Some instance of my duty to your Lordship may be justly expected, though at this distance, and none I think more seasonable and proper from this place, than the present condition of the Church of Scotland; which though your Lordship may more fully understand from some other better able to give it, yet that consideration is no apology for my silence, in so Important an Affair; and this use at least will be made of my attempt, to testifie to your Lordship, how ready I shall be to give an account of other Transactions not so well known at London.
THE Church of Scotland is at this time under the Claw of an inraged Lion; Episcopacy abolished, and its Revenues alienated, the Clergy routed, some by a form of Sentence, and others by violence and popular fury; their Persons and Families abused, their Houses ransack'd, their Gowns torn to pieces, with many other injuries and indignities done them, which I forbear naming, that I may not Martyr your Lordships patience by the bare recital of them. My Post in the Army as it has carried me unto many places of this Kingdom, so it has given me as many opportunities to see and lament their condition.
The occasion of all these disasters, is the prevailing strength of the Cameronian Party, a Faction here taking its name from one Cameron formerly their Leader, and who was slain in his Rebellion: They are a sort of rigid Presbyterians, or rather Fifth Monarchy-men; valuing neither K. William nor K. James, any further, than as these Princes happen to please them; some designing Heads in the Council and Parliament, have made use of those Mens hands to bring their ends about, whose weakness otherways was too discernable. From these disorders they represent abroad the inclination of the People to the Presbyterian Government, and alledge the Popular Zeal; when it is highly suspected they are only tumults of their own making, otherways upon the Complaints and Petitions of injur'd Persons, redress might be obtained, which however they are so far from, that after such remonstrances they fare the worse, and have this aggravation to their miseries; that they are unpitied by those who ought to protect them: Nay now at last the Government it self is become a Party against them; and where before good Neighbourhood and well affected Persons, screned their Ministers from the Dissenters Barbarity; now they suffer by a form of Law, Acts of Council, and are themselves reputed Malignants, and suffer as a discontented Factious People.
And yet the Church Party, both for number and quality was predominant in this Nation: The Nobles and Gentry are generally Episcopal, and so the People especially Northward, where to my own knowledge they are so well affected, that it would be no hard task to bring them, Cultui & Ritibus cum Anglis Communibus subscribere, as Buchanan saith the Ancient Scots did when they stood in fear of the French, and desired England's assistance against them; my frequent reading of our Service, and Preaching in their Churches to the Auditories satisfaction, the Caresses of the Gentry, and respect of the ordinary People, whenever I met them, infers so much, and plainly discovers that they neither abhorred me nor my way of Religion. At Perth I was readily admitted into the Church and Pulpit, though the Magistrates refused the same favor to the Lord Cardross a Privy Counsellor, and the Lord Argyle in behalf of two Cameronian Preachers; and though the former of these, forced his way thither upon one Sunday, yet the Lord Provost was better provided against another, and took the same method, I mean the strength of the City to oppose and baffle the Latter; and when it was urg'd by both these Lords, that that liberty they desired, was granted to me some Sundays before, The Magistrates excus'd themselves with an order to that purpose from Sir John Lanier. Even at Edinburgh it self, the Faction was so weak, that they were forced to send privately to the West for assistance, before they durst attempt any violence against the regular Clergy: But the College of Justice being informed of their coming, Armed themselves and their Friends, and so were secured both they and their Ministers, until an order was obtained for laying down their Arms again; Indeed at Glasgow the Faction is stronger, and this Town may be said to be the warmest nest of the Cameronians, and yet to my knowledge, the most considerable, and Persons of the best quality are very well affected, and would prevail, were it not for the assistance of the Mountainers which the Malignants, have sometimes brought privately into the Town to assault and overawe the others. But then it is a wonder the adversary succeeded so well, and that they have got to such an ascendancy as to ruin the Church; if it be supposed that the Church was so strong to have acted in her own safety, yet it is not to be much admir'd at, if this be considered: That in the beginning of this revolution; the Episcopal Party in Scotland, not knowing at that time how far things would go, judg'd it safest for them to keep at a distance, and having a deep impression of their Allegiance to King James, they appeared a little too tender and unconcerned in the Election of Members for the Convention. By which means the discontented and Presbyterian Party, as they are in themselves always very active, so upon this occasion they became more numerous, and carryed it against those few Gentlemen, that shewed themselves for the Church and old Constitution. The first instance and discovery of their new strength, was their carrying the Vote for the Committee about controverted Elections; a point not obtained with difficulty, as the Convention was then composed, and the consequence was, that no Episcopal Gentlemen should be admitted in case of a competition, let the number of Electors in Shire or Borough be never so unequal: Nay many were allowed to be Members of that Convention, who were uncapable to sit by the most Ancient Laws of the Kingdom, either in Convention or Parliament; and especially such as were not infeoft in their Estates, of which instances might be given. The Episcopal Party finding this, most of the Nobility withdrew themselves both from Convention and Parliament, and if my Lord Dundee had lived (who was a great Patron of this Clergy) none doubts but that he had changed the whole State of Affairs in this Nation: And having mentioned that Gentlemans name, I insert one word concerning the troubles of which he seemed to be the whole occasion in this Country, but did no more I think than what a great many others would have done, on the same reason of self Preservation. It appears then, that in the beginning he sat in the Convention, and intended so to do, till he heard of a design on Foot, to Assassinate his Person, he complained of this to the Convention, and desired their Protection: But no notice was taken of it, he repeated his complaints, and offered to prove the attempt; and declared, that without the assistance of their Authority, he held it not safe to attend any longer. But all this to no purpose; the only answer he had, was, that his non-attendance would be no great loss to them; hereupon he withdrew himself to the Mountains, and being a Person of great Spirit and good Conduct, he was resolved not only to defend himself, but call them also to an account, whom he found so much incensed and set against him, and it is generally believed here, he would have gone no further. -- But enough of this.
The only means, My Lord, to remedy all this is the dissolution of this Parliament, and then it is not to be doubted, but the Episcopal Party will shew their own strength, and concern themselves more in a new Election, then they did in that before; for their eyes are now sufficiently opened, and they see, though somewhat late, their former omission and mistake; but withal see no possibility to retrieve themselves, if this Parliament continue. Indeed they wonder, that His Majesty can be very fond of keeping it a foot, since they have taken away so eminent a Branch of his Prerogative, as to deny him a Sovereign Interest here, in what is debatable in Parliament, they wonder that His Majesty is not sensible, how little they value the promoting of his Service, that notwithstanding the great necessity of his Affairs, they have not thought fit to give him a penny: They wonder how the Presbytery of the Church can sute Monarchy in the State, and that one Ruler should give incouragement to the setting up of many; they wonder how it comes to pass, that the Clergy of Scotland should be by a form of Law turn'd out of their Benefices, for not praying for King William and Queen Mary in terminis, when the Intruders themselves, as I have observed, refuse to do it in their Usurped Pulpits, and it is equally strange, that even these Gentlemen that have complyed in that particular, and in reading the Proclamation, are notwithstanding dismist their charges by some other Libel, or in case any be wanting to set the Rabble to work to out them. So that seeing no Obedience can secure them, but that they are destin'd for sacrifices to those wild People; this is the reason, why as yet they have made no address to the King, nor think themselves encouraged to do it, since their inveterate and implacable Enemies have His Majesties ears so much, as to make such an attempt of no effect to them: And, My Lord, they also wonder, that the Church of England endeavours not to interpose, and give the King to pity them in their present calamity; since the violent Party in Scotland will certainly inflame the discontented in England, for they are sworn by their Covenant, to reform England upon their model; and to purge the Neighbour-land from Popery and Superstition. My Lord, I have had the honour and happiness to converse with the Clergy here of the first form, and I find them very reverend, and as far as I can judge very learned and judicious Gentlemen, they are exceedingly wronged by the Faction, when they are called ignorant and scandalous; it's an unjust calumny to say they would have betrayed the Laws, which were made for the defence and security of the Protestant Religion; when all the Bishops of Scotland, two excepted, were unanimous against the repeal of the Penal Laws against the Papists in My Lord Murray's Parliament 1685. And as great is the popular mistake concerning the Bishops Revenues, which they will have to be one Arbitrary Stipend from the Crown, which makes them precarious and subservient to the Princes Will; whereas their Incomes are as independent in that respect, as the Bishopricks of England, and have their several Localities, as they are here called, or Tythes and Mannors to support them: These and the like objections against them and the regular Clergy, are only inventions to countenance some Mens resolutions right or wrong to ruin them; and indeed that they are so resolved not only against the Bishops, but all the Episcopal Clergy, is evident from hence, that notwithstanding they have those qualifications, which are even now requisite for the exercise of their Ministry, as praying for the King, &c.--Yet some other objection is rais'd against them, and this now is a very influencing one, that if all the rest of the Parish be Church People, and well disposed to their Minister, and but one single Dissenter among them, it is a sufficient reason to eject and deprive him, how industrious soever the others are to continue him with them; as in the instances of the Ministers of Mousegard, Collingtoune, Kirkneutoun, and Kirklistoune, not to mention several hundreds, that have been routed by the Rabble, and yet are never restor'd to the purpose, nor have opportunity to shew whether they will comply or no.
My Lord, if the perfect knowledge of these things has made some impression on me, it's no wonder upon the account of common Christianity. I am sorry for the distress of this Church, and in compassion to it, I wish I were able to contribute any ways to the relief and recovery of it. This is all I can do in order to that, to give your Lordship the best account I can of her present circumstances; and what hopes she has in prospect upon the Dissolution of this Parliament.
What Interest your Lordship has with Their Majesties, is a thing well understood; here I humbly recommend the Matter to your Lordship; I beg pardon for this interruption given your Lordship, by one who desires at all times to shew himself, though he may fail in the manner of it.
Your Lordships Most Obedient. Curate and Servant
Glasgow Octob. 12. --89.
We are hastening to the Sea-side, to be transported into Ireland, an expedition no way suited to a Man of my constitution, but I submit to my Lot and humbly intreat your Lordship to consider me.