... Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.—Revelation 15.3.
JOHN MCMILLAN & JOHN MCNEIL;
Given in to the
Commission of the General Assembly
Church of Scotland,
September 29th, 1708.
WE, Mr. John Mackmillan, present minister of the Gospel at Balmaghie, and Mr. John Mackneil, Preacher of the Gospel, being most odiously and invidiously represented to the world as schismaticks, separatists, and teachers of unsound and divisive doctrine, tending to the detriment of Church and State, and especially by Ministers with whom we were embodied, while there remained any hope of getting grievances redressed. Therefore, that both Ministers and Professors may know the unaccountableness of such aspersions, let it be considered that this backsliding Church (when we with others might have been big with expectations for advancement in Reformation) continued in their defections from time to time, still, as occasion was given, evidencing their readiness to comply with every new backsliding course, instance that of the Oath of Allegiance, and Bond of Assurance to the present Queen; which additional step to the former gave occasion and rise to our unhappy contentions and divisions. And now at this time, for the glory of God, the vindication of truth and of ourselves (as conscience and reason obligeth us), to make evident to the world the groundlessness of these aspersions and calumnies as renters and dividers, and particularly in the commission's late odious and malicious libel, wherein are contained many gross falsehoods, such as swearing persons not to pay cess, and traveling through the country with scandalous persons in arms, which, as they are odious calumnies in themselves, so they will never be proven by witnesses: and, as to our judgment anent the cess, we reckon it duty in the people of God to deny and withhold all support, succour, aid, or assistance that may contribute to the upholding or strengthening the man of sin, or any of the adversaries of truth, (as the Word of God instructs us) or for supporting any in such a way, as tending to the establishing the kingdom of Satan, and bringing down the kingdom of the Son of God, in a course tending this way, how deeply these nations are engaged (contrary to the Word of God and our indispensable oaths and covenants, whereby these lands were solemnly devoted to God) is too palpable and plain, especially in the sinful terms of the late God-provoking, religion-destroying, and land-ruining union: we judge it most necessary to give to the world a brief and short account of our principles in what we own or disown (referring for larger, more ample information, to several protestations and testimonies given by some of the godly heretofore at different times and places) and hereby that truth may be vindicated and our consciences exonered.
We declare to the world our hearty desire to embrace and adhere to the written Word of God, contained in the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, as the only and complete rule and adequate umpire [judge] of faith and manners, and whatever is founded thereupon, and agreeable thereunto; such as our Confession of Faith; Larger and Shorter Catechisms; Directory for Worship; Covenants National and Solemn League; the acknowledgment of sin and engagement to duties; causes of God's wrath, and the ordinary and perpetual officers of Christ's appointment, as pastors, doctors, elders, and deacons, and the form of Church government, commonly called Presbyterian.
Next, we declare our firm adherence to all the faithful contendings for truth, whether of old or of late, by ministers and professors, and against whatever sinful courses, whether more refined or more gross, and particularly the public resolutions, Cromwells usurpation, the toleration of sectaries and heresies in his time, and against the sacrilegious usurpation and tyranny of Charles II., the unfaithfulness of ministers and professors in complying with him, and accepting his indulgences first and last. And in a word to everything agreeable to the matter of this our testimony, as it is declared in pages 25 and 26 of the Informatory Vindication; printed Anno 1687. [Pages 13 and 14, edition printed Anno 2002.]
Likeways, we declare our adherence unto the testimony against the abominable toleration granted by the Duke of York, and given in to the ministers at Edinburgh, by that faithful minister and now glorified martyr, Mr. James Renwick, January 17, 1688. And to whatever wrestlings or contendings have been made, or testimonies given against the endeavours of any in their subtle and sedulous striving to insinuate and engage us in a sinful confederacy with a malignant interest and cause, contrary to the Word of God, our Solemn League and Covenant, and testimony of this Church.
Next, we bear testimony against persons being invested with royal power and authority in thir [these] covenanted lands, without a declaration of their hearty compliance with, and approbation of the National and Solemn League and Covenant and engagement to prosecute the ends thereof, by consenting to and ratifying all acts and laws made in defence of these Covenants, agreeable to the Word of God, and laudable acts and practice of this kirk and kingdom in our best times.
Moreover, we bear testimony against all confederacies and associations with popish prelates and malignants, contrary to the Word of God and our solemn engagements. The magistrate's adjourning and dissolving of assemblies, and not allowing them time to consider and expede their affairs: their appointing them diets and causes of Fasts, particularly that in January 14: and the Thanksgiving Aug. 26, Anno 1708, which is a manifest encroachment upon, and destructive to the privileges of this Church: their protecting of curates in the peaceable exercise of their ministry, some in kirks, others in meeting houses, yea, even in the principal city of the kingdom, if qualified according to law by swearing the Oath of Allegiance. Their not bringing unto condign punishment enemies to the Covenant and cause of God, but advancing such to places of power and trust: all which we here bear testimony against.
Next, we bear testimony against lukewarmness and unfaithfulness in ministers anent the corruptions and defections the Church was guilty of in the late times, not yet purged and removed by censures, and other ways, as was duty. And their not leaving faithful and joint testimonies against all the encroachments made upon the Church by the civil powers, since the year 1690. And we bear testimony against the settling the constitution of this Church, according as it was established in the year 1592. And the ministers not testifying against this deed, seems to import a disowning all the reformation attained to betwixt 1638 and 1649 inclusive. At least cowardice in not daring to avouch the same, or their being ashamed to own it, because many famous and faithful acts of assemblies, especially about the year 1648, would have made them liable to censure, even to the length of silencing and deposition; for their defection and unfaithfulness during the late times, of the lands apostasy. Particularly, the weakening the hands and discouraging the hearts of the Lord's suffering people, by their bitter expressions, and aspersions cast on them for their zeal and tenderness, which would not allow them to comply with a wicked, arbitrary, and bloody council as many of them did. Their not renewing the Covenant buried for upwards of fifty years by the greatest part of the land, contrary to the former practice of this Church, especially after some grosser steps of defection. Their receiving of perjured curates into ministerial communion, without covenant ties and obligations and evident signs of their repentance, contrary to the former practice of this Church. Their receiving some lax tested men, and curates, elders, into kirk offices, without some apparent signs at least of their repentance in a publick appearance, contrary to the former practice of this Church in such like cases, evident by the Acts of the Assemblies. Their not protesting formally, faithfully, and explicitly against the magistrate's adjourning and dissolving of Assemblies, and recording the same, contrary to the practice of this Church in our reforming times. We are not concerned to notice the protestation of some few persons at particular times, seeing their precipitancy and rashness in this matter, (as they accounted it) was afterward apologized for; and that it was not the deed of the Assembly. Their not asserting in any explicit and formal act the divine right of Presbytery, and the intrinsick power of the Church, though often desired by many private Christians, and some several members, their not confirming and ratifying the Acts of the Assemblies that were made in our best times for strengthening and advancing the work of reformation, contrary to the former practice of this Church. Their admitting in many places, ignorant and scandalous persons to the Lord's table, contrary to the Acts of former Assemblies: Their not protesting against the present sinful confederacy with papists, malignants, and other enemies of religion and godliness; contrary to the Word of God, and former practice of this Church: their offensive partiality in their respective judicatories as to some particular members, where, the more lax and scandalous are overlooked and passed by, and the more faithful and zealous are severely dealt with and handled, contrary to the rule of equity and the former practice of this Church: Their refusing and shifting to receive and redress the people's just and great grievances, and little regard had to prevent the giving offence to the Lord's people, and small endeavours to have these things removed that are stumbling and offensive to them, contrary to the Apostle's rule and practice, who became all things to all Men that by all means he might save some: their not declaring faithfully and freely against the sins of the land former and latter, without respect of persons, contrary to that express precept, "Set the trumpet to thy mouth, and show My people their transgressions, and the house of Jacob their sin."
Lastly, we bear testimony against Ministers' sinful and shameful silence, when called to speak and act by preaching and protesting against this unhallowed Union, which, as it is already the stain, so we swear it will prove the ruin and bain of this poor nation; though some of them, we grant, signified their dislike thereof, before and about the time it was concluded, yet there was no plain and express protestation, faithfully and freely given in to the Parliament, shewing the sinfulness and danger of this cursed Union, being contrary, not only to the honour, interest, and fundamental laws, and constitutions of the kingdom, and a palpable surrender of the sovereignty, rights and privileges of the nation, but also a manifest breach of our Solemn League and Covenant, which was made and sworn with uplifted hands to the most high God, for purging and reforming the three nations from error, heresy, superstition, and profaneness, and whatever is contrary to sound doctrine, the power of godliness, and the purity of worship, discipline, and government in the same. And so it involves this nation into a most fearful perjury before God, being contrary to the first article of the Covenant, wherein we swear to contribute with our outmost endeavours, in our several places and callings, to reform England in Doctrine, Worship, Discipline, and Government; But by this Union we are bound up forever from all endeavours and attempts of this nature, and have put ourselves out of all capacity to give any help or assistance that way, as ye may see more fully in the late protestation against the Union, published at Sanquhar, October 22, 1707.
Let none say, That what we have done here flows from ambition to exalt ourselves above others, for as we have great cause, so we desire grace from the Lord, to be sensible of what accession we have with others in the land, to the provoking of His Spirit, in not walking as becomes the Gospel, according to our Solemn Engagements, neither proceeds it from irritation or inclination (by choice or pleasure) to discover our mother's nakedness or wickedness, or that we love to be of a contentious spirit, for our witness is in heaven (whatever the world may say) that it would be the joy of our hearts, and as it were a resurrection from the dead, to have these grievances redressed and removed, and our backsliding and breaches quickly and happily healed, but it is to exoner consciences by protesting against the defections of the land, especially of Ministers: and seeing we can neither with safety to our persons, nor freedom in our consciences, compear before the Judicatories, while these defections are not acknowledged and removed, so we must, so long decline them, and hereby do decline them, as unfaithful judges in such matters: in regard they have, in so great a measure, yielded up the privileges of the Church into the hands and will of her enemies, and carried on a course of defection contrary to the Scriptures, our Covenants, and the acts and constitutions of this our Church. And hereby we further protest and testify against whatever they may conclude, or determine, in their ecclesiastick courts by acts, ratifications, sentences, censures, &c., that have been, or shall be made or given out by them, and protest that the same may be made void and null, and not interpreted as binding to us or any who desire firmly to adhere to the Covenanted work of Reformation.
But let none look upon what we have here said, to be a vilipending or rejecting of the free, lawful, and rightly Constitute courts of Christ, for we do acknowledge such to have been among the first most effectual means appointed of God for preserving the purity and advancing the power of reformation in the Church of Christ; the sweet fruits and blessed effects whereof, this Church hath sometimes enjoyed, and which we have been endeavouring and seeking after, and are this day longing for.
We detest and abhor that principle of casting off the ministry, wherewith we are odiously and maliciously reproached by these who labour to fasten upon us the hateful names of schismaticks, separatists, despisers of the Gospel: but, herein as they do bewray their enmity to the cause we own, so till they bring in their own principles and practices, and ours also, and try them by the law and testimony, the measuring line of the sanctuary, the Word of God, and the practice of this Church, when the Lord kept house with, and rejoiced over her as a bridegroom over his bride, they can never prove us schismaticks or separatists from the kirk of Scotland upon the account of our non-union with the backslidden multitude, ministers and others.
Finally, that we may not be judged by any, as persons of an infallible spirit, and our actions above the cognizance of the judicatories of Christ's appointment: we appeal to the first free, faithful, and rightly-constitute Assembly in this Church, to whose decision and sentence in the things libeled against us we willingly refer ourselves, and crave liberty to extend and enlarge this our Protestation, Declinature, and Appeal as need requires.JO. MACKMILLAN.
BALMAGHIE MANSE, Sept. 24th, 1708.