I Received yours of the date, &c. Wherein as you express a mighty concern for the distress'd Episcopal Clergy within this Kingdom; so you prescribe me a task, which will not be so easily perform'd as ye imagine: You tell me, strange Representations are made of them by their Enemies, and disseminated through the whole Kingdom of England; you therefore require me to give you a just and true account of their Present State and Persecutions; assuring me, it is not so much to satisfie your curiosity, as to enable you for their vindication. This I say is a very hard task; for to digest an account of that Nature to purpose (in my opinion) would require the diligence of a great head, the expense of much time, and a considerable Volume; for 'tis hardly possible to set their circumstances in their due light, without deducing their Affairs from the very Reformation, and dipping in matters of State all alongst, as well as of Ecclesiastical Concern; so closely have the two interests bee still linked together in this Kingdom: Without that, Strangers will never understand sufficiently, either our Constitution, or the Grounds on which the Clergy have been obliged to go in many transactions: Neither will they be able to perceive how unjust and calumnious the Representations be, which are made by their Adversaries; nor how partial they are in their accounts, nor how carefully they take all things by the wrong handle; industriously presenting the dark side of things to the World, where there is any intricacy; and many times blackening even that which is truly fair and beautiful, when it makes for their purpose.
Such a work as that, I am hopeful, ye may see ere long; for I have good reason to believe, some abler Pen than mine will be imployed that way by and by: And therefore, I was once inclined to have referred you intirely to it: But calling to mind again, what earnestness ye express, to have if it were but some overly notice of our Case; and withal considering, that herein you may be gratified without prejudice to that more full and large account: And likewise, that perhaps a present account (though never so short and rude) may have its proper usefulness; I have prevailed with my self, to cast together what follows. I will use as few words as I can, and perhaps I shall not be careful to observe exact Order and Method; but I hope your goodness will pardon that, upon my promising to tell you nothing, but what can be made appear to be true, beyond all contradiction.
I take my Rise from the Death of that Great Prince King Charles II. He left this Church of Scotland in more peaceful condition, then it had been of a long time before; it was united to a very desirable degree: Generally all Scotchmen were of one Communion; for those of the Popish perswasion were scarcely one to 500. The Quakers were not one to 1000. The Presbyterians a good time before, were divided into two Sects, one (but by far the smaller) was against all Indulgences given by the King; the other had taken the liberty, which he had several times granted, but was then retracted. This Party had for the most part returned to the Churches Unity; their Preachers were generally become our Hearers, attended duely our Publick Assemblies, and many participated of the same Sacraments with us. There were no separate Meetings kept (at least publickly,) but very rarely, and only by that other Party, now commonly known by the name of Cameronians, from one Mr. Richard Cameron, who (being sometimes School-master at Falkland, and turn'd out of that imployment for insufficiency) betook himself to the trade of Field Preaching, became wonderfully admired of the giddy Multitude, was killed at last in open Rebellion, at Airds-moss, and so commenced Martyr Anno 1680.
This is that Party with whom these sharp Methods were taken, which are complain'd of in the P. of O. his Declaration for the Kingdom of Scotland, and hugely aggravated by the Paper called the Scotch Inquisition. But had his Highness known their practices; (how they (by their Manifesto's) rejected K. C. as their Sovereign, made many Declarations of War against him, Excommunicated him, and (when they had opportunity) Murthered those, who (in their Stations according to their duty,) any ways supported his Government, especially Bishops, Ministers, and Soldiers; pretending it was done in a just War, and they had Commission from King Jesus for it, &c.) I doubt he would never have made the treatment they met with a grievance: And if the World knew it (as perhaps it may, sooner or later) certainly it would have but a very mean opinion of the Author of that most scurrilous Pamphlet: I only said their Practices, for all Presbyterians (at lest in Scotland, as will appear in the Sequele) have really the same Principles: The only substantial difference is, the Cameronians are the more ingenuous Party; the rest the more subtle. These own their Principles when they think it seasonable; those, (like the honester Men) upon all occasions; By these Cameronians (I say) Conventicles were only then kept; and they were condemned for it by the rest of the Presbyterians, who at that time (in pretence at least) had fallen in love with Moderation.
When King James came to the Throne, Monmouth in England, and Argyle in Scotland (you know) raised a formidable Rebellion. Argyle gave out his Manifesto's, and made many specious pretences, &c. it appeared he was earnest to have had the Presbyterians joyn with him; but his Conditions did not please the Cameronians; and the rest continued still as formerly in the Kings and Churches Peace. This made us all hopeful, they had once resolved seriously never to divide any more, and weaken the Protestant Interest, by rending the Church in pieces: But it seems they went then on other Principles. They found Argyle's attempt desperate, and their Party weak, and they had smarted lately for Enterprises of that nature; therefore they found it convenient to wait a sitter opportunity.
When that Rebellion was quasht, King James, being a Roman Catholick, turn'd serious to have some ease granted to those of his own perswasion; so the business of the Penal Statutes came to be manag'd: For this end, it was resolved the Parliament should meet, and before it sate, several Persons of Greatest Note within the Kingdom were called up to London; the Duke of Hamilton, Sir George Lockart (the Greatest Lawyer in the Kingdom) then President of the Session, &c. Their errand was to concert Matters, and make way for the King's inclinations in that particular: Amongst the rest, the Arch-bishop of St. Andrews, and the then Bishop of Edinburgh, now Archbishop of Glasgow: They made a condescension too, which afterwards was very much talked of; but I can assure you Sir, it was nothing so odious in it self, as it was represented to be: I have seen it and considered it, it did not go the length (by far) of Pensionary Fagels Letter; and to tell the truth freely, so far as I can comprehend things, they had great reason to go so far as they went; and I doubt not it shall be sometimes published to the World, and fully vindicated. But I go on.
The Parliament met; all the Members were qualified according to Law, they took the Test, &c. But the Court-designs prevailed not; the Penal Statutes were still kept on foot by that Episcopal Parliament (pardon the Phrase, 'tis ordinary in this Kingdom) and some of the Bishops too were active in the matter. This, to let you see whether the Episcopal Party in this Kingdom can be said to be inclin'd for Popery.
This disappointment irritated his Majesty; wherefore, the next great step was, the suspending, stopping, and disabling all the Laws against Dissenters, and granting a Toleration to Christians of all Perswasions. This was done by publick Proclamation; the first Edition was dated Feb. 12, 1686/7. The Presbyterians, as much as any Men, stood amaz'd at the Dispensing Power at first, and seem'd to see clearly the ill consequences of a breach in that juncture. This themselves frankly confess'd at the beginning; and I know it was therefore once very near to a general resolution amongst them, never to take the benefit of it: This all know, that for some Months after the publication of it, no considerable breach was made; they still continued in the same Communion with us.
Ye will easily believe (I think) this grated the Popish Party; for they saw evidently, if the Unity of our Church was not broken, their Interests would advance but very slowly; so pains were taken with the Presbyterians to make them separate. And because perhaps they might scruple at the Oath contained in the first Edition of the Toleration, a second Edition, without that Oath, was obtained and published. Whether the Arguments which were made use of to engage them, prevailed with them; or by that time, the second Edition came out, (which was June 28. 1687.) they had considered the strength of their Party, and found they would be able to make a Figure; or, they had then got secret instructions from Holland, to comply with the Dispensing Power, in Subserviency to the ensuing Revolution (for which I know there be very strong presumptions) I shall not readily determine. This is certain, they closed presently with the second Edition.
'Tis true, they pretended the terms in the first were too grievous; and that considerable Mitigations were made in the second; so they could not any longer be disobedient to the Divine Providence, (you cannot quarrel the expression, when ye know that according to their Divinity, Providential Occurrences make a considerable part of the Rule of Faith and Manners) nor neglect so blest an opportunity: Although 'tis evident to any who compares the two Proclamations, that there are no material alterations. 'Tis certain the second was design'd to carry on the same Interest with the first; and it had altogether as much of the Dispensing Power in it: Both alike required, that whoever would have the benefit of the Toleration, should own the King's absolute Dispensing Power, by which it was granted; only the Oath contained in the first, was left out in the second: But even in the first it was not absolutely required; for the Proclamation says no more, but that, instead of all former Oaths required by Law, That only should be taken and sworn, by all His Majesties Subjects, or such of them, as he or his Privy Council should require so to do: And moreover it was intirely dispensed with by the King's Letter to his Council, dated March 31. Anno 1687. so that it can never be pretended as a reason, why they did not separate for three Months hereafter.
Thus the great Schism began amongst us; the Toleration was it's Parent, and that was the Child of the Dispensing Power. But before I proceed to shew how it was carried on, let me remark one thing: It is, whatever now they may pretend, it was no ways any Principle of Conscience, which made them separate from us, on that occasion. My Reasons are these; They had lived in Communion with us, for some years before the first Edition of the Toleration: They continued so, even for some Months after that Edition, viz. till they got the second; at least very few broke off in that interim. While they lived in Communion with us, they acknowledged their Consciences allowed them; indeed, what sort of Christians had they been, if it had not been so? Many (I can find their Names if I be put to it) thanked God, that they were reconciled to us, and frequently protested all the World should never again engage them in the Schism. Nay some of the ablest of their Preachers, (within a very few Weeks before they embraced the Toleration) said to some of the Regular Clergy, they should never do it; they were resolved never to Preach more in their life time. Further yet, some of them, even after the second Edition, continued for a long time resolved never to engage in it; and it cost their Brethren much pains, before they could overcome that Resolution: yea they tell us, to this very day, if they were deprived of their Liberty, they could return to us again. Can there be clearer Evidences for any thing, than these are, that it was not Conscience, but some other Interest, that involved them in such a general Apostacy from one of the greatest Concerns of Christianity, the Unity of the Church? Indeed, how could ever Conscience be pretended in the Matter? We had not the least sinful condition in our Communion: We still maintain'd what themselves, the same Articles of Faith; we worshipp'd God after the same manner: There is no imaginable difference between them and us, in the Administration of Sacraments; if the Orders of the Church of England be valid, so are ours. All that was ever controverted amongst us, was the point of Church Government; 'tis true we use the Lord's Prayer and the Doxology, and commonly require the Creed in Baptism, which they do not; if these can justifie a Separation, we are guilty: But if they can, let the World judge. And now these things being so, I would further ask any Man this Question; whether, when they make such clamours now concerning their by-past sufferings, it can be said, that ever they suffered for Conscience sake? This by the way.
So was the Schism circumstantiate, as I have said, and being once begun, it was wonderful to see how soon it came to a considerable height; within a few Weeks, Meeting-houses were Erected in many places; especially in the Western Shires, (the great Nests of Fanaticism) and the Churches were drain'd; Altar was set up against Altar, and the pretended Presbyter against the Bishop. All arts were used to increase their Party, and render the Regular Incumbents contemptible; People were not left to their own choice, to joyn or not joyn with them: But all Methods of compulsion, except down-right force were taken to engage them; if any Man went to Church (whither all had gone very lately) he was forthwith out of favour with the whole Gang; if he was an Husbandman, his hap was good if his Neighbours Cattle were not fed amongst his Corns in the Night time; if he was a Tradesman, no imployment for him; if a Gentleman of an Estate (a Laird as we call them) his own Tenants would abuse him to his face, and threaten him twenty violences: in short, nothing was left untryed, that had the least probability of weakning our hands or strengthening their own.
On the other hand, never a more thankful People to His Majesty. Addresses you know, were then much in fashion, and none more forward than they; witness, That famous one entituled, To the King's Most Excellent Majesty, The Humble Address of the Presbyterian Ministers, in His Majesties Kingdom of Scotland; and at the foot, Subscribed in Our Names, and in the Names of the rest of the Brethren of our persuasion at their desire, in which Address,
They His Majesties Most Loyal Subjects, from the deep sense they have of His Majesties Gracious and surprizing favour, in not only putting a stop to their long sad sufferings for Nonconformity, but Granting them the Liberty, of the publick and peaceable exercise of their Ministerial Function; as they bless the great God, who put it in his Royal Heart, so they do withal find themselves bound in duty to offer their most humble and hearty thanks to His Majesty. Then they make vast Protestations in behalf of their Loyalty, His Majesty is but just to them when he believes them Loyal: And by the help of God they will so demean themselves, as His Majesty may find cause rather to enlarge than diminish his favours towards them; and they humbly beseech, That all who promote any disloyal Principles or Practices (as they do disown them) may be looked upon as none of theirs whatsoever name they may assume to themselves.
And indeed for a good time, (even till they had made a good Party, and the P. of O. was coming) they continued moderate and thankful to a Miracle; for tho by vertue of that same Toleration, swarms of Popish Priests were let loose through the whole Kingdom, infinitely active to gain Converts, compassing Sea and Land to make one Proselyte, yet seldom so much as one word against Popery in any Meeting-house: Whether it was that they thought it indiscreet, to fall on their Brethren who stood upon the same bottom with themselves; or they had receiv'd it amongst their Injunctions from the Court Party, not to meddle with these of the Roman Church; or they did not understand the Controversies (which seems the most probable,) and so found themselves obliged in prudence to let them alone; I am not concerned to determine. 'Tis certain it was so de facto (for once to make use hereof that term) and I have twenty times heard it confess'd by their constant Auditors. Nay to this very day (though now they may make bold with Popery, without the hazard of giving the present Court a displeasure, and it might be expected they should do it, for very obvious Reasons) they very rarely meddle with it. Their great work is to batter down Antichristian Prelacy and Malignancy, Prelacy has been the cause of all the Calamities this Nation has groaned under, God knows for how many years; King Jesus has been banished, the Gospel has not been Preached in this Land these 27 years by-past. Upon my word I'm serious Sir, there's nothing more ordinary in their Sermons then such cant; and though their Texts be commonly taken from the Old Testament, yet they are all pat and home to the purpose: I could easily give you a great many good notes of their Prayers, as well as their Sermons; and condescend upon the particular Persons, &c. But perhaps ye may see that sometimes done by it self.
While in these Conventicles, Popery was so kindly forborn; in our Churches these Controversies were our most frequent Subjects; especially in these places where Priests were setting up. This is well known all over the Kingdom; some suffered, and many were terribly threatned for it, I could give you part of their Names and Histories if it were needful.
Such was the broken State of our Church from July 87. till October 88, when the late great Revolution began to cast up; and his Highness the Prince of Orange was said to be coming to Britain, to deliver us from Popery and Slavery, and restore our Religion, Laws and Liberties: You know that was an extraordinary Enterprise; Britain had not been Invaded by any Foreign Prince, for an hundred Years before. Therefore it was expedient his Highness should forecast, for as kindly a reception as was possible; to this end he gave out his Declarations for both Kingdoms. It seems that either his Highness, has been diffident of the Regular Clergy in Scotland, and dreaded they would not so readily embark with him, as the Presbyterians were likely to do; or he has had none, or very few of the Scotch Nation then about him, but such as were of that persuasion.
For the Declaration for the Kingdom of Scotland, we found to be purely Presbyterian: I'm confident Doctor Burnet did not Pen it; otherwise the Act of Glasgow had not been put into it as a Grievance: He knows very well upon what reasons it was made, and if he pleases, can easily justifie it; neither had the Clergy of the West (for they must be the Men) been so generally pronounced scandalous and ignorant: He was better acquainted with many of them than so; I had rather think, the Doctor had never seen that Declaration until it was published. But what though he had? and for Reasons of State, thought fit to let it go as it was? 'Tis no great matter. As I said, it was down-right Presbyterian, and presag'd no good to us: But God be thanked, it found us generally in good preparation for suffering Persecution, for we had cast up our accounts before, and foreseen that possibly we might be expos'd to Tryals: though we had not much reflected, that it was to be by the hands of Protestants. We were confirmed further yet in our suspicions, when we found that those who were engaged in the Presbyterian Interests, were flocking up to London, and making the most numerous, as well as active appearances about his Highness's Court; that they only had his ear, and seem'd to be the chief Persons, who (upon His Majesties Retirement) transferr'd the Government of this Kingdom upon him. By these steps, we began to see further too into the politicks of our Brethren, and upon what Designs they had carried on the Schism so vigorously the year before; yet we never dreaded that such horrid Barbarities would be our lot, as afterwards were put in execution. And so I am introduced to the main part of my work, which is to give you a brief account, a taste as it were of our present Sufferings; which were they represented fully, and in all their proper Colours, perhaps they would not obtain belief among Strangers: Nor will I make it my work at present to do it; both for that I intend brevity, and am unwilling to give to the World such a disgust at my Native Country, as the Barbarities we met with, fully laid open, must needs produce in all those, who have any sense either of Christianity or Humanity. In short then:
It pleased Almighty God (to whose Providence it becomes us humbly to submit in all conditions) to permit that we should have a Tryal of the Cross; whereof God forbid we should ever be ashamed; and, for that end, to give us up to the malice of our Enemies, that they might thrust us into the furnace. For carrying on which Glorious Work, this was their opportunity; when the certain accounts came of the Prince of Oranges's Resolutions, to come into England, all our standing Forces were called thither: So that this Kingdom was left destitute of such means as were necessary to secure the Peace, if any disturbance should happen to arise amongst us. When that Prince Landed, King James being deserted by his Army, and soon after disown'd by his Subjects; was put upon the necessity of leaving Britain: And here in Scotland his Council very soon dissolv'd, of its own accord, so that in effect the Nation was in a manner without Government, by whose fault I am not now to inquire. Upon this His Majesties sudden Abdication, and voluntary dissolution of his Council, our Brethren found it seasonable for them to turn serious with us. But it was expedient to project how their Game might be successful, before they began to play it: Therefore a Stratagem was contrived; a general Massacre of Protestants was pretended, and alledged to be intended by the Papists. But how to be effectual? Seeing their Numbers were so very few, especially on the South-side of the Forth, which was to be the chief Scene of the Tragedy? for that, this salvo was at hand: So many Thousands of Irish-men were landed in Galloway, had already burnt the Towns of Kirkhudbright all to Ashes, and put all to the edge of the Sword, Young and Old, Male and Female, only three or four Persons (like Job's Nuncio's) had escaped; and these Savages were posting hard, to be over the whole Kingdom, &c. This Story flew at the rate of a Miracle; for within twenty four hours or so, it was spread every where through the greater half of the Kingdom. No body doubts now, but People were appointed at several Posts, to transmit it every where at that same time, for it run like Lightning; and wherever it went, it was so confidently asserted to be true, that he was forthwith a Papist, and upon the Plot who disbeliev'd it. At first we all wondered what it might mean; but it was not long before we learned by the effects, what was the Politick; for immediatly in the Western Shires (where the Fiction was first propagated) tumultuary Rabbles knotted, and went about, searching for Arms, every body's house whom they suspected as disaffected to their Interests: The pretext was, that the Country might be in a posture of defence against the Irish; but the real purpose was that all might be made naked, who were inclinable to retard them, in the prosecution of their designs upon the Clergy. Especially they were sure, no Minister should have Sword or Pistol (as indeed few had any) or any other Weapon, that might be useful for his defence, if an attempt should be made on him.
When they had thus made their preparations for the work (and you would wonder to hear how speedily, and yet how dexterously it was done) they fell frankly to it.
It was on Christmas day (that day which once brought good tidings of great joy to all People;) that day which once was celebrated by the Court of Heaven it self, and whereon they sung, Glory to God in the Highest, on Earth Peace, and good will towards Men: That day which the whole Christian Church ever since has solemnized, for the greatest Mercy that ever was shewn to sinful Mortals; that day I say it was (to the Eternal Honour of all, especially Scotch, Presbyterians) on which they began the Tragedy; for so were matters concerted amongst them, that upon that same very day, different Parties started out in different places, and fell upon the Ministers: Particularly about five or six of the Clock at Night, Mr. Gabriel Russel Minister at Govean, was assaulted by a number of Fellows (most of them, as I am told, his own Parishioners, to whom he had sometimes done considerable Kindnesses) in his own house: They beat his Wife, his Daughter, and himself too, so inhumanely, that it had almost endangered his life; carried off the Poor's Box and other Utensils of the Church, and threatned peremptorily if he should ever offer after that to Preach there, he might assure himself of more severe treatment.
That same night about Eleven of the Clock, another Party came to the Dwelling-house of Mr. Finnie Minister at Cathcart; he was from home himself: The Season was not only then naturally cold, but a most vehement frost prevail'd; yet (behold their humanity!) they thrust his Wife, with four or five small Children out of doors, about Midnight; threw out all his furniture, and (till after more than half an hours intreaty) would not suffer the poor Gentlewoman with her tender Babes, to have lodging that night, so much as in the Stable, nor a Fire of her own Walls to keep the Young ones from the severities of the Weather. The weak tender Children, (and no wonder, when expos'd to such a rigour) almost all sick'ned thereafter: But whether any of them dyed, I know not.
That same Night Mr. Buyd Minister at Carmunnock, his Family was as rudely treated; and in many other places, it was solemnized after the same manner. But I am not at this time, to give you a particular inventory of all the incredible Barbarities, which were either on that, or many subsequent days committed: That would make this Letter hugely swell beyond its primary design; for what work would it require to represent particularly
How they took Mr. Robert Bell Minister at Kilmarnock, from his Chamber on a very frosty day, kept him four or five hours bare-headed, exposed to the Cold; caused his own Sexton to tear his Gown in pieces from his Shoulders; took the English Liturgy from his pocket, and burnt it with much ceremony in the Market-place; calling him Papist, and it the Mass-book in English, &c.
How they came upon Mr. Simpson Minister at Gastown, took him out bare-headed also, caused his Sexton carry his Morning Gown, to the most publick place of the Village, (for he had put his Canonical Gowns and Cassicks out of the way, and it was necessary a Gown should be torn; that was an essential formality,) where they caused him to put it on, and then rent it in pieces. How thereafter they carried him to a River, forced him to wade through it, at one of the deepest places, then turn'd his face Northward, saying to him, get you gone to your own Country, and see for your life you never look Southward or Westward again.
How they carried Mr. Miln Minister at Cawdir, his Gown, being from home himself, in procession to the Church-yard, made a long harangue, concerning their Zeal for God's Glory and the Good Old Cause, after that a long Prayer, then rent the Gown; and concluded the solemnity with a volly of shot, &c. Could there be greater dishonour done to Jesus Christ and his Holy Religion. How they smote Mr. White Minister at Balingtre, on the face with the butt of a Musket, for speaking to them with his Cap on, as they worded it, though it was in his own House, and the Fellow that said and did so, was a mean Pedler. How they thrust at his heart with a naked Sword; so that both his Cloaths and Skin were pierced, though, such was the good Providence of God, what through the throng that was in the Room, and what through the distance the Miscreant stood at, who made the thrust, the Wound was not dangerous? and how they beat his Wife most rudely, though at that time she was so big with Child, that she had past her Reckning.
How in a mighty storm of frost and snow, they took Mr. Brown Minister at Kells in Galloway, then residing at Newtoun, carried him to the Mercat place about four of the Clock in the Morning, tyed him to a Cart, set his face to the Weather, &c. in which posture he had certainly died, if a poor Woman, whose heart it seems was made of softer mettal, had not cast some Cloaths about him.
How they came on Mr. Francis Ross Minister at Renfrew, and threw out his Wife the third day after she was brought to Bed, together with her tender Infant.
How they treated Mr. Guthrie Minister at Keir, in a stormy rainy day, turning all his Family and Furniture out at doors, although three of his Children were dangerously sick, one of a Feaver, the other two of the Small Pox; and how two of them dyed upon that treatment.
How by their rudenesses to Mr. Skinner Minister at Daly, they first frighted his Daughter, a Young Gentlewoman Aged about twenty, into a Feaver; and then returning after five or six days, while she was in the rage of it, how they turn'd her out of her Bed, pretending to search for arms, though it was very well known the whole Country over, the good Mans genius lay never that way, and so disturbed her, that she dyed raving, amongst her last words repeating these over and over, O! these wicked Men will Murther my Father. How they contrived and carryed on the Tumults at Edinburgh and Glasgow. What Letters were sent to some; what Citations in Name of the Rabble to others, commanding them to remove from their Churches and Manses under the highest Penalties. What work would it require, I say, to digest all these and the like instances fully and particularly? perhaps the World may sometimes see it done: But it is enough for my purpose at present, to tell you, that these were their common Methods, and by such means, in a very short time, more than two hundred were thrust from their Churches and Dwellings. Do not think I am imposing on you; what I have affirmed can be so attested, that greater Moral Evidence can be had for nothing.
When ye have read thus far, and when your surprise and first horrors are over, and, as your temper is, you fall a pondering what I have told you; I am apt to apprehend, a great many things may offer themselves to your consideration; such is your humanity, that, I know, you will be casting about for Topicks and Apologies to alleviate this heavy charge, I am giving in against our Persecutors. What? (so may you think) certainly no applications have been made to those in power; for what Person in the World bearing the name of a Magistrate, would not have found himself obliged in credit and honour, as well as duty, to fall on speedy remedies for stopping such an impetuous Current of bare-faced Wickedness? Or, at most, they have been but pure Rabble, the scum and refuse of the People, who acted these Barbarities; and they have been so numerous, so fierce and uncontrolable at that time, that Authority has been too weak for them; for it is not possible that any of the Nobility or Gentry, and much less, that any of the Presbyterian Preachers, could allow of, or have an hand in such Villanies: Or, if these in Power were acquainted with such things, and yet gave no protection: And if the Rabble had encouragement from any Persons of better Quality; you can hardly miss to conclude, that these Clergy-men who were so treated, have been the most profligate Rogues in the World; Wretches, who deserv'd to be swept from off the face of the earth, without pity, and with all the solemnities of disgrace and contempt; for what else can be imagined to justifie such proceedings? Thus (I say) perhaps, Sir, you may reason with your self, when you are making your reflections on what I have already told you: Be pleased therefore to have a little patience, and consider what I am to tell you further.
No sooner did these outrages begin, than such applications were made, as you your self (I'm sure) will judge sufficient. Such of the Peers of the Kingdom, as were Privy Counsellors, and had not gone for London were addressed, but they could bring us no relief: Our next Work therefore was to send up private accounts to London, as we had interest or acquaintance, with those of our Nobility and Gentry who were there. But our Enemies had well foreseen all that, and had their instruments ready to run down all private Letters, as the blackest Lies and Forgeries; and we were called all the infamous things that could be: Our design was to work mischief, and breed disturbances. We were Popishly affected; and the Politick of such reports was to hinder the Settlement of the Peace, and Establishment of the Government: In a word, we were mortal Enemies to the Prince of Orange, and all his Glorious Designs for securing the Protestant Religion, &c. They received Letters to the quite contrary; sure they were, their Correspondents were Men well acquainted with whatever passed; and besides, they were Men of Conscience and undoubted Integrity: They would not conceal the truth, far less would they write Lies and Falshoods; yet their accounts bore daily, that there were no such Persecutions of Ministers, no Tumults, no Rabbles, &c. The Kingdom was in a most profound peace, and every Man had all imaginable security, especially the Clergy. With such bold affirmations as these, they perswaded his Highness, on whom was transferred the Government of this Kingdom, that all our accounts were most false and villanous, and he ought not to believe them; only by them he might judge what a pack we were, &c.
This we were advertised of by some of our Friends: Wherefore, to give his Highness convincing Evidence, if it was possible, the Brethren of the Seven Presbyteries, (that you may not be scandalized at the word, be pleased to know that according to the constitution of our Church, the Presbyters of the same Diocess, are commonly combined into several Consistories or Fraternities: These Consistories meet usually once in three or four Weeks for Discipline; lesser matters they dispatch, and the greater they prepare for their Bishop; and these Consistories or Fraternities with us, are commonly called Presbyteries) of Glasgow, Hamilton, Lanerk, Air, Irwiny, Paisley and Dumbartoun, on whom the Persecution came first, and lay most heavily, communicated Counsels, and concluded to send up one of their number, well instructed, to acquaint his Highness with their circumstances. Accordingly Dr. Scott Dean of Glasgow was sent to London: He had with him, an humble Petition for protection, to be presented to his Highness, and a Commission to himself to present it; each of them subscribed by twelve or fourteen hands: Besides these two Papers, that the evidence might be yet more unquestionable, he had likewise particular accounts of the injuries and violences done to the Brethren of these several Presbyteries, from their Respective Deputies, who met with Power to send him, subscribed with their Hands; and wherein they undertook to make good what they Represented, upon their highest Perils. What more could be required to make Faith? to make the truth of our complaints appear beyond all exception? Yet when the Doctor came to London with these instructions, the good Party continued to have the forehead to contradict all, and run him down with Noise and Clamour. However, his Highness was convinced then, of the Western Barbarities, and seem'd willing to contribute for the protection of the Clergy: So a Declaration was ordered for the preservation of the Peace of this Kingdom, dated Feb. 6. 1688/9. And, though Dr. Scott was earnest to have had some Clauses put in it, which had been very proper and useful, but could not obtain their insertion, it cannot be denyed, but it seem'd favourable to the Regular Clergy. But would ye know what success it had? You may learn that from the Tumult, which happened at Glasgow after it's publication.
Upon the protection promised, and the keeping of the Peace commanded by that Declaration, at the desire of many People of the best quality within the City, upon the 17th of Feb. The Parson of Glasgow ventured to the Pulpit; but was forced to escape for his life before Sermon was ended; for instantly, upon notice given that Sermon was in the Cathedral, (by the instigation of their Preachers as I am told) all the Meeting-houses emptied, and forthwith went to Arms, came to the Church, discharged several Guns through the Windows, then made open the Doors by force, &c. In summ, many were wounded, several Gentlewomen were stript almost naked, and most rudely treated; but you must expect the full account of this from some other hand.
So likewise Master James Litle Minister at Trailslat, upon the Authority of the same Declaration, resolved to have repossess'd himself of his Pulpit; but was exercised to purpose by a Rabble of Females, who tore not only his Coat, but his very shirt from him; and (such was their modesty) had well nigh done the like with his breeches, had he not cryed to them over and over, that it would be shame for them to look on a Naked Man, &c.
So little was his Highness's Declaration noticed; and when it was objected to these Hero's and Heroins of the Reformation; their Answer was ready: That Declaration was but a Sham-paper; they knew his Highnesses mind and resolutions better than so; they would go on in their work, and take their Hazard. Then began we to see further into the Presbyterian Intrigues than we had done before; for it required no great skill either in Logick or Politicks, to conclude, that they had got their instructions from their Agents at London, to continue in their laudable Zeal, notwithstanding that Declaration: But of this more afterwards. In the mean time, an account of that Tumult at Glasgow was forthwith sent to his Highness, by an express: But no notice was taken of it further, than to refer it to the Meeting of Estates, which was to set on the 14th of March: But before I come to that
Give me leave once more to return to that Declaration, and take notice of one thing: Because the Interests of the Clergy were concerned: It is, it's commanding all then in Arms (except the Garisons of the Fortresses, and the Company of Foot entertain'd by the Town of Edinburgh) within the Kingdom, instantly to disband; and it's discharging all Persons in time coming to take Arms, or to continue in Arms upon any pretence whatsoever, &c. There was an Intrigue in this which perhaps ye have not remarked. When the work had gone on so successfully in the West, especially in Glasgow, by the first Tumult, which was there on the 17th of Ianuary, the Presbyterian Party in Edinburgh, (animated thereto by their Brethrens success and solicitations; for constant correspondence was kept amongst them) were upon the resolution of falling upon the Clergy of that City likewise: And that it might be done to purpose, the Western Zealots were coming to the Town in Troops daily. This the Magistrates had notice of; wherefore considering what Tumults had been raised in the City before, how unfixed the Mobile was, and how much led by Wild-fire and Humour; and so, being diffident of the fidelity and forwardness of their ordinary Guards: They invited the College of Justice to take Arms, and assist them in defending the Ministers and securing the Peace of the City. That College (consisting intirely of Gentlemen, and Persons of liberal and generous Education) readily complyed with the invitation, form'd themselves into a Regiment, and kept Guard for several days according to the Military Discipline. One would think there was nothing here amiss. On the contrary, it was certainly a most generous Action, an undertaking becoming good Patriots, (thus to appear against Tumults and Rabbles, the greatest Plagues of Society, and Enemies to the peace of Mankind) and deserves to be transmitted to Posterity with the highest Encomium's: Yet as generous as it was, and as much of equity as it had on it's side, it gall'd the Presbyterians exceedingly; for thereby their Designs were disappointed; they durst not fall upon the Regular Clergy: Knowing what good affection these Gentlemen had for them, and that if any Tumult should arise, they would undoubtedly behave themselves according to their Character. Wherefore, they presently sent up hideous accounts to London to their Correspondents, of that matter, who (having then most of the Princes ear) easily gave him a wrong notion of it, and thereby got that Clause put into the Declaration. Nay Sir, such a deep grudge did that behaviour of these Gentlemen, beget in the hearts of the Party, that (notwithstanding they disbanded immediatly upon the publication of that Declaration) there were designs on Foot since, to have called them to a strict account for it: But why do I say it was design'd? The Council, I think in June or July last, actually appointed a Committee to try them; and several Advocates were cited to appear before them, and examined concerning the matter: But it seems (whether it was for shame, or some other cause, I know not) they thought fit to let it fall; for they have not yet proceeded further: Yet on the other hand, the Western Rabbles were never called in Question; on the contrary, they were still encouraged; as you shall hear incontinent. And so I return to
The Meeting of Estates; you know they met on the 14th of March, and (as I said) to them the troubles of the Clergy were referred: Perhaps for your making a distinct judgment of our Affairs, it might be requisite, that you should have a full and just account, how that Meeting was called; how many of the Nobility were absent from it; what scruples the best and most judicious of the Gentry of the Nation had about it; how thin the Meetings of the smaller Barons were in many Shires, when the Commissioners were chosen; how industrious the Presbyterian Party was to have all Members Elected of their own Gang; what methods were taken with the simpler Members, to impose upon them; what partiality was used in the matter of controverted Elections; what violences were threat'ned to some; particularly several Noblemen, &c. and what snares were laid for them: These I say, and twenty other things might perhaps be necessary to be punctually and particularly related to you, before ye can have an exact understanding how things went amongst us. But I have resolved all alongst to keep close to the treatment of the Clergy: And never to meddle with the State, but so far as they are concerned; and therefore if ye are curious to know these things, ye must either make your application to some other Person, or at least wait till another Occasion.
The first thing done by the Meeting, which could comprehend the Clergy was an Act that passed on the 16th day of March; whereby they voted themselves a full and lawful Meeting of the Estates; and that notwithstanding of any thing that might be contain'd in King James's Letter, which that day was presented to them, they would continue undissolved, until they should settle and secure, the Protestant Religion, the Government, Laws and Liberties of this Kingdom. This Act, when it passed gave those of the ejected Ministers, who were then at Edinburgh, occasion to refresh themselves with the hopes, that presently their Case would be considered; for they were as good Protestants as their Neighbours; and they had Rights and Liberties, asserted by Law, and which (by consequence) ought to have been settled and secured, as much as the Rights and Liberties of any other Subjects. But alas! these hopes lasted not long: For not only was their Case never so much as mention'd in the Meeting for a good time; but, with no good aspect to them, upon the 28th of March, when several of the Bishops, many of the Nobility, and not a few of the Barons and Burgesses had deserted the House; the thanks of the Meeting were given to that very same Rabble, which had turned out the Ministers: 'Tis true indeed, the Complement was not made them, under that Reduplication; but I say, they were generally the same Persons; and that appearance they made, and for which they were thanked, was as illegal, though not so barbarous as the other. But though that was disheartening enough, it was not the worst on't: That wounded the poor sufferers, but indirectly; but the next step was downright for their Ruin.
It was that Famous Proclamation dated April 13th. and entituled a Proclamation against the owning the Late King James, and Commanding Publick Prayers to be made for King William and Queen Mary. Famous, (amongst many other Reasons,) for Keeping and Turning out of their Churches and Livings, the Better as well as Greater half of the Clergy within the Kingdom. And therefore let me give you the History of it a little more fully.
On the 4th of April, the Meeting of Estates, by their Vote, declared that King James had forfeited the Right to the Crown, and the Throne Vacant. On the 11th a Proclamation was Published, declaring William and Mary, King and Queen of England, to be King and Queen of Scotland: But all this time, notwithstanding the Meeting had Sitten very near to a Month, the Rabble were as busie as ever; and that same Week, had fallen on Mr. Stewart Minister at Ratho. He represented it, and gave in his Petition for Protection, on the 13th day, being Saturday. This gave them occasion to talk of the Clergy indefinitely, and of the troubles many of them had met with. But what should be done in Relation to them? It was moved, and the motion was entertain'd, that a Proclamation should be ordered, requiring them to disown King James, &c. and promising Protection to all that should give dutiful Obedience. But then another Proposal was made, by his Grace the Duke of Hamiltoun, President of the Meeting, viz. That those who had been thrust from their Stations, might be likewise comprehended, commanded home to their Respective Churches, and promised Protection upon their compliance. This was vigorously opposed by several of the Members; particularly Sir James Montgomery of Skelmorly, said, that was downright to take the whole West on their Top; it would disoblige all the Presbyterians; and might have very fatal consequences: Therefore the Meeting must not look so far back; it would be enough if Protection were promised to those who were in the actual possession and exercise of their Ministry, which reasoning prevailed; so it came to a Vote, and carried, that the Proclamation should run so, as it was afterwards published.
However plain the Case may appear to be between K. James and our present King William and Queen Mary, which was the main Subject of the said Proclamation; yet at this time I shall only tell you what effects it produced upon the Clergy. It distributed them (as is evident to any who reads it) into two Classes: Those who on that 13th of April were (as it words it) presently in the possession and exercise of their Ministry; and these who before that day, had been expell'd by the Rabble: To the former it grants a Conditional, to the latter no Protection at all, but entirely excludes them from their Churches and Livings, and the benefit of the Government.
I'll dispatch what I have to say concerning these of the latter Class first, because their Case is so very singular, and will make the distinctest Figure, when all is subjected to one view, contracted into one body. I have already given you a taste of the Violences done them. I have likewise taken notice, that you may be apt to impute all that was done, merely to the Mobile, and believe, none of the Heads of the Presbyterian Party were any ways accessory to such Barbarities. I have also insinuated such Arguments already, as may convince you that you are in a mistake, if ye think so: Particularly, the pains were taken to run down all Accounts that were sent to London; (to what purpose, if these Agents were not on the Plot?) The no notice taken of the Prince's Declaration for keeping the Peace; but the Rabble's turning more insolent after its publication; (unaccountably sure; if they had not their secret Instructions from their Correspondents at Court, to go on vigorously, notwithstanding that Declaration) and the business of the Colledg of Justice. These seem to me to be unquestionable Proofs, that they were the Heads, the Politicians of the Party, who plotted and encouraged all the Tumults, and the Persecutions of the Clergy: They were the Projectors, and at the bottom of all, and the Mobile was nothing but the base Instrument.
If it were needful, I could give you plenty of further Arguments, to make it yet more clear and evident: For (to omit what I have often heard from Persons of no contemptible Worth nor Intelligence, viz. That there were Letters sent from London, which gave life to the Irish Plot mentioned before, and first set the Rabble in motion: And that the Lord Stair, now President of the Session, was one Author (as perhaps can be made appear), I could tell you, that I have been assured by People of undoubted Credit, that they have heard some who were then very active in rabbling the Clergy, confess since, that the Course was unchristian and horrid; that they had never attempted it, if they had not been put upon it by Persons of influence; that they were made to believe, there was no other way to introduce the Presbyterian Government; that they now heartily repented, they had been so forward; and if it were to do again, it should never be done. I could tell you further, that even after the 13th of April, the Earl of Crawford wrote Letters to the Leaders of Rabbles, encouraging them to persist in their laudable Atchievments; and this so very certain, that the Duke of Hamilton produced one of them in June or July last, before the Council, and put the Earl to it, and he could not deny it; and that it made a great noise, not only at that Table, but through the whole City. And Monroe of Towlis, one of the Members of Parliament, seeing one day a Minister in his Gown in the Parliament-Court, pointed at him, crying, Behold Antichrist! Will no body tear the Gown from him? The Minister (a pretty bold Fellow) replyed, But, Sir, you are the Beast! Which made the Spectators laugh; and so he escaped: For you your self would have sworn he spoke truth, had you ever seen the Man. Further yet; to this very day, not one Presbyterian Preacher, has ever been heard condemn these Methods from his Pulpit. On the contrary, I could name more than two or three, who actually approved them; commended the Zeal that put People upon them; encouraged them to proceed; and in the new Church of Edinburgh (De Iure, the Bishops Cathedral, De Facto, now a Presbyterian Meeting House) it self, where now the great concourse is of all the Nobility and Gentry, who follow the new Guises, it was told them in a Sermon, That such shakings as these (it is the very words) were the shakings of God, and without such shakings, his Church was not in use to be setled. Once more yet; Notwithstanding Rabbling has been all along in fashion, and continues to this moment; and many Complaints have been made; yet never hitherto, so much as one Proclamation taking notice of it in form, that is, bearing a Narrative to this purpose, Whereas such Violences have been done, &c. never yet, I say, so much as one Proclamation of that nature, never so much as one Person punished for such Violences. On the contrary, the two or three West-Country Regiments, who pass under the name of Cameronians, seem to have been sent of purpose to quarter in the Shires of Perth and Angus (Where the People have still been peaceable and affectionate to their Ministers) that they might persecute the Clergy; for, wherever they go they do it, and they are never discharged, nor taken any notice of. You would wonder to hear what a wild Pack these are; I dare not (dreading Prolixity) enter upon a full particular description of them: But I cannot forbear to tell you one Fancy which made me laugh, lately when I was told it: It was, That they will not obey their very Officers, but when they please, especially in point of Exercise, when they are bid do this or that, two days together, they will not do it for any Authority or Perswasion; and when they are challenged for it, they tell, They are not for set Forms. This by the way. By these things, methinks, you may see pretty clearly now (tho nothing more could be adduced) who acted the Rabbles: But, in truth, I needed not have been at the pains of collecting these Arguments; for,
By that Proclamation of the 13th of April (to which I now return) all the antecedent Deeds of the Rabble are clearly justified, and fair permission, or rather fresh encouragement is given them to persevere in their course. The Clause is as plain as it is wonderful; these are the very words, And the Estates do prohibit and discharge any Injury to be offered by any Person whatsoever, to any Ministers of the Gospel, either in Churches or Meeting-Houses (tho these Meeting-Houses and the Conventicles kept in them, were most directly contrary to Law; and the States by their forementioned Act, dated March 16. had declared they would sit till they should secure the Laws and Liberties of this Kingdom) who are presently (N.B.) in the possession and exercise of their Ministry therein: Whereby, all forced from their Churches before that day, were entirely excluded the Protection of the Government.
If you doubt that that was the sense and purpose of the Clause, I have to produce another Proclamation, which will make an excellent Commentary; it is that which is dated August 6. 1689. and entituled, A Proclamation anent the Ministers; whereof the Narrative runs thus, Whereas the Estates of the Kingdom did prohibit and discharge any Injury to be offered by any Person whatsoever to any Minister of the Gospel, either in Churches or Meeting-Houses, who were then, viz. on the 13th of April last in possession and exercise of their Ministry. And thus in the mandatory part. Therefore the Lords of their Majesties Privy Council, in their Majesties Name and Authority do strictly command and charge, that none of the Leidges take on hand to do any Violence or Injury to any of the Ministers of the Gospel, whether they be preaching in Churches or Meeting-Houses, and that all such as were in possession and exercise of their Ministry, since the 13th of April last, be allowed to continue undisturbed, and that such Ministers as have been removed, dispossessed, or restrained, without a legal Sentence in the exercise of their Ministry, since the 13th. day of April last, shall be allowed to return, &c. Are you satisfied now? But I have yet more to give you.
It is a Passage in that Address, said to be signed by the greatest part of the Members of the Parliament of Scotland, and deliver'd to his Majesty at Hampton-Court, the 15th. day of October 1689. The words are, It is not unknown to your Majesty what have been the sad Confusions and Disorders of this distressed Country under Prelacy, and for want of its ancient Presbyterian Government (What scope for commenting here! if it were my present business?) And now the whole West, and many other Parts of Scotland, are at present desolate and destitute, having only Ministers (it seems you own these Ministers to be no Ministers; otherwise, having them, how can the West, and these other Parts, be said to be desolate and destitute?) called upon the late (K. James's) Liberty, without any Benefice or Living, or convenient place to preach in. There are a thousand things here quereable, if a body had inclination to be nice; for example, who knows not that these Ministers were so wise as to make secure Bargains with the People who called them, before they would set up their Meeting-Houses amongst them? Who knows not that these Eight or Nine Months by past, they have possess'd themselves of all the Churches of the West, and lately of many elsewhere too? How then can they be said to want convenient places to preach in? And for what reason can the late Liberty be mentioned? Was it a sufficient or a legal Warrant for the People to call these Ministers, and these Ministers to embrace such Calls? Or was it not? If it was, there was Law for the Dispensing Power, by consequence King James is injuriously treated; If it was not, how comes that People and these Ministers now to be so kindly dealt by? Did they not comply with the Dispensing Power? Did they not what they could, by their complyance, to assert it, and give it countenance? For my part, I think, Reason would say, they deserved as well as any, to be comprehended in the Third Vote, which that Address mentions: But you may interpret this a Digression; be it so: This I'm sure is home; you see the Addressers tell their King, that now The whole West is desolate and destitute. What if he had answered, How comes it to be so? Were there not Ministers establish'd there by Law? What is become of them? What (can you imagine) could they return to that, besides one of these two, viz. Either again to address his Majesty for restoring and repossessing those who had been thrust out? (an Overture, which I readily believe, got never footing amongst their inclinations) Or to own that they justified what was done to these Ministers? And indeed the Air of their Language, in that passage, imports not only that, but likewise, that they take it for granted, that their King will readily justifie all too; tho I am confident he neither can nor will.
Would you have more yet? As on Christmas day, Anno 1688. the Rabble first fell upon the Clergy of the West, as I have said; so on Christmas-Eve, Anno 1689. the Council did interpose their Authority, and have discharged all the inferior Judges within the Kingdom to pass Decreets in favors of any Ministers who were not in possession and exercise of their Ministry on the 13th day of April, Anno 1689. for the said Years Revenue; adducing for their reason, that often mentioned Act and Proclamation, inferring thence, that no Judicature can determin in the Case, except a Parliament.
Thus, Sir, you may briefly understand the state of those Ministers who were thrust from their Churches by lawless Force and Violence: Poor People! It would extort Compassion from any Breast not altogether Stone, to see what sad Circumstances many of them have been in this good time by gone; having had little or nothing to maintain themselves with, and (in many instances) their numerous Families, but the Charity and Benevolence of some good Christians: For generally our Scottish Benefices are but small; and the most part of the Western Clergy had got little (till very lately) of their Stipends for the Year 1687. and nothing of the 1688. And by what I have said last, you may guess what they may expect of the Year 1689. Can any History shew a President for their Case? Were ever Christian Ministers so treated in a Christian Kingdom? Will this pass with after-Ages for good Service done to the Protestant Interest?-- But 'tis now time
To pass over to the other Class, consisting of those who escaped the Hands of the Rabble, till that mysterious 13th. day of April was over: They had indeed a certain sort of Protection promised them by the Proclamation: But perhaps such an one, as you shall hardly find its like under any Government; tho I have set down the Clause in part already; yet I will repeat it over again fully, that you may the better understand it: And the Estates do prohibit and discharge any Injury to be offered by any Person whatsomever, to any Minister of the Gospel, either in Churches or Meeting Houses, who are presently in possession and exercise of their Ministry therein; they behaving (N. B.) themselves as becomes, under the present Government: That is, if they shall read the Proclamation, and pray for K. William and Q. Mary, as King and Queen of Scotland; let no Violence be done them: But if they shall not (be it upon whatsoever Reasons and Necessities) To your Task Rabble; you shall not be question'd for it: Is it not an excellent Government (think ye) where Rabbles are constituted Judges, and Executors of Laws? Was not that brave protection, at a Juncture, when the great Statesmen and Casuists of both Nations, were making Protection and Allegiance reciprocal? Yet verily Sir, considering the posture of Affairs then, no Man (without doing Violence to his own Sense) could put a better gloss upon it. Nay, what I have said, is the least that can be collected; for in many Mens opinion, these words [They behaving themselves as becomes, under the present Government] were designed to comprehend more than Reading and Praying, and were put in of purpose to expose those to the mercy of the Rabble, who (tho they should obey that Proclamation) should at any time thereafter, refuse Obedience to any thing. That a Presbyterian Meeting, Council or Parliament, should enact or determin; certainly the words will go so far easily, and without stretching: 'Tis as certain the Rabble herefrom took new encouragement, and kept up the Persecution as hot as ever; and for my part I can see no other thing like Law for turning out some Ministers afterwards, who had both Read and Prayed, for not observing the late Fast: But of that more anon. Such was the nature of the Protection granted by that Proclamation: I proceed next to as wonderful effects.
It required the Ministers within the City of Edinburgh, under the pain of being deprived, and losing their Benefices, to read it publickly from their Pulpits, upon Sunday next, being the 14th. at the end of their Forenoons Sermon; and the Ministers on this side of the River of Tay, upon the 21st. and those be North the said River, on the 28th under the Pains aforesaid.
You see what expedition it required of the Ministers of Edinburgh: It was voted and enacted in the meeting on Saturday about Twelve of the Clock, it was late before it came from the Press, it came not to their hands till it was much later: Some of them were in Bed before they heard of it: some received it not till the next morning: some (as I am told) never saw it till they were in the Pulpit. To be sure, none of them had time to consider it throughly, examine the great Matters contained in it, or deliberately satisfie their Consciences about it. The seven English Bishops, the year before, by their example, had taught the World that Ministers were not to Read Proclamations fide implicita, and in a blind Obedience. The present English Parliament, had given several months to the Clergy of that Kingdom to deliberate in, before Sentence was to be past against them, for not complying with the present Revolution. If I am not mistaken, no Church man in England is Deprived to this day; but you know that better than I. Sure I am, this our Proclamation contain'd things of as great Consequence as that which these seven Bishops found so choaking, that they rather choosed to run the greatest hazards, than enjoyn their Clergy the Reading of it: or as that Law either, upon the account of which so many of the English Clergy are now under Suspension: yet the Clergy of Edinburgh must Read and Pray the very next day, and upon so short Advertisement, or be instantly Deprived: nor can the inclinations of the people be pretended for so quick dispatch; for I am told, (and I know it to be certain) that when the Gentleman who Preached that day in the new Church, had refused to Read it, and the Clerk (after the Blessing pronounced) fell a Reading of it; the whole Congregation (which that day was very frequent) run so hastily out of the Church (such was their indignation) that before he had half done, there was not so much as one to hear him. So went matters in that Church.
In other Churches of the City, some gave Obedience, and some did not. These who did it not met with pretty quick Justice, for the very next Week they were Cited to appear before the Committee of Estates.
The first who appeared, was one Doctor Strackan, Professor of Theology in the University, and one of the Ministers in the Trone Church, an ingenuous Man, and a truely Primitive Christian: he made a Defence for himself, which many thought so reasonable then, that I cannot yet forbear to give you an account of it. It was this for substance, That the Estates had found (in their claim of Right) that none can be King or Queen of Scotland till they have sworn the Coronation Oath: for this Reason they had Declared that James, by assuming the Regal Power, and acting as King without ever taking the Oath required by Law,--had forfeited the Right to the Crown: That all the Estates had yet done, was only to nominate PP: William and Mary, as the Persons to whom the Crown should be offered; but they had not yet actually made the Offer; far less had PP. William and Mary accepted of it: it was possible they might refuse it, but though they should not, yet they could not be King and Queen of Scotland till they had solemnly sworn the Oath, which was not yet done; therefore he did not see how he could Pray for them as King and Queen of Scotland; nor how the Estates, in reason, or in consequence to their own Principles, could require it of him. I am told the whole Committee was silent; perhaps it has been for want of a ready Gift: yet, for all that, (and though he had in Family twelve or thirteen Children) there was no Mercy for him. His Defence (though it could not be answered) was not sustained; no further time to deliberate, was granted; but upon his confessing he had not Obeyed, he was forthwith Deprived, and made the first Sacrifice. Nay, some other Ministers there were, who after they had used the same Defence, told moreover, they were willing to Pray for them as King and Queen, so soon as they had taken the Oath; but this availed not neither: they had not obeyed as the States had enjoyned; and so they were Sentenced. Thus proceeded that Committee, and in two or three Weeks Deprived betwixt twenty and thirty: and all too before PP. William and Mary had sworn the Oath; or (which is all one) before accounts came from London that they had done it: for upon their assuming the Royal Power (you know) the Execution of the Law belonged to them and their Council, and so there was no more place for that Committee.
PP. William and Mary took the Coronation Oath, at White-Hall, the eleventh of May 1689. Then they named their Counsellors for this their Ancient Kingdom. They were, for the greater part, persons who had never sate at that Table before: they came in upon a new Found; they had New, and untryed Rules to walk by, new Designs to carry on: in a word, they had as it were, a split new Systeme of Government, to temper and establish. Besides, there were great varieties of Humors at that time in the Nation. Armies were in the Fields, and a Parliament was to Sit: so the Council had a vast Ocean of Business before them: and so for some Weeks, they had not leisure to fall upon the Clergy; that is, till about the middle of July. Till which time leave we them, and return to the Rabble, to see what they were doing in the Country.
And indeed they were making clean work wherever they came; I dare scarcely say, it was all one to them, whether the Ministers they fell on, had complyed or not complyed: for now the Complyers were meeting with the sharpest measures. After the Proclamation came out, for a while they remitted something of their eagerness: they hoped the Proclamation (considering how deeply all who had taken the Test, were sworn, never to disown King James as their Sovereign) would ease them of their Labour; but when they found that severals were winning over their Oaths, and giving Obedience to the Estates Orders; it gave them new provocation. If such should be suffered to possess their Churches peaceably, and securely, the Presbyterian Interest should still be at a loss: a great many, of Episcopal Principles, would still be in Office, which afterwards might breed disturbances: Besides, if we may believe the Rabblers themselves, it irritated them to see any man give Complyance, upon this Head, that they look'd upon them, as perjur'd, and men of no Conscience. Whatever the cause was, a good many found the effects: such as Mr. Mac math, Minister at Laswade, (on whom three or four fellows, came one night, as he was going betwixt Edinburgh, and his own House, stab'd him with Awls and Bodkings, so that he had ten or twelve Wounds in his Belly; filled his Mouth, till they had almost choaked him, with the dung of Horses, and then left him in that sad condition) Master Burgess, Minister at Temple, (though he was so earnest to Read and Pray, that when he saw the Proclamation was not like to be sent to him by Authority, against the day appointed, he was careful to provide a Copy for himself, and Read it very faithfully,) Mr. Mac Kenzie, Minister at Kirklistoun, (who had for some years been Chaplain to Major General Maccay's Regiment in Holland, and was actually with him under the same Character at the Battle of Gillychranky,) Mr. Hamiltoun, Minister at Kirknewtown, Mr. Nimmo, Minister at Colingtown, Mr. Donaldsone, at Dumbartown, &c. Nay, I could instance in a whole Presbytery in Galloway; for upon the News that such a Proclamation was ordered; these Brethren met, and consulted what was to be done; and in brief the Resolution was, that all should give Obedience, and all truly did it; (as, who could blame them, seeing besides the Authority of the Estates, they had the Votes of their own Consciences for it?) But within a few days not one of them escaped Rabbling: they were as indiscriminately turned out, as they had unanimously transferred their Allegiance from King James, to King William and Queen Mary. Twenty more such instances might be adduced, if it were needful: but there are three so very remarkable, that I cannot pass them by.
One is, Mr. Mac Gill, Minister at Killsyth, within the Presbytery of Glasgow: all his Neighbour Presbyters had been turned out before; he alone, of that Fraternity, was spared till the 13 of April was past. The good Man loved his Religion; and upon the precise day, gave Obedience. But the very next Sunday a Rabble Convened to interrupt him. It is true, they were that day repulsed with loss; for many of the people of the Parish appeared for him; and one of the Rabble was killed in the Scuffle. The poor Minister (no blood-thirsty Man) had fled for his life to the Earl of Kilmarnock's House, who lived at no great distance; and knew not how the Fray was ended: but one Master Maxwell, the Lord Kilsyth's Factor in these Parts, seeing the Man was dead, took Journey straight for Edinburgh; that he might be the first, for acquainting the Lords of the Committee with what had happened. He told them, the Minister had given Obedience to the Proclamation; so that he had a right to the Protection promised in it; that therefore when the Rabble came upon him, a good many people found themselves obliged to defend him, not only out of respect they had for him as their Pastor; but also for their own security, for if they had not done so, they might have been lyable to the Law, which obliges the several Parishes within the Kingdom to protect their Ministers; otherwise to be answerable for his Losses. He told them likewise, that one had lost his life in the Quarrel.
The Lord Ross was then Preses of the Committee: when the Gentleman had thus far told the Story, his Lordship told him gravely, he wished the Rabble had not been opposed; such people cared not what they did; it had been better to have yielded to their humour; he was truely sorry that blood was shed; but in such a Case, it would be hard to get the Actor punished. But my Lord (said the Gentleman) he was none of ours, he was of the Rabble who was killed: what do you say (replyed his Lordship) one of the Rabble! That may draw deeper than you are aware of. This to let you see the humour which then prevailed amongst our Leading Men in the Government; and it brings me in mind of a Scotch Proverb I have heard, viz. That Halkertons Cow is a very old Beast. But how ended the Matter? The next day, after they had buryed the Man who was killed, the whole Company fell upon Mr. Mac Gill's House, Rifled it, broke and tore all his Furniture to pieces, destroyed all his Books and Papers, carried off about 15 or 20 l. Sterling of mony, plunged his Hats and Periwigs in the Churn amongst some Milk, and pounded them with the Churn-Staff, emptied all his Meal out of its Repositories, and then the Chamber-Box amongst it; in a word, you have hardly read or heard of such Barbarous tricks as they played:
The poor Gentleman sustained of Loss to the value of 150 l. (a good Stock for a Scotch Minister) and to this day has got neither Reparation nor Protection.
The other two instances shall be Mr. Craig, and Mr. Buchannan, both Ministers within the Presbytery of Dumbartoun: I do not adduce them for any thing that was odd, and singular, in the treatment they had from the Rabble; for so far, they received only the common Measure: But to let you see how little it avails Men not only to have Complyed but to have done good Services, if they have once owned Episcopacy. These two Gentlemen are Barons in Stirlingshire, that is, they hold such Lands of the King in Capite, as gives them the priviledge of Voting at the Choosing Commissioners for Parliament, or being such themselves; if they should be Chosen. Now, when the Members were a choosing for the late Meeting of Estates: the Gentlemen of that Shire of Stirling were almost equally divided about the persons to be Elected for their Representatives. Four were Listed, two downright Malignants, Cavaliers, who would have been clear for King James his Interest; and two who were as clear for that, of the Prince of Orange: When it came to be determined, the Votes ran equal, till it came to the two Laird-Ministers who were last, so they had the casting of the Ballance, and both did it in favours of the new States-men: what could they have done more for the Prince of Orange? Their Votes made (and by consequence were equivalent to, two Votes of) two Members of the Meeting for him; besides (not being turn'd out before the 13 of April,) they did all Duty, Read and Prayed, &c. Yet now that they are Rabbled, no more Protection for them, than for the Rottenest Iacobite in the Kingdom. These are the advantages of Complyance amongst us; not one of all those whom I have named (and as I said, it were easie to name as many more) has Protection to this day, none of them dares venture to their Churches, few or none to their Houses.
By this you may see what were the circumstances of the Clergy, during the interval between the Conventions being Changed into a Parliament, and the middle of July, to which I now return.
What was the Cause which made the Council intermit so long the Deprivation of the Non-Complying Ministers, I am neither able nor careful to know: but it seems such delays were extremely unpleasant to the Presbyterian Preachers: wherefore they thought it convenient to give them the Spur to purpose. The Parliament was then Sitting; so they gave in a long Address to it: wherein, having thanked God for the great Deliverance wrought by his Instrument, the Pious and Magnanimous William, then Prince of Orange, now, by the good hand of God, their Gracious Sovereign; Complemented the Commissioner, and the rest of the Lords of Parliament; and miscalled Episcopacy, and Bishops, and all that own them, as very ill things; they come to their demands, where appears in the Van, the freeing this poor Oppressed Church from such Oppressors and Oppressions.
There are many other things in it worthy of your notice, particularly their Petitioning that the Church Government may be Established in the hands of such only who by their former Carriage, and Sufferings, have evidenced that they are known Sound Presbyterians -- (This is nothing like Prelacy) and, their requesting that the Church thus Established may be allowed by their Lordships Civil Sanction, to appoint Visitations for purging out Insufficient, Negligent, Scandalous, and Erroneous Ministers, (and what Apostle, if ye give him a Presbyterian Jury, shall not come within the comprehension of one of these four?) This Address, I say, was given in to the Parliament: and what wonder though the Council was awakened by it?
And, indeed, immediately, they fell to work, the Inquisition revived, and Summons were issued out, at the Kings Advocates instance, against a good many; but before I come to their success, there is one thing I must not forget to tell you.
Every Man knows, and the commonest Equity requires, that publick Edicts or Proclamations, (especially when they are peremptory in their Diets, and positive in their Sanctions) ought to be very carefully and Authentically transmitted to those they do oblige. Yet never less care taken since the World began, of the just and regular Conveyance of any thing, than there was of that Proclamation to the Ministers: there were hundreds of Ministers to whose hands it came not till the days prefixed were expired: particularly in the Shire of Fife, there are betwixt seventy and eighty Parishes; yet I am credibly told, only six Copies came to the Sheriff Clerks hand, who was ordered to distribute them: and there was no such Clause in the Proclamation, as allowed, far less required them to obey it any Sunday thereafter: for what I remark this, you will know instantly.
Summonds were issued out, as I have said, and the Council (that they might shew a suitable zeal, and be every whit as forward as the party would have them, or as 'tis possible for the Ecclesiastical Visitations themselves to be, sit when they will) proceeded as summarily as could be desired. The person cited heard a long Libel read, concerning the Irreligion, the Ingratitude, the Contempt, &c. of his Disobedience. After that, the President of the Council asked him, if he had read the Proclamation upon the day prefixed, and if he had ever since prayed publickly for King William, and Queen Mary: (it was added sometimes by Name and Surname, when the Earl of Crawford was President) as King and Queen of Scotland? if he answered [No] to both; no Mercy for him. But I must be a little more particular on this Head.
Be pleased to know then that there was one Clause which in thirty or forty Libels, was never omitted. This, word for word: Whereas the Ministers, by a Proclamation dated the thirteenth of April, were commanded and required to read the same upon the respective days therein contained, and pray -- Yet when the said Proclamation of the Estates was sent to him (the person accused) at least came to his hands, or of which he had knowledge (mark the Gradation, and the Equity of the several steps, especially the last) he was so far from testifying his Gratitude, and giving due Obedience thereunto, that, &c. And who could stand before such an Indictment? And indeed few were able. For
If the Minister pleaded, That the Proclamation had never come to his hands, and was ready to swear it (as many might have done with a good Conscience) it profited him nothing; he was guilty, by the third step of the Gradation, just now taken notice of. And it was all one, whether he had prayed for King William and Queen Mary, or not, if he had not read: e. g. Mr. Guild, Minister at North Berwick, told the Council, he had prayed for them from the very first day he had heard they were proclaimed King and Queen, and none in the Kingdom was more joyful than he, that a Protestant King and Queen were set on the Throne, (I have half a dozen more of instances of the same nature) yet he was deprived.
If he had both read and prayed, yet if it was not done on the precise days, there was no escaping. So it fared with Mr. Hay, Minister at Kinsongahair, Hunter at Stirling, Young at Mony-vaird, and many others, especially Mr. Aird, Minister at Tory-burn, (an old, grave, serious man) who, tho he brought a Certificate from the Sheriff of the Shire where he lived, bearing, that he had read the Proclamation on the Sunday immediately after he received it, was yet deprived without remedy.
One thing was remarked all alongst, viz. That the Question was never put whether they would give Obedience thereafter. No, there was no place for Repentance. And I remember to have heard, that some of the Magistrates of the Town of Perth, alias S. Johns-Town) after both their Ministers were deprived, came to the Earl of Crawford, and insinuated to him, that they were hopeful. One Mr. Anderson (a good natured man, and a very good Pastor, and who had been one of the Ministers of the said Town) perhaps might be induced to comply yet; and that he would be extremely acceptable to the People, if he were reponed, &c. But presently his Lordship turned huffy; and told them, that was not so much as once to be mentioned. So they were forced to let fall their design. Indeed his Lordship is a most zealous Reformer, and as fit for being President at a Board, for turning out Episcopal Clergy-Men, as could have been fallen upon. I remember a certain Minister who had been a good time of his Lordships Acquaintance, went to him, thinking to have prevailed with him, to have got the Diet deserted; and they had a very pleasant Conversation. His Lordship asked whether he used publickly to pray for King William, and Queen Mary. He answered, he prayed as the Apostle directed; and cited 1 Tim. 2.1, 2. Well (says my Lord) that's enough for us to deprive you. After some more Discourse, the Minister said, he was sorry for the Desolations of the Church. And his Lordship answered very quaintly: But so am not I. The Work had never gone on so successfully, if he had not been on the top of it. For many times they had enough to do to get a Quorum of the Council (which can consist of no less than nine) on these days that were set apart for the Clergy: (in effect, it was no wonder tho ordinary Stomachs had some kind of loathing to it) and then his Lordship was in a strange pickle, and you would have seen strange running of Macers through the City, calling them from their Lodgings. But let me return to my Thread again.
Within a few days, the Council found it would make tedious work to have them all cited at the Advocates Instance, therefore they took a shorter method; it was the inviting and allowing the Parishioners and Hearers of such Ministers as had not obeyed, to cite them before the Council. This is the great purpose of that Proclamation dated August 16. mentioned before. The Clause is this: As also that such Ministers who have not read the Proclamation, and prayed -- may be deprived of their Benefices. -- The Lords of his Majesties Privy Council do invite and allow the Parishioners and Hearers of such Ministers -- to cite them before the Privy Council, &c.
This Proclamation served two purposes; first it made quicker dispatch, and then, by it, opportunity was given to every malicious person to frame what Libels they pleased against their Ministers.
Both ends were served pretty successfully; Deprivations were more expedite, and more numerous than they had been before; and many Crimes and Scandals were libelled against several Ministers. 'Tis true, the Council never examined Witnesses, nor sustain'd themselves Judges concerning any thing but what was contained in the Grand Proclamation, viz. Reading and Praying. And they frequently declared, (when the persons calumniate, craved, that these Scandals and Immoralities might either be tryed, or put out of the Libel) that they were not to insist against them on these Heads: yet the Libels with these things in them stand still on Record; and I hear full Accounts of them are sent to London, and daily Printed there, and making good company in the Coffee-Houses. No body ever doubted but there was something insidious and base in the Design. Who knows but the Ecclesiastical Visitations, when they sit, will sustain all these Libels as sufficiently proven already, seeing they were before the Privy Council, and Sentence followed upon them? And God knows what other Fruits the keeping of them may produce! But certainly it had looked much liker to fair dealing, it had been more generous, and worthy of Gentlemen, if the Council, (seeing they were not to dip in these matters) had discharged them to be libelled, and suffered no more to be brought before them, than what they were to try and judge of.
One would think, now the Course was quick enough against the Clergy; yet within some other few days, it was found not to be expedite enough neither. In many Parishes there were none who would pursue their Ministers; and besides, it was somewhat expensive for the Lieges to raise Summons before the Council: wherefore
A further step was made, a third Proclamation was ordered, intituled, For citing Ministers, who have not prayed for their Majesties, and Dated August 22: whereby (that with the greater expedition, and the least expence to the Lieges, the former Proclamations might attain their intended Design and Effect) Invitation and Allowance were again given, not only to the Parishioners and Hearers of the disobedient Ministers, but also to the Heretors of these Parishes (tho living at never so great distance) and the Sheriffs and their Deputes, and Magistrates of Burghs, and the Members of the Current Parliament within their respective Bounds, to cause cite such Ministers before the Council, and Warrand was granted to Messengers at Arms, for citing them, and such Witnesses as were necessary; and that the Expedition might be greater yet, a Messenger's delivering a Copy of this Proclamation, either in Print or Writ, signed by his Hand, to each Minister that should be cited by him to any Tuesday or Thursday, (these two days of every Week were set apart intirely for that purpose) six days after the citation, for all on this side the River Tay, and fourteen days for all beyond the said River, &c. And further it was declared, that the said Proclamation was without prejudice of any Citations already given, or to be given, either upon the former Act of Council, or upon Warrands from the Council-Board. Have ye not enough of expedition now in all Conscience? Yet to make all surer still; and because they were finding, that severals had complyed, whom they were willing to have turned out, but had no shadow of Law to do it by!
At the instigation of the Presbyterian Ministers, Elders and Professors (as it self words it) upon the twenty fourth of August, forth comes another Proclamation for a general Fast, to be kept on two Lord's Days, viz. on this side the Tay, Sept. 15. on the other side, Sept. 22. No question it was designed for a choaking morsel; for perhaps you never saw any thing like it. That it required Christians to fast on the Lord's Day, (tho that was harsh enough, no ways fitted for a tender Stomach, and would have gone very ill down with Tertullian himself, as much as he was for Fasting) was the thing least nauseous about it, except the bad Grammar, and the good Stock of great Nonsense that was in it. For in effect (besides what was relative to the present State of Affairs) it not only unministered, but even unchristened, the whole Regular Clergy, and these who owned them; and expressly bore, that God for a long time (since the Restitution of Episcopacy, no doubt) had restrained the presence of his Spirit, in the Conversion of Souls, &c. And this Proclamation was to be read twice, and the Fast to be kept once, in every Church and Meeting-House within the Kingdom. Now to the success.
What wonder tho these Twin-Proclamations (for so I may call them, considering how short the interval was between their Dates) wrought strange feats amongst the poor Clergy? as indeed they did. For many who (with hard Gripings) had got the Proclamation of the thirteenth of April digested, could not yet get that for the Fast, forced over their Throats, particularly I could name two of the Ministers of Edenburg, who the very next Week were deprived for it. And the other Proclamation was pretty good at citing those who had refused to give Obedience, as you may guess by its Nature. Yet I must confess it has not done all the skaith it might; as you shall hear anon; Although it wrought wonders, of a right strange Address. For by virtue of it, when some Ministers, far North, in Murray, or Bamf, or somewhere thereabout, were Cited, and Compeared; but were like to find the Diet deserted, because no Accuser appeared against them: By virtue of it (I say) upon that occasion, the Laird of Brody, one of the Privy Council, being a Member of the Current Parliament, representing that Shire where these Ministers liv'd, came to the Bar where they were standing, and smil'd, and told them, he would be their Accuser, and was as good as his word; and then stept into his Seat at the Table again, and Voted for their Deprivation. And so I come to the end of my History, when I have told you that thus it stands with the Scottish Clergy at present.
All our Bishops are turn'd out, and their Order abolished by Act of Parliament, dated July 5. their whole Benefices for the year 1689. are taken from them by publick Proclamation. The Number of Presbyters within the Kingdom, may be about 900 and 40 or 50, or so, of these about 300 are turn'd out by Tumult and Rabble; and their Expulsion is (as to the most part) justified and (as to the rest) conniv'd at by that Government: About 200 are deprived by sentence of the Privy Council. Those who continue in their Stations (being the lesser half) may be subdivided into two Categories. A great many have giv'n no Obedience yet, and have escap'd, by the distance they live at, from Edinburgh and Fanaticism; or because no body has delated them; what may be such Mens Fate (if the present Methods continue) is easie to imagine. The rest have complyed; but how far that may secure them, God only knows; but (if I may give my Conjecture) I think I may tell them: They have not done the half of what will be necessary to save them; and I think I have plausible grounds to say this on. For not only can I give them a certain Minister by the hand, to whom a certain Nobleman (a Privy Counsellor, who makes a considerable Figure at present, and who is Presbyterian enough too; though it seems he has more than the ordinary ingenuity of the Party) said, he was truly glad, that Minister had made no compliances (they were Cousins; perhaps that made him speak more freely) and assur'd him, the present compliance would save no Man; for the resolution was, that none of the Episcopal Clergy should be spared. This I know to be of certain truth: Besides, the Council lately were beginning to let so much out: For when some Ministers in Argyle-shire (who Preach in Irish, by consequence, whose places cannot be so easily supplyed, whom therefore they were not earnest to lay aside for altogether) were before them; though they made them the gracious offer, made to few or none before, that they should be continued in their Ministry, upon their yet obeying the Proclamation, yet they would not allow them their own Churches: The secret of the matter is, all must be once out, none must enjoy their Benefices, by virtue of a Presentation from a Patron, and a Collation from a Bishop; if any shall be permitted hereafter to bear Office; they must come in upon the new found, that's to be erected after the Presbyterian Model. This I am told the Statesmen are clear for: But then the Kirk-men must have their terms too, and what they may be, I am not he who can divine. Presbytery, Presbytery in Folio must be one; perhaps the Covenant may be another: And God knows what purgative Doses, those who have ever liv'd under Episcopacy must take, before they can be admitted into such a pure Society: I doubt it would puzzle Mr. Salathiel Stiff-collar himself, your famous English Mountebank, to tell beforehand what the Recipe may be: This is certain,
No compliances any of the Conform'd Clergy have yet made, have brought them so much as one inch nearer to a Reconciliation with the Presbyterians: Some have been at work enough to get their Countenance; particularly Doctor Robinson, and Mr. Malcome, two of the Ministers of Edinburgh: They have Preach'd once and again, against the Pride of Prelates, and the Corruptions of the Church, &c. (especially the Doctor, whose great complaint it has been of late, that he has groan'd these twenty seven years bypast under the Yoke of Episcopacy; although at the Restitution of the Government, he did not think his Mission good, having had only Presbyterial Ordination; and therefore was Reordained by a Bishop.) They have sent once and again to the Presbyterian Clubs, in treating they might be admitted into their Fellowship, and to sit in their Presbyteries: And they have used all Arts for gaining belief, that they are in earnest; for instance, they are both Prebendaries of the Cathedral of Edinburgh, and the Bishop pays to each of them ten pound Sterl. per annum: Through the long surcease of Justice that has been in the Kingdom, till of late; his Lordship had got none of the Revenue for the year 88, and wanted not reason to doubt if ever he should have it; so their Fees for that year were resting: Wherefore in August or September last, they pursued him jointly, before the Bailiffs of Edinburgh, (no competent Judges) merely to cast dirt upon him, that thereby they might ingratiate themselves with the Godly: Yet all has not prevail'd, they find the Party inexorable. By what is said, methinks you may now make a tolerable judgment of the treatment the Scottish Clergy have met with hitherto, or are like to meet with hereafter.
One thing remains yet to be done, viz. to say somthing in Vindication of these Episcopal Clergy-men, who have been so treated, and to account some way for their Lives and Abilities: I know there are strange things talk'd of them in England; for besides that the Prince of Orange last year, declared them generally scandalous and ignorant (as was noted before) the good Party have long had, and still have their instruments busie, Printing and Publishing odd stories of them. So that perhaps Sir, you may be as earnest to understand what can be said on that Head, as any thing I have yet dispatched: But I might with good reason disappoint you, and make that the shortest part of my task; indeed two or three Sentences might serve: For
It might be sufficient to say, that general Indictments ought still to go for Calumnies, and the proper defence is to tell, they are broad Lies. Let their Enemies condescend upon the particular Persons, and the particular Crimes; that's the way to find guilt; and whoever believes there is any, till that is done, is near of Kin to an unjust Judge. Dare they for their hearts pronounce all ignorant? or all scandalous? or all negligent? or all erroneous? or all of a persecuting temper? If they dare, I hope they are bound to make it good, against every Individual; and let them try that when they will. If they dare not (as certainly they dare not; even Machiavel himself, their Master for that Politick, were he alive durst not) then, who sees not the Iniquity of these indefinite aspersions? where were Christians taught to mix the Innocent with the Guilty, so indiscriminately? This, Sir, methinks might pass for sufficient Antidote against all these bold Slanders; but lest it may not satisfie you, I have more to say, and God be thanked, I can say it confidently, because I know it to be true: I can say,
The Church of Scotland, since the Reformation, was never generally so well provided with Pastors; as at the beginning of the present Persecution: 'Tis true, she has sometimes had some Sons; (such as Doctor Forbes, Doctor Baron, &c:) more Eminent for Learning, than perhaps any of the present Generation will pretend to: But what Church is there in the World, wherein every day, extraordinary Lights are to be found? It cannot be denyed neither, that there are amongst us some of but ordinary Parts; but in what Church was it ever otherwise? it would be an odd thing, if the poor cold Climate of Scotland could still afford a thousand Augustines or Aquinas's; perhaps too there may be some, who are not so careful to adorn their Sacred Office with a suitable Conversation, as they ought to be: But what wonder, when Our Saviour himself had one, a Devil, of twelve in his Retinue? what Country is it where all the Clergy-men are Saints? And therefore, I say it over again; the Church of Scotland was never so well planted, generally, since the Reformation as it was a year ago. This is a Proposition which I confess cannot be demonstrated so, by a private Man, sitting in his Chamber, as to convince the obstinate, or give full satisfaction to Strangers. But so far as things of that nature can be made appear plausible, and at a distance; I think this may be done very briefly, in answering the Charges commonly given in against them.
The first is Ignorance; but what's the Standard to judge by, whether Men have such a competency of knowledge, as may (caeteris paribus) qualifie them for the Ministery? till that be condescended on, I might very well bid them put up their Objection in their Pocket, till they can make palpable sense of it; at least, till that be done, this pretended Ignorance cannot be sustain'd, as a sufficient Argument for justifying the present Persecution. But how can the Scotish Clergy be so very ignorant? No Man (since I remember) was ever admitted to the Ministery, till he had first pass'd his course at some University, and Commenc'd Master of Arts: And generally none are admitted to tryal for being Probationers, till after that Commencement, they have been four or five years Students in Divinity. The Method of that Tryal is commonly this, the Candidate gets first a Text prescrib'd him, on which he makes a Homily before some Presbytery: Then he has an Exegesis in Latin, on some common Head, (ordinarily some Popish Controversie) and sustains disputes upon it. After this he is tryed as to his skill in the Languages and Chronology: He is likewise obliged to Answer (ex tempore) any Question in Divinity, that shall be proposed to him, by any Member of the Presbytery. This is called the Questionary tryal; then, he has that which we call the Exercise and Addition; that is, (as it is in most Presbyteries) one day, he must Analize and Comment upon a Text, for half an hour or so, so shew his skill in Textual, Critical, and Casuistick Theology; and another day for another half hour, he discourses again by drawing practical Inferences, &c. to show his Abilities that way too: And then lastly, he must make a popular Sermon; (I believe you have scarcely so severe tryals in England) all this done, the Presbytery considers whether it be sit to recommend him to the Bishop, for a Licence to Preach (and many have I known remitted to their Studies) if they find him qualifyed, and recommend him, he gets his Licence, he Commences Probationer for the Ministery, and commonly continues such for two, three, four, or more years thereafter, till he is presented to some Benefice: Then he passes over again through all the foresaid steps of tryal, and more accurately, before he is Ordained: What greater Scrutiny would you desire, as to point of Knowledge? But besides that, I have somthing more to tell you; it is,
That generally, since the Restitution of Episcopacy, our Divines have had better Education, &c. been put on better Methods of Study, than ever they were before. They have learned to lay aside prejudices, and trace truth ingenuously, and embrace it where they find it. With our Predecessors, especially in the times of Presbytery: The Dutch Divinity was only in Vogue. Their Commonplace-men were the great Standards, and are so still to that Party, and whoever stept aside one hairs breadth from their Positions, was forthwith an Heretick. But the present Generation, after the way of England, take the Scriptures for their Rule; and the Ancients, and right Reason for Guides, for finding the Genuine Sense of that Rule; by which Method in my opinion, they are come to have their Principles and Thoughts far better digested. For Evidence of this, be pleased to know Sir, that upon the Restitution of Episcopacy Anno 1662. There were Six Hundred Good, who kept their Stations and Conformed. These were not only generally of Presbyterian Education, but likewise for the most part, the ablest Men who were then in Office: There are many of these Men yet alive. Now, if this experiment were made, if these Men who had that Presbyterian Education, were examined upon their Skill and Principles in Divinity; and if again, those who have had the posterior Education were likewise tryed, I could lay an even wager, if I were much provok'd, I would venture three to one, all ingenuous and impartial Judges, should determine in favours of the latter Sort, and confess that they have clearer and more distinct Idea's of things, and understand the Christian Philosophy better. In a word, I'll affirm it confidently, that Philosophy was never understood better, nor never Preached better in Scotland, than it has been these twenty years by-gone.
I must confess, it was never less practised: but for that we may thank the Presbyterians: Do not think this a Slander; for if they (during their twenty four years Usurpation, i. e. from Thirty eight till Sixty two inclusive) had not made many things, such as Rebellion and Presbytery jure Divino; if they had not baffled Peoples credulity, by making all the extravagances of the late times, God's own work, and the Cause of Christ, &c. And if they had not made it their chief work ever since; to create and cherish Divisions and Schisms among us, and keep up a Party for themselves, by all means possible: I doubt not, the Gospel (with God's Blessing) would have had more desirable success, than it has had in this Kingdom. What a pernicious thing is it, needlesly to break the Unity, and disturb the Peace of a Church! I have often thought on that saying of Irenaeus Lib. 4. adver. Haeres. Cap. 62. Nulla ab iis (schismaticis) tanta fieri potest correptio, quanta est Schismatis pernicies; and the more I think on it, I find still the more of important truth in it: And believe it Sir, if ever there was a Sect, since Christ came into the World, to whom that Fathers words in that same Chapter, were applicable, they are, (only one thing excepted) to our Scotch Presbyterians. Suam utilitatem potius considerantes, quam Unitatem Ecclesiae; propter modicas & quaslibet Causas, magnum & gloriosum Corpus Christi conscindunt & dividunt, & quantum in ipsis est interficiunt; pacem loquentes (here it only fails) & bellum operantes; vere liquantes Culicem, & Camelum transglutientes. By their Divisions, they have still kept up such Rancours and Animosities amongst us; that the Meek, Calm, Gentle, Peaceable Spirit of Christianity, could get no footing. And how can the Religion flourish without that? And by their bold entituling all their unaccountable freaks, in the late times (as I said) to God's Authority, and abusing his Holy Word to justifie them; they lost all the credit of the Ministery. For so soon as Peoples eyes opened, and they began to see what Legerdemain had been play'd in the Pulpits; especially under such high pretensions to Godliness, they look'd upon the Sacred Office of the Ministery (and continue to do so ever since) as a mere Imposture; so that though we are at never so much pains to perswade and convince; yet our Labours are not regarded, and if they be not that, how can they be successful? I know you'll think this a Digression. Be it so, I could not help it, I have such strong impressions of the truth of the thing, that I could not forbear to tell it you.
What I have said methinks, may pass for a good enough account of the Abilities of the Conform'd Clergy. Yet I have one thing more to add, I will not Recriminate, nor go to tell our Presbyterian Brethren back again, that of all Men alive they ought to have been the last, for charging us with Ignorance. But this I will undertake for; let them out of their whole Number within the Kingdom, chuse five, six, seven; or what Number they please, and the Episcopal Clergy shall be content that even out of the Diocess of Glasgow, (that Diocess which so much pains has been taken to make infamous for its Ignorance) the like number be chosen, for debating all the points in Controversie between us, before any sufficient and impartial Judge in Christendom: And is not this enough ad homines? But I have dwelt too long upon this first charge; and must make amends in what follows.
The second thing is Immorality, we are generally scandalous as well as ignorant: But I doubt, if amongst all the Episcopal Clergy in Scotland, they shall find a match for their own Mr. Williamson: Let them shew me a Man that played such tricks while a Minister, and was so little challeng'd, as he is, by his Brethren. Not to mention how (for all his lewdness) he is now a leading Man of the Party, and was lately one of their Commissioners at London. Indeed, Sir, what greater pains can be taken either to keep or to purge out scandalous Men from being of the Clergy, than our Constitution prescribes? after any Man is presented to a Benefice, before he is either Collated, or put in Orders; an Edict is read publickly, before the whole Congregation, in the Church where he is to be settled; requiring and inviting the Heretors, or any within the Parish, who have any thing to object against his Life, to do it on such a day, before the Bishop, or some deputed by him; and if any blemish be found that way, he is rejected: And for those who are once in the Ministery; I believe there is hardly a sharper Discipline any where, than in Scotland. The least Crime proven against any has its punishment: e. g. One Act of Drunkenness clearly made out, will suspend him; and two (though some years intervene betwixt them) are sufficient to Depose him, and Deprive him for ever.
But I need not dwell on these things: Your Bishop of Salisbury, Dr. Burnet, if he pleases, can tell the World (I'm sure he has told it in many things as unseasonably) that when Dr. Lighton was Commendator of Glasgow, and he himself Professor of Divinity there; the Clamour about the Ignorance and Immoralities of the Clergy of that Diocess was such, that the said Commendator turn'd very earnest to have it purged: That for this end, he allowed and invited all People to accuse their Pastors, and give in what Indictments they pleas'd against them; that this was not done scrimply neither, nor out of mere form; but if there was any partiality, it was against the Minister: And yet after all that how many were found worthy of Deposition? only one (as I am told) of some hundreds; and he too, not without great suspicions of Injustice. Dr. Burnet, I say, can tell all this if he pleases; for no Man was deeper in that Inquisition then himself, being one of the Commendators chief Counsellors and Instruments. And after all, when both had done what they could, they were forced to confess, the Clergy were injur'd, and it was nothing but the Spirit of Fanaticism, which made the People so unkind to them, and raise such calumnies against them. Indeed it would have been hard enough for the greatest confidence, not to have acknowledg'd so much; for if he pleases, he can likewise tell, what pains were taken, to bring the best Men, and best Preachers from all Corners to the West; to try how the People would be pleased with them, such as Mr. Nairn, Mr. Aird, &c. And how he himself went about as an Evangelist, shewing his gifts every where; particularly in the Church of Fennick; where he distributed a great many Bibles, and some money too, being earnest by all means to gain the People: And yet for all that he and all the other Evangelists were laught it; and the People told that if they must needs have Curates, they would not change their own, for any of them. This work was fifteen or sixteen years ago; and such was the condition of that Diocess then: And yet though the Clergy in it, had deserved the Epithets of Scandalous and Ignorant then, by what consequence can they be applicable to them now, when perhaps the third man is not there now, who was there then? But to go on.
The third thing is Negligence; but how can that be either? Theer's no such thing as Non-residence, or Pluralities in use in Scotland: Every Presbyter is censurable, who is two Sundays together from his Church, without Licence from his Ordinary; and generally we Preach twice every Lords day, through the whole Kingdom. But negligence is like Ignorance; it will be hard to find that definition of Negligence, which will be able to justifie such a general Persecution, as I have already accounted for.
The fourth is Error: But how shall that be tryed? But I think, I can easily give you satisfaction, Sir, as to that matter; it is by telling you, that I know not so much as one amongst us, who could not live in Communion with your Church of England, and subscribe her thirty nine Articles. 'Tis true indeed, there be many, who are no ways inclined to be every day talking to their People of God's Decrees, and Absolute Reprobation, and Justification by Faith alone in the Presbyterian sense, and such like Doctrins; they think their Hearers may be much more edifyed by Sermons, that explain the true Nature of Evangelical Faith, the Necessity of Repentance, and the Indispensibility of a Gospel-Obedience, &c. And what error is there here?
But the last thing is that we have been great Persecutors; grant it to be true, sure I am, by this time we are payed home pretty well in our own Coin; and God of his infinite Mercy grant unto us all, that we may exercise a true Christian patience, under our present Sufferings: And that they may work a better temper in us, than it seems their pretended Persecutions have wrought in our Adversaries. Sure I am, 'tis no where written in the Gospel, that suffering for Christ may laudably end in Malice and Revenge, and the horridest Barbarities. But how can it be proven, that we were such Persecutors? Dare any man say, that the severities against the Presbyterians, since the Restitution of Episcopacy, have been near so great, as the severities against the Episcopal Party were, during the Reign of Presbytery? Dare any man say, that the Presbyterians have suffered any thing for Conscience sake, these twenty seven years by-past? Remember what I told you, not far from the beginning of this Letter. 'Tis true indeed, the State found there were a number of People of such seditious and ungovernable tempers, that they could not be well kept from breaking out daily into open Rebellions: Therefore they made Laws for keeping them low, and curbing them; and who can blame this? 'Tis also true, some of these Laws obliged the Clergy to give an account of those of that temper, who lived or haunted in their Parishes: And could they top with the Government and disobey Law, when the Obedience required, was so reasonable? Besides, believe it Sir, the Clergy did as little that way, as was possible for them; and I can make it good, when ever I am put to it: That where one was pursued upon their Informations, twenty were befriended by their Intercessions: A signal instance whereof I learn'd not long ago; it was in September last, when the Deprivations for Non-compliance were very frequent. Amongst the rest one Mr. Chisholm Minister at Lilsly, was cited at the instance of one Sir John Riddel of the Minister had given no Obedience, and so was very soon discuss'd: And when Sir John and he were just a coming from the Bar; where he had stood his Accuser, and heard his Sentence; he told him, before a good many Witnesses, that he confess'd he held his Life and Fortune of him; and protested he would never have treated him so as he had done, if it had not been matter of Conscience to him. What do ye think of a Presbyterian Conscience? I could give you an hundred more such instances, for indeed it has been observed generally all alongst, that those have been the greatest Enemies to the Clergy, to whom they had done the best Offices. But it would require a great deal of work, to make you understand this head of Persecution fully, and therefore I'll break it off: And tell you only briefly that
If ever you come to understand the state of our Affairs distinctly, you will find, our Ignorance lies mainly in our being unacquainted with the Principles of Sedition, and the Ius Divinum of Presbytery; our Scandal, in our being so generally look'd upon as nothing fond of change and Revolution: Our Negligence, in parting with our Benefices rather than our Consciences; our Erroneousness, in adhering so stubbornly to the Principles laid down in Scripture, and maintain'd by the Primitive Christians; and our itch for Persecuting Dissenters to lye chiefly in our inclinations, to live and behave as becomes good Subjects; or, if ye would have it shorter, we are ignorant, scandalous, negligent, erroneous, insufficient, Persecutors; and whatever men please to call us, because we are not Presbyterians.
That's truly the matter; and therefore we are now made to suffer so severely, not only by being so treated in our Persons and Privileges, as I have briefly accounted; but also by being so robb'd of our Reputations, and loaded with Reproaches: And all this too, under pretence to secure the Protestant Religion, and make these Kingdoms happy. I dare not tell you, how much I am tempted, when I reflect on all together, to ask you some unfashionable Questions, such as these: Is that to secure the Protestant Religion, when men must either suffer, or part with the most distinguishing Characters, and most undoubted Principles of the Protestant Religion? Is the rendering so many Protestant Ministers, useless and miserable; because they will not play Iesuitish tricks, the way to secure Protestant Religion? Is there no other way to secure the Protestant Religion; but to transaccident it (pardon the word, 'tis as good as Transubstantiate) into a pretence for justifying all the injuries can be done to our Spiritual Fathers? Is there no other way to make a Kingdom happy, but by making downright havock of the Clergy in it? Cannot a Kingdom be happy unless God's Portion be either turn'd out of their Functions in it, or run the hazard of being turn'd out of his favour, and excluded his Eternal Kingdom? These and twenty more such Questions, I say, I am strongly tempted to ask you, but I forbear: Only before I conclude,
As I said before, I will not recriminate with our Presbyterian Brethren, I will not go to tell them back again, that they are ignorant or scandalous, &c. I will not treat them so uncivilly as to throw back their dung in their own faces: I am not fond of such Retaliations. But this I will say, if they plant the Church of Scotland, so well as it was planted, when the Prince of Orange came to England, so long as he lives; if, for all their pretensions to the Spirit, the Gospel be Preached so purely, so rationally, and so disinterestedly under their Government, as it has been by the Episcopal Clergy these many years by-gone; if ever the State have Peace, or the Church come to a settlement; if ever our King sit securely on his Throne, or Caesar have the things that are Caesars: If ever the Church of England (as little as she has been concerned hitherto in her Sisters afflictions) want a horn in her side, or be secur'd against attempts for her ruin; and if ever there be Peace, or Order, or desirable Concord; if ever Animosities, Divisions, Contentions, and such other Plagues of Humane Society, and Christian Unity be wanting at home, so long as their Dagon stands in the Temple; Experience has deceiv'd me, and I have mistaken my Measures.
Thus, Sir, you have a brief prospect of the present State of the Scottish Clergy, fuller by much than at first I intended, perhaps then you are pleased with, and ye may think it tedious: But I acknowledge I have that weakness; I have not the faculty of dispatching things so smoothly, and so shortly, as possibly your palate would require: But my Apology is ready; I have omitted an hundred things, proper to have been inserted; if I am tedious, it is in telling truth, and if the length of this weary you, you shall not be so troubled again: For these Reasons expecting your Pardon, I am &c.