Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.—Rom. 8.33

[Instructions for Regulating the Indulgence, 1680.]

For Regulating
By Charles II, 1680.
Excerpted from
Wodrow's History of the Sufferings of the Church of Scotland.

TrueCovenanter.com Editor's Note
Please note: The following historical document is provided to satisfy the interest of readers by making available these instructions related to the Indulgences so often mentioned in the writings of the Covenanters. Note that there are to be found a number of contradictions and underminings of the promises made in the Indulgences, within the following instructions. Thus the indulged got not what they sought in accepting of the indulgence, and were still in danger unless willing to go further lengths in the way of sinful compromise, precisely as Messrs. Cameron and Cargil foretold would come to pass: that the indulged would be in no more safety, and have no less cause for fear (yea, they had more, having a conscience to torment them for their crime) than those who refused to accept of the indulgence. The reader will find these blasphemous Indulgences faithfully testified against, and the acceptance thereof proven sinful, in such works as Alexander Shields' Hind Let Loose, the United Societies' Informatory Vindication, and the Sermons of Messrs. Richard Cameron and Donald Cargill.

Windsor-castle, May 14th.

Charles R.—Right trusty, &c. We greet you well. Forasmuch as by our proclamation of the 29th of June last past, we did, from our tender desire to reclaim such of our subjects, as have been misled by ignorance or blind zeal, suspend the execution of all laws against all such as frequent house-conventicles within the bounds, and upon the limitations therein expressed, ordaining all such as should be licensed to preach by our indulgence, to find surety to you for their peaceable behaviour; by which unparalleled clemency and tenderness (after a total suppression of the late rebellion) we might reasonably have expected that their minds being eased, they should have been brought to a meek and quiet submission to our government, and humble obedience to our laws: yet notwithstanding of all their insolencies, murders {III:186:A} and treasons, and our gracious indemnities and indulgencies, such is the perverseness of that schismatical and rebellious generation, that they in contempt of our greatest condescensions and favours, continue to run out to field-conventicles in several parts of that our kingdom, which, as our laws have declared, so in experience have they been found to be the rendezvouses of rebellion; their insurrections against us and our authority, in the years 1666 and 1679, have been nothing else, save so many running and continued field-conventicles, and, by force and violence, to oppose the legal settlement of regular ministers, beating, stoning, and wounding them in a most savage and barbarous manner, and to invade the pulpits of orthodox ministers, preaching and baptizing in avowed conventicles, in our capital city of Edinburgh. By all which insupportable and unnecessary provocations, they having notoriously forfeited our favour and indulgence, none could judge it severity, to maintain our authority and laws by such effectual courses, as should ruin that unsatisfiable and ungovernable tribe and faction: yet, being willing to evidence unto all the world, our earnest desire to reduce them to quiet and obedience, by mild and gentle methods, or to render them utterly inexcusable, we do resolve for some time to continue that our indulgence unto them, during our royal pleasure, if peradventure we may yet find any good effects produced thereby upon them; only, for your better dispensing and regulating thereof (lest the gangrene spread too far) we have thought fit to send you the enclosed instructions (of the date of these presents) to which we expect your ready and exact compliance. And, as we cannot but approve your appointing of such non-conform ministers, as shall be licensed by you, to appear at your bar to receive their warrants, so we are very well pleased with your late procedure against Gilbert Rule (a non-conformist minister) whom you have sent a prisoner to the Bass, for his insolent usurping a pulpit in our city of Edinburgh. And at this time, as upon all occasions, we cannot but express our firm resolution to maintain and inviolably preserve the sacred order of {III:186:B} episcopacy, to the subversion whereof nothing tends more, than the contempt too frequently and injuriously thrown upon our bishops: therefore, we do heartily recommend unto you, as your best service unto us, your countenancing, and encouraging, and supporting of them, in their persons, credit, and authority, the lessening whereof we do justly esteem a weakening of our government. We must also recommend our orderly and orthodox presbyters, to your care and protection, and that you particularly require and command all magistrates, in their several jurisdictions, to own and assist them in the exercise of discipline, against scandalous offenders, and in all the other parts of their function, which we will take as very acceptable service done unto us. And so we bid you heartily farewell. Given at our court at Windsor castle, the 14th day of May 1680, and of our reign the 32d year.

By his majesty's command,


[The instructions mentioned in this letter likewise follow from the registers.]


Instructions to our privy council of our ancient kingdom of Scotland, for regulating the indulgence.

1st. You are not to suffer any non-conformist to preach, who is banished out of any parish or corporation in England, nor any who, since the last indemnity, hath preach at such meetings, as in construction of law are field conventicles, or who, since that time, have preached in places or cities which are excepted in our proclamation of the 29th of June last past. You are not to license any to preach, who cannot verify his ordination to be antecedent to the said 29th June last past. As you are to suffer none to preach at house meetings who are not licensed by you, or do not appear at your bar to receive your license, so you must license none to preach in any of the shires on the north side of the river Tay, but are strictly to put our laws in execution against all such delinquents. And further, you are carefully to cause all such {III:187:A} meeting-houses as are or have been erected without your warrant, for preachers unlicensed by you to serve therein, to be pulled down.

2ndly. You are to allow no house conventicles, nor meeting-houses to be set up for any nonconform preacher, at any nearer distance than of a mile, to any parish church where a regular incumbent serves; and if any such be erected already within a lesser distance, as particularly at Newbottle, you are to cause pull them down immediately.

3dly. You are to grant license to none of the nonconform preachers, to be settled or exercise any part of the ministry, in that parish whereof he was formerly minister, lest, upon the pretence of an indissoluble relation of that people to their old minister, they totally abandon their orthodox and orderly pastor, settled by law amongst them.

4thly. You are to take care to restrain such nonconform preachers as you license, from preaching in any other parish; than in that to which they are indulged, and from baptizing the children of any save those of the congregations for which they are licensed. And seeing, by our laws, the jurisdiction of the church to be managed by our bishops, and those commissionated by them, you are to restrain those nonconformists from exercising of church discipline; and for avoiding of confusion in the records of marriages, we do require you to inhibit and restrain them from marrying any persons, we being resolved to leave the discipline and marryings of people entirely to the respective regular ministers, to whose parishes the persons concerned to belong; and you are to esteem the breach of any part of this fourth article, an unpeaceable behaviour, by which their sureties are to forfeit their bonds, if they continue after intimation.

5thly. You are to take special care not to license any nonconform preacher in any parish, where the generality, the chief and intelligent persons, are regular and orderly, since we do not intend to break or divide orderly parishes, to gratify a few inconsiderable, ignorant, and factious people. {III:187:B}

6thly. You are exemplarily to punish such indulged or nonconform preachers, as shall be found to keep classical meetings in pretended presbyteries or synods, these being the grand nurseries of schism and sedition, wherein usually they usurp the power of discipline, and privately try, license, and ordain schismatical preachers, and keep up ill correspondences, to the endangering of our government.

7thly. You are carefully to put in execution your acts for removing the families of irregular outed ministers, out of the cities of Edinburgh, St. Andrews, and Glasgow, these being usually the resorts of disaffected persons, and the secret nurseries of schism and trouble.

8thly, And in regard, by our proclamation of the 29th of June last past, we have declared our firm resolution, not to suffer the chief seat of our government to be pestered with irregularities, and therefore would not allow any nonconform preacher to be licensed to preach in our city of Edinburgh, nor within two miles round about it: and now having found by experience, that this distance is not sufficient to preserve that our city from the danger of infection, by reason that the citizens and others flock out in multitudes to those irregular meetings, when they are kept at nearer distances, whereby the city is still in hazard to be corrupted in its religion and loyalty: we do therefore require you to license none of these nonconform preachers, to preach in our said city, nor within twelve miles distance therefrom, and if any such be already licensed by you in any parish nearer than twelve miles to Edinburgh, you are immediately to withdraw your license, and to cause shut up the meeting house, and to order the preacher so licensed to preach no more within the distance aforesaid.

9thly. And seeing we are informed, that the regular ministers in Galloway, and some other western places, are exposed to great danger, from the fury of some blind zealots among whom they serve, and that even the necessaries of life, and the help of servants and mechanics are denied unto them for their money, you are, in a most particular manner to consider their present {III:188:A} case, and to consult their protection, and the security of their persons in the best manner, and to see that the sheriffs, justices, and other magistrates be careful to have them defended and secured in their persons and goods, and the necessaries for living furnished and supplied unto them at the usual and ordinary rates of the country, to the end they may be effectually relieved, and that our ancient kingdom may be vindicated from any just imputation of so great and barbarous inhumanity. Given at our court at Windsor castle, the 14th day of May, 1680, and of our reign the 32d year.

By his majesty's command,