... for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions?—Canticles 1.7.
The whole of our covenanted Reformation, as attained to, and established in Britain and Ireland; particularly, betwixt the years 1638 and 1649, inclusive:
As also, Against
All the steps of defection from said reformation, whether in former or later times, since the overthrow of that glorious work, down to this present day:
By the REFORMED PRESBYTERY.
Psalm 60.4. Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee: That it may be displayed because of the truth.
Isa. 8.16. Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.
Jude,—ver. 3. That ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints.
Rev. 8.2. Behold, I come quickly: Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
Original Publication: 1761.
This TrueCovenanter.com Edition: 2023,
Primarily from the Third Edition of 1777.
1. Occasion for Testimony 2. Early History of Christianity in Scotland 3. First National Reformation in Scotland 4. Efforts to Overthrow the Reformation Order 5. Revival and Second Reformation 6. Adherence to the Second Reformation 7. Troubles with Cromwell and Resolutioners 8. Twelve Steps or Phases of Persecution and Decline 9. A Royal Toleration to Ruin Religion 10. The Reformed Presbytery’s Review and Testimony
Act, Declaration, and Testimony: Resource Index Act, Declaration, and Testimony: Outline TrueCovenanter.com — Main Page
Containing a brief historical narration of the several periods of the Testimony of the Church of Scotland, and of the faithful contendings of the witnesses for Christ, particularly from the commencement of the Reformation in these lands, down to the late Revolution; with the Presbytery’s approbation thereof.
At PLOUGHLANDHEAD, the 6th day of June, 1761.
THE which day and place, the Reformed Presbytery being met, and taking into their most serious consideration, the deplorable situation of the interest of CHRIST and religion at present, in these sinning lands, wherein so few are asking for the old path, saying, Where is the good way, that we may walk therein; but, on the contrary, an avowed apostacy and backsliding from the right ways of the LORD, is by the generality carried on, with a secret undermining of reformation interests, by some, under more specious pretences: And further, considering the general deluge of error and heresy, that hath over-run these lands, and the swarm of erroneous hereticks that hath overspread the same, making very impious attacks upon the most part of revealed religion; who, notwithstanding, have found such shelter under the wings of a Laodicean church, and almost boundless state toleration, that they walk on without fear, in the foresaid broad way of sin and error. And, moreover, all kinds of sin and wickedness so universally abound and pass, without any suitable check, that he who departs from iniquity, maketh himself a prey; together with the woful insensibility, and deep security of all, under our spiritual plagues, and impending temporal strokes. And yet, while the land so evidently groans under its inhabitants, very few either acknowledge themselves guilty, or turn from the evil of their ways, saying, what have we done? Also, considering the horrid breach and contempt of sacred vows unto the Most High; the great effusion of the saints’ blood, shed in our late persecution under Prelacy, (which is yet to be found in our skirts,) and the faithful testimony they therewith sealed, remains buried under the gravestones, both of ecclesiastical and civil deeds of constitution, unto this day. So that we may rather admire, that the LORD hath not made such inquisition for blood, as to make our land an aceldama, than that we are yet under a dispensation of divine forbearance. All which is followed with a deep oblivion of most or all of the memorable instances of the LORD’s goodness, mercy, and power, manifested unto his church, in these lands; the remembrance whereof ought still to be retained, and the same acknowledged with thankfulness, by all the children of Zion, unto the latest ages.
Wherefore the presbytery, amidst their many difficulties, partly noticed in the introduction, as a court of the true Presbyterian covenanted church of CHRIST in Scotland, constituted in the name of the LORD JESUS CHRIST, the alone KING and HEAD of his church, judicially to commemorate: Likeas, they did, and hereby do acknowledge, with the utmost gratitude, the great goodness and tender mercy of our GOD unto our church and land; who, in consequence of that early new covenant grant, made by JEHOVAH to his Eternal SON, to give him the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession, [Psalm 2.8,] caused the day spring from on high to visit us: Our glorious Redeemer, that bright and morning Star, having, by his Almighty power, shaken off the fetters of death, wherewith it was impossible that he could be held, and, as a victorious conqueror, leading captivity captive, ascended into the highest heavens, and there sat down on the right hand of GOD, [Heb. 10.12,] did very soon discover his cordial acceptance of, and superlative delight in possessing his Father’s extensive grant, by stretching forth the lines of his large and great dominion unto the distant nations of the world, involved in the thickest darkness of stupidity and idolatry; and, in a particular manner, did, as the glorious sun of righteousness, graciously illuminate this remote and barbarous isle, causing the refulgent beams of gospel light, to dissipate the gross darkness that covered the people, which prevailed so far, (according to very authentic historical accounts,) that about the beginning of the third century, those of the highest dignity in the nation, voluntarily enlisted themselves under the displayed banner of CHRIST, the captain of salvation, and became nursing fathers and nursing mothers to his church, employing their power to root out Pagan idolatry, and bring their subjects under the peaceful scepter of the SON of GOD. This plant of Christianity having once taken root, did, under all the vicissitudes of divine providence, grow up unto a spreading vine, which filled the land, [Psalm 80.9,] and continued to flourish, without being pressed down with the intolerable burthen of prelatical or popish superstition: The truths and institutions of the gospel being faithfully propagated and maintained in their native purity and simplicity by the Culdees some hundreds of years, before ever that man of sin, and son of perdition, by the door of Prelacy, stept into the temple of GOD in Scotland. [2 Thess. 2.3-4.] These early witnesses for CHRIST, having no other ambition, but that of advancing piety, and the doctrines which were according to godliness, were therefore called Culdees, that is, Cultores Dei, or worshippers of GOD. The doctrine, worship, discipline, and government of the house of GOD being thus established, continued for many years, taught and exercised, according to divine institution. But, in process of time, the Church of CHRIST in this land came to be assaulted with the corruptions of the see of Rome, by means of Palladius the Pope’s missionary to the Britons, who made the first attempt to bring our fathers’ necks under the antichristian yoke, which gradually increasing by little and little, clouded the sun-shine of prosperity the church then enjoyed, till about the eleventh century, when the Romish fraternity fully established themselves, by usurping a diocesan supremacy over the house of GOD; after which a midnight darkness of popish error and idolatry overwhelmed the nation, for near the space of 500 years. Yet, even in this very dark period, the LORD left not himself altogether without some to bear witness for him, whose stedfastness in defence of the truth, even unto death, vanquished the inhuman cruelty of their savage enemies. The honour of the church’s exalted Head being still engaged to maintain the right of conquest he had obtained over this remote isle, and raise up his work out of the ruins, under which it had lain so long buried; he, about the beginning of the 16th century, animated some valiant champions (Messrs. Hamilton, Wishart, and others,) with a spirit of truth and heroic courage, to contend against the abominations of the Babylonish whore, whose labours, by the blessing of Heaven, were rendered successful, to open the eyes of some to see, and engage many others to inquire after, and espouse the truth as it is in JESUS. These, not regarding the fear of man, nor the cruelty of their enemies, but as good soldiers of JESUS CHRIST, enduring hardness, chose, rather than desert their Master’s cause, to offer their bodies to be devoured by the tormenting flames, no more merciless than their hellish persecutors; while in that fiery chariot, through the aerial regions, their souls ascended to the celestial country. And herein also did GOD frustrate the expectation of that monster of iniquity, Cardinal Beaton, (whose memory let it for ever perish,) and his wicked accomplices, and turned their counsel into foolishness, who, by the death of a few zealous contenders for the faith, intended the total suppression of CHRIST>S’s truth for ever: But GOD having purposed the contrary, made the effusion of their blood, the occasion of rousing many from the deep sleep of gross ignorance, by putting them to search into the truth of these doctrines, which these martyrs sealed with their blood; so that JESUS CHRIST, the only true light in the orb of the gospel, began again to shine forth within this realm.
Upon this begun revival of reformation, the glory of the LORD went remarkably before his people, and the GOD of Israel was their rereward, uniting the hearts, and strengthening the hands, both of noble and ignoble, to a vigorous and active espousing of his gospel, and concerns of his glory, in opposition to the tyranny of the lordly bishops, persecuting rage, and masked treachery of the two bloody Marys, the mother and daughter, who then successively governed, or rather tyrannized, in Scotland. Their number, as well as their zealous spirit still increasing; they, for the more effectual management of this noble enterprise, entered into covenants to advance that begun work of reformation, and to defend the same, and one another in the maintenance thereof, against all opposition whatsomever. Several such covenants our early reformers solemnly entered into at Edinburgh, Perth and Leith, in the years 1557, 1559, 1560 and 1562. In 1560, the Confession of the Faith, and doctrine believed and professed by the Protestants within the realm of Scotland, was compiled and civilly ratified, or allowed of, in free and open parliament, afterwards sworn to in the National Covenant annis 1580, 1581 and 1590. At the same time, some other acts were passed, in favour of reformation; one against the mass, and abuse of the sacraments; another, abolishing the Pope’s jurisdiction and authority with this realm, &c. In the above mentioned year 1560, the first book of policy and discipline, containing the form and order of presbyterial church government, was composed, approven and subscribed by the ministry, and a great part of the nobility. Thus, by the wisdom and power of GOD, who takes the wise in their own craftiness, by means, especially, of the indefatigable labours of the renowned Mr. Knox, (whose memory is still savoury in the churches,) was this surprising work of reformation advanced, until it obtained the authority of a law; whereby, was not only the presbyterian protestant interest ratified, but antichristian supremacy and superstition abolished.
The church, gradually increasing in beauty and perfection, did, with much painfulness and faithful diligence, labour after a more full establishment of the house of GOD, in all its privileges, until, by perfecting the second book of discipline, they compleated the exact model of presbytery, which, though they had enjoyed national assemblies for a considerable time, yet was not brought to such an entire conformity to the divine pattern, nor so generally acquiesced in till now, that it was unanimously approven by the assembly 1590, and particularly enjoined to be subscribed by all who did bear office in the church; and, at last, they prevailed to get it publicly voted and approven in parliament, June 1592; and also at the same time, obtained by act of parliament, the ratification of all the privileges and liberties of the church, in her assemblies, synods, presbyteries, &c.
And here we may observe, that while this church and nation contended for the obtaining of a legal establishment of the ecclesiastical polity, they were no less concerned to have that other distinct ordinance of GOD, civil magistracy, unalterably settled, in agreeableness to the rule of GOD’s word. This appears, not only by their earnest contendings against the abuse of that ordinance among them; but also, by the public acts of parliament, obliging Prince and people to be of one perfect religion, and wholly incapacitating all persons, for bearing any office, supreme or subordinate, who refused, by their solemn oath, to approve of, and, to the utmost of their power, engage to defend the true religion, as contained in the word of GOD, and confession of faith founded thereon, then believed, and publicly professed within the realm, ratified and generally sworn to in the National Covenant, during the whole course of their lives, in all their civil administrations. See Acts Parl. 1st, James VI. 1567.
Thus the hand of GOD was remarkably seen, and his powerful arm evidently revealed, in delivering this nation both from Pagan darkness, and Popish idolatry, the memory whereof ought not to be lost, but thankfully acknowledged, to the honour of GOD’s great name, by all such as favour the dust of Zion, for her sake, and long to see her breaches, now wide as the sea, repaired. [2 Kings 12.6,7.]
But to proceed: The church’s grand foe envying her growing prosperity, did soon disturb her peace, by insinuating himself upon those of superior dignity, who were intrusted with the administration of civil affairs, both supreme and subordinate, blowing up into a flame that inbred and rooted enmity, which they still retained, at the simplicity, strictness and scriptural purity of the reformation in Scotland. The then supreme civil ruler, King James VI, formed a scheme for ruining the church of Scotland, and stripping her of those comely and beautiful ornaments of reformation purity, in doctrine, worship, discipline and government, which she had now put on, by introducing episcopacy, and establishing bishops. “This he did for no other reason, (says one) but because he believed them to be useful and pliable instruments for turning a limited monarchy into absolute dominion, and subjects into slaves; that which, of all other things he affected most:” And for this purpose, (after several subtle and cunningly devised steps, previously taken, with design to do, by degrees, what could not be done at once,) he makes an open attack upon the general assembly, robbing them of their power and liberty to meet, judge and determine, in all ecclesiastical concerns, (well knowing, that so long as assemblies might conveen in freedom, he would never get the estate of bishops established in Scotland,) and imprisoning and banishing many faithful ministers, members of the general assembly, who opposed him, testified and protested against his wicked invasion, and sacrilegious robbery of the church’s rights and privileges. And, having at last obtained the supremacy and headship over the church, which was granted him by an impious act of a pretended parliament, of his own stamp, called by him for that purpose, proceeded with his design, until he had again established Prelacy, and razed Presbytery almost to the very foundations, notwithstanding all the opposition made to it by the faithful in the land, both ministers and people.
Thus, after several former attempts to this effect, was Episcopacy again established, and Prelates lording over GOD’s heritage advanced, imposing their Popish ceremonies, which in that pretended assembly conveened at Perth, anno 1618, were enacted, and afterwards ratified in a subsequent parliament, in the year 1621. And as the father had thus violated his solemn professions, declarations and engagements, to maintain the covenanted interest; so likewise, upon the accession of the son to the throne, there was no amendment nor redress had: But he followed the same iniquous course, walking in the way of his father, and in the sin wherewith he made Israel to sin. And further, obtruded upon the church, a service book, a book of popish and prelatical canons, which was followed with a violent prosecution of the faithful contenders for the former laudable constitutions of the church, carried on by that monstrous Erastian high-commission court, patched up of statesmen and clergymen: And hereby was the church again brought under the yoke of antichristian Prelacy, and tyrannical supremacy; which lese-majesty to Zion’s King was also ratified with the sanction of civil authority. To this yoke, oppressing CHRIST’s loyal subjects, many of his professed servants submitted their necks, and, Issachar-like, became servants to tribute for a considerable time.
But when the LORD’s set time to favour Zion came, he made the long despised dust thereof again to be more pleasant and precious than ever unto his servants and people, and the long night season and thick clouds of adversity, under which his church laboured, amidst some day sky, and sun-blinks of prosperity she at times enjoyed, to issue in the dawning of a day of clearer light, wherein the Glorious SUN of Righteousness shone in his meridian splendor, with greater brightness, both in this and the neighbouring nations, than at his first arising therein, in a gospel dispensation; whose benign influences caused the small grain of good seed, sown by the skill of the Great Husbandman, to grow up to a fruitful plant, the tender twig to spread itself into a noble vine, and the little cloud, like a man’s hand, to cover the whole hemisphere of the visible church of Scotland, which long ago, as a church and nation, had enlisted themselves under the LORD JESUS CHRIST, as their Royal Prince; whose peaceful and righteous scepter being now also extended to England and Ireland, they soon submitted themselves thereto, in a religious association and union with Scotland in covenant engagements, for reformation from Prelacy, as well as Popery, which they had never hitherto yielded to.
Upon this gracious return of divine favour, and discovery of Almighty power manifested against the mighty agents for prelatical superstition, both in church and state, when, from the paucity of those who appeared in favour of truth, in the year 1637, small opposition unto its enemies could be expected; yet their magnanimity in witness-bearing was so followed by manifestations of the divine countenance and favour, that both their number and courage daily increased. The National Covenant was again, after mature deliberation, anent both the lawfulness, expediency and seasonableness thereof, with great solemnity renewed in March, 1638, with the general concurrence of the ministry, noblemen, gentlemen and others, humbling themselves before the LORD for their former defections and breach of covenant; though, at the same time, the court faction, and many temporising ministers continued in their opposition, but which was indeed too weak to make resistance unto the cause of GOD, and force of truth carried home with suitable conviction upon the conscience.
The covenant being first renewed at Edinburgh, they provided next, that it should also be renewed through the kingdom; and for this purpose, copies thereof were sent with all convenient speed to the several presbyteries, together with suitable exhortations, and instructions for renewing of the same in every parish of their bounds; and by this means it came to pass, through the good hand of their GOD upon them, that in a little time, almost every parish through Scotland, did, with much solemnity, cheerfulness and alacrity, renew the same, and publicly with uplifted hand avouch the LORD to be their GOD. And as this solemn action was everywhere accompanied with remarkable evidences of divine power and presence in a plentiful effusion of a spirit of grace and supplication; so the joy of the LORD herein became their strength, and greatly increased the faith and hopes of all the church’s real friends, that as the LORD had begun, so he would also make an end, and carry on his work to perfection, amid the terrible threatnings both of king and court; his majesty being highly displeased that his authority was contemned, and no concurrence of his royal pleasure sought in the renovation of the covenant: But their righteousness in this particular was brought forth as the light, when the legality of this and their other proceedings was afterwards attested to the king by the ablest lawyers in the kingdom.
The zealous contenders for the church’s liberties, by supplications, reasonings, and proposed articles, for enjoying what they much longed for, at last obtained, before the foresaid year 1638 expired, a lawful and free general assembly, (constitute in the name of the LORD JESUS CHRIST, the alone King and Head of his church,) consisting of able members, both ministers and elders, who would not suffer an infringement upon their regular manner of procedure, or right to act as unlimited members of a free court of CHRIST, notwithstanding the constant attacks made upon their freedom by the king’s commissioner, and protestations by him taken against their regular procedure, which issued in his erastian declaration of the king’s prerogative, as supreme judge in all causes, ecclesiastical as well as civil, and renewing all his former protestations in his royal master’s name; further protesting in his own name, and in the name of the lords of the clergy, that no act passed by them should imply his consent, or be accounted lawful, or of force to bind any of the subjects; and, then in his majesty’s name dissolving the assembly, discharging their proceeding any further, and so went off. But the assembly judging it better to obey GOD than man; and to incur the displeasure of an earthly king, to be of far less consequence than to offend the Prince of the kings of the earth, entered a protestation against the lord commissioner’s departure without any just cause, and in behalf of the intrinsic power and liberty of the church; also assigning the reasons, why they could not dissolve the assembly, till such time as they had gone through that work depending upon them. This was given in to the clerk by Lord Rothes, and part of it read before his grace left the house, and instruments taken thereupon: Then, after several moving and pathetic speeches delivered on that occasion, for the encouragement of the brethren to abide by their duty, by the moderator, Mr. Alexander Henderson, and others, ministers and elders, exhorting them to shew themselves as zealous for CHRIST their LORD and Master, in his interests, as he had shewed himself zealous for his master; they unanimously agreed, that they should continue and abide by their work, until they had concluded all things needful, and that on all hazards. And so they proceeded to the examination of that complaint against the bishops, who, on account of their tyranny, superstition, and teaching of Popish, Arminian, and Pelagian errors, were all laid under the sentence of deposition; and many of them, for their personal profaneness, wickedness and debauchery proven against them, together with their contumacy, were also excommunicate with the greater excommunication, for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit might be saved in the day of the LORD JESUS. They gave their approbation of the National Covenant; and Prelacy, with the five articles of Perth, were found and declared to be abjured by it, together with the civil places and power of kirkmen, their sitting on the bench, as justices of the peace, sitting in council, and voting in parliament. Subscription of the confession of faith, or covenant, was also enjoined, presbyterian church government justified and approven, and an act made for holding yearly general assemblies; with many other acts and constitutions tending to the advancement of that begun reformation, and purging the church of CHRIST of these sinful innovations, crept into it, which may be seen more at large in the printed acts of that assembly. The lawful and just freedom which the church now claimed and stood upon, so highly incensed the court, because their erastian encroachments were not yielded to, that all warlike preparations were speedily made, for having them again reduced, by force of arms, to their former slavery: Yet, what evil seemed intended against the church by the king, with his popish and prelatical accomplices, was by her exalted King and Head happily prevented, and they obliged, at least, to feign subjection, and yield to a pacification. In which it was concluded, that an assembly be holden at Edinburgh, August 6th 1639, and the parliament the 20th of the same month, that same year, for healing the wide breaches, and redressing the grievances both of church and state; that what was determined by the assembly, might be ratified by the parliament. In this assembly, the covenant was ratified and subscribed by the commissioner, and an injunction laid upon the body of the kingdom for subscribing the same, with an explication, wherein the five articles of Perth, government of bishops, the civil places and power of kirkmen, were expressly condemned. Hereby the hopes of the Prelates again being in a great measure lost, and they receiving fresh assistance from the king, (who seemed to have little conscience in making laws, and found small difficulty in breaking them) recruited themselves the year following, and took the field, but with no better success than formerly, which obliged them to yield to another pacification, wherein both religious and civil liberties were ratified; and in 1641, these were further confirmed by the oaths, promises, laws, and subscriptions of both king and parliament, whereat the king was personally present, and gave the royal assent to all acts made for the security of the same; while at the same time he was concurring in the bloody tragedy acted upon the Protestants in the kingdom of Ireland.
The gracious countenance and abundant evidence of divine approbation, wherewith the LORD vouchsafed to bless his contending, reforming and covenanting church in Scotland, in a plentiful effusion of his Holy Spirit on the judicatories and worshipping assemblies of his people, proved a happy mean to excite and provoke their neighbours in England and Ireland, to go and do likewise: For in the year 1643, when the beginning of a bloody war between the king and parliament of England threatened the nation with a series of calamity and trouble; the parliament, having convocated an assembly of divines to sit at Westminster, for consulting about a reformation of religion in that kingdom, sent commissioners consisting of members of both houses and assembly, to treat with the assembly of the church of Scotland, and convention of estates about these things. In the month of August they presented their proposals to the convention of estates and assembly, desiring, that because the popish prelatical faction is still pursuing their design of corrupting and altering the religion through the whole island, the two nations might be strictly united for their mutual defence against them, and their adherents, and not to lay down arms until those their implacable enemies were disarmed, &c. Commissioners were deputed from the estates, and assembly, to conveen with those from England, in order to consider their proposals: And, at the first conferences, it was agreed, that the best and speediest means for accomplishing the union and assistance desired, was for both nations to enter into a mutual league and covenant for reformation, and defence of religion and liberty against its enemies: Which being drawn up, and affectionately embraced, was unanimously approved by the general assembly, and sent up to England by the hands of the ministers and elders sent [as] commissioners from the church of Scotland to the synod at Westminster; where, (being proposed by the parliament to the consideration of the synod) after the interpolation of an explanatory note in the second article, it was approven, and with public humiliation, and all other religious and answerable solemnity, taken and subscribed by them (the synod), and by both honourable houses of parliament, and by their authority taken and subscribed by all ranks in England and Ireland that same year, ratified by act of the parliament of Scotland, anno 1644, and afterwards renewed in Scotland, with an acknowledgement of sins, and engagement to duties, by all ranks in the year 1648, and by the parliament 1649.
Thus, to the rejoicing of all true lovers of the prosperity and beauty of the church, who longed for CHRIST, the salvation of Israel, his coming forth out of Zion, these three churches and nations combined and embarked together in the same honourable and glorious cause of reformation, and solemnly bound themselves by the oath of GOD, to maintain and defend the same against all its enemies and opposers whatever; thereby publicly professing their subjection to CHRIST, and their preferring of pure and undefiled religion, the advancement of the interest, kingdom and glory of JESUS CHRIST, to their nearest and dearest interests in this world: And the LORD was with us while we were with him, [2 Chron. 15.2,] and stedfast in his covenant; but when we forsook him, and broke his covenant, he also forsook us, and delivered his strength into captivity, and his glory into the enemies’ hand. [Psalm 78.61.]
In the next place, the assembly at Westminster, with the assistance of commissioners from the general assembly of the church of Scotland, proceeded to conclude on what was needful for furthering and completing this intended and covenanted uniformity in religion, that the LORD might be one, and his name one in the three lands: And for this purpose, a confession of faith was composed, and agreed upon by that venerable assembly, together with catechisms larger and shorter, propositions concerning church government, ordination of ministers, and directory for worship; all which were received and approved by the general assembly, and convention of estates in Scotland.
The LORD thus prospering his work in the hands of his servants employed in ecclesiastic affairs; he gave no less countenance unto the parliament of England, with the assistance they received from Scotland, in defeating all the wicked attempts of the popish, prelatical and malignant party in England, overthrowing their tyranny, and reducing the supporters thereof. A like victory was at length obtained over Montrose in Scotland, who commanded the royalists, or malignant party there, and had for some time carried all before him. And so the King being worsted at all hands, and despairing of overtaking his designs, his army having been almost all cut to pieces, and himself obliged to fly, resigned himself over to the Scots army at Newark, in the year 1646, and marched along with them to Newcastle; and they, upon the frequent solicitations of the English parliament, and their engaging for the King’s honourable treatment, delivered him over to them. Afterwards, he falling into the hands of Cromwell and the English army, a number in this nation violated the oath of GOD, which they had lately come under, by engaging in an unlawful war with England, commonly called the Duke’s engagement, in order to rescue the King from his captivity, (notwithstanding that he still persisted in his opposition to the just claims both of the church and nation, and after all that was come upon him, could not be reconciled to the covenants and work of reformation;) where they were in July 1648, totally routed by Oliver Cromwell; and Duke Hamilton, their general, being made prisoner, was incarcerated, and afterwards beheaded. This engagement was remonstrated against, and judicially condemned by the General Assembly of the church of Scotland; and the sinfulness of it was publicly acknowledged as a breach of the covenant-union between the two nations, by all ranks in Scotland that same year, at the renovation of the Solemn League and Covenant therein. At last the king being seized upon by Cromwell and his sectarian army, was, notwithstanding all the remonstrances both of church and state, removed by a violent death. Upon which the parliament of Scotland, on the 5th of February 1649, caused proclaim his son Charles II, king of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, (which title he had assumed himself at the Hague, as soon as the report of his father’s death came to his ears,) promising their fidelity and defence of his person, and authority, according to the National Covenant, and the Solemn League and Covenant: And at the same time declaring, that before he be admitted to the exercise of the royal power, he shall give security for the preservation and maintenance of the true reformed religion, and unity of the kingdoms, now established, by laws both civil and ecclesiastic, according to the covenants: The which security for religion and liberty, at the first proposed treaty at the Hague, he deferred to grant, and afterwards postponed the signing of the treaty at Breda, when every thing was agreed upon, from the great hopes he entertained of accomplishing his design, without acquiescing with their demand, from Montrose’s expedition, whom he had sent into Scotland with an army, in order to prepare his way into that kingdom, by devastation with fire and sword: But this intrigue not succeeding, he found himself obliged to comply with all their proposals, and signed the treaty. This treaty the king did in effect break, before he left Breda, by communicating after the episcopal manner, contrary to the express warning and remonstrance of the commissioners from the church of Scotland, who went to him, and shewed him his sin in so doing, and how inconsistent it was with his own concessions in the present treaty; and an evidence that he had no intention to perform what he had agreed to, but dissembled with GOD and man; and he, on the other hand, put them off with sham excuses and professions; and so, from their too much credulity to his fraudulent professions and promises all along, they brought him over to Scotland, and before his landing in this kingdom, he takes the covenant at Spey, on the 23rd June 1649, by his oath subjoined in allowance and approbation of the covenants National, and Solemn League, obliging himself faithfully to prosecute the ends thereof in his station and calling; and for himself and successors, he shall agree to all acts of parliament enjoining the same, and establishing presbyterial church government, the directory for worship, confession of faith and catechisms, in the kingdom of Scotland, as approven by the General Assemblies of this kirk, and parliament of this kingdom. And for their further satisfaction, according to the act of the West Kirk, Edinburgh, August 13th 1650, approven same day by the committee of estates, he emitted a declaration at Dunfermline, by profession, fully and heartily acquiescing with all their demands, all which afterwards served for nothing but as a lasting monument of his horrid perjury, wicked dissimulation, and mockery of GOD and man. And even then, when this declaration was published, he had formed a design for bringing in the enemies of the covenant, and work of reformation, both into the army and judicatories, and for dividing the Presbyterians among themselves. And this he effectually managed for both foresaid ends, by the public resolutions, on the 14th of December that same year 1650. This woful and prime step of defection, so contrary to the word, and injurious to the work of GOD, was faithfully testified against by many, both ministers, and whole presbyteries, who were sensible of the present sinfulness and evil of it, and foresaw the bitter and dismal consequences that followed upon it.
In the mean time, notwithstanding this, and other shrewd evidences the king gave of his double-dealing and hypocrisy, he was crowned at Scoon, on the first of January 1651, and had the Covenants National and Solemn League again administered unto him, by the reverend Mr. Douglas, after a sermon from 2 Kings 11.12,17, which he, in a most solemn manner renewed, before the three estates of parliament, the commissioners of the General Assembly, and a numerous congregation, in the words of his former oath at Spey; with the coronation oath, as contained in the 8th Act, Parl. 1st, James VI, to all which he engaged before his coronation; and on these terms, and no other, were the oaths of fidelity to him, as the lawful supreme magistrate, taken, at his receipt of the royal authority. And consequently, these covenant engagements became fundamental constitutions, both in church and state, and the door of access into office-bearing in either, and formal ground of the people’s subjection. Then was the church’s appearance “Beautiful as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, and terrible as an army with banners.” [Cant. 6.4.]
From what is noticed above, the presbytery cannot but declare their hearty approbation of the zeal, courage, and faithfulness of our honoured ancestors, in their valiant contendings for the valuable liberties and privileges of the spiritual kingdom of the MESSIAH, until they got the same established, and the nations brought under the most solemn, sacred, and inviolable engagements, to maintain every branch of this glorious reformation; a reformation, not only from the more gross errors, and idolatries of Popery, but from the more refined superstition of Prelacy, and all that Antichristian and Erastian supremacy, that in former times had been exercised on the heritage of the LORD; a reformation of both the divine ordinances of ministry and magistracy, from all the abuses and corruptions thereof, by the inventions of men, joined with the above mentioned establishment of them, in some measure of agreeableness unto their scriptural institution.
Likeas, the presbytery did, and hereby do declare their approbation of, and adherence unto foresaid reformation, in all the different parts and branches thereof, attained from 1638 to 1650 inclusive, and sworn to in the National and Solemn League and Covenant, not exclusive of such parts of reformation as were attained unto prior to this, but as a further advance on this foundation, and as being much more pure and agreeable to the infallible standard of scripture, than any formerly arrived at in these nations.
The daughter of Zion, thus going forth in the perfection of her beauty, when all ranks and degrees voluntarily subjected themselves unto the Royal Scepter of the SON of GOD, was most comely in the eyes of her Beloved: But oh! how is the gold become dim, and the most fine gold changed; the stones of the sanctuary are poured out on the top of every street, so that the house that was called of all people the house of prayer, is now become a den of thieves, being no less infamously despicable for deformation, than formerly for purity of reformation highly admired. This, at first, began with the public resolutions of the commission of the General Assembly 1650, above noticed, for taking into places of power and trust, in judicatories and armies, such persons as were known malignants, and in heart disaffected to the work, and people of GOD, putting it in their power to destroy and pull down the LORD’s work at their pleasure; a practice manifestly inconsistent with their covenant engagements, and the word of GOD, Deut. 23.9. 2 Chron. 19.2. Those that were then called protestors, (from their opposing and protesting against these resolutions,) continued stedfastly to witness against the same, as the first remarkable step, to make way for that bloody catastrophe, that afterwards befel the church. The LORD, then, in his righteous displeasure and controversy with the nation, for betraying of his cause and interest into the hands of his enemies, sold them into the hand of that conquering usurper, Oliver Cromwell, who, having stript them of their civil liberties, as the most effectual method to rob the church of her spiritual privileges, and nullify the forcible obligation of the sacred covenants, (which, when preserved, serve as a strong barrier against all such usurpations,) framed a hellish and almost unbounded toleration in Scotland, of heretical and sectarian errors, for gratification of the abettors thereof, which was followed with a deluge of irreligion and impiety, drowning the nation in a still deeper apostacy.
In this hour of temptation, the witnesses for CHRIST, endeavouring to keep the word of his patience, testified against these evils, as contrary to the word and oath of GOD, and destructive of the church’s former glory. And Charles II. who had lately, by all the confirmations of word, writ, and solemn oath, obliged himself, for the maintenance and defence of religion and liberty, having cast off the thing that was good, the enemy did pursue him so, that he, instead of being able to stand as an head of defence to the nations, narrowly escaped with life from the enemies’ hands, being obliged to abscond and fly before the sectaries into France; where, and in other parts, he remained an exile for the space of ten years, and there discovered, he had no regard to the principles he had lately professed and sworn to maintain: But breaking his professed wedlock with CHRIST, is said, at that juncture, to have joined hands with the Romish whore, laying aside his cloak of professed godliness, and again taking up with the mystery of iniquity.
During the ten years’ usurpation of Cromwell, those who endeavoured faithfulness, had a fight of affliction to keep their ground; yet, after this came to a period, they had a far more fierce encounter, and of longer duration, to engage in, in the cruel and bloody tragedy acted upon them, for the space of 28 years.
As, by the public resolutions, and foresaid unbounded toleration, the bounds fixed by JEHOVAH, and homologate and sworn to, in our national attainments and constitution, were greatly altered; so the parliament of England prepared the tools, whereby the carved work of the sanctuary (as far as human craft and cruelty could invent,) was broken down, in restoring Charles II. without any conditions required, or express limitations set. And Sharp being sent from the church of Scotland, to stand up for her rights and privileges, fraudulently sold her into the hands of her enemies; upon which, many of the professed disciples of CHRIST, who followed him in the sun-shine of prosperity and reformation, forsook him, and fled into the enemies’ camp. Thus our decline began; but, oh! to what a dreadful height erastianism, tyranny, and blood-shed arrived, before the LORD, in his providence, put a stop to it.
Although the Presbytery cannot be supposed, in a consistency with their present design, to reckon up all, yet [they] would endeavour to take notice of some of the most remarkable instances of backsliding, treachery and oppression, blood-shed, &c. acted in these nations during the late persecuting period, together with the faithful contendings, and patient sufferings unto death of the saints and servants of CHRIST, in this hot furnace of affliction into which they were cast.
As, 1st, The unhappy restoration of Charles II. in manner before mentioned commencing: The faithful declarations and testimonies given in favours of the covenanted reformation and uniformity, were all on a sudden given up with; the viper received into our bosom, and again advanced unto the regal dignity, who soon discovered himself to be of the serpentine seed, and by his wicked agency imped the dragon his master, by casting out of his mouth a flood of persecution after the church, that he might cause her to be destroyed therewith. To this effect the antichristian yoke of abjured Prelacy, with all its tyrannical laws, and canonical train of observances, service book, ceremonies, &c. was speedily wreathed about England’s neck, and Scotland soon felt part of its weight: For, in the month of August 1660, when some of her most zealous and faithful ministers met upon this emergency, in order to send an address to the king, reminding him of his duty, and solemn obligations to perform the same; the committee appointed by the parliament, anno 1651, for exercise of government, until another parliament should meet, who then shewed themselves zealous for the reformation, yet now acted a counter-part, by incarcerating the foresaid ministers, and emitting a proclamation, prohibiting all such meetings without the king’s authority, and all petitions and remonstrances, under pretence that they were seditious. This was the first beginning of those sorrows and calamities, that ensued in the many sanguinary laws afterwards made and executed upon the true friends of Zion.
2dly, When the ministry, by means of the foresaid prohibitions, were much dispirited from their duty, dreading such usage as they had lately met with: The parliament which met in Scotland in December 1661, falls upon breaking down the carved work of the sanctuary effectually, and robbing our church of that depositum committed unto her by her glorious Head. Thus did they wickedly combine and gather themselves together to plot against the LORD, and against his Anointed, that they might break his bands, and cast his cords from them. For which intent, after besmearing the consciences of most of the members with the guilt of that abominable and wicked oath of allegiance and supremacy, that they might be secured to the court and king’s interest, and ready to swallow down whatever might be afterwards proposed, they passed an act rescissory, declaring all the parliaments, and acts of parliament made in favour of reformation, from the year 1640 to 1651, null and void. The king’s supremacy over all persons, and in all causes, is asserted. All meetings, assemblies, leagues and covenants, without the king’s authority, are declared unlawful and unwarrantable. The renewing of the Solemn League and Covenant, or any other covenants or public oaths, without the king’s special warrant and approbation, is discharged. Beside these, another heinous act was framed by the same parliament, for observing every 29th of May as an anniversary thanksgiving, in commemoration of the unhappy restoration of this ruiner of religion and reformation.
3dly, In the second session of the pretended parliament, anno 1662, diocesan erastian Prelacy is established, and the king solemnly invested with the church’s headship, by act of parliament; wherein it is blasphemously declared, “That the ordering and disposal of the external government and policy of the church, doth properly belong unto his majesty as an inherent right of the crown, by virtue of his royal prerogative and supremacy in all causes ecclesiastical.” All such acts of parliament or council are rescinded, which might be interpreted (as their act bears) to give any church power, jurisdiction, or government, to the office-bearers of the church, other than that which acknowledgeth a dependence upon, and subordination to the sovereign power of the king as supreme. And although the lordly Prelates were hereby promoted to all the privileges and dignities they possessed before the year 1638, yet must they be all accountable to the king, in all their administrations, and in subordination to him, as universal bishop of all England, Scotland, and Ireland. By which the fountain of church power and authority is lodged in the king’s person, and CHRIST is exauctorate and dethroned as King and Head in Zion. And further, by the second act of that perfidious parliament, the covenanted reformation, and all that was done in favours thereof, from 1638 to 1650, was declared treasonable, and rebellious. Alike treasonable it was reckoned for subjects, on pretence of reformation, or any other pretence whatsomever, to enter into any federal association, or take up arms against the king. They also declared, that the National Covenant as sworn in the year 1638, and the Solemn League and Covenant, were, and are in themselves unlawful oaths, and that they were imposed upon, and taken by the subjects of this kingdom, contrary to the fundamental laws and liberties thereof. And to complete all, they repealed all acts, ecclesiastical and civil, approving the covenants, particularly the acts of the venerable assembly at Glasgow 1638, declaring it an unlawful and seditious meeting. And thereafter, by a wicked act of the council of Glasgow, more than three hundred ministers were illegally thrust from their charges, for their non-conformity, in discountenancing a diocesan meeting, or synod, appointed by the archbishop of Glasgow, and not observing the anniversary thanksgiving, May 29th, enjoined by the parliament: The rest were violently ejected from the lawful exercise of their ministry in their several parishes, and were afterwards commanded by act of parliament to remove themselves and their families twenty miles distant from their respective flocks, and not to reside within six miles of any of their (so called) cathedrals, or three miles of a burgh: By these means, many of those poor persecuted ministers, with their families, were brought into great hardships and wants being so far removed from their beloved and affectionate flocks, that they were deprived of that help from them, that doubtless they would cheerfully have ministered, for relieving them in their necessities and straits. All this was done at the instigation of the Prelates, who could not endure to have a godly Presbyterian minister near them, and were resolved to make them as miserable as possible.
As the observation of that anniversary holy day, May 29th, was again enjoined by this parliament 1662, with certification, the non-observance of which was one main cause of the sufferings of the ministers above noticed; we cannot pass over without mentioning that most abhorred and heaven-daring ignominy and contempt put upon our solemn and sacred covenants, and upon GOD the great Party in them, at Linlithgow on that day, by a theatrical exposing, and presumptuous committing them to the flames together with The causes of GOD’s wrath, Lex Rex, acts of parliament, acts of committees of estates, and acts of assemblies made, during what they called the twenty-two years’ rebellion, that is, from 1638 to 1660, done by the authority of the pretended magistrates there; one of which, and the minister, Ramsay, were formerly zealous and active covenanters, and consequently now publicly avowed and proclaimed their perjury in the face of the sun, and left an indelible stain upon their memory.
Hitherto, although many, both ministers, gentlemen, and others, had endured unexpressible hardships and severities, yet few or none suffered to the death, save that noble peer, the Marquis of Argyle, who was condemned by the parliament 1661, and beheaded May 27th; and the reverend Mr. James Guthrie, who suffered five days thereafter. These two were singled out, the one in the state, the other in the church, to fall a victim to the resentment and fury of the enemies of that covenanted work of reformation, which they had both in an eminent manner been honoured of GOD to support and advance; and also a specimen of what was afterwards to be the fate of all that should adhere to the same glorious cause, and stand up for GOD against these workers of iniquity: And, as the foundation of that antichristian and wicked hierarchy in the church, and of arbitrary power, and absolute tyranny in the state, was laid in the blood of these two proto-martyrs for the covenant and cause of GOD; so they now (July 1663) proceeded to build it up with the blood of another noble and worthy patriot, the eminently religious and learned Lord Warriston. He having before, in 1660, when Argyle was apprehended, been ordered, together with several others, to be secured and committed to prison, fled beyond sea, to escape the fury of his enemies, and even there did their crafty malice reach him; for having sent out one of their blood-thirsty emissaries in quest of him, he was apprehended by him at Roan in France, brought over to London, and sent thence to Edinburgh, where he was executed on a former unjust sentence of forfeiture, and death, passed upon him in his absence. Thus they built up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity: But all this was nothing to the cruelty that followed, and the righteous blood afterwards shed in that quarrel.
4thly, Although the faithful servants of CHRIST gave too silent submission for a time to these encroachments made upon their sacred functions; yet, as they received not their mission from men, so they resolved not to become the servants of men, but to hazard the loss of every thing that was dear to them in this world, that they might shew themselves faithful unto their Lord and Master, and valiant for his truth upon the earth, in going forth without the camp, bearing his reproach. When they could no longer with a safe conscience enjoy their benefices and churches, and the LORD so expressly called for their service, in feeding the starving souls of his people, they betook themselves to the open fields, setting their faces to all the storms to which they were exposed by that high commission court that was erected; wherein the bishops were chief agents, being made therein necessary members for putting the former, with what subsequent wicked laws were made against the servants of CHRIST, in execution. And by this time that deceiving, cruel, perjured, apostate bishop Sharp, had obtained the presidency in this, and all other public courts in the kingdom. The proceedings of this court were very unjust, cruel and arbitrary, similar to its preposterous and illegal constitution: Persons were without any accusation, information, witness or accuser, arraigned before them, to answer super inquirendis to whatever interrogatories they were pleased to propose, without licence to make any lawful defence, or upon their offering so to do, were required to take the oath of supremacy, their refusal of which was accounted cause sufficient for proceeding against them. And although taking order with Papists was first in their commission, yet last, or rather not at all, in execution; while their infernal rage was principally set on Presbyterians, in fining, confining and imprisoning them, for the non-conformity of ministers, and their disregarding their pretended sentences of deposition, and the people’s refusing to countenance the authority and ministry of these prelatic wolves, who came in to scatter and tear the flock of CHRIST, but endeavouring to cleave to their lawful pastors, have equal friends and foes with them, and hear CHRIST’s law of kindness from their mouth. The idol of jealousy was thus set up in the house of GOD, and our LORD JESUS CHRIST sacrilegiously robbed of his incommunicable supremacy and headship over his church by the state; whereby the Pope’s supremacy was well nigh claimed, and Spanish inquisition cruelty almost acted by this abominable court: And all, at the instigation, and for the gratification of these monsters of iniquity, the Prelates, who still agitated the court to exercise more cruelty, than even of themselves they were inclinable to.
5th, Upon the decline of this rigorous court, new measures were again fallen upon, for the oppression, suppression, and extirpation of the true reformed religion, and the professors of it. The council being very diligent and careful to deprive the LORD’s people of every thing, which might contribute to their establishment and confirmation in the righteousness and equity of the cause and covenant of GOD, for which they suffered, and which tended to expose their tyranny and treason against GOD, ordered the famous Mr. Brown’s Apologetical Relation to be burnt in the high street of Edinburgh, on February 14th, 1666, by the hand of the common hangman; and all persons who had copies of said book, were required to give them up, and such as concealed them, to be fined 2000l. Scots, if discovered. Such was their hellish enmity and spite against our covenanted reformation, and every thing writ in defence thereof, and in vindication of those that suffered for their adherence to it. About the same time, Sharp, for the more effectual accomplishment of his wicked designs, (the high commission being now dissolved, and his guilty conscience, it seems, suggesting fears of an insurrection of the oppressed, to relieve themselves from their cruel oppressors,) obtains an order from the king for raising an additional number of forces, for the security and establishment of himself and his associates in their thrones of iniquity, [Psalm 94.20,] by destroying all the faithful in the land, [Psalm 101.6,] oppressing and wearing out the saints of the Most High, [Dan. 7.25,] and burning up and dispersing all the synagogues of GOD in the nation. [Psalm 74.8] In consequence of this, about 3000 foot, and eight troops of dragoons were got together, and the command of them given to Dalziel of Binns, a wicked, fierce, cruel man. These were the instruments of that unprecedented barbarity, cruelty and oppression committed in the West, after the defeat of Colonel Wallace, and his little army of covenanters at Pentland-hills, November 28th, 1666. The occasion and cause of which rising, was in short this: Sir James Turner had been sent the year before, into the South-west shires of Dumfries and Kirkcudbright, in order to suppress conventicles, (so they called the assemblies of GOD’s people for public worship, and other religious exercises,) levy the fines appointed by the parliament, and oblige the people to conform and submit to the bishops and curates by force of arms. Turner, in pursuance of these cruel orders, committed great severities, dreadfully oppressed, robbed and spoiled the country. In the parish of Dalry in Galloway, three or four of his blackguard crew, seizing upon a poor country man, carried him to his own house, and were going to torture him in a cruel manner, by setting him naked on a red hot grid-iron; which four of the persecuted party hearing of, they repaired to the house, disarmed the soldiers, (upon their refusing to be entreated in behalf of the poor man,) and delivered their fellow sufferer: And lest the rest of the soldiers quartered in the parish (to force people to keep their parish church,) should fall upon them, being joined with seven or eight more of their friends, they attacked them early next morning, being about twelve in number, and disarmed them, killing one that made resistance. Whereupon the country being alarmed, and being apprehensive, from sad experience, of the revenge Sir James would take upon the whole country for this affront, without distinction of age or sex; they determine to stand in their own defence: And, getting together a good number of horse and foot, they march to Dumfries, surprise Turner himself, take him prisoner, and disarm his soldiers, without any further violence. Being thus by Providence engaged, without any hope of retreat, and being joined by many more of their brethren in the same condition with themselves, some ministers, and Colonel Wallace, (afterwards chosen General,) they come to Lanerk, where they renew the covenant, November 26th, 1666, and thence to Pentland-hills, where, being attacked by Dalziel and his blood-hounds, they were, notwithstanding their bravery in repulsing the enemy twice, at last totally routed, many killed and taken prisoners, most of the prisoners treacherously executed, (notwithstanding they were taken upon solemn promise to have their lives spared,) of whom the LORD was graciously pleased, not only to accept of a testimony, by sufferings, but also countenanced them, even to admiration, in sealing the same with their blood. After this, there were severe edicts issued out against all who had any hand in this appearance for GOD’s cause, and covenant, (called by them rebellion, a horrible conspiracy, and what not;) all the subjects were strictly charged not to harbour, reset, supply, or any manner of way correspond with any that were concerned in this engagement, but that they pursue and deliver them up to justice, or otherwise be esteemed and punished as favourers of it. This appearance for religion and liberty, became, for a time, the principal crime of which those were indicted who were prosecuted by this wicked council, and other merciless enemies, to whom they committed the management of their affairs.
6th, Although the cruelty of the court had hitherto been very great; yet they had not wholly effectuated their wicked design of exterminating and destroying true religion, and the professors thereof, both ministers and people; but, like Israel under Pharaoh’s yoke, the more they oppressed them, and suppressed their meetings, the more numerous and frequent they grew, [Exod. 1.12,] so that their enemies were obliged to alter their course a little from cruelty into craft. This appeared in the first indulgence, granted anno 1669, with design to divide Presbyterians among themselves, that they might the more easily destroy them. Hereby, a pretended liberty was given to several ministers, ejected by the act of Glasgow 1662, (especially public resolutioners, who had formerly served the court interest in that matter,) under certain restrictions, destructive of their ministerial freedom and faithfulness, to preach and exercise the other functions of the ministry in vacant churches. In this fraudulent snare many were taken; and even such of them as did accept of the indulgence, but did not keep by the instructions given them by the council, and observe the wicked anniversary, &c. were afterwards prosecuted, fined, and some turned out: And those who refused compliance therewith, and testified against it, as flowing from that blasphemous supremacy and absolute power which the king had assumed, were most severely handled, and their assemblies for public worship interdicted under the highest pains. A second indulgence was framed in the year 1672, in which net they expected to inclose such as the first had not caught. By this, liberty was granted to a number of non-conform ministers, named by the council, not yet indulged, to exercise their ministry in such places as the council thought fit to ordain and appoint them, conforming themselves to the rules given by the council to those that were formerly indulged, besides other restrictions, wherewith this new liberty was clogged. And, as one special design of the court, in granting both the first and this second indulgence, was to put an effectual stop to the meetings of the LORD’s people, ludicrously called by them, field conventicles; so they took occasion, on account of their contempt of this their indulgence and liberty, to prosecute all such as kept, or attended on these meetings, in a more merciless and furious manner. This indulgence was accepted by many ministers; and part thereof by others represented as a grievance, and redress required. But although nothing of this kind was obtained, yet it was fallen in with, and accepted by most of those who subscribed the remonstrance against it: And those few who rejected it, and continued faithfully to discharge their official trust in the open fields, without coming under any of these sinful restrictions, became, more especially, the butt of their enemies’ malice and tyranny, were more vigorously prosecuted; and such as were suspected, or convicted of attending on their field meetings, were fined in an exorbitant manner, and ministers imprisoned, when they could be apprehended. And because these field meetings, the great eye-sore of the Prelates, still increased, they prevailed with the council 1674, to take more special notice of the preachers at said meetings; who appointed a committee for that effect, and ordered their chancellor to send out parties to apprehend certain of them, according to their direction. And the same year, a bond was imposed, binding and obliging tenants, that if they, their wives, or any of their children, cottars or servants, should keep or be present at any conventicles, either in houses or fields; that every tenant labouring land, be fined for each house conventicle, in 25l. Scots; each cottar in 12l. Scots; each servant man, in a fourth part of his year’s fee; and husbands the half of these fines, for such of their wives and children, as shall be at the house conventicles; and the double of these respective fines, for each of the said persons who shall be at any field conventicles, &c. And upon refusal of said bond, they were to be put to the horn, [i.e. declared an outlaw,] and their escheat or forfeiture given to their masters. They likewise, at the same time, issued forth another proclamation, for apprehending the holders of, and repairers to field meetings, by them designed rebels, and whoever should seize such should have the fines, so unjustly imposed, for their reward; with a particular sum offered, for apprehending any of the conventicle preachers; and this sum doubled, for some that were more eminent among them, and diligent in working the work of him that sent them, against whom their malice was more especially turned. These rigorous measures they continued to prosecute; and in the year 1675, letters of intercommuning were given out against several ministers and private Christians, by name, both denouncing them rebels, and secluding them from all society in the kingdom of Scotland; further requiring, that no accommodation should be given, or communication any manner of way held with them, under the pain of being (according to them) accounted socii criminis, and pursued, as guilty with them of the same crimes. These inhuman and unprecedented methods, reduced the sufferers to many wanderings and great hardships. It is impossible to recite the miseries these faithful confessors underwent, wandering about in deserts, in mountains, in dens, and in caves of the earth, destitute, afflicted, tormented, [Heb. 11.38,37]; besides the other severe impositions upon the country in general, the bonds imposed, and rage of the Highland host then raised, which, together with the soldiers, greatly spoiled and robbed the west country especially, by which means, poor people were brought to very low circumstances.
7th, Notwithstanding of all the tyranny and treachery hitherto exercised, the word of GOD grew, and converts unto CHRIST, and the obedience of the gospel, were daily multiplied; ministers being forward and willing to preach, and the people willing to hear and receive the law from their mouth, on all hazards: And the LORD JESUS, following his word and ordinances with his blessing, shewed himself as mighty and powerful in the open fields, whither they were driven, as ever he had done in their churches, from whence they were driven, and which were now shut against them, filled with time-servers and antichrist’s vassals: But against CHRIST’s standard and banner thus displayed, the tyrant Charles II erected his opposite standard, for the utter destruction of CHRIST’s true servants and subjects. And having declared their lawful meetings for the worship of GOD, according to his word, execrable rendezvouses of rebellion; a convention of estates, anno 1678, was called and met, by which a large cess was imposed to maintain an additional army, for the suppression of the true religion and liberty, and securing tyranny and arbitrary government. On account of the imposition of this cess, and the rigorous exaction of it, together with the cruelties and ravages of this new army maintained by it, (the soldiers having commission to dismiss and disperse their meetings, disarm, imprison and kill preachers and people, in case of resistance;) and a price being put upon the heads of several faithful ministers, if brought to the council dead or alive; both ministers and people were laid under the necessity of carrying arms for their own defence, when dispensing and attending upon gospel ordinances: And it was no wonder, that, finding themselves thus appointed as sheep for the slaughter, they looked upon this as their duty, and accordingly provided themselves with arms for their necessary defence, against the wicked violence of those who thirsted after their blood, and (which was to them much more dear and precious,) the ruin and destruction of the cause, interest, and gospel of CHRIST in the land. Unto these severe and hellish measures fallen upon, at this time, for the more effectual suppression and extirpation of the gospel of CHRIST, and professors of it, the managers were principally instigated by that arch-apostate Sharp; though a bad preparative for his exit out of this world, which soon came to pass, anno 1679, in the dispensation of adorable providence, and righteous judgment of GOD, execute upon such a notorious traitor, who, having first betrayed the church, and all along deeply imbrued his hands in the blood of GOD’s saints and servants; had blood given him to drink because he was worthy. [Rev. 16.6.]
8th, That the land might be more deeply soaked with blood, and made more heavily to groan under the inhabitants thereof, “Who had transgressed the laws, changed the ordinances, and broken the everlasting covenant;” [Isa. 24.5,] that the scene of cruel suffering might be more widely opened, and the bloody tragedy more effectually acted; the primate’s death must now be added to the other pretended crimes of the sufferers. Many were terribly harrassed on that account, who were no ways concerned in the action; and some were cruelly tortured and butchered by them for the same cause, though innocent thereof (for none of the actors did ever fall into their hands.) These enemies were hereby rendered more rude, barbarous and hard-hearted to all the sufferers who afterwards fell into their hands, and breathed out threatnings and slaughter against the whole body of the persecuted Presbyterians through the nation. All this, however, did not dispirit these zealous witnesses, or discourage them from attending to their work and duty; for we find them on the 29th of May 1679, publishing their testimony at Rutherglen against the wicked anniversary, on the same day appointed by the court for its celebration, and against all that had been done publicly by these enemies of CHRIST for the overthrow of his work and interest in the lands. They likeways committed their acts rescissory, supremacy, act restoring abjured Prelacy, act of Glasgow 1662, the presumptuous act for appointing May 29th for an unholy anniversary, indulgences, &c. all to the flames, their just desert, in retaliation of the impious treatment given unto our solemn and sacred covenants, and other good and laudable acts and laws for reformation, by their sacrilegious enemies in sundry cities of these covenanted kingdoms. And so, after extinguishing the bonfires, a part of the unholy solemnity of the enemies’ anniversary day, and concluding what they had done with prayer and praise, as they had begun, (Mr. [Thomas] Douglas, one of their ministers being along with them) they withdrew. This christian valour was followed with the LORD’s appearance for them, in a remarkable manner, on the following Sabbath at Drumclog, near Lowdonhill, where being attacked by Claverhouse, when attending on public worship, they compleately routed him and his troops, rescued Mr. John King, and a number of other prisoners, whom Claverhouse had seized that morning, from their hands. Afterwards they declared the grounds and causes of their present defensive posture, in that short manifesto, or declaration, published at Glasgow, June 6th 1679. But when their numbers multiplied, their divisions increased, and lawful means, for honestly defending the cause, were by the majority refused. Mr. Welsh and that erastian party with him, being by this time come up, did in their declaration at Hamilton, take in the tyrant’s interest; against which those who were honest and faithful to the interest of Zion’s king contended, and protested, that in conscience they could not take in the interest of one into the state of the quarrel, who had manifestly stated himself in opposition to the interest of CHRIST; that it was inconsistent with the covenant, which could not bind them to espouse the interest of its destroyers, and the destroyers of all that adhered to it; and also contrary to their testimony and declaration for the covenants and work of reformation at Rutherglen, Glasgow, &c. and against all defection from the same.
Thus, when the most part in a great measure forsook the LORD, he was justly provoked to forsake them, and their great divisions landing them in such confusion, they became an easy prey to the enemy, by whom they were totally routed at Bothwell, June 22d, 1679, where they felt the dismal fruits and consequences of joining at all with that erastian faction, after they had openly declared and discovered what they were. This was so far from proving any defence to them, notwithstanding the numbers of that party, that it proved their destruction. And those whose hearts were upright and honest in the cause of GOD, by their means, in holy sovereignty, were made to fall a sacrifice to their enemies’ wrath. The slain on that day were many, and the after-cruelty to prisoners great; they being carried unto, and kept for a long time in the Gray-friars church yard of Edinburgh, exposed, defenceless, night and day to tempests of all kinds. By this inhuman usage (with design to wear out the saints of the Most High) together with the insinuations and persuasions of some of the indulgence-favourers, their faith failing them in this hour of temptation, and fear prevailing, a number of these prisoners were persuaded to take the insnaring bond of peace, whereby they were engaged to own their rising at Bothwell to be rebellion, and to oblige themselves never to rise in arms against the king, and to live peaceably, &c. while others of them were tortured, not accepting deliverance. [Heb. 11.35.]
9th, Although this defeat and dispersion of the espousers of the truth and cause of CHRIST, in opposition both to its avowed enemies, and secret betrayers, brought the remnant that were left into very melancholy circumstances; their enemies having in a great measure extinguished the light of the gospel, by apprehending and shedding the blood of their faithful pastors, who used to hold forth the word of life unto them, as a light whereby they might discern between sin and duty: And others who had formerly been helpful unto them, in strengthening their hands, and encouraging their hearts, in the way of their duty, were overtaken and overborne with fainting and discouragement; so that, in respect of public guides, they were at this time as sheep without a shepherd: Yet, in this disconsolate and scattered state and condition, CHRIST, the chief shepherd, had compassion on them, and raised up those two faithful ministers and zealous contenders for the faith once delivered to the saints, Messrs. Richard Cameron and Donald Cargill, to come forth for the help of the LORD against the mighty, and to jeopard their lives along with his people in the high places of the field, in bearing faithful testimony for his noble truths and cause, and against all the sins and defections of the time. The first of these, soon after he had shewed his activity and zeal in that banner displayed against the church’s enemies, in the declaration published at Sanquhar, June 22d, 1680, did honourably and bravely finish his course, among many others of Zion’s true friends, in the defeat they again sustained at Airsmoss, where, in imitation of his princely Master, he valiantly fought his way to the incorruptible crown: The latter afterwards narrowly escaped his enemies’ hands, (by means of Mr. Henry Hall, of Haughhead, that honest sufferer for truth, who, to save his minister’s life, lost his own; on whom the Queensferry paper, a draught of a covenant engagement unto certain duties was found), and was, by the power and providence of GOD preserved, until he accomplished that signal piece of generation work, in drawing forth the sword of excommunication against the tyrant Charles II, and some others of the chief actors in that bloody tragedy: And that, because of their blood-shed, perjury, heaven-daring profaneness, debauchery, inhuman and savage cruelty acted upon the people of GOD. The which sentence stuck fast in the hearts of these enemies of Zion’s king unto the day of their death, and, by some of their own acknowledgements, would, through eternity. Shortly after this, that faithful minister crowned his work with martyrdom, and entered into his Master’s joy. [Matt. 25.21.]
This murdering period spared neither pastor nor people, age nor sex; while gross transgressors, and deluded enthusiasts, as [John] Gib and his faction, were screened from condign punishment, though some of them had arrived at that prodigious length in wickedness, as to commit the holy scriptures, and confession of faith, to the flames.
10th, So many of these once living and lively witnesses for CHRIST being now slain, and what was yet surviving of the scattered flock deprived of their painful shepherds, and not being able to drink of the sanctuary waters, so muddied by their former pastors, who had defiled the same by sinful compliance with the time’s defections; they resolved, under divine direction, to gather themselves together into a general meeting, for advising and informing one another anent their duty, in such critical times of common danger, that so whatever concerned the whole, might be done with due deliberation, and common consent. The which general meeting afterwards afforded them both good comfort amidst their discouragements, and also good counsel amidst their perplexities and doubts, and proved an excellent expedient for preserving the remnant from the destruction and contagion of the times, propagation of the testimony, and keeping alive the public spirit of zeal and concern for the cause and interest of CHRIST; and for these ends they have been kept up ever since.
In the meantime, that evil instrument, James duke of York, receiving commission from his perjured brother to preside in the whole administration of Scots’ affairs, upon his arrival for this effect, held a parliament, which began July 28th, 1681; wherein, besides other of his wicked acts, that detestable, blasphemous, and self-contradictory test was framed, which, in the first part thereof, contains the swearer’s solemn declaration, by oath, of his sincere profession of the true Protestant religion, contained in the first confession of faith, ratified by Parl. 1st, James VI. 1567, (which confession asserts, in the strongest terms, CHRIST’s alone headship and supremacy, as law-giver and King in his church, without co-partner or competitor), and that he shall adhere thereunto all the days of his life, and renounce all doctrines, principles or practices contrary thereto, and inconsistent therewith; while, in manifest contradiction thereto, the blasphemous supremacy, in the utmost extent thereof, is asserted, the covenants national and solemn league, the chief barriers against Popery, Erastianism, and arbitrary power, are renounced, and unlimited allegiance unto the occupant, is enjoined and sworn to, and the prelatical government of the church confirmed.
This oath was at first administered to those in public trust only, and thereby, all were turned out of their places, who had any principles of common honesty remaining in them; but afterwards, it was imposed upon persons of all ranks. Against which sinful encroachments on religion and liberty, the witnessing persecuted remnant accounted themselves bound in duty to emit their testimony, which they published at Lanerk, January 12th, 1682, adhering to, and confirming their former at Sanquhar, and giving reasons at length for their disowning the unlawful authority of Charles II. Upon intelligence hereof, this declaration, with those at Rutherglen and Sanquhar, were, by order of the council, with great solemnity, burnt at the cross of Edinburgh, by the magistrates in their robes, together with the Solemn League and Covenant, which had been burnt formerly; but now they would give new demonstrations of their rage against it, in conjunction with these declarations, which they saw and acknowledged were evidently conform to, and founded upon it. After the publication of this testimony, the sufferings of that poor people that owned it, were sadder and sharper than ever before, by hunting, pursuing, apprehending, imprisonment, banishment, death and torture; this increasing rage, oppression, cruelty and bloodshed, being no more than what they might look for, agreeable to the spirit and principles of that popish incendiary, to whom such trust was committed.
11th, The poor wrestling remnant, besides their other grievous calamities and sufferings, being now obnoxious to much censure, in their appearances for truth reproached, and invidiously misrepresented, both at home and abroad, by those that were at ease in Zion, as having forsaken the right way, and run into wild, extravagant, and unhappy courses: And withal, being at this time destitute and deprived of their public standard-bearers; the series of witnesses, (since the death of Messrs. Cameron and Cargill,) maintaining the testimony against the public national defections being in all appearance interrupted, except by martyrdom and sufferings; they were obliged to exert themselves, both for their vindication from those calumnies and slanders, wherewith they were loaded by their enemies, to foreign Protestant churches especially, and for obtaining a supply of gospel ministers. Wherefore, sending some of their number abroad, to represent the righteousness of their cause to the churches there, and crave their sympathy, in helping them to a supply of gospel ministers; the LORD was graciously pleased to countenance and bless their endeavours so, that they obtained access for the instruction and ordination of young men for the ministry, at a university in the United Provinces; and, in process of time, gave them a great reviving in their bondage, by sending forth his faithful ambassador, Mr. James Renwick, who, while he stood on Zion’s watchtower, ceased not night and day, to give faithful warning of the danger approaching the city of GOD; evidently discovering his being cloathed with his Master’s commission, in bearing faithful testimony and witness, both against the avowed enemies of truth, and backsliders from it. And notwithstanding all the malicious rage of deadly foes, ranging and keenly pursuing him, through open or more secret places, the reproach of tongues, and cruel mockings he endured, by the divine blessing, on his painful labours, amidst his many hardships, the number of Zion’s friends were greatly increased, by the incoming and joining of many to the fellowship of their settled societies, who resolutely chose, rather to suffer affliction with the people of GOD, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin, which are but for a season. [Heb. 11.25.] Upon this further attack upon Satan’s interest, his emissaries issue forth fresh orders, and give commission to soldiers, foot and dragoons, to hunt, search, and seek them out of all their most secret dens, caves, and lurking places, where they might hide themselves, in the most remote, and wildest glens and recesses in the mountains and deserts, allowing them to kill, slay, destroy, and any way to make an end of them, wherever they might be found; commanding the whole country, at their peril, to assist them, and raise the hue and cry after the poor wanderers, and not to reset, harbour, succour, or correspond with them any manner of way, under the highest pains, but to do their utmost in informing against them. Thus, without regard to any of their unlawful forms of legal procedure, they defiled and besmeared the high places of the field with innocent blood. These unprecedented methods and measures obliged the sufferers, for their own preservation, stopping the deluge of blood, and to deter the insolence of intelligencers and informers, to publish the Apologetic Declaration, which they affixed on several market crosses, and parish church doors, upon the 28th of October 1684; wherein they declare their firm resolution of constant adherence to their covenanted engagements;—and to the declaration, disowning the authority of Charles Stuart, warning all bloody Doegs, and flattering Ziphites, to expect to be dealt with, as they deal with them; to be regarded as enemies to GOD, and the covenanted reformation, and according to their power, and the degree of their offence, punished as such, &c. After this declaration, these enemies were still more enraged, and their fury flamed more than ever formerly: They framed an oath, commonly called an oath of abjuration, renouncing and abjuring the same, and by a venomous, bloody proclamation, enjoined this oath to be taken by all universally, from 16 years and upwards, women as well as men, under pain of death; and many prisoners who having the oath tendered them, refused or declined it, were sentenced and executed all in one day, according to the tenor of their proclamation. And moreover, they, on this occasion, renewed their orders and commission to the soldiers, for pursuing and chasing after the rebels (as they designed them,) more vigorously and violently, and to shoot, or otherwise put them to death wherever they did light upon them. In the midst of this confusion of slaughter and bloodshed, GOD cut off by death, February 6th, 1685, that vile person, the author and authorizer of all this mischief, Charles II. who, Antiochus like, came in peaceably, and obtained the kingdom by flattery, (Dan. 11, [ver. 21,]) reigned treacherously and bloodily, and like that wicked king Jehoram, (2 Chron. 21,) died without being desired or lamented, poisoned, as was thought, by his unnatural popish brother. And, notwithstanding of all his bastards, begotten in adultery and fornication, at home and abroad, he died without any to succeed him, save him that was said to have murdered him. GOD pursued him with the curse of Hiel the Bethelite, for his rebuilding of that cursed Jericho, Prelacy; and of that impious and wicked tyrant, Coniah, (Jer. 22.) for his treachery and cruelty; “Thus saith the LORD, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days, for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting any more upon the throne of Israel.”
12th, Notwithstanding the abundant proof that the duke of York had given, in many instances, and in both kingdoms, of his being a vassal of Antichrist, and notwithstanding of his open and public profession of Papistry, upon his brother’s death, fairly warning all what they might expect: Yet were not those, who sat at the helm of affairs, deterred from committing the reins of government into his hands; but, contrary to the word of GOD, and fundamental laws of the lands, this professed and excommunicate Papist, James, Duke of York, was, anno 1685, proclaimed king of these once covenanted, but now treacherous and apostate lands, whereby they appointed themselves a captain to return into their antichristian bondage. To this grievous yoke, our infamous, perjured, and apostate state and council in Scotland, heartily and voluntarily subjected themselves and the nation, while others did it with reluctancy; caressing and embracing with their dearest and best affections, this enemy to GOD, and CHRIST, and his church, swearing implicit and unlimited obedience unto him, and asserting his absolute power and supremacy, indefeasible and hereditary right, without ever so much as requiring him to take the coronation oath, or give the least security for any thing civil or religious, (a depth of degeneracy, parallel to that eminency in reformation purity, from which they were fallen!) but laid the reins on his own neck, that he might have full freedom for the satisfying of his lusts, and fulfilling his wicked designs. This laid religion, liberty, and all, at the mercy of absolute power and popish tyranny; and still more and more cut off the people of GOD from having any hopes of mercy from their bloody enemies; on the contrary, the Duke of York, in his letter to his first parliament, recommends and requires them to leave no means unattempted, for the extirpation of the poor wandering sufferers, whom he brands with the odious names of murderers and assassins, wild and inhuman traitors, &c. And these his ready servants and bloody executioners, came nothing short of his orders in the execution of them; so that that there were more murdered in cold blood in the open fields, without all shadow of law, trial or sentence, more banished and sold as slaves, condemned and executed, &c. in the time of this usurper, than in all the time of the former tyrant.
As the honest sufferers, consistent with their testimony for truth, in opposition both to the secret and open subverters of the cause and state of Zion’s quarrel with her enemies, could not concur in Argyle’s declaration, (although there were many things in it materially good, and commend-worthy,) nor join in a military association with him, on account (among other things) of the too promiscuous admission of persons to trust in that party, who were then, and afterwards discovered themselves to be, enemies to the cause: Yet, against this usurpation of a bloody papist, advancing himself to the throne in such a manner, they published another declaration at Sanquhar, May 28, 1685; wherein, approving of, and adhering to all their former [declarations], and considering, that James Duke of York, a professed and excommunicate Papist, was proclaimed:—They protest against said proclamation, with reasons subjoined at length for their so doing;—against all kinds of Popery, general and particular heads, as abjured by the National Covenant;—against its entry again into this land, and every thing that doth, or may directly or indirectly make way for the same, &c. After this, Mr. Renwick and his followers were exposed to the greater fury of their adversaries; more cruel edicts were given forth against them, approving and ratifying of former acts, for raising the hue and cry, &c. whereby their calamities were very much increased; besides the slanders of professed friends, on account of their not associating and joining with them in their compliances; although, to the conviction of all unbiassed minds, they fully vindicated themselves from all their injurious reflections.
The extirpation of the Presbyterian interest, nay, the suppression of the Protestant religion in general, the reintroduction of Popery, and plunging the nations in antichristian darkness and tyranny, being the long concerted design of this popish bigot now got into the throne; he resolves to lose no time, and leave no stone unturned, for the prosecution and accomplishment thereof. And having made tolerable progress in the execution of this his favourite scheme (although not without opposition) in England he turns himself to Scotland, expecting an entire acquiescence in his pleasure there, having found the first parliament, which began, 23d May, 1685, so much according to his own heart, in their hearty and sincere offer of their lives and fortunes, to assist, defend, and maintain him in his rights, prerogatives, sacred, supreme, and absolute power and authority, &c
Wherefore, the parliament being to meet again April 29th, 1686, in his letter to them, “He heartily recommends to their care his innocent Roman Catholic subjects, to the end, that as they have given good experience, of their true loyalty, and peaceable behaviour, they may have the protection of his laws, without lying under obligations their religion could not admit of; that all penal laws made against them, might be repealed, &c.”
But though many were for obliging their king in this particular; yet it could not be carried without debates and strong objections; so that, dissolving the parliament, what he could not obtain there, with any shew or face of law, he effectuates, by virtue of the prerogative royal and absolute power, in a letter to his privy council, and proclamation inclosed, bearing date, February 12th, 1687, granting a royal toleration to moderate Presbyterians, clogged with a number of grievous erastian conditions and restrictions, as usual. 2dly, To Quakers, and other enthusiasts. 3dly, To Papists, abrogating all penal statutes made against them, and making them, in all respects, free. And so devoted were the privy council to his interests, that without demur they published the proclamation, and wrote back to the king, “That his orders were punctually obeyed,—thanking him for this further proof of his favours to all his subjects.” Thus, this champion for Satan and Antichrist, proceeded with his wicked design, and so far succeeded; all kinds of Papistry were publicly practised, and many churches converted to mass chapels: For, before this, by the king’s letter to his privy council, of August 21st, 1686, Papists were allowed the free exercise of their religion, the council required to support and maintain them therein, and the royal chapel at Holyroodhouse ordered to be repaired for popish service: By which means, a door was opened for that swarm of Jesuits and priests, ascending as locusts out of the bottomless pit, which quickly overspread the lands. But notwithstanding of all this indulgence and royal toleration granted to these three forementioned parties, yet there is no favour nor mercy for the honest and faithful sufferers, and honourable contenders for the interests and prerogatives royal of JESUS CHRIST, against his sacrilegious and blasphemous usurpation of the same. But while he thinks fit to give ease (as himself says) by this means, to tender consciences, he at the same time signifies his highest indignation against those enemies of Christianity, (he means, Popery) as well as government, and human society, the field-conventiclers, whom he recommends to the council to root out, with all the severity of the laws, and the most rigorous prosecution of the forces, it being equally his, and his people’s concern to get rid of them. In consequence of this, all their artillery is directed against the Rev. Mr. James Renwick only, and that poor, afflicted, and persecuted people that adhered to him, (all others being comprehended in the pretended liberty granted) so that they were prosecuted with fire and sword, and according to the utmost severity of their wicked laws made against them, and a reward of a hundred pounds Sterling offered by the bloody council to any that should bring in Mr. Renwick to them, either dead or alive: But he having his generation work allotted and cut out for him by GOD, was preserved and kept from falling into their hands, until that he had finished the work his Master had given him to do, notwithstanding all this hellish and antichristian rage and fury wherewith they did pursue him. About the beginning of the year 1686, he, in conjunction with Mr. Alexander Shields, who had lately joined him, wrote the Informatory Vindication, by way of reply to various accusations in letters, informations and conferences, given forth against them and their people, wherein they vindicate, clear, and justify themselves from the heavy and false charges, slanders and reproaches cast upon them by their enemies, as may be seen in said book. About this time also, Mr. Shields set about writing his Hind let loose, (which was published next year) or, An Historical Representation of the Testimonies of the Church of Scotland for the interest of CHRIST, with the true state thereof in all its periods; wherein he also solidly, soundly, and judiciously vindicates the present testimony, in all the principles thereof, as stated, against the popish, prelatical and malignant enemies of that church, for the prerogatives of CHRIST, privileges of the church, and liberties of mankind, and sealed by the sufferings of a reproached remnant of Presbyterians there, witnessing against the corruptions of the time.
Whilst these two loving and faithful fellow-labourers were thus industriously exerting themselves for the propagation and vindication of the persecuted gospel, and cause of CHRIST; that fiery Jesuit, popish tyrant, and enemy to GOD and man, the Duke of York, and his popish party, were equally industrious on the other hand, to promote their grand design of utterly extinguishing the light of the gospel, and bringing in Antichrist, with all his poisonous and hellish vermin, and abominable idolatries; and that, with all the murdering violence, diabolical subtilty and malignant rage that hell and Rome could invent and exert. He had formerly published a proclamation, (as is noticed above) granting a lawless liberty to several sorts of persons therein specified, called his first indulgence; but breathing nothing but threatenings and slaughter against the people of GOD, who stood firm to his cause. But withal, this proclamation, enjoined an oath in the room of all oaths formerly imposed, to be taken by all that minded to share in his royal favour; wherein they swore, not only absolute subjection and passive obedience, never to resist him, not only on any pretence, but for any cause, let him do, or command to be done what he would; but also, absolute, active obedience, without reserve: “That they shall, to the utmost of their power, assist, defend, and maintain him, his heirs and successors, in the exercise of their absolute power and authority, against all deadly.” This was so palpably gross and odious, that it was disdained and abhorred by all that had common sense. Wherefore, finding that this proposal did not take, nor answer his design, in a letter to the council, bearing date about a month after the former, he endeavours to mend the matter, and set it out in another dress, pretending that they had mistaken his meaning in the former, and so lets them know, that it is his pleasure now, that if the Presbyterian preachers do scruple to take the oath (contained in the proclamation) or any other oath whatsomever, they notwithstanding have the benefit of his indulgence, (without being obliged to take the oath) provided they observe the conditions on which it was granted. But this not having the desired effect neither, it is followed with the third indulgence or toleration emitted by proclamation, dated 28th June, 1687, excellently well calculated for obtaining his end; wherein, after a solemn declaration of his intention to maintain his archbishops and bishops, he does, by his sovereign authority, prerogative royal, and absolute power, suspend, stop, and disable, all penal and sanguinary laws, made against any for non-conformity to the religion established by law; granting liberty to all the subjects to meet and serve GOD, after their own way, in private houses or chapels, or places purposely hired or built for that use, with an injunction to take care, that nothing be preached or taught that might any way tend to alienate the hearts of the people from him and his government. But, notwithstanding the premisses, strictly prohibiting all field meetings, against all which, all his laws and acts of parliament are left in full force and vigour; and all his judges, magistrates, and officers of forces commanded to prosecute such as shall be guilty of said field-conventicles, with the utmost rigour; and all this, under pretence, that now after this his royal grace and favour, there is not the least shadow of excuse left for these meetings: Wherefore he is confident, that none will, after these liberties and freedoms given to all to serve GOD in their own way, further presume to meet in these assemblies, except such as make a pretence of religion, to cover their treasonable designs against his royal person, and peace of his government.
The most of the Presbyterian ministers in Scotland took the benefit of this wicked and boundless toleration, chiefly designed in favours of Papists. And a large number of them being met at Edinburgh, agreed upon, and, in name of all the rest, sent an address of thanks to the tyrant for his toleration, stuffed with the most loathsome and blasphemous flatteries, to the dishonour of GOD, the reproach of his cause, and betraying of his church: For, in this address, dated July 21st, 1687, designating themselves the loyal subjects of this true religion and liberty-destroyer, they offer him their most humble and hearty thanks for his favour bestowed, and bless the great GOD who put it into his heart to grant them this liberty, which they term a great and surprising favour, professing their fixed resolution still to maintain an entire loyalty, both in their doctrine and practice (consonant to their known principles, which, according to the holy scriptures, are contained in the Confession of Faith); and they humbly beseech, that any who promote disloyal principles and practices (as they disown them), may not be looked upon as any of theirs, whatever name they may assume to themselves: And that, as their address comes from the plainness and sincerity of loyal and thankful hearts, so they were much engaged, by his royal favour, to continue their fervent prayer to the King of kings, for divine illumination and conduct, and all other blessings, both spiritual and temporal, ever to attend his person and government, &c. Thus these men made themselves naked to their shame, and declared to the world that they did only presumptuously arrogate to themselves the name of Presbyterians; whereas, in reality, they were quite another kind of creatures, acting diametrically opposite to presbyterian principles, in congratulating, extolling, and justifying a tyrant, for assuming to himself a blasphemous absolute power, whereby he suspends and disables all penal laws against idolators, and gives a toleration for all errors.
But whilst these pretended Presbyterians, who all along loved peace better than truth, and preferred their own ease before the concerns of their Master’s glory, were thus sheltering themselves under this refuge of lies, true Presbyterians, who kept by presbyterian principles, and acted a faithful part for CHRIST, refusing to bow down to the idol of supremacy, which the tyrant had set up, or pay any regard to his blasphemous toleration, were pursued, persecuted, and slain, without pity or compassion, all the engines of the court being levelled against them for their destruction, because they would still reserve to themselves the liberty wherewith CHRIST had made his people free, and not exchange it for one from Antichrist, restricted with his reserves and limitations; so that, (as Mr. Shields tells us in his account of Mr. James Renwick’s life), in less than five months after the toleration, there were fifteen most desperate searches particularly for him, both of foot and horse: And, that all encouragement might be given to any who would apprehend him, a proclamation was issued, dated October 18th, “Authorising all officers civil and military, to apprehend and secure in firmance his person, with some others; and for encouragement, ensuring the sum of 100l. Sterling for taking him, or them, dead or alive.” In the midst of all these hazards, this unwearied and faithful labourer did notwithstanding continue at his work, in preaching, catechising, &c. and the LORD still preserved him from falling into the enemies’ hand, until he had finished that piece of generation work, in drawing up a full and faithful testimony against York’s toleration, and for the covenants and work of reformation, &c. which he gave in to a meeting of Presbyterian ministers at Edinburgh, on the 17th of January, 1688; and going thence to Fife, whither he was called to preach, in his return, was apprehended at Edinburgh, and called to seal his above testimony, with all his other contendings against Popery, Prelacy, Erastianism, and all defection from the land’s attainments in reformation, with his blood, which he did in the Grass-market of Edinburgh, 17th of February, 1688, with a remarkable and extraordinary measure of the LORD’s gracious presence and spirit, not only in this part of his sufferings, but all the time of his imprisonment. The LORD hereby bearing witness, both to the truth of that cause for which he suffered, and also testifying his gracious acceptance of his sufferings, and of the free-will-offering of his life, which he laid down for his sake. And as neither the violence nor flattery of enemies could prevail with this faithful confessor and martyr himself, to quit with one hair or hoof of what belonged to CHRIST; so he recommended to the poor scattered remnant which he left, as part of his dying counsel, to keep their ground, and not to quit nor forego one of these despised truths, which he was assured the LORD, when he returned to bind up the breach of his people, and heal them of their wound, would make glorious in the earth. Thus that worthy minister, and now glorified martyr of JESUS, through a chain of sufferings, and train of enemies, fought his way unto an incorruptible and immortal crown of endless glory: He was the last that sealed the testimony for religion and liberty, and the covenanted work of reformation, against Popery, Prelacy, Erastianism, and tyranny, in a public manner, on the scaffold with his blood. After the death of this renowned martyr, he was succeeded by the eminent Mr. Alexander Shields, who carried on, and maintained the testimony, as it was stated, in all the heads and clauses thereof, continuing to preach in the fields: On which account, he, and the people who attended his ministry, were exposed for some time longer, to the fury and resentment of their enemies. But their power, which they had so long perverted and abused, quickly came to a period: For in a few months, GOD, in his righteous judgement and adorable providence, overturned that throne of iniquity on which they depended, and expelled that inhuman, cruel monster, from his tyrannical and usurped power, upon the PRINCE of ORANGE’s coming over into England, in the beginning of November that same year. But, although the LORD at this juncture, and by this means, rescued and delivered our natural and civil rights and privileges in a national way, from under the oppression and bondage of antichristian tyranny, arbitrary and absolute power; yet the Revolution, at this time, brought no real deliverance to the church of GOD: But CHRIST’s rights, formerly acquired for him by his faithful servants, lay still buried under the rubbish of that antichristian building of Prelacy, erected on the ruins of his work in this land; and the spiritual liberties and privileges of his house remained, and do still remain under the bondage of Erastianism, supremacy, toleration, &c. For it is well known, that although this man, Jehu-like, “destroyed Baal out of Israel, yet he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, wherewith he made Israel to sin.” [2 Kings 10.31.]
About this time, the united societies (having no actual minister since Mr. Renwick’s death, Mr. Shields being only preacher) sent over some commissioners from their general meeting to Embden, one of the United Provinces, to bring over Mr. Thomas Linning, a young man whom they had sent thither some years before in Mr. Renwick’s time, to the university there, and for ordination. In consequence hereof, the said Mr. Linning came home, with testimonials of his ordination to the ministry by the classis at Embden; and in conjunction with Mr. Shields and Mr. William Boyd, (another of their ministers, who had also come from Holland about this time) renewed the covenants national and solemn league, and dispensed the sacrament of the LORD’s supper near Lesmahago in Clydesdale, and continued to preach to the people for about four months, till the first general assembly (so called) met at Edinburgh 1689-90. At which time, he, with his two brethren, in their own name, and the name of their people, presented a paper to that assembly, bearing on what terms they and their people would join in communion with them; only craving, that they might all join in humbling themselves before the LORD, and acknowledge and bewail their fathers’, their own, and the land’s many and heinous iniquities, and breaches of covenant before they proceeded to any other business, and so have their public sins, and scandalous compliances washed away by repentance, and calling upon the name of the LORD JESUS: That they would purge out from among them all ignorant, insufficient, heterodox, and notoriously scandalous ministers, such as, by information, accusation, or otherways, were guilty of the blood of the saints, &c. But these proposals were reckoned unseasonable and impracticable, tending rather to kindle contention, than compose division, and so were thrown over their bar. The generality of these men were so plunged and puddled in the ditch of defection and apostacy, that they could not think of the drudgery of cleansing themselves in GOD’s way, by a particular and public confession of, and humiliation for their own and the land’s public sins, but chose rather to sit down filthy and polluted as they were, and presume, in the midst of their abominations unrepented of, to approach GOD’s holy things, which, how provoking to heaven, let GOD in his word be judge, Isa. 52.11. Hag. 2.13,14. 2 Chr. 30.3. Ezek. 44.10. Nay, it is but too, too evident, that for this cause, GOD then laid them under that awful sentence, Rev. 22.11. “Him that is filthy, let him be filthy still;” or that, Isa. 22.14. For as their hearts were then hardened against GOD’s call by his word and providence to that important and most necessary duty; so, ever since, they have been so much the more so, and have gone on from evil to worse.
But to return to our purpose: The two brethren, Messrs. Linning and Boyd, upon the rejection of the above said paper of proposals, intending to unite with them at any rate, gave in another, importing their submission to the assembly; which paper, Mr. Shields also, through their influence, insinuations, and persuasions, was drawn in to subscribe and adhere to; which he had never done, had he not fallen, by the means of these false brethren, and which, it is said, he sadly repented afterwards. Thus, the poor people were again left destitute of ministers, and public gospel ordinances, until the Rev. Mr. John Macmillan acceded to them, from the public judicatories of the revolution church, in the year 1706. And their kind friend, Mr. Linning, to make amends for all his misdemeanours, and in return for the charges the societies were at about his education, at home and abroad, did them that good office, to write, and load them with calumnies and slanders, to the universities in the Netherlands, whither they had recourse formerly in like cases; so that all access for having their loss retrieved from that quarter, was blocked up.
What is thus briefly hinted above, may suffice to afford some cursory view of the rise and progress of religion and reformation in these lands, especially in Scotland; until, as a church and nation, our kingdom became the LORD’s, by the strictest and most intimate federal alliance, and the name almost of every city, was, The LORD is there: Together with the general state and condition of the church and land, from the fatal juncture of our woful decline, unto the end of the above mentioned bloody period: The faithfulness of some, in this time of trial and temptation: The defection and backsliding course of others; and the great and avowed wickedness of the rest, extended unto an exorbitant height of savage inhumanity, irreligion, and impiety. Upon all which, the presbytery, in duty to GOD, the present and succeeding generations, find themselves obliged to testify,
1st, Their hearty approbation of the faithfulness of such ministers and others, who opposed, and faithfully testified against the public resolutions of church and state, framed in the year 1651, for receiving into places of power and trust, malignant enemies to the work of reformation, contrary to the word of GOD, Exod 18.21. Deut. 1.13. 2 Chron. 19.2.—and to all acts of assembly and parliament in the reforming period: The assembly disclaiming the resolutions, as appears from their act, June 17th, 1646, Session 14th, entitled, Act for censuring the compliers with the public enemies of this church and kingdom. And their seasonable and necessary warning, June 27th, 1649, Session 27th; where “They judge it a great and scandalous provocation, and grievous defection from the public cause, to comply with these malignants,” &c. As also, Act 11th, Triennial Parliament of Charles I. intitled, Act for purging the army of disaffected persons to the covenant and work of reformation. And the faithful warnings, given by general assemblies and parliament, even against the admission of Charles II. to the regal dignity, when so evidently discovering his disingenuity, until once he should give more satisfying proof of his sincerity; see act of the commission at the West Kirk, August 13th, 1650, where the commission of the general assembly, considering, that there may be just ground of stumbling, from the king’s majesty’s refusing to emit the declaration offered him by the committee of estates, and the commission of the general assembly, concerning his former carriage, and resolution for the future, in reference to the cause of GOD, and enemies and friends thereof; doth therefore declare,
“That this kirk and kingdom do not espouse any malignant party, quarrel, or interest, but that they fight merely upon their former grounds and principles, and in the defence of the cause of GOD, and of the kingdom, as they have done these twelve years past: And therefore, as they disclaim all the sin and guilt of the king and of his house, so they will not own him nor his interest, otherwise than with a subordination to GOD, and so far as he owns and prosecutes the cause of GOD, and disclaims his, and his father’s opposition to the work of GOD, and to the covenant,” &c.
The which declaration being seen and considered by the committee of estates, was the same day approven by them. Thus, both church and state exerted themselves in the discharge of their duty, in order to obtain a settlement, according to the word of GOD, and the covenants, which were now become the magna charta of the privileges and liberties of the nations, both civil and religious; and therefore, were sworn to and subscribed by Charles II. as was also the coronation oath, for the security and preservation of the true religion, at his receipt of the royal power.
2dly, The presbytery testify and declare their approbation of the conduct of the faithful, before the restoration, who, adhering to the foresaid fundamental constitutions of the nations, both refused subjection unto, and testified against the usurpation of Oliver Cromwell, and his accomplices, his invading the land, his antichristian toleration of all sectarian errors and heresies, threatening the ruin and destruction of the true religion, as well as liberty. This was particularly testified against by the synod of Fife, and others, in conjunction with them, as wicked and intolerable, as opposite unto, and condemned by the scriptures of truth, Job 34.17. Deut. 13.1 to 12. Zech. 13.3. contrary to acts of assembly and parliament, made against malignants their being received into places of power and trust, with whom these sectarians were compliers, such as Act 16th of Assemb. 1646, Sess. 13th. Act 26th, Sess. 2d, parliament, Charles I. &c.
3dly, The presbytery do hereby heartily approve and homologate the testimony borne unto the truths and royal prerogatives of CHRIST, as King of Zion, by the witnesses and martyrs for the same, from the Restoration, anno 1660, to the late Revolution, by protestations, declarations, confiscation of goods, bonds, imprisonment, banishment, all kinds of cruelty and suffering, even unto the death, (as noticed above,) by the impious revolters from the righteous laws of GOD, and overturners of the just and equitable laws of men, both sacred and civil; to the maintenance whereof, the greatest part of these transgressors had bound themselves, by the most sacred and inviolable obligations, which made their wickedness the more daring and aggravated; and the testimony of the saints against such as had made themselves so vile in the sight of GOD, and all good men, the more justifiable, Psalm 119.139. “My zeal hath consumed me: because mine enemies have forgotten thy words:” And, as the doers of the law have the promise of justification, by the great Legislator, Rom. 2.13, so they ought to have the approbation of his people, for doing of his will.
And, as the Spirit discovers the church’s duty not to consist only in bearing witness unto the truth, and justifying CHRIST’s confessors and martyrs, in their faithful adherence unto it; but also in testifying against sin, and condemning the wicked for their wickedness; for which also, we have the precedent of the reformed and covenanted church of Scotland, both before, and during the defection and wickedness of the forementioned period: Likeas, the presbytery did, and hereby do declare and testify, particularly,
1st, Against that prime and leading step of defection, the public resolutions, a scheme projected by that arch-hypocrite and traitor to GOD, Charles II. for the reintroduction of men of the same wicked and malignant spirit with himself, into places of public trust in the nation; men, the most of whom had been formerly excommunicated by the church, and excluded from all office-bearing in the commonwealth, by the states, in their act of classes, as being avowed and obstinate enemies to GOD and to their country. The which scheme, approven of and put in execution, with the consent of a corrupt part of the ministry of the church, called afterwards resolutioners, made way for that sad and bloody catastrophe, which after befel the poor church of CHRIST in this land.
2dly, They declare and testify against the usurpation of Oliver Cromwell, with those who subjected themselves unto, and owned his authority; against his treacherous invasion of this land, contrary to the public oaths and vows, and covenant union of the nations; together with his sectarian principles, and wicked toleration, then obtruded upon them.
3dly, They declare and testify against the restoration of Charles II. 1660, unto the government of these covenanted lands, after he had so plainly discovered his spirit and designs, in the matter of the public resolutions. On account of which treacherous and double dealing with GOD and man, he was, in the LORD’s holy and adorable providence, justly secluded from the government, and lived an exile for the space of ten years; but by means of his malignant public resolution friends, he was again, by might, though not of right, restored, without so much as his adherence sought to those oaths, which he had formerly so solemnly sworn. Add to this, the church’s sinful silence, through the influence of the backslidden resolution party therein; so that, at the convention of the pretended parliament, anno 1661, consisting mostly of persons of known disaffection to the true religion, elected of purpose to serve the king’s traiterous designs, there was not so much as a protestation for civil or religious liberties and privileges offered thereunto; but the vile person (as he afterward fully declared himself,) was peaceably, though illegally, exalted.
4thly, As the presbytery find themselves in duty bound to testify against this most unhappy restoration of Charles II. so, of necessary and just consequence, they declare against the whole of his usurped and tyrannical administration, particularly against his blasphemous and heaven-daring ecclesiastical supremacy, against the act rescissory, declaring null and void the covenants, presbyterian church government, and all the laws made in favours of the true religion since the year 1638: The wicked anniversary thanksgiving day, in memory of the restoration: The re-establishment of diocesan and erastian Prelacy: His publicly and ignominiously burning of our solemn covenants, after pretending to nullify their obligation: With all his cruelty, tyranny, oppression and bloodshed, under colour, and without form of law, exercised upon the LORD’s people, during the whole of his reign.
5thly, They again testify against the treachery of these covenanted lands, in their advancing (contrary to our solemn covenants and all law and reason), James, duke of York, a professed Papist, and avowed malignant, to the throne of these realms. As also, they testify against his CHRIST dethroning supremacy, and antichristian indulgences, and toleration flowing from that wicked fountain: His horrid and cruel massacring and murdering of the saints and servants of the Most High; with all his other wickedness briefly specified in the foregoing narrative.
Upon the whole, the presbytery declare and testify against all the affronts done unto the Son of GOD, and open attacks made upon his crown and kingdom: All the different steps of apostacy from a work of reformation; and all the hellish rage and cruelty exercised against the people of GOD, during the foresaid period of persecution, carried on by these two impious brothers.
1. Footnote from 1777 edition: Christ’s rights, &c. By these are not meant the rights of Christ personal. It is not in the power of mortals, or any creature, to acquire and secure these to him: But the rights of Christ mystical, that is, of the church, or, of his truth, true worship, and religion, and professors of it as such.
[ This text is presented above after preparation through the cooperative efforts of multiple individuals. Two of these, T.F. and J.I. contributed to typesetting and preparing a text of the original Scottish Testimony based on the editions of 1761 (1st) and 1777 (3rd) which they finished about the year 2010. In 2023, J.K. proofread and formatted their text with comparison to the editions of 1761, 1777, and 1876. For other editions of the text, please see the Act, Declaration, and Testimony Resource Index.—JTKer. ]