WHOLE OF OUR COVENANTED REFORMATION, AS ATTAINED TO, AND ESTABLISHED IN BRITAIN AND IRELAND; PARTICULARLY BETWIXT THE YEARS 1638 AND 1649, INCLUSIVE.
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.
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PSALM IX, 4.—Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee: that it may be displayed because of the truth.
ISAIAH VIII, 16.—Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.
JUDE, verse 3.—That ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints.
REVELATION III, 11.—Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
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TO WHICH IS NOW ADDED,
A HISTORICAL AND DECLARATORY SUPPLEMENT.
The Presbytery, soon after their erection, being convinced of the expediency and necessity of emitting a judicial testimony, to discover to the world the principles upon which, as a judicatory of the Lord Jesus Christ, they stood, in opposition to the different, so called, judicatories in the land; together with the agreeableness of these principles to the Word of God, the only rule of faith and practice, and to the covenanted constitution of the church of Scotland in her purest periods; did therefore, after a proposal for said effect, agree in appointing one of their number to prepare a draft of this kind to be laid before them, who, after sundry delays, to their grief of mind, at once cut off their hopes of all assistance from him, in that or any other particular, by laying himself obnoxious to the censures of the church; which the presbytery, in duty both to him, to God, and to his people, were obliged to put in execution against him, while he, in contempt of that ordinance, and other means used for his conviction and recovery, obstinately persists in his impenitency and defection. And although the presbytery, few in number, were thus diminished, yet, being still resolved to prosecute their former design, they renewed their appointment upon another brother, who, in consequence of his undertaking, was allowed a cessation from his other public work, in order to expedite the proposed draft: and now, when nothing was expected that should retard the finishing of such a necessary work, the lamentable fire of division, that had long been smothered, unhappily broke forth into a violent flame, whereby the presbytery was rent asunder, and that brother, on whom the appointment was formerly laid, happening to be of the separating party, a second stop was not only put to the publication of this testimony, but the presbytery, from the absence of a brother removed to a distant part of the world, together with the paucity of their number, were almost wholly discouraged from attempting again what they had been oftener than once disappointed in.
But notwithstanding of the above, with many other difficulties which we shall not at present take notice of, the presbytery, still considering, that, even in their present circumstances, when their number is few and despicable, their adversaries many, and such as are in repute in the world, whereby the opposition made to them, and the conspiracy formed against the covenanted testimony of the church of Scotland maintained by them, must needs be strong; there is yet a gracious door of opportunity left open for them to attempt, in their judicative capacity, the prosecution and accomplishment of the necessary work formerly proposed; and which they could not but judge the Lord still called them unto, while after all the above-mentioned breaches made upon them, he still continued to give them a nail in his holy place, and a wall in Judah and Jerusalem, Ezra ix, 8, 9, they therefore again laid their appointments upon some others to prepare a draft of An Act, Declaration, and Testimony, &c., and which, under the favor of Divine Providence, has at length been finished and laid before the presbytery. We only need to observe further with reference to this, that the long delay of what is now agreed upon did not proceed from any design in the presbytery, of depriving either the people of their particular inspection, or the generation, of any benefit that might be obtained by a work of this nature, but partly from the fewness of their number, and great extent of their charge, and partly from the great distance of members' residence from each other, whereby they can seldom have access to meet all together, for expediting this or any other work of public concern they have in hand.
It is, therefore, with an eye to the Wonderful Counselor (when Zion's faithful counselors are so few) for light and direction in the management of this great and important work, that the presbytery have resolved upon the publication hereof at this time, for the reasons which follow:
1. Because this duty of bearing witness for truth, and declaring against all error, and defection from it, and transmitting the same uncorrupted to posterity, is expressly enjoined on the church by the Spirit of God in the Scriptures of truth. Psal. lxxviii, 5: "For he hath established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers that they should make them known to their children." Isaiah xliii, 10: "Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord." Matth. x, 32: "Whosoever, therefore, shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father who is in heaven." John xv. 27: "Ye also shall bear witness." Acts i, 8: "And ye shall be witnesses unto me."
2. Because, in agreeableness to the above scripture warrant, it has been the constant practice of the church in all ages, when in such capacity, judicially to assert, and declare their approbation of the truths of the everlasting gospel, and attainments of the church, joined with the condemnation of all contrary error, as appears from their harmonious confessions: and particularly, this has been the honorable practice of the once famous church of Scotland, witness her excellent confessions, covenants, &c., whose posterity we are, and, therefore, in duty bound to homologate, and approve her scriptural form and order, by a judicial asserting of her attainments, as saith the apostle, Philip. iii, 16: "Nevertheless whereunto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing." Rev. iii, 3: "Remember, therefore, how thou has received, and heard, and hold fast, and repent."
3. That, notwithstanding many, both ministers and private Christians, have been honored faithfully to publish their testimonies and declarations, and to seal them with their blood, in opposition to the growing defections in the land, being through the tyranny of the times prevented from acting in any other capacity: yet never, since the national overthrow of the glorious structure of reformation, has any church judicatory; constituted purely on the footing of our covenanted establishment, appeared in a judicial vindication of our Redeemer's interest and injured rights.
4. The unspeakable loss sustained by the present generation, through the want of a full and faithful declaration of the covenanted principles of the church of Scotland, which they in the loins of their ancestors were so solemnly engaged to maintain; whereby, as ignorance must be increased, so prejudices are also gradually begotten in their winds against the truth in the purity thereof. And this, through the many mistaken notions at present prevailing among the different contending parties of professors in these nations, concerning the distinct ordinances of divine institution, viz., the ministry and magistracy, or ecclesiastical and civil government; and, more especially, the presbytery reckon themselves, and all professing their allegiance unto Christ and his cause, obliged to maintain the testimony of our ancestors for the divine institution and right constitution of civil government, according to the law of God, as what they found to be, and still is, indispensably necessary for the outward defense and preservation of righteousness and true religion; and because the very foundation and ends of this ordinance have been doctrinally subverted, and the generation taught the most licentious principles concerning it, by a body of professed witnesses among ourselves: and this they design to do, without (as they are slanderously reported of by some) laying aside themselves, or withdrawing others, from the study of internal and habitual or practical holiness.
5. To wipe off the reproach of that odium cast upon the presbytery and community belonging thereto, by some who invidiously call them a headless mob, whose principles cannot be known, anti-government men, men of bloody principles, &c., than which nothing can be more unjust: seeing, as a body distinct from all others, they have still stood upon the footing of the covenanted establishment, as has been frequently declared to the world, and as the constitution of the presbytery bears; so that they can no more be said ever to have wanted a proper testimony exhibiting their principles to the world, than the reformed church of Scotland, whereof they are a part.
6. The present broken and divided situation of the members of CHRIST'S mystical body, together with the abounding of error, seems necessarily to require it as a proper mean, under the divine blessing, for gathering again the scattered flock of Christ, the chief shepherd, to the one sheepfold, and putting a stop to the current of prevailing apostasy and defection.
For these reasons (with more that might be adduced) the presbytery find themselves in duty bound, to God, the present and succeeding generations, to throw in their small mite of a testimony, against the manifold avowed backslidings and defections of all degrees of men, both in the former and present times, from the precious truths of Christ, and purity of his ordinances; unto the maintenance whereof, not only they, but all in these lands, are solemnly bound by covenant engagements.
And, to conclude, let none mistake the presbytery's aim and intention, in the whole or any part of the following testimony, as if they minded nothing else but magistracy, &c., and that to have civil government, and governors established, according to the rule of God's word, was all the religion they intended, without regarding or opposing any other of the prevailing evils and iniquities of the present time. So some are pleased to allege, as has been hinted above; but such might do well to consider, that, as the sovereign and distinguishing goodness of God is clearly evidenced in giving his statutes and judgments unto his Israel, in all ages, while he has not dealt so with the other nations of the world, wherein his will is manifestly revealed, determining his people's duty in all their regulations; so his glory is equally concerned, that they receive, observe, keep pure and entire, all the ordinances he hath appointed in his word. The sinful prostitution of any of these, or breaking over the boundaries which Jehovah hath set is an evident contempt of his sovereign authority, and violation of the moral law. God requires of his people an universal respect to all his ordinances and commandments. Hence what is designed by them in this undertaking, is equally to testify their adherence unto, and approbation of the doctrine, worship, discipline and government of the house of God; and to signify their opposition to, and dissatisfaction with, all the apostatizing, backsliding courses in principle and practice, from that reformation purity, both in church and state (which, as the attainment of the nations of Britain and Ireland, was by them accounted their chief ornament and glory), that have taken place, especially in this kingdom, since our woful decline commenced: whereby the witnesses for Scotland's covenanted reformation, have been deprived of any legal benefit, as well, since as before the late revolution; in which the reformation, neither in civil nor ecclesiastical constitutions, was adopted. The intent, therefore, of this work is of very great importance; no less being proposed, than the right stating of the testimony for the covenanted interest of Christ in these lands, and judicial vindication of all the heads thereof, after such a long and universal apostasy therefrom: a work that must needs be attended with great difficulties, and labor under manifold disadvantages, as in other respects, so particularly from the consideration of the temper of this age, wherein nothing almost is pleasing, but what is adapted to the taste, not of the best, but of the greatest: and naked truth without the varnish of flattery, and painting of carnal policy, is generally treated with contempt, and exposed to ridicule. And therefore, to remove as much as possible the prejudice of a critical age, who are ready to reject every thing as new, which is in some respects singular, and not suited to their favorite sentiments; the presbytery have endeavored, in this work, to conform, as much as possible, to the faithful contendings of former honest contenders for the truths and testimony of JESUS, and that, both as to matter and manner: and as the grounds of this testimony are not any needless scrupulosities, or strange novelties, but precious and weighty truths, of the greatest value and importance, and of nearest affinity unto the continued series and succession of the testimonies of the church of Scotland, in former and more ancient periods; so it is the presbytery's ambition, that nothing, as to the subject matter of what is here contained, be looked upon as theirs, but may be regarded as an ancient plea, wherein is nothing but what has been maintained and confirmed by authors of the greatest fame and reputation in the church; has been asserted by the greatest confessors, and sealed by the best blood of the honored and faithful martyrs of Jesus: so that it may appear, the cause and truths here judicially stated and vindicated, are not of yesterday's date, but the same old paths and good way, that we are commanded to ask for, and walk in, though paths that are not now much trodden, a way that is not much paved by the multitude of professors walking therein.
ACT, DECLARATION, AND TESTIMONY.
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.
PLOUGHLANDHEAD, JUNE 6, 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 apostasy 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 pretenses; and, further, considering the general deluge of error and heresy, that has overrun these lands, and the swarm of erroneous heretics that has 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, caused the day spring from on high to visit us. Our glorious Redeemer, that bright and morning Star, having, by his almighty power, shaken oft 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, 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, and continued to flourish, without being pressed down with the intolerable burden 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, stepped into the temple of God in Scotland. Those 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 worshipers of God. The doctrine, worship, discipline, and government of the house of GOD being thus established, continued for many years, taught and exorcised, 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 anti-christian yoke, which gradually increasing by little and little, clouded the sunshine 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 five hundred years. Yet, even in this very dark period, the LORD left not himself altogether without some to bear witness for him, whose steadfastness in defense of the truth, even unto death, vanquished the inhuman cruelty of their savage enemies. The honor 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 15th 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 labors, 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 serial 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 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 those 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 reward, 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 whatsoever. Several such covenants our early reformers solemnly entered into at Edinburgh, Perth and Leith, in the years 1557, '59, '60 and '62. 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, afterward sworn to in the National Covenant annis 1580, 1581 and 1590. At the same time, some other acts were passed, in favor 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 labors of the renowned Mr. KNOX (whose memory is still savory 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 anti-christian supremacy and superstition abolished.
The church, gradually increasing in beauty and perfection, did, with much painfulness and faithful diligence, labor after a more full establishment of the house of GOD, in all its privileges, until, by perfecting the second book of discipline, they completed 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 until 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 honor of GOD'S great name, by all such as favor the dust of Zion, for her sake, and long to see her breaches, now wide as the sea, repaired.
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 convene 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 convened at Perth, anno 1618, were enacted, and afterward 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 iniquitous 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 anti-christian 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 favor 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 labored, amid 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 neighboring 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 favor, 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 favor 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 favor, 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 threatenings 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 afterward 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 (constituted 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 until 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 show 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 excommunicated 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 those 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 worshiping assemblies of his people, proved a happy means to excite and provoke their neighbors 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 defense 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 convene 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 defense 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 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 honorable 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 afterward renewed in Scotland, with an acknowledgment 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 honorable 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, and steadfast 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.
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 ecclesiastical affairs, 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 royalist, 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 honorable treatment, delivered him over to them. Afterward, 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 afterward 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 ecclesiastical, according to the covenants: which security for religion and liberty, at the first proposed treaty at the Hague, he deferred to grant, and afterward postponed the signing of the treaty at Breda, when everything 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 showed 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 of 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 the 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 afterward 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 meantime, 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 xi, 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."
From what is noticed above, the presbytery cannot but declare their hearty approbation of the zeal, courage, and faithfulness of our honored 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. xxiii, 9, 2 Chron. xix, 2. Those that were then called protestors (from their opposing and protesting against these resolutions), continued steadfastly to witness against the same, as the first remarkable step, to make way for that bloody catastrophe, that afterward befell 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 apostasy.
In this hour of temptation, the witnesses for CHRIST, endeavoring 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 defense 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 a head of defense 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 endeavored 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 homologated 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 sunshine 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 bloodshed 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 endeavor to take notice of some of the most remarkable instances of backsliding, treachery and oppression, bloodshed, &c, acted in those 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, 1, The unhappy restoration of Charles II, in manner before mentioned commencing. The faithful declarations and testimonies given in favor 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 anti-christian 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 showed 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 pretense that they were seditious. This was the first beginning of those sorrows and calamities that ensued in the many sanguinary laws afterward made and executed upon the true friends of Zion.
2. 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 afterward proposed, they passed an act rescissory, declaring all the parliaments, and acts of parliament made in favor 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. Besides 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.
3. 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 acts bear) to give any church power, jurisdiction, or government, to the office-bearers of the church, other than that which acknowledges 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 exauctorated 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 favor thereof, from 1638 to 1650, was declared treasonable, and rebellious. Alike treasonable it was reckoned for subjects, on pretense of reformation, or any other pretense whatsoever, 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 afterward 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 honored of GOD to support and advance; and also as a specimen of what was afterward 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 anti-christian 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 afterward shed in that quarrel.
4. 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 show 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 license to make any lawful defense, 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 endeavoring 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 sacreligiously 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 inclined to.
5. 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 2000 L. Scots, if discovered. Such was their hellish enmity and spite against our covenanted reformation, and every thing written in defense 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, by destroying all the faithful in the land, oppressing and wearing out the saints of the Most High, and burning up and dispersing all the synagogues of GOD in the nation. In consequence of this, about three thousand 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 countryman, carried him to his own house, and were going to torture him in a cruel manner, by setting him naked on a red-hot gridiron; 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 determined to stand in their own defense. 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 (afterward 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 harbor, reset, supply, or in 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 favorers 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.
6. 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, 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 afterward 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-conformed 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 chancelor 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 laboring 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 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, 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; 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.
7. 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, showed 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, and 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 defense 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 defense 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, executed 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.
8. 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;" 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 afterward fell into their hands, and breathed out threatenings 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 likewise 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. Douglas, one of their ministers being along with them), they withdrew. This Christian valor 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 completely routed him and his troops, rescued Mr. John King, and a number of other prisoners, whom Claverhouse had seized that morning, from their hands. Afterward 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.