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his son Charles II their king, and out of conscience to their covenant sent for him, and crowned him at Scoon, where he solemnly swore the covenant, January 1st 1651. All which drew down the wrath of the Sectarian army upon us, who invaded the land, shed much blood, conquered us, and kept us in bondage ten years. During which time a sinful toleration of Sectarian errors was granted, by Cromwell and his council in Scotland, which brought in great looseness both in principle arid practice; which toleration was faithfully witnessed against both by the Presbytery of Edinburgh, and a good number of ministers in the provinces of Perth and Fife, as appears by their testimonies published in the year 1659.
Soon after this the yoke of the oppressor was broken, and the king peaceably restored in the year 1660, to the joy of the whole land, who thereupon expected good days both to church and state. (And, alas, the most part went to dreadful excess in jollity and drunkenness upon this event.) But, ah! soon was their joy turned to mourning, soon was their oppression in conscience doubled, the late glorious work of reformation razed, and all its carved work broke down with axes and hammers, as it were, all at once. For king Charles II after his restoration having called a parliament in England, they restored abjured Prelacy with the service book and ceremonies, which had been laid aside: whereupon about two thousand ministers there, who could not in conscience conform thereunto, were cast out at Bartholomew day, August 24th 1662.—He likewise called a parliament in Scotland who in the years 1661 and 1662, removed all the legal securities of the church of Scotland, and work of reformation therein. By that unparalleled act recissory,
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they annulled all the parliaments which had met from 1640 to 1651; they asserted the king's supremacy in all causes civil and ecclesiastic, and declared all meetings and assemblies, leagues and covenants without the king's authority to be unlawful and unwarrantable, and devolved the power of settling the government of the church upon the king; they declared the national covenant, as sworn in the year 1638, and the solemn league and covenant to be unlawful oaths, and all men to be free from the obligation of them; and they declared all that was done from 1638 to 1650, in prosecution of a covenanted reformation, to be rebellious and treasonable.
The king's prerogative and supremacy in church affairs being thus screwed up, he by proclamation declared his royal pleasure to be for restoring the government of the church by archbishops and bishops, as it was exercised in the year 1637. In the mean time Mr. James Sharp minister at Craill, (who had formerly been intrusted to act for the church, but now betrayed her) went to London with other three ministers, and were consecrated bishops in the Prelatic sense, having first been ordained deacons, and after that Presbyters, according to the form of the church of England. (This the Prelates set up by king James VI would not submit to.) Thereafter these, returning from London to Edinburgh, consecrated the rest of the bishops. Then they all took their seats in Parliament, where they got new acts made in their favours, commanding all ministers to obey them, and attend their Diocesan meetings. A little before this, the meetings of Synods, Presbyteries and kirk sessions had been discharged by the privy council, until they should be authorized by the
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bishops, who were soon to enter upon the government of their respective sees: Whereupon, at the time of the meeting of provincial synods in April thereafter, several noblemen and gentlemen were sent to raise them by force. It is to be regretted, that synods at this time so readily dismissed, and that Presbyteries and kirk-sessions were deserted also, without any suitable testimony or remonstrance against these fearful encroachments and alterations.
One thing that contributed much to hinder any joint testimony, and to strike terror into many, was the severe treatment which some faithful ministers met with, when essaying a testimony of this sort: For Mr. James Guthrie minister at Sterling, with some few other ministers, having met in a private house in Edinburgh, soon after the king's return, to draw up a supplication to him, wherein, after congratulating his return, they humbly put him in mind of his oaths unto and covenants with God, for maintaining the true Protestant religion as established by acts of parliament and general assembly, &c. for this they were apprehended and imprisoned 23rd August 1660, and all such meetings and petitions were discharged as seditious. And, to strike the greater terror, Mr. James Guthrie was indicted before the parliament of high treason; and, being singularly faithful and zealous for carrying on reformation, he was condemned to die, and his head to be set upon one of the ports of the city of Edinburgh. He was accordingly executed the first of June 1661, and his head set up on the Nether bow port, which continued there till the revolution, as a public witness against the woful defections of a cruel perfidious generation. Likewise the worthy and renowned marquis of Argy II
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was five days before executed upon the same account, and his head set up upon the tolbooth of Edinburgh, to the great reproach of the nation: and sometime after Lord Waristoun suffered in the same manner; three eminently great and good men, who died with the resolution and Christianity of the ancient martyrs. Now, what could be expected from a reign and a government, whose foundation was laid in cruelty, and soaked with the precious blood of God's saints?
After this the parliament and council went on in their cruel and persecuting designs against faithful ministers who would not conform to antiscriptural Prelacy, take presentations from Patrons, and collations from bishops, and also take an oath to the king, which they called an oath of allegiance, wherein they behoved to own his supremacy in all causes civil and ecclesiastic: some of these ministers they banished out of all his majesty's dominions: these generally went to Holland, and were kindly received there. Besides these, several hundreds were summarily ordered to leave their churches, and remove from their congregations: With which orders (it must be owned) they did too easily comply upon proclamations by the council, before they were thrust out by force; thereby leaving their poor flocks to corrupt teachers that were afterwards thrust in upon them, and not giving a due testimony against such a tyrannical act and encroachment upon the spiritual kingly power and headship of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the only Lord of our ministry, and of the exercise thereof. Likewise, by an act of parliament, all the subjects were required to attend these who were thrust into their parishes, and other conformists, in their meetings for worship and that in acknowledgment of,
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and hearty compliance with his majesty's government ecclesiastic; which indeed the far greatest part did, whereby all degrees of persons through the land were miserably involved in the breach of the covenant, and defections of the time. Nay, the wickedness of this period came to such a pitch, that our national covenant, and the solemn league, were ordered by public authority to be most ignominiously burnt at several market-crosses, to the fearful dishonoring of the great tremendous God, with whom these covenants were made.
After some time silence, the ejected ministers began to be convinced it was their duty to preach the gospel, at the earnest desire of their people, who declined to hear the curates who were thrust in upon them, though sorely harassed for it: and that they ought to preach, notwithstanding the prohibitions of the magistrate, especially when they saw
what sort of men were thrust in upon the people. At first they had worship only in private houses in the most peaceable and harmless manner; but the cruel prelates and rulers would not bear with any such meetings; so that at length, by their severities, they were driven from houses to the fields for more safety. But still severer laws were made against all such meetings, whether in the houses or fields. Nay, they came even to that height to enact, Charles II Par. 2. Sess. 2. 1670, "That if any man shall preach or pray in the fields, or in any house, where there shall be more hearers than the house contains, so as some of them be without doors, he shall be punished with death and confiscation of goods." So that, by this terrible law, two or three hearkening at honest men's doors or windows in time of family-worship, [t]hough posted there out of malice or mere curiosity,
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did expose the worshippers of God to a cruel death. These and such like laws tended to banish family-worship out of the land, and were too successful that way. Likewise severe punishments were enacted against the hearers of ejected ministers, and these who did not hear the parish-ministers, or employed others to baptize their children. And they proceeded to incredible barbarities against Non-conformists, both ministers and
people. Yet, in these cruel persecuting times, the Lord gave testimony to the word of his grace, and blessed his ordinances (though prohibited by men) with very remarkable success; and the more pains the persecuting Prelates and their instruments were at to suppress these assemblies, the more numerous they grew, and the parish-churches were the more deserted.
When methods of force and cruelty could not prevail to stop these assemblies, they
fell upon more crafty ways, by granting indulgence to some of the ejected ministers to preach in vacant churches, under certain limitations: such as, Their being confined within their parishes, and not encouraging these of other congregations to resort to them; their forbearing to lecture before sermon; their not preaching in church-yards; their not admitting ministers who were not indulged to assist them, &c. This indulgence, and prescribing rules to ministers, being ordered by the king and his council by virtue of his ecclesiastic supremacy, now established by law, was on the magistrate's part a sinful incroachment upon Christ's headship over his church. And though poor harassed ministers might be glad of any little breathing time for the exercise of their ministry in the midst of heavy sufferings, yet, if any of them did accept of the magistrate's
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indulgence upon the conditions and restrictions prescribed, they cannot be justified therein—But for these worthy ministers who left all for Christ and their conscience, and suffered greatly for not complying with Prelacy, and other defections of their time, and who always refused that they accepted the indulgence upon the terms of the king and council (though they preached in the churches they assigned) neither did observe
these terms while they enjoyed the benefit, and were afterwards turned out again upon that account; it were hard to charge them with approving of the king's usurped supremacy: Though, at the same time, we wish they had given a more full and explicit testimony against the Erastian incroachments of the magistrate, than we can learn they did. Yet notwithstanding hereof, God was pleased to glorify his sovereign grace in giving remarkable success to the labours and ministry of these indulged in churches, as well as these who preached in the fields, betwixt whom there continued much love and peace for many years; until once some began to condemn the indulged so far, as to preach up separation from them; upon which followed very sad and mournful divisions among the people of God, even while under violent persecution, the fruits whereof continue to this very day.
At this time many conscience-debauching oaths, declarations and bonds were imposed upon the people of this land, for engaging them to own the king's supremacy over all persons, and in all causes; to renounce our covenants, with defensive arms, and alI the former steps taken for carrying on reformation. Among others, that self contradictory oath of the Test was imposed, and made a handle for persecuting many of all ranks and stations.
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They who refused these oaths, and did not conform to Prelacy as required, were exposed to the greatest cruelties, being put to wander about in deserts and mountains, and to lodge in dens and caves of the earth. Multitudes were banished their native country; many suffered long imprisonment, and that in the most miserable and unheathful places; others were fined and spoiled of their goods, and many pillaged and plundered by merciless soldiers and barbarous Highlanders let loose upon them; husbands were exorbitantly fined, and entirely ruined, for their wives absenting from the parish-churches, though it was not in their power to help it; preaching, praying, or even hearing at meetings not authorised by law, was made death: Yea, refusing to witness against these guilty of the crimes of preaching, praying, or hearing, was also punishable with death. Simple conversing with persons forfeited or intercommuned, though our nearest relations, husbands, wives, parents, children, &c. or the giving them any supply when starving, or the not revealing the giving or demanding of it, was declared treason; so that men were exposed to a cruel death for pure acts of charity. The privy council in those days assumed a parliamentary power, and made acts and laws even more bloody than those of the parliament: And though these were most cruel and barbarous in themselves, yet they were often more barbarously put in execution; so that this poor land became a miserable field of blood, cruelty and defection. Many of all ranks, noblemen, gentlemen, ministers, citizens, and commons, had their blood shed on scaffolds, as if they had been the greatest malefactors, and their heads and members set up on pinnacles to the view of the world. Many were tortured
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with boots, thumbkins [thumbscrew], fire matches, &c. to force them to discover their secret thoughts of state matters, accuse themselves or others, and answer such questions as judges pleased to ask at them. To such a height of cruelty and tyranny were things carried, that full power was given to merciless soldiers both to be judges and executioners of innocent people; so that in time of peace, without any witnesses or form of law, they cut off many in the open fields and high ways, and dragged severals out of their houses, and murdered them, if they did not take such oaths or answer such questions as they put to them; and sometimes would not give them so much time, before killing them, as to pray to God for mercy. Thus was the land soaked with blood, for the planting and growth of the bitter root of Prelacy therein. Ah! have we not cause to fear that the Lord plead a controversy with us, as he did with Judah many years after, for the sins of Manasseh, and the innocent blood that he shed, which (it is said) the Lord would not pardon? 2 Kings xxiv. 3, 4. O that the land were purged from it!
After king Charles’s death, king James a professed Papist, succeeded to him in the year 1685, when not only our civil liberties, but the Protestant religion, was ready to be sacrificed; for he was admitted to the government without taking the coronation-oath, which binds the king to maintain it: And our parliament, when they met, made an officer of duty to the king, wherein they openly declare for the king's absolute power and authority, and promise to give him entire obedience without reserve. This engagement surely was blasphemous, being only proper to the sovereign majesty of God. Upon such encouragement the king took upon him by virtue of his absolute power and prerogative
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royal, to dispense with laws at his pleasure, and, particularly to suspend all penal laws against Papists, and to allow them the free exercise of their religion. Sometime after, viz. 28th June 1687, he by his proclamation suspended all penal and sanguinary [bloodthirsty] laws made against other Nonconformists, viz. Presbyterians: and gave them leave to worship God in their own way in houses, injoining them to take care that nothing by preached or taught among them that might any wise tend to alienate the hearts of his people from him or his government; and to signify to the next magistrate what places they make use of, with the names of the preachers. Presbyterian ministers did generally accept of this liberty, and these who were abroad returned home, and got meeting houses fitted up for them, and multitudes flocked to attend their ministry, and found it remarkably blessed to them. This toleration indeed proceeded from a vile spring, viz. the king's absolute dispensing power; yet, Divine Providence made use of it, contrary to the design of the granter, as a mean to bring home the banished, and prepare the way for the happy revolution that soon followed upon it. There is in the proclamation an injunction upon ministers to preach nothing that tended to alienate the hearts of the subjects from the king and his government. If the meaning of that was, that, in their sermons they should give no testimony against Popery or the toleration of it, it was sinful in any minister to comply with it: But we ought in charity to believe that these faithful ministers, who had long given proof, by their sufferings, of their zeal for Christ and his cause, had no regard to the injunction in that sense, but exonerated their consciences in testifying against the errors and corruptions of the day, and
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for which some were imprisoned at that time. No doubt those who had been long oppressed in their consciences, had their blood mingled with their sacrifices, and wanted ordinances, would be glad of a breathing time to serve the Lord. But, alas, we have it to regret, that in every thing we offend, and come short of the glory of God. Ah! we and our fathers have sinned, and we have great cause to be deeply humbled both for their sins and our own.
But behold how the mercy of God appeared for us, after innumerable provocations, and when all ranks had made fearful defections from God and their engagements to him. And after this church had lien under oppression for near twenty eight years, and Popery was far advanced, and the civil power in the hands of Papists, and there was but little wanting to accomplish the ruin both of our civil and religious liberties; the mighty Lord
stept in, and in made a wonderful appearance for us, by sending over the Prince of Orange (afterwards proclaimed king) in November 1688, to rescue us from Popery and tyranny, and that at a time after several attempts for our relief had misgiven, and the hearts of all true Protestants were beginning to faint within them, and the Popish faction had a numerous army to support them. Yet now, when God's time was come, our deliverance was brought about with great facility, through the wonderful working and concurrence of Divine Providence: So that it was not our own arm, but the Lord's right hand, that wrought this salvation for us; a salvation never to be forgotten by the friends of religion and liberty.—In particular, the church of Scotland ought always to commemorate the glorious deliverance and revolution in 1688, whereby she was raised out of the dust, and to be thankful to the
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great God the Author thereof, and to have a savoury remembrance of the name of king William the happy instrument of it under God. Since which time the Lord has granted her fifty five years freedom from persecution, and peaceable enjoyment of gospel-ordinances and church judicatories, such as she never had since the reformation. Though, alas! we must acknowledge with shame, that we have not improven such noble opportunities for God and his glory, as we ought to have done.
The Prince of Orange having, in his declaration for Scotland, shewn a great concern for our religious and civil liberties, and for the persecuted Presbyterians in Scotland, whose sufferings he was well informed of by our refugees in Holland from time to time; the Presbyterian ministers met and addressed him, congratulating his arrival in Britain, and thanking him for his declaration; wherein they complain of the overturning of Presbyterian government which was generally received as of Divine right, and of the establishing of Prelacy contrary to solemn engagements. When the prince came to the throne, and had the government in his hands, he acted agreeably to his declaration; And though he did not all for us we could have wished, yet we have good ground to be assured of king William's hearty inclination to serve the church of Scotland, and his willingness to have done much more for her than he did.—But it was our, unhappiness, as well as his, that he had a Prelatic church in England to manage and gratify among whom the Scots Prelatists wanted not abundance of friends to agent daily for them: These Proved great clogs and hindrances to the king's gracious intentions: yet notwithstanding he did a great deal to raise up a poor sinking church from imminent ruin, which we ought never to forget.
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Through the encouragement of his declaration, and call to our states, a convention of states met at Edinburgh in April 1689, who formed a claim of right, setting forth the grievances and privileges of the nation, and among the rest declaring, That "Prelacy, and the superiority of any office in the church above Presbyters, is and hath been a great and insupportable grievance and trouble to this nation, and contrary to the inclinations of the generality of the people ever since the reformation (they having reformed from Popery by Presbyters) and therefore ought to be abolished." And the said convention being afterward turned into a parliament, the king and queen, with their advice and consent, in July 1689, did formally abolish Prelacy, and rescind all acts and statutes formerly past in favour of it.—There was also the draught of an act brought in, and twice read in parliament, for excluding all these from places of public trust, who had a share in the oppressions of the former reigns; but the more zealous part in the parliament had not strength to carry it, and therefore it was dropt, to the great prejudice of both church and state.—The earls Melvill, Crawfurd, and several others, were very friendly to Presbyterians: yet they could not this session of Parliament carry an act for restoring Presbyterian government, partly because several leading members were either inclined to Episcopacy, or pretended to dread the tyranny of Presbytery; and partly because the enemies of this church had so much interest in severals about the king to cast remora's in the way.—Yet a good many episcopal minister were by the council turned out of their churches for not praying for king William and queen Mary, and for other acts of disloyalty.
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Next year, April 1690, an act of parliament was past for restoring all the surviving Presbyterian ministers to their churches, who had been thrust from them since. January 1661 for not conforming to Prelacy and the courses of the time. Likewise they rescinded the act for the king's supremacy in ecclesiastick causes.—June 7th 1690, they past an act for received among us, after it was read in their presence: also they established Presbyterian government and discipline, as it was settled by 14th act, James VI Parl. 12. 1592. except that part of it relating to patronages; they rescinded many acts which were made against Presbytery, and for Prelacy, and for the five articles of Perth, the test, &c. and appointed the first meeting of the general assembly to be, in October 1690. It is to be observed, that, in the act establishing Presbyterian government, they establish it, not only as agreeable to the inclinations of the people as in the claim of right, but also as agreeable to the word of God, and most conducive to the advancement of true piety and godliness. And by that act they expressly rescind all other acts; laws, statutes and proclamations, in so far as they are contrary to, or inconsitent [sic] with, the Protestant religion and Presbyterian government now established; which includes all the unrighteous acts of the late reigns against the church. By their 23rd act they abolished patronages, and gave liberty to parishes to call their own ministers—By act 27th and 28th, they rescinded the persecuting laws of the former period; whereby men's consciences were delivered from the thraldom of ensnaring oaths, and of attending any worship against their light.—Likewise they past an act for rescinding the fines and forfeitures of the former reigns; which was a
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public condemnation of the oppression and cruelty thereof.—Surely then we must own that these were not small things which king William and his parliament did for this poor church when lying in the dust. Some at a distance may make light of them, because every thing was not done they would have had; but surely Christians of solid judgment, and these who groaned so long under the heavy bondage and sufferings of those times, were made to acknowledge with thankfulness, that it was the Lord's right hand that turned again the captivity of our Zion. Our restored captives were then surprised with their liberty; they were like men that dreamed, amazed at the works of the Lord, and obliged to say, The Lord hath done great things for us.
In consequence of the act of parliament, the first general assembly met at Edinburgh October 16th 1690, after about forty years interruption, where was a great gathering of old banished suffering ministers, who had survived the long storm of persecution that lay upon this tossed afflicted church. These ministers had several general meetings before this: in one of them they agreed that the first day of the Assembly's meeting should be kept as a day of solemn fasting and humiliation, which was observed accordingly by prayer and preaching both before and after noon, their majesties high commissioner Lord Carmichael joining with them in that good work. Afterwards king William's letter to the Assembly was presented, in which he expresses his affection to them, but presses calmness and moderation in their proceedings in very strong terms; yea tells them, that his authority should never be a tool to their irregular passions.—In answer to this letter, the Assembly say,
They received his letter with all
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the joy and thankfulness that the rising and shinning again of the royal favour upon this long afflicted and distressed church could possibly inspire.—The God of love, the Prince of Peace with all the providences that have gone over us, and circumstances that we are under, as well as your majesty's obliging pleasure, require of its a calm and peaceable procedure. And if after the violence for conscience sake, that we have suffered and so much detested, and these grievous abuses of authority in the late reigns, (whereby, through some men's irregular passion, we haveso sadly smarted) we ourselves should lapse into the same errors, we should certainly prove the most unjust towards God, foolish towards ourselves, and ungrate towards your majesty, of all men upon earth.
Afterwards they say, "Desiring in all things to approve ourselves unto God, as the true disciples of Jesus Christ, who, though most zealous against all corruptions in his church, was most gentle towards the persons of all men."—But, notwithstanding of all this moderation of the Assembly, the Prelatical party raised great clamours against them at court, and through England, for their severity.—But, as the Assembly observe in their foresaid answer to the king—"Great revolutions of this nature must be attended with occasions of complaint; and even the worst of men are ready to cry out of wrong for their justest deservings."
This assembly was much concerned, to get Presbyterians united among themselves, who, under the late persecution had been wofully divided by means of the indulgences and toleration granted by the civil government: and to compass this design, they received into fellowship with this church and her
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judicatories, three ministers, Masters Linning, Shields, and Boyd, who had carried the point of separation on the foresaid accounts to too great a height; but now promised to live in union with, and subjection to, the judicatories of the church for the future; having at the same time given in a long paper for the exoneration of their consciences, bearing testimony to what they judged right, and against what they took to be wrong. These three ministers afterwards proved eminently useful in the church and in the judicatories, and contributed greatly to heal the schism that was among us.
This church having been long overwhelmed with ruins, this assembly 1690 had much work to do, to remove some of the rubbish, and establish some order: They had civil rulers urging a coalition with, or comprehension of, many of them; they had rents among themselves to heal, and many other difficulties to grapple with. Amidst all these they did a great many good things, such as appointing all ministers, elders and probationers to subscribe the Confession of Faith; making acts for keeping the Lord's day, and for applying the parliament to alter markets from Saturdays and Mondays, for erecting schools in the Highlands, providing them with Irish Bibles, for rescinding the sentences past by the publick resolutioners and protestors against one another. They appointed large committees or commissions for visiting several parts of the national church, with instructions how to manage; they also appointed two of their number to repair to London, to wait upon the king concerning the affair of this church. And for further healing of their rents, turning away the wrath of God, and
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imploring his mercy, they appointed a national fast to be observed on the second Thursday of January thereafter: In the causes whereof, they enumerate a great many sins of the land, both in the former land present times; such as,
Ingratitude for mercies treacherous dealing with God, unsteadfastness in his covenant, falling from their first love, open defection of all ranks from the ways of God, by horrid immoralities, and sacrificing the interest of Christ and privileges of his church to the will and lusts of men, introducing Prelacy, imposing and, taking unlawfull oaths, shedding innocent blood, the general fainting under the late persecutions and even of eminent ministers, by either yielding to the defections and evils of the time, or not giving seasonable and necessary testimony against them; ignorance and neglect of Christ, and of living by faith on him; contempt of the gospel, and barrenness under it; want of holiness and piety towards God, and of love and charity towards men; the most part being, more ready to censure the sins of others, than to repent of their own.
These and a great many other evils they mention as a ground of fasting. It has indeed been complained of, that the hints given of some of these evils are too general. No doubt, if the drawing of the act had been put in some hands, these had been more particularly and fully expressed, and the Assembly would not have scrupled to have approven the act in that shape. It is wished the act had been more full and explicit with respect to the shedding of the blood of God's saints and martyrs under prelacy, the king's ecclesiastic supremacy then advanced to a most blasphemous height, the self-contradictory oath of the abominable test, and the fearful indignities done to our covenants,
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which we find mentioned by subsequent assemblies, and for which their is cause of mourning and humiliation to this day. Likewise we wish they had done more to retrieve the honour of these broken and burnt Covenants, by openly asserting the lawfulness and obligation of them, and applying to the civil powers for their concurrence to renew them, or rather of one made up of both, with accommodation to their times and circumstances. No doubt they were well apprised of the opposition that would be made to such a motion, as they found made to other such designs, and particularly to that of purging the church, and keeping out of judicatories these who were enemies to it; in which they met with strenuous opposition from statesmen and great men in power, and even from the throne itself; as appears from two letters from the king to the commission of assembly 1690, and his letter to assembly 1692, wherein he presses strongly their uniting with the Episcopal ministers then in churches. His commissioner the earl of Lothian seconded the king's letter; and because they fell not in with it, he said he had orders to dissolve the Assembly, which he did, without naming a diet for another.
And here we cannot but observe the noble spirit and disposition of the Assembly 1692, which they shewed upon that occasion. The moderator Mr. William Crichton, in his speech to the commissioner, delivered himself as follows:
May it please your grace, this Assembly, and all the members of this national church are under the greatest obligations possible to his majesty: and, if his majesty's commands to us had been in any or all our concerns, in the world, we would have laid our hands upon our mouth and been silent ;
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but they being for a dissolution of tbis assembIy without indicting another to a certain day, therefore having been
moderator to this assembly, I in their name, they adhering to me, humbly crave leave to declare, that the office
bearers in the house of God have a spiritual intrinsic power from Jesus Christ, the only Head of his church, to meet
in assembly about the affairs thereof, the necessity of the same being first represented to the magistrate; and further
I humbly crave, that the dissolution of this assembly, without indicting a new one to a certain day, may not be to
the prejudice of our yearly general assemblies granted us by the laws of the kingdom.
Here the members rose up, and with one voice declared their adherence to what the moderator had said.
Whereupon the moderator turning himself to the assembly, as if hewas to pray, the members by a general cry
pressed to name a diet for the next generalassembly. The moderator thereupon said, That, if they pleased, the next
general assembly might meet here at Edinburgh upon the third Wednesday of August 1693 years. And the
members did again with one voice declare their approbation whereof.—Wherefore these who knew the difficulties
our ancestors had then to struggle with, will rather be inclined to pity than censure them, and to bless God that
helped them to do so well; though still it must be owned, it would have been much for the church's
exoneration, that matters had been more plainly and closely laid to the door of the state, that the world might have
seen, where the stop was.
Nevertheless, by that wonderful Revolution, all persecution was stopt, and the church enjoyed the freedom of gospel ordinances; the Lord gave large
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testimony to the word of his grace, and there were great days of the Son of man in many places of the land, and multitudes of souls were brought in to Jesus Christ their Saviour. Likewise judicatories did many good things some of which we shall instance.
The general assembly, in the years 1694, 1697,1698, and subsequent years shewed great zeal for suppressing profaneness and immorality, by making many acts to that purpose, and by applying to the parliament to concur with them by the civil authority; who were pleased to revive former acts, and make several excellent new acts in that end, which the assembly appointed to be read, together with their own acts, frequently from the pulpits. Likewise it was the care and business of the general assembly for many years to get the North and Highlands supplied and planted with proper ministers; they sent diverse committees of the most experienced ministers to purge and plant the North, and transported many of the best ministers of the South to that country.
These first assemblies, and severals since, have made strict laws with respect to licensing preachers, not only about their learning, orthodoxy and prudence; but have appointed presbyteries to make narrow inquiry into their moral character and piety, and what sense and impressions they have of religion upon their own souls; and they declare that such as are esteemed to be vain, imprudent, proud, or worldly minded, by the generality of sober intelligent persons who converse with them, shall be kept back from that sacred work.
Happy were it for the church, if these excellent rules were strictly observed by all the presbyteries of this church.
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They made acts against the atheistical opinions of the Deists and others. They condemned the errors of Madam Bourignon, and deposed Dr. Garden for espousing them. They strictly appointed all ministers and preachers to subscribe the Confession of Faith. And for preserving of truth, and for preventing the corrupting of youth with error and immorality, they appointed all schoolmasters, chaplains and governors of youth to subscribe the Confession of Faith: and these who do not so, or are guilty of negligence, error or immorality, they appointed presbyters to apply to magistrates, heritors, &c. to get them removed from their offices.—They also enacted, That these who should receive licence or ordination from any of the late prelates, should be incapable of ministerial communion with this church, till they gave evidence of their repentance.
They made excellent barrier acts, for preventing all innovations in our doctrine, worship, or government, by appointing that all these acts which are to be binding rules and constitutions to the church, shall first be proposed as overtures to the assembly, and be transmitted by them to the several presbyteries of this church, that they may send their opinions or consent to the next assembly, who may then pass the same into acts, if the more general opinion of the church, thus had, agree thereunto.—They made many acts and frequent applications to the government for suppressing and preventing the growth of popery; and encouraged students and preachers having Irish, that they might be useful in those parts; and do still continue to send such to assist the ministers where popery abounds, by preaching catechising, and instructing of the people, for counteracting the trafficking priests among
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them: in which design our sovereigns now concur by their yearly bounty of a thousand pounds sterling.—Also the assembly have been at great pains to get schools erected in every parish through the land, and appoint ministers to see that none be suffered to neglect the teaching of their children to read, and that the poor be taught upon charity.
The commission of assembly 1690, according to their instructions, sent four worthy ministers, Masters Shields, Boreland, Stobo, and Dalgliesh, with the Scots colony to America; and one great design was for propagating the gospel and converting the Heathen in those parts. The assembly 1700 appointed a national fast, and one special ground was for their success. Of which they acquainted them by a letter, in which they directed them, upon their landing and settling in America, "to keep a day with all the people for solemn prayer and fasting, bewailing former sins, renewing baptismal engagements, and with the greatest seriousness dedicating themselves and the land unto the Lord." The assembly 1704 set on foot that noble project of propagating Christian knowledge in the Highlands, Islands, and foreign parts of the world, by erecting charity schools and otherwise, which they began by a voluntary subscription and contribution through the nation, instructing their commission to encourage and carryon the said design, which was done from time to time, until they obtained letters patent from the sovereign, anno 1709, for erecting the subscribers into a society and corporation for managing that affair; and many collections have our assemblies appointed for that blessed design, whereby, and by donations from pious persons both at home and abroad to the society, their stock is greatly increased,
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and they are now enabled to maintain above 130 charity schools in our Highlands and Islands at home, besides several missionaries in America, for propagating Christianity among the Heathen. And we have certain information of the happy success of these schools at home; thousands of ignorant and barbarous people have been civilized and
reformed, and many of them, we hope, have become truly religious. Likewise the assembly have been at great pains to get new impressions of the Bible in Irish, and also to get the Psalms, Confession of Faith, Larger and Shorter Catechisms translated into Irish, and dispersed through the Highlands; and by the help of piously disposed persons, both in this and our neighbour nation, they have got to the number of 80 libraries settled in particular places through the Highlands and Islands. And what reason have we and all Scotsmen to give thanks to God for directing, countenancing and prospering this noble design so far in our land?—They also established an excellent form of process in church judicatories with relation to scandals and censures, by act 11. Ass. 1707; likewise an useful method for ministerial visitation of families, by act 10. Ass. 1708.
These, and many other good things, have our old suffering ministers and our general assembly been instruments, under God, to set on foot and promote, since the revolution; for which we desire always to offer up our hearty thanksgiving and praises to Almighty God, for helping them so far in advancing of our holy religion.
It has been indeed complained by some, that after the revolution they did not pass distinct recissory acts, for Christ's headship over his church, the Divine right of Presbytery, the church's intrinsic
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power, the obligation of our covenants, &c.—No doubt it might be some stop to them, that the magistrate entertained a jealous eye then upon the church, with respect to these points, lest they should have carried matters to too great heights against those who differed from them; and therefore the king and parliament, parl. 1. sess. 2. rescinded all the old acts in favour of the church which enjoined civil pains upon their sentences of excommunication. Yet notwithstanding, we wish they had done more, if possible, for asserting these principles which they held, than they did, immediately after the revolution. Had they foreseen what a handle their not doing it would have given to some to promote a separation from this church, we persuade ourselves they would have essayed to have done more. These old sufferers indeed might reckon that the world was sufficiently apprised of their principles with respect to the foresaid points, and that no man would question them, seeing they had hazarded the loss of all things for adhering to them; for it was upon that very account they were cast out of their houses and benefices, imprisoned, fined, banished, and hunted as partridges in the mountains. And although they past not distinct Assertory Acts with respect to these points, yet we have plain declarations of their mind about them in several public acts and deeds. It was upon their solicitation that the parliament, June 7 1690, past an act for establishing Presbyterian government among us, as being agreeable to the word of God; and at the same time ratified our Confession of Faith, and inserted it verbatim in their public records, in which Confession it is expressly asserted, chap. 30. sect. 1, 2. The Lord Jesus, as King and Head of his church, hath therein appointed
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a government in the hand of church officers, distinct from the civil magistrate. To these officers, the keys of the kingdom of heaven are committed, &c. And chap. 26. sect. 6, There is no head of the church but the Lord Jesus Christ. And chap. 23. sect. 3. The civil magistrate may not assume to himself the administration of the word and sacraments, or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven, &c.—Likewise they rescinded the act for the king's supremacy in church affairs.—Our first, assembly, by many acts, have, approven our Confession with all the aforesaid articles, and appointed all the members of this church to adhere thereto; also ministers, elders, and intrants to the ministry, are bound to make solemn profession thereof, and subscribe the same; and parents at baptism are daily required to train up their children according to it.
Likewise the moderators of all our assemblies, at the close of every assembly, do publicly assert, and declare before the king's high commissioner, that as the assembly met in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ the only King and Head of his church, so they part in the same name; and also they named the diet of the next assembly.—And when the commissioner dissolved the assembly 1692 abruptly, without naming a diet for another; the moderator did in his face, with consent of the whole assembly, remonstrate against it, and declare, That the office-bearers in the house of God have a spiritual intrinsic power from Jesus Christ, the only Head of his church, to meet in assemblies about the affairs thereof; and he named a diet for another assembly. All this is recorded in the assembly’s books. In like manner did the assembly remonstrate, when dissolved in the year 1703. And
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the very next assembly 1704, in their answer to the queen’s letter, do plainly tell her, that they were now again met in a national assembly in the name Of our Lord Jesus Christ. Also, they approved the several synod-books through Scotland, which had Assertory Acts recorded in them, for Christ's Headship, the Divine right of Presbytery, the church's intrinsic power, &c. To prevent which approbation, was the reason (as then generally believed) why the commissioner dissolved the preceding assembly. Again, the assembly 1705, in their 7th act concerning Mr.. Hepburn, do assert in plain words, that the Lord Jesus Christ is the alone King and Head of, the church. And Ass. 1707, act 11, declare, that our Lord Jesus Christ hath instituted a government, and governors ecclesiastical in his house, with power to meet for the order and government thereof.—And as for the Divine right of Presbytery, the assembly 1711 do expressly declare for it in their 10th act, when they appoint all intrants to the ministry, both when licensed and ordained, to subscribe and declare, not only that our Confession of Faith and purity of
worship are founded upon the word of God, but also that the Presbyterian government and discipline of this church are founded upon the word of God, and agreeable thereto; and also solemnly to engage that that they will firmly and constantly adhere to the said doctrine and worship, and to the utmost of their power, in their station, assert, maintain will defend the discipline and Presbyterian government of this, church, by kirk-sessions, presbyteries, provincial synods, and general assemblies, during all the days of their lives. Whereby all ministers and preachers do plainly renew our covenants.—And that ministers in former Years were of the
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same mind appears by the church's declaration by their commission in the year 1698, published in their Seasonable Admonition, p. 5. in which they say, We do believe and own that Jesus Christ is the only Head and King of his church: and that he hath instituted in his church, officers and ordinances, order and government, and not left it to the will of man, magistrate or church, to alter at their pleasure. And we believe this government is neither prelatical nor congregational, but presbyterian, which now, through the mercy of God, is established amongst us; and believe we have a better foundation for this our church-government, than the inclination of the people, or laws of men, &c. And that commission's whole actings and conclusions were ratified and approven by Ass. 1699, act 12.—Besides all which, our assemblies and commissions have frequently owned the obligation of our covenants by mentioning the breaches of them among our causes of fasting. Ass. 1700, act 5. they lament our continued unfaithfulness to God, notwithstanding of our solemn covenants and engagements to the contrary. Again, Ass. 1701, act 9. they say, Our sins are the more aggravated, that they are against so many solemn repeated vows and engagements, and covenants with our God, which have been openly violated and broken by persons of all ranks, and treated with public contempt, indignities and affronts, &c.—We bless God, that has determined our church to own these truths so openly, over the belly of all their difficulties and discouragements; and we desire heartily to join with them in declaring for the Headship of our Lord Jesus Christ over his church, in opposition to the pope, magistrate or any other; likewise for the spiritual intrinsic power of the church to chuse [choose] her
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officers, meet in her judicatories, inflict censures, and govern the church, in opposition to all Erastian opinions or practices promoted by any party or person whatsoever; as also for the Divine right of Presbyterian government in the church, in opposition to Prelacy, independency, &c. and for the lasting obligation of our covenants, seeing they bind us to nothing but what we are antecedently bound to by the Scriptures of truth.
Thus the church of Scotland continued owning and adhering to her ancient principles and doctrines, and using means to promote religion through the land for many years after the revolution, without any visible declension. But, alas! her degeneracy and defection hath of late years become too visible; and our union with England in 1707 may be looked upon as the chief source thereof, next to the corruption of our hearts. When this transaction came to be laid before the Scots parliament in 1706, the nation was most intent about it, not knowing the nature or articles, whether it was a federal or incorporating union: but when it was seen to be the latter, and the majority of the house disposed to agree to it, both the church and the body of the people were vastly uneasy, great numbers of addresses came up against it, and insurrections were much feared. The commission by appointment sat during the whole session, and was exceeding numerous; members attending by turns. They presented three addresses to the parliament, the first was for an unalterable security of the established religion, to the people of this land and all succeeding generations, so far as human laws can go. To satisfy them, the parliament enacted, That the establishment of the doctrine, worship, discipline and Presbyterian government of this church
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should be held as an unalterable, fundamental and, essential condition of the union of the two kingdoms, if concluded. This seemed to quiet many, reckoning the security of the church not so precarious and uncertain, when thus established by the mutual agreement of both parliaments in a solemn treaty of union, that when settled by acts of the Scots parliament only; for the faith of the English in keeping treaties was at this time much spoken of. But the most part of the church continued still averse to an incorporating union, and their coming under the jurisdiction of a British parliament, in which the English members, being prelatical would be ten to one of Scots members wherefore the commission presented a second address, declaring this aversion. They indeed met with great opposition from noblemen and gentlemen, elders in the commission, who had views of temporal offices and advantages from court by being for the union; yet they represented the grievances the church and her members might fall under by the union, such as oaths, tests and impositions inconsistent with their principles. And in their address they plainly testified against the subjecting of this nation to a British parliament, in which twenty six prelates would be constituent members and legislators; For (say they) it is contrary to our known principles and covenants, that any churchman should bear civil offices, or have power in the commonwealth. To this they got no answer, save a clause put in the act for securing the church, that no oath, test or subscription shall ever be imposed within the bounds of this church and kingdom contrary to our Presbyterian establishment. By which (it is to be regreted) the parliament neither shewed regard to the principles of Scotsmen when out of the kingdom,
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nor to the obligation of our covenants: nay, they proceeded to worse afterwards, by declaring that the parliament of England might provide for the security of the church of England within the bounds of that kingdom, as they should think expedient; whereby they consented to the securing of the prelacy and ceremonies of that church as a fundamental of the union. This being both against the word of God and our solemn league, we have cause to mourn over it as a national breach of covenant, in some respect; though it is a mercy the church was helped to remonstrate against it; for the commission when informed of it, presently presented a third address (though greatly opposed) craving that there might be no such stipulation or consent for the establishment of the hierarchy and ceremonies, as they would not involve themselves and the nation in guilt, &c. From all which it is evident, that this church did remonstrate against making an union with England upon terms not consistent with our ancient covenant union with that kingdom: for the ensuing assembly 1707 approved the commission in what they did.
But, notwithstanding of the church's remonstrance against this union and the foresaid sinful stipulation, it was concluded and ratified by both parliaments; but it doth not appear that this memorable transaction has been followed with the special blessings of heaven, seeing it hath brought on very much sin, and many growing evils upon this poor land, to the dishonour of God, and decay of true Christianity among us. For after the union, when our correspondence and communication with the English was greatly increased, the Lord's day began to be profaned after their example, and other immoralities much to abound, and the
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societies for reformation of manners to dwindle away. Likewise our nobility and gentry have been since that period giving up gradually with family religion, and the very form of Godliness, and falling into a looser way of living; for many of them since the union do either dwell or spend much time in England, whereby they learn many of their vices and evil customs; they are either reconciled to the English hierarchy and worship, or live much in the neglect of all public worship; and, being there under the inspection of no parish-minister they and their families get leave to live as they list: and, when they come down to Scotland, they get many to follow their loose examples. Also, since the union, public oaths are prodigiously multiplied, in qualifying men for offices, in collecting and paying of taxes; and manifold perjuries are thereby committed, and particularly by custom-house oaths, and running of goods, which also opens a door to many other sins. And hereby Atheism, Deism and infidelity have made progress in the land.
Likewise soon after the union, the English service and ceremonies were set up in several places, and afterwards the parliament gave a toleration for it, and the body of the Episcopal clergy embraced that worship, though their ancestors had always supposed it heretofore. Yea, by this law, almost all errors are tolerated; and now even the Popish worship is kept openly, and connived at.—A superstitious form of swearing was soon introduced; from England, by laying the hand on and kissing the gospels. The sacramental test, and conformity to the liturgy and ceremonies, is imposed upon the members of this church while serving the king in England and Ireland. Likewise many other incroachments are made upon the government, rights and
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privileges of this church by the toleration act, and by the act for restoring patronages, by the act for a vacation of the lords of session and other courts in the end of December, whereby the keeping of holy days is encouraged; and lastly, by refusing access to the house of peers, unless the address be directed to the lords spiritual. And all these grievances are brought upon us, notwithstanding of our security by the union-act, and the English faith so much talked of. From all which we may conclude, That as our union with England was made upon sinful terms, so in the event it hath proven a great judgment upon this land and church. Alas! we have been perfidious to God, and no wonder though men should be left to prove perfidious to us.
Very soon did Scotland feel the bitter effects of the union; for, in the view of its being concluded, several of the Episcopal clergy began to set up the English service in meeting houses, hoping to find more countenance and support from England on this account. This way of worship was wholly new and strange, and could never find place in Scotland before. Wherefore the general assembly 1707, that met soon after the conclusion of the union, gave an honest testimony against this new worship, by their 15th act, intituled, Act against innovations in the worship of God; wherein they say, The purity of Divine worship, and uniformity therein, hath been the great happiness of this church ever since her reformation; and that the introduction of these innovations was not so much as once attempted, even during the late prelacy; that they are dangerous to this church, and manifestly contrary to our own known principle, viz. that the assembly
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moved with zeal for the glory of God, and the purity and uniformity of his worship, doth discharge the practice of all such innovations of Divine worship within this church; and doth require and obtest [supplicate] all the ministers of this church, especially these in whose bounds any such innovations are, or may happen to be, to represent to their people the evil thereof, and seriously to exhort them to beware of them, &c. And they appoint the commission to use all proper means for suppressing such innovations. Which the commission did, as appears by their act 5th August 1709, which they ordained to be read in all the churches through Scotland. But the more the church opposed this new worship (as they judged they were warranted to do by the laws of the land) the more forward were their enemies to set it up, and at length got the parliament to espouse their cause.
Likewise, soon after the union, gross profanation of the Lord's day began to abound, by traveling, carrying goods, driving cattle, and other abuses on that holy day; as appears from the 12th act of ass. 1708. For preventing whereof, the assembly in that act appointed each presbytery to send some of their number to attend the lords of justiciary [judicial officer] at their first circuit that falls to be in their bounds, and to represent to their lordships the profanation of the Lord's day by the foresaid wicked and sinful practices. And the general assembly did seriously recommend to the lords of justiciary to take effectual course to restrain and punish the foresaid abuses; which, the assembly say, they will acknowledge as a singular service done to God and his church. Also they enjoin all ministers to represent to their profile, among whom such practices are, the great hazard their immortal souls are in by
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such courses; and also to proceed not only with ecclesiastic censures against sabbath breakers, but also to apply to justices of peace and other magistrates in their bounds, to execute the laws against them.—But our commerce with England still increasing, the profanation of the Lord's day among us is come to a great height, in spite of all the church hath done against it.
But, our sins and provocations against God being highly aggravated; as a just punishment upon us, God was pleased to let loose our enemies in the British parliament to bring in a bill, which they got past into a law, for allowing those of the Episcopal clergy the use of the English liturgy in Scotland, containing some grievous clauses in it against the just and legal rights of the established church. While the bill was in dependence March 1712, the commission met and addressed the queen, in which they gave free and faithful testimony against the said bill, which the assembly that met in May 1712 did unanimously approve; and, as a token of it, did insert their address in their books, and print it with their acts. In it, they say,
"The church of Christ in Scotland is in hazard of sad alterations and innovations,
inconsistent with and contrary to that happy establishment, secured to us by the
laws of both of God and the realm; by the said bill.—If the matters in question did
only relate to our own case and better accommodation, we should patiently bear the
same: but when we see the glory of God, and the power and purity of our holy
religion, and of the ordinances of Jesus Christ in this church, so much concerned, we
cannot but hope that your majesty will allow us to plead our just right, &c.—"
Afterwards they plead the several acts of parliament for settling and
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securing the worship, discipline and government of this church, with her rights and privileges; all which acts were ratified by the parliaments of both kingdoms in the treaty of union, and declared to be a fundamental, essential and unalterable condition of the said treaty of union in all time coming. It is observable, after their pleading the 5th act parl. 1690, which allows the Presbyterian ministers and elders to have power to try and purge out all insufficient, negligent, scandalous and erroneous ministers by due course of ecclesiastical process and censures, and likewise to redress all other church disorders;—They add, By which act it is evident, that Presbyterian church government being thus established, the ministers and elders of this church have all the powers committed by our Lord and Master to his ministers and officers, to watch over the flock, and to guard against all usurpers and intruders.—Afterwards they add, We cannot but express our astonishing surprise and deep affection to hear of such a bill, offered for such a large and almost boundless toleration, not only threatening the overthrow of this church, but giving a large licence almost to all errors and blasphemies, and throwing up all good discipline, to the dishonour of God, and the scandal and ruin of the true Christian religion, and the infallible disturbance of the quiet, and to the confusion of this church and nation.—And therefore we do in all humility, but with the greatest earnestness, beseech, nay obtest your majesty, by the same mercy of God that restored this church, and raised your majesty to the throne, to interpose for the relief of this church, and the maintenance of the present establishment, against such a manifest and ruining incroachment.—The church being most earnest to oppose this toleration
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and other grievances then coming upon the church, they sent three of their number, Masters Carstares, Blackwall, and Baillie, to London, to present this and others of their petitions, and to agent the church's cause: but, notwithstanding of all that this and other acts were past against the church; all Episcopal ministers were allowed to preach, pray, administer the sacraments, and marry, without any other caveat that appears for their doctrine save that that they shall not deny, in their preaching or writing, the doctrine of the blessed Trinity. They are not by that act obliged to satisfy the church, or any person or society, concerning their belief of the doctrine of the Trinity; it is enough if they do not openly impugn it: so that there is a liberty given to the most erroneous or scandalous men to preach and dispense sacraments, without being accountable to any.
We do here join with the church in testifying against such a boundless toleration, as being contrary to the word of God, and the practice of reforming magistrates and churches therein commended: as in 2 Chron. xxxiv. 3.3. Rev. ii. 2. and to these texts wherein such a toleration is reproved, as Rev. ii. 14,15, 20. as also it is contrary to our Confession of Faith, chap. 23. and to our Larger Catechism upon the 2nd commandment.
At the same time there was another distressing bill presented in the parliament for restoring of patronages, and repealing the act 1690, which gave liberty to parishes to call their own ministers.—This also carried against the church, notwithstanding of the common's address, which was in like manner approven by the assembly. In this address they plead and assert, That
"the act 1690, abolishing patronages, is a part of our Presbyterian
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constitution, ratified by the acts of parliament of both kingdoms in the treaty of union, and declared to be unalterable: That, from our first reformation from Popery, patronages have still been reckoned a yoke and burden upon this church; and this is declared by the first and second books of Discipline: that the restoring of them will inevitably obstruct the work of the gospel, and create great disorders and disquiet in this church and nation; and that there is one known abuse attending patronages, viz. the laying a foundation for Simoniacal pactions betwixt patrons and those presented by them."
Though this did not avail to stop the bill, yet it was a plain testimony from the church against Patronages; which we cannot but approve and adhere to.
Likewise we approve of that noble testimony which the general assembly gave against both the toleration, and patronages, May 14th 1715, when they approved a memorial concerning them, which they appointed to be sent to the duke of Montroseprincipal secretary of state, most humbly entreatng him to lay it before the king, viz. King George I. The tenor of it is as follows:
"The church of Scotland, being restored at the happy revolution, was by the claim of right, and acts of parliament following thereupon, established in its doctrine, worship discipline and government; and, that this legal constitution and establishment might be unalterably secured, it was declared to be a fundamental and essential condition of the union, and accordingly ratified in the parliaments of both kingdoms. But the zeal of the established church of Scotland for, and their steady adherence to, the Protestant succession, did expose them to the resentments of a
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disaffected party. And now they account themselves aggrieved by some acts past in the parliament of Great Britain; as 1mo, By the act granting such a large and almost boundless toleration to these of the Episcopal persuasion in Scotland, while the liberty allowed to Protestant Dissenters in England (who had always given the most satisfying proofs of their undoubted zeal and good affection to the Protestant succession) was retrenched. And though the church of Scotland hath an equal security in a legal establishment with that of England, yet there is a vast inequality as to the toleration of the respective Dissenters. In Scotland the toleration doth not restrain the desseminating the most dangerous errors, by requiring a Confession of Faith, or subscription to the doctrinal articles of the established church, as is required of Dissenters in England: it also weakeneth the discipline of the
church against "the scandalous and profane; by withdrawing the concurrence of the
civil magistrate. It is also an inequality and hardship upon the established church of Scotland, that these of her communion who are employed in his majesty's service in England or Ireland, should be obliged to join in communion and conformity to the church of England; whereas conformity to this church is not required (nor do we plead that it should be) of members of the church of England, when called to serve his majesty in Scotland, who here enjoy the full liberty of Dissenters without molestation; and the common and equal privileges of the subjects of the united kingdom, stipulated by the union, do claim the same liberty to the members of the church of Scotland, when employed in his majesty's service in England and Ireland."
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"2do, By the act restoring the power of presentation to patrons, the legally established constitution of this church was altered in a very important point: and while it appears equitable in itself, and agreeable to the liberty of Christians and a free people, to have interest in the choice of these to whom they intrust the care of their souls, is an hardship to be imposed upon in so tender a point, and that frequently, by patrons who have no property nor residence in the parishes; and this besides the snares of Simoniacal pactions [a "Simoniacal paction" is the buying or selling of ecclesiastical pardons, offices, or emoluments via an agreement or bargain.], and the many troubles and contests arising from the power of patronages, and the abuses thereof, by disaffected patrons putting their power into other hands, who as effectually serve their purposes; by patrons competing for the right of presentation in the same parish; and by frequently presenting ministers settled in eminent posts to mean and small parishes, to elude the planting thereof: By all which, parishes are often kept long vacant, to the great hindrance of the progress of the gospel."
Although the church of Scotland was brought under the distress enough by the toleration and patronages, yet, to add to it, the oath of abjuration was also imposed upon the ministers thereof in the year 1712. This occasioned a great question among them, and much writing upon it, whether the conditions or qualifications required of the successor to the crown, in the act so of parliament settling the succession, of which this is on that he must join in communion with the church of England, be understood as any part of the oath, or not? These who were not clear to take it, apprehended these conditions might be reckoned a part of the oath, because in it they were to swear to maintain