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The Short Declaration from the West-Kirk, 1650,

Stating the Quarrel, and Grounds on which they did Fight,

And the Conditions on which they would own the King.

By the Commission of the G.A. of the Church of Scotland.

X

TrueCovenanter.com Editor’s Introduction.

As the conflict between Oliver Cromwell and the Christian Nation of Scotland continued in the mid-1600’s, efforts were used to persuade Charles II, to embrace the Covenanted Reformation and lead the nation in its defence against Cromwell as a Covenanted nation.  A Declaration against his former sins, and the sins of his father and mother, being proposed for his usage, that he might declare his repentance and purge himself from former offences, he delayed to sign the same.  Accusations against the Scots, as a people willing to own such an ungodly man for their king, drove the Commission of the General Assembly to adopt the Declaration below as a means to clear themselves, and provide direction to the nation in their duty to stand by the former Reformation constitutions of Church, State, and Army.

The following excerpt from the Diary of Sir Archibald Johnston, Lord Warriston, will be found an interesting preface to the document itself, which is here reproduced according to the very printing which Warriston mentions in his Diary.

13 August, Tuesday morning.... I cannot but bless God for His preventing, foreseeing providences, casting some useful servants, arms, horse, and other things needful, seasonably in thy hand for such a time of need, and giving my wife sooner and more strength [than] ever she had in her recovery, so that I see Thou timed well her delivery.... This day the enemy marched to Pentland, which made us resolve to draw out by the west hand.  We heard of scruples in sundry upon the King’s refusal of the declaration.  We sent S[ir] J[ohn] Ch[eisly] to Abbay to bring them up to Westkirk.  He returned and told me of M. R[obert] D[ouglas] and M. D[avid] D[ickson] startling passionately at Col[onel] Ker and Strachan’s sticking till they got Commission’s answer.  I resolved to declare for myself, although [even if] none others would do it.  We met in commission.  I saw Mr. Ja[mes] Durham coming seasonably to further the business.  I told my mind freely.... At last we agreed on a Declaration stating our quarrel unanimously, and thereafter in Committee of Estates after sundry debates, and resolved to have it printed and sent to Cromwell, to clear us from their misstating of the question between us and them.  Therein we declare, we are to fight on our old principles, disclaim sins, own not the King but insofar as he owns God.... The King’s letter to Commission and Committee came after this was done, and desired a conference on the Declaration....

On Wednesday, 14, we printed short declaration, and hearing all yet lay still, I begged the Lord might be in our counsels and actions this day.... I went and caused spread sundry of our short declarations amongst the enemy.  Afternoon Cromwell sent a rhapsodick answer to our paper, shewing that he could not separate our conjunction with the King from Malignancy, and that he was ready to fight us. [etc.]

This Declaration, accordingly, forms a very significant part of the context in which the conflict between the Protesters and Resolutioners took place, and is made reference to in defence of the principles and actions of both Protesters and Dissenters of later times.

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Weſt-kirk, the 13 of August, 1650.

THe Commission of the General Assembly, considering there may be just ground of stumbling, from the Kings Majesties refusing to subscribe and emit the declaration offered to him by the Committee of Estates, and the Commissioners of the General Assembly concerning his former carriage, and resolutions for the future, in reference to the Cause of God and the enemies and friends thereof;  Doth therefore declare, that this Kirk and Kingdom doe not own nor espouse any Malignant party or quarrel or interest, But that they fight meerly upon their former grounds and principles, and in defence of the Cause of God and of the Kingdom, as they have done these twelve years past:  And therefore as they do disclaim all the sin and the guilt of the King and of his house, So they will not own him, nor his interest, otherwise then with a subordination to God, and so farre as he ownes and prosecutes the Cause of God, and disclaimes his and his Fathers opposition to the Work of God and to the Covenant, and likewise all the enemies thereof;  And that they will with convenient speed take in consideration the papers lately sent unto them from OLIVER CROMWEL, and vindicate themselves from all the falsehoods contained therein, especially in those things, wherein the quarrel betwixt us and that party is mis-stated, as if we owned the late Kings proceedings, and were resolved to prosecute and maintain his present Majesties interest, before and without acknowledgement of the sins of his house and former wayes, and satisfaction to Gods people in both Kingdomes.

A. Ker

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13. of Auguſt, 1650.

THe Committee of Estates having seen and considered a Declaration of the Commission of the General Assembly anent the stating of the quarrel whereon the Army is to fight, Do Approve the same, and heartily concur therein.

Tho: Henderſon.


Edinburgh,

Printed by Evan Tyler, Printer to the Kings moſt

Excellent Majeſtie,   1650.