PERIOD. V. - Containing the Testimony for the last Reformation from Prelacy, in all its steps, from the year 1638, to 1660.
THE following Period, from the year 1638. to 1660, continues & advances the Testimony, to the greatest height of Purity & Power, that either this Church or any other did ever arrive unto, with a Gradation, Succession, & Complication of wonders, of Divine Wisdom, Power, Justice & Mercy, signally & singularly owning & sealing it, to the Confusion of His Enemies, Comfort of His People, Conviction of Indifferent Neutrals, and Consternation of All. Now after a long winter, and night of Deadness & Darkness, the sun returns with an amiable approach of Light & Life: now the winter was past, the rain was over & gone, the flowers appear on the earth, and the time of singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle[dove] is heard in our Land. Now the second time, the Testimony comes to be managed in an Active manner, as before it was Passive: As the one hath been always observed to follow interchangeably upon the other, especially in Scotland, and the Last always the Greatest; which gives ground to hope, though it be now our turn to suffer, that when the summer comes again after this winter, and the day after this night, the next Active Testimony shall be more notable than any that went before. The matter of the Testimony was the same as before, for the Concerns of Christ’s Kingly Prerogative, but with some more increase as to its opposites: for these grew successively in every Period, the Last always including all that went before. The first Period had Gentilism principally to deal with, the second Popery, the third Popery & Tyranny, the fourth Prelacy & Supremacy, this fifth hath all together, and Sectarianism also, to contend against. The former had always the opposites on one hand, but this hath them in extremes on both hands; both fighting against one another, and both fighting together against the Church of Scotland, and she against both, till at length one of her opposites prevailed, viz. the Sectarian Party, and that prevailing brought in the other, to wit, the Malignant, which now domineers over all together. Wherefore, because this Period is in itself of so great importance, the Revolutions therein emergent so eminent, the Reformation therein prosecuted wanting little of its perfect Complement; the Deformation succeeding in its Deviation from the Pattern being so destructive; to the end it may be seen from whence we have fallen, and whether or not the present reproached Sufferers have lost or left their ground, we must give a short deduction of the Rise, Progress, & End of the Contendings of that Period.
In the midst of the forementioned Miseries & Mischiefs, that the pride of Prelacy and Tyrannical Supremacy had multiplied beyond measure upon this Church & Nation, and at the height of all their haughtiness, when they were setting up their Dagon, and erecting Altars for him, imposing the Service-book, and book of Canons &c. the Lord in Mercy remembered His people, and surprised them with a sudden unexpected Deliverance, by very despicable means; even the opposition of a few weak women, at the beginning of that Contest, which, ere it was quashed, made the Tyrant tumble headless off his throne. The zeal against the English Popish Ceremonies, obtruded on Edinburgh, did first inflame some feminine hearts to witness their detestation of them; but afterwards was followed out with more Masculine fervor, accosting King & Council with Petitions, Remonstrances, Protestations, & Testimonies against the Innovations, and resolving upon a mutual Conjunction, to defend Religion, Lives, & Liberties, against all that would innovate or invade them. To fortify which, and conciliate the favour both of God & man in the Resolution, All the Lovers of God, and friends to the Liberty of the Nation, did solemnly Renew the National Covenant (wherein they were signally countenanced of the Lord) which, though in itself obliging to the Condemnation of Prelatical Hierarchy, and clearly enough confirming Presbyterial Government, yet they engaged into it with an enlargement, to suspend the practice of Novations [new engagements substituted for old] already introduced, and the approbation of the Corruptions of the present Government, with the late places & power of Church men, till they be tried in a free General Assembly. Which was obtained that same year, and indicted at Glasgow: and there, notwithstanding all the opposition that the King’s Commissioner could make, by Protestations & Proclamations to dissolve it, the six preceding Assemblies establishing Prelacy were annulled, The Service-Book, and high Commission were condemned; All the Bishops were deposed, and their Government declared to be abjured in that National Covenant; though many had, through the Commissioners, persuasions, subscribed it in another sense without that application: As also the five Articles of Perth were there discovered, to have been inconsistent with that Covenant & Confession, and the Civil places & power of Church men were disproved & rejected: on the other hand Presbyterial Government was Justified & Approved, and an Act was passed for their keeping yearly General Assemblies. This was a bold beginning, into which they were animated with more than human resolution, against more than human opposition, Hell as well as the powers of the earth being set against them. But when the Lord gave the Call, they considered not their own deadness, nor were daunted with Discouragements, nor staggered at the promise through unbelief, but gave Glory to God, out braving all difficulties. Which in the following year were much increased, by the Prelates and their Popish Partakers, rendezvousing their forces under the King’s Personal Standard, and menacing nothing but misery to the zealous Covenanters: yet when they found them prepared to resist, were forced to yield to a Pacification, concluding that an Assembly & Parliament should be held for healing all grievances of Church and State. In which Assembly, at Edinburgh, the Covenant is ratified & subscribed by the Earl of Traquair Commissioner, and enjoined to be subscribed by the body of the whole Land, with an explication expressly condemning the five Articles of Perth, the Government of Bishops, the Civil places & power of Church men: But the sons of Belial cannot be taken with hands, nor bound with bonds of faith, humanity, or honour; For in the year following, King & Prelates, with their Popish Abettors, go to arms again; but were fain to accommodate the matter by a new Pacification, whereby all Civil & Religious Liberties were ratified. And in the following year 1641, by Lawes, Oaths, Promises, subscriptions of King & Parliament fully confirmed. The King, Charles the I. being present, and consenting to all; though in the meantime he was treacherously encouraging the Irish murderers, who by his Authority made a Massacre of many thousand Innocent Protestants in Ireland. But in Scotland things went well, the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus was greatly advanced, the Gospel flourished, and the Glory of the Lord did shine upon us, with such a splendor that it awaked England, and animated the Lord’s People there, then groaning under those Grievances from which Scotland was delivered, to aspire to the like Reformation. For advice in which, because though all agreed to cast off the yoke of Prelacy, yet sundry forms of Church Government were projected to be set up in the room thereof, chiefly the Independent order, determining all Acts of Church Government, as Election, ordination, and deposition of officers, with Admission, Excommunication, & Absolution of members, to be done & decided by the voices of every Particular Congregation, without any Authoritative Concurrence or interposition of any other, condemning all imperative & decisive power of Classes &c. as a mere usurpation; Therefore the Brethren in England wrote to the Assembly then fitting at Edinburgh, who gave them answer, ‘That they were grieved, that any of the Godly should be found not agreeing with other Reformed Churches in point of Government, as well as Doctrine; and that it was to be feared, where the edge of Discipline & Government is different, the Doctrine & Worship shall not long continue the same without change; That the Government of the Church, by Compound Presbyteries & Synods, is a help & strength, and not a hinderance to particular Congregations & Elderships, in all the parts of Government; and are not an extrinsical Power set over Particular Churches, but the intrinsical power where with Christ hath invested His Officers, who may not exercise it Independently, but with subordination unto Presbyteries &c. Which as they are Representative of particular Churches, conjoined together in one under their Government; so their determination, when they proceed orderly, whether in Causes common to all, or brought before them by reference in case of aberration, is to the several Congregations Authoritative, & not Consultatory only. And this subordination is not only warranted by the light of nature, but grounded upon the Word of God, and conform to the Pattern of the Primitive & Apostolic Church, for the Preservation of verity & unity, against Schism, Heresy, & Tyranny, which is the fruit of this Government where soever it hath place.’ So from henceforth the Assembly did incessantly urge uniformity in Reformation, with their Brethren in England, as the chiefest of their Desires, Prayers, & Cares. And in the year 1643. prevailed so far, that the English Parliament did first desire that the two Nations might be strictly united for their mutual defense, against the Papists & Prelatical faction and their Adherents in both Kingdoms; and not to lay down Arms, till these implacable Enemies should be brought in subjection: and did instantly urge for the help & assistance from Scotland. Which being sent did return with an Olive branch of Peace, and not without some beginnings of a Reformation in England. And afterwards, a bloody War beginning between the King & Parliament, with great success on the King’s side, whence the Papists at the time got great advantage (witness the cessation of Arms concluded in Ireland) Commissioners were sent from both Houses to Scotland, earnestly inviting to a nearer union of the Kingdoms, and desiring Assistance from this Nation to their Brethren in that their great distress: And this, by the good hand of God, produced the solemn League & Covenant of the three Kingdoms, first drawn up in Scotland, and approven in the Assembly at Edinburgh, and afterward embraced in England, to the terror of the Popish and Prelatical party, and to the great comfort of such as were wishing and waiting for the Reformation of Religion, and the recoveries of Just Liberties. The tenor whereof did import, their sincere & constant endeavours, in their several places & Callings, for preservation of the Uniformity in Reformation, in Doctrine, Worship, Discipline, & Government; The extirpation of Popery, Prelacy, Error & Profanity; the preservation of the Rights & Liberties of the people, and of the Magistrate’s Authority, in defense of the true Religion and Liberty; the discovery & punishment of Incendiaries; the retaining of the Peace & Union of the Kingdoms; the mutual assistance & defense of all under the bond of this Covenant; and the performing all duties we owe to God, in the amendment of our Lives, and walking exemplarily one before another. This is that Covenant comprehending the purpose of all Prior, and the Pattern of all posterior Covenants, to which Christ’s witnesses did always adhere, for which the present witnesses do suffer & contend; That Covenant, which the Representative of Church & State in the three Nations did solemnly Subscribe & Swear, for themselves & posterity, of which the obligation, either to the duty or the punishment, continues indispensably on the Generation; which for the moral equity of its matter, the formality of its manner, the importance of its purpose, the holiness of its solemn Engagement, and the Glory of its Ends, no power on Earth, can Disannul, Disable, or Dispense; That Covenant, which the Lord did Ratify from Heaven, by the conversion of many thousands at their entering under the bond of it, securing & establishing unto them, and all the faithful, the blessings & privileges therein expressed, and avouching Himself to be their God, as they had avouched themselves to be His people; That Covenant, which in all the Controversies it hath occasioned, did never receive a greater confirmation than from the malice & opposition of its Adversaries; That Covenant, which malignants do malign & deny, and Sectaries scorn & lay aside, as an Almanac out of date; which hath been many ways traduced & reproached by enemies, and yet could never be reflected on by any Serious in this Land, without a honourable & fragrant remembrance: Especially that Retortion of Adversaries of the rigor of its imposition upon Recusants, to justify their cruelty upon its Asserters now, is to be refelled [refuted], not with confutation of its importance, but with disdain of its impudence. For who were the Recusants: but wicked enemies to God and Church & Nation, who for their malignancy were then to be prosecuted, not for their scrupling at a Covenant, but for their contumacious Contempt of a Law? This was no violence done to their conscience; for as they had none, and could not pretend to any, so they were never troubled for that, but for their opposition & conspiracy against the common cause. However, it went through at that time: And that the Covenanted Reformation, in a nearer conjunction betwixt the united Churches, might be promoted, the Parliament of England called an Assembly of Divines at Westminster: and desired the Assembly of Scotland to send thither their Commissioners; which accordingly nominated & elected, Mr. Alexander Henderson, Mr. Robert Douglas, Mr. Samuel Rutherford, Mr. Robert Baillie, Mr. George Gillespie Ministers, And John Earl of Cassils, John Lord Maitland, and Sir Archibald Johnston of Wariston, Ruling Elders; to Propose, Consult, Treat, & conclude in all such things as might conduce to the extirpation of Popery, Prelacy, Heresy, Schism, Superstition, & Idolatry, and for the settling of the so much desired union of the whole Island, in one form of Church Government, one Confession of Faith, one common Catechism, & one Directory for the Worship of God. Forces were also sent, to assist the Parliament of England: which were favoured with great success in their Enterprises, till that War was ended by the total overthrow of Tyranny at that time, and all its upholders. But that Popish, Prelatical, & Malignant faction being brought much under in England, attempted (not unlike the Syrians, who thought the God of Israel was not God of the Hills & Valleys both) to try the fortune of War in Scotland, under the conduct of that Treacherous & truculent Traitor Montrose, gathering an Army of wicked Apostates & Irish Murderers: who prevailing for a time, did punish, in the Justice of God, the Hypocrisy & self-seeking of such in this Land whose hearts were not upright in His Covenant; at length was defeat at Philiphaugh, in the year 1645. yet certain it is, that they had Commission & warrant from the King: as the Assembly that year, Feb. 13. remonstrates it to himself; Warning him in the name of their Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, ‘that the guilt which cleaved to his throne was such, as (whatsoever flattering Preachers or unfaithful Counsellors might say to the contrary) if not timely repented, could not but involve himself & his Posterity, under the wrath of the Ever-living God, for his being guilty of the shedding of the blood of many thousands of his best Subjects, for his permitting the Masse & other Idolatry in his family & Dominions &c.’ At the same time also the Assembly did zealously incite the Parliament to a speedy course of Justice, against these Incendiaries & Murderers, as the only mean of cleansing the Land from that deluge of blood then current, and of appeasing the wrath of God: and solemnly & seasonably warned all ranks, to applaud the Glory & Righteousness of that Judgment of the sword, in the hands of these Apostates & Murderers, and to search to understand the Language of that Dispensation; wherein many Public sins & breaches of Covenant are pointed at, as the Causes of that desolation; And the Covenant itself is there very Encomiastically [praisingly] vindicated. ‘We are so far from repenting of it (say they) that we cannot mention it without great joy & thankfulness to God, as that which hath drawn many blessings after it, and unto which God hath given manifold evident Testimonies: for no sooner was the Covenant begun to be taken in England, but sensibly the condition of affairs there was changed to the better, and our forces sent into that Kingdom, in pursuance of that Covenant, have been so mercifully & manifestly assisted & blessed from Heaven, that we have what to answer the enemy that reproacheth us concerning that business, & that which may make iniquity itself to stop her mouth: but which is more unto us than all victories, the Reformation of Religion in England, & Uniformity therein between both Kingdoms (a principal end of that Covenant) is so far advanced, that the Government of the Church by Congregational Elderships, Classical Presbyteries, Provincial & National Assemblies, is agreed upon by the Assembly of Divines at Westminster, and voted & concluded in both houses of Parliament.’ After this the Malignants in England being crushed in all their Projects, the King renders himself to the Scots in New castle: by whom (because by Covenant they were not obliged to defend him, but only in defense of Religion & Liberty, which he had been destroying and they defending; because in this war he did directly oppose & oppugn these conditions, under which they were only to defend him, and therefore they had all alongst carried towards him as an enemy, as he to them; And because by the same Covenant they were obliged to discover, & render to condign punishment all Malignants & Incendiaries, of whom he was the chief, and to retain the Peace & Union of the Kingdoms, which could not be retained in maintaining their destroyer, And to assist mutually all entered into that Covenant, which he was fighting against) he was delivered up into the English, and kept under restraint in the Isle of Wight, until he received his just demerit, for all his oppressions, Murders, Treachery, & Tyranny; being condemned & execute Januar. 30. anno 1648/9 Which fact, though it was protested against both before & after by the Assembly of the Church of Scotland, out of zeal against the Sectarians, the executioners of that extraordinary Act of Justice; yet it was more for the manner than for the matter, and more for the motives & ends of it than for the grounds of it, that they opposed themselves to it, and resented it. For they acknowledged & remonstrated to himself, the Truth of all these things upon which that sentence & execution of Justice was founded. And when a wicked Association, & Unlawful Engagement was on foot to rescue him, they opposed it with all their might: Shewing, in their Answers to the Estates that year 1648. and Declarations & Remonstrances, the sinfulness & destructiveness of that Engagement; that it was a breach of the Commandments of God, & of all the Articles of the Covenant; Declaring withal, they would never consent to the King’s Restitution to the exercise of his Power, without previous assurance by solemn Oath under his hand & seal, for settling of Religion according to the Covenant. By which it appears, they were not so stupidly Loyal, as some would make them. Yet indeed it cannot be past without regret, that there was too much of this plague of the Kings-evil even among good men: which from that time forth hath so infected the heads & hearts of this Generation, that it hath almost quite extinct all Loyalty to Christ, and all zeal for Religion & Liberty. Then it began to infuse & diffuse its Contagion, when after the death of Charles the first, in the year 1649. they began, after all that they had smarted for their trusting these treacherous Tyrants, and after that Grace had been shewed them from the Lord their God, by breaking these men’s yokes from off their necks, and putting them again into a Capacity to act for the good of Religion, their own safety, and the peace & safety of the Kingdom, to think of joining once more with the people of these abominations, and taking into their bosoms these Serpents which had formerly stung them almost to death. Hinc illae lachrimae, en origo & Scaturigo nostrae defectionis! [Hence these tears, lo the origin and spring of our defection!] There was indeed at that time a Party faithful for God, who considering the many breaches of the Solemn League & Covenant, and Particularly by the late Engagement against England, did so travel that they procured the Covenant to be renewed, with the Solemn Acknowledgment of sins & Engagement to duties, which was Universally subscribed & sworn through all the Land; wherein also they regret this tampering with Malignants. And therefore the Lord did mightily save & defend them from all their Adversaries, subdued them at Stirling, and in the North. They did also give warning concerning the young King, ‘that notwithstanding of the Lord’s hand against his Father, yet he hearkens unto the Counsels of these, who were Authors of these Miseries to his Father; by which it hath come to pass, that he hath hitherto refused to grant the just & necessary desires of the Church & Kingdom, for securing of Religion & Liberty: And it is much to be feared, that these wicked Counselors, may so far prevail upon him, as to engage him in a war, for overturning the Work of God, and bearing down all those in the three Kingdoms that adhere thereto. Which if he shall do, cannot but bring great wrath from the Lord upon himself & throne, and must be the cause of many new & great Miseries & Calamities to these Lands.’ And in the same warning, by many weighty reasons, they prove, that he is not to be admitted to the exercise of his power, without security for Religion & Liberty. And when the bringing home of the King came to be voted in the Assembly, there was one faithful witness, Mr. Adam Kae Minister in Galloway, protested against it; fore shewing & fore telling, what mischief & misery he would bring with him when he should come. These things might have had some weight, to demur the Nation from meddling with that perfidious Traitor. But all this serves only to aggravate the sin & shame of that distraction, which hath procured all this destruction, under which the Land mourns to this day: That notwithstanding of all these Convictions, warnings yea and discoveries of his Malignancy, Treachery, & inclinations to Tyranny; They sent Commissioners, and concluded at Treaty with him at Breda. During which Treaty, the Commissions which he had sent to that bloody villain Montrose, & his Cut throat Complices, to raise an Army, & waste & invade the Country with fire & sword the second time; were brought to the Committee of Estates, discovering what sort of King they were treating with. Whereupon, after serious Consulting not only together, but with the Lord: And after many debates what to do in such a doubtful case, wherein all was in danger, the Estates concluded to break off the Treaty, and recall their Commissioners. To which intent, they sent an Express with Letters to Breda; which by providence falling into the hands of [George Winram, Lord] Libberton, a true Libertine, & false betrayer of his trust & Country, was by him, without the knowledge of the other Commissioners, delivered unto the King: who consulting the Contents of the Packet with his Jesuitical & Hypocritical Cabal, found it his interest to play the fox (being disappointed at that time to play the Tiger) and dissemble with God & man. And so sending for the Commissioners, he made a flattering speech to them, shewing that now after serious deliberation he was resolved to comply with all their Proposals. Where upon the poor cheated Commissioners dispatch the post back with Letters, full of praise & joy, for the satisfaction they had received. The Estates, perceiving themselves imposed upon, consulted again what to do; and in end, being overswayed more with respect to their own credit (which they thought should be impeached, if they should retract their own Plenipotentiary Instructions, to conclude the Treaty upon the King’s assent to their Conditions) than to their reclamant consciences, they resolved to bring home that pest, and thereby Precipitated themselves & us into ineluctable misery. Yet they thought to mend the Matter, by binding him with all Cords, and putting him to all most explicit Engagements, before he should receive the Imperial Crown. Well, upon these terms home he comes, and before he set his foot on British ground he takes the Covenant. And thereafter, because the Commission of the General Assembly, by the Act of the West Kirk August. 13. 1650. Precluded his Admittance unto the Crown, if he should refuse the then required satisfaction, before his Coronation he emits that Declaration at Dumferling; wherein, ‘Professing & appearing in the full persuasion & love of the Truth, he repenteth (as having to do with & in the sight of God) his Fathers opposition to the Covenant & work of God, & his own reluctances against the same, hoping for Mercy through the blood of Jesus Christ, and obtesting [beseeching] the prayers of the faithful to God for his steadfastness; and than protesteth his Truth & sincerity in entering into the Oath of God, resolving to prosecute the ends of the Covenant to his utmost, and to have with it the same Common friends & Enemies, exhorting all to lay down their enmity against the cause of God, and not to prefer man’s Interest to God’s, which will prove an Idol of Jealousy to provoke the Lord, and he himself accounteth to be but selfish flattery.’ A declaration so full of heart Professions, & high Attestations of God, that none considering what followed can reflect thereon, without horror & trembling from the holy Jealousy of the Lord, either for the then deep dissimulation or the after unparalleled Apostacy. I know it is objected by Court parasites, that the King was then compelled to do these things. To which I shall only say: It would have cost any of them their head at that time, to have asserted that he did upon deliberation & choice mock God & man, and entered into these Engagements, only with a purpose to be thereby in better Capacity, to destroy what he swore to maintain; only because he could not have the Crown without this way, which in the Confession of the objectors themselves was only deliberate & premeditate Perjury. Next, if it should, be granted he was Compelled; let it be also considered, who Compelled him; and these will be found to be the deceitful Courtiers. For, let it be adverted, what Mr. [Patrick] Gillespie declares of the Case, who put the pen in his hand when he subscribed that Declaration: He, perceiving there was sufficient ground to Jealouse [suspect] his reality, and seeing evidently that the Courtiers prevailed with the King on a sudden to offer to subscribe the Declaration (when they observed that the Commissioners of Church & State were resolute, & ready to go away in a fixedness, to leave out the putting of his Interest in the state of the quarrel) and being afraid of the sad Consequences of it, spoke his mind plainly to the King, ‘That if he was not satisfied in his Soul & Conscience, beyond all hesitation of the righteousness of the subscription, he was so far from overdriving him to run upon that, for which he had no light, as he obtested [beseeched] him, yea he charged him in his Masters name, and in the name of these who sent him, not to subscribe this Declaration, no not for the three Kingdoms.’ Whereupon the King answered, Mr. Gillespie, Mr. Gillespie I am satisfied, I am satisfied with the Declaration, and therefore will subscribe it. Upon which some of the Courtiers swore that Mr. Gillespie intended simply to dissuade the King from subscribing it, that so Church and State might professedly lay aside his Interest: which would have defeat their hopes to make up themselves, as now they have done, upon the then designed ruin of the Interest of Truth. Then at his Coronation, we have his again reiterated confirmations of that Covenant: first, he is desired in name of the people to accept the Crown, and maintain Religion according to the National & Solemn League & Covenant; whereunto he gave his apparently Cordial consent (the words are in the form & order of the Coronation with the whole Action.) Then next, a Sermon being Preached upon 2 King. 11. 12, & 17. the action commenceth, with his most solemn renewing of the National and solemn League & Covenant, by Oath. Then, he is presented to the people, and their willingness demanded to have him for their King on these terms. At the same time, in the next place, he took the Coronation Oath. Then on these terms he accepted the Sword. And after the Crown is set upon his head, the peoples obligatory Oath is proclaimed on the terms foresaid, otherwise he is not that King to whom they swore subjection. Then being set upon the Throne, he was by the Minister put in mind of his Engagements, from 1 Chron. 29. 33. And then the Nobles of the Land came one by one kneeling, and lifting up their hands between his hands, swore the same Oath. These things done, the whole Action was closed with a most solid & severe exhortation from several instances, Neh. 5. 13. Jer. 34. 18, 19, 20, &c. Thereafter in the year 1651. followed the Ratification of all these preceding Treaties, Transactions, & Engagements, concluded & enacted by the King, and the Parliament then fully & freely convened; whereby the same did pass into a Perpetual Law. And this Covenant, which from the beginning was & is the most sure & indispensable Oath of God, became at length the very fundamental Law of the Kingdom, whereon all the rights or privileges, either of King or people, are principally bottomed & secured. This might seem security sufficient, but considering the former discoveries & experiences they had of his Treachery, and the visible appearances (in the meantime) of his Refusals, visible Reluctances, manifest Resilings [abandoning of positions], open Counter actings, and continued prejudices against the Covenant, and his following unprecedented avowed perjury, everything doth indelibly fasten upon them the weakness at least of an overweening Credulity, and upon him the wickedness of a perfidious Policy, in all these Condescensions. After this it came to pass, that zeal for the Cause rightly stated was suddenly contracted to a few, and the flame thereof extinguished in many, and Court wild fire substitute in its place: whereby a plain defection was violently carried on by the Public Resolutioners, who relapsing into that most sinful Conjunction with the People of these abominations, so solemnly repented for & resolved against, did notwithstanding bring in Notorious Malignants, into places of power & Trust, in Judicatories & Armies, in a more Politick than Pious way of requiring of them a constrained & dissembled Repentance, to the mocking of the God of Truth, and Scorn of all our holy Engagements. Which defection did not only cause for a long time an incurable Division; the first of that kind, and most permanent of any that ever was in the Church of Scotland, by reason of the surcease of General Assemblies, stopped & hindered by the yoke of the Sectarian Usurpation; but also was the spring & source of all our defections since, all flowing from & fomented by that same spirit that fostered that: And for that, since that time, the Lord hath been contending with this Church & Nation, bringing us under the bondage of these Malignant Enemies, whom we suffered them then to encourage & introduce. And both at that time, & since that time, the Lord never countenanced an Expedition where that Malignant Interest was taken in unto the state of the quarrel. Upon this our Land was invaded by Oliver Cromwell, who defeat our Army at Dunbar, where the Anger of the Lord was evidently seen to smoke against us, for espousing that Interest. And remarkable it is, how in that very day where in the Public Resolutions were concluded in the Assembly at St Andrews, the Lord then shed the blood of His people at Ennerkeithing; so as that the Assembly, having in great hast hurried through this Approbation, were all made to run for it, and Adjourn themselves to Dundie, where they met and completed that step of defection. And afterwards its known, what a peculiar vengeance fell upon that City, where this deed was done beyond all the Cities of the Nation. Next, an Army being raised, according to these unhallowed Resolutions, and the Lord putting remarkable Discountinance upon them in their attemptings at home, as was manifest in their attemptings at Torwood &c. They march into England; and there did the Lord continue, by His leaving our Army to the Sword, to preach that Doctrine to the world Josh. 7. 10, 11, 12. [Israel hath sinned and transgressed the Covenant—have taken the accursed thing—and dissembled also, and have put it even amongst their own stuff, therefore the Children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their Enemies, because they were accursed: Neither will I be with yow any more, except ye destroy the accursed thing from among you] An army of near 30000 was totally routed at Worcester; and the Achan, the Cause of the overthrow, was forced to hide himself in the Oak, and thence to transport himself beyond sea, where he continued a wandering fugitive in Exile, till the year 1660. In the meantime the Sectarian Army here prevailed, till, after the usurper Cromwell his death, the false Monk then General, with a Combination of Malignants and Public Resolutioners, did machinate our misery, and effectuated it by bringing home the King to England from his banishment: Wherein he was habituate into an implacable hatred against the Work of God. Yet, though since the King’s first reception into Scotland, our declensions were still growing until they produced this fearful Revolt from God, wherein the Nation is now involved; there was still a faithful Remnant of Ministers & Professors, zealous for the Cause, keeping their Integrity; who in their Remonstrances & Testimonies witnessed against both their Malignant Enemies and their backsliding Brethren the Resolutioners, and also against the Sectarians their Invaders; whose vast Toleration & Liberty of Conscience, which they brought in to invade our Religion as they had invaded our Land, and infect it with their multifarious Errors, was particularly by the Synod of Fife, and other Brethren in the Ministry that joined themselves to them, Testified against, and demonstrated to be wicked & intolerable. Now to see how far the present Testimony is Confirmed by the witnesses of this Period, we may resume some Reflections on it.
I. They impartially carried on the Testimony against Prelacy, and the Popish Prelatical & Malignant faction on the one hand, and the Sectarians on the other, without ever waving the Testimony against either, or at the least winking at the one to weaken the other: both which Testimonies they thought of so great importance, that they could not dispense with but faithfully maintain both, in their witnessings & warnings. In that seasonable & necessary Warning & Declaration concerning present & imminent dangers, given at Edinb[urgh]. July 27. Sess. 27. They say first of the Sectaries, ‘That prevailing Party of Sectaries in England, who have broken the Covenant, and despised the Oath of God, corrupted the Truth, subverted the fundamental Government, Look upon us with an evil eye, as upon these who stand in the way of their Monstrous & newfangled devices in Religion & Government; and though there were no Cause to fear anything from that party, but the Gangrene & infection of those many damnable & abominable errors which have taken hold on them; yet our vicinity unto and daily Commerce with that Nation, may justly make us afraid, that the Lord may give up many in this Land into a spirit of delusion to believe Lies, because they have not received the Love of the Truth.’ In that same warning they say. ‘we are not so to have the one of our eyes upon the Sectaries, as not to have the other upon Malignants, they being an Enemy more numerous & more dangerous than the other; not only because experience hath proven, that there is a greater aptitude & inclination in these of our Land to comply with Malignants, than Sectaries, in that they carry on their wicked design, under a pretext of being for the King, but also because there be many of them in our own bowels.’ By which we may see, how impartially they opposed both; and that this cannot be condemned in the Testimonies of the present Sufferers, except the Assembly be condemned. And because many now a days have extenuating notions of those debates, against Prelacy & Sectarianism, about the Government of the Church &c. and condemn these that would adhere to & suffer for the Punctilio’s of it, as rigid nicety: I shall, for seeing what account the Assembly had of them, cite their words in a Letter to the Assembly of divines at Westminster, Dated Edin. June 18. 1646. ‘The smallest’ (say they) ‘of Christ’s Truths (if it be Lawful to call any of them small) is of greater moment than all the other businesses, that ever have been debated since the beginning of the world to this day: but the highest of honours and heaviest of burdens is put upon you; to declare, out of the Sacred Records of Divine Truth, what is the Prerogative of the Crown & extent of the Scepter of Jesus Christ; what bounds are to be set between Him Ruling in His House, and powers established by God on Earth; how & by whom His House is to be Governed; and by what ways a restraint is to be put on these, who would pervert His Truth and subvert the faith of many.’
II. In the manner of maintaining this Testimony, these famous Fathers while faithful for God gave us a perfect pattern of purity & strictness, in opposition to all degrees of conformity & compliance with the Corruptions of the time; and laid down such Rules & Constitutions, as might regulate us in our Contendings about present Defections, and teach us what account to make of them, and how to carry towards them: which if adverted unto, would evince how manifest & manifold the declinings of many have been from the late Reformation, that yet pretend to adhere unto it, and how Justifiable the aversation & abstraction of the present reproached suffering party is, from all these defections and the daubings of them, because so much deviating & declining from the attained Reformation. I need not repeat, how Prelacy, and all the parts & pendicles of that Antichristian Hierarchy, were abjured [condemned] in the National Covenant, and condemned in the Acts of Assemblies, and reabjured [recondemned] in the solemn League & Covenant, and in the solemn Acknowledgment of Sins & Engagement to duties, where also we came under Sacred & Inviolable Engagements, to endeavour the extirpation thereof: Which doth clearly file the present Countenancing & submitting to the Prelatic Curates, in receiving ordinances from them, among the grossest of defections; being altogether inconsistent with these Acts and Constitutions & Covenant-obligations to extirpate them, as much as the countenancing of Popish Priests were inconsistent therewith, being both equally Covenanted to be extirpated. Next, though in this Period, Tyranny being in its Retrograde Motion, Erastian Supremacy was not so much contended for, and therefore not so much questioned as formerly, being held exploded with execration out of doors & out of doubt; yet the Testimony was still continued against it, in the uninterrupted maintaining of the Church’s Privileges and freedom of Assemblies, against all Encroachings of Adversaries. And therefore the embracing of the late detestable Indulgences, were as Contrary to the Actings of this as to the Testimonies of the former Period, against the Supremacy from which they flow. Yea many Particulars, might be instanced, wherein the Accepters had declined from the Covenanted Reformation then prosecuted; not only in their Confederating with Malignant Usurpers, for the pretended benefit of them (by which, if there had been no more, they are obnoxious to the Censure of the Church, standing registered in an Act of Assembly, ordaining all persons in Ecclesiastic office, for the like or lesser degrees of Compliance, yea even for procuring protections from Malignant Enemies, to be suspended from their office & all exercise thereof At Edinb. 1646. Sess, 14) Nor only in their taking sinful Instructions from them, restricting them in the exercise of their Ministry; but in admitting themselves, by their patronage, to be by them presented to their prelimited & preimposed Congregations: which involves them in the iniquity of the Abolished Patronages, condemned by the Assembly; for that the Ministry of such so presented, is made too much to depend upon the will & pleasure of man, and such an imposition is Destructive of the Church & peoples Liberties, obstructive of the Gospels freedom & faithful plainness, and occasion of much base flattery & partiality; And in subjecting to, homologating, & fortifying a Sacrilegious Supremacy, overturning the Intrinsic power of the Church, contrary to the Covenant obliging to the Preservation of the Government, as well as to the Doctrine of the Church, in the first Article thereof; And in their suffering themselves, either directly or indirectly, either by Combination, persuasion, or terror, to be divided & withdrawn from that blessed Union & Conjunction, which they were obliged to maintain & promote, according to the 6th Art. of the Solemn League & Covenant; And in their strengthening the Erastian Usurpations of Enemies encroaching upon the Church’s Liberties and Christ’s prerogatives, against which we are engaged expressly in the Solemn Acknowledgment of sins and Engagement to duties, where also we have these words Art. 2. Because many have of late laboured to supplant the Liberties of the Church, we shall maintain & defend the Church of Scotland, in all her Liberties & Privileges, against all who shall oppose or undermine the same, or encroach thereupon under any pretext whatsomever. Next, we have many Demonstrations of the zeal & strictness of these Servants of Christ, in their Synodical determinations of Censures, to be past upon many Ministerial Corruptions; which will condemn the present course of covering & countenancing them, and commend the Contendings of a poor reproached party against them, in their conscientious abstracting from them. Of which determinations, I shall rehearse some. Among the Enormities & Corruptions of the Ministry, in their Callings, this is one, §. 4. 5. Silence in the public Cause—Some accounting it a point of wisdom to speak ambiguously—whereof the remedy is §. 15. ‘That beside all other scandals, Silence or Ambiguous speaking in the public Cause—be seasonably Censured, Gen. Ass. at Edinb. June 13. 1646.’ There is indeed an Act against withdrawers from Ministers: but in the selfsame Act, they are charged to be diligent in fulfilling their Ministry, to be faithful in Preaching, ‘declaring the whole Counsel of God, and as they have occasion from the Text of Scripture to reprove the sins & errors, and press the duties of the time, And in all these to observe the Rules prescribed by the Acts of Assembly, wherein if they be negligent, they are to be Censured, Gen, Ass. Edinb. Aug. 24. 1647. Sess. 19.’ Then there is that Act, August 3. 1648. Sess. 26. for Censuring Ministers for their silence, and not speaking to the Corruptions of the time; ‘Calling it, a great Scandal, through some Ministers their reserving & not declaring themselves against the prevalent sins of the times; appointing, that all that do not apply their Doctrine to these Corruptions, which is the Pastoral Gift, and that are cold or wanting of Spiritual zeal, Dissembling of Public sins, that all such be Censured even to deprivation; for forbearing or passing in silence the Errors & Exorbitancies of Sectaries in England, or the defections current at home, the plots & Practices of Malignants, the Principles & Tenets of Erastianism; And if they be found too sparing, general, or ambiguous in their applications & reproofs, and continuing so, they are to be deposed, for being pleasers of men rather than servers of Christ, for giving themselves to a detestable indifferency or Neutrality in the Cause of God, for defrauding the souls of people, yea for being highly guilty of the blood of Souls, in not giving them warning.’ And in that seasonable & necessary warning of the Gen. Ass. Edinb. June 27. 1649. Sess. 27. we are taught how they resented the unfaithfulness of Ministers continuing in defections, and how we are to look upon them & carry to them: where they say; ‘It is undeniably true, that many of the evils, wherewith this Church & Kingdom hath been afflicted in our age, have come to pass because of the negligence of some and corruptions of others of the Ministry; And the course of backsliding was carried on, until it pleased God to stir up the spirits of these few, who stood in the Gap, to oppose & resist the same, and to begin the work of Reformation in the Land; since which time, the silence of some Ministers, & the compliance of others, hath had great influence upon the backslidings of many amongst the people, who, upon the discovery of the evil of their way, complain that they got not warning, or that if they were warned by some, others held their peace, or did justify them in the course of their backsliding: we can look upon such Ministers no otherwise, than upon these that are guilty of the blood of the Lord’s people, and with whom the Lord will reckon, for all the breach of Covenant & defection that hath been in the Land; The Priests lips should preserve knowledge, and they should seek the Law at his mouth, for he is the Messenger of the Lord of Hosts, but such as are departed out of the way, and have caused many to stumble at the Law, therefore hath the Lord made them contemptible before all the people, according as they have not kept His ways, but have been partial in His Law, because they have lost their savour, He hath cast out many of them as unsavoury salt.’ Furthermore, to evidence the Purity & power of zeal burning & blazing in these days, in their Contendings against Public Enemies on all hands, I shall instance some of their Acts & Testimonies, clearly condemning the manifold Compliances of this Generation, and which may contribute somewhat to Justify the reproached preciseness of a Remnant, standing at the furthest distance from them. ‘There is an Act for Censuring the Compliers with the public Enemies of this Church & Kingdom, Gen. Ass. Edinb. June 17. 1646. Sess. 14.’ ‘where, they judge it a great & scandalous provocation, & grievous defection from the public cause, to comply with these Malignants (such as James Graham then was) in any degree, even to procure Protections from them, or to have invited them to their houses, or to have drunk James Graham his health, or to be guilty of any other such Gross degrees of Compliance; censured to be suspended from the communions, ay & while they acknowledge their offence.’ And yet now, for refusing these degrees of compliance, for not having the protection of a Pass from the wicked courts of malignant enemies, by taking a wicked oath, and for refusing to drink the King’s health, a greater Enemy then ever James Graham was, some poor conscientious people have not only been murdered by Enemies, but mocked & condemned by professors. ‘There is an Act likewise, & declaration against all new oaths or bonds in the common cause imposed without consent of the Church Gen. Ass. Edinb. July 28. 1648. Sess. 18. Enjoining all the members of the Church to forbear the swearing or subscribing any new oaths or bonds, in this Cause, without Advice & concurrence of the Church, especially any negative oaths or bonds, which may any way limit or restrain them in the duties whereunto they are obliged, by National or Solemn League & Covenant.’ Yet now, for refusing Oaths, not only limiting in Covenanted duties, but contradicting & condemning many material Principles of the Covenanted Reformation, many have not only lost their Lives, but also have been condemned, by them that are at ease having a wider conscience to swallow such baits. It is known how pertinacious the most faithful in those days were, in their contendings against Associations, in any undertaking for the cause, with persons disaffected to the true state thereof. I need not give any account of this, were it not that now that Principle is quite inverted; and poor Adherers to it, for their abstracting & subtracting their concurrence with such promiscuous Associations, are much hated & flouted; therefore I shall give some hints of their sentiments of them. In their Answer to the Committee of Estates, July 25. 1648. Sess. 14. the Gen. Assembly says, ‘It was represented to the Parliament, that for securing of Religion it was necessary, that the Popish, Prelatical, & Malignant party, be declared Enemies to the cause upon the one hand, as well as Sectaries upon the other, and that all Associations either in forces or counsels, with the former as well as with the latter, be avoided.’ And in their declaration concerning the Present dangers of Religion, especially the unlawful Engagement in War, July, ult. 1648. Sess. 21. They say, ‘suppose the ends of that Engagement be good (as they are not) yet the means & ways of Prosecution are unlawful; because there is not an equal avoiding of rocks on both hands, but a joining with Malignants to suppress Sectaries, a joining hands with a black devil to beat a white devil; They are bad Physicians who would so cure one disease, as to breed another as evil or worse—we find in the Scriptures condemned, all Confederacies & Associations with the Enemies of true Religion, whether Canaanites Exod. 23. 32. and 24. 12, 15. Deut. 7. 2. or other heathens 1. King. 11. 1, 2.’ More Arguments against Associations may be seen in that excellent discussion of this useful Case, Concerning Associations & Confederacies with Idolaters Infidels Heretics or any other known enemy of Truth or Godliness, by famous Mr. G[eorge] Gillespie, published at that same time: whereunto is appended his Letter to the commission of the General Assembly, having these golden words in it, words fitly spoken in that season, when he was a dying, at the beginning of the Public Resolutions. ‘Having heard of some motions & beginnings of compliance, with these who have been so deeply engaged in a war destructive to Religion & the Kingdoms Liberties, I cannot but discharge my conscience, in giving a Testimony against all such compliance. I know & am persuaded, that all the faithful witnesses that gave Testimony to the Thesis, that the late Engagement was contrary & destructive to the Covenant, will also give Testimony to the Appendix, that compliance with any who have been active in that Engagement is most sinful & unlawful. I am not able to express all the evils of that compliance, they are so many—But above all, that which would heighten this sin even to the Heavens is, that it were not only a horrid backsliding, but a backsliding into that very sin, which was specially pointed at & punished by the prevalency of the Malignant party, God justly making them thorns & scourges who were taken in as friends. Alas! shall we split twice upon the same rock? yea run upon it, when God hath set a beacon on it? yea I may say, shall we thus out face & out dare the Almighty, by protecting His & our Enemies, by making peace & friendship with them, when the anger of the Lord is burning against them. I must here apply to our present condition, the words of Ezra. 9. 14—O happy Scotland, if thou canst now improve & not abuse this Golden opportunity? but if thou help the ungodly, & love them that hate the Lord, wrath upon wrath, and wo upon wo, shall be upon thee from the Lord.’ Whereunto is subjoined his dying Testimony to the same purpose; wherein are these words, ‘But if there shall be a falling back, to the sin of compliance with Malignant ungodly men, then I look for the breaking out of the wrath of the Lord, till there be no remedy.’ This was the warning of a worthy dying Man. Notwithstanding of which & many other warnings & witnessings, a course of compliance was commenced by the public Resolutioners, and continued in to this day; wherein that faithful warning of a dying servant of Christ is verified. But before I leave this purpose, I must obviate an objection that some make use of for strengthening themselves in their incorporations & joinings at least in Worship, with the corruptions of the time, and for condemning conscientious withdrawers; That the Godly in those days did not separate from the men of these compliances & defections, as many do now, to wit the protesting party did not withdraw from the public Resolutioners & Associators with Malignants. I answer, first, many & these the most Godly & tender did withdraw, even from their own Ministers, and would have gone 40. or 50 miles to hear a faithful Minister at that time: yea Ministers themselves, in the case of intrusion of the unfaithful, would have supplied the Parish, as if the Church had been vacant, and when they could not get access to the pulpit, they preached in the fields, on purpose to witness against, and professedly to withdraw the people from such an unfaithful Intruder; as might be instanced particularly for time & place, if need were. But next, The Church then, though broken by division, and under the subjection of strangers deprived of her General Assemblies, yet was in a constitute Case, enjoying the privilege, power & order of Synods & Presbyteries, to whom the people offended with their Ministers might address themselves, for an orderly redress, and removal of these Scandals in an ordinary way; and so they needed not assume to themselves that power to regulate their communion, that in a broken State, as now is, must be allowed to them. And besides, both the Ministers at that time who were faithful, though they might have proceeded to censure & silence the corrupt party as they were obliged, yet not only found it difficult by reason of the injury of the times; but also thought it best to spare them, And the people to bear them, as burdens; until, as they were still in hopes, they should obtain a General Assembly to take order with them but now it is not so. And then the defection was but beginning, and people did not know and could not expect it would go such a length, and therefore could not fall upon the rigor of that duty, which such disorders call for at first: but if they had seen where these beginnings would Land them at length, I doubt not but they would have resisted those beginnings, in such a way as would have precluded this imputation of novelty upon our necessitated with drawings.
III. We have in this Period, not only an Illustrious Testimony for the Principle, but a continued and unintermitted putting into practice the duty of defensive Arms, in resisting the Sovereign power, malversing [corrupting] & abusing Authority to the destruction of the ends of it; which resistance was avowed, encouraged, & furthered by the General Assembly, both for the defense of themselves, and for the help of their Brethren in England. Take one expression in their Solemn & seasonable Warning to all ranks Feb. 12. 1645. Sess 18. ‘Unless men will blot out of their hearts the love of Religion & cause of God, and cast off all care of their Country, Laws, Liberties &c. (all being in visible danger of present ruin & destruction) they must now or never appear actively, each one stretching himself to, yea beyond his power. It is no time to dally, or to go about the business by halfs, nor be almost but altogether zealous: Cursed is he that doeth the work of the Lord negligently. If we have been forward to assist our Neighbour Kingdoms, shall we neglect to defend our own? Or shall the Enemies of God be more active against His cause, than His people for it? God forbid.’ In another seasonable & necessary warning July 27. 1649. Sess. 27. They say, ‘But if his Maj. or any having or pretending power & commission from him, shall invade this Kingdom, upon pretext of establishing him in the exercise of his royal power; as it will be an high provocation against God, to be accessory or assisting there to, so it will be a necessary duty to resist & oppose the same.’ These Fathers could well distinguish, between Authority and the person abusing it: And were not so Loyal, as now their degenerate Children are ambitious to shew themselves, stupidly stooping to the shadow thereof, and yet will be called the only Asserters of Presbyterian principles. But we find, they put it among the Characters of Malignants, to confound the King’s honour & Authority with the abuse & pretense thereof, and with Commissions, warrants, & Letters, procured from the King by the Enemies of the cause & Covenant, as if we could not oppose the Latter, without encroaching upon the former. But here, an Objection or two must be removed out of the way, before we go forward. One is, from the Third Article of the Covenant; where there seems to be a great deal of Loyalty, obliging to defend the King’s Maj. his person & Authority, in the preservation & defense of the true Religion & Liberties of the Kingdoms, ‘that the world may bear witness with our consciences of our Loyalty, And that we have no thoughts or intentions to diminish his Majesties just power & greatness.’ I Ans. There is indeed a deal of Loyalty there, and true Loyalty, because Lawfully limited, being qualified with & subordinate unto the preservation & defense of the true Religion & Liberties of the Kingdom (as the makers of the Covenant do expound it, in the Assembles declaration against the unlawful Engagement July ult. 1648. Sess. 21.) not that Reverse Loyalty, which makes duties to God conditional & limited, and duties to thee King absolute & unlimited, as our Loyalists do now. And I wish others were free of it, who have sworn Oaths of unlimited Allegiances, to maintain the King in any power unto which his force aspires; and to justify this their Loyalty, will bring in this Article of the Covenant with a distorted sense, reading it backward, ‘that we in the preservation & defense of Religion must preserve & defend the King:’ As if Religion obliged to defend him, do what he will. It were better such pretended Covenanters, denied the Covenant, than to be such a reproach to it, in wresting its genuine sense. But I have adduced the sense of the best Interpreters of it, the General Assembly. Next when they entered under the bond of this Covenant, they did it with a purpose to oppose all his invasions upon Religion & the Liberty of the people, and to vindicate these precious Interests from his usurpings, into a state of Liberty: And shall we imagine, that that very Oath of God did lay upon them or us an obligation, to defend the person who is a destroyer of all these, contrary to the very nature of the Oath, contrary to the scope of the Covenanters, and contrary to their subsequent practice? But then it will be urged, why then was that clause cast into the Covenant? I answer we have not the same cause to keep it, as they had some cause to put it in, with accommodation to the present possessor of the Sovereignty. The owning of it in our circumstances would be as great a reproach to us, as the want of it was to them in theirs. They put in the words, to prevent the worlds mistake, and to remove that odium industriously heaped upon the heads of those, whose hearts were associate in the defense of Religion & Liberty, therefore they would profess they would not be disloyal while he was for God. And a defiance may be given to clamour, & calumny itself, to give one instance of the defect of performance hereof, while he went not about to ruin those things, incomparably more precious than his person or Authority, and in ruining whereof no person can retain Authority.
IV. But now two things will chiefly be desiderated, which now we own in our Testimony, for which many have dyed, that seem not to be confirmed by or consistent with the Testimony of this Period. One is, that we not only maintain defensive resistance, but in some cases vindictive & punitive force, to be executed upon men that are bloody beasts of prey, and burdens to the earth, in cases of necessity, when there is no living for them. This principle of Reason & natural Justice, was not much inquired into in this time; when the sun was up, whose warmth & light made these beasts creep into their dens, and when they, being brought under subjection, could not force people into such extraordinary violent courses when the ordinary & orderly course of Law was running in its right Channel. Yet from the ground of their ordinary Procedure, Military & Civil, against such Monsters, we may gather the lawfulness of an ordinary Procedure in a pinch of necessity, conform to their grounds: I hope to make this evident, when I come ex proposito [as proposed] to vindicate this head. But there is another thing that we own, which seems not to have been known in these days, viz. That when we are required to own the Authority of the present Dominator, we hold sinful to own it. Yet we find these Reverend & renowned Fathers owned King Charles I. and did not refuse the succession of Charles II. I shall answer in order. First, as to King Charles the first, there was a great difference betwixt him and his sons that succeeded; he never declared Parliamentarily that neither Promises, Contracts, nor Oaths should bind him, as the first of his perfidious sons did; It might have been then presumed, if he had engaged so far for promoting the Work of God, he would have been a man of his word (for to say a King of his word, is antiquated in a good sense, except that it means he is as absolute in his word as in his sword, and scorns to be a slave to it) Neither professed he himself a Papist, as the second Son hath done: Again it must be granted, that more might have been comported with in the beginning, when there were some hopes of redress, than after such process of time; whereby now we see & feel beyond all debate, that the Throne stands and is stated, not only in opposition to, but upon the ruins of the Rights & Privileges both of Religion & Liberty. But was not the equivalent done by the Church, anno 1648. when they refused to concur with that unlawful Engagement, for restoring of the King, till security be had, by Solemn Oath under his hand & Seal, ‘that he shall for himself & Successors, give his assent to all Acts & Bills for enjoining Presbyterial Government, and never make opposition to it, nor endeavour any change thereof? July ult. 1648. Sess, 21.’ But it will be said, that in their renewing the Covenant that year, they did not leave out that Article. True, thereby they stopped the mouths of their Adversaries: And then they were not without hopes, but that in his straits he might have proved a Manasseh taken among the thorns. And the Covenanters at that time, not being clear that he had done that which ipso jure [by law] made him no Magistrate, choosed rather while matters stood so to engage to maintain him, than simply to disown him (which yet our forefathers did upon smaller grounds many times) in the hopes of being prevailed with at last. But when they saw that this proved ineffectual, therefore at the Coronation of the new King they made the Covenanted Interest the sole Basis upon which alone Authority was conferred upon him. For the second, though they did not refuse the succession of Charles the Second (which was their blame and our bane, of which we may blush this day) yet we find many things in that Transaction which justify our disowning of him, and condemn the owning of the present Possessor. ‘(1.) In that seasonable & necessary warning July 27. Sess. 27. whereas many would have admitted his Maj. to the exercise of his Royal power, upon any terms whatsoever: The Assembly declares first; That a boundless & illimited power is to be acknowledged in no King nor Magistrate; neither is our King to be admitted to the exercise of his power, as long as he refuses to walk in the administration of the same, according to this rule. Secondly, that there is a mutual stipulation & obligation between the King & the people, as both of them are tied to God, so each of them are tied to one another, for the performance of mutual & reciprocal duties; accordingly Kings are to take the Oath of Coronation, to abolish Popery & maintain the Protestant Religion: As long therefore as the King refuses to engage & oblige himself for security of Religion & safety of his people, it is consonant to Scripture & Reason and Laws of the Kingdom, that he should be refused. Thirdly, in the League & Covenant the duty of defending & preserving the King, is subordinate to the duty of preserving Religion & Liberty: And therefore, he standing in opposition to the public desires of the people for their security, it were a manifest breach of Covenant, and a preferring the King’s Interest to the Interest of Jesus Christ, to bring him to the exercise of his power. Fourthly, That it was for restraint of Arbitrary Government, and for their Just defense against Tyranny, that the Lord’s people did join in Covenant, and have been at the expense of so much blood these years past; And if he should be admitted to the Government before satisfaction, it were to put in his hand that Arbitrary Power, and so to abandon their former Principles, and betray the Cause. Fifthly, That he, being admitted before satisfaction, would soon endeavour an overturning of the things which God hath wrought, and labour to draw public administrations, concerning Religion & Liberty, into that course & Channel in which they did run under Prelacy, and before the work of Reformation. Whence they warn that everyone take heed of such a snare, that they be not accessory to any such design, as they would not bring upon themselves & their families, the guilt of all the detriment that will undoubtedly follow thereupon, of all the miseries it will bring upon the Kingdoms—And therefore who soever attempt the same, oppose themselves to the cause of God, and will at last dash against the Rock of the Lord’s power, which hath broken in pieces many high & lofty ones, since the beginning of the work in the Kingdoms.’ (2) I shall here insert the Act of the West-Kirk, declaring their mind very manifestly.
West Kirk. August. 13. 1650. The Commission of the General Assembly, considering that there may be just ground of stumbling, from the K. Maj. refusing to subscribe & emit the Declaration, offered to him by the Committee of Estates and the Commission of the General Assembly, concerning his former carriage & resolutions for the future, in reference to the Cause of God and the enemies & friends thereof; Doth therefore declare, That this Kirk & Kingdom doth not own or espouse any Malignant Party, or Quarrel, or Interest, but that they fight merely upon their former Grounds & Principles, and in the defense of the Cause of God and of the Kingdom, as they have done these twelve years past: And therefore, as they disclaim all the sin & guilt of the King and of his house, so they will not own him nor his interest, otherwise than with a subordination to God, and so far as he owns & prosecutes the Cause of God, and disclaims his & his father’s opposition to the Work of God, and to the Covenant, and likewise all the enemies thereof; And that they will with convenient speed take into Consideration the Papers, lately sent unto them by Oliver Cromwell, and vindicate themselves from all the falsehoods contained therein; especially in these things wherein the quarrel betwixt us & that party is Misstated, as if we owned the late King’s proceedings, and were resolved to prosecute & maintain his present Maj. Interest, before & without acknowledgment of the sin of his house and former ways, & satisfaction to God’s people in both Kingdoms.
‘Aug. 13. 1650. The Committee of Estates, having seen & considered a Declaration of the Commission of the General Assembly, anent the stating of the quarrel wherein the Army is to fight, do approve the same, and heartily concur therein.’
In the (3) place: It is specified in the Causes of Wrath, as one of the steps of defection, Art. 9. Step. 5. ‘That a Treaty should have been closed with him, upon his subscribing demands, after he had given many clear evidences of his disaffection & enmity to the work & people of God: That these demands, which he was required to subscribe, did not contain a real security, a real abandoning of former Malignant courses & principles, and cleaving to the Work of God; It was not a paper or verbal security, which we were bound to demand of him, but a real one; and to entrust him without this, was but to mock God, and deceive the world, and to betray & destroy our selves, by giving up all precious Interests of Religion & Liberty unto the hands of one, who was in a course of enmity to them: That both before, and in the mean time of the treaty, he had given evidence of his enmity in many instances, there condescended upon particularly; that he authorized James Graham to invade this Kingdom, and encouraged him by Letters to go on in that Invasion, even whilst he was in terms of a Treaty with us, as appeared by bringing into our hands the Authentic Commission itself, and sundry Letters under his own hand.’ Next, in the same Causes of Wrath, among the sins of the Ministry, in relation to the public, §. 10, 11, 12, 13. ‘That they agreed to receive the King to the Covenant, barely upon writing, without any apparent evidences of a real change of principle: That they did not use freedom, in showing what was sinful in reference to that Treaty, but went on therein when they were not satisfied in their consciences, for fear of reproach & of being mistaken: That they were silent in public, and did not give Testimony, after a discovery of the King’s Commission to James Graham for invading the Kingdom: That they pressed the King to make a Declaration to the world, whilst they knew by clear evidences that he had no real conviction of the things contained therein.’