Project Canterbury

An Account of the Present Persecution of the Church in Scotland
In Several Letters

London: Printed for S. Cook, 1690.

The Third LETTER.


I Told you in the Conclusion of my last, that I had omitted many things, proper to have been inserted: I could easily justifie it, by giving you another every whit as long and full of matter of Fact as it was. Particularly I could give you a great many more instances of Ministers, who received hard Measure from the Council: such as Pitcairn of Logie, who was Deprived, though these eight or ten years by-gone, he has been intirely disabled for the Pulpit, through old age and infirmity, and has been obliged to maintain an Assistant. Ionkine at Abernethy, upon his not appearing, the very minute he was first called, though he kept the day precisely, to which he was Cited, and was present about twelve of the Clock, and had the Forth to cross that morning: and the Council at that time used to sit as well after, as before Noon, for Depriving Ministers. Falioner, a Minister in Murray, notwithstanding he pleaded for himself, that the Lord Dundee was his Hearer that day on which the Proclamation was ordered to be Read; that it was easie to conjecture what might have been his hazard, had he Read it in his hearing: that after that he had Prayed publickly for King William and Queen Mary. That if the Council should yet enjoyn him, he would Read the Proclamation; and that for his part, he believed Presbytery was as agreeable to the Word of God, and as subservient to the ends of Christianity, as Episcopacy, and therefore was as willing to keep his Ministry under the one, as the other: but there was Original sin in him; he was a Bishops Son, and so no Mercy for him. But Moncrief, Minister at Herriot, his Case is prettiest of all, he has done all Duty, and made all Complyances, yet his Church is disposed of, and a Presbyterian Preacher, actually and formally admitted to it. Twenty other instances might easily be Collected.

I could likewise tell you what severities have been used in turning Ministers out of their Dwellings, this Winter, after their Deprivaon: as in the Case of Mr. Galbraith, Minister at Iedburgh, a very Reverend and worthy Person. All the Gentlemen within the Parish Addressed to the Council in his behalf; protested they were sorry that he was Deprived: supplicated that he might be permitted to live this Winter in the Manse, i. e. Parsonage-House, for no body was making pretensions to it; no Presbyterian Preacher was settled there; and it was a Thatcht House, it would be endamaged, if it were not inhabited, if Fire were not kept in it, &c. But for all that, the good Parson was forced to remove by the Councils Order. The same was also the Case of Mr. Millar, Minister at Mussleburgh, and very many others. Nay (I know not if they have got their secret instructions renewed for it) the Rabbling work is revived in the West lately, and now they will not suffer the poor afflicted Ministers, (who were thrust out a year ago) to stay so much as in that Country; though they have no mony to Transport their Families with, being refused payment of their by-gone Stipends. So it has fared within these few days with Mr. Hamilton, Minister at Kirkoswald, and Irwine at Kilbride, and I am told there is a Design to banish from that Town all who live in Dumfries, and those in Glasgow dread the same likewise.

I cannot forbear neither, to tell you, what has happened lately at Edinburgh: there are five or six of the Episcopal Clergy in that City, who have given all Obedience; so they still possess their Churches. Each of these Churches has its own Utensils, Basons, Lavers, Chargers, Chalices, Communion-Table-Cloaths, &c. All Dedicated long ago by private Persons, who lived in the respective Parishes. A Church-Treasurer is Chosen yearly by the Church Sessions, to whom these Utensils are Concredited, and to these Sessions he is accountable for them at the years end. This has been one immemorial Custom in that City; yet the present Magistrates (all Rank Presbyterians) would needs have these Utensils delivered up to them; particularly, they required them of him who this year bears the Office of Church-Tresurer, or, which is all one, who is the Elder or Church-Warden, to whom the Utensils of that Church for this year are entrusted, for that which is commonly called the Tolbooth Church: he refused to surrender them (and why should he have done it? They were not so much as Dedicated by the Publick, and they were that Churches Property. No Magistrates had ever demanded the like before, and the present Magistrates are no more concerned in them, than in any private Citizens Furniture;) For this he was thrust into Prison; but he made Application to the Lords of Session, who found the thing so infinitely illegal, that they forthwith ordered his Liberation, and discharged such Proceedings for the future. Perhaps you may think this is but a trifle, but there is more in it than you are aware of: For, besides that Sir John Hall, present Provost of Edinburgh, is a Privy Counsellor, and consequently is not to be supposed to have attempted such a thing without first consulting Crawford, and some others who sit at that Table; there is this at the bottom of it: In each of these Parishes there is a Presbyterian Meeting-House, and the Preachers (though they stand on no other Found, but King James his Toleration) hold themselves for the rightful Pastors of these Parishes, and so pretend that the use of these Utensils belongs to them, and they ought to have them in their Custody: this was that which put the Magistrates upon the foresaid Course.

Innumerable such things as these I could easily Collect, and weary your patience with them, but methinks by this time, you have got Taste enough of the Episcopal Parties Troubles on the one hand, and the Presbyterian Parties Temper on the other, to make you understand both competently; and that was all I intended. Only there are two things perhaps, which you may be desirous to have some further satisfaction about; and I will try if I can give it.

The first is, That possibly ye may apprehend, I did not in my last sufficiently take off these Aspersions which are thrown upon the Episcopal Clergy by the Phanatick News Mongers, in their Malicious Papers, and Pamphlets, which they are Printing and Dispersing so confidently every day at London. To tell the truth, Sir, We only hear of these Papers; at least for my part I have seen none of them; they come not ordinarily to Scotland, and I believe their Authors are no ways inclined they should, (it requires a great deal of Forehead to tell lies where they can be easily discovered) and not coming to our hands, how can we detect or expose their falsities? I am sure, I said enough in the general to fortifie you, or any sober Man, against them; especially as to all these Ministers Deprived by the Council; for, (as I said there) the Council never took notice of any thing but Reading and Praying. But what though Malicious Men tell false stories with a great deal of Confidence? Are you such a Stranger to the World, as not to know that Lying has ever been one of the chief Artifices by which that Party have carried on their purposes; It is no new Politick of theirs. I could tell you some of the oddest Stories that ever you heard since you was born, concerning their dexterity in that Art, in the late Times: but I will trouble you only with one at present; indeed the whole World should know it, it has such peculiarities in it.

You know how Anno 1638. at the Assembly of Glasgow, they not only pretended to Depose the Bishops, but even to Excommunicate many of them: amongst the rest, that most Reverend and Worthy Prelate, Spotswood, Arch-Bishop of St. Andrews. The Sentence of Deposition and Excommunication passed against him, was ordered to be Read Publickly after the Forenoons Sermon, in all the Churches within his Diocess; and, in it, a great many horrid immoralities, (such as Incest and Adultery, &c.) were amassed. Amongst many others, it was Read particularly in the Church of Kilrinny in Fife, by Mr. Coline Adam, then Minister there; Beaton of Balfour was in the Church at the time, he was not a little amazed, at hearing such strange things charged upon the Arch-Bishop. He had lived many a year in his Neighbourhood. He had been frequently in Company with him; but had never discovered such Crimes about him, so that he was exceedingly surprized: but that was the least on't. In the progress of the Sentence he heard himself named as one of four Witnesses, who had been examined upon Oath, and by their Testimonies had proven these things against him: this astonished him quite, for it was not only notorious to all the Neighbourhood, that during the whole time that famous Assembly sate, he was not at Glasgow, but still at home; but no body knew it better than Mr. Adam himself, for he had not only been his constant Auditor every Sunday, but he had seen him (or might have done it) every day; there being but a very short distance (perhaps not two hundred Paces) betwixt their Dwellings. In effect it put the Gentleman in such disorder, that he had well nigh stopped the Ministers Reading any further, if his Father, who was by him, had not hindered him, telling him he would Ruin himself. However, after they came out, he Challenged the Minister, who easily confest he knew it was a Lie, but pretended he behoved to Read it, in Obedience to Authority. And what might he not have done after that? Tell me Sir, was not this a well assured wickedness? This passage I have from persons of great integrity, yet alive, who told me, they had it twenty times from Beaton's own Mouth; and it is but one of a thousand, as good, if I could be at the pains to Collect them. Piae fraudes (talk we what we please) have done good Service, and been excellent Christian Tools in their time, for carrying on the Good Old Cause. But it was not scarcity that made me go so far back for Proofs of Presbyterian Honesty: these twelve or fourteen months by-gone afford variety enough in all Conscience. Thus to instance but in two or three things.

What Effrontery was used last year at London, for running down all the Accounts, were sent up, concerning the Persecution of the Western Clergy, as I told you before? Such ingrain'd impudence (had it not been seen and felt) I had believed, could neither have come from Hell nor It, the two grand Staple-Ports for that Commodity. What Relations of Oaths, what confident Assertions, what Printed Papers had we for King James his being Dead at Brest in March last? I remember the present Earl of Argile, one day disturbed a whole Meeting-House, with a forged Letter about it.

With what shamelessness did the News go up first, and then come down again from London in September last, and pass current here: That the Streets of Edinburgh were thronged with the Heads or Chieftains of Clanns, coming in dayly to take the benefit of King William's Indemnity, that was published after Dundee's death? Though all the Kingdom knows, not so much as one has come in to this very day? And what strange Tales have been told of the wonderful Feats of Iniskilling Men? I remember some Gentlemen about two Months ago, went in one Afternoon to a Presbyterian Coffee-House, called for the News Book, cast up the account of the Irish killed by them, and after computation, found the number amounted to above 48000. These are but their ordinary tricks, and with us they have now ceased to be Scandalous; for by Custom we are come to reckon it no more strange to find that Party Lie, than to see Danes Drink, or Englishmen eat Pork or Pork-Pudding: so that indeed Sir, I pity you heartily, if your Charity towards the Episcopal Clergy in this Kingdom can be in the least shaken by the boldness of these miserable Scriblers.

I will only add one thing more upon this Head, and that is, that whatever may be Published that way, must needs be false upon this account, that (as very many have observed) since ever the Deprivation-Work began; all the favour shown, has been to those who least deserved it; and if there was any less Knowing, less Circumspect in their Lives, or any ways less Qualified for continuing in the Ministery, they are the Men, who have hitherto escaped Deprivation. The Politick is no more Damnable than Understood; for as the shewing some Favour to such, with less discerning Persons, may chance to pass for an Argument of the Councils Moderation: so under this Cover they have the opportunity of doing a great deal of Mischief; they Ruin more securely, and with less observation, those of unquestionable Lives, and Abilities, and disable them for being Remora's hereafter, either to the Settling or Securing Presbytery, which they are affraid they might have been, after the present Ferment is over, had they continued in their Stations; and hereby they hope to Ruin their Reputations too, with people who think little, and Strangers, who cannot know all the intrigues of their business; for such may readily conclude they have deserved worse, seeing these are Deprived, while others are preserved: and then, besides all this, to these least deserving, the seeming Favour, of sparing them at present, is shewn, upon this Design, in all likelyhood, that afterwards they may be Ruined and Disgraced with the greater contempt and ignominy; for, being the weaker Men of the Episcopal side, they foresee, they will not only not be able to make a suitable Resistance to the Zealous Gang, when it shall be in Circumstances to dispute it with them; but also it will be easie for the Ecclesiastical Visitations to Depose them: and not only so, but their Fall when it comes, may be readily improven into an heavy Reflection, on all of Episcopal Principles: and Phanaticks will have in readiness to say, that the whole Party was still such, and by these, it may be judged what all the rest either were or are. This is truely the Politick, Sir: but by this time I think I have insisted too much on this purpose.

The other thing perhaps is more Material; for when you have considered all I said in my last, perhaps ye may think it strange, that you have found nothing concerning the inclinations of the generality of the People: and such a general Persecution of the Episcopal Clergy on the one hand, and so deep a silence concerning the Resentments of the People on the other, may perchance seem to you a Demonstration of the Truth of that Article in our new Claim of Right (for we may thank our Stars, we have once gotten an Original Contract betwixt King and People) which affirms, That Prelacy, and the Superiority of any Office in the Church above Presbyters, is, and hath been a great and insupportable Grievance, and Trouble to this Nation, and contrary to the inclinations of the generality of the People, &c. But the Truth is Sir, as from the beginning I was unwilling to fall foul upon the State; so I thought that did not come so naturally in my way; for my design was only to acquaint you with the treatment of the Clergy; and not to Canvass every Assertion, that has been boldly obtruded on the World by their Persecutors. But seeing that Article makes such a noise, and I hear some of your English Pamphleteers are taking notice of it, and talking Confidently that it is True. I am content to trouble you with a dozen of Lines, or so, about it: And in the first place;

Perhaps it might be sufficient to say no more; but, What then? What tho the generality of the People were so enclined? Will it follow, therefore, Episcopacy ought be abolished in Scotland? If I mistake not, I have heard as good Arguments answered with a Non sequitur. But if I am mistaken, and the Argument is good, then all you Gentlemen, the Divines of England, are most miserably affronted; affronted, I say, by the Scotch Meeting of Estates, tho there was not so much as one Divine amongst them, when they voted their Claim of Right: You have been wretchedly out all this while, in your Disputes with the Papists, tho you made a great noise with them (and they were too weak for you) these four or five Years by gone. You have never hit upon the true Rule of Faith and Manners (shall I call it) or the Judg, the infallible Judg of Controversies; that Honor was reserved for the Scotch Laicks, they are the Men who have been the true Students of the Disciplina Arcani, and have fallen upon the Knack; The inclinations of the generality of the People (tho God knows what a Rule it would have made in our Saviours time) are the thing; they are Rule or Judg, or whatever you please to call them; and what more would ye have? Lord what a Field has a Man here, if he pleased to be wanton! But I must cut short, and therefore let me return to be serious: Why then, to tell you in a word, Sir, if I may say it without giving the Lye to the Convention.

There's not a falser Proposition in the World, than, that the Inclinations of the generality of the People of Scotland are against Episcopacy; or that they look upon it as a great and insupportable Grievance and Trouble to the Nation: And let us have a Poll for it when they will, and you shall quickly see the Demonstration: If this does not satisfie you, I have more yet to say.

I can affirm, with a well grounded assurance, that, if by the People you mean the Commonalty, the rude, illiterate Vulgus, the third Man through the whole Kingdom is not Presbyterian; and if by the People, you mean those who are Persons of better Quality and Education (whose sense in my opinion, ought in all reason, to go for the sense of the Nation) I dare boldly aver, not the 13th. For notwithstanding all the Clamors that are made on that Head, 'tis well known to all the Kingdom, that Fanaticism has all alongst had little footing in that far wider half of the Kingdom, which lies on the North of the Tay. And tho the Party has been infinitely earnest and active to encrease and multiply their Numbers every where; yet in all that Country, they could never get above three or four Meeting-Houses erected, and these too, very little frequented or encouraged. Nay, even on this side the Tay (except in the five associated Shires in the West) the third Man was never engaged in the Schism. For convincing you of this, I'll ask no other Postulate, than what I suppose you and all considering Men will readily grant, and that is, that Phanaticism is more apt to spread and prevail in Towns than in the Country; so that by them we may best judg of the Numbers of the Party. It would make an intolerable Work to go through all; let me only instance in some of them, where the Experiment has been remarkably made, not many Months ago; and by these ye may judg of the rest.

At Perth (or S. Johnstown) where now a Presbyterian Minister is most illegally possessed of the Church, the tenth man does not go to hear him, and particularly, not one of the Magistrates, tho they were elected by Poll. At Cowpar in Fife, the Presbyterian Preacher (now possessed of the Church) sometimes has not forty of fifty people in his Congregation. The great Body waits all upon the Regular Clergy, who have there got a Meeting-house. 'Tis much the same at S. Andrews. At Sterling and Burnt-Island, the Magistrates were likewise chosen by the Poll, but all Malignants, as they call them. At Sterling (as I am told) the Presbyterian Votes were not one to six. At Burnt-Island they were but one to three. 'Tis true indeed, the Privy Council has turn'd out these Magistrates in both Towns, and put Presbyterians in their stead. Some admire how arbitrarily it was done: but I am only concerned for the Inclinations of the generality of the people.

At Mussleburg more than eighteen of twenty parts have once and again (since their Pastor was deprived) supplicated the Council, that during the Vacancy, they might have Regular Clergy-Men to officiate amongst them. I could instance also, in Dumfermling, Dysert, Weems, Leith, Iedburgh, Kelso, and many other places. Nay,

Even in Edinburgh, the Churches where the Episcopal Clergy (who have complyed) preach, are more thronged, and better frequented, than the Churches usurped by the Presbyterians: not to mention, that every Sunday there are five of six several Meetings of Men, who are not very well pleased with either Presbyterians, or complying Episcopalians. Shall I tell you further yet, what I am credibly told, concerning even Glasgow it self? I am told, Sir, that even in that City, which has been so famous for phanatick Zeal, and wherein on Christmass last, for a demonstration of it, the Rabble (with the present Earl of Argyle on their Head) burnt, with the Pope, our two Archbishops in effigie; I am told, I say, that even in that City, the greater number of Citizens of the best quality are of Episcopal Principles.

Indeed, Sir, whatever number of Friends they might have had a year or two ago, I am confident this day it is diminished by a third: For besides that peoples eyes are now beginning to open, and see the inconsistency of their principles and practices, with the common rules of Nature, as well as Christianity, they are beginning to have enough of their cant, and to be weary of their Sermons. And here I cannot forbear to relate to you a passage, which I had lately from a very ingenious Gentleman; he had had a conversation with another Gentleman of good Quality, and good Abilities, but who had been engaged by his interest to go to the Presbyterian Assemblies; in their conversation they came to talk concerning the Presbyterian Preachers, and that Gentleman told my Author, he had now heard them for two months, or so; but he had observed, that he had never so much as heard one Criticism at the Explication of a Text, never one Citation out of Father, Poet, or Philosopher, never one passage either of Civil or Church History. What? (replyed my Author) it seems then ye get nothing but pure Scripture, clean Gospel, but tell me, do ye get any great abundance of good sense? To tell the truth (he answered) even as little of that too as any man could wish. But what needs more? They themselves are beginning now to be sensible, that they are by far the smaller party: and if I pleased, I could name a certain person, a Statesman, who had a great hand in the late Revolution, and has yet in the present Government, who confessed lately to another certain person, that now he was persuaded (tho he never believed it before) that the Episcopal was not only by far the greater, but even the better part of the Nation. But after all this;

Perhaps you may start the Difficulty; How came it then to pass, that that Article was put in the Claim of Right, and the Presbyterian Party prevailed so far in the Convention and Parliament? I could easily give you abundant satisfaction as to that too; but it would require a fuller Deduction than I am willing to fall upon at present; only in a word, when the Members for the Convention were a chusing, the Kingdom generally was in a perfect confusion; vast numbers of people there were whose Opinions would not allow them to give any countenance to the then Transactions, they having many scruples in their Heads concerning the Lawfulness of that whole procedure. On the other hand, the Presbyterians (fond of the opportunity of getting a King deposed, and their Diana set up) were infinitely diligent. So, many Elections were very far from being what they would have been, had the Loyal and Episcopal Party bestirred themselves as they might: neither yet would that have done the business, in all probability; for even as Elections passed, when the Members first convened at Edinburgh, had any Interest espoused by them been subjected to a Vote, Affairs had gone far otherwise than they did. But the Presbyterian Party foreseeing that, industriously projected delays, and protracted time; and in the interim were infinitely vigilant to biass the Members; so that before either the Forfeiture of the King, or that Article of the Claim of Right, I am now concerned in, were voted, many of the Nobility, all the Bishops, and a great number of Barons and Burgesses had deserted the House; and not a few of those who stayed, had (what through fear, and weakness, and the like infirmities) changed their Principles, which their Electors supposed were in them, and they brought to Edinburgh with them. This is the true way that matters went: I could easily give you an account of the Topicks were made use of, for inveigling these Members who were imposed upon: It was impossible the Protestant Religion could be otherwise secured; England was a wise Nation, they had set the Crown on King William's Head already; if Scotland should dissent, it would ruin the Nation; the English were satisfied Presbytery should be established here; and King William was earnest for it, (which, to tell you by the by, I never or very hardly could perswade my self to believe) and a great many more to the same purpose. These and twenty things more I could deduce more largely, if it were needful; but my Paper is now very near spent, and so you must content your self with what you have got at present.

Thus, Sir, in two long Letters I have endeavoured, in part, to satisfie you concerning the present Estate of the Scottish Clergy. If my Account is lame, it is no wonder, for I am none of the most observing men in the world; and I was obliged for very good Reasons to forbear consulting others, and use only such Materials as my own observation could afford me. But this I can say over again, tho you have not all, yet you have nothing but Truth; and tho it be not well digested, it is as well as I could, considering my Conveniences. And so I bid you heartily farewel: being, &c.


I was once minded to have told you fully too, what bitter Reflections our Presbyterians are daily casting upon your Church of England; how they condemn her Clergy for deserting the Principles of Passive-Obedience and Non-resistance, they were wont to glory so much in; how it is their common talk, that King William loves Episcopacy as ill in England, as in Scotland, and would be content to have it away (they believe, to make way for the Dutch Model) if he could get it done; and twenty other such Stories. But I believe, 'tis only their hatred to your Constitution, makes them talk so. Yet this is certain, we have here Reprinted a Pamphlet, called the Ceremony-monger, and (as I am informed) at the command of some great person.

I am afraid, that possibly, I may have been injurious to the Privy Council, in giving a partial account of their Act passed on Christmass Eve last, For I find many people are of the opinion, that it is not to be limited to the year 89, but may comprehend former years also, for which Reason, and because in its Narrative, it brings some further light (tho it needed no more) to what I had asserted concerning their being refused the protection of the Government, who were turned out of their Churches by the Rabble, before the thirteenth of April, I have subjoined the Act here word by word, as it stands in the Register. And 'tis thus:

At Edingburgh, Decem. 24, 2689.

The Lords of his Majesties Privy Council considering, that by the Act of the Meeting of the Estates of the Date the thirteenth of April last, there is a difference made betwixt the Ministers then in possession and exercise of their Ministery at their respective Churches, and those who were not so; and that the Case of the Ministers who were not in the actual exercise of their Ministerial Function the thirteenth day of April last by-past, lies yet under the consideration of the Parliament; and lest in the mean time they may call and pursue for the stipend alledged due to them, or put in execution the Decreets and Sentences already obtained at their instance, for the same, before the Estates of Parliament can meet, and give their Determination as to that point. Therefore the said Lords of Privy Council, finding that the Case foresaid, depending before the Parliament, is not obvious to be cognosced, and decided upon by the inferior Judges, but that the samine should be left intire to the Decision of the Parliament, have thought fit to signifie to all inferior Courts and Ministers of the Law, that the Matter above mentioned is depending before the Parliament: To the effect they may regulate and govern themselves in the Judging of all Processes to be intended before them, upon the said Matter, or in executing Sentences already pronounced thereupon as they will be answerable.

Sic subscribitur, Crafurd J. P. D. S. Ion.

I have just now (after my Sheet was ended) learned a Passage, which is put for the confirmation of that which has a Cross at it, and on the Margin refers to the Postscript. It is that a Presbyterian Minister in Edinburgh confessed (with regrate) to a Gentleman, this same very Week, that within this half year by-gone their Party has lost a great many thousands; 'tis true, he called them 40, but I must beg his pardon: for I doubt if they could ever reckon, by so great numbers, in the whole Kingdom (I still except the five Western Shires, where yet there's as little Religion, as in any part of Christendom.) He said further, That tho Patronages were a great Corruption, and the Church would never be well constitute, till they were abolished, and popular Elections advanced in their stead; yet they are not inclined, that that matter should be determined the ensuing Session of Parliament, because they find as the present Inclinations of the generality of the People go; were the settling of Ministers referred to popular Elections, they would chuse all either Cameronians, or of Prelatical Principles: I suppose his Meaning was, in the often mentioned five Western Shires, Cameronians would be chosen, and Episcopal Clergy-men through the rest of the Kingdom generally. By this ye may judge, whether I had reason to say, that their Party is very much diminished, and themselves are very sensible of it.

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