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A true double of a Paper of Grievances given in to the Presbytery of Kirkcudbright, July 6th, 1703


A true double of a Paper of Grievances given in to the Presbytery of Kirkcudbright, July 6th, 1703

James Dodson

by Mr. John Reid, minister of Carsphairn; Mr. William Tod, minister of Buittle; and Mr. John Macmillan, minister of Balmaghie: To which generally the whole forementioned parishes adhere, and the greatest part of the Godly in the land.

[Appended to the True Narrative, 1704.]

1. It is a great grievance, that none of our Assemblies hath, by an Act in solemn and ample form, and in name of this National Church, asserted and declared Presbyterian Government to be of divine right, unto which the Church has adhered and given testimony by suffering; and that the late Prelacy was a most wicked usurpation, and grievous encroachment upon the rights of the said Church. The necessity of such an Act is evident, in regard the late Prelacy was never ecclesiastically asserted, but only depended on the civil sanction. And now, for the Church to remain so long silent in asserting her own right, after she had been deprived of the exercise of Presbytery about thirty years, doth manifestly imply a holding of it by the same tenure, viz., Erastian Supremacy. Especially, considering the Act of Re-establishment goes as far back as the year 1592, there is cut off what the Church had attained unto in her purest time, viz., 1638-1649 inclusive.

2. The intrinsic power of the Church (which is now become a case of confession) with relation to the calling, adjourning, and dissolving of her judicatories, and the freedom of treating ecclesiastical matters therein, has not been asserted by an Act in any of our Assemblies these thirteen years bygone, with relation to the Church’s claim and power. This importeth a submission to all the encroachments made by the civil powers upon the Church, by constant calling, adjourning, and dissolving Assemblies, and prelimiting the same, both as to matters and members; besides, the not asserting the Government in opposition to Erastianism in compliance with the State (while; in the meantime, they have been and are wreathing an Erastian yoke about our necks) does not only clearly imply a leaving of the power in their hands, but a manifest disowning all the former wrestlings of this Church for her rights and liberties in such like cases, forasmuch as we, Issachar-like, crouch under the burden. And that which is most unaccountable and dolorous, an Address was sent to K[ing] W[illiam] by a considerable meeting of ministers in name of this Church, wherein that commendable and honourable appearance for the Prince of the Kings of the earth, by asserting the Church’s rights at the dissolution of the Assembly, to which the Earl of Lothian was Commissioner, is disowned. And yet the authors have not been called to an account and censured by any subsequent Assembly. We cannot but look upon this, as in so far allowed by the whole.

3. The Church has taken into ministerial communion many Curates, upon their taking the Oath of Allegiance and subscribing the Assurance, the new ministerial qualifications, without requiring so much as the shadow of repentance for their former horrible scandals; whereby they declare to the world, that they judge all the perjuries, persecutions, and other abominations (whereof they are guilty) to be no scandal, and thus condemn our former contendings against these false teachers, and the state of our late sufferings from the beginning. Yea, it is to be feared, to make perjuries shall be found the terms of their admission; the formula, which they are required to subscribe, being in several things expressly contrair to the Test and Covenant Oath. We have that charity for those who consented to the taking in of the Curates, as to judge that, although what is said be evidently finis operis, yet not finis operantis.[1]

4. Ministers guilty of accepting K[ing] C[harles] Indulgences and K[ing] J[ames] Toleration, have never been required, by any judicatory of this Church, to acknowledge the evils of these, and all their other backslidings. Nay, nor hath it been so much as proposed, for anything ever we heard. We humbly judge the whole Church culpable in this head.

5. In all our national and public Fasts, the sins of the land are not fully enumerated, particularly the ignominious maltreatment of the Covenants by burning them; the sinfulness of the Act of Parliament called the Act Rescissory; the Acts against the Covenants unrepealed, nay, not so much as desired to be rescinded, which is a grievous sin both in Church and State; the sin of intelligencers and informers against honest people, when flying for their lives; the assisting of enemies by riding with them, and admission of lax tested elders, together with the Declaration and self-contradictory Test, etc.; all other oaths and bonds in the late unhappy times; the Council’s appointing diets of national fasts, which is destructive of the Church’s rights and contrary to our former practice.

6. Ministers not preaching so freely and faithfully against the sins of the time, as the Word of God, Acts of the General Assemblies, and the good imitable example of our forefathers warrants them. Particularly, they give not public testimony against the discountenancing good men, .and the advancing of flagitious malignant, persons to places of most eminent trust. Their pusillanimous mentioning of the Covenants at baptism; some omitting them altogether.

7. As to the way and manner of discipline, its exercise in many places too lax and partial, some scandalous persons entirely overlooked, others easily passed for pecuniary mulcts after the fashion and practice of many curates in the late times. The neglect of censuring him or them, who informed K. W. [King William] what Presbyteries were for asserting the intrinsic power of the Church, in the year 1701. And ministers unsafe admitting scandalous persons to the Lord’s Table, contrary to Acts of Assembly thereanent.

8. The generality of ministers taking the Oath of Allegiance and subscribing the Assurance and qualifications, without which no man can be received or continued a minister or preacher in this Church, as is clear from the Act of Parliament entitled, Act for settling the peace and quiet of the Church.

9. The last Commission, their reponing three curates, notwithstanding of the sentence passed against them by their respective Synods, and that because of their being Arminianly principled and otherwise scandalous in their life.

10. The Moderator and Clerk, their tergiversing [reversing] upon the dissolution of the last Assembly by the Commissioner, a thing bewailed by many, and no due regard had to the protestations then verbally made by some, and adhered to by others. That, when it was moved by several members of the Commission that a true and faithful narrative of the Assembly’s dissolution, and the verbal protest adhered unto, should be made by the said Commission, it was so far from being hearkened unto that it was wholly laid aside.

11. Q. A. [Queen Anne] public summoning all the members of the Assembly to meet at Edinburgh, March 10, 1703, a case utterly unprecedented in this Church, and also, that the Assembly last failed in not remonstrating against such a proclamation, and also the Queen’s Letter to the Council, and to the last Assembly, evidencing such respect to the Episcopal clergy as tends to the weakening of our right Constitution. We humbly judge the Church very faulty in not declaring against the same.

12. The last Assembly refused to say, in their address to the Q[ueen], that the Presbyterian Government is founded upon the Word of God, although it was often pressed; which is very grievous and offensive, especially seeing Presbytery was settled, by the Claim of Right, as only “agreeable to the inclinations of the people:” as if our forefathers had only suffered for a thing merely suiting their own temper and humour.

[The following note is added at the close of the little volume containing the “True Narrative” and the “Grievances:”—]

Having occasionally seen a “Letter to the Parishioners of [Balmaghie],”[2] under the hands of some of the learned members of the Presbytery, after what is above was finished, with respect to the Presbytery’s sentence: which being answered above in the examination of the Libel, I shall forbear at the time to give any further answer to it, only with this observation—that the learned man, in his paper, mistakes the question, misplaces the Scripture Matt, xviii. 16-18, imposeth an implicit faith upon people, is anti-Scriptural, anti-Presbyterian, inconsistent with himself, unjust in his relation of matters with respect to that member, is a bad disciplinarian, his paper is filled up with great untruths; lastly, he succumbs in what he has undertaken to make good from the Word of God. All which things can be instructed from his paper, that every one may see that peruses it. 


[1] This obscure passage may mean that the admission of the Curates was a measure of worldly policy.—ED.

[2] There is a blank here; but the Letter referred to was addressed to the parishioners of Balmaghie by Andrew Cameron.—ED.