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

Some Objections and Answers Concerning

The Principles of Presbyterians

On the Subjects of MAGISTRACY,


Compiled by John Howie of Lochgoin,

Author of The Scots Worthies.

Formerly Published with the Second Edition of

Plain Reasons for Presbyterians Dissenting, 1787.


Obj. 1. Concerning Scripture Precept from Romans 13, etc. Obj. 2. Concerning Christ’s Command to Pay Tribute to Caesar. Obj. 3. Concerning Westminster Confession ch. 23, sect. 4, on Infidelity. Obj. 4. Concerning Allegiance Sworn to Charles I. Obj. 5. Concerning Subjection to Babylon and Pagan Rome. Obj. 6. Concerning Good things in the Constitution. Obj. 7. Concerning Lawful Commands and Power in Possession. Obj. 8. Concerning the Right of Parliaments to Rescind former Decisions. Obj. 9. Concerning the Duty to Pray for Rulers from 1 Tim. 2.1,2. Obj. 10. Concerning Heathen Magistracy as God’s Ordinance. Obj. 11. Concerning the Fewness of Dissenters Opposing a Whole Nation. Obj. 12. Concerning Dissenters being Charged with Jacobitism. Obj. 13. Concerning Dissenter Doctrine as Dangerous, Bloody, or Seditious.

TrueCovenanter.com Editor’s Introduction.

In February of 2022, we provided our readers with a discussion on the topics of Magistracy, Dissent, and Resistance, from Andrew Clarkson’s Plain Reasons for Presbyterians Dissenting, combined with some augments and revisions from John Howie in the second edition.  The largest section of Mr. Howie’s revisions was omitted however, because it was designed as a replacement of the section of Objections and Answers provided by Mr. Clarkson.  Anticipating that many readers would want to read both, this revised text of objections and answers was kept for another occasion.  In it there are some things similar to what was published by Mr. Clarkson, as well as content of Mr. Howie’s own authorship.  The following revisions from the 1787 edition begin at page 251 of the text in the 1731 edition.


... Having hinted at these things, I come lastly to notice some principle objections cast in Dissenters teeth on account of their attachment unto our covenanted constitution on this head, wherein I must for brevity’s sake wave the argumentative part mostly, and bring forward the testimony of some eminent divines and learned writers in favours of Dissenter principles, who were in their day faithful and famous in the church of Christ.

Objection 1. Dissenters principles on this head are contrary to scripture precept, Rom. 13.2; Titus 3.1; 1 Peter 2.13, where subjection is enforced to heathen magistrates, who were not constitute with such qualifications and limitations as here described.

In answer to this, to take these texts together, we must by power here understand, all lawful authority, the word being potestatus, consisting in right interest, and properly opposed unto unrighteous and unlawful authority, not potentia, which signifies mere mightiness, or ability opposed to weakness and impotency; the last being a natural or physical power, consisting in vigour and strength, (such as the Roman emperors had,) and the first a just right and title, as all lawful magistrates must have, as can be here said to be ordained of God, that is, the ordinances of his precept, and not Providence only, in its different forms set up amongst men, agreeable to the rule of God’s word.  But that the apostle speaks in the concrete only, while he speaks in the abstract, powers that be, and thereby commands subjection, love, and obedience for conscience’ sake, to Nero, Domitian, &c. is more than whatever our opponents has been hitherto able to make evident.

In favour of the above sense, a number of learned {382} commentators on the words might be produced, but I must confine myself to these following; and 1st, Let us hear what our own countryman, the celebrated Buchanan says on it, “Paul doth not therefore speak of those that bear rule as magistrates, (says he) but of magistracy itself, that is, of the function and office of those that rule; nor yet of one or other kind of magistracy, but of every form of a lawful magistracy; nor doth he debate with those who think that wicked magistrates should be restrained, but with those who deny all authority of magistrates, &c.” [De Jure Regni, page 93.] The next is the great Mr. Herle, who after Dr. Twisse, was moderator to the Westminster Assembly; says he, in his Dissertation concerning usurped powers, “The powers here are said to be ordained of God, and verse 2, to be the ordinance of God, that is, not by his decree and handywork, but by the word or written sanction; a person in this acceptation, is to be termed God’s ordinance; the apostle speaks in the general, without application to the Roman or any other, but on the contrary, it is stood upon, that he intends his precept of a lawfully called magistrate.” [Dissertations, pages 126-131.] Says the Learned Gee, “This sentence of the apostle, ordained of God, importeth not merely the proceedings of the things from God providentially, but such a being from God as cometh in his institution, or appointing of it by the warrant or sanction of his word, law, precept, or commandment.” And afterwards says, “The question was not so much in whom the supremacy was, as whither Christians were at all bound to any civil superior whatsoever.” [Gee on Divine Right, &c. page 327.] The famous Milton expresses himself thus on the point, “We must not understand Paul as if he spake of all sorts of magistrates in general, but of lawful {383} magistrates, and so they are described in what follows; we must also understand him of the powers themselves, nor in these men always in whom the power is lodged; Paul speaks not of the persons of the magistrates, but of the magistracy itself; he does not say there is no prince but who is of God, he says there is no power but what is of God.” Thus far Chrysostom. [Milton’s defence against Salmasius, page 62, et seq. Quoting Chrysostom, Homily 23 on Romans.]

So says that famous statesman Algernon Sydney, gentleman; “The apostle (says he) further explaining himself, and shewing who may be accounted magistrates, and what duty of such an one is, informs us whom we should fear and on what account; is therefore only the minister of God, not a terror to good works, but to the evil, &c.” The quotation is long, he refers it to the conscience of his opponent were he alive, if he believed that the then Roman emperors were such a terror to evil doers and a praise to them that do well. [Syd. on government, vol. 2. page 80.]

Let us next hear the mind of our sufferers on the point, which is expressed by Mr. Shields thus, “The apostle (says he) answers not determining their litigations, nor interesting himself in partially giving the general standard of God’s ordinance they had to go by, Let every soul be subject to the higher powers Εξουσια not Δυναμις, moral lawful powers, not natural force, higher in dignity and authority, not in prevailing of might, such as are ordained of God, by his perceptive will, not such as were only permitted by his providential disposal, &c. as it cannot be proven that Nero had the sovereign power at that time, &c.” [Mr. Renwick’s test. vind. page 168-200.] Mr. Bennet explains the text in the same sense, and says otherwise it would be nonsense and injurious to make an inspired apostle enjoin subjection under pain of damnation to their {384} Nero, &c. The testimony of the fathers, such as Chrysostom, Theophilus, Masculus, with Panus, Mayor, Hammond, Pryne, and Burroughs, who comes out full clear on the point, might be here adduced were it needful; nay, the most judicious writers in the Secession, calls Nero one the most wicked monsters that ever breathed, and most justly too, how then could the apostle here enjoin subjection to his tyrannical authority. [Mr. Brown, in his Script. Harmony, page 363.]

After all, if it is alleged that all these refer only unto tyrants and usurpers, well then, let it be supposed that the apostle by powers that be here refers to the power then in the Roman senate, in as far as they answered the ends of this ordinance, in punishing the transgressors of the second table of the law; yet what makes this to the acknowledging either of such heathen powers in these covenanted lands, or these Erastian powers, who by their apostacy has assumed Christ’s headship, and overturned the covenanted reformed constitution,—nothing at all: The forecited learned Buchanan, determines the point very masterly, when he says, “I imagine that Paul doth now live in our days, wherein not only the people but princes also profess Christianity at the same time; let there be some princes that doth conceive, that not only human, but even also divine laws, are made subject unto their lusts and pleasures, if he (Paul) were like himself, he would certainly deny that he should be accounted a magistrate, he would interdict all Christians to have any communion with him, &c.” [De Jure Regni, page 103.] How applicable this is to the abrogating of our reformed constitution, let the unbiased and impartial judge; had our reformers understood it otherwise, they had never contended so much for reformation in civil magistrates, or suffered oppression on that account. {385}

Objection 2. Christ paid tribute, and commanded it to be paid to Caesar, the saints owned and addressed heathen magistrates, Paul appealed to Caesar, &c.

Answer. Not so fast, till the instances be examined:  1. For the first instance, Mat. 17, of Christ’s paying tribute to Caesar, to save repetitions, I shall produce Mr. Gee and Mr. Shield’s judgment, as they exactly coincide upon the text, and were no party in the present quarrel.—‘The tribute he paid, Mat. 17.24, (say they) was not to Caesar, but gathered by the officers of the temple, which he paid; leaving the title unstated, (supposing it was to Caesar) as to civil dominion over that place, as such a thing had never been moved to, or performed by Christ—not for conscience sake, as tribute must be paid, Rom. 13.5, but only for wraths sake, lest (says he himself) we offend in an act itself un-obliging.’ [Gee on magistracy, page 327. Row’s life, page 188. See also Pool and Henry upon the same place.]

2. As to the other instance, in Matt. 22. it is evident from the text, and sound commentators upon it, that the question was captious; if he had said it was lawful, he would probably [have] incurred the odium of the people, who did not acknowledge Caesar’s authority; if he had said it was not lawful, they had what they sought for, to accuse him to the Roman governors; he gave them an answer that solved the matter, yet did not positively state the question, as they could not take hold of his words, if Caesar has a right to it, give it him, but he does not say he had it, his own law had predetermined the matter otherwise, he came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it. And that this is neither a novel gloss, nor senseless meaning and injury done to the spirit of God, as our modern loyalists falsely allege, from the testimony of our reformers and sufferers shall by and by be made evident. {386}

Says the author of Excercitatio, Mr. Harle, as has been said, “Here Christ delivers a precept of giving to Caesar and God, each their right in general, without asserting or explaining what the right of either was in particular, or making application to the case then before him; he seems to leave them that moved the question to do that, his words determine not the point either way expressly, if he should allow not tribute paying, they would accuse and prosecute him before the Roman governor as an enemy to Caesar, if he should hold with it, they would traduce him to the people, as one that consented to the Roman tyranny and sacrilege; upon this ground, he might prudently (and justly enough) give an answer, not to satisfy the doubts, but to silence the propounders; and to this interpretation Mr. Calvin inclineth.” [Exc. page 164.]

So Mr. Gee, ‘Our Saviour being well aware of their conspiracy, and that he might solve their question and evade their sneer from his answer, by way of general rule, of giving to God and to Caesar, each their own, without defining what this money in particular in relation to each was, or which of them had a right to the payment in question, &c.’ [Gee on mag. 327.]

Milton, ‘Our Saviour does not take upon him to determine what things are God’s and what are Caesar’s, he leaves that as he found it, &c.’ [Milton against Sal. page 155.]

Sydney, ‘It may be also observed, that Christ did not say this so much to determine the question that might arise concerning Caesar’s power, for he plainly says, that was not his work, but to put to silence the Pharisees that tempted him, &c.’ [Sydney on gov. vol. 2. page 61, 62.]

Mr. Shields gives the judgment of our sufferers on the point thus, ‘The other tribute, Matt. 22, was {387} exacted for Caesar, but to the captious question, our Lord returns such an answer as might both solve it, and evade the snare of the propounders, giving a general rule, of giving to God and Caesar each their own, without defining which of them had the right to the payment in question, whether Caesar should have it, or if it should be paid only for the temple’s use, upon which they marveled, which they needed not have done, had they understood in his words, an express positive declaration of an allegation to make that payment, &c.’ [Hind let loose, page 299.]

3. I shall only answer that instance of the saints owning, addressing, and enjoying places of trust under heathen magistrates, in the words of a very judicious writer, and I think no party in the present contest; ‘These, such as Joseph, Obadiah, Nehemiah, Daniel, &c. were extraordinary persons raised up by an extraordinary spirit, in extraordinary times, and for extraordinary ends, which can be no precedent to us, without the same extraordinary call, and so no proof to the assertion; examples proves no further than applied to some known rule, instance their living in polygamy, &c. let it be observed of these persons, they kept the law of their God, saw the work of their generation, for which they were raised up, &c.’ kept the law of the Lord—defiled not themselves with heathenish customs—acted against no known good—engaged to no known evil.’ [Mystery of magistracy unveiled, page 52, 53.]

4. For those who were taxed, of them it cannot be otherwise judged, than forced acts and badges of bondage, and not as tests of their allegiance; their addressing them, must be counted rather a respect of common courtesy or civil honour, and no explicit acknowledgement of the justness of their authority; the express direction for Christian brethren in such {388} cases is, ‘Dare any of you having a matter against another go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints.’ [Hind, page 294.]

Lastly, on Paul’s appeal let it be noticed, he was brought before the seat of judicatory, he did not voluntarily come as a free agent, being threatened to be murdered by his own countrymen; he sought no assistance from them, he only claimed the benefit of their own laws; he behoved to be judged by Caesar’s authority go where he would, which was just as much by consent or moral constraint, as when one should appeal from a robber to a thief to save his life; ‘I was constrained says he, to appeal to Caesar,’ which (says Mr. Shields) was the only constrained expedient of saving his own life, by which he behoved to have an opportunity to witness for Christ at Rome, as the Lord had declared unto him. Says Diodati ‘it was not a right appeal, seeing there was no judgment given, but a declining from a judge who was notoriously forstated, or having a recourse to the sovereign’s protection against unjust violence.’

Objection 3. But the 4th section of the 23d chapter of our Confession, says, “That infidelity or difference in religion, does not make void the magistrate’s just and legal authority, &c. therefore whatever be the prince’s religion, if set up by the numores regnis, he may bear rule over these lands, and be subjected unto.” An old loyalists objection new dressed indeed, Jews or Turks may believe this, but scarce any Christian, except those of the objector’s persuasion, can swallow it down, without a fearful convulsion ensue; for answer to this, take what follows on the two principal glosses put on this article, we have heard one in the objection, the other wherein our sufferers and their successors the old Dissenters understood it, comes next to be noticed, viz. when a people or nation are emerging out of gross darkness {389} and superstition, and religion has not obtained the sanction of law, or made a qualification or stipulation in government, as was the case in these lands, when our Confession was compiled, our Reformation not being then come to its zenith—or when persons are sojourning, traveling, or trafficking in other countries, where the true religion is not professed, infidelity does not make void the magistrate’s right, the relation being fixed while continuing to rule according to their constitutional right, not repugnant to the divine rule, nor free such from obedience in things lawful to such—but the word of God, our Covenants, and reforming acts and laws, utterly incapacitates such who are of a different religion, from bearing rule over these lands, or have such a claim to obedience for conscience sake on that account. Now Dissenters think, that the scripture text taken to prove this article, the different steps of contending on this head by our reformers, which we need not here reconnoiter, that our sufferers and late martyrs has advanced on it, and the sense in which even the Revolution-church and state has understood it, (which comes now to be noticed) bears them out in this explication.

1. When any thing dark or seemingly ambiguous occurs in our standard, then the only way to find out the true import or meaning, is to consult the text produced therein, for proof of the article or section; now the only text referred to, for this clause infidelity, &c. is 2 Pet. 2.13,14,16. Now, if these texts has any particular reference to the persons of magistrates at all, it must be such as is above represented, the apostle being writing to those Christians that were scattered through heathen countries, Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bethinia; and indeed it cannot be otherwise, for there is not a text within the Bible, that as a foundation will warrant the setting up or owning a Pagan, Mahometan, Papist, &c. in Covenanted Scotland, more than in Judah. {390}

2. Let us hear what our sufferers has to say on it, and in this I need not recite the judgment of particular persons; I shall give their joint suffrage upon it.—On the word infidelity in this clause, Mr. Renwick in a manuscript, subscribed with his own hand, (now before me) says, when answering the same objection, “No such consequence can be drawn from the word infidelity, this being the abstract, and an infidel the concrete, so that the difference is great, for infidelity pointeth out personal failings, such as deadness and infirmity, acting indifferently from simplicity, (but not essential to faithful warning,) so that from this it is concluded, that faults and failings, such as formerly mentioned, doth not unmagistrate a ruler, nor depose a minister from the exercise of his office.” However, their joint declarations follows, “We acknowledge to be true indeed, that infidels and those of a different religion, are not (chiefly because such) presently to be declared no magistrates, for magistratus non est magistratus, qua Christianus sed qua homo, so it is that the magistrate’s power considered generaliter, given for the good of human society, may be in the person of an infidel, or one of a different religion, but considered specialiter given for the good of the church, it is only in the person of a professor of the true religion; hence, in traveling or trafficking in foreign lands, be the person in whom is the power, of the true religion, or of a different religion, we cannot refuse subjection to their laws, so far as they are consistent with the written word of God, and our true Christian liberty; howbeit, our Covenants and acts of Parliament, have put a bar upon the admission of any person, if either infidel or of a different religion, while such, to govern in Scotland. [Apologetical declaration, &c. published 1685. infor. vind. page 136.]  Now, it would appear from the above quotations, that the {391} word Infidel, may be taken in both acceptations.

3. We cannot express the sentiments of the Revolution (as confirmed by the claim of right) better than in the words of Walter Stewart of Pardovan, one well acquainted with the transactions of both church and state at that time. “(which says he) are generally understood thus, viz. That the principle of our holy and peaceable religion, do not deny but Infidels and Papists may be lawful magistrates in such countries or kingdoms where these false religions are established, and if any of our religion happen to sojourn in these territories, they ought notwithstanding to own their just and legal authority, and obey their lawful commands; but in other kingdoms and countries, such as this of Scotland is, where profession and defending the protestant religion, is made a condition of government, betwixt magistrate and people, in that case, if he shall either be of, or fall away to a false religion, and violate the said condition and agreement, then there is ground and reason for the people’s representatives to claim their right, and declare him on that account, to have forfeited his right to the crown, &c.” [Collections, book III. title 3. page mihi 155.] Now, though it be the Protestant religion here mentioned, yet it holds equally, and more so, good to Presbyterian, as Prelatics are no less excluded by our Solemn League and Covenant, &c. than Papists are.

We have now given Dissenters explication or sense of this section, let us take a glance of our modern loyalists gloss of it: Now, if this is to be understood in an unlimited sense, of all religions, all times, all places, situations and circumstances, whatsoever, then Paganism, Mahometism, Popery, and the profession of these, cannot exclude one from having a just right and title to rule and govern in these covenanted lands, more than that of Prelacy, and this {392} not only pulls down and saps the foundation of all our national attainments on this head, making our Reformers at one stroke cut the neck of the covenanted constitution, which they had with so much blood and treasure obtained, but even condemns the practices of almost every kingdom and established commonwealth in the world, for it makes them run cross and contradict themselves in all the following particulars.

1. To all those qualifications and conditions of government formerly noticed. 2. To the coronation oath of Scotland, which obliges king and people to be of the same true reformed religion. 3. To the National Covenant, and all the articles of the Solemn League, wherein they had sworn to extirpate and root out Popery, Prelacy, &c. 4. To the 3d section of the same 23d chapter, concerning the magistrate’s power in matters of religion. 5. To a number of the best human acts and laws that ever past in Scotland, or any nation else, particular these in the year 1649. 6. To the condition of government, which Charles II was admitted to at Scoon, 1651. In fine, it is a certain truth, that both parliaments were at open war, refusing to admit Charles I. to his full power or regal dignity, till he became of the same religion, and gave security, and swore the Covenants, when they compiled the Confession—nay, the succession to the crown, was limited the same day in parliament, that the Confession was approven, and ratified; and yet say, that in this article they held, that one of any religion or profession, might be accounted a lawful magistrate, over a covenanted people, professing one thing and practicing another, is what none in the use of reason, could have accounted for such a piece of conduct.

Again, this vague gloss not only makes our venerable reformers who compiled our Confession, at variance with themselves, in principle and practice, but also flies in the face of almost the practice of all nations; we need not speak of England’s security on this {393} head, alas! we feel it by experience; but go over to the low countries, and see if Holland will admit of Papist magistrates, and Germany of a Protestant emperor—take a turn to Constantinople, Morocco, and China, see if they will consent to set up a Christian for supreme ruler over them; turn the globe to America, (and wide as their sentiments on religion are) try if you can make them elect and establish a Pagan or Jew for a magistrate; return the way of France, Spain, and Portugal, and you will find whether any of them has ever established a Protestant Presbyterian king to reign over them: the conclusion then must be, that as our objectors have said, that our explanation makes the Westminster divines to have compiled a Confession for the other side of the globe (while it is evident it will answer any side or part of it) while its as evident that their gloss seems palpable or palatable to no side or part of the globe whatever, unless it answers the Cape of good Hope, where no certain form of government exists.

Objection 4. Our covenanters swore allegiance in the covenants to Charles I. while of a different religion, and bound to maintain Prelacy; if these Covenants had bound them and their posterity to disown every king that was not of the same religion and a covenanter, they would have been bonds of iniquity, they could not bind to any thing, but what they were bound by the law of God, prior to their covenanting.—So the Loyalists say.

In Answer to this, for order take the last part of the objection first, where it may be observed,  1. The point here is so far periodical and caseable as it applies to certain times and situations, the Lord never requires any piece of duty at his people’s hands, but what he some way or other puts it in their power to perform; when the children of Israel were in their own land, and had it in their power, then they behoved to set up such rulers as the divine law did prescribe; but when gone to captivity, then they behoved to submit to the powers there for a time, were it {394} even for wraths’ sake: the end is declared by the prophet Jeremiah, and the apostle Paul; ‘For in the peace thereof, ye shall have peace—that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, &c.’ So was the case with our Reformers in a Christian reforming land, as soon as the Lord brought them that length, putting it in their power and capacity to make such a choice, and for that purpose enact good laws, and enter into covenant engagements, to have such and no other, and this only brings under super-obligations, yet bound them to no new moral duty, but what they were by the law of God bound to, prior to this super-obligation, had they been put in a capacity to obtain a performance thereof; and that this was their views, may come to be ascertained from their own judgment and practice, before I leave the objection:

2. For the other part of the objection, of swearing to a Prelatic king, (as they call him,) might it be enquired, how it comes that when our covenanters did so, and their practice must be thus cast into the teeth of Dissenters? what is the reason that the objectors refuses to swear allegiance to him whom they call one of the best of kings? such a piece of conduct is scarce reconcilable. But to the point, that Charles I. was a Prelatic, and sworn to maintain Episcopacy, is granted, but that they took in his interest on that head, or swore allegiance to him on any terms, but in defence and preservation of the true religion, is an assertion yet unproven, notwithstanding of all the sallies of inconclusive reasoning, and perverted quotations, that has been produced upon it; for how they could be said to swear allegiance to a Prelatic king, while professing and defending Episcopacy, in such an unlimited sense, and at the same time swear to extirpate Prelacy and Malignants, of whom he was the chief, must be a paradox and knot, that they have never yet by the sword of the spirit boasted, been able to cut asunder; but let the Covenanters principles and practices on this point speak for themselves; Mr. Case, one of the Westminster divines, when answering {395} an objection on this article says, ‘It maintains him as far as he is a king—he may be a man, but sure no king, without the list and verge of religion and laws, it being religion and laws that makes him a king—for sure his justice cannot desire to be defended against, but in the preservation of religion and laws, and his wisdom cannot expect it—I make it a question whether this limitation lie any more upon the defence of the king’s person and authority, than it doth upon the rights and privileges of parliament, and the liberties of the kingdoms, since there is no point or step in the article? &c.’ [Case’s second sermon at taking the Covenant.] To the same purpose speaks Mr. Ward, in his explanation of the Solemn League, ‘We promise (saith he) to endeavour to preserve his Majesty’s person and authority, viz. so long as he really endeavours the preservation and defence of the true religion and liberties of the kingdom, &c.’ [Vide Ward’s explanation of the Covenant, page 4.] Not to stand on particular persons, let us hear the united voice of the whole body of Covenanters by the mouth of their representatives. Says the commission of the General Assembly, in their advice to the parliament, June 10th, 1648, “There shall be no engagement for restoring his Majesty to one of his houses with safety, before security be had from his Majesty by solemn oath, under his hand and seal, that he shall for himself and his posterity, agree and consent to acts of parliament, enjoining the League and Covenant, and fully establishing church government, &c.” This they corroborated in another paper, same year, December 17, and adds, “We are bound by our Covenant to defend the king’s person and authority, in defence and preservation of the true religion, &c. and insofar as his Majesty is for these, so far will we be for him; but if his Majesty will not satisfy the just desires of his people, both nations are engaged {396} to pursue the ends thereof, against all impediments.” And so the General Assembly, in their Seasonable Warning, July 1649, says, “The duty of defending and preserving the king’s Majesty’s person and authority, is joined with and subordinate unto the duty of preserving and defending the true religion and liberties of the kingdom; and therefore his Majesty’s standing in opposition to the just and necessary public desires, concerning religion and liberties, it were a manifest breach of Covenant, and a preferring the king’s interest to the interest of Jesus Christ, to bring him to the exercise of his royal power.”

Take only one proof more from their declaration, July 1648, when expatiating on the violation of the 2d article of the Solemn League, “Neither (say they) can we conceive how the clause concerning the extirpation of Prelacy, can consist with the endeavouring to bring his Majesty with honour, freedom, and safety, to one of his houses in or about London, without any security had from him for the abolition of Prelacy.” Thus far the church, the same resolutions was put in practice by the state, the resolutions of a committee of the parliament of Scotland, and some of the ministers according to Mr. Baillie, were these, “We require peremptorily to stand to our former principles and Covenant, to have religion settled first, and the king not restored till he had given security by his oath, to consent to an act of parliament, for enjoining the Covenant in all his dominions, and settling religion according to the Covenant, &c.” [Vide Baillie’s letter, vol. 2. page 281.] Which resolution was put in execution by the English parliament, in their treaty Sept. 1648, with the king, where after craving the abolition of Prelacy and establishment of Presbytery, they demanded (says the Justerian,) that the king should set his hand to the National and Solemn League and {397} Covenant, and suffer himself to be bound by the same;” [History of the civil wars of Great Britain, page 264.] upon his refusal the treaty broke up, and he was refused an re-admission to the regal government, and so our sufferers understood it, when treating on the article; and our Covenanters, “Because (say they) by the Covenant they were not obliged to defend him, but only in defence of religion and liberty—by which they were not so stupidly loyal as some would have them, &c. [Hind let loose, page 69.] To the same purpose spoke the gentleman martyr Rathillet, in answer to the captious question, “That question was answered long ago by the Solemn League and Covenant, which binds us only to maintain and defend the king in defence of the true religion,” all which comes out full evidences for Dissenters, in which it may be seen we have another precedent than the words of Oliver Cromwell; and though we had not, I presume (that whatever his personal character and government was) he knew to a certainty what the judgment and practice of our Covenanters was, as well as any man now in Britain.

But what says Mr. Renwick in his large testimony on it, “We answer that article is only conditional, binding us no other way to him, than in defence of the true religion, &c. as it is there in express terms.” Now, what is this but what was said by Oliver Cromwell.

Objection 5. The Jews were commanded to obey and pray for these Chaldean powers who carried them captive; the primitive church was 300 years subject to the Roman emperors—our ancestors were subject to the authority of James VI. Charles I. and II. till he turned a tyrant.

In answer to this, let it first be premised that these are examples only, and examplum exploditur examplis ex semple, serve for illustrating, and no more for proving {398} than agreeable to precept, preceptis non examplis standum; nor did they ever dream that their practices should on any other terms be accounted an unerring rule to posterity. But in examining these instances, let it be observed, that this instances of the Jews subjection in Babylon, Jer. 29, was no positive moral precept of obedience perpetually binding at all, but only temporary, for the space of seventy years, [Gee on magistracy, page 138; Hind. 390. 2 edition.] until the time of the punishment of their sins were fulfilled or accomplished; this is making God dispense with his own unalterable law (says the reviewer) but take it as you will, he that said, “Seek the peace of the city, and pray unto the Lord for it;” the reason is given, “for in the peace thereof, ye shall have peace,” (which implies no positive subjection at all) said also, set yourselves in array against them, flee out of the midst of Babylon—“Happy shall he be that rewardest thee, as thou hast served us.” [Psalm 137.8.] Now which of these will the objectors choose for the precept of their loyalty.

2. For the primitive Christians, the proof of the assertion is mostly (if not all) negative; they lived peaceably, they gave no molestation to the kingdom or commonwealth where they resided, they were sometimes permitted to meet for public worship in the day,—well, what of all that, they were so enjoined by the apostle, to lead a quiet and peaceable life; and so Dissenters look on it as their duty under the present reigns. But although it were proven, that they owned those heathen powers, what makes that? the argument is lost, for the case is vastly different, these lands were not reformed, there was no relation betwixt them but what was natural, which the gospel did not loose, nor sinful conditions require, upon their enjoying places of trust under them (if they enjoyed any) otherwise they would never have accepted of them, which is not the case with us, when the constitution {399} after reformed is overturned, and none can enjoy places of power and trust without debauching their consciences with sinful land defiling oaths, or concurring with the superstitious idolatries of the church of England; nay, the Loyalist fully determines the point betwixt us. “The rule to direct Christians how to choose a king, and the rule to direct them how to behave towards one chosen by others, are very different. When they have the choice of a king, the command of God is, ‘one from amongst thy brethren shalt thou set over thee;’ but when God appoints the bounds of their habitation, where they cannot have a king of their own religion, like Israel in the land of the Chaldeans, or the first Christians in the Roman Empire, then the Divine command is, ‘let every soul be subject to the higher powers,’ &c.” [Modern Loyalist, page 34.] which must equally hold good with us in covenanted Scotland and these Christians and Protestants interspersed in heathen and Popish countries.

3. As for the instances concerning those in our own land, they admit of more difficulty in the present controversy. I shall, for brevities sake, only hint a few things, and refer to those who has traced the subject more largely.—For James VI. he was once a lawful constitute covenanted king, and a few acts of mal-administration could not invalidate his authority. It is true he assumed Christ’s supremacy over the church, which was somewhat more, and got acts of parliament to establish it. After he ascended the English throne, he preferred Episcopacy; yet it does not appear that the English constitution then obliged him to be of that communion, as not being then made an essential condition, sine qua non, of holding the crown (though the supremacy was so in England, but not in Scotland) as it was afterwards formally made, and now is in England, and we may {400} say virtually in Scotland, by virtue of the Union, whereby we are one kingdom, one parliament, one King declared to be head of the church in all his dominions, every oath of qualification recognizing his supremacy, which extends in planting churches, appointing fasts, &c. in Scotland, as well as England. Whether these alterations are sufficient to account for our ancestors conduct in that reign, or if it had been more agreeable to their testimony that they had been more explicit on the point, I am loath to determine, I wish well to their memories, and contendings.

As to the reign of Charles I. they for some time followed the same plan, but were still kept under; but no sooner did the Lord put them in any capacity for regaining their ancient covenanted constitution, in making terms for themselves, by lifting arms against king and malignants, in which he was worsted, then they refused to own or re-admit him to rule over them, but in terms of and pursuing the ends of the Covenants, as has already been demonstrated.

Again, they had all the security of Charles II. human laws possibly could give them; and though he broke over all these, and overturned the whole covenanted constitution, yet it does not appear that they were clear at first to state a period for casting off his authority, until the explanatory act passed in 1669; and though we have some instances of their acknowledging his civil authority, and praying for him after that, yet it was conditional. Take the words of John Waddel, amongst others, who suffered at Magus Muir for it. In his last testimony, says he, ‘it is true I am bound to maintain authority, as it is agreeable to the word of God, and to obey the King, in as far as he maintains the church in her liberties, and no farther, on any account’; now if he could then claim any obedience on these terms, let the unprejudiced part of mankind be judges.—But, in short, whether their owning his authority, after the explanatory act, can be a precedent or pattern for us, or {401} whether they stated their disowning of him afterward on that account, comes in the following two particulars to be discovered.

1. Though they did not formally cast off his authority till 1669, yet afterwards they, our sufferers, in a church capacity, did, amongst other steps of defection, in their causes of a public fast acknowledge their continuing to acknowledge his authority so long as their sin. Hear their own confession, in which ‘the eight steps of defection, and cause of mourning, was the not exhibiting a testimony against Charles II. when he arrogated that supremacy unto himself, over the church of Christ, &c.—If our love had been as right as it ought to have been to Christ, and our zeal for his glory, and for the house of our God what it ought to have been, before they had got this done, they would have made a road thro’ our hearts blood. &c.’ I shall only add one concurring testimony more, from Mr. Renwick’s own mouth also, ‘When Charles had broken our Covenants, then there was an opportunity put in our hands to have revolted from under him. When that deed was done, we had a clear call then from God to have stuck to our Covenants, and shaken off the yoke of his tyranny, &c.’ See his Sermon, Eph. 5.15.

2. That they stated their disowning him particularly on account of the supremacy, is evident from their own dying testimonies. Out of many, I shall only select these few following. The first is Mr. Cargil, ‘As to the cause of my suffering, the main thing is, not acknowledging the present authority, as it is established in the supremacy, and explanatory acts. This is the magistracy that I have rejected, &c. And seeing it is made essential to the crown, there is no distinction we can make, that can free the acknowledger from being a partaker of this sacrilegious robbing of God; and it is but to cheat our conscience to acknowledge the civil {402} power; for it is not the civil power only that is made the essence of the crown, &c.’

Mr. Walter Smith being examined, ‘Whether he owned the King’s authority, as now established?’ said, ‘I did positively disown, and denied allegiance to him, as he is invested with that supremacy proper to Christ Jesus only.’

Mr. James Boig,—‘We could not own the authority, as now presently established, unless we should own the supremacy the king hath usurped over the church; the reason is, because the supremacy is declared in the acts of parliament to be essential to the crown, and that which is essential to any thing, is the same with the thing itself, so that in owning the authority, we are obliged to justify them in their usurpation also.’

The joint testimony of W. Gouger, &c. in anticipating an objection, says, ‘We grant with you; but where are the magistrates, they were once such, but they cast out themselves when they broke the Covenants, and set up a cursed supremacy over the Lord’s inheritance, and when they have done that, we think they are no longer to be owned as magistrates by Presbyterians, but cast off.’

Says the sensible country man, James Robertson, ‘His authority in civil matters, so much pleaded for by this generation, as matters now stand, cannot be given, neither will they have it without the other; for by their acts of parliament they have made them equally essential to the crown.’

John Nisbet, younger, ‘I defy any, if they be called to a public testimony, but they must either quit Christ, or Charles; for they will not have the civil law without the ecclesiastic; so I cannot see how they can be owned in either.—If it shall be said, the land (that is the body politic, as our antagonists make it) hath given him this supremacy, I answer, every individual in the land hath not given him that, and therefore is free to reject him on that head.’ {403}

John Wilson, writer in Lanark, ‘Nor can any Christian come before them acknowledging authority simply, without being guilty of yielding this, (viz. the supremacy) it being declared essential to the crown.’

I might here adduce the words of J. Skeen, gentleman, A. Stuart, J. Nicol, and others; but I shall shut up the whole with a few of the words of the last public minister martyr in Scotland. James Renwick in his large testimony, &c. ‘And none can pretend any distinction unless they would cheat themselves out of the truth, for he hath no civil power distinct from his supremacy; I say his supremacy is the foundation of all power he pleads for, and takes all acknowledgment of him as an acknowledgment thereof, and why may he not, seeing it is made essential to the crown.’

From the whole it is evident, that though they disowned him on account of tyranny, yet they stated the plea principally on the supremacy; but say that they did not, they cast him off when that was established. We answer, if they cast him off on account of tyranny only, then why did they not cast him off fourteen years sooner in 1666, when so many cruelties were exercised upon them, but the reasons for both as above given, are obvious; and pray what better is spiritual tyranny if not worse than civil tyranny? But what becomes of the new coined distinction between the kings civil and ecclesiastic authority, the application is easy, every king of Britain has three heads, a natural, civil, and ecclesiastic, and you may as soon say he would be a man without a natural head, as king of England without the ecclesiastic head of the supremacy. With what propriety then has the Displayer and Detecter told us once and again, that some of these martyrs ‘seem to fix their disowning the government upon its Erastian claim’ (which must have been mere deceivery, at best to seem to do what they really did not) whereas they laid down their lives in opposition to Erastian {404} supremacy; but Christ’s witness will be vindicated, maugre all opposition, and ‘wisdom is justified of her children.’

Objection 6. ‘But there are good as well as evil things in the constitution, they yet answer the ends of magistracy, in punishing evil doers, otherwise all would be in a mass of confusion.’

Answer. This objection seems no less puerile than inconclusive, for that cannot be good which has a bad principle, there may be good and bad acts of administration, but how there can be any good and evil in the constitution of any of God’s instituted ordinances, if we take them for one continued act, in proper terms of speaking, as such, we cannot conceive.  A government for constitution good, may put forth bad acts of administration, but a government for constitution bad, cannot, for its acts put forth are not good: for, to make an action good, there must be first a warrantableness of the thing done, and then a warrantable calling of the party or person to it, this may be an obligation to induce the subject to bear and improve to the best what he cannot redeem; but it lays no obligation on him to take such a ruler to be a power ordained of God, and so conscientiously submit to him as such.  “That power cannot be from God as a lawful power, the exercise and acts whereof are sinful, I speak of a lawful power—It is no power which is not lawful power,’ says Mr. Rutherford, sermon on Dan. 6.26.

2. That there has been good acts put forth by both church and state since the Revolution, had they been put in execution properly, is granted; but we cannot believe that these proceeded in virtue of, or from the constitution, else we must believe that a corrupt tree can bring forth good fruit, and a fountain send forth, at the same place, sweet and bitter water, salt and fresh.—Said a renowned champion for truth, when he beheld the Revolution-settlement, to a civil judicature—“That the right or wrong constitution thereof, is the most intrinsic essential of all the good {405} and evil that floweth therefrom, &c.—like poison in the fountain, a crack in the foundation, a fallacy in the principle, a defect in the cause, so must have the same influence in the streams, superstructure, effect, and conclusion,&c.”  And might I ask from whence proceeds all these inroads and encroachments, made upon the rights, privileges, and munities of the church, so much complained of, and justly too, but from the constitution.

Objection 7. “It is still the duty of all in these lands to be subject unto, and obey the lawful commands of these in possession of the government, while acknowledged by the body politic.”

Answer. The two principal terms of this objection seems lawful commands and possessionary powers.  For the first, we have been all along through the course of this controversy, much dun’d with this kind of subjection in lawful commands, and indeed it has been a bait that has deceived many well-meaning people of the Secession, taking this proviso as a salvo or off-come, from acknowledging the present constitution as lawful, the deceit of which exception may be easily discovered; for if the authority must first be lawful in the institution and constitution ordained of God, by his preceptive will, according to the prescriptions and limitations held forth in his word, before they can put forth any lawful commands, the commander must have a just and legal title to command, before he has any due right to claim obedience for conscience’ sake.  2. Subjection in things lawful is the full extent in respect of a command, no magistrate can reasonably demand more of any subject, for we are not to obey the unlawful commands of the best constitute magistrates that ever was or are upon earth; it must be only in things lawful.  Mr. Shields solidly determines the point when he says, “All commands of subjection to the higher powers under pains of damnation, Rom. 13.1, do respect only {406} lawful magistrates, and in lawful things, &c.” [See Mr. Renwick’s Testimony Vindicated, page 195.  See also Gee on Mag. page 390.  Hind let Loose, page 416.]

2dly, For the other point possession, it gives no just right or title, but upon the conditions foresaid, for Providence without precept can be no complete rule in point of subjection, and that on different accounts.

3dly, Because the right of ruling may be in one, and the possession of power in another by Providence, instance the case of David, Absalom, and Sheba,—Joash and Athaliah, Solomon and Adonijah; but I think I hear the Loyalists saying, this is false, and a shameful perversion of the words of the holy One, &c.  Well, let the word of God decide the quarrel betwixt us, (for it is a small thing that we should be thus judged of men) “Thou knowest that the kingdom was mine, and that all Israel set their faces on me that I should reign, howbeit, the kingdom is turned about and is become my brother’s, for it was his from the Lord,” Here was the consent of the people, and yet no lawful magistrate.

2. Because God hath authorized and owned the act of rising up in arms, to expel and oppose such as have been in actual possession of power, Judges 11.16; 3.15; 4.9; 2 Kings 11.2; 2 Chron. 12.21, &c. As also their persons, goods, and countries, Gen. 14.14;  2 Sam. 18.1; 1 Sam. 13.3, &c.

3. To make subjection even in lawful commands duty, because of possession, makes Providence a rule in place of precept, which, without the rule of God’s word, signifies no allowance, only permission.  (1.) In regard that which is here attributed to Providence, is in scripture denied, Eccl. 9.12.  (2.) Putting it beyond scripture denies its perfection, which is perfect, Deut. 4.2.  (3.) God reproves his people for it, Isa. 31.  (4.) Providence itself is so indistinct and various, Eccl. 8.14, that no argument can be deduced {407} from it: for that subjection and obedience is not merely passive—but voluntary and active, for conscience’ sake, is only due to a moral power regulated by the rule of his precept, for the lawful not the unlawful commands of lawful magistrates is our duty, obedience is to be in the Lord, “Be people captivated or possessed at pleasure, they have no duty of obedience incumbent on them, neither do they sin in not obeying, nor do they resist God’s ordinances, if at any time of advantage, they use force to free themselves from such a violent possession,” says Musculus’ Treatise of Monarchy.  See also Mr. Brown of Wamphray, on Rom. 13.1, Observation 9.

Upon the whole, for application of the point, to set the matter home in a clearer light, when magistrates are chosen, and advanced to the imperial crown in Britain, by these who has not only made apostasy from the purity of religion, but violated and rescinded our fundamental laws, contracts, &c. it seems warrantable for the rest of the subjects, many or few, adhering unto the same, and that so deserted and despised cause, not to own such magistrates, lest they consent to the public defection of that other part, and to the making void the laws establishing religion, and being thus obliged not to submit and acknowledge such authority; they are necessarily and consequently bound to do nothing actually and voluntary to corroborate the same, or which, in the construction of law and reason, may import an acknowledgment of that authority.

Hence magistrates elected and invested according to the rules and with qualifications revealed in the word, and the fundamental laws of our land and our covenants, securing our holy religion and right administration, only found a title to obedience, and not providences or possession; otherwise, both obedience and the power to which it is due, must be absolute and unlimited; and consequently should the Pope of Rome, or the Great Mogul, by a particular turn in Providence, ascend the British throne, obedience to {408} their lawful commands, according to the objectors’ maxim, must be due, which is absurd, obliterates the divine law, regulating and limiting both government and obedience, governors and governed, saps the fundamental laws, turns all to confusion, which must be ridiculous nonsense and demented delusion; yea, it would keep Antichrist on the stage in opposition to Christ’s kingdom, making void the prophecies of his downfall and dispossession, upon penalty of resisting God’s ordinances and damnation; and in fine, realize a reproof to the practice of the saints, for making opposition to such, contradicts itself, condemning all resistance against any present power or occupant, yet justifying every resistance that is but successful however unjust, requiring in subjects only a neutrality in every contest, subjecting only to those uppermost, who get into possession without any opposition or required terms of admission, contrary the practice of our worthy Reformers.  “Was not Charles I. opposed by two armies (says Mr. Shields) and his son Charles II. refused to be admitted to the government, till he subscribed the covenants; did not our church by their acts and constitutions, declare what magistrates were to reign over them, and what qualifications were requisite in them, &c.” [See Let on Rev. xi. 12. &c. in preface.]  “They have set up kings but not by me, they have made princes and I knew it not,” that is, “not by my direction and approbation,” as Mr. Poole expounds it.

Objection 8.  “Every subsequent parliament having power to rescind any act or constitution made by the former, and these being now abrogate, are no more the laws of Scotland, and so can neither limit princes in their admission, nor regulate them in their government.”

Answer. Though no more were said than what is said in reply to the last objection, this could not be {409} said to be unanswered; only, in short, I observe farther.

1. That they have a right to rescind bad laws and make good laws, tending to the good of church and state, is granted, but that any parliament has a just power to destroy the national conditions, or rescind the fundamental laws of the realm is utterly refused, being contrary the design of their representative capacity, for id possumus quod jure possumus, men have no just power to do iniquity.  2. If any subsequent parliament in England has power to cass and annul that act or fundamental constitution, excluding Papists, or marrying of Papists, to succeed to the crown in time coming, then Popery with all the Romish trumpery may come there to be established; but if it cannot be granted, then it must natively follow, that no number of men, parliament or council, had, or have a just power to abrogate or make void these Covenants and fundamental laws of Scotland, obliging the sovereign to be of the communion of the Presbyterian church there, so as to loose any one in it from the obligation thereof.  3. That they have a physical power or force to rescind or alter fundamental laws, &c. is certain, because they do it; but that they have a moral power or right to rescind these laws above specified is denied, because that would make the divine law, which enjoins to walk by the same rule whereunto we have already attained, [Phil. 3.16,] and that we can do nothing against the truth but for it, [2 Cor. 13.8]; to couch, stoop, and give way to the lusts and pleasures of men: it is abundantly plain, when one part of a nation makes defection from the purity of religion, rescinds laws in favours of a false religion, the other part adhering to the true religion, are bound to the utmost of their power to oppose that course, because they overturned the laudable constitutions, which if they had a right to rescind, then they were never to be opposed on that account.  4. It’s undeniably evident, that these fundamental laws, covenants, &c. which were made the fundamental qualifications of the sovereigns of {410} Scotland, and special stipulations at their entry to the government, as the coronation oath of Charles II evidences, were founded upon and agreeable to the divine law, and therefore cannot be made null by any human law whatsoever.  Lastly, to allow king or parliament to assume an absolute and unlimited power to invade fundamental laws, &c. is directly contrary the first article of the Claim of Right, where it is made one of the main grounds of deposing the duke of York, rejecting and disowning his pretended authority.  But after all, I desiderate whether kings and parliaments have a legislative power in making of laws, in proper terms of speaking [i.e. moral laws] (that being the prerogative of the supreme lawgiver only) but only a ministerial or executive power, as God’s minister, Rom. 13, to execute or enact such acts as may enforce the divine law, and punish the transgressors thereof.  Mr. Rutherford seems to incline this way, when he says, “The king’s power of expounding the law, is a mere ministerial power, and he hath no dominion of any absolute power, to expound the law as he will, &c. the execution of their offices is an act of the just Lord of heaven and earth, not only by permission, but according to God’s revealed will in his word; their judgment is not the judgment of men, but of the Lord 2 Chron 19.6.” [Lex Rex, pages 7 and 253.]

Objection 9. ‘Dissenters are no less contracted in their prayers than their principles, they will not pray for the present powers, whereas the apostle, 1 Tim. 2.1,2, enjoins that supplications, prayers, &c. be made for all men, kings and all in authority.’ Strange assertions, but slender arguments.

Answer. Let us first examine the objector’s sense of this precept, and then enquire into the true import of the text.  1. If we are to pray for all men collectively, and distributively without exception, then we must take the word all, for universal redemption as well as {411} universal prayers, seeing it is impossible that our prayers can win beyond the number for whom Christ died.—Again, if we are to pray for all that are in authority, in all places and periods of time, as they would have it, then we may as warrantably pray for the Pope of Rome, the creature Antichrist and his underlings, as for the lesser Antichrist of England, his spiritual lords, &c.  If it’s said the former is unlawful, and so no just power at all, so we may say of the latter, for the one can no more be king without Christ’s headship or spiritual supremacy, than the other can be Pope, without being universal head of the church, besides a temporal jurisdiction, the one being made as essential to the office, as the other is in their dominions.—But

2dly, According to the import of the text, and the comments of the best annotators upon it runs thus, we are to pray for all sorts of men (as our standard expresses it) of all ranks and denominations [names, titles] of men, kings not excepted, within the decrees of election, that they may be converted and come to the knowledge of the truth, as the apostle afterwards expresses it.  That the word all here, must be so taken, says the Dutch annotators, appears from John 17.9. Gal. 5.12. 2 Tim. 4.24. 1 John 5.16. Rev. 6.10. where it is testified (say they) that we must not pray for all and every one, yea, that the faithful also prayed against some.  The sum is, when we pray for men as such, we must pray for the conversion of kings as well as others, but when we pray for them as kings, to bless them in their persons and government, they must be lawful constitute magistrates, according to the divine law.  Now, no such term is expressed by the apostle here—if persecutors or unfriendly to the church, that a restraint may be laid upon them, or that they may be removed out of the way, if persisting in their impious and profane courses.  The reason is by the apostle given, that we, the church, may live a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty, otherwise we can never in faith pray for the coming {412} of Christ’s kingdom.  For proof of the above sense of the words in lieu of a number of annotators on the text, I shall only notice the judgment of two reforming Westminster divines, and two of our late suffering ministers.

And first, the learned Dr. Twiss (in answer to the same point advanced by Dr. Jackson) says, “He (the apostle) simply exhorts us to pray for all men; he doth not add as you do, we must pray for all men universally considered, and not indefinitely—our Saviour prayed for them that his Father gave him, and those that should afterwards believe, through the word.  Will you infer from hence that we are to pray for the world also.  Again, God hath expressly forbidden us to pray for them that sin unto death, and therefore, unless I may be assured, that there is none in the world that sinneth a sin unto death, I have no reason to pray for all and every one, though I were bound to do so, &c.  We are to desire the salvation of every man of whatsoever condition, sort, or nation, providing that we know him, and the conclusion here, hence, Definit in piscen being no more but this, that God willeth the salvation of all men, whom he vouchsafeth to make Christians.”  Thus far the moderator of the Westminster Assembly.

The second is the famous Mr. Gillespie, (whose authority seems almost equal with scripture, with our opponents, and so cannot by them here be well refused,) “Wherefore, (says he) when the apostle bids us pray for all men, his meaning is, that we should exclude no degree nor kind of men, great or small, bond or free, Jew or Gentile, &c. and so he doth upon the matter explain himself in the very next words, for kings and all that are in authority, he saith not all kinds, but he will not have us exclude kings and queens as such from our prayers; when he saith all authority, he means any kind of lawful authority, &c.—But if we look upon all kings and emperors personally and individually or numerically, so it cannot hold true, that we ought to pray for all that are in {413} authority, otherwise the ancient church had been bound to pray for Julian the apostate, &c.” [Miscellany Questions, page 281. (ch. 22.)]

The third is Mr. Shields, (in name of the suffering remnant) saith he, “It is duty to pray, supplicate, and intercede for all men, 1 Tim. 2.1, not collectively considered, not distributively for every one, universally without exception, but indefinitely, pro generus singulerum, for all sorts, of whatsoever nation, &c.  And not only so, but pro singulis generum, also conditionally, if they be amongst all these whom the Lord will have to be saved; verse 4, if they be amongst these all, for whom the Mediator gave himself a ransom to be testified in due time.—We may pray for all in authority two ways, as men, and as kings; as men we may pray for their salvation or conversion, or taking them out of the way if enemies of Christ’s kingdom, according as they are stated, &c.  But if we pray for them as kings, then they must be such by God’s approbation, and not mere possessory occupants, to whom we owe no such respect or duty.” [Hind Let Loose, page 454, first edition.  See also Mr. Rutherford, on liberty of conscience, chap. 18.]

The last is faithful Mr. James Renwick, (who in reference to what Mr. Gillespie as above quoted) says, “We must understand that prayer (says he) to be specificated to that all for whom he gave himself a ransom, verse 6, which was not certainly for all and every individual man, of every kind and degree, (otherwise all would be saved) but only for some of all kinds and degrees of men;” and alibi he says, “Let prayers be made for all men, especially for kings, not meaning all in authority, but such as are within the election of free grace, and rule for God.”[1]  No doubt these will be judged contracted sentiments in this an enlightened age (as they call it) when a general faith, unlimited prayers, and universal charity {414} prevails, Papists and Protestants, Prelates and Presbyterians can worship God, pray and praise publicly, under one roof alternately; but they are such as will stand the test of God’s word, and Christ’s intercessory prayer, I pray not for the world, &c.  They indeed knew that it was one thing to pray for the conversion of kings in common with men, and for these in the exercise of lawful authority in particular—and another thing to intercede and pray for the Lord to bless and preserve the persons, government, constitution, and high court of Parliament, consisting of lords spiritual and temporal (the mark of the beast) who have usurped Christ’s crown rights, and who are standing in a state opposition and combination against his cause, interests, and the coming of his kingdom.  The form of some of their public prayers for such runs thus, “O Lord God, to whom vengeance belongs, shew thyself, &c.—render a reward to the proud—how long shall the wicked triumph—shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, which frameth mischief by a law—the mighty God destroy all kings and people that shall put to their hands to alter and destroy the house of God——overturn! overturn this throne of iniquity, and let it be no more, until he come whose right it is, &c.[2]

And indeed we may warrantably pray for destruction, at least temporal judgments, on all the obstinate and irreconcilable enemies of God, his church, and people, so let all thine enemies perish, O Lord, &c. [Judges 5.31.]  And that all these kings and constitutions may be brought down, subdued, or removed out of the way, that stands as lets and hindrances to the advancement and coming of the Mediator’s interest and kingdom upon earth.

Objection 10. “According to dissenters principles, heathen magistracy must be no ordinance of God {415} at all, else there must be two kinds of magistracy, one founded in nature, and the other in divine revelation.”

All the reply I shall make to this, is, that if we could suppose there were two supreme lawgivers, and two distinct divine laws, there might be somewhat here conclusive, but as there is but one supreme Lawgiver, Creator, Proprietor, and Governor of all things, so all rights, civil, natural, or spiritual, whether of conscience or persons, magistrates or ministers, or even of Christ as Mediator, (as one well observes) must therefore wholly originate from him. [See Mr. Brown on Toleration, page 7.]  And we know of no divine law abstract or contrary to, or distinguishable from that divine moral unalterable law of God as revealed in his word, that this ordinance can be instituted or founded in, else it were no divine ordinance at all, but a mere human terrene device of men.  Indeed it is so far founded in nature, as the nature and circumstances of men makes it necessary for them, and the ordinance of man [1 Pet. 2.13] as men are the electors and setters up of the different forms of government amongst them, but then this must be done only in agreeableness to the preceptive will and law of God.  “All royal power is given of God, Deut. 17.” Says Mr. Rutherford, “in the first moulding of royal highness, there was a power to rule, according to that which is written in the book of the law, and so there can be no royal power to the contrary, truly royal.” [Sermon before the house of Commons, 1644.]  The heathen may, by the remains of right reason, set up such over them, and in as far as they punish the transgressors of the second table of the law, in so far they may be said to answer the ends of this ordinance, in being beneficial to human society, and no further; which can be no sufficient or certain rule for Christians, in a reformed covenanted land, who {416} are favoured with the light of Divine revelation: for as Mr. Knox well observed, one thing was required of Israel when in Egypt, and another thing when they came to the land of Canaan.  The Christian magistrate must be God’s vicegerent, a keeper and defender of both tables of the law, a professor and defender of the true religion; “for true magistrates are keepers and defenders of both tables of the ten commandments,” says the Dutch annotators on 1 Tim. 2.2.  And this no heathen, by the light of nature, can do: but all this makes not two kinds of magistracy.  Mr. Gillespie himself grants us the point frankly, when he says, “The heathen magistrate may and ought to do what the Christian magistrate doth, but the Christian is fitted, qualified, enabled, and sanctified to serve Jesus Christ, as a magistrate, which the heathen magistrate is not.”  Aaron’s Rod, &c. page 233.  Here it is as a magistrate, which no doubt would, with the above sentiments of Mr. Rutherford, and the Dutch translators, be accounted down right Erastianism in dissenters; but they are such, I dare affirm, as the word of God, and our covenanted uniformity requires and allows, say Loyalists and Glassites what they will.

Objection 11. “But must a handful of Dissenters have a negative over a whole nation, in the erection of civil government,” — so the Loyalist.

A poor local quibbling objection or argument indeed, which merits no other reply than just to observe:  1. That it is true, Dissenters are and have been but a handful, compared with the majority of the nation, but they are or were no fewer than the spirit of God describes the two witnesses.  The value of mettle cannot be judged by its weight or bulk, [and] the number of members in a church or party, does not make it good, else the Revolution-church would yet claim the pre-eminence, and so a continuing in it, because the majority might justify a course of defection; and must Dissenters because few, be exempted from obedience to the Lord’s express command, Thou shalt not {417} follow a multitude to do evil. [Exod. 23.2.]  2. Doth that handful claim a negative over a whole nation? no, it is the word of God, our Covenants, and reforming laws founded thereon, that claims the negative over it, no number can exalt themselves above these, for if they walk not according to that rule, even in the choosing of magistrates with such qualifications as there required in the erecting of civil government, it is because there is no light in them, and would the nations pursue these principles maintained by Dissenters in setting up of such, instead of being no government, anarchy, &c. as the objectors have wantonly affirmed, there would be one of the best regulated governments in the world, as they themselves have sometimes been besides their intention made to acknowledge; for to say that scripture had no more to do with this ordinance but to enforce subjection under pains of damnation, to every kind of occupant employing the place of authority, when a people is pleased to set up, not only revolts against common sense, but every dictate of Christianity.  But hark, I think I hear the objector saying, the king is a Protestant, a professed Christian, and so a brother in religion—strange! whether can Presbytery be deformed or Prelacy reformed, that they are so well agreed, many thousands of faithful Presbyterian Covenanters have Prelatic malignants laid in their winding-sheets; now, similar to Pilate and Herod they must be agreed, every Presbyterian is solemnly bound in Covenant (if not in their own persons) in the loins of their forefathers, to the extirpation of Prelacy, Prelates, Malignants, &c. as well as Popery and Papists; now, how one can be accounted a brother in religion to a Scots Presbyterian, who is not only a professed Prelatic, or Episcopal of the Lutheran and Arminian persuasion, but the head of an Erastian constitution, bound by solemn oath to maintain, support, and defend to the utmost of his power that hierarchy, with the whole of the Popish ceremonies, rites, and superstitions of the church of England, is what I have not yet learned; nay, I {418} think it is such an assertion or insinuation, that no divine, philosopher, or Logician, will ever be able to reconcile: this would make our Covenants bonds of iniquity indeed—to swear against our religious relations; if this holds, then farewell Presbytery—Covenants—faithful witness bearing—contendings—testimonies of our martyrs, and the whole of a Covenanted work of reformation, name and thing for ever.  Such reasoning as this, I think, (except in a late publication concerning public vows) never dropped from the pen of a professed witness bearer.

Objection 12. “But Dissenters are suspected of Jacobitism, and charged with it; P. Walker has said, that Kersland in his Memoirs has said it, &c.”

Malice is always fertile of invention: this is a story now told at third hand, and by the Satirical Reviewer, set forth with great improvements; however the charge is altogether groundless, as shall by and by be made evident to rational and unprejudiced minds.  For answer, The Reviewer tells us a long story of Pat. Walker’s, concerning Kersland’s convening the old Dissenters at the cross of Sanquhar, and how he, (Kersland) caused them to publish that declaration, 1707 there; and says, that though the Pretender’s interest was not inserted directly, yet it was couched in it—this, says he, Kersland has inserted in his Memoirs, &c.  Now let us examine the premises.

1. It is true that Kersland received a patent to be a rogue, patorum sequitur sua protee, from Queen Ann and her ministry, in virtue of which, he feigned himself sometimes a Jacobite, and sometimes an old Dissenter or Cameronian (as he calls them) to whom he gives high encomiums, that he might discover their secret intrigues to the government, for which piece of vile drudgery, as he calls it, he says he was rewarded by the government as he deserved—what correspondence he had with some of these officers who returned from the Angus regiment, I cannot say, but it is evident from their own minutes, that he never was {419} joined with the community of the old Dissenters, nor convened them at Sanquhar, or any place else; for though he and Earlstoun, it is said, came to one of their general meetings, they were refused admittance; so that he behoved to be an entire stranger, and perfect foreigner to their purposes; and they removed far from the sphere of his prescriptions and dictates in such matters.

2. It is no less false in the telling of the story, that Kersland says the Pretender’s interest was couched in it.  Kersland’s words are, “Though this declaration did not mention the Pretender expressly, yet it was couched so as to make the Jacobites hope that the Cameronians might soon be reconciled to that interest.”  It is now time that the declaration speak for itself: “We protest against and disown the pretended Prince of Wales, from having any just right to rule or govern these nations, or to be admitted unto the government thereof; and whereas, (as it is reported) we are maliciously aspersed by these who profess the Presbyterian persuasion, especially Laodicean preachers, that we should be accessory to the advancement of him whom they call the Prince of Wales to the throne of Britain: therefore to let all concerned be fully assured of the contrary, we protest and testify against all such so principled, to have any right to rule in thir [these] lands, because we look upon all such to be standing in a stated opposition to God, and a covenanted work of Reformation.”  Now the Pretender’s interest is not only flatly rejected here, but this false calumnious charge anticipated and repelled—and indeed it could not be otherwise, and that on different accounts.  (1.) From their principles, Dissenters have always espoused, viz. the purity of Presbytery, and Reformation principles, in opposition to Prelacy, Popery, and all their respective appurtenances.  (2.) From their divers declarations of their principles, in points wherein their whole strain and scope runs a direct counterline unto Jacobitism, as well as Prelatic malignancy.  And (3.) From {420} their constant practices consonant to their declared principles, by which they have all along given proof of their utter aversion to that way, both as to persons and opinions.

Lastly, Is it possible that our accusers have not seen that declaration, and the other points emitted from time to time by Dissenters, wherein they are mostly explicit against both Prelatic and Popish Pretenders, without ever dreaming of their becoming duly qualified, or availing themselves of ensuing confusion.  Could men thus in their solid wits, without the greatest bias of prejudice, condemn these without perusing them or seeing them, found such a lie on pure malice, in regard they behoved to know they were writing a deliberate lie, nay, defending falsehoods by falsehoods: “Lying is very abominable (says Mr. Caryl, on Job 13.4,) when it is only a tongue craft, but it is then most abominable when it is also an handy craft:” and we may add spleen and envy craft, which seems applicable for P. Walker.  The worst we shall say of him, he is now gone to his own place.  For the surviving accusers, we wish them repentance and a better employment, for till they point out the page, section, sentence, or words, wherein the Pretender’s interest is couched, the world may judge, what designation they justly merit, through their malevolent speeches.

Objection 13. “Dissenters principles is a bloody system, leading the professors to sedition, blood, and slaughter, which they are ready on all occasions to put in practice; fame has often had instruments of destruction carefully secreted, if not still ready by them for that purpose, &c.”

Here is another wicked engine set to work, to render the principles and practices of Dissenters still more odious before the world, an old malignant accusation against our late sufferers, trumped up in a new and eloquent dress: but how is it proven? why Kersland and P. Walker behoved to father the last charge; but this is just founded on common fame, {421} report, and hearsay; report it say they, and we will report it, [Jer. 20.10,] and indeed report has oftner lied than told the truth, which renders such a poor fabulous, malicious, calumny, altogether unworthy of any answer, till otherwise documented.  However, let it be observed,

1. That as to Dissenters system of principles on this head, they require no more than the word of God, our Covenants, and the reforming acts that guided them, requires and refuses.  It must be the Bible, our Covenants, and reforming acts and laws, that according to our accusers nostrum, is the bloody system, and our Reformers and sufferers who maintained these principles, the men of seditious and bloody practices, and then the Dissenters have a good cause, and go in good company.

2. If Dissenters did not hold the principles of self defence, they would not be the genuine successors of those renowned Reformers and highly honoured martyrs: The word of God, the law of nature and nations, warrant them in this; and must they at the nod of violent traducers, be utterly divest of all means common with others, for their own self-preservation, against foreign and intestine invasions; (as has once and again been the case, by a Popish Pretender since the Revolution) must they be a people utterly devoted to destruction.—But where are these instruments of death to be found? why, says the accuser, “look about their houses for them?” well, Dissenters put their most inveterate opposers to an absolute defiance, to find any such intended arms there, and only wishes our accusers, or the pretended hesitaters, may go in search of them, which probably might be a mean to obstruct such a delusive charm from co-operating upon the minds of the credulous, and rescue the principles and characters of Dissenters, from the horrid claws of false imputation and traduction.

3. Let our adversaries but condescend in what rebellion, riot, mob, insurrection, or tumult, Dissenters directly or indirectly have been engaged; or {422} where ever one of that community, stood pannel at the bars of the higher or lower judicatories of the nations, for the assassinating, stabbing, and cursing of kings, drinking the Pretender’s health, listing men, procuring armies, &c. and fighting for him, pulling down of chapels, resisting excise officers, stopping of the post guard, pelting of members of parliament, highway robberies, &c. which could never possibly be the case, were they ready to seize every opportunity, and avail themselves of any confusion, on every occasion, to announce, or put these their bloody principles in practice, by breathing out rebellion and bloodshed, against king and country, as is said; O invidious detraction!

4. Our antagonists in the course of controversy, have fairly granted that Dissenters “are serious good and well-meaning people, wishes success to their ministers in the gospel;” — now, how they can be really good men, and successful ministers, and yet be at the same time chargeable with “blasphemy, perversion, and abuse of scripture, rebels, men of bloody principles, and seditious practices,” is what no rational religious mind can reconcile.  O contradiction! how congenial art thou to the writers on the Utopian constitution of absolute authority and unlimited obedience: only permit me to notice a few of Kersland’s [John Crawford's] words on the matter, and as his testimony against Dissenters has been sustained by our accusers, it cannot in discretion be by them refused, when in our favours, else his authority must go for as good as nothing.  After describing the principles, and some of the practices of Dissenters (whom he terms Cameronians) he concludes thus, “They are peaceable in this reign, because they are permitted to live quietly, and so may be said to be passive under the present administration, but at the same time decline to be any way active in supporting, it being in them a mighty point of conscience.” [Vide Memoirs, part 1, page 16.] {423}

I shall shut up the whole, with these two short remarks following:  1. Could Dissenters be, through divine grace, enabled to live in a way agreeable to their professed principles, such maltreatment need little to affect them; a faithful testimony has always tormented the men of the earth; hence it was and is, that Christ himself, the faithful and true witness, and all his most faithful followers in every age, has been thus aspersed; and should Dissenters be altogether exempted?  He himself was accused by the Jews, as a perverter of the nation, an enemy to Caesar.  (Said the men of Thessalonica of his apostles) “These that have turned the world upside down, are come here also.”  The Apostle Paul was called a pestilent fellow, a mover of sedition amongst all the Jews.  The primitive Christians were represented as pests to human society, incendiaries, that they set Rome on fire, &c.  The same charge was brought against our first Reformers from Popery.  How often was Mr. Knox and others with him, accused of sedition and rebellion; and what was the whole of our second Reformation, represented by Malignants and high flyers, but one continued course of rebellion; that nothing would serve some of the most eminent of our Covenanters, unless they would wade to the ankles in blood.[3]

And so our late sufferers were frequently called anti-government men, men of bloody murdering principles, rebels, blood-thirsty, flagitious villains, and what not, nay it cannot be otherwise, for we are assured from the word of God, that all that will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution, of one kind or other, were it even tongue persecution, as the case is here, and so it was with the Prophet Jeremiah, “Come let us smite him with the tongue, &c. i.e. rail on him, tell lies about concerning him, represent him to be what the people hate, inform {424} against him, accuse and overthrow him by calumny and detraction; as Poole and Diodati expound it.

Lastly, those very persons thus traduced, viz. the old Dissenters, (as it appears our accusers has a particular eye here unto these, by stating the ground of the accusation on their first declarations after the Revolution) who outlived the Revolution, lived and died with great assurance and peace of conscience in professing and practicing of these principles, as a number of their dying testimonies (now before me) evidences; wherein they solemnly protest and declare, that this was the cause of Christ, and these were his truths now controverted, that they had all along contended and witnessed for; and though they had their lives to begin a-new, they would through divine grace retract nothing, but be more circumspect on these points; and that they had great peace of conscience in it, and would advise all to the same profession and practice; in faith of which, under the refreshful gales of the Lord’s blessed countenance and sensible presence, they went joyfully off the stage of time to eternity, in the full assurance of the enjoyment of God, and a blessed resurrection.

Now, let our accusers but produce one single instance similar to these, as a confirmation of the justice of their principles and practices, on the contrary side of the question.

N.B. I intended to have touched upon several other Particulars objected against the Principles and Practices of Dissenters, and also to have been more full upon these here noticed; but as I have already pushed on farther than the price set upon the Book could well afford, I must leave what remains to those of more learning and abilities.


1. Collection of Sermons, ſect. v. ſermon 27, laſt edition.—Howie of Lochgoin.  [Sermon 37, and Lecture 5.

If any think that Mr. Renwick has taken a unique liberty in suggesting a qualification or limitation, he may consider the notes of the Geneva Bible, 1560, on this verse.  But perhaps his thoughts might have been better expressed as, “not meaning all in authority without a scope, but such as are within the election of free grace, and rule for God,” as his purpose is to keep the verses at the beginning of 1 Tim. 2 in the context of one another, and the evident intention of the apostle, assuring Timothy and others that their prayers should not be for one kind of persons only, but should correspond to the full breadth of God’s purposes and promises, which concern men of all sorts.  That the scope of this passage assumes the purpose of God’s election, and concerns a universality of categories, not individuals, is a common teaching of Christian writers, including Augustine, Luther, and Calvin, when they explain verse 4.  Augustine says, “‘He wills all men to be saved,’ is so said that all the predestinated may be understood by it, because every kind of men is among them.” (On Rebuke and Grace, ch. 44.)  Luther says, “These verses must always be understood as pertaining to the elect only, as the apostle says in 2 Tim. 2:10, “everything for the sake of the elect.” (Lectures on Romans, Scholia, p. 376, ed. 1972.)  And Calvin says, “The present discourse relates to classes of men, and not to individual persons; for his sole object is, to include in this number princes and foreign nations.” (Commentary on 1 Tim. 2.4., p. 55, ed. 1996, Baker.)  Ultimately, the apostle’s exhortation can never be regarded as a mandate for each believer to pray for every individual person without exception, but to admonish believers against any unwarranted exclusions of entire categories of men from our prayers and hopes, whether through prejudice or other occasions, seeing the Lord has revealed his purpose to gather those who were “strangers and foreigners” and make them “fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” (Eph. 2.19.)  If there is any class of men they regard as their adversaries, they are yet to overcome that, and pray for their salvation.—JTK.]

2. Hind let loose, page 468. [Page 533, ed. 1797.]

3. So Bishop Guthrie and others have told us.