Behold, ye are all children of Israel; give here your advice and counsel.—Judges 20.7.

[A Call by a Remnant of the true Presbyterians... by the United Societies.]
 
A CALL by a Remnant of the true Pres-
    byterians of the Church of Scotland,
    who  desire  to  adhere  to  the  true
    principles thereof: Containing a vin-
    dication of their withdrawing: And a
    protestation, in case of not accepting
    of  this  Call;   which is to those who
    were once  faithful  ministers  of our
    church.
WE are called Schismatics and erroneous in our principles, which we desire to clear ourselves of, to all unbiased Presbyterians in Scotland, or through the world: And so we shall set down the causes of our present withdrawing.

It is well known, that while these outed-ministers preached faithfully in the fields, and in houses, pleading for their Lord and Master's right, whose embassy they did carry, they were eminently countenanced of the Lord, then our souls did cleave to them; and several of us (in humility be it spoken) did lay out ourselves to the uttermost of our power in our stations for the upholding of the sweet and precious ordinances of our Lord and Master, which our souls rejoiced to follow, and as an evidence of our love to these ordinances, we, according to our engagements in our covenants, did appear in armies, with no other design (of which our conscience bears us witness) but for the extirpating of Popery, Prelacy, Erastianism, and whatsoever is contrary to sound doctrine, and principles, and against the supporters thereof; and for the setting up, and establishing of Presbyterian government according to our covenant engagements, and some of the ministers joined with us for our encouragement: But the Lord thought fit, for ends known to himself, and ordered it so, as that party was broken (at Bothwel) and upon the back of that dispensation, many stumbled, both ministers and people, for which, we think we may allude to that in John 6.66, From that time many of his disciples went away back, and walked no more with him. So a little time after that break, the enemy driving forward their own design; and seeking by all means the establishing and setting up of their supremacy, and usurping more and more over the prerogatives of our King and Lawgiver, they found a fit opportunity, by a pretended favour, an act called the Act of Indemnity, in which they granted liberty to all that were in arms (some ministers and heritors excepted) upon the taking of a bond; And likewise a liberty to ministers to preach (except the fore-mentioned) upon the terms of some injunctions, limitations and restrictions, which we shall not name here, because we design brevity; but in a word, it was the enemies usurping, and the ministers yielding up the government of Christ's house into the hands of these horrid and avowed usurpers, which a great part of the ministers of the church of Scotland did in a meeting at Edinburgh; the great part of them voting at that meeting for receiving of their ministry on the terms proposed by the usurpers; and so most basely gave up the government of Christ's house into the hands of these his stated enemies; and some of them went to their houses and preached upon the same terms, receiving their new entry (though most corrupt) from them, which was not the door, by which at first they did enter. [John 10.1.]

We grant, there were some who voted not for the receiving their ministry upon these terms, but yet gave not their protestation against their brethren, though their call to it was clear, for fear of hazard or something to that purpose, which cannot be found sound. And so this is one of the grounds of our withdrawing, until there be evidences of their repentance, both by word and practice: And this we do for conscience sake, desiring to adhere to our sworn covenants, and to adhere to our sworn-unto work of Reformation, in doctrine, worship, discipline and government, for the breaking down and disowning of which, the foresaid ministers will be found guilty, while they preached on those terms; for they were not found to declare faithfully for our sworn-unto work of reformation, in doctrine, worship, discipline and government; neither could they, because their practice said the contrary. And therefore in conscience, when we saw their deceitful dealing, we could not join with them, lest we should strengthen their hands in their defection; and therefore we hope we may be exonered in withdrawing from these, lest likewise we be found guilty in the transgression: But at that time the Lord stirred up some to witness faithfully against all these usurpations and encroachments upon Christ's prerogatives, and against their brethren that complied with the design of the enemies, therefore out of conscience of duty we joined with those who witnessed faithfully and freely, even to the laying down of their lives, when called to it. And for others of the ministers, the cause of our withdrawing from them, was, Because they joined not with their brethren, but left the work in the heat of the day, and left their brethren to the violence of the enemy, and left their poor flock to be devoured of ravening wolves, the sad effects of which is seen this day; and they have followed the example of the prophet Jonah, so that when they should have taken their lives in their hands; as he went to Tarshish when he should have declared the Lord's message to Nineveh; so they, when they should have declared the Lord's message to his poor suffering people, they left the work, and went to the following a way of self-preservation and safety,—and from following of their duty, which we testify against by our withdrawing, ay, and until they repent, and be set to the work again, as may be found consistent with Presbyterian principles; and then, and not till then, we shall desire to join with them with all our hearts, as what we shall say afterwards will clear. This is, in short, for our vindication, and these are some of the grounds of our withdrawing. And he who knoweth the secrets of all hearts, knoweth that we are most sadly reproached, and falsely blamed as schismatics and erroneous, as any unbiased Christian may see; and what we do, we do it out of zeal for our Lord and Master's work, which is trampled upon by his avowed enemies, and slipped from by many professed friends.

And now, we, who are the poor suffering people of the Lord, in all humility, and out of the zeal of our hearts, in thirsting for the pure ordinances of God, and to clear ourselves of the fore-mentioned aspersions, Do invite you who are the Presbyterian ministers of the church of Scotland, and who were as dear to us as our own hearts, while ye continued faithful in delivering your Master's embassy; we say, we invite you in our Master's name; if ye have any love to him, to us, and to others, who we hope are the sheep and lambs of Christ's flock, to come out after your manner, and preach the gospel, and administer the sacraments, according to your former entry by, the well constitute church, as it was established in the year 1648, which was according to the word of God, reformed in doctrine, worship, discipline and government, from Popery, Prelacy, and all that hierarchy, according to our sworn covenants, and according to the acts of our General Assemblies,—to preach the gospel in season and out of season, rightly dividing the word, with application to the public sins of the times, and particular sins of the auditory, parishes, and country-sides where ye preach: For we declare unto you, many of you have been guilty, and have stumbled many, by your dark and ambiguous speeches, especially since Bothwel: you have not declared for the sworn covenants, nor against the supremacy of men who have encroached upon, and usurped over the prerogatives of our Lord and Master; and have not testified against the sinful bond after the break at Bothwel; we mean that bond that engaged those who took it, not to defend their mother church, according to our covenant-engagements; and that bond that was given in for the ministers peaceable behaviour. This was the betraying of your trust, and most basely yielding up the government of Christ's house into the hands of his stated and avowed enemies. This many of you have been guilty of, even unto the weakening of your brethrens hands that durst not do so; and many of you have been silent, and have not declared against the usurpers, nor against your brethren who have strengthened their hands, but have connived at their miscarriages, when ye should have been standing upon the watch-tower, according to that scripture in Ezek. 3.17, Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel, therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me: when I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die, and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his way, the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood will I require at thine hand. The apostle Paul had that to say, Acts 20.26, Wherefore I take you to record, that I am pure from the blood of all men, for I have not shunned to declare all the counsel of God.

Therefore, dear Friends, ye may pose [advance this question against] your own consciences, whether or not ye may say so, that ye are pure from the blood of all men, or of many poor souls that are joining with the courses of the time this day, for want of faithful warning.

Now, dear Friends, and sometime highly honoured of the Lord, in carrying his embassy, ponder these things, and consider the case of the scattered flock, and many famishing souls up and down the land, who are carried aside with the courses of the time. Now come forth in the Lord's name, and let no more differences be betwixt us and you: an union in the Lord we desire, but not else. And now we shall give you an account of our principles. We adhere to the holy scriptures of truth, and to our sworn Covenants, National and Solemn League, the Confession of Faith, Catechisms larger and shorter, and Acknowledgment of Sins and Engagement to Duties, which are all consonant to the Scriptures: We likewise adhere to the protesting party, their protesting against the malignant interest; the owning of which we think is no small cause of the Lord's controversy with the land: so that both you and we have been filled with our own devices; which we cannot say, but we were guilty of, in setting (or consenting to the setting) of the crown upon the head of the chief of malignants, for which the Lord is punishing us this day, and we have found the sad smart of their heavy hand, and are eating the fruit of our own doings; so that by their hand the precious things of our souls are taken away, our ark captivated, the glory removed from our Israel, our church laid desolate and waste, and nothing less determined, than the utter extirpation of the Presbyterian interest. And now, seeing the bad effects of the owning of that malignant party, it was thought fit by us, (and some now truly honoured martyrs) for just grounds to reject the head of the malignants, and all under him, ruling by tyranny and cruel oppression, as many instances may be given, what by spoiling and robbing, fining and confining, banishing, imprisoning, and murdering the Lord's servants, only for their adhering to their duty. So we say, we thought fit to cast them off by the testimony at Rutherglen, the Sanquhar and Lanerk declarations, to which we desire to adhere; and whatsoever aspersions may be cast upon us and the fore-mentioned renowned martyrs, we have no other design (the Lord is our witness) but maintaining and carrying on the work of reformation, as it was promoted, and carried on by our worthy ancestors (as it is aforesaid) and we desire to have it promoted to posterity. And O dear Friends, as we said before, so we say again, Beseeching you to come out upon thir [these] terms, adhering to what our fathers and we have done, by protestations, remonstrances, and declarations, and what our faithful martyrs laid down their lives for; and if you do accept in the terms proposed, we shall through the Lord's strength concur with you in jeoparding our lives and fortunes for your encouragement, in all things we can do: for we declare to you, union in the Lord is the only desire of our souls. And now if ye have any bowels of compassion, tender the case of your mother-church, preach the word and administer the sacraments, according to your former entry, and let no more brother be against brother, Manasseh against Ephraim, and Ephraim against Manasseh: But as we are all embarked in the present persecution, we likewise may be of one mind, and of one judgment: Oh how pleasant would it be; for we may all see the sad fruits of division, every one of us weakening one anothers hands, so that many have stumbled on all hands, the sad effects of which are seen this day, the generality turning aside to comply with Prelacy upon the one hand, and some led to devilish errors and delusions on the other hand.1 Let these things be pondered, and let you and us in the Lord's strength be set a-work, in joint supplications, one for another, which is the desire of our souls, that the Lord may yet dwell amongst us.

Now, we have presented these things to your serious consideration: If ye will not come forth when ye see the dangerous case, and the hazard of the ruining of this poor church, to help us with your advice, and counsel anent our souls and bodies, when both are in hazard, it may be the Lord will have compassion upon us, and send us relief from another airth [quarter].

Therefore we the United Societies of the church of Scotland, do enter our Protestation against you, if ye refuse this our Call, seeing it is consonant to the scriptures and your former engagements; and bear witness against your silence, lukewarmness, and neutrality, that it may be a standing witness against your courses, and that posterity may see our innocency, and that all may see that we have no other design, but zeal for the matters of our God. And we declare we cannot join with you, since ye refuse upon thir [these] terms, lest we give our assent, or at least be silent at the burial of the work of Reformation, which we pray our eyes may never see.2


Footnotes:

1. By this they mean, such as were drawn away by John Gib.

2. The effect of this Call was this: these ministers being unwilling to run such an hazard, made their work after this, more than ever before, to represent these people as persons of erroneous principles, Gibbites, Republicans, Despisers of the gospel, Rejecters of lawful authority, laying sinful restrictions, and impositions upon Ministers, Erastians, &c. In a word, that they were such odious people, as had no right to call ministers. Whether this was true, and a good ground for rejecting their Call, or not, must be left with the Reader to judge.