He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.—Isaiah 53.7.
Dying Minister of Jesus Christ
Against Sinful & Scandalous Associations
With Men of Corrupt Religion & No Religion.
To the Assembly of Divines
THE RIGHT REVEREND THE COMMISSION
My very reverend and dear Brethren,—
Although the Lord’s hand detaineth me from attending your meetings, yet, as long as I can write or speak, I dare not be silent, nor conceal my thoughts of any sinful and dangerous course in the public proceedings. Having, therefore, heard of some motions and beginnings of compliance with those who have been so deeply engaged in a war destructive to religion and the liberties of the kingdoms, I cannot but discharge my conscience in giving a testimony against all such compliance. I know, and am persuaded, that all the faithful witnesses that gave testimony to the Thesis, that the late engagement was contrary and 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 and unlawful. I am not able to express all the evils of that compliance, they are so many. Sure I am it were a hardening of the malignant party,—a wounding of the hearts of the godly,—an infinite wronging of those who, from their affection to the covenant and cause of God, have taken their life in their hand,—a great scandal to our brethren of England, who, as they have been strengthened and encouraged by the hearing of the zeal and integrity of the well-affected in this kingdom, and how they opposed the late engagement; so they would be as much scandalized to hear of a compliance with malignants now. Yea, all that hear of it might justly stand amazed at us, and look on us as a people infatuated, that can take in our bosom the fiery serpents that have stung us so sore.
But, above all, that which would heighten this sin, even to the heavens, is this: That it were not only a horrible backsliding, but a backsliding into that very sin which was specially pointed at and punished by the prevalency of the malignant party, God justly making them thorns and scourges who were taken in as friends, without any real evidence or fruits of repentance. Alas! shall we split twice upon the same rock, yea, run upon it, when God hath set a beacon on it? Shall we be so demented as to fall back into the same sin which was engraven, with great letters, in our late judgment? Yea, I may say, shall we thus outface and out-dare the Almighty, by protecting his and our enemies when he is persecuting them, by making peace and friendship with them when the anger of the Lord is burning against them, by setting them on their feet when God hath cast them down? O shall neither judgments nor deliverances make us wise! I must here apply to our present condition the words of' Ezra: “And after all this is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great trespass, seeing that thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and hast given us such deliverance as this; should we again break thy commandments and join in affinity with the people of these abominations? wouldest thou not be angry with us, till thou hast consumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping?” O happy Scotland, if thou canst now improve aright and not abuse this golden opportunity! But if thou wilt help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord, wrath upon wrath, and woe upon woe, shall be upon thee from the Lord.
This testimony of a dying man, who expects to stand shortly before the tribunal of Christ, I leave with you, my reverend brethren, being confident of you, through the Lord, that ye will be no otherwise minded but that, as men of God, moved with the zeal of God, you will freely discharge your consciences against everything which you see lifting up itself against the kingdom of the Lord Jesus. This shall be your peace and comfort in your latter end. Now the God of all grace establish you, and direct you, and preserve you all blameless to the end, and bring others out of the snare that hanker after that compliance.—So prayeth your most affectionate brother, to serve you in what I can to my last,
Kirkaldy, Sept. 8, 1648.
MR. GEORGE GILLESPIE
AGAINST ASSOCIATION AND COMPLIANCE WITH MALIGNANT ENEMIES
OF THE TRUTH AND GODLINESS.
(Written two days before his Death.)
Seeing now, in all appearance, the time of my dissolution is very near, although I have, in my latter will, declared my mind of public affairs, yet I have thought good to add this farther testimony, That I esteem the malignant party in these kingdoms the seed of the serpent—enemies to piety and presbyterial government (pretend what they will to the contrary)—a generation that have not set God before them. With the malignants are to be joined the profane and scandalous, from all which, as also from heresies and errors, the Lord, I trust, is about to purge his churches. I have often comforted myself, and still do, with the hopes of the Lord’s purging this polluted land. Surely the Lord hath begun, and will carry on, that great work of mercy, and will purge out the rebels. I know there will be always a mixture of hypocrites, but that cannot excuse the conniving at gross and scandalous sinners. This purging work which the Lord is about, very many have directly opposed, and said by their deeds, We will not be purged nor refined, but we will be joining and mixing ourselves with those whom the ministers preach against as malignant enemies to God and his cause. But let him that is filthy be filthy still, and let wisdom be justified of her children. I recommend to them that fear God, sadly and seriously to consider that the holy Scripture doth plainly hold forth, (1.) That the helping of the enemies of God, or joining and mingling with wicked men, is a sin highly displeasing; (2.) That this sin hath ordinarily ensnared God’s people into divers other sins; (3.) That it hath been punished of God with grievous judgment; (4.) That utter destruction is to be feared when a people, after great mercies and judgments, relapse into this sin, Ezra 9.13,14.1
Upon these and the like grounds, for my own exoneration, that so necessary a truth want not the testimony of a dying witness of Christ, also the unworthiest among many thousands; and that light may be held forth, and warning given, I cannot be silent at this time, but speak by my pen, when I cannot by my tongue; yea, now also, by the pen of another, when I cannot by my own, seriously, and in the name of Jesus Christ, exhorting and obtesting all that fear God and make conscience of their ways, to be very tender and circumspect, to watch and pray that they be not ensnared in that great dangerous sin of conjunction or compliance with malignant or profane enemies of the truth, under whatsoever prudential considerations it may be varnished over,—which, if men will do and trust God in his own way, they shall not only not repent it, but, to their greater joy and peace of God’s people, they shall see his work go on and prosper gloriously. In witness of the premises I have subscribed the same with my hand, at Kirkaldy, December 15, 1648, before these witnesses, Mr F. Carmichael, minister at Markinch, and Mr Alex. Moncrieff, minister at Scoon.
(Sic subscrib.) GEORGE GILLESPIE.
F. C., Witness.
A. M., Witness.
FOLLOWETH THAT PART OF MR. GILLESPIE’S LATTER WILL, UNTO WHICH THE FORMER TESTIMONY RELATETH.
Being through much weakness and sickness in expectation of my last change, I have thought good, by this my latter-will under my hand, to declare first of all, that the expectation of death, which appeareth not to be far off, doth not shake me from the faith and truth of Christ which I have professed and preached; neither do I doubt but this so much opposed covenant and reformation of the three kingdoms is of God, and will have a happy conclusion. It hath pleased God, who chooseth the foolish things of this world to confound the wise, and the things that are not to confound the things that are, to employ me (the unfittest and unworthiest among many thousands) in the advancing and promoting of that glorious work; and now I repent no forwardness or zeal that ever I had therein, and dare promise to as many as will be faithful and zealous in the cause of God, it shall be no grief of heart to them afterward, but matter of joy and peace, as this day I find it, through God’s mercy, passing by my many and great infirmities, and approving my poor endeavours in his cause. But if there 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. O that there were such a spirit, at least in such of our nobility as stand for the truth, that they may take more of God’s counsel, and lean less to their own reason and understanding. As from dangers, on the other hand, from sectaries, I have been and am of the opinion, that they are to be prevented and avoided by all lawful means; but that the dangers from malignants are nearest and greatest in this kingdom.
Kirkaldy, Sept. 1, 1648.
1. Thus far did the Author write, with his own hand, two days before his death, but finding his weakness increase that he was able to write no more, be indited that which followeth.
Other useful resources on the topic of Associations and Confederacies include:
A Useful Case of Conscience Discussed and Resolved, Concerning Associations and Confederacies with Idolaters, etc. by George Gillespie
The Testimony of the Church respecting Military Associations, etc. by William Milroy, RPCNA.
A Remonstrance, etc. Testimony Against Compromising and Entangling Associations by William Gibson, RPCNA.
A Representation and Protestation, 1652, relating to the Public Resolutions in Scotland
A Lecture and Sermon on 2 Chronicles 19, and Jehoshaphat’s Helping the Ungodly by Donald Cargill