THE following Period was that fatal one, that brought in universal Darkness on the face of the whole Church of Christ, and on Scotland with the first of them: which, as it received very early Christianity, so it was with the first corrupted with Antichristianism: For that Mystery of iniquity that had been long working, till he who letted [hindered] was taken out of the way, found Scotland ripe for it when it came: which, while the Dragon did persecute the woman in the wilderness, did valiantly repel his Assaults, but when the Beast did arise, to whom he gave his power, he prevailed more by his subtlety, than his rampant Predecessor could do by his rage. Scotland could Resist the Roman Legions while heathenish, but not the Roman Locusts when Antichristian. At his very first appearance in the world under the Character of Antichrist, his harbinger Palladius brought in Prelacy to Scotland, & by that conveyance the contagion of Popery: which hath always been, as everywhere so especially in Scotland, both the Mother & Daughter, cause & effect, occasion & consequence, of Popery. These rose, stood, & lived together, & sometimes did also fall together: & we have ground to hope, that they shall fall again; & their final & fatal fall is not far off. Whatever difficulty Authors do make, in calculating the Epocha of the 42 months of Antichrist’s duration in the world, because of the obscurity of his first rise; yet there needs not be much perplexity in finding out that Epocha in Scotland, nor so much discouragement from the fancied permanency of that Kingdom of wickedness. For if it be certain, as it will not be much disputed, that Popery & Prelacy came in by Palladius, sent Legate by Pope Celestine, about the year 450. then if we add 42 Months or 1260 Prophetical days, that is years, we may have a comfortable prospect of their Tragical conclusion. And though both clashings & combinations, oppositions & conjunctions, this day may seem to have a terrible aspect, portending a darker hour before the Dawning; yet all these reelings & revolutions, though they be Symptoms of wrath incumbent upon us for our sins, they may be looked upon, through a prospect of faith, as presages & prognostics of Mercy impendent for His Names Sake, encouraging us, when we see these dreadful things come to pass in our day, to lift up our heads for the day of our Redemption draweth nigh. This dark Period continued nigh about 1100 years, in which though Christ's witnesses were very few, yet He had some witnessing & Prophesying in sackcloth all the while. Their Testimony was the same with that of the Waldenses & Albigenses, slated upon the grounds of their secession or rather abstraction from that Mystery Babylon, Mother of harlots Popery & Prelacy, for their corruption in Doctrine, worship, Discipline, & Government. And did more particularly relate to the concerns of Christ's Priestly Office, which was transmitted from the Culdees to the Lollards, And by them handed down to the Instruments of Reformation, in the following Period. Their Testimony indeed was not Active, by way of forcible resistance, against the Sovereign Powers; but passive, by way of Confession & Martyrdom, & sufferings & verbal contendings, & witnessings against the prevailing corruptions of the time. And no wonder it should be so, & in this some way different from ours, because that was a dispensation of suffering, when Antichrist was on the Ascendant, & they had no call nor capacity to oppose him any other way, and were now spirited for this passive Testimony, in which circumstances they are an excellent pattern for imitation, but not an example for confutation of that principle of defensive resistance which they never contradicted, & had never occasion to confirm by their practice. But as in their managing their Testimony, their manner was someway different from ours on this respect; so they had far the advantage of us, that their cause was so clearly stated upon the greatest of heads of sufferings, having the clearest connexion with the fundamentals of Religion. Yet we shall find in this Period our Heads of suffering someway homologated, if we consider.
I. That as they did faithfully keep & contend for the word of Christ’s patience under that dispensation, in asserting & maintaining both the verity of Christ’s Doctrine, & the purity of His Worship, by testifying against the corruptions, errors, Idolatries, & Superstitions of Popery; so they did constantly bear witness against the usurpation & Tyrannical domination of the Antichristian Prelates. And as the Culdees did vigorously oppose their first introduction, and after aspiring domination, as well as the corruptions of their Doctrine, As we have the contendings of Eminent witnesses recorded from age to age; in the fourth & fifth Age, Columbe, Libthac, Ethernan, Kintogerne or Mungo; in the Sixth & seventh Age, Colmanus, Clemens, & Samson with others, in the Eight & ninth Age, Alcuin, Rabanus Maurus, Joannes Scotus Acrigena, are noted in History; And the Lollards, by their Examinations & Testimonies, are found to have witnessed against the exercise of their power, & sometimes against the very Nature of their power itself: so in their practice, they condemned Prelacy as well as Popery, in that their Ministers did in much painfulness, poverty, simplicity, Humility, & Equality, observe the Institution of our Lord. And so far as their light served, & had occasion to inquire into this point, they acknowledged no officer in the House of God superior to a preaching Minister, & according to this standard they rejected & craved Reformation of exorbitant Prelacy. And it is plain that they were frequently discovered, by discountenancing & withdrawing from their superstitions & Idolatrous worship: for all which, when they could not escape nor repel their violence, they cheerfully embraced & endured the flames.
II. That their Adversaries did manage their cruel craft, & crafty cruelty, in murdering those Servants of God, much after the same methods that ours do; except that they are many stages outdone by their successors, as much as perfect Artists do outstrip the rude beginnings of Apprentices. But on the other hand, the Sufferers in our day, that would follow the example of those Worthies under Popery, would be much condemned by this generation, even by them that commend the matter of their Testimony, though they will not allow the manner of it to be imitated in this day. The Adversaries of Christ in this & that generation, are more like then his Confessors & witnesses are. The Adversaries then, when constrained by diversions of the times troubles, or when their designs were not ripe, pretended more moderation & aversation [turning away] from severity, but no sooner got they opportunity (which always they sought) but so soon they renewed the Battle against Jesus Christ; so now: when they had seven abominations in their hearts, & many cursed designs in their heads, they always spoke fairest; so now: when they had a mind to execute their cruelty, they would resolve beforehand whom to pitch upon before conviction; so now: And when so resolved, the least pretense of a fault, obnoxious to their wicked Law, would serve their design; so now: They used then to forge Articles, & falsely misrepresent their answers, & declarations of their principles; so now. Yet on the other hand, if now poor sufferers should glory in that they are counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Christ, as they did then; If now they should suffer with as great cheerfulness, for the smallest points as for the greatest heads, as they did then, who endured the flames as gallantly, for eating a Goose upon Friday, as others did for the Doctrine of Justification, or Purgatory, or Indulgences, or worshipping of Images & Saints; If now they should speak for every truth in question, with all simplicity & plainness, without reserves or shifts declining a Testimony, as they did; If they should supersede from all applications to their Enemies for savour, & not meddle with either petitioning or bonding with them, as they did; nay not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection: Then they might expect the severe Censure of ignorant & precise fools, as the most part who suffer now are counted.
III. That they stood aloof from every appearance of a base Compliance with them; not so much as to give them an interpretative sign of it, which in their meaning might be thought a recantation, though abstractly considered it might be capable of a more favourable construction: As the required burning of their Bill was; which might have been thought a condemning of their accusations: but because that was not their Adversaries sense of it, they durst not do it. Not like many now a days, who will not be solicitous to consult that. Neither would they take any of their Oaths, nor pay any of their Ecclesiastical Exactions, as we find in the Articles brought in against the Lollards of Kyle. Knox Hist. of Reform. These things are easily complied with now: and such as will suffer upon such things are condemned.
IV. That while the Love of God and his blessed Truth, and the precepts, promise, & presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, did enable them into all patience with joy, in a passive Testimony, being by the call of a clear 8: necessary providence sent & set forth to be his witnesses; they did not indeed endeavour any resistance: yet we find they never resigned nor abandoned that first & most just privilege of resistance; nay, nor bringing public beasts of prey to condign punishment, in an extraordinary way of vindictive Justice, for the Murder of the Saints. As, upon the Murder of Mr. George Wishart, was done with Cardinal Beaton, who was slain in the tower of St. Andrews by James Melvin [Melville]: who perceiving his consorts in the enterprise moved with passion, withdrew them & said; this work & judgment of God, although it be secret, ought to be done with greater gravity, And, presenting the point of the sword to the Cardinal, said, Repent thee of thy former wicked life, but especially of the shedding of the blood of that notable instrument of God, Mr. George Wishart, which albeit the flame of fire consumed before men, yet it cries for vengeance upon them & we from God are sent to revenge it; for here, before my God, I protest, that neither the hatred of thy person, the love of thy riches, nor the fear of any trouble thou couldst have done to me in particular, moved or moveth me to strike thee, but only because thou hast been & remainest an obstinate Enemy against Christ Jesus, & His holy Gospel. Of which fact, the famous & faithful Historian Mr. Knox speaks very honorably, and was so far from condemning it, that while after the slaughter they kept out the Castle, he with other Godly men went to them & stayed with them, till they were together carried captives to France. Yet now such a fact, committed upon such another bloody & treacherous Beast, the Cardinal Prelate of Scotland, eight years agone, is generally condemned as horrid Murder.
V. However, though in this dark Period there be no noted instances of these witnesses resisting the Superior powers, for reasons above hinted: yet in this Period, we find many instances of noble & virtuous Patriots, their not only resisting, but also revenging to the utmost of severity rigorous & raging Tyrants. As may be seen in Histories. For before the corruption of Antichrist came to its height, we find Ferchardus I. the 52. K. was drawn to judgment against his will, great crimes were laid to his charge, & among others the Pelagian heresy, & contempt of Baptism, for which he was cast into Prison, where he killed himself; anno 636. Eugenius 8. the 62. King degenerating into wickedness, & rejecting the Admonitions of his friends & especially of the Ministers, was killed in a convention of his nobles, with the consent of all, anno 765. Donaldus 7. was imprisoned, where he killed himself, anno 859. Ethus, surnamed Alipes, the 72. King was apprehended, & his wicked life laid out before the people, & then compelled to resign the Government, & dyed in Prison, anno 875. Afterwards when the Government was transmitted to the Stewarts, James the 2. the 103. King, who killed William E[arl] of Douglas in the Castle of Sterling, most treacherously after he had pretended a civil treatment, was publicly defied by the Earl’s friends; who took the Kings public writ & subscription made to the said Earl, & tied it to a horse tail, dragging it through the streets, & when they came to the Mercat place they Proclaimed both King & Nobles perjured Covenant-breakers: And thereafter when E. James his Brother, was desired to submit, he answered, ‘he would never put himself in their reverence, who had no regard to shame, nor to the laws of God or man, and who had so perfidiously & treacherously killed his Brother & his Cousins.’ James 3. the 104. King for his Treachery & Tyranny was opposed & pursued by arms by his own subjects; who finding himself under disadvantages, sent to the rebels (as he thought them & called them) an offer of peace, & received this answer; that seeing the King did nothing honestly, a certain war seemed better to them then a peace not to be trusted, that there was no other hope of agreement but one, that he should quite the Government, otherwise it was to no purpose to trouble themselves with treaties. Thereafter in a battle he was slain at Bannockburn, by Gray, Ker, & Borthwick. James the 4. the 105. King was also constrained, by the valour of Archibald Douglas E. of Angus called Bell the Cat, to reform the Court, and put away some wicked Sycophants from his Counsel, and give way though against his will to the execution of judgement upon others: which was the occasion of that foresaid Agnomen to the Earle. For, he with other Nobles, in a meeting at Lawder, consulting how to reform & repress the insolency of the Court, had the Apologue [moral fable] of the Mice laid out before them; that the Mice fell upon deliberating how to be rid of the Cat, & concluded the best way was to put a bell about her neck, but when it came to be put in execution, never a Mouse durst undertake it: The Earl quickly made application, saying, I will bell the Cat; & forthwith went out & meeting Cochran, one of these wicked Counselors, took hold of him, & hanged him with a horse halter over the bridge of Lawder, & rushing in to the Kings presence proceeded to snatch Ramsey, another of the country’s Enemies, out of the Kings Arms, but that he yielded at length to the Kings earnest entreaties to spare him. However we see how generously zealous these noble Patriots were for the countries good, against Tyranny, though they were ignorant of Religion: Yet this all alongs was still the character of the Scots in these days, none more terrible to Tyrants, none more Loyal to Kings then they.