It is a snare to the man who devoureth that which is holy, and after vows to make enquiry.—Proverbs 20.25.

 

The
Declaration
published at
Glasgow,
June 13th, 1679.

As it is not unknown to a great part of the world how happy this Church of Scotland was while she enjoyed the ordinances of Jesus Christ in purity and power, of the which we have been deplorably deprived by the establishment of prelacy; so it is evident, not only to impartial persons, but to professed enemies, with what unparalleled patience and constancy the people of God have endured all the cruelty, injustice, and oppression, that the wit and malice of prelates and malignants could invent and exercise, and being most unwilling to act anything which might import opposition to lawful authority, or engage in the kingdom in war although we have been all along groaning under the overturning the work of Reformation, corruptions in doctrine, slighting of worship, despising of ordinances, changing of the ancient church discipline and government, thrusting out of so many of our faithful ministers from their charges, confining, straitly imprisoning, exiling, yea, and putting to death many of them, and intruding upon their flocks a company of insufficient and scandalous persons, and fining, confining, imprisoning, torturing, tormenting, scourging, and stigmatizing poor people, plundering their goods, quartering upon them by rude soldiers, selling of their persons to foreign plantations, horning and intercommuning many of both; whereby great numbers in every corner of the land were forced to leave their dwellings, wives, children, and relations, and made to wander as pilgrims, still in hazard of their life, none daring to reset, harbour, supply (though starving), or so much as to speak to them, even on death-bed, without making themselves obnoxious to the same punishments; and these things acted under colour of law, in effect tending to banish, not only all sense of religion, but also to extinguish natural affection, even amongst persons of nearest relations, and likewise groaning under the intolerable yoke of oppression, in our civil interests, our bodies, liberties, and estates, so that all manner of outrages have been most arbitrarily exercised upon us, through a tract of several years bypast, particularly in the year 1678, by sending against us an armed host of barbarous savages, contrary to all law and humanity, and by laying on us several impositions and taxes, as formerly, so of late by a meeting of prelimited and overawed members, in the convention of estates in July, 1678, for keeping up of an armed force, intrusted as to a great part of it, into the hands of avowed papists, or favourers of them, whereby sundry invasions have been made upon us, and most exorbitant abuses and incredible insolencies committed against us, and we being continually sought after, while meeting in houses for divine worship, ministers and people frequently apprehended, and most rigorously used; and so being necessitate to attend the Lord’s ordinances in fields, in the most desert places, and there also often hunted out, assaulted to the effusion of our blood, and killing of some, we were inevitably constrained, either to defend ourselves by arms, at these meetings, or be altogether deprived of the gospel preached by his faithful ministers, and made absolute slaves; at one of which meetings, upon the first day of June instant, (being the Lord’s day,) captain Graham of Claverhouse being warranted, by a late proclamation, to kill whomsoever he found in arms at field conventicles making resistance, did furiously assault the people assembled; and further to provoke, did cruelly bind, like beasts, a minister, with some other people, whom he had that very same morning found in their houses, and severals being killed on both sides, and they knowing certainly, that by law they behoved to die (if apprehended), they did stand to their defence, and continued together, and thereafter many of our friends and countrymen being under the same oppression, and expecting the same measures, did freely offer their assistance. We therefore thus inevitably, and of absolute necessity, forced to take this last remedy (the magistrate having shut the door by a law against any application, that whatever our grievances be, either in things civil or sacred, we have not the privilege of a supplicant), do judge ourselves bound to declare, that these, with many other horrid grievances in church and state, (which we purpose to manifest more fully hereafter,) are the true causes of this our lawful and innocent self-defense. And we do most solemnly, in the presence of the almighty God the searcher of hearts, declare, that the true reasons of our continuing in arms, are candidly and sincerely these:—

1st. The defending and securing the true protestant religion, and presbyterian government founded on the word of God, and summarily comprehended in our confessions of faith and catechisms, and established by the laws of this land, to which king, nobles and people are solemnly sworn, and engaged in our National and Solemn League and Covenants, and more particularly the defending and maintaining of the kingly authority of our Lord Jesus Christ over his church against all sinful supremacy, derogatory thereto, and encroaching thereupon.

2dly. The preserving and defending the king’s majesty’s person and authority in the preservation and defence of the true religion and liberties of the kingdom, that the world may bear witness, with our consciences, of our loyalty, and that we have no thoughts nor intentions to diminish his just power and greatness.

3dly. The obtaining of a free and unlimited parliament, and of a free general assembly, in order to the redressing of our foresaid grievances, for preventing the danger of popery, and extirpation of prelacy.

This therefore being the cause we appear for, and resolved, in God’s great name, to own (hereby homologating all the testimonies of our faithful sufferers for truth in Scotland, these eighteen years) together with acknowledgement of sins, and engagement of duties, we humbly request the king’s majesty would restore all things as he found them, when God brought him home to his crown and kingdoms; and if that cannot be obtained, then we heartily and humbly invite, intreat, beseech, and obtest, in the bowels of Jesus Christ, all who are under the same bonds with us, to concur in the defence of this common cause and interest, and that they would not stand still, and see, not only us oppressed, but this foresaid cause ruined, adversaries highly and proudly insult against God and all good men, friends of the truth discouraged, yea, the protestant cause in Britain and Ireland, and even yourselves, within a little time, made a prey of, or else forced, when we are broken, (which the good Lord prevent) dreadfully to wrong your consciences. Finally. Because we desire no man’s hurt nor blood, we request our countrymen, now the standing forces of this kingdom, some of them being our friends and kinsmen, not to fight against us, lest in so doing they be found fighting against the Lord, whose cause and quarrel we are sure he will own and signally countenance, seeing we fight under his banner who is the Lord of hosts.