealous and faithful, after several addresses, calls, and invitations to ministers, finding themselves deserted by them, judged themselves under a necessity to discountenance many of them, whom formerly they followed with pleasure; and to resolve upon a pursuit and prosecution of the duty of the day without them, and to provide themselves with faithful ministers, who would not shun, for all hazards, to declare the whole council of God. And accordingly through the tender mercy of God, compassionating the exigence of the people, the Lord sent them first Mr. Richard Cameron, with whom, after his serious solicitation, his brethren denied their concurrence, and then Mr. Donald Cargil; who, with a zeal and boldness becoming Christ’s ambassadors, maintained and prosecuted the testimony against all the indignities done to their Master; and wrongs to the cause, both by the encroachments of adversaries and defections of their declining brethren. Wherein they were signally countenanced of their Master; and the Lord’s inheritance was again revived with the showers of the gospel’s blessings, wherewith they had been before refreshed; and enlightened with a glance and glimpse of resplendent brightness, immediately before the obscurity of this fearful night of darkness that hath succeeded. But as Christ was then displaying his beauty to his poor despised and persecuted people; so antichrist began to blaze his bravery in the solemn and shameful reception of his harbinger, that pimp of the Romish whore, the Duke of York [i.e., James II.]. Who had now pulled off the mask, under which he had long covered his antichristian bigotry, through a trick of his brother, constrained by the Papists importunity, and the necessity of their favour, and recruit of their coin, either to declare himself papist, or to make his brother do it; whereby all the locusts were engaged to his interest, with whom he entered into a conspiracy and popish plot, as was discovered by many infallible evidences, and confessed by Coleman his secretary to Sir Edmund Bury Godfrey; for which, left he should witness against him, when Coleman was apprehended, the gentleman was cruelly murdered by the Duke of York’s contrivance and command. Yet for all the demonstrations of his being a bigot papist, that he had long given unto the world, it is known what some suffered for saying, that the Duke of York was a Papist and being forced to leave England, he was come to Scotland to promote popery and arbitrary government. However, tho’ the parliament of England, for his popery and villainy, and his plotting and pursuing the destruction of the nation, did vote his exclusion; yet degenerate Scotland did receive him in great pomp and pride. Against which, the fore-mentioned faithful witnesses of Christ did find themselves obliged to testify their just resentment, and to protest against his succeeding to the crown, in their declaration published at Sanquhar, June 22, 1680. "Wherein also they disown Charles Stuart, as having any right, title, or interest in the crown of Scotland, or government thereof, as being forfeited several years since, by his perjury and breach of the covenant; usurpation on Christ’s prerogatives, and by his tyranny and breaches in the very laws of ruling in matters civil.—–And declare a war with him, and all the men of these practices—–homologating the testimony at Rutherglen, and disclaiming that declaration at Hamiltoun."
This action was generally condemned by the body of lurking ministers, both for the matter of it, and the unseasonableness of it, and its apparent infeasibleness, being done by a handful so inconsiderable, for number, strength, or significancy. But as they had very great and important reasons to disclaim that tyrant’s authority, hinted in the declaration itself, and hereafter more fully vindicated: so the necessity of a testimony against all the tyrannical encroachments on religion and liberty, then current and increasing; and the sin and shame of shifting and delaying it so long, when the blasphemous supremacy was now advanced to its summit; the churches privileges all overturned; religion and the work of reformation trampled under foot; the people’s rights and liberties destroyed, and laws all subverted; and no shadow of government left, but arbitrary absoluteness, obtruding the tyrant’s will for reason; and his letter for the supreme law (witness the answer which one of the council gave to another, objecting against their proceedings as not according to law, What devil do ye talk of law? Have not we the king’s letter for it?) and all the ends of magistracy wholly inverted; while innocent and honest people were grievously oppressed in their persons, consciences and estates; and perjuries, adulteries, idolatries, and all impieties were not only connived at, but countenanced as badges of loyalty, and manifest and monstrous robberies and murders authorized, judgment turned into gall, and the fruit of righteousness into hemlock; do justify its seasonableness: and the ends of the [Sanquhar] declaration, to keep up the standard of the gospel, and maintain the work of reformation, and preserve a remnant of faithful adherers to it; the nature of the resolution declared, being only to endeavour to make good and maintain their revolt, in opposition to all who would pursue them for it, and reinforce them to a subjection to that yoke of slavery again; and the extremity of danger and distress that party was in, while declared and pursued as rebels, and intercommuned and interdicted of all supply and solace, being put out of their own, and, by law, precluded of the harbour of all other habitations, and so both for safety and subsistence, compelled, by necessity, to concur and keep together, may alleviate the censure, and stop the clamour of its unfeasibleness. But tho’ it is not the prudence of the management, but the justness of the action, that I would have vindicated from obloquies; yet it wanted nothing but success to justify both, in the conviction of both, in the conviction of many that made much outcry against it. In these dangerous circumstances, their difficulties and discouragements daily increased, by their enemies vigilance, their enviers treachery, and their own inadvertency, some of their number falling into the hands of them that sought their lives. For two of the most eminent and faithful witnesses of Christ, Mr. Donald Cargil, and Henry Hall, were surprised at Queensferry; Mr. Cargil escaped at that time, but the other fervent contender for the interest of Christ, fixed in the cause, and courageous to his death, endeavouring to save him, and resist the enemies, was cruelly murdered by them. And with him they got a draught of a Covenant; declaring their present purposes and future resolutions. The tenor whereof was an engagement. ‘1. To avouch the only true and living God to be their God, and to close with his way of redemption by his Son Jesus Christ, whose righteousness is only to be relied upon for justification; and to take the scriptures of the old and new Testament, to be the only object of faith, and rule of conversation in all things. 2. To establish in the land righteousness, and religion in the truth of its doctrine purity and power of its worship, discipline, and government; and to free the church of God of the corruption of Prelacy on the one hand, and the thralldom of Erastianism on the other. 3. To persevere in the doctrine of the Reformed churches, especially that of Scotland, and in the worship prescribed in the scriptures, without the inventions, adornings, and corruptions of men; and in the Presbyterian government, exercised in sessions, Presbyteries, synods, and general assemblies, as a distinct government from the civil and distinctly to be exercised, not after a carnal manner, by plurality of votes, or authority of a single person, but according to the word of God, making and carrying the sentence. 4. To endeavour the overthrow of the kingdom of darkness, and whatsoever is contrary to the kingdom of Christ, especially idolatry, and popery in all its articles, and the overthrow of that power that hath established and upheld it—–––And to execute righteous judgments impartially, according to the word of God, and degree of offenses, upon the committers of these things especially, to wit, blasphemy, idolatry, atheism, bougery [buggery; i.e., sodomy], sorcery, perjury, uncleanness, profanation of the Lord’s day, oppression and malignancy. —–––5. Seriously considering—–––there is no more speedy way of relaxation from the wrath of God, that hath ever lien on the land since it engaged with these rulers, but of rejecting them who have so manifestly rejected God—–disclaiming his covenant—–––governing contrary to all right laws, divine and human,—–––and contrary to all the ends of government, by enacting and commanding impieties, injuries, and robberies, to the denying of God’s due, and the subjects theirs; so that instead of government, godliness, and peace, there is nothing but rapine, tumult, and blood, which cannot be called a government, but a lustful rage; —–––and they cannot be called governors, but public grassators [violent assailants] and land-judgments, which all ought to set themselves against, as they would do against pestilence, sword and famine raging among them.—–––Seeing they have stopped the course of law and justice against blasphemers, idolaters, atheists, bougerers [buggerers; i.e., sodomites], sorcerers, murderers, incestuous and adulterous persons.—–––And have made butcheries on the Lord’s people sold them as slaves, imprisoned, forfeited, etc. and that upon no other account, but their maintaining Christ’s right of ruling over their consciences, against the usurpations of men. Therefore, easily solving the objections. (1.) Of our ancestors obliging the nation to this race and line: that they did not buy their liberty with our thralldom, nor could they bind their children to any thing so much to their prejudice, and against natural liberty (being a benefit next to life, if not in some regard above it) which is not as an engagement to moral things: they could only bind to that government, which they esteemed the best for common good, which reason ceasing, we are free to choose another, if we find it more conducible for that end. (2.) Of the covenant binding to defend the king: that this obligation is only in his maintenance of the true covenanted religion,—–which homage they cannot now require upon the account of the covenant, which they have renounced and disclaimed; and upon no other ground we are bound to them,—–the crown not being an inheritance, that passeth from father to son without the consent of tenants.—–—–(3.) Of the hope of their returning from these courses: whereof there is none, seeing they have so often declared their purposes of persevering in them, and suppose they should dissemble a repentance,—–—–from whose guiltiness the land cannot be cleansed, but by executing God’s righteous judgments upon them;—–yet they cannot now be believed, after they have violated all that human wisdom could devise to bind them. Upon these accounts they reject that king, and those associate with him in the government,—–and declare them henceforth no lawful rulers, as they had declared them to be no lawful subjects,—–they having destroyed the established religion, overturned the fundamental laws of the kingdom, taken away Christ’s church-government, and changed the civil into tyranny, where none are associate in partaking of the government, but where none are associate in partaking of the government, but only these who will be found, by justice, guilty criminals;—–and declare they shall, God giving power, set up government and governors according to the word of God, and the qualifications acquired, Exod. 18. ver. 20—–—–And shall not commit the government—–to any single person, or lineal succession, being not tied, as the Jews were, to one single family,—–and that kind being liable to most inconveniences, and aptest to degenerate to tyranny;—–and moreover, that these men set over them shall be engaged to govern principally, by that civil and judicial law, (not that which is any way typical, given by God to his people of Israel,—–—–as the best so far as it goes, being given by God,—–especially in matters of life and death,—–and other things, so far as they reach, and are consistent with christian liberty,—–exempting divorces and polygamy,—–6. Seeing the greatest part of ministers not only were defective in preaching against the acts of the rulers for overthrowing religion,—–but did it,—–and have voted for acceptation of that liberty, founded upon, and given by virtue of that blasphemously arrogate and usurped power,—–and appeared before their courts to accept of it, and to be enacted and authorized their ministers,—–whereby they have become the ministers of men, and bound to be answerable to them as they will;—–and have preached for the lawfulness of paying that tribute, declared to be imposed for the bearing down of the true worship of God.—–And advised poor prisoners to subscribe that bond;—–which, if it were universally subscribed,—–they should close that door, which the Lord hath made use of in all the churches of Europe for casting off the yoke of the whore,—–and stop all regress of men, when once brought under tyranny, to recover their liberty again.—–They declare they neither can nor will hear them, etc. nor any who encouraged and strengthened their hands, and pleaded for them, and trafficked for union with them. 7. That they are for a standing gospel ministry, rightly chosen, rightly ordained,—–and that none shall take upon them the preaching of the word, etc. unless called and ordained thereunto.—–And whereas separation might be imputed to them, they refell [refute] both the malice and the ignorance of that calumny;—–for if there be a separation, it must be where the change is; and that was not to be found in them, who were not separating from the communion of the true church, nor setting up a new ministry, but cleaving to the same ministers and ordinances, that formerly they followed, when others have fled to new ways and a new authority, which is like the old piece in the new garment. 8. That they shall defend themselves in their civil, natural, and divine rights and liberties.—–And if any assault them, they shall look on it as a declaring a war, and take all advantages that one enemy does of another,—–but trouble and injure none but those that injure them.’—–This is the compend of that paper which the enemies seized and published, while it was only in a rude draught, and not polished, digested, nor consulted by the rest of the community: yet, whether or not it was for their advantage so to blaze their own baseness, in that paper truly represented, I leave it to the reader to judge: or, if they did not thereby proclaim their own tyranny, and the innocency and honesty of that people, whom thereby they were seeking to make odious; but in effect inviting all lovers of religion and liberty to sympathize with them, in their difficulties and distresses there discovered. However, that poor party continued together in a posture of defense, without the occurrence or countenance of their covenanted brethren, who staid at home, and lest both them to be murdered, and their testimony to be trampled upon, until the 22nd of July 1680. Upon the which day they were attacked at Airsmoss, by a strong party of about 120 horse[men], well armed, while they were but 23 horse[men] and 40 foot[men] at most; and so, fighting valiantly, were at length routed, not without their adversaries testimony of their being resolute men: several of Zion’s precious mourners, and faithful witnesses of Christ, were killed; and among the rest, that faithful minister of Christ, Mr. Richard Cameron sealed and fulfilled his testimony with his blood. And with others, the valiant and much honoured gentleman, David Hackston of Rathillet, was, after many received wounds apprehended, brought into Edinburgh; and there, resolutely adhering to the testimony, and disowning the authority of king and council, and all their tyrannical judicatories, was cruelly murdered, but countenanced eminently of the Lord. Now remained Mr. Donald Cargil, deprived of his faithful colleague, destitute of his brethren’s concurrence, but not of the Lord’s counsel and conduct; by which he was prompted and helped to prosecute the testimony, against the universal apostasy of the church and nation, tyranny of enemies, backsliding of friends and all the wrongs done to his master on all hands. And considering in the zeal of God, and sense of his holy jealousy provoked and threatening wrath against the land, for the sins especially of rulers, who had arrived to the height of heaven daring insolence in all wickedness, in which they were still growing and going on without control; that notwithstanding of all the testimonies given against them, by public preachings, protestations and declarations, remonstrating their tyranny, and disowning their authority; yet not only did they still persist in their sins and scandals, to make the Lord’s fierce anger break forth into a flame, but were owned also by professors, not only as magistrates, but as members of the christian and Protestant church; and that, however, both the defensive arms of men had been used against them, and the christian arms of prayers, and the ministerial weapon of preaching, yet that of ecclesiastical censure had not been authoritatively exerted against them: therefore, that no weapon which Christ allows his servants under his standard, to manage against his enemies, might be wanting, though he could not obtain the concurrence of his brethren to strengthen the solemnity and formality of the action; yet he did not judge that defect, in this broken case of the church, could disable his authority, nor demur the duty, but that he might and ought to proceed to excommunication. And accordingly, in September 1680, at the Torwood, he excommunicated some of the most scandalous and principal promoters and abettors of this conspiracy against Christ, as formally as the present case could admit: after sermon upon Ezek. 21:25, 26, 27. And thou profane wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come, etc. He had a short and pertinent discourse on the nature, the subject, the causes, and the ends of excommunication in general: and then declared, that he was not led out of any private spirit or passion to this action, but constrained by conscience of duty and zeal to God to stigmatize with this brand, and wound with the sword of the Lord, these enemies of God that had so apostatized, rebelled against, mocked, despised and defied our Lord, and to declare them as they are none of his, to be none of ours. The persons excommunicated, and the sentence against them, was given forth as follows.—–—–I being a minister of Jesus Christ, and having authority and power from him, do, in his name and by his spirit, excommunicate, cast out of the true church, and deliver up to Satan, Charles the second king, etc. The sentence was founded upon these grounds, declared in the pronunciation thereof; ‘(1.) For his high mocking of God, in that after he had acknowledged his own sins, his father’s sins, his mother’s idolatry;—–yet had gone on more avowedly in the same than all before him. (2.) For his great perjury, in braking and burning the covenant. (3.) For his rescinding all the laws contrary thereunto. (4.) For commanding of armies to destroy the Lord’s people. (5.) For his being an enemy to true Protestants, and helper of the papists, and hindering the execution of just laws against them. (6.) For his granting remissions and pardons for murderers, which is in the power of no king to do, being expressly contrary to the law of God. (7.) For his adulteries, and dissembling with God and man.’—–Next, by the same authority, and in the same name, ‘he excommunicated James Duke of York, for his idolatry, and setting it up in Scotland to defile the land, and enticing and encouraging others to do so;’ not mentioning any other sins, but what he scandalously persisted in, in Scotland, etc. with several other rotten malignant enemies, on whom the Lord hath ratified that sentence since, very remarkably, whose sins and punishments both may be read more visible in the providences of the time, than I can record them.
But about this time, when amidst all the abounding defections and divisions of that dark and dismal hour of tentation, some in zeal for the cause were endeavouring to keep up the testimony of the day, in abstraction from complying ministers; others were left (in holy judgment, to be a stumbling block to the generation, hardening them in their defections, and to be a beacon to the most zealous to keep off from all unwarrantable excesses) to fall into fearful extravagances, and delirious and damnable delusions, being overdriven with ignorant and blind zeal into untrodden paths, which led them into a labyrinth of darkness, when as they were stumbled at many ministers their unfaithfulness; so through the deceit of Satan, and the hypocrisy of the instruments, they came to be offended at Mr. Cargil his faithfulness, who spared neither left-hand declensions, nor right-hand extremes, and left him and all the ministers; not only disowning all communion with those that were not of their way, but execrating and cursing them, and kept themselves in dessert places from all company; where they persisted prodigiously in fastings, and singing psalms, pretending to wonderful raptures and enthusiasms; and in fine, John Gib, with four more of them, came to that height of blasphemy, that they burnt the bible and confession of faith. These were the sweet Singers, as they were called, led away into these delusions by that impostor and sorcerer John Gib, who never increased to such a number, as was then feared and reported, being within 30, and most part women; all which for the most part have been through mercy reclaimed from that destructive way, which, through grace, the reproached remnant, adhering to the foresaid testimony, had always an abhorrence of. Wherefore that ignorant and impudent calumny, of their consortship with Gib’s followers, is only the vent of viperous envy. For they were the first that discovered them, and whose pains the Lord blessed in reclaiming them, and were always so far from partaking with them, that to this day these that have come off from that way, and have offered the confession of their scandal, do still complain of their over-rigid severity, in not admitting them to their select fellowships. To which may be added this undeniable demonstration, that whereas the persecuting courts of inquisition did always extend the utmost severity against the owners of this testimony, yet they spared them: and the Duke of York, then in Scotland, was so well pleased with Gib’s blasphemies, that he favoured him extraordinarily, and freely dismissed him. This was a cloudy and dark day, but not without a burning and shining light, as long as that faithful minister of Christ, Mr. Donald Cargil, was following the work of the Lord; who shortly after this finished his testimony, being apprehended with other two faithful and zealous witnesses of Christ, Mr. Walter Smith, and Mr. James Boig, who with two more, were altogether at Edinburgh, 27th July 1681, crowned with the glory of martyrdom. Then came the day of the remnant’s vexation, trouble, darkness and dimness of anguish, wherein, whoso looked unto the land, could see nothing but darkness and sorrow, and the light darkened in the heavens thereof, wherein neither star nor sun appeared for many days, and poor people were made to grope for the wall like the blind, and to stumble at noonday as in the night. While the persecution advanced on the one hand, a violent speat [flood] of defection carried down the most part of ministers and professors before it, driving them to courses of sinful and scandalous conformings with the times corruptions, compearings before the courts, complying with their commands, paying of their cesses and other exactions, taking of their oaths and bonds, and countenancing the prelatical church services, which they were ashamed to do before; and thereupon on the other hand the divisions and confusions were augmented, and poor people that desired to cleave to the testimony were the more and more offended, and stumbled at the ministers, who either left the land in that clamant call of the peoples necessity, or lurked in their own retirements, and declined the duty of that day, leaving people to determine themselves in all their perplexities, as a prey to all tentations. But the tender Pastor and Shepherd of Israel who leads the blind in the way they know not, did not forsake a remnant in that hour of tentation, who kept the word of his patience: and as he helped those that fell into the hands of enemies so witness a good confession, so he strengthened the zeal of the remaining contenders, against all the machinations of adversaries to crush it, and all the methods of backsliding professors to quench it. And the mean which most effectually preserved it in life and vigour, was the expedient they fell upon of corresponding in General Meetings, to consult, inform, and confirm one another about common duties in common dangers, for preservation of the remnant from the destruction and contagion of the times, and propagation of the testimony; laying down this general conclusion for a foundation of order, to be observed among them in incident doubtful cases, and emergent controversies, that nothing relative to the public, and which concerns the whole of their community, be done by any of them, without harmonious consent sought after, and rationally waited for, and sufficient deliberation about the best means and manner, in the mean time, the Duke of York, as commissioner from his brother, held a parliament, wherein he presided, not only against all righteous laws, that make a bloody and avowed papist incapable of such a trust, but against the letter of their own wicked laws, whereby none ought to be admitted, but such as swear the oaths; yet not only was he constitute in this place, but in the whole administration of the government of Scotland, without the taking any oath, which then he was courting to be entailed successor, and heir of the crown thereof; and for this end made many pretenses of flatteries, and feigned expressions of love, and of doing many acts of kindness to that ancient kingdom, as he hath made many dissembling protestations of it since, for carrying on his own popish and tyrannical designs. But what good will he hath born to it, not only his acts and actings, written in characters of the blood of innocents declare, but his words do witness, which is known when and to whom he spake, when he said, It would never be well, till all on the south side of Forth were made a hunting field. However, in that parliament in the year 1681, he is chiefly intended, and upon the matter by a wicked act declared legal and lineal successor, and a detestable, blasphemous, and self-contradictory test is framed for a pest to consciences, which turned out of all places of trust any that had any remaining measure of common honesty; and when some were speaking of a bill for securing religion, in case of a popish prince, the Duke’s answer was notable, that whatsoever they intended or prepared against papists, should light upon others; whereby we may understand what measures we may expect, when his designs are ripe. And to all the cruel acts then and before made against the people of God, there was one superadded, regulating the execution of all the rest, whereby as one dash all civil and criminal justice was overthrown, and a foundation laid for popish tyranny, that the right of jurisdiction both in civil and criminal matters is so inherent in the crown, that his Majesty may judge all causes by himself, or any other he thinks fit, to commissionate. Here was law for commissionating soldiers to take away the lives of innocents, as was frequently exemplified afterwards, and may serve hereafter for erecting the Spanish inquisition to murder Protestants when he thinks fit to commissionate them. Against which wicked encroachments on religion and liberty, the faithful thought themselves obliged to emit a testimony; and therefore published a Declaration at Lanerk, January 12th, 1682, confirming the preceding at Sanquhar, and adding reasons of their revolt from the government of Charles II. ‘1. For cutting off the neck at one blow of the noble constitution of church and state, and involving all officers in the kingdom in the same perjury with himself. 2. For exalting himself into a sphere exceeding all measures divine and human, tyrannically obtruding his will for a law in his arbitrary letters, so that we are made the reproach of nations, who say, we have only the law of letters instead of the letter of the law. 3. For his constant adjournings and dissolving parliaments at his pleasure. 4. for his arrogantly arrogated supremacy in all causes civil and ecclesiastic, and oppressing the godly for conscience and duty. 5. For his exorbitant taxings, cessings, and grinding the faces of the poor, dilapidating the rights and revenues of the crown, for no other end, but to employ them for keeping up a Brothel, rather than a court. 6. For installing a successor, such an one (if not worse) as himself, contrary to all law, reason and religion, and framing the test, etc. And in end offer to prove, they have done nothing in this against our ancient laws, civil or ecclesiastic,—–but only endeavoured to extricate themselves from under a tyrannous yoke, and to reduce church and state to what they were in the year 1648 and 1649.’ After which declaration, they were more condemned by them that were at ease than ever, and very untenderly dealt with; being without any previous admonition reproached, accused, and informed against, both at home and abroad, as if they had turned to some wild and unhappy course. For which cause, in the next general meeting, they resolved to delegate some of their number to foreign churches, on purpose to vindicate themselves from these calumnies, and to represent the justness of their cause, and the sadness of their case, and provoke them to some sympathy abroad; which was denied at home; and withal to provide for a succession of witnesses, who might maintain the testimony, which was then in appearance interrupted, except by martyrdom and sufferings. Therefore by that means having obtained access for the instructing of some young men, at an university in the United Provinces, in process of time, Mr. James Renwick received ordination there, and came home to take up the standard of his master, upon the ground where it last was left, and to carry on the testimony against all the oppositions of that day, from open enemies and backsliding professors; an undertaking more desperate like than that of one Athanasius against the whole world, and like that of a child threshing down a mountain. Which yet, against all the outrageous rage of ravening enemies, ranging, ravaging, hunting, chaffing, pursuing after him, through all the towns, villages, cottages, woods, mosses, and mountains of the country; and against all other scourge of tongues, contradictions, condemnations, obloquies, reproaches, and cruel mockings of incensed professors, and generally of all the inhabitants of the land; he was helped to prosecute, by many weary wanderings, travels, and traversing through the deserts night and day, preaching, conferring, and catechizing, mostly in the cold winter nights in the open fields: until by the blessing of God upon his labours, not only was the faithful witnessing remnant that joined in the testimony, further cleared, confirmed, and encouraged, and their number much increased by the coming in and joining of many others to the fellowship of their settled societies; but also many others, in other places of the country were induced to the contracting themselves in the like, to the settling such fellowships in most of the Southern shires. But then the fury of persecutors began to flame more flagrantly than ever; not only in sending out cruel soldiers, foot, horse and dragoons, habitually fleshed in, and filled with the blood of the saints, to hunt, hound, chase, and pursue after them, and seek them out of all their dens and hiding holes, in the wildest glens, fens, and remotest recesses in the wilderness: but emitting edicts allowing them to kill, slay, hang, drown, and destroy such as they could apprehend of them as they pleased, and commanding the country to assist them, in raising the hue and cry after them, and not to reset, harbour, supply, or correspond any manner of way with them, under the hazard and pain of being liable to the same punishment. Whereby the country was harassed and spoiled in searching after them, and many villains were stirred up to give informations and intelligence of these wanderers, wherever they saw them, or learned where they were. Hence followed such a slaughter and seizure of them, that common people usually date their common occurrences since, from the beginning of killing time, as they call it. For which cause, to preserve themselves from, and put a stop to that deluge of blood, and demur and deter the insolency of intelligencers and informers, they were necessitate to publish the Apologetic Declaration, and affix it upon sever market crosses and Parish church doors, Nov. 8, 1684. ‘Wherein they declare their firm resolution, of constant adherence to their covenants and engagements,—–and to the declarations disowning the authority of Charles Stuart;—–and to testify to the world, that they purpose not to inure or offend any whomsoever, but to pursue the ends of their covenants, in standing to the defense of the work of reformation, and of their own lives; yet, if any shall stretch forth their hand against them,—–by shedding their blood actually, either by authoritative commanding—–or obeying such commands,—–to search for them, and deliver them up to the spilling of their blood,—–to inform against them—–to raise the hue and cry after them,—–and debate them before their courts,—–all these shall be reputed by them enemies to God, and the covenanted reformation, and punished as such, according to their power and the degree of their offense, if they shall continue so and condemn any personal attempt, upon any pretext whatsoever; without previous deliberation, common or competent consent, without certain probation by sufficient witnesses, the guilty person’s confession, or the notourness of the deeds themselves: and in the end, warn the bloody Doegs, and flattering Ziphites informing against them, to expect to be dealt with as they deal with them.’ This declaration, though it occasioned greater trials to them, and trouble to the country, by the courts of Inquisition, pressing an oath abjuring the same universally, upon all, as well women as men, and suffering none to travel without a pass, declaring they had taken that oath: yet it was so far effectual, as to scare many from their former diligence in informing against them, and to draw out some to join with the wanderers more publicly, even when the danger was greatest of owning any respect to them. But at length, in the top and height of their insulting insolence, and heat of their brutish immanity and barbarous cruelty, designing to cut off the very name of that remnant, the King of terror (a terror to kings), cut off that supreme author and authorizer of these mischiefs, Charles the second, by the suspicious intervention of an unnatural hand as the instrument thereof. Wherein much of the justice of God was to be observed, and of his faithfulness verified, that bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days. His bloody violence was recompensed with the unnatural villainy of his brother, and his unparalleled perfidy was justly rewarded with the most ungrate and monstrous treachery of a parricide: for all the numerous brood of his adulterous and incestuous brats, begotten of other men’s wives, and of his numerous multitude of whores at home and abroad, yea of his own sister too, he died a childless pultron, and had the unlamented burial of an ass, without a successor, save him that murdered him; and for all his hypocritical pretensions to a Protestant profession, he not only received absolution and extreme unction from a popish priest at his death, but drunk his death in a popish potion, contrived by his own dear brother that succeeded him; impatiently longing to accomplish that conspiracy of reintroducing popery, wherein the other moved too slowly, and passionately resenting Charles his vow, to suffer the murder of the earl of Essex to come to a trial, (which was extorted by the reiterated solicitations of some, who offered to discover by whom it was contrived and acted), which made the duke’s guilty conscience to dread a detection of his deep accession to it: whereupon the potion quickly, after prepared, put a stop to that, and an end to his life, February 6. 1685. Of which horrid villainy time will disclose the mystery, and give the history when it shall be seasonable.
IV. The former persecution and tyranny, mainly promoted by the Duke of York’s instigation, did not only oppress the poorer sort, but reached also the greatest of the nobility and gentry in both kingdoms. In Scotland, the earl of Argyle was arraigned and condemned for his explanation of the Test, but escaped out of the castle of Edinburgh, in the year 1681. And after him several gentleman were arbitrarily oppressed and troubled, upon the act of intercommuning with rebels, and for a pretended plot against the government (as they called it) but really because they knew these gentlemen had a desire, and would design to preserve the nation, which they were seeking to destroy, and would counteract their wicked projects to advance popery and tyranny upon the ruins of the nation’s interest. For which cause they left their native country, to seek safety and quiet abroad. And, in England, upon the same pretenses, the lord Russel was murdered by law, and the earl of Essex by a razor in the Tower, in a morning when the king and duke of York came to pay it a visit. And many other gentlemen lost either their lives or fortunes, upon the same grounds of oppressing the duke’s designs: which made many resort to the United Provinces. Where they with the Scot’s gentlemen, as soon as they heard of the death of Charles II. and of the ascending of James, duke of York, a notorious and bigot papist, to the throne associating themselves in counsel, to essay some diversion and oppression to the present current of tyranny and popery, threatening the ruin of both nations; resolved and agreed upon the declaring a war against that usurper and all his complices. And in order thereunto, having provided themselves with arms, concluded that a certain number should, under the conduct of James, Duke of Monmouth, direct their course for England, for managing the war there: and others to go for the same ends to Scotland, under the conduct of Archibald, earl of Argyle, their chosen captain. Whereupon, in a short time, they arrived at Orkney, where two gentlemen of their company, going ashore, were taken prisoners, and carried to Edinburgh; whereby the country was alarmed, and a huge host gathered to opposed them. From thence they went to the West Highlands, where increasing to the number of about 2000 men, they traversed to and again about Kintyre and Bute, and other places in the Highlands, for six or seven weeks, until many of their men ran away, and the rest were much straitened for want of victuals, their passage, by sea, was blocked up by ships of war, and, by land, with their numerous enemies, who got time to gather and strengthen themselves, whereby their friends were frustrate and more oppressed, and themselves kept little better than prisoners, till their spirits were wearied and worn out, and all hope lost. At length the earl determined, when out of time, to leave the Highlands, and the ships, cannons, arms, and ammunition at Island Craig, and marched towards Dumbartoun, crossing the water of Leven, about three miles above it. Next morning, near Duntreth, they discovered a party of the enemies, and faced towards them, but they retired. And then directing their course towards Glasgow, were intercepted by a body of the enemies army: where they drew up in battalia, one against another, and stopped in arms till the evening, a water being betwixt them. But Argyle’s number, perceiving that their enemies were above ten times that number, and that themselves were wearied out with a long and tedious march, want of victuals and sleep, resolved to withdraw: but as soon as it grew dark, all hope lost, they dispersed, ever man shifting for himself; only a few keeping together all the next day, had a skirmish with a party of the enemies, in which they flew slew the captain, and about 12, or some more of his men, and afterwards they dispersed themselves also. The enemies, searching the country, gleaned up the earl of Argyle himself, colonel Rumbold, an Englishman, Mr. Thomas Archer, minister, Gavin Russel, and David Law, who were all condemned and execute at Edinburgh, and many others who were banished to America: and about some 20 in the Highlands, who were hanged at Inverary. In England, the duke of Monmouth’s expedition, though it had more action, yet terminated in the same success, the loss of many hundred lives, many killed in battle: and afterwards, by the mercy of the duke of York, several hundreds in the west of England were carried about and hanged before the doors of their own habitations; and to make his captains sport by the way, according to the number of the hours of the day, when the murdering humour came in their head, so many of the poor captives were hanged, as a prodigious moment of monstruous cruelty. This was the commencement of the present tyrant’s government. In the mean time, the wanderers in Scotland, tho’ they did not associate with this expedition, upon the account of the too promiscuous admittance of persons to trust in that party, who were then and since have discovered themselves to be enemies to the cause, and because they could not espouse their Declaration as the state of their quarrel, being not concerted according to the constant plea of the Scots covenanters, and for other reasons given in their late Vindication: yet against this usurpation of a bloody papist, advancing himself to the throne in such a manner, they published another Declaration at Sanquhar, May 28, 1685. ‘Wherein, approving and adhering unto all their former declarations, and considering that James, duke of York, a professed and excommunicate papist, was proclaimed—–To testify their resentment of that deed, and to make it appear unto the world, that they were free thereof, by concurrence or connivance; they protest against the foresaid proclamation of James, duke of York, as king: in regard that it is the choosing of a murderer to be a governor, who hath shed the blood of the saints,—–that it is the height of confederacy with an idolater, forbidden by the law of God,—–contrary to that declaration of the General Assembly of the church, July 27, 1649. And contrary to many wholesome and laudable acts of parliament,—–and inconsistent with the safety, faith, conscience, and christian liberty of a christian people, to choose a subject of antichrist to be their supreme magistrate,—–and to entrust an enemy to the work, and people of God with the interests of both: and upon many important grounds and reasons (which there they express) they protest against the validity and constitution of that parliament, approving and ratifying the foresaid proclamation,—–And against all kind of popery in general and particular heads,—–—–as abjured by the national covenant, and abrogated by acts of parliament,—–and against its entry again into this land, and everything that doth, or may directly or indirectly, make way for the same: disclaiming likewise all sectarianism, malignancy, and any confederacy therewith.’—–This was their testimony against Popery in the season thereof: which tho’ it was not so much condemned as any former declarations, yet neither in this had they the concurrence of any ministers or professors; who as they had been silent, and omitted a seasonable testimony against prelacy, and the supremacy, when these were introduced, so now also, even when this wicked mystery and conspiracy of popery and tyranny, twisted together in the present design of antichrist, had made so great a progress, and was evidently brought above board, they were left to let slip this opportunity of a testimony also, to the reproach of the declining and far degenerate church of Scotland. Yea, to their shame, the very rabble of ignorant people may be brought as a witness against the body of Presbyterian ministers in Scotland, in that they testified their detestation of the first erection of the idolatrous Mass, and some of the soldiery, and such as had no profession of religion, suffered unto death for speaking against popery and the designs of the king, while the ministers were silent. And some of the curates, and members of the late parliament 1685, made some stickling against the taking away of the penal statutes against papists; while Presbyterians, from whom might have been expected greater opposition, were sleeping in a profound submission. I cannot, without confusion of spirit, touch these obvious and dolorous reflections, and yet in candor cannot forbear them. However the persecution against the wanderers went on, and more cruel edicts were given forth against them, while a relenting abatement of severity was pretended against other dissenters. At length what could not be obtained by law, at the late parliament for taking off the statutes against papists, was effectuated by prerogative: and to make it pass with the greater approbation, it was conveyed in a channel of pretended clemency, offering a sort of liberty, but really introducing a licentious latitude, for bringing in all future snares by taking off some former, as arbitrarily as before they were imposed, in a proclamation, dated February 12, 1687. ‘Granting, by the king’s sovereign authority, prerogative royal, and absolute power, which all subjects are to obey without reserve, a royal toleration, to the several professors of the christian religion afternamed, with and under the several conditions, restrictions, and limitations aftermentioned. In the first place, tolerating the moderate Presbyterians to meet in their private houses, and there to hear all such ministers, as either have, or are willing to accept of the indulgence allenerly [alone], and none other: and that there be nothing said or done contrary to the well and peace of his reign, seditious or treasonable, under the highest pains these crimes will import, nor are they to presume to build meeting houses, or to use out-houses, or barns.—–In the mean time ‘tis his royal will and pleasure, that field conventicles, and such shall be prosecute according to the utmost severity of laws made against them—–—–In like manner, tolerating the Quakers to meet and exercise n their form, in any place or places appointed for their worship;—–And by the same absolute power, foresaid, suspending, stopping, and disabling all laws, or acts of parliament, customs, or constitutions against any Roman Catholic subjects.—–So that they shall, in all things, be as free in all respects as any Protestant subjects whatsoever, not only to exercise their religion, but to enjoy all offices, benefices, etc. which he shall think fit to bestow upon them in all time coming.—–And cassing [dismissing], annulling, and discharging all oaths whatsoever, and tests, and laws enjoining them. And in place of them this oath only is to be taken.—–I A. B. do acknowledge, testify, and declare, that James the seventh, etc. is rightful king, and supreme governor of these realms, and over all persons therein; and that it is unlawful for subjects, on any pretense, or for any cause whatsoever, to rise in arms against him, or any commissionated by him; and that I shall never so rise in arms, nor assist any who shall so do; and that I shall never resist his power or authority, nor ever oppose his authority to his person,—–but shall to the utmost of my power assist, defend, and maintain him, his heirs and lawful successors, in the exercise of their absolute power and authority against all deadly,—–—–And by the same absolute power giving his full and ample Indemnity, to all the foresaid sorts of people, under the foresaid restrictions.’ Here is a proclamation for a prince: that proclaims him in whose name it is emitted, to be the greatest tyrant that ever lived in the word, and their revolt who have disowned him to be the justest that ever was. For herein that monster of prerogative is not only advanced, paramount to all laws, divine and human, but far surmounting all the lust, impudence, and insolence of the Roman, Sicilian, Turkish, Tartarian, or Indian tyrants, that ever trampled upon the liberties of mankind; who have indeed demanded absolute subjection, and surrender of their lives, lands, and liberties at their pleasure, but never arrived at such a height of arrogance as this does, to claim absolute obedience, without reserve of conscience, religion, honour, or reason; not only that which ignorantly is called passive, never to resist him, not only on any pretense, but for any cause, even tho’ he should command his popish Janizaires [Turkish soldiers or militia] to murder and massacre all Protestants, which is the tender mercy and burning fervent charity of papists; but also of absolute active obedience without reserve, to assist, defend, and maintain him in every thing, whereby he shall be pleased to exercise his absolute power, tho’ he should command to burn the Bible, as well as the Covenant (as already he applauded John Gib in doing it) and to burn and butcher all that will not go to Mass, which we have all grounds to expect will be the end of his clemency at last. Herein he claims whatsoever he will command: a power to rescind, stop and disable all laws; which unhinges all stability, and unsettles all the security of human society, yea, extinguishes all that remains of natural liberty: wherein, as is well observed by the author of the Representation of the threatening dangers impending over Protestants; p. 53. ‘It is very natural to observe, that he allows the government, under which we were born, and to which we were born, to be hereby subverted and changed, and that thereupon we are not only absolved and acquitted from all allegiance to him, but indispensibly obliged, by the ties and engagements that are upon us to apply ourselves to the use of all means and endeavours against him, as an enemy of the people, and subverter of the legal government.’ But this was so gross, and grievously gripping in its restrictions, as to persons, as to the place, as to the matter allowed the Presbyterians in preaching, that it was disdained of all; and therefore he behooved to busk [make] it better, and mend the matter, in a letter to the council (the supreme law of Scotland) bearing date March 31st, 1687, of this tenour,—–’Whereas we did recommend to you to take care, that any of the Presbyterians should not be allowed to preach, but such only as should have your allowance for the same, and that they at the receiving the Indulgence should take oath contained in the proclamation.—–These are therefore to let you know, that thereby we meant such of them as did no solemnly take the test, but if nevertheless the Presbyterian preachers do scruple to take the said oath, or any other oath whatsoever, and that you shall find it reasonable, or fit to grant them, or any of them our said Indulgence, so as they desire it upon these terms; it is now our will and pleasure—–to grant them our said indulgence, without being obliged to take the oath, with power unto them to enjoy the benefit of the said indulgence (during our pleasure only ) or so long as you shall find they behave themselves regularly and peaceably, without giving any cause of offense to us, or any in authority or trust under us in our government.’—–Thus finding the former proposal not adequately apportioned to his design, because of it palpable odiousness, he would pretend his meaning was mistaken (tho’ it was manifest enough) and mitigate the matter, by taking away of the oaths altogether, if any should scruple it; whereas he could not but know, that all that had sense would abhor it; yet it is clogged with the same restrictions, limited to the same persons, characterized more plainly and peremptorily, with an addition of cautions, not only that they shall not say or do anything contrary to the well and peace of his reign, seditious or treasonable; but also that they behave themselves regularly and peaceably, without giving any cause of offense to him, or any under him; which comprehends lesser offences than sedition or treason, even every thing that will displease a tyrant and a papist, that is, all faithfulness in seasonable duties or testimonies. But at length, lest the deformity and disparity of the Proclamation for the Toleration in Scotland, and the Declaration for Liberty of Conscience in England, should make his pretenses to conscience suspect of disingenuity, and lest it should be said, he had one conscience for England, and another for Scotland; therefore he added a third eik [increase] to the liberty, but such as made it still an ill favoured patched project, to destroy religion and true liberty, in another proclamation dated at Windsor, June 28th, 1687 wherein he says;—–—–’Taking into our royal consideration the sinistrous interpretations, which either have or may be made of some restrictions (mentioned in the last) we have thought fit by this further to declare, that we will protect our archbishops, etc. And we do likewise, by our sovereign authority, prerogative royal, and absolute power, suspend, stop and disable all penal sanguinary laws, made against any for non-conformity to the religion, established by law in that our ancient kingdom,—–to the end, that by the liberty thereby granted, the peace and security of our government in the practice thereof may not be endangered, we hereby straitly charge all our loving subjects, that as we do give them leave to meet, and serve God after their own way, in private houses, chapels, or places purposely hired or built for that use, so that they take care that nothing be preached or taught, which may any way tend to alienate the hearts of our people from us and our government, and that their meetings be peaceably and publicly held, and all persons freely admitted to them; and that they do signify and make known to some one or more of the next privy counselors, sheriffs, stewards, baillies, justices of the peace, or magistrates of burghs royal, what place or places they set apart for these uses, with the names of the preachers,—–provided always that the meetings be in houses, and not in the open fields; for which now, after this our royal grace and favour (which surpasses the hopes, and equals the very wishes of the most zealously concerned) there is not the least shadow of excuse left; which meeting in the fields we do hereby strictly prohibit and forbid, against all which we do leave our laws and acts of parliament in full force and vigour, notwithstanding the premises; and do further command all our judges, magistrates, and officers of forces, to prosecute such as shall be guilty of the said field conventicles, with the utmost rigour; for we are confident none will, after these liberties and freedoms, given to all without reserve, to serve God in their own way, presume to meet in these assemblies, except such as make a pretense of religion, to cover their treasonable designs against our royal person, and the peace of our government.’—–
This is the royal charter for security of the Protestant religion (intended to secure it so, that it shall not go much abroad again) in lieu of all the laws, constitutional oaths and covenants, wherewith it was formerly confirmed. This is the only patent, which the royal dawties [darlings], the moderate Presbyterians, have now received to insure their enjoyment of it during well pleasing, during his pleasure, whose faith is as absolute over all ties of promises, as his power from whence it flows is over all laws; whose chiefest principle of conscience is, that no faith is to be kept to heretics. Here is the liberty which is said to surpass the hopes, and equal the wishes of the most zealously concerned; holding true indeed of too many, whose hopes and wishes, and zeal are terminate upon peace rather than truth, case rather than duty, and their own things rather than the things of Christ; but as for the poor wild wanderers, it someway answers their fears, and corresponds with their jealousies, who put the same interpretation upon it, as on all the former Indulgences, Indemnities and Tolerations, proceeding from the same fountain, and designed for the same sinistrous ends with this, which they look upon as more openly and obviously Antichristian, and therefore, while others are rejoicing under the bramble-shadow of it, they think it a cause of weeping and matter of mourning, not because they do not share of the benefit of it, but because they are afraid to share of the curse of it. For which cause, tho’ a freedom be pretended to be given to all without reserve to serve God in their own way, they think it necessary to reserve to themselves the liberty wherewith Christ hath made them free, and to serve him in his way, tho’ interdicted by men, and to take none from antichrist restricted with his reserves; and do look upon it as a seasonable testimony for the cause of Christ, and the interest of the Protestant religion, and the laws and liberties of the country, all overturned, and subverted by this toleration, to keep their meetings as in former times, in the open fields, whither their tyranny hath driven them. And let them call these meetings covered, and treasonable designs against the government, on pretense of religion, I trust it shall be made evident, to the conviction of all that know religion that their designs are to preserve it, in opposition to the tyranny that goes about all these ways to suppress it; tho’ I must suspend the reasons of their keeping their meetings in the fields, till I come to discuss that case in its own place. Here I shall only say, none that are acquainted with their circumstances, which are as dangerously stated as ever, by reason of the constant persecution of cruel enraged enemies, incessantly pursuing them without relenting, notwithstanding of all this pretense of clemency, and tenderness to conscience, but may know, they can neither have safety, secrecy, not conveniency in houses, for fear of their entrapping enemies; and none will blame them, that after so many discoveries of their truculent treachery, they dare not trust them: and besides, they think it sinful, scandalous and inconvenient, to seem to homologate this toleration, the wickedness whereof they are convinced of, from these reasons:
I. Considering the granter in his personal capacity, as to his morals, they look upon his as a person with whom they cannot in prudence communicate, in any transaction of that nature. First, Because being in his principles and practice professedly treacherous, yea obliged to be both perfidious and cruel by that religion whereunto he is addicted, he cannot be trusted in the least concerns, let be those of such momentous consequence as this, without a stupid abandoning of conscience, reason and experience. Since both that known principle, that no faith is to be kept to heretics, which is espoused by all papists, does to them justify all their lying dissimulations, equivocations, and treacheries imaginable; and that Lateran canon, that enjoins kings to destroy and extirpate heretics under pain of excommunication, does oblige him to be cruel; besides what deep engagements he is known to be under by oaths and promises to the Pope, both in this exile, and while in subject, and since he came to the crown: Which make him to all considering persons to be a person of that character, whose deceitful dainties are not to be desired; and that when he speaketh fair is not to be believed, for there are seven abominations in his heart. Of which open and affronted lies we have a sufficient swatch, both in his proclamation for Scotland, and declaration for England; where he speaks of his constant, resolves of uniting the hearts of subjects to God in religion, and to their neighbours in christian love, and that is never was his principle to offer violence to any man’s conscience, or use invincible necessity against any man of the account of his persuasion; and that their property was never in any case invaded since his coming to the crown; and that it hath been his constants sense and opinion, that conscience ought not to be constrained, nor people forced in matters of mere religion. To which his uninterrupted endeavours to divide us from God and from one another, that he might the more easily destroy us, and his constant encroachments upon laws, liberties and properties, and all interests of men and christians for conscience sake do give the lie manifestly. And it must be great blindness not to see, and great baseness willingly to wink at that double-faced equivocation, in matters of mere religion; by which he may elude all these flattering promises of tenderness, by excepting at the most necessary and indispensable duties, if either they be such wherein any other interest is concerned beside mere religion, or if their troubles sustained thereupon be not altogether invincible necessities. Hence the plain falsehood and doubleness of his assertions as to what is past, may give ground to conclude his intended perfidy in the promises of what is future. Next, It is known what his practice and plots have been for the destruction of all honest and precious interests; what a deep hand he had in the burning of London. In the popish plot, discovered in the year 1678, in the murder of the earl of Essex, yea in the parricide committed upon his own brother. By all which it appears, nothing is so abominable and barbarous which he hath not a conscience that will swallow and digest without a scruple; and what he hath done of this kind must be but preparatory to what he intends, as meritorious to atone for these villainies. And in his esteem, and persuasion of papists, nothing is thought more meritorious than to extirpate the Protestant religion, and destroy the professors thereof. Therefore being such a person with whom in reason no honest man could transact, for a tenure of the least piece of land or house, or any holding whatsoever, they dare not accept of his security or protection for so great an interest, as the freedom and exercise of their religion under the shadow of such a bramble. If it was the Shechemites sin and shame to strengthen a naughty Abimelech, and strengthen themselves under the shadow of his protection, much more must it be to take protection for religion as well as peace, from such a monster of cruelty and treachery. This were against their testimony, and contrary to the laudable constitutions of the church of Scotland, to take no protections from malignant enemies, as was showed above in Montrose’s case. See pag. [TAG], above.
II. Considering his religion more particularly, they judge it unlawful so to bargain with him as this acceptance would import. it is known he is not only a papist, an apostate papist, and an excommunicate papist, (as is related above), but a fiery bigot in the Romish religion, and zealous sworn votary and vassal of Antichrist; who, as the letter of the Jesuits from Liege, lately published in print, tells us, is resolved either to convert England to popery or die a martyr: and again, that he styles himself a son of the society of Jesuits, and will account every injury done to them to be a wrong done against himself; being known to be under the conduct and guidance of that furious order, yea and enrolled as a member of that society. Which makes it the less to be wondered, that he should require absolute obedience without reserve, seeing he himself yields absolute obedience as well as implicit faith, without reserve, to the Jesuits. Such a bigot was Mary of England (as also his great grandame of Scotland, if she had got her will), And his bigotry will make him emulous of her cruelty, as counting it a diminution of his glory, for such a champion as he under Antichrist’s banner to come short of a woman’s enterprises; nor would the late king have been so posted off the stage, if his successor were not to act more vigorously than he in this tragical design, to which this toleration is subservient. He is then a servant of Antichrist, and as such under the Mediator’s malediction; yea, in this respect, is heir to his grandfather’s imprecations, who wished the curse of God to fall upon such of his posterity as should at any time turn papists. How then can the followers of the Lamb strike hands, be at peace, associate, confederate, or bargain with such a declared enemy to Christ! Certainly the scripture commands of making no covenant or league, interdicting entering into any affinity with the people of these abominations, and forbidding saying a confederacy with them, do lay awful bonds on the faithful to stand aloof from such. The people might have had liberty of conscience under the Assyrian protection, when they were saying a confederacy with him, but in so doing they forfeited the benefit of the Lord’s being a sanctuary to them. To bargain therefore with such an one for a toleration of religion, were contrary to the scriptures, contrary to the covenants and principles of the church of Scotland, against associations and confederacies with such enemies. See Gillespie’s useful case of conscience concerning association, hinted pag. [TAG], and more Head 3. arg. 1. but to accept of this liberty as now offered were a bargaining; for where there is a giving and receiving upon certain conditions, where there are demands and compliance; commands and obedience, promises and reliance, offers upon terms and acquiescence in these terms, what is there wanting to a bargain; but the mere formality of subscriptions; At least it cannot be denied, but the addressers have bargained for it, and in the name of all the accepters, which must stand as their deed also; if liberty they do not evidence their resentment of such presumption, which I do not see how they can, if they abide under the shadow thereof the same way as they do. I grant liberty is very desirable, and may be taken and improven from enemies of religion; and so do the wanderers now take it and improve it to the best advantage without receiving it by acquiescing in any terms. But such liberty as this was never offered without a destructive design, nor ever received without a destructive effect. It is one of the filthy flatteries found in the English addresses, particularly that from Totness, that the present indulger is like another Cyrus who proclaimed liberty to the people of God, Ezra 1. But who sees not the disparity in every respect? Cyrus at his very first entry into the government, did lay out himself for the church’s good; this man who speaks now so fair, his first work was to break our head, and next to put on our hood, first to assert and corroborate his prerogative, and then by virtue of that, to dispense with all penal laws: it was foretold that Cyrus should deliver the church at that time; but was it ever promised that the church should get liberty to advance antichrist? or that antichrist, or one of his limbs, should be employed in the church’s deliverance while such? The Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus; can it be said without blasphemy, that the Lord stirred up this man, to contrive the introduction of popery by this gate and gap, except in a penal sense for judgment? Cyrus had a charge to build the Lord a house: but this is not a charge but a grant or license, not from nor according to God’s authority, but man’s, not to build Christ a house, but a Babel for antichrist; and all this liberty is but contrived as scaffolding for that edifice, which, when it is advance, then the scaffolding must be removed.
III. Considering him in his relation as a magistrate, it were contrary to their testimony so often renewed and ratified, and confirmed with so many reasons, and sealed by so much blood, bonds, banishment, and other sufferings, to own or acknowledge his authority, which is mere usurpation and tyranny; in that by the laws of the land he is incapable of government, and that he had neither given nor can give without an hypocritical and damning cheat, the oath and security indispensably required of him before and at his entry to the government. Yet this liberty cannot be complied with, without recognizing his authority that he arrogates in giving it: seeing he tenders it to all his good subjects, and gives it by his sovereign authority, and to the end that by the liberty thereby granted the peace and security of the government in the practice thereof may not be endangered. And in the declaration to England, it is offered as an expedient to establish his government on such a foundation, as may make his subjects happy, and unite them to him by inclination as well as duty; to which indeed the acceptance thereof hath a very apt subserviency: seeing it implies, not only owning of the government out of duty, but an union and joining with it and him by inclination, which is a cordial confederacy with God’s enemy, and a co-operating to the establishment of his tyranny, that the peace and security thereof may not be endangered. And, in his former proclamation, he gives them the same security for their rights and properties, which he gives for religion; and, in the English declaration, addeth, That to the perfect enjoyment of their property, which was never invaded, etc. Which to accept, were not only to take the security of a manifest lie, but to prefer the word of a man that cannot, must not, will not keep it, (without going gross to his principles) to the security of right and law which is hereby infringed, and to acknowledge not only the liberty of religion, but the right of property to be his grant; for it, but stupid slavery entailed upon posterity, and pure and perfect tyranny transmitted to them. The sin and absurdity whereof may be seen demonstrated Head 2.
IV. Considering the fountain whence it flows, they cannot defile themselves with it. In the English declaration, it flows from the royal will and pleasure, which speaks a domination despotical and arbitrary enough, but more gently expressed than in the Scots proclamation, when it is refounded on sovereign authority, prerogative royal, and absolute power: proclaiming by sound of trumpet, a power paramount to all law, reason and religion, and outvying the height of Ottoman tyranny: a power which all are to obey without reserve: a power to tolerate or restrain the Protestant religion, according to his royal will or pleasure: an absolute power which cannot be limited by laws, nor most sacred obligations, but only regulated by the royal lust: whereby indeed he may suffer the Protestant religion, but only precariously so long as he pleases, and until his royal pleasure shall be to command the establishment of Popery, which then must be complied with without control. Whereby all the tenure that Protestants have for their religion, is only the arbitrary word of an absolute monarch, whose principles oblige him to break it, and his ambition to disdain to be a slave to it. Now, the acceptance of this grant would imply the recognizance of this power, that the granter claims in granting it; which utterly dissolves all government, and all security for religion and liberty, and all the precious interests of men and christians: which, to acknowledge, were contrary to scripture, contrary to reason, and contrary to the principles of the church of Scotland, particularly the declaration of the General Assembly, July 27, 1649. See pag. [TAG], etc. and contrary to the covenant.
V. Considering the channel in which it is conveyed, they cannot comply with it. Because it comes through such a conveyance, as suspends, stops and disables all penal laws against papists, and thereby averts all the securities and legal bulwarks that Protestants can have for the establishment of their religion; yea, in effect, leaves no laws in force against any that shall attempt the utter subversion of it, but ratifies and leaves in full vigour all wicked laws and acts of parliament, against such as would most avowedly assert it; and stops and disables none of the most cruel and bloody laws against Protestants: for the most cruel are such as have been made against field meetings, which are hereby left in full force and vigour, Hence as he hath formerly, by absolute power, suspended all laws made for the protection of our religion, so he may, when he will dispense with all the laws made for its establishment; and those who approve the one by such an acceptance, cannot disallow the other, but must recognize a power in the king to subvert all laws, rights and liberties, which is contrary to reason as well as religion, and a clear breach of the national and solemn league and covenants.
VI. Considering the ends of its contrivance, they dare not have any accession to accomplish such wicked projects, to which this acceptance would be so natively subservient. The expressed ends of this grant are, to unite the hearts of his subjects to him in loyalty, and to their neighbours in love, as in the former proclamation; and that by the liberty granted, the peace and security of his government, in the practice thereof, may not be endangered, as in the latter proclamation; and to unite the subjects to him by inclination as well as duty, which he thinks can be done by no means so effectually as by granting the free exercise of religion, as in the English declaration. Whence we may gather not obscurely; what is the proper tendency of it, both as to the work and worker, to wit, to incline and induce us by flattery to a lawless loyalty, and a stupid contented slavery when he cannot compel us by force, and make us actively co-operate in setting and settling his tyranny, in the peaceable possession of all his usurpations, robberies, and encroachments upon our religion, laws and liberties, and to incorporate us with Babylon; for who are the neighbours he would have us unite with in love, but the papists? against whom all the lovers of Christ must profess themselves irreconcilable enemies. The English declaration does further discover the design of this device, of any in it, viz. that he heartily wishes that all the people of these dominions were members of the catholic church: which clearly insinuates, that hereby he would entice them to commit fornication with that mother of harlots; which enticing to idolatry (if we consult the scripture) should meet with another sort of entertainment than such a kind and thankful acceptance, which is not an opposing of such a wicked wish, but an encouraging and corroborating of it. And further he says, that all the former tract of persecutions never obtained the end for which it was employed; for, after all the frequent and pressing endeavors that were used, to reduce this kingdom to an exact conformity in religion, it is visible the success has not answered the design, and that the difficulty is invincible. Wherein we may note his extorted acknowledgment, that all former endeavours to destroy the work of God have been successless, which induces him to try another method, to which this acceptance is very subservient, to wit, to destroy us and our religion by flatteries, and by peace to overturn truth, and by the subversion of laws to open a door to let in Popery and all abominations. But what is more obscurely expressed in his words, is more visibly obvious in his works, to all that will not willingly wink at them; discovering clearly the end of this liberty is not for the glory of God, nor the advantage of truth, or the church’s edification, nor intended as a benefit to Protestants; but for a pernicious design, by gratifying a few of them in a pretended favour, to rub all of them of their chiefest interests, religion, laws, rights and liberties, which he could not otherwise effectuate but by this arbitrary way; for if he could have obtained his designs by law; he would never have talked of lenity or liberty, but, having no legal ends, he behooved to compass them by illegal means. They must then be very blind who do not see his drift is, first to get in all popish officers in places of public trust, by taking off the penal laws disabling them for the same; then to advance is absoluteness over all laws, in a way which will be best acknowledged and acquiesced in by people, till he be so strengthened in it, that he fears no control; and then to undermine and overturn the Protestant religion, and establish popery and idolatry: which he is concerned the more violently to pursue, because he is now growing old, and therefore must make haste, least he leave the papists in a worse condition than he found them: which, to be sure, the papists are aware of, and their conscious fears of the nation’s resentments of their villainies will prompt them, as long as they have such a patron, to all vigilance and violence in plying their game: and withal, hereby he may intend to capacitate himself for subduing the Dutch, against whom he hath given many indications of a hostile mind of old and of late: not only in hiring two rascals to burn the Amsterdam fleet heretofore, but in stirring up and protecting the Algerine pirates against them; so universal a protector is he become of late, that Papists and Protestants, Turks and Jews are shrouded under the shadow of his patrociny, but with a design to destroy the best when his time comes. Which cursed designs cannot be counteracted, but very much strengthened by this acceptance.
VII. Considering the effects already produced thereby, they cannot but abhor it; seeing the eyes of all that are that are tender may afflict their hearts, observing how the papists are hereby encouraged, and increased in numbers, the whole nation overflowed with their hellish locusts, and all places filled with priests and Jesuits; yea, the executive power of the government put into the hands of the Romanists; and on the other hand, how the people are endangered with their abounding and prevailing errors (to which the Lord may, and will give up those that have not received the love of the truth) truth is fallen in the streets, and equity cannot enter, a testimony against antichrist is abandoned and laid aside, as unseasonable; the edge of zeal for the interest of Christ is blunted, and its fervour extinguished; they that should stand in the gap, and upon the watch-tower, are laid aside from all opposition to the invasions of the enemy, and lulled asleep by this witching charm and intoxicating Opium, ministers and professors are generally settling on their lees, and languishing in a fatal security; detection is carried on, division promoted and destruction is imminent. Is it not then both a part of the witness of the faithful, and of their wisdom so stand aloof from such a plague, that hath such destructive effects?
VIII. Considering the nature and name of this pretended liberty, they cannot but disdain it, as most dishonourable to the cause of Christ. It is indeed the honour of kings, and happiness of people, to have true human and christian liberty established in the commonwealth, that is, liberty of persons from slavery, liberty of privileges from tyranny, and liberty of conscience from all impositions of men; consisting in a freedom from the doctrines, traditions, and commandments of men, against or beside the word of God in the free enjoyment of gospel ordinances in purity and power of doctrine worship, discipline and government, in subordination to the only rule of conscience the revealed will of its only lawgiver Jesus Christ. When this is ratified as a right by the sanction of approven authority, and countenanced and encouraged as religion, by the confirmation of laws, approving whatsoever is commanded by the God of heaven to be done for the house of the God of heaven which is the full amount of all magistrates authority) then we are obliged to accept of it with all thankful acceptation. But such a liberty, as overturns our rights our privileges our laws, our religion, and tolerates it only under the notion of a crime and indemnifies it under the notion of a fault to be pardoned and allows the exercise thereof only in part, so and so modified, cannot be accepted by any to whom the reproach thereof is a burden, and to whom the reproaches of Christ are in esteem, in such a day when even the lovers of Christ’s interest buried in bondage, are to be contended for. Whatever liberty this may be to some consciences, it is none to the tender, according to the rule of conscience; It is only a toleration, which is always of evil; for that which is good cannot be tolerated under the notion of good, but countenanced and encouraged as such. Therefore this reflects upon our religion, when a toleration is accepted which implies such a reproach: and the annexed indemnity and pardon tacitly condemns the profession thereof as a fault or crime, which no Christian can bear with or by his acceptance homologate these reproaches, if he consider the nature of it. And much more will he be adverse from it, if he consider how dishonourable it is to God (whatever some addressers, particularly the Presbyterians at London, have blasphemously alleged, that God is hereby restored in his empire over the conscience) since the granter, after he hath robbed the Mediator of his supremacy, and given it away to antichrist, and God of his supremacy, and given it away to antichrist, and God of his supremacy imperial, as universal king, by a claim of absolute power peculiar to him; he hath also robbed him of his empire over the conscience: in giving every man the empire over his own conscience, which he reserves a power to retract when he pleases.
IX. Considering the extent of it, they cannot class themselves among the number of them that are Indulged thereby. It takes in not only the archbishops and bishops, and the prelatical and malignant crew, but all Quakers and papists, reaching all idolatry, blasphemy and heresy, and truth also (which could never yet dwell together under one sconce) whereby the professors of Christ come in as partners in the same bargain with antichrist’s vassals; and the Lord’s ark hath a place with Dagon, and its priests and followers consent to it; and the builders of Babel and of Jerusalem are made to build together, under the same protection; and a sluice is opened, to let the enemy come in like a flood, which to oppose, the acceptors cannot stand in the gap, nor life up a standard against them. Liberty indeed should be universally extended to all the Lord’s people, as Cyrus his proclamation was general, Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him. But a toleration of idolaters, blasphemers, and heretics, as Papist etc. is odius to God, because it is contrary to Scripture, expressly commanding Idolaters to die the death, and all seducers and enticers to apostasy from God to be put to death without pity; and commending all righteous magistrates that executed judgment accordingly, as Asa, Hezekiah, etc. yea even heathen magistrates, that added their sanction to the laws of God, as Artaxerxes is approven for that statute, that whosoever will not do the law of God and of the king, judgment should be executed speedily upon him. And in the new testament this was never repealed, but confirmed, in that the sword is given to magistrates, not in vain, but to be a terror to, and revengers, to execute wrath upon all that do evil, among whom seducers, that are evil workers and idolaters, are chiefly to be ranked, being such as do the worst of evil to mankind Ephesus is commended, because they could not bear them which are evil: and Thyatira reproved for suffering Jezebel; by which it appeareth, that our Lord Jesus is no friend to toleration. It is true, this is spoken against churchmen, but will any think that will be approven in civil powers, which is so hateful in church-offers? Surely it will be the duty and honour of these horns spoken of, Rev. 17. to eat the whore’s flesh, and burn her with fire. And shall that be restricted, only to be done against the great antichrist, and not be duty against the lesser antichrists, the limbs of the great one? It is recorded of Julian the apostate, that among other devices he used to root out christianity, this was one, that he gave toleration openly to all the different professions that were among christians, whereof there were many heretical in those days; which is exactly aped by James the apostate now for the same end. It is also contrary to the Confession of Faith, chap. 20. Sect. 4 asserting ‘That for their publishing such opinions, or maintaining of such practices, as are contrary to the light of nature, or to the known principles of Christianity, whether concerning faith, worship or conversation, or to the power of godliness, or such erroneous opinions or practices, as either in their own nature, or in the manner of publishing or maintaining them, are destructive to the external peace and order, which Christ hath established in the church; they may lawfully be called to account, and proceeded against by the censures of the church, and by the power of the civil magistrate.’ And therefore, to accept of this toleration, is inconsistent with the principles of the church of Scotland, with the national, and solemn league and covenants, and solemn acknowledgments of sins, and engagements to duties; in all which we are bound to extirpate popery, prelacy, etc. with the whole tract of contendings in the fifth Period above related; and particularly by the Testimony of the Synod of Fife, and other brethren in the ministry, against Cromwell’s vast toleration and liberty of conscience, mentioned above page [TAG]. for it is plain, if it be not to be suffered then it is not to be accepted.
X. Considering the terms wherein it is offered, they cannot make such a shameful bargain. In the former proclamation it is granted expressly under several conditions, restrictions and limitations; whereof indeed some are retracted in the latter, as the restriction of it to moderate Presbyterians, which would seem to be taken off by extending to all without reserve to serve God in their own way; but being evidently exclusive of all that would serve God in Christ’s way, and not after the mode prescribed, it is so modified and restricted, that all that will accept of it, must be moderate Presbyterians indeed, which, as it is taken in the court sense, must be an ignominy to all that have zeal against antichrist. The limitation also to private houses, and not to our houses, is further enlarged to Chapels, or places purposely hired; but still it is stinted to these which they must bargain for with counselors, sheriffs, etc. So that none of these restrictions and limitations are altogether removed, but the condition of taking the oath only; yet it is very near to an equivalency, homologated by the accepters acknowledging in the granter a prerogative and absolute power over all laws, which is confirmed and maintained by their acceptance. As for the rest, that are not so much as said to be removed, they must be interpreted to remain, as the terms, conditions, restrictions and limitations, upon which they are to enjoy the benefit of this toleration. And what he says, that he thought fit by this proclamation further to declare, does confirm it, that there are further explications, but no taking off of former restrictions. Hence it is yet clogged with such provisions and restrictions, as must make it very nauseous to all truly tender. (1.) The restriction as to the persons still remains that only moderate Presbyterians, and such as are willing to accept of this indulgence allenarly [alone] and none other, and such only whose names must be signified to these sheriffs, stewards, bailiffs, etc. are to have the benefit of this indulgence; whereby all the zealous and faithful Presbyterians are excluded, (for these they will not call them moderate) and all that would improve it without a formal acceptance, and all who for their former diligence in duty are under the lash of their wicked law, and dare not give up their names to those who are seeking their lives, must be deprived of it. (2.) It is restricted to certain places still which must be made known to some one or more of the next privy counselors, and whereby they are tied to a dependence on their warrant, and must have their lease and license for preaching the word in any place; and field meetings are severely interdicted though signally countenanced of the Lord, whereby the word of the Lord is bound and bounded; and by this acceptance, their bloody laws against preaching in the open fields, where people can have freest access with conveniency and safety are justified. (3.) The manner of meeting is restricted, which must be in such a way as the peace and security of the government in the practice thereof may not be endangered; and again that their meetings be peaceably held, which is all one upon the matter with the bond of peace, and binding to the good behaviour so much formerly contended against by professors, and is really the same with the condition of the cautionary bond, in the indulgence after Bothwel, of which, see pag. [TAG]. And further they must be openly and publicly held, and all persons freely admitted to them; which is for the informing trade, exposing to all the inconveniences of Jesuits, and other spies and flies their delations [accusations], in case any thing be spoken reflecting on the government, a great temptation to ministers. (4.) The worst of all is upon their matter of preaching, which is so restricted and limited, that nothing must be said or done contrary to the well and peace of his reign, seditious or treasonable; and in case any treasonable speeches be uttered, the law is to take place against the guilty, and none other present, providing they reveal to any of the Council the guilt so committed, as in the former proclamation: and, in the last place, it is further declared, that nothing must be preached or taught which may any way tend to alienate the hearts of the people from him, or his government. Here is the price at which they are to purchase their freedom, (a sad bargain to buy liberty, and sell truth) which yet hardly can be so exactly paid, but he may find a pretense for retrenching it when he pleases; for if a minister shall pray for the overturning of a throne of iniquity, or for confounding all that serve graven images, and for destruction to the Pope, and all that give their power to that beast, there will be something said against the well of his government; or if any shall hear this, and not delate [accuse] it, then the same pretense is relevant; or if he shall preach against the king’s religion as idolatry, and the church of Rome as Babylon, and discharge his conscience and duty in speaking public sin faithfully, a Popish critic, or Romish bigot, shall interpret it to be an alienation of the people’s hearts from the king and his government. But who can be faithful, and preach in season, and out of season now, but he must think it his duty to endeavour to alienate the hearts of the people from such an enemy to Christ, and his absolute tyranny, so declaredly stated against God? What watchman must not see it his indispensable duty, to warn all people of his devilish designs to destroy the church and nation, and preach so that people may hate the whore, and this pimp of hers? Sure if he preach the whole counsel of God, he must preach against popery and tyranny. And if he think this Indulgence from absolute prerogative, granted and accepted on these terms, can supersede him from this faithfulness, then he is no more the servant of Christ, but a pleaser of men. Therefore since it is so clogged with so many restrictions, so inconsistent with duty, so contrary to scripture, so clearly violatory of covenant engagements so cross to the constant contendings and constitutions of this church and Acts of Assembly, (see pag. [TAG], etc.) it were a great defection to accept of it.
XI. Considering the scandal of it, they dare not so offend the generation of the righteous by the acceptance, and dishonour God, disgrace the Protestant profession, wrong the interest thereof, and betray their native country, as thus to comply with the design of Antichrist, and partake of this cruel tender mercy of the beast; who hath always mischief n his heart, and intends this as a preparative for inducing or enforcing all that are hereby lulled asleep either to take on his mark, or bear the marks of his fiery fury afterwards. For hereby foreign churches may think we are in a fair way of reconciliation with Antichrist, when we so kindly accept his harbinger’s favours. And it cannot but be very stumbling to see the ministers of Scotland, whose testimony used to be terrible to the Popish, and renowned through all the Protestant churches, purchasing a liberty to themselves at the rate of burying and betraying the cause into bondage and restraint, and thus to be laid by from all active and open opposition to Antichrist’s designs, in such a season. The world will be tempted to think, they are not governed by principles, but their own interest in this juncture, seeking their own things more than the things of Christ: and that it was not the late usurpation upon, and overturning of religion and liberty that offended them, so much as the persecution they sustained thereby; but if that arbitrary power had been exerted in their favours, though with the same prejudice of the cause of Christ, they would have complied with it as they do now. Alas! sad and dolorous have been the scandals given and taken by and from the declining ministers of Scotland heretofore, which have rent and racked the poor remnant, ad offended many both at home and abroad, but none so stumbling as this. And therefore the tender will be shy to meddle with it.
XII. Considering the addresses made thereupon, with such a strain of fulsome and blasphemous flatteries, to the dishonour of God, the reproach of the cause, the betraying of the church, and detriment of the nation, and exposing themselves to the cont of all, the poor persecuted party dare not so much as seem to incorporate with them. I shall set down the first of their addresses, given forth in the name of all the Presbyterian ministers, and let the reader judge whether there be not cause of standing aloof from every appearance of being of their number. It is dated at Edinburgh, July 21, 1687. of this tenor.
To the King’s most excellent majesty. The humble address of the Presbyterian ministers of his majesty’s kingdom of Scotland.
We your majesties most loyal subjects, the ministers of the Presbyterian persuasion in your ancient kingdom of Scotland, from the due sense we have of your majesty’s gracious and surprising favour, in not only putting a stop to our long sad sufferings for non-conformity, but granting us the liberty of the public and peaceable exercise of our ministerial function without any hazard: as we bless the great God, who hath put this in your royal heart, do withal find ourselves bound in duty to offer our most humble and hearty thanks to your sacred majesty, the favour bestowed being to us, and all the people of our persuasion on valuable above all our earthly comforts, especially since we have ground from your majesty to believe that our loyalty is not to be questioned upon the account of our being Presbyterians who as we have, amidst all former temptations, endeavoured, so we are firmly resolved still to preserve an entire loyalty in our doctrine and practice (consonant to our known principles, which according to the holy scriptures, are contained in the confession of faith, generally owned by Presbyterians in all your majesty’s dominion) and by the help of God so to demean ourselves, as your majesty may find cause rather to enlarge than to diminish your favours towards us: thoroughly persuading ourselves from your majesty’s justice and goodness, that if we shall, at any time, be ratherwise represented, your majesty will not give credit to such information, until you have due cognition thereof: and humbly beseeching, that those who promote any disloyal principles and practices (as we disown them) maybe looked upon as none of ours, whatsoever name they may assume to themselves. May it please your most excellent majesty, graciously to accept of this our most humble address, as proceeding from the plainness and sincerity of loyal and thankful hearts, much engaged by your royal favour, to continue our fervent prayers to the King of Kings for divine illumination and conduct, with all other blessings spiritual and temporal, ever to attend your royal person and government, which is the greatest duty can be rendered to your majesty, by
Your majesty’s most humble, most faithful,
and most obedient subjects.
Subscribed in our names, and in the name of the rest of our brethren of our persuasion at their desire.
Which received this gracious return.
The king’s letter to the Presbyterians in his ancient kingdom of Scotland.
‘We love you well; and we heartily thank you for your address: we resolve to protect you in your liberty, religion, and properties all our life; and we shall lay down such methods, as shall not be in the power of any to alter hereafter. And, in the mean time, we desire you to pray for our person and government.’ To which may be added that kind compliment of the Chancellor’s: ‘Gentlemen, my master hath commanded me to tell you, that I am to serve you in all things within the compass of my power.’
These gentlemen needed not to have been solicitous, that those who avouch an adherence to the covenanted reformation, and avow an opposition to Antichristian usurpers (which they call promoting disloyal principles and practices) might not be looked upon as of their confederacy: for all that abide in the principles and practices of the church of Scotland (which they have deserted) and that desire to be found loyal to Christ, in opposition to his, and the church’s, and the countries, declared enemy, would count it a sin and scandal, saying them obnoxious to the displeasure of the holy and jealous God, who will resent this heinous indignity they have done unto his majesty (if they do not address themselves unto him for pardon of the iniquity of this address, which is the desire of those whom they disown, that they may find grace to do so) and a shameful reproach, exposing them to the contempt of all of whom they expect sympathy, to be reckoned of their association who have thus betrayed the cause and the country. These mutual complements (so like the caresses of the Romish whore whereby she entices the nations to her fornication) between the professed servants of Christ, and the vassals of Antichrist, if they be cordial would seem to import that they are in a fair way of compounding their differences, and to accommodate their oppositions at length: which yet I hope will be irreconcilably maintained and kept up by all true Presbyterians, in whose name they have impudence to give out their address: but if they be only adulatory and flattering complements, importing only a conjunction of tails (like Samson’s foxes) with a disjunction of heads and hearts, tending towards distinct and opposite interests; then, as they would suit far better the dissimulations of politicians, than the simplicity of gospel ministers, and do put upon them the brand of being men-pleasers rather than servants of Christ, so for their dissemblings with dissemblers, who know their complements to be and take them for such, they may look to be paid home in good measure, heaped up and running over, when such methods shall be laid down as shall not be in the power of any to alter, when such designs shall be obtained by his liberty and these addresses, that the after bought wit of the addressers shall not be able to disappoint.
However the address itself is of such a dress, as makes the thing, addressed for to be odious, and the addressers to forfeit the respect, and merit the indignation of all that are friends to the Protestant and Presbyterian cause, as may appear from these obvious reflections. 1. It was needful indeed they should have assumed the name of Presbyterians, (though it might have been more tolerable to let them pass under that name if they had not presumed to give forth their flatteries in the name of all of that persuasion, and to allege it was at their desire; which is either an alluding equivocation, or a great untruth; for though it might be the desire f the men of their persuasion which is a newly start up opinion that interest hath led them to espouse, yet nothing could be more cross to the real desire of true Presbyterians, that prefer the truth of the cause to the external peace of the professors thereof), and call it the humble address of Presbyterian ministers: for otherwise it could never have been known to come from men of the Presbyterian persuasion; seeing the contents of this address are so clearly contrary to their known principles. It is contrary to Presbyterian principles, to congratulate an Antichristian a usurper for undermining religion and overturning laws and liberties. It is contrary to Presbyterian principles, to justify the abrogation of the National Covenant, in giving thanks for a liberty whereby all the laws are caused and disabled therein confirmed. It is contrary to Presbyterian principles, to thank the king for opening a door to bring in Popery, which they are engaged to extirpate in the solemn league and covenant. It is contrary to Presbyterian principles, to allow or accept of such a vast toleration for idolaters and heretics, as is evident above from all their contendings against it which is also contrary to the Confession of Faith, generally owned by Presbyterians, as may be seen in the place forecited, Chap. 20. Par. 4. It is contrary to Presbyterian principles to consent to any restrictions, limitations, and conditions, binding them up in the exercise of the ministerial function wherewith this liberty is loaded and clogged; whereby indeed they have the liberty of the public and peaceable exercise of it, without any hazard of present persecution, but not without great hazard of sin, and incurring the guilt of the blood of souls, for not declaring the whole counsel of God, which addressers cannot declare, if they preserve an entire loyalty in their doctrine, as here they promise. 2. There is nothing here sounds like the old Presbyterian strain; neither was there ever an address of this style seen before from Presbyterian hands. It would have looked far more Presbyterian like, instead of this address, to have sent a protestation against the now open designed introduction of Popery, and subversion of all laws and liberties which they are covenant to maintain, or at least to have given an address in the usual language of Presbyterians, who used always to speak of the Covenants, and work of reformation: but here never a word of these, but of loyalty to his excellent, to his gracious, and to his sacred majesty, of loyalty not to be questioned, an entire loyalty in doctrine, a resolved loyalty in practice, and a fervent loyalty in prayers: and all that they are solicitous about, is not left the prerogatives of their master be encroached upon, and the liberties of the church be supplanted, and religion wronged; but lest their loyalty be questioned, and they be otherwise represented: and all that they beseech for is, not that the cause of Christ be not wronged, nor Antichristian idolatry introduced by this liberty; but that these who promote any disloyal principles and practices may be looked upon as none of theirs, wherein all their encouragement is, that they persuade themselves from his maj[esty’s] justice and goodness, that he will not give credit to any other information until he take due cognition thereof. Here is a lawless unrestricted loyalty to a tyrant, claiming an absolute power to be obeyed without reserve, not only professed, but solicitously fought to be the principle of Presbyterians; whereas it is rather the principle of atheistical Hobbes exploded with indignation by all rational men. This is not a christian loyalty or profession of conscientious subjection, to a minister of God for good, who is a terror to evil doers; but a stupid subjection and absolute allegiance to a minister of Antichrist: who gives liberty to all evil men and seducers. This is not the Presbyterian loyalty to the king, in the defense of Christ’s evangel, liberties of the country, ministration of justice, and punishment of iniquity, according to the National Covenant; and in the preservation and defense of the true religion and liberties of the kingdoms, according to the solemn league and covenant; but an Erastian loyalty to a tyrant, in his over-turning religion, laws, and liberties, and protecting and encouraging all iniquity. This loyalty in doctrine will be found disloyalty to Christ, in a sinful and shameful silence at the wrongs done to him, and not declaring against the invasions of his open enemies. This loyalty in practice is a plain betraying of religion and liberty in lying by from all opposition to the open destroyer of both. And this loyalty in prayers, for all blessings ever to attend his person and government; will be found neither consonant to Presbyterian prayers, for all blessings ever to attend his person and government; will be found neither consonant to Presbyterian prayers, in reference to popish tyrants, nor consistent with the zeal of christians, and the cries of all the elect unto God to whom vengeance belongs, against Antichrist and all his supporters, nor any way conform to the saints prayers in scripture, nor founded upon any scripture promises, to pray for a blessing to a papist’s tyranny, which cannot be of faith and therefore must be sin. It were much more suitable to pray, that the God which hath caused his name to dwell in His Church, may destroy all kings that shall put to their hand to alter and destroy the house of God, Ezra. 6:12. 3. This address is so stuffed with sneaking flatteries, that it would more become sycophants and court-parasites than ministers of the gospel; and were more suitable to the popish, prelatical, and malignant faction, to congratulate and rejoice in their professed patron and head, and fill the Gazettes with their adulatory addresses, which heretofore used to be deservedly inveighed against by all dissenters; than for Presbyterians to take a copy from them, and espouse the practice which they had condemned before, and which was never commended in any good government, nor never known in these British nations, before Oliver’s [Cromwell’s] usurpation, and Charles’s tyranny; flattery being always counted base among ingenious men. But here is a rhapsody of flatteries, from the deep sense they have of his maj[esty’s] gracious and surprising favour,—–finding themselves bound in duty to offer their most humble and hearty thanks, to his sacred maj[esty’s] the favour bestowed being to them—–valuable above all earthly comforts. One would think this behooved to be a very great favour, from a very great friend, for very gracious ends: but what is it? In not only putting a stop to their long sad sufferings; which were some ground indeed if the way were honest: but this not only supposes an also; what is that? but also granting us the liberty,—–which is either a needless tautology (for if all sufferings were stopped, then liberty must needs follow) or it must respect the qualifications of the liberty; flowing from such a fountain, absolute power; through such a conveyance, the stopping all penal laws against Papists; in such a form as a toleration; for such ends, as overturning the reformation, and introducing Popery. This is the favour for which they offer most humble and hearty thanks, more valuable to them than all earthly comforts; tho’ it be manifestly intended to deprive the Lord’s people, at the long run, of the heavenly comforts of the preached gospel. Sure, if they thank him for the liberty, they must thank him for the proclamation whereby he grants it, and justify all his claim there to absoluteness, being that upon which it is superstructed, and from which it emergeth, and so become a lifted faction to abet and own him in all his attemptings; engaged now to demean themselves as that he may find cause rather to enlarge than to diminish his favours, which can be no other way but in assisting him to destroy religion and liberty, at least in suffering him to do what he will without control. O! what an indelible reproach is this for ministers, who pretend to be set for the defense of the gospel, thus to be found betraying religion, through justifying and magnifying a tyrant, for his suspension of so many laws whereby it was established and supported. 4. It were more tolerable if they went no further than flatteries: but I fear they come near the border of blasphemy, when they say, that the great God hath put this in his royal heart: which can bear no other construction but this, that the holy Lord hath put it in his heart to assume to himself a blasphemous and absolute power, whereby he stops and suspends all penal laws against idolaters, and gives a toleration for all errors: or if it be capable of any other sense, it must be like that as the Lord is said to have moved David to number the people, or that Rev. 17:17. God hath put it in their hearts to fulfill his will, and to agree and give their kingdom unto the beast. But to bless God, and thank the tyrant for this wicked project, as deliberate and purposed, by men, I say is near unto blasphemy. And again, where they say, They are firmly resolved, by the help of God, so to demean themselves, as his maj[esty’s] may find cause rather to enlarge than to diminish his favours; this, in effect, is as great blasphemy as if they had said, they resolved, by the help of God, to be as unfaithful, time-serving, and silent ministers as ever plagued the church of God; no otherwise can they demean themselves so as he may find cause to enlarge his favours towards them, it being no way supposable that his enlarging his favours can consist with their faithfulness, but if they discover any measure of zeal against Antichrist, he will quickly diminish them.
Thus far I have compendiously deduced the account of the progress, and prosecution of the testimony of this church to the present state thereof, as it is concerted and contended for, by the reproached remnant now only persecuted: which I hope this pretended liberty shall be so far from obscuring and interrupting, that it shall contribute further to clear it, and engage them more to constancy in it, and induce others also to countenance it, when they shall see the sad effects of this destructive snare, which I leave to time to produce: and hope, that as the former representation of their cause will conciliate the charity of the unbiased, so an account of their sufferings thereupon will provoke them to sympathy. To which I now proceed.