Prefatory Statement by the Transcriber
The original title of Mr. Willison’s Testimony follows this preface in its entirety. The title states, that the Testimony is a "Fair and Impartial Testimony." As such, Mr. Willison presents a full-orbed account of the events that took place in the history of the Church of Scotland. Not only does he write of the events that took place between the men involved, he also inserts proclamations of praise to God and alludes to the Lord’s providential care over His Church. Mr. Willison demonstrates a highly practical understanding of God’s providence as he demonstrates the infallibility of God’s word in connection with history. He applies the eternal truths of the Holy Writ to the events that took place in a most appropriate manner. Also, as Mr. Willison recounts the sins of the Church, he not only exposes those who promoted error, but also demonstrates that those who stood for truth had a tendency to sin in a way peculiar to individuals who strive to maintain purity in doctrine. The reader may note that the parallels between the Church of Scotland then and the Reformed Presbyterian Churches of today are strikingly similar. There is nothing new under the sun.
Concerning the transcribed version, certain changes have been made. These changes are minor and were made primarily for ease of reading. They are as follows. In the original text references made to a king such as Charles I would have a period after the "I." (eg. king Charles I. did so and so…) . The period has been eliminated after such references so that the text reads "king Charles I did so and so…" in order to prevent the appearance of a sentence ending in mid sentence. Also, all hyphenations placed in hyphenated words have been eliminated and the words kept in tact. Another change was made with quoted data. The original text placed quoted data with quotation marks at the beginning of each line. If a quote was longer than one line, each line would begin with a " mark. These multiple quotation marks have been removed and modern methods for quoting data have been used in their place. In addition, archaic spellings have not been changed so there are words that appear misspelled according to modern spellings. Finally, when archaic words or words peculiar to Scottish language are used, definitions in brackets often follow. These definitions were derived from Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, 2nd ed., (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1983).
The overall layout of the book is as it was originally printed. In chronological order, the reader will find the Title Page, Preface, Testimony, Advertisement, Adherence, Postscript, Contents, Postscript and a list of Subscribers Names. In addition, the transcriber has added a Subject Index in the Appendix. The reader will please note that the Contents and Subject Index in the Appendix are found at the end of the book. Page numbers for the Contents of the book, Preface, Testimony etc., can be found listed in the Subject Index.
THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN FINAL FORM. THE TRANSCRIBER’S PREFACE IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE AS WELL AS ALL OTHER DATA ADDED TO WILLISON’S TESTIMONY BY THE TRANSCRIBER. SHOULD DISCREPENCIES BE FOUND BETWEEN THE ORIGINAL AND THE TRANSCRIPTION, THE TRANSCRIBED TEXT WILL BE CORRECTED. IF YOU FIND ANY APPARENT ERRORS IN THE TRANSCRIBED WORK, PLEASE E-MAIL THEM TO : firstname.lastname@example.org
Transcription by Ronald P. Creech, M. Div.
The text of this and other superb works are available on-line from:
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Russell E. Creech, Director
FAIR AND IMPARTIAL TESTIMONY
In Name Of A Number of
Ministers, Elders, and Christian People Of
THE CHURCH OF SCOTLAND
Unto The Laudable
PRINCIPLES, WRESTLINGS & ATTAINMENTS
OF THAT CHURCH;
and Against the Backslidings, Corruptions,
Divisions, and Prevailing Evils,
FORMER & PRESENT TIMES
THE DEFECTIONS OF THE
Nobility, Gentry, Commons, Seceders,
A BRIEF HISTORICAL DEDUCTION OF THE
chief occurrences in this church
from her beginning to the year 1744,
and humble pleadings with our mother
church, to exert herself
stop defection, and promote reformation.
attested & adhered unto by sundry ministers.
By the Rev. JOHN WILLISON,
Minister of the Gospel at Dundee, Scotland,
Psal. ci 3. I hate the work of them that turn aside, it shall not cleave to me.
Isa. xliii. 10 Ye are my Witnesses saith the Lord.
Ezek. Xliii. 11. Shew them the form of the house, and write it in their sight.
Isa. Lviii. 1. Shew the house of Jacob their sins.
published by zadok cramer and sold at his
bookstore, market street.
from the press of cramer and spear--1808
THOUGH I be far less fit for framing a Testimony to the principles, wrestlings and attainments of this church, and against the corruptions, defections and evils of the times, than many of my brethren; yet being encouraged by some whom I highly valued to undertake it, and finding none else inclined to it, I have essayed it through Divine strength, hoping to see a witnessing Body appear within this Church, as well as without it, at least some who would desire to testify against the evils of the day with just zeal, impartiality and meekness.
No sooner I set my face to it, but I saw it to be a matter of great difficulty to steer a straight course, without swerving to the right or left hand, in these reeling and shaking times, when such different opinions are vented, provocations are given, calumnies are spread, and men’s passions are stirred on each side, so that even the meekest and wisest are ready to stagger: I found also the difficulty increase, from the divided sentiment of godly ministers with respect to some particular occurrences, and the strong inclination of many live at ease, enjoy quiet, and even to sit down Issacar like and couch under the burden, when hopes of relief does not appear. These things greatly discouraged me to proceed in the design.
But when I daily weighed and considered the growing dangers of the church, the backsliding
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disposition that still prevailed, and the unsuccessfulness of all other methods to recover her from it such as Dissents, Protests, Instructions, Representations, Petitions, Separations, Secessions, &c. and that the only mean now left to be tried for giving check to corruption and exciting reformation, seemed to be that of an honest Testimony of some within the church: I determined at length to go on through all difficulties and discouragements, to prepare and publish the following Essay, with a sincere intention to preserve my Mother church, and promote her interests: looking to Heaven for a blessing on it, that it may be of use to excite judicatories to put a stop to some evils, and reform some things amiss: And though it should have little effect on the present backsliding age, yet hoping it may be useful to, the rising generation when God shall send a general revival of true Christianity in the land; at such a time the subscribers of this testimony will continue, when dead, thus to speak, to the glory of the ever living Redeemer.
I considered also within myself, that our old suffering ministers were all gone off the stage, and many other worthy brethren were going time to time, and that I myself get frequent warnings to prepare for going: and at the same time, that numbers of eminent good men drop into the silent grave, without leaving any testimony behind them; so that in a short time it may be called in question what their mind was concerning the principles and attainments of our fathers, and the corruptions of present and former times; and if I continued to linger a little longer, this would be my own fate also. Wherefore I resolved to expose this Essay, and myself likewise, to the censure
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of the world: and though I should be charged with mean and selfish views in it, as affecting Singularity, a Name, Applause from some, &c. if the Lord call me to bear reproach in carrying on a good design, why should I not submit to it? Surely it may be thought that one of my age should be dead to these vanities, and that it is high time for me to be seeking the approbation of my great Judge, more than that of all the world. May I ever mind this!
Quest.. It is like it may be asked, "What warrant have ye for emitting such a Testimony?"
Answ. The reasons and grounds of it seem so plain both from Scripture and sound reason, that we may adventure to submit them to all thinking persons to judge of them.
I. The servants of God, and especially ministers of the gospel, are frequently in Scripture called his Witnesses; in regard they are called to give testimony to his truths and ways, and to bear witness against what is prejudicial or contrary thereunto, Rev. xi. 3, 7. Luke xxiv. 48. John v. 33. and xv. 27. Acts i. 8.and xxii. 15, 18. and xxvi. 19. It is by such faithful witness hearing that we must hold fast the truths of God when ready to be plucked from us, and to contend for the faith which he hath delivered to his saints, Rev. iii. 11. Jude verse 3. And in this way we are to wrestle with and overcome truth's adversaries, Rev. xii. 11. They overcame by the blood of the Lamb, and the word of their testimony. The character which God gives his servants three times in the compass of a few verses should make very deep impression upon us, Isa. xliii. 10, 12. and xliv. 8. Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord. And it is in that capacity he calls
and requires us to confess Christ before men, to bear
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witness to Christ and to his truths, to stand fast is the faith, to quit ourselves like men, to be strong, to be steadfast, to be zealous and valiant for the truth, to be faithful unto death.—To contend earnestly for the faith and set ourselves for the defence of the gospel.—To plead with our Mother; to keep the charge of the Lord, and the charge of his sanctuary; to keep that which is committed to our, trust; to be clean who bear the vessels of the Lord, and not to touch the unclean thing.—To save ourselves from an untoward generation: to keep our garments clean and unspotted from the world, to hate the work of them that turn aside, that it may not cleave to us; to keep ourselves pure, and not to be partakers of other mens sins; to flee from sin, and deliver every man his own soul; to abhor what is evil, to cleave unto the Lord and to that which is good; to keep ourselves from the accursed thing.—To be watchmen to the house of Israel, and give them warning from God; to cry aloud and not spare, to shew the house of Jacob their sins; to reprove the works of darkness; not to suffer sin upon our brother; to be pure from the blood of all men, and not to shun to declare all the counsel of God.—Now these multiplied Scripture texts and Divine precepts afford us clear and plain warrant to make an open appearance and declaration for our Lord Jesus Christ, and for his truths and ways when injured; and against the evils and corruptions of the times, especially when they are avowed and infectious, and like to infect more and more.
II. Writing and leaving a testimony behind us to true religion, and against error and corruption, is necessary and useful for the instruction, conviction, and confirmation both of the present and future generations, and a very proper mean for handing
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down God's truths and institutions pure from age to age; which is a debt that one generation owes to another, as God declares in his word; Psal. lxxviii-5,6,7. He 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; that the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born, who should arise and declare them to their children: That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of Cod, but keep his commandments. Psal. cxlv. 4. One generation shall praise thy works to another and shall declare thy mighty acts. And according to Psal. cii. 18. God's works of grace and mercy are to be written for the generations to come, that the people which are to be created may praise the Lord. And we are enjoined, Psal. xlviii. 13. to walk about Zion, to tell her towers, mark her bulwarks and palaces, viz. the institutions and ornaments of the gospel church, that we may shew them to the generation following. And we are appointed, Ezek. xliii. 11. to shew to the house of Israel the form and fashion of the house of God, with the ordinances and laws thereof, and to write it in their sight, that they may keep them and do them. All these do plainly demonstrate our Scripture warrant for leaving such written testimonies behind us.
III. Writing and emitting faithful testimonies for God and his ways, is necessary and seasonable especially in times of corruption and backsliding, even when true religion is in danger. In such times Christ doth kindly accept and reward our open confessing of him and his truths before men, Rev. ii. 2. Matth. x. 32. And, on the other hand, he severely threatens our conniving at error and
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impiety, and not bearing testimony against them when they abound, Rev. ii. 14, 15, 16. Now, is not the backsliding day in which we live a proper season for such open confessions and faithful testimonies, when errors of all kinds are tolerate, approven truths are run down, and manifold corruptions prevail, to the dishonour of God and our holy religion; and when applications to judicatories for redress are unsuccessful? Surely it must be in such a time as this, that God calls his servants and witnesses to rise up for him (by faithful testimonies) against the evil-doers, and stand up for him against the workers of iniquity, Psal. xciv. 16.
Object. Some perhaps will say, "The corruptions and grievances of the times are not so great as some are ready to make them."
Answ. No doubt some do aggravate them beyond what is true and just. But, if what these say be fact, who use to speak within bounds, viz. 1. That a spirit of infidelity and error greatly prevails in the land, and open attacks are made upon the holy Scriptures and the Christian religion.—2. That a free toleration is given to all kinds of error, Arminian, Socinian, Arian, Popish, Deistical, &c. which are spreading more.—3. That sundry of the clergy are suspected of, and charged more than formerly, not only with looseness and immoralities in their lives, but also with laxness and unsoundness in their principles; and some of these are allowed to possess eminent posts in colleges, and even to teach divinity, and train up young men for the holy ministry.—4. That many of these have no regard to act 7th assembly 1736 with respect to evangelical preaching, but take up with legal doctrine, and a sort of heathenish morality, instead of preaching Christ to sinners, which
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ought to be the main business of every gospel minister.—5. That many of them give great encouragement to patronage, that woful usurpation over the church of God, when they are under no necessity from the law to do it.—6. That gross intrusions are continued upon Christian congregations, who are thereby spoiled of their right to call their own pastors, contrary to the word of God and our known principles.—7. That there are now most unreasonable divisions, ill grounded and unscriptural separations, among sound and godly Presbyterians; contrary to Christ's royal law of love, and precepts of keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.—8. That there are strange liberties taken by many (of whom better things might have been expected) in reproaching the work of God's holy Spirit, in awakening, convincing, and bringing lost sinners home to himself.—9. That the Episcopal clergy are forsaking the Protestant cause, licking up old Popish errors and superstitions which their fathers cast out, and sliding gradually back again to Rome——Now, if these things be true (as many alledge with too much ground) Christ’s witnesses have a plain call from him to stand up against these defections by faithful testimonies, and to give free warning of the evil and danger of them before it be too late.
IV. A written subscribed testimony seems necessary in obedience to the Ninth Commandment, for preserving and clearing the names and characters of honest ministers and elders in times of defection, and for vindicating them from the common charge of the corruptions and wrong steps of the societies whereof they are members. As they are often loaded unjustly with these evils, so their giving a subscribed testimony against them is a proper
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way to wipe off aspersions from their names while they live, to prevent blackning of their memories when dead, and also to yield them much inward peace when dying. Wherefore in my humble opinion, the call seems to be pretty clear to them who desire to, keep their garments unspotted, and to hate the work of them that turn aside, that it may not cleave to them, and who would embalm their names to posterity as witnesses for God in an evil time, to declare their minds by joining in such a testimony as this, and thereby exoner their consciences with respect to the backsliding and defections under which they have been long groaning. And whatsoever their hands finds to do in this matter, it is fit they do it without loss of time, seeing their standing is so slippery every day upon the brink of the grave.
V. Emitting testimonies in time of defection hath been the approven practice of God's worthies in former times. They judged their giving written testimonies against growing errors and corruptions to be the lifting up, a banner for truth, and the proper means to stop the current of defection, and to excite and plead with their Mother to use her best endeavours for that effect.—We have still extant such faithful testimonies given by sundry ministers in the years 1658 and 1659, when a toleration was granted by law to the sectaries and errors which then prevailed: and namely, that famous testimony drawn up against these errors, and to the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government of
this church, subscribed by Mr. Samuel Rutherford, Mr. James Wedderburn, Mr. James Guthrie, Mr. Alexander Moncrieff, Mr. Thomas Lundie, and many others.—Likewise a testimony against toleration by the presbytery of Edinburgh,
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5th October, 1659.—One by the ministers of Lancashire, 3d March, 1648.—One by Mr. George Gillespie, two days before his death.—One by the ministers of London, 14th December, 1647.—One by Mr. Rutherford on his death-bed, February, 1661.—One by, Dr. Horneck against stageplays, &c. And, lastly, what are all the dying speeches which our martyrs have left written behind them, but so many testimonies to the truths and ways of God, and against the errors and corruptions of their times? And these testimonies, however much despised by the world, God hath blessed as means for continuing truth and gospel purity among us to this day. And who knows but the Testimony now essayed in imitation of the foresaid worthies, may likewise be of use for preserving truth, and exciting reformation, when many of the present backsliding generation are laid in the dust? A new turn of affairs, and a general revival, may yet come; (The Lord himself hasten it!) Now it will be highly useful at such a time, for the generation to know something of the sentiments and practices of ancient wrestlers against corruption. Were there no testimonies of this kind, both the knowledge of truth, and the sense of duty and of sin in sundry cases, would be lost to the rising ages, towards whom we of the present age are indispensibly bound to act a kind and faithful part, viz. to give them just information.
Object. It may be alledged, "That the dissents and contendings of honest ministers, recorded in the books of synods and presbyteries, and other judicatories, are sufficient to inform after ages."
Answ. These Testimonies commonly lye dormant in church-records, and are little known in the world: and frequently these, registers are quite
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lost, by their going from hand to hand, or by the death of their keepers; which indeed is a very great loss to after ages. Were all the testimonies of ministers and judicatories relating to patronages and accepting of presentations published, they might be of very great use; and particularly the acts of synods thereanant [with reference to the acts of synods], mentioned p. 54. of the Testimony. The synods of Aberdeen, Ross, Angus, Perth, Fife, &c. they made acts of that kind, severals of which I have seen, which well deserve, to be published. The substance of them being comprehended in the act of the synod of Fife, I shall insert it here.
Coupar, April 2nd 1735. The synod of Fife taking into their serious consideration, that patronages, with power of presenting men to take the oversight of souls, is a manifest encroachment upon the rights and liberties of the church of Christ, which the judicatories and faithful members of this church from its reformation have always complained of, and struggled against, as what deprives Christian congregations of that interest they ought to have in calling their own pastors, and which is claimed and asserted by the assemblies of this church. And further considering, that some do accept of presentations before any call from the vacant congregations, and without the advice and consent of the presbytery of the bounds, and sometimes even before the parishioners have occasion to hear them, or shew their inclinations to them; and adhere to their presentations notwithstanding the aversion of the congregations, and thereby give great offence, in shewing so little regard to the weighty ends of a gospel-ministry, the glory of the great and chief Shepherd, and the edification of his
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flock, and in affording too much occasion to people to look on them as seeking more a living to themselves than to serve the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore the synod of Fife do hereby give warning to all ministers and preachers of the gospel within their bounds, of the evil and danger of such undue acceptance of presentations; earnestly exhorting and admonishing to beware thereof, as they would not mar the edification of Christ's flock, and continue this heavy grievance upon this church, and expose themselves to the just censure of its judicatories. And, to the intent this admonition may, be the more regarded, the synod appoints a copy thereof to be recorded in all the presbytery-books within that bounds; and the presbyteries, at their first meeting after the minutes of the synod come to their hands, cause read the same judicially, and also give copies thereof to all the ministers and preachers within their bounds, and likewise such students of divinity as may be presently under their trials, or hereafter may be taken on trials by them; and that hereafter, before they enter any upon trials either for preaching the gospel, or for the holy ministry, they endeavour to understand their sentiments anent [regarding] presentations being a grievance to this church, and their resolution to observe the recommendation of this act.—
But it must be told with deep regret, that these acts of synods, not being supported by superior judicatories, came soon to be disregarded, and so the door of patronage is still kept open, whereby a corrupt ministry enters into the church: May the Lord in mercy shut that door! Alas, how sad and mournful a thing is it, that ministers and preachers have no pity on this once famous church, which is
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already defaced, and corrupted and likely to be corrupted more and more, by patronage and presentations; when it is plainly in their power to deliver their Mother church from this woful corruption and bondage! Oh what hard and cruel hearts must many ministers and preachers now have!
There, is one thing to be lamented, which tends to bring in a set of clergy, who have no scruple to encourage patronage, intrusions, error and looseness; namely, the planting of our universities with masters, who are either suspected as to their principles or morals, or who have little zeal for orthodoxy or piety. When such men are appointed to be heads of colleges, professors of sciences, languages, or divinity, for training up of young men for the ministry; what is to be expected from the students, under their care, but that many of them will be leavened with bad principles and inclinations? And how can better masters in colleges or professors of divinity be looked for, while these are chosen by statesmen, magistrates, or regents, severals of whom have no real concern for Christianity, but may be even tinctured with error or infidelity? Alas! whilst matters stand thus with us, if private measures be not taken by friends of the church to get sound and pious men to teach divinity besides these, in colleges, this church may soon be overrun with corruption, looseness and error of all sorts; which I pray the Lord in mercy to prevent.
Some, may object, "Why do ye insist so much against patronage, seeing this was in the church in former times, of the presbytery, and now accepting of presentations is become common and fashionable, and the judicatories connive at it?"
Answ. 1. Our circumstances now differ vastly from theirs in former times. Why ? In former
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times the law laid them under a necessity of entering to churches by the patron's leave, there being no other way of entry; but now we are under no such necessity, there being a gospel door still left open to us.—In former times they were never delivered from patronage nor, sensible of the happiness of freedom from it.—but we have been set at liberty, and known the happiness of it.—They did not voluntarily submit to patronage after they were freed from it; but this, alas, is what we are doing: we have chosen this bondage, and subjected ourselves to it without any necessity from the law; so that our compilers with patronage are far more inexcusable than these in former times; our misery now is undeniable from ourselves, we are plainly self destroyers. O that our help may come from God in Christ, who even pities them who destroy themselves!
2. However common the accepting of presentations be at this time, the accepter's sin is not lessened thereby, nor is he the safer from the wrath of God. A just God hath common punishments for common sinners: witness the flood that he brought upon a world of sinners at once. The accepter makes himself directly a partner with the patron in his sinful usurpation over the church of God, and becomes in some respects more guilty than he; as is evident from the Testimony, p. 51 and 52.—Now if this practice be sinful (as certainly it is) the commonness of it will not at all loose us from, obedience to God's command, that injoins us to hate and abhor that which is evil, and as God's witnesses to bear our testimony against it. Surely the commonness of this evil is one ground of the Lord’s controversy with this church and land for which we ought to fast and mourn.
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3. As to the church's conniving at these acceptances, I heartily bewail it: Alas! the fear of man hath brought them into this snare, as is observed in the Testimony, p. 51. But, whatever be the temptation, the word of God holds it as a sin in any church to bear with these members who are evil, or do evil, without duty testifying against the evil, yea, and censuring these who are impenitent and obstinate in an evil course. Wherefore I am afraid that our keeping silence so much at this sinful connivance, may come to involve us into the guilt of it. O what need have we to be humbled under a sense of this and other shortcomings, and to cry with the Psalmist, Who can understand his errors? Cleanse thou me from secret faults. May the Lord bring the whole church, and every member of it to a sense of what is sin, and what is duty, in this matter!—As for my part, I must declare my opinion, That all these who are erroneous, immoral, intruders, supporters of patronage, and spoilers of Christian congregations of the rights which Christ hath purchased for them, ought to be testified against, and dealt with to bring them to repentance; and, if they remain impenitent and obstinate they ought to be purged out of the church.—And, if they still be connived at in the church notwithstanding of impenitence, I cannot but look upon the society as dangerous, infectious and hurtful. Likewise I must own, that the word of God makes it the duty of these who would keep their garments clean, to mark them, avoid them, and turn away from them, at least as to imitate fellowship and familiarity; for, if we should continue familiar with them, we will be ready to lose that abhorrence of their evil courses which God commands, and also to encourage and harden them
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in them. Wherefore it seems needful for these who would keep conscience while attending judicatories where such members are, that they protest or declare that their presence ought not to be constructed as giving any sort of countenance or encouragement to their evil courses, but rather as designed to testify against them, stop and prevent them, and to excite and promote reformation as much as in their power.
I make no question but sundry will be offended with this plain dealing, and especially these who would fain be at ease in Zion, though in a time of grievous provocations and backslidings, and of the Lord's judgments both inflicted and impending: but if I know my own heart, it is truly conscience not humour, love to the church not hatred, that prompt me to this plainness. I see no way to put an end to the Lord's controversy with us, but by a sincere turning to God in Christ, in the way of faith, repentance and reformation. Now, if we would behave as true penitents, make peace with an offended God, we must fall in with the revealed will of God in every thing: we must be far from pleading for sin, bearing with or conniving at it; that we must forsake sin, yea, hate and abhor what is evil, reprove the works of darkness, and have no fellowship with them. This being the express will of God to us, how can we think he will be it Peace with us, until we sincerely fall with it! I acknowledge it is not easy to keep up the impressions of sin’s evil, and a due abhorrence of it, when sin turns common and fashionable; it is not easy to keep clean garments when the examples of sin are always before our eyes, and especialy when we see these who are reported pious drawn into it; but these things should weigh but
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little with us, when we see it is the express will of God that they who bear the vessels of the Lord must be Clean, must keep themselves pure, and not so much as touch the unclean thing; and these who, would take the kingdom, must do violence to their carnal ease and interest, when they, interfere with the will and glory of God. These considerations have moved me to use this plainness, and to join in the following Testimony against sin; and that not only keep myself pure, but also to preserve others, if possible, from the prevailing sins and evils of the day, which are more infectious and dangerous than, any plague whatsoever: and, this I think is the greatest act of charity that can be done to the precious souls of men.
The common Objection against emitting this or the like Testimony is, "That it may have bad consequences, make new divisions and distinctions in the church, give advantage to her adversaries, &c."
Ans. 1. The subscribers of this Testimony testify against the ill-grounded divisions and unscriptural separations among Presbyterians which now prevail; and they design not to alter their respects or conduct towards other godly ministers, who may not be clear about every thing contained in this Testimony, seeing they never intended it as the badge of a party, or a term of communion either ministerial or Christian, but only to be an exoneration to conscience, a witness against corruption, and a prompter to reformation.
2. This argument, taken from the fear of division, strikes, equally against all testimonies whatsoever, against these emitted by our ancient worthies in times of defection, against the representation of the 42 ministers in the year 1732, and
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against all dissents and protestations in judicatories: for it may be pretended, that these testimonies or publick appearances tend also to make divisions in the church: nay, the same argument may be made use of against our giving a testimony against Prelacy, or the English service, or any gross error, were they coming into the church.
3. We must neglect present duty for fear of bad consequences which possibly may never happen; especially when we evidently see that the neglect will have far worse consequences.—In my view, by our omitting to give a testimony against error and corruption when it is called for, and all to prevent the evil of division which is uncertain; we bring on evils far greater and more certain, viz. the loss of truth and purity, and the sinful neglect of duty, both to God, and the generations present and to come. We see that great man, Luther, reckoned the loss of any of God's truths to be the greatest of evils; Ruat calum (said he) potius quam una mica veritatis pereat. And holy David
says, Psal. cxix. 72. The law of thy mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver.
4. We ought to observe the order laid down in that Divine precept, Ezek. viii. 19. Love the truth and peace; where the Spirit of God gives truth to the precedence of peace. Peace indeed is a thing very lovely in itself, but truth is far more amiable and precious, and must never be sacrificed to preserve peace. Union or peace is no real blessing to a church, if she be in a state of lukewarmness, or sliding back into corruption or error. Peace, in such a state, is rather a judgment than a mercy.
5. A most lamentable division and schism broke in amongst us a few years ago, when no testimony was in the field. Nay, in all probability, if a free
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and faithful testimony had been essayed by a great body of ministers sometime before it happened, instead of making a schism, it had prevented one, and might also have stopt judicatories from going such lengths as they have done.
6. As to adversaries getting advantage by this Testimony; the subscribers, as they had no such view, so they expect no such event, but rather the contrary, viz. that they will lose by it. But, whatever happen, if truth and holiness get any advantage by it, as is honestly designed; that gain will countervail any other damage.
But it is in vain to multiply answers to some, who will by no arguments be reconciled to a fair and honest testimony to truth, when the stream of opposition is strong against it. I now see by the discouragements I have met with in this attempt, that these who will be faithful to the truth, must be valiant for it also, and not daunted by the fear of faces, power or numbers of these who oppose it, or who shift appearing for it. It is one of the characters of God's servants, which he takes pleasure in, to be valiant for the truth upon the earth, especially when it is run down, Jer. ix. 3. And indeed it is sometimes run down with such violence, that there is no lifting up a testimony for it, without something of this Christian valour. It is truly afflicting to me, to find that there are so many of my brethren whom I love and esteem, who privately own they are of the same mind with the following testimony concerning the defections and corruptions of the times, and yet have not the resolution to declare this under their hand to the world. I would be very loth [loath] to say they are of these whom the Scripture calls the Fearful, because of the society I see them classed with, Rev. xxi. 8. But I
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have freedom to say, that the present dangerous state of this church, of the truths of God, and of true Christianity, in this day of backsliding, is such, as requires more courage and resolution for preserving true religion, and reviving a work of reformation, than what the most part of good men appear at this time to be possessed of. May the Lord himself spirit and qualify men for his own work!
As I join with the Testimony in other things, so especially in the humble pleadings with our Mother, with which it concludes; intreating that she would call all ranks to lay to heart the sins abounding and judgments impending, and to set about extraordinary fasting, humiliation, prayer, repentance and reformation. The present dangerous situation these nations are in from the combination of cruel Popish adversaries, who have destroyed other Protestant churches, and multitudes of their fellow-creatures, doth loudly, call upon us to these duties. Very lately we were like to have been surprised with a formidable invasion from France, when unprovided for it; but the Lord of Hosts, in his astonishing mercy, pitied our naked defenceless condition, stept in himself, and fought for us; he caused his winds and stormy seas to oppose the enemy and dash many of them in pieces, and so brake the attempt for that time: Surely our deliverance about the end of February last 1744, by God's own immediate hand, together with others of the same kind, should not be forgot by us. But though he hath hereby allowed us a further breathing time, and space to repent, our danger is not over; for now France as well as Spain have declared war against us. Now the "kings of the earth do set themselves, and the
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princes take counsel together, against the Lord," and these Protestant nations. Now there is a more formidable conjunction of Popish powers against us, than ever we saw before. Now France, Spain, Rome, Naples, Sicily, &c. these cruel and bloody nations, seem all to be combined against our Protestant king, and his royal family (whom God long preserve) seeking and plotting how to destroy them, together with our religion, laws, and liberties; and, instead thereof, to set up among us a Popish Pretender, an arbitrary government, and a blasphemous, idolatrous and bloody religion. And may not the numerous hosts of these nations, and the cruelty of a Popish party, wherever they get the upper hand of Protestants, as manifested in the dreadful burnings in queen Mary's reign the inquisition in Spain and Italy, the massacres in Ireland, in Paris, and other towns of France; I say, may not these alarm us, and sufficiently convince us of our danger, if the Lord permit them, for our sins to plot and effectuate a new invasion upon us? These days wherein we live, are surely perilous times upon sundry accounts, and call us not only to join in fervent prayer to God for mercy mid help for Christ's sake, and to be deeply humbled for, and to mourn over, the procuring causes of God's wrath; but also to bear free and open testimony against these evils which are the Achans in our camp, and Jonah's under deck, that raise such terrible storms against this poor church and land. It cannot but make deep impression, when sometimes we call to mind the fore-thoughts and predictions of several of God's worthies in this land, from scaffolds, and also from the pulpit and press, that "God would at length proceed to terrible judgments, in resentment of his controversy with
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covenant-breaking Scotland, before the return of his wonted glory and presence in the sanctuary; yea, that our land should be made to swim with blood for the blood of God's saints that hath been shed therein." Now, the oftner that God delivers us from Popish enemies, and the longer we unthankfully abuse and misimprove God's mercies and deliverances, our guilt and danger still become the greater. As the cup of our iniquity fills up, so doth the cup of God's wrath proportionably.
Ought not then these awful dispensations to move and quicken us to act a faithful part, both for God's glory and our own safety, even to pray, dissent, declare and testify, against these evils which we cannot stop? Were we helped to do this sincerely, we might hope, through our Redeemer's mediation, that they would not be charged upon us in the day of count and rekoning, and that we should even be hid in the day of the Lord's anger. For we find the angel of the covenant doth hold the winds, until the servants of the living God be sealed for preservation, in a time of danger: nay, an upright witnessing remnant might, through Divine mercy, be the happy means of preserving the whole land from the invasion of cruel and bloody enemies, and of getting the poor decayed church of Scotland interested in that promise, Jer. xxx. 11. " I am with thee, to save thee: and though I make a full end of all nations about thee, yet I will not make a full end of thee; but I will correct thee in measure, and not leave thee altogether unpunished." May the Lord himself direct ministers and others to proper measures for turning away the fierceness of God's anger from us; and open the eyes of men to discern the true grounds and causes, of God's
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controversy with the land! And if it should please the Lord to bless the following testimony for promoting these ends, in any measure, yea, though it were but to convince one minister or preacher of the evil of intrusions, of supporting patronage, and of the neglect of preaching Christ, it would contribute to support me, under all the, discouragements I have met with in making the Essay to lift up a testimony against these evils. That the mighty Lord, who can accomplish great things by small means, may succeed this honest design, is the prayer of
FAIR AND IMPARTIAL
ESSAYED IN THE NAME OF
A NUMBER OF MINISTERS, ELDERS
AND CHRISTIAN PEOPLE OF THE
CHURCH OF SCOTLAND.
ACCORDING to ancient historians, our gracious God was pleased to visit Scotland very early with his glorious gospel, by means of some preachers and other Christians, who were forced to flee to Scotland to be out of the reach of Roman cruelty under the second persecution raised by the emperor Domitian about the year of our Lord 95, which was before the death of the apostle John; where they propagated the knowledge of Jesus Christ, which at length conquered Pagan darkness and idolatry so far, that in the beginning of the third century, about the year 203, king Donald I, did publicly, profess the faith of Jesus Christ; and he himself, his queen, his family, and diverse of' the nobles, were solemly baptized. After which, the king used his best endeavours to root out idolatry and heathenish superstition from his dominions, and to settle a gospel ministry in every corner thereof. But, this religious king being much hindered in his good designs by his continual wars with the Romans under the emperor Severus, this blessed
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work was afterwards greatly neglected by following princes until the reign of king Crathilinth, who about the year 277 set about the glorious work of advancing Christianity after the example of king Donald the first Christian king, but was greatly hindered by the heathenish priests named Druids, called so (as some think) because of their sacrificing groves under oaks. These idolatrous priests had got great interest and credit among the people, by reason of their sense-pleasing worship, and of their having drawn into their hands the determining of civil affairs; wherefore the people reckoned them so necessary, that they knew not how to live without them. But the Lord in mercy seconded the intentions of the good king, by sending several worthy men, both ministers and private Christians, from the south parts of Britain, and other parts of the Roman empire, who were obliged to flee in the time of the ninth persecution under Aurelius, and of the tenth under Dioclesian, from the terrible slaughter then made among the Christians. And these retiring to Scotland for refuge, as others had done long before them, were very helpful in turning the people from idolatry.
King Crathilinth, finding among these Refugees many men of eminent piety and learning, did kindly entertain them, and employ them in opposing the Druids, and further settling of Christianity through his kingdom. These holy men being settled in several places of the land, and choosing retirement from all civil and worldly affairs, and giving up themselves wholly to the service of God in the ministerial work were called Culdees, or Cultores Dei. These Culdees, through the divine blessing, got the better of the Druids, and were great instruments of advancing true piety and Christianity in
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Scotland ? so that from these uttermost parts of the earth were songs heard, even glory to Jesus Christ the righteous: and thus were accomplished in part tile ancient promises made to our Redeemer, That the heathen should be given to him as his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession; that the isles should wait for his law, and their kings bring presents to him; that he should be the confidence of the ends of the earth, and of them that are afar of upon the sea.
These blessed instruments, the Culdees, were strict in their lives, and in governing the church of Christ. They allowed no higher order among them than presbyters or parochial bishops, and so continued for many years, until Paladius was sent thither by pope Celestine about the year 452, who by his subtile insinuations did gain so far upon the simple people, as to bring them to consent to a change of the government of the church into prelacy, and he himself became the chief Prelate among them. Both the historians of our own and other nations, such as Fordun, Boethius, John Major,Buchanan, Sir Thomas Craig, Prosper, Baronius, Beda, Baleus, &c. do all agree that the Scots for several hundred years after Christ, were taught and governed by priests and monks without bishops, and that Paladius was the first bishop or prelate that ever Scotland saw. John of Fordun in his Scots Chronicle, lib. 3. cap. 8. Saith, "Before the incoming of Paladius, the Scots had for teachers of the faith and ministers of the sacraments, presbyters only, or monks, following the rites and customs of the primitive church." And who questioned but the Scots were as sincere Christians, their ministers as real ministers, and their sacraments as true sacraments all these 400.
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years, as they were in after ages ? Yea, Baleus is his history of the Britons, cent. 14. cap. 6. saith more, Ante Paladium Scoti, &c. Before Paladius came, the Scots had their bishops and ministers, according to the ministry of the word of God, chosen by the suffrage of the people, after the custom those of Asia; but these things did not please the Romans, who hated the Asiatics.
So that we see the ancient Scots maintained presbytery, without either prelacy or patronage, till the Romans or church of Rome introduced both. And surely the Scots have still good reason to be zealous for their ancient church government and privileges, which they long enjoyed, in opposition to these Romish corruptions.
But Paladius having got our government changed, and our acquaintance made with Rome, then the mistress of the world; the church fell into a decaying condition, and popish corruptions increased more and more, till at length gross darkness overspread this whole land, as well as other nations; under which she lay for many ages (for what we read) until the year 1494, in the reign of king James IV when the Lollards of Kyle, to the number of thirty persons, were summoned before the king and his council for holding many of the protestant articles of faith, though they were dismissed at that time. So that God had his witnesses in Scotland, who bore testimony to his truths,against the errors and idolatries of Rome, even in the darkest times.
Not many years after, that eminent man, Mr. Patrick Hamilton abbot of Fern, went abroad to the university of Wittemberg, where he became acquainted with Luther and Melanchton, and made great progress in learning and in the knowlege
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of Christ… [This section of the text from which this transcription was made has about thirty words either missing or not legible.]
at St. Andrews in the year 1327…[This section of the text from which this transcription was made has about three words either missing or not legible.]
wisdom of God, tended much to the spreading of the truth: for many, enquiring into the cause of this burning, came afterwards to the knowledge and profession of the truth; so that it spread more and more through the land, in spite of all that enemies could do against it. Likewise Paul Craw was condemned to be burnt at St. Andrews, in the year 1431, for maintaining the doctrine of John Wickliff and John Huss.
It is most remarkable, that, after the burning of Mr. Hamilton, the favourers of the truth increased to many thousands; and God was pleased to raise up other famous instruments for spreading the light and carrying on his work, such as masters George Wishart, John Rough, John Knox, John Willock, Mr. Craig, John Erskine of Dun, and many others. These polished shafts God was pleased so to endow and furnish with gifts, graces, and zeal for God and his truths, and some of them with a prophetical spirit, that their adversaries were not able to resist the wisdom and spirit by which they spake; and multitudes of all ranks were by them converted to the Lord: so that in spite of all the power and policy of the popish clergy assisted by our rulers, and all the fiery persecution which they raised against the professors of the gospel, the Lord was pleased with a high hand to ransom this land from popish tyranny, idolatry and superstition; so that the pope's authority was abolished in Scotland by the parliament, the reformation established, and a sound Confession of Faith approven in
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the year 1560. This was the doing of the Lord and most wondrous in our Eyes!
The great rule and pattern of reformation, which our reformers observed, was the word of God, and the practice of the apostolic churches therein recorded, into which they made very narrow and impartial enquiry, their searches being attended with earnest prayers to God for the light and teaching of his Spirit, and communication of counsels with divines of other nations. After all which travel, they came to agree upon a platform of church government and discipline, in a due subordination of kirk sessions, presbyteries and synods unto general assemblies; as appears from our books of discipline, which were very early received and approven by the general assemblies of this church.
Though the civil powers, after the year 1560, were favourable to the reformation; yet our reformers had great and long struggling with many who were addicted to prelacy, and several popish errors and superstitions: but it pleased the Lord so far to countenance and help them, that a National Covenant was framed and entered into for the support of the reformation. This covenant was at first subscribed by the king and his household in the year 1580, and afterwards by persons of all ranks in the year 1581, and again by all sorts of persons in the year 1590; and afterwards presbyterian government and all the pieces of reformation then attained unto, were solemnly ratified by king and parliament in the year 1592. Only the grievance of patronage, under which the church was groaning, was not yet removed.
Here we must take occasion to adore the distinguishing goodness of God to this poor nation of
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Scotland, in bowing and inclining the hearts of the whole nation, as the heart of man, to enter into a solemn national covenant with God; even the hearts of our king, our nobles, barons, gentlemen, citizens, ministers, and professors of all ranks, to make a national surrender of themselves and their posterity to the Lord; and to bind both themselves, and them, to cleave to his truths and ordinances, and promote religion and reformation in their stations. Our histories inform us how this national covenant was afterwards renewed in this early period by our general assemblies, synods, presbyteries and particular parishes, and remarkably attended with much of the Lord's presence and countenance, and great outpourings of his Spirit; at which occasions there were to be seen floods of tears flowing from melting hearts and weeping eyes. Calderwood, in his history, tells us of a wonderful day of this sort at the reviewing of the covenant by the general Assembly at Edinburgh, in the little kirk, upon the 30th March 1596, Mr. John Davidson minister of Salt Prestoun presiding as the chief actor; likewise of another such day at the renewing of the covenant by the Synod of Fife at Dunfermline that same year, where Mr. James Melvil, minister at Kilrenny was moderator and chief actor. Also synods and presbyteries elsewhere had previous melting seasons, when about this work, which proved a special time of reviving to the work of God through the whole land. In this period the church of Scotland enjoyed very glorious days of the Son of man, and was honoured with large testimonies from divines of other churches: For the great pitch of reformation she had attained unto, she was called Philadelphia, and the morning-star of the reformation.
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But these bright times did not long continue, clouds did soon arise: For king James VI having the view of succeeding to the crown of England, and desirous to gratify the prelatists there, did, contrary to his solemn declarations and engagements, begin to make incroachments upon the church and her liberties, about the years 1597 and
1598; and continuing so to do, there followed a long course of defection in this church, for about the space of forty years; during which time, prelacy that bitter weed was introduced into the government, superstition and popish ceremonies into the worship, and Arminian and Popish errors crept into the doctrine. The king, for accomplishing
his designs, got several packt assemblies convened, as these at Linlithgow in the years 1606 and 1608, that at Glasgow 1610, that at Aberdeen 1616, that at St. Andrews 1617, and that at Perth 1618, wherein, one way or other, he got several corruptions approven, and particular the Five Articles of Perth: prelates were set up, unlawful oaths exacted of intrants into the ministry; several popish ceremonies, with a service-book, and book of canons, were imposed upon the church, and many sinfully complied therewith; whereby the church's beauty was miserably sullied, and the land greatly polluted.
Yet, during this time of grievous backsliding from a covenanted reformation, it pleased the Lord to raise up several worthies, ministers and professors of religion, to bear testimony to the doctrine, worship, government and discipline of this church,
and to Christ's right of headship over her and her judicatories, and to his power to institute her laws and ordinances, in opposition to the incroachments then made upon the same: upon which account divers pastors were arraigned before the council
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the high commission, and Diocesan synods; some were deprived of their churches and benefices, some were banished, some confined, and others imprisoned, and some were sentenced to death: likewise, several gentlemen and magistrates were sorely persecuted by the domineering prelates, for not conforming to the courses of defection. As for these faithful witnesses, who were suffered to live in their own land, severals of them went up and down in much poverty and affliction, teaching and confirming the people of God, waiting for God's returning in mercy to his oppressed church and people. Nevertheless, in this dark hour, the Lord gave testimony to his word in the mouths of his persecuted servants, through several comers of the land, by accompanying it with more than ordinary power and success; particularly in the year 1625 and afterwards, at Stewartown, Irvine, and many other places of the west of Scotland. A famous instance of that power was given at the solemn communion celebrated at the kirk of Shots the 20th June 1630, which proved a most remarkable sowing of seed through Clidesdale to the glory of free grace.
Afterwards, when the night seemed to be darkest, and the prelates in the height of their power and pride, competing with the nobles for all kinds of civil offices, and honours, and when corruptions in doctrine, worship and government were like to advance more and more; the Lord was pleased to look through the cloud with pity to this distressed church, in the year 1637, and to appear for her relief, first by animating severals of the common people of Edinburgh to oppose the reading of the new service-book there; and also at the same time exciting several honest ministers and
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professors in other parts of the nation to present supplications to the council, in September 1637, against pressing the Liturgy and canons upon them. But these, after several expresses to and from court, being at last refused, and new orders given for the use of the aforesaid books; a great number of all, ranks, nobility, gentry, ministers, &c. convened at Edinburgh in February 1638, where, after serious deliberation and prayer to God, they resolved upon reviving and renewing of the national covenant, which had almost been buried for forty years before. This they drew up and subscribed with some additions and, explications suitable to their present circumstances, and sent copies thereof through the land, which, being read in churches, was heartily embraced, sworn, and subscribed by all ranks, with many tears and great joy so that the whole land, great and small (a very few excepted) without any compulsion from church or state, did in a few months voluntarily and cheerfully, return to their ancient principles, and subject themselves to the oath of God for reformation; and this they did when both the court and prelates were enraged against them for it. But the Lord from heaven did remarkably countenance them with the extraordinary manifestations of his presence, and downpouring of his Spirit, both upon Judicatories and the worshipping Assemblies of his people, which proved as life from the dead to a poor, withered, backslidden church.
Nay (which is wonderful) things ripened so fast for reformation, that, in November 1638, a free and lawful, general assembly, indicted by the king, convened at Glasgow, the very place where prelacy was restored in the year 1610. There the general assembly, (notwithstanding of the former backslidings
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of the Ministry) came to agree with wonderful harmony, to condemn and annul six pretended corrupt assemblies who had changed the government and corrupted the worship of this church, together with the high commission court, the service book, the book of canons, and the book of ordination, as also the unlawful oaths imposed upon intrants into the ministry: they likewise deposed and excommunicated the Prelates (except two) for oppression and gross scandals. They approved the national covenant, and declared Prelacy with the five articles of Perth to be adjured by it; and made sundry other worthy acts for purging the church, and promoting reformation and appointed the time of their next meeting, for carrying on what was so happily begun. And though the Prelates with their abettors made great opposition to their godly intentions, yea, run to court, and stirred up the king to make war against Scotland; yet the Lord was pleased so to countenance his servants and people, that the begun reformation was carried on, and at last ratified both by king and parliament in July 1641. Thereby Prelacy was abolished, and Presbytery established by law; and the king being personally present, he for himself and his successors promised in verbo principis never to come on the contrary of that settlement; which occasioned great joy through all the land, and was followed with much of the Lord's power and presence in his ordinances: So that the land, that formerly was like a wilderness, was now by the divine blessing turned into a fruitful field.
The Lord having thus prospered the nation of Scotland in her reforming work, her neighbours in England professed a desire to join with them for carrying on the like work of reformation through
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the whole three kingdoms; and the English parliament sent their commissioners to Scotland for that effect. And accordingly there was a solemn league and covenant agreed upon, and sworn in the year 1643, for maintaining, advancing, and carrying on a work of reformation in the three kingdoms of Scotland, England, and Ireland. In this covenant, all ranks engaging bound themselves to personal reformation, and in their several stations to endeavour national reformation; to preserve the protestant religion, abolish Popery, Prelacy, superstition, schism, profaneness, an whatsoever shall be found contrary to sound doctrine and the power of godliness; and to endeavour to bring the three kingdoms to the nearest conjunction and uniformity in religion, as to doctrine, worship and government, according to the word of God, and the example of the best reformed churches; that so they and their posterity after them might as brethren live in faith and love that the Lord might be one, and his name one through the three kingdoms.—This indeed was a glorious design, had the English parliament and people been truly and heartily sincere in it, as the Scots nation both parliament and general assembly were, who with one voice approved and swore this covenant themselves, and did recommend it to all others through the land, who generally received it with great enlargements of heart and expressions of gladness, as they had done the national covenant in the year 1638. It is true, the parliament of England took the covenant, as did the city of London, the Westminster assembly and many others in England, though there were but few of them who seemed to mind it much afterwards. Some good things indeed were thereupon done; for in consequence of this covenant,
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and the uniformity in religion engaged unto therein, the English hierarchy and liturgy were laid aside for a time, our present confession of faith was agreed upon by the assembly of divines at Westminster with commissioners from this church, together with the larger and shorter catechisms, the directory for worship, with a directory for church government, church-censures, and ordination of ministers. As all these were agreed upon by the Westminster assembly as a part of the covenanted uniformity in religion which was to be settled through the three kingdoms, so they were received after examination, and approven by our general assemblies and parliaments in Scotland. It is true, there were several acts and ordinances of the English parliament for establishing these in England: but they took little effect, because of the opposition which was made to the form of Presbyterial government by the Independents and Sectaries there.
Notwithstanding of this defection in England, the nation and church of Scotland pursued reformation according to their covenant engagements, and got several laws enacted both by church and state for carrying on the same: and particularly they got an excellent act past by the Parliament, for abolishing the patronages of kirks, which is worthy to be written in letters of gold, a part whereof we shall here transcribe.
At Edinburgh, March " 9th 1649. The estates of Parliament being sensible of the great obligation that lies upon them by the national covenant, and by the solemn league and covenant, and by many deliverances and mercies from God, and by the late solemn engagement unto duties, to preserve the, doctrine, and maintain and vindicate the liberties of the kirk of Scotland, and to advance the work of
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reformation therein to the utmost of their power: and considering that patronages and presentations of kirks is all evil and bondage under which the Lord's people and ministers of this land have long groaned, and that it hath no warrant in God's word, but is founded only on the common law, and is a custom Popish, and brought into the kirk in time of ignorance and superstition; and that the same is contrary to the second book of discipline, in which, upon solid and good ground, it is reckoned among abuses that are desired to be reformed, and unto several acts of general assemblies; and that it is prejudicial to the liberty of the people, and planting of kirks, and unto the free calling and entry of ministers unto their charge: and the said estates, being willing and desirous to promote and advance the reformation foresaid, that every thing in the house of God may be ordered according to his word and commandment; do therefore from the sense of theformer obligations, and upon the former grounds and reasons, discharge for ever hereafter all patronages and presentations of kirks, whither belonging to the king, or to any laick [lay] patron, Presbyteries, or others within this kingdom, as being unlawful and unwarrantable by God's word, and contrary to the doctrine and liberties of this kirk.
Afterwards they say, —And it is further declared and ordained, That if any presentation shall hereafter be given, procured or received, that the same is null and of none effect; and that it is lawful for Presbyteries to reject the same, and to refuse to admit any to trials thereupon; and, notwithstanding thereof, to proceed to the planting of the kirk, upon the suit and calling or with the consent of the congregation, on whom none
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is to be obtruded against their will, &c. —By which excellent act it is evident, that our reforming nobility and gentry, many whereof were Patrons themselves, looked upon themselves as under strong obligations, both from the Word of God and their covenant engagements, to abolish patronages, and restore the liberty of congregations in calling of their ministers.
Thus our reforming ancestors were helped to many excellent things from 1638 to 1650 for promoting reformation in the land, though at the same time (it must be owned) they were not free of mistakes and wrong steps in their management.—There is no period here, the church can be said to be without spot or wrinkle.
After this a mournful scene opened by breaking division that entered into the
church, which ended to stop the progress of reformation-work, and make way at length for restoring Prelacy. This was occasioned by some ensnaring questions put to the commission in December 1650 by the king and parliament (which they had better declined to answer) concerning the admission of persons into places of public trust civil and military, who formerly had been opposers of the covenanted reformation, upon their making public profession of their repentance; these who were for admitting them being called public resolutioners, and these against it being called protestors. There were many eminently good and great men upon both sides, and some as eminent who joined neither side. The point seemed narrow for the church to carry the difference to such a height as to suspend and depose one another upon it as they did, according as parties had the upper hand in Synods and Presbyteries: for Cromwell the usurper
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would not then allow them to meet in general assemblies, by which the division possibly might have been healed. But this fatal division looked like a judicial stroke from heaven upon the church for their other sins: the Lord's judgments are a great deep. Possibly there might be too great compliances in this matter with court-measures, and the hurnours of great men, as there were afterwards in the matter of indulgences, tolerations, and other ensnaring things brought in by the court upon the church. It is certain, that the greatest number of the strict and zealous ministers were on the protestors' side, who afterwards made a noble stand against Prelacy. And it appeared afterwards, the protestors' fears which they expressed, that these men, when taken into places of trust, would soon act the old game, were but too well founded. It must also be acknowledged, that though the most part of the public resolutioners submitted to Prelacy, yet several worthy men among them did not, and were exposed to sufferings for it as well as others.
At the time of the breaking out of these fatal divisions among us, an army of Sectaries under Cromwell invaded and oppressed us. These Sectaries had grown to such a height in the English army, that they invaded the parliament of England their masters, put away the house of peers, modeled the house of commons according to their pleasure, and erected a new court called the high court of justice, before which they impanelled king Charles I and violently took away his life, January 30th 1649; against which our commissioners both from church and state in Scotland, then at London, did protest, and were therefore hardly used. Immediately thereupon Scotland proclaimed