AN Historical Representation OF THE TESTIMONIES OF THE Church of Scotland, With the true state of the same in all the Periods thereof. WITH A Vindication of the present Testimony.
THE Church of Christ, in the impression of all that have the least spark of the days Spirit, is now brought to such a doleful & dreadful Case & Crisis; that if it may not be reckoned The killing of the Witnesses: yet all that have or desire the knowledge of the times, will judge it no impeachment to the Prophecy to say, it is either very like or near unto it. When now the Devil is come down in great wrath as knowing his time is but short, and therefore exerting all the energy of the venom & violence, Craft & Cruelty of the Dragon: And Antichrist, alias Pope, his Captain General, is now universally prevailing, and plying all his hellish Engines, to batter down, & bury under the rubbish of Everlasting Darkness, what is left to be destroyed of the work of Reformation: And the Crowned heads or horns of the Beast, the Tyrants, alias Kings, of Europe, his Council of War, are advancing their Prerogatives upon the ruins of the Nations & Church’s Privileges, to such a pitch of Absoluteness; & improving & employing their power, for promoting their Master’s (the Devil & Antichrist’s) Interests, to whom they have gifted the Churches, mancipated their own, and sacrificed the Nations Interest; and that with such combination of Counsels, & Countenance of providential success, that all the Powers of Hell, the Principalities of Earth, & the Providence of Heaven, overruling all things for the accomplishment or the Divine purpose, & purchase, & prediction, seem to conspire to produce that prodigious Period, and ultimus Conatus [last attempt] of the Church’s Enemy. And the commencement is so far advanced, that, now in all the Churches of Europe, either the Witnesses of Christ are a killing, or the witness for Christ is in a great measure killed; either the followers of the Lamb, who are called & chosen & faithful, are killed for their Testimony, or fainting in their Zeal, and falling from their first Love, they are cooled or cajoled from their Testimony. Some are indulging themselves in their ease, settling on their Lees, & sleeping in a stupid security; And, while the Lord is roaring from above, & His & their Enemies raging about them, & designing to raze them after they have ruined their Neighbours, they are rotting away under the destructive Distempers of detestable Neutrality, loathsome lukewarmness, declining & decaying in Corruptions, defections, divisions, distractions, confusions, & so judicially infatuated with darkness & delusions, that they forget & forgo the necessary Testimony of the day. Others again, outwearied with the length & weight of the Trial, under the temptation of Antichrist’s formidable strength on the one hand, & a deceitful prospect of an ensnaring Liberty on the other, are overcome either to be hectored or flattered from their Testimony. And so in these Churches, comprehending all that are free from Persecution at this time, the Witness for Christ is in a great measure killed. Other Churches, which are keeping & contending for the word of Christs patience, are so wasted. & almost worn out, with Persecutions, afflictions, & calamities, that, after they have been & are (so much) daylie killed for the Word of God, & the Testimony of Jesus, it may well be said, there hath been & is a great slaughter of the Witnesses. And it were hard to determine, which of them can give the largest & most lamentable account of their sufferings, or which of them have had the greatest & most grievous experiences, of the Treachery & Truculency [cruelty], Violence & Villainy, of Atheistical & Papistical Enemies: whether the Reformed Church of France, howling under the paw of that devouring Lyon, the French Tyrant; or the Protestants of Hungary, under the tearing Clawes of that ravenous Eagle the Tyrant of Austria; or those of Piedmont, under the grassant [raging] Tyranny of that little Tiger of Savoy. The accounts they give in print, the reports they bring with them in their flight from their respective Countries, & the little Hints we have in Gazettes & News Letters, must needs enforce a conviction, if not extort a Compassion, of the greatness of their pressures; & that with such a parity, that it is doubtful which preponderates. I shall not make comparisons, nor aggravate nor extenuate the sufferings of any of the Churches of Christ, beyond or below their due measures: But will presume to plead, that Scotland, another Ancient & sometimes famous Reformed Church, be enrolled in the Catalogue of suffering Churches, besides these mentioned; and crave, that she may have a share of that Charity & Sympathy, which is the demand & desire of afflicted Churches of Christ, from all the fellow members of that same body: And so much the rather is this her due; that, whereas among all the rest of the Churches, Christs witnesses are killed in some particular respect, & each of them have their own proper complaint of it; some upon the account of Persecution, some of defection, division &c. Of this it may be said, in all respects, both the witnesses of Christ, and a witness for Christ, are killed with a witness. This is the Case of the sometimes Renowned, famous, faithful, & fruitful, Reformed, Covenanted Church of Scotland, famous for unity, faithful for verity, fruitful in the purity of Doctrine, Worship, Discipline, & Government; which now, for these 27 years past, under the Domination of the late Tyrant & present Usurper of Britain, hath been so wasted with oppression, wounded with Persecution, rent with Division, ruined with defection, that now she is as much despised, as she was before admired: And her Witness & Testimony for Reformation, is now as far depressed & suppressed in obscurity as it was formerly declared & depreciated in glory & honour. And yet, which should move the greater commiseration, her witnessings & wrestlings, Trials & Temptations, have not been inferiour, in manner or measure, quality or continuance, to any of the forementioned Churches, though in extent not so great, because her precinct is not so large, whereby the number of her oppressed & murdered Children could not be so multiplied, though her Martyrs be more, and the manner of their Murder more illegal, than can be instanced in any of them, during that time. A particular enumeration or enarration [exposition] whereof, cannot be here exhibited, but is referred & reserved to a peculiar Treatise of that Subject, which ere long the world may see. Only I shall give a compendious account of the kinds & causes, grounds and Heads, of their sufferings, who have been most slighted & least sympathized with, though they have sustained the greatest severities of any; and in end endeavour to vindicate the Merit of their Cause, in the most principal heads upon which their sufferings have been stated: Whereby it will appear to impartial men, that will not be imposed upon, there hath been, & yet is, a great & grievous, & some way unparalleled, Persecution in Scotland, at least inferiour to none: Which hath not hitherto been duly considered, with any proportion to the importance thereof.
But though this be the Scope, it is not the sum of what is intended in this Discourse. The Method I have proposed to prosecute it withal, will discover it: Which is. 1. To give a brief & summary account, of the Series & Succession, success & result, of the several Contendings of the Witnesses of Christ, against His Enemies in Scotland from time to time; that it may appear; whether or not the present sufferings as now stated can be condemned, if the former be approven. 2. To rehearse some of the chief means, methods, & measures, that the Popish, Prelatical, & Malignant faction, have managed, for the ruin of this witnessing Remnant, & some of the most signal steps of sufferings sustained by & from these within these 27 years; by which it will appear, that the Persecution in Scotland hath been very remarkable (though little regarded) both in respect of the injustice, illegality, & inhumanity of the Persecutors, & in respect of the innocency, Zeal, & ingenuity of the Persecuted. 3. To clear the state & vindicate the merit of the cause of their sufferings, as to the most material heads of it, that are most controverted at this time. In the first of these, I must study all compendious brevity, as may consist with the clearing of my Scope: which is not to enlarge an Historical deduction, of the rise & result, progress & prosecution, occasion & continuation, of every Controversy the Church hath had with her several Adversaries in several Periods; But only to hint at the chief Heads of their contendings, with a design to make it appear; that the most material Heads of sufferings that are now condemned, as new & nice notions, have been transmitted from age to age, from the beginning even to this present time, through all the Periods of this Church.