Edinb. Jan. 11. 1690.
I Wish you a good New Year: When I parted with you lately at London, I found your Tenderness and Compassion enclin'd you to lament the sad condition of our Church, and I remember you ordered me then to let you know whether the Truth of things would justifie the Reports that went current there, of the Sufferings of the Clergy; I found that the half was not told you then of what is commonly known in this place. No History can parallel the tragical Disasters the Clergy have met with since the beginning of this Revolution; it is very surprising, the present Governours should make it their business to sacrifice the Episcopal Clergy (by Law established) to the Fury and blind Rage of an opposite Faction; Strangers will wonder at it, and it is not easily accountable what can be the Politic to imbitter so considerable a Body. It is shameful for the Judges to be so partial, as plainly and openly to avow, they do not intend their Obedience, but their Ruin. To give you a particular account of the Disgraces and Affronts put upon the Clergy since the beginning of 1689. would fill a Volume: How they have been driven in the midst of Winter, with their Wives and tender Children, from their Houses and Residence: Nor is this to be imputed so much to the barbarous Executioners, as to the bloody and enthusiastick Company that inspir'd them. There is no safety for some Men, but in the universal Shipwreck of Church and State; the shaking of the Nation was so terrible, that all the Scum got uppermost, our State and our Church were at once levelled with the Earth, and the Protestant Religion lost its former signification (when we understood by it unmix'd Christianity free from Superstition and Enthusiasm) and now it is no more than every mans fantastic humor, new Models of Government, and a liberty to pull down the things that are most ancient and most sacred. Will not the Protestants in England wonder, that some of our Ministers have been deprived for not reading a Proclamation for a Fast, the Narrative whereof implyed no less, than that the Episcopal Clergy were destitute of the assistance of God's Spirit in the exercise of their Ministry: You may see the Paper when you please, and I believe a coarser you never saw in print. Not to mention here, that the Art of all Mankind could not make Sense of a certain Paragraph in it. And is it not as odd, that when they were sifted before the Council, they were not so much as once asked, why they did not read that extraordinary Paper, concerning the late King; nor whether they will comply with the present Government for the time to come. I know, if this Paper be seen abroad, their Impudence will contradict it, but a matter of Fact so publickly known, defies Calumny it self. I have spoke with many of the Clergy here, and with a great many of the Laity; and I never heard of any thing more bitter and persecuting. How unworthily the Ministers of Edinburgh particularly have been treated in this Affair, the World may judg by this one instance. The said Paper pass'd in the Convention of the Estates upon Friday, it comes from the Press late at Saturday, and the Ministers within the City upon half an hours advertisement on Sunday Morning were enjoyned to read it, under pain of Deprivation. I remember you once blamed the Clergy for not Addressing the present Court for Protection: They made their Application from the beginning, but to no purpose, tho they were furnish'd with all necessary Evidence of their bad Usage. You know that Presbytery is to be established here by the next Session of Parliament; and you know that the Roman Inquisition is not half so rigid as that will be when they are once in the Saddle: To what purpose then should they beat the Air, when their Ruin is thought by many to be a part of the Bargain. There is nothing so inconsistent with Presbytery, as Toleration of any that differ from them in the least Iota: It is true, they are against the Apostolick Doctrin of Non-Resistance, but they will not be resisted themselves. And since the Episcopal Clergy here know they are given up as a Prey to their Enemies Teeth, they had rather sit silent under their Malleur, than struggle with the Stream when it is so violent and impetuous. The present Faction endeavour by all Art and Industry, to perswade King William, that the Flower and Multitude of the Nation is for Presbytery: It were an easie thing for him to put this to the tryal. Let the West-Country People, who are so brave and generous in tearing Ministers Gowns, reduce the Highlanders now in Arms for King James, and then let it be granted, that they are the Men they pretend to be: And unless they are able to do this, we must judge of them as a clamorous and inconsiderable Faction, whose Nature it is, to cross and resist every Creature that's but called a King. And it is very wonderful, that all the Civil Magistrates in Christendom do not banish that Supremacy of the Kirk from off the Earth, being equally subversive of all Republicks, as it is indeed inconsistent with Monarchy. The Protestants in the beginning of the Reformation, thought they did Christendom good Service, when they discovered and exposed the Tyranny of the Popish Supremacy over Christian Magistrates; but the very same Doctrin of Rome is here hugg'd, as the great Palladium of the Protestant Religion. And to be short, let them swear Allegiance to all the Kings in Christendom, it must be in subordination to this great Article, that all Persons and Councils must strike Sail to omnipotent Presbytery; they are taught by their hopes of Heaven, to resist the King, when he either counteracts or contradicts the Decisions of the General Assembly, which general Assembly may and ought to meet when and where they please, without or against the King's express Will: These are not imaginary Consequences fasten'd on them and their Doctrin by Art and ill Nature; but the plain History of what they have done here, and by their Principles are obliged still to do. A Liberty to tyrannize over all not of their stamp is the Idol they adore; the Kirk Supremacy is by so much the more mischievous, by how much it is more inquisitive, precipitate, and confused than the pretended Authority of the Bishop of Rome; but I have digressed too far. If the Disasters under which the Clergy groan, were confined to what they have suffer'd in their own Nation, it may be they would endure it with greater patience. But when the Faction have hired some scurrilous Scriblers to defame them abroad by weekly Libels, it cannot but excite Indignation and Pity. There appear'd a Pamphlet lately called Plain Dealing; if the Author had been considerable for any thing, he might be sufficiently exposed for his Lyes; but being but newly put upon writing of Books, he must be excused, if he cannot otherwise support the Faction, but by Calumny; when he is more expert, he will defend them with plausible and artificial Stories. It is not worth your while to go thorough the several Inconsistences and whining Impertinences that are in that Pamphlet. It is enough to glance at one, by which you may guess at the man's Impudence, viz. That in the Parliament 1685. all the Bishops, except Three, were for repealing the Penal Laws against the Papists, when it is known to the whole Nation, that all of them almost were determined to Vote against the repealing of those Laws, if ever that Affair was offer'd in Parliament: And such of them as might be thought to favor the design of repealing those Laws, did sincerely judg their Method in their Circumstances at that time, to be the best Fence and Shelter against Popery, and all their Concessions did not amount to Min heer Fagel's famous Letter, which contained the Sentiments of the present Court.
When the Faction had ruined the Clergy at home, they were afraid they might be pityed abroad; and to justifie their Sacriledg and Villany, they endeavour to cover them all under Libels and Invectives, and represent them to other Nations, as vitious and Illiterate. For the information of Strangers, I will consider both parts of the Accusation; first, as to the Immoralities alledged against the Clergy, there cannot be a more atrocious and spiteful Calumny: It is not possible for them to convince credulous Strangers by an open, fair, and visible Tryal, that this is a Lye; for they have no Fence against the Malice and Activity of their Enemies, but their Patience and their Prayers; if their learned and compassionate Brethren in England would interpose so far with the present Court, as to have this Affair examined before any impartial Judicature; then such as were found guilty, should be derpiv'd of the Honor of the Priesthood, and not suffered to continue Stumbling-Blocks to the People; but let me acquaint you plainly, that there shall never be such a Judicatory erected, and that it is not the Method of their Enemies, to have things fairly and calmly enquired into: And therefore the Clergy beseeches all generous Strangers to stop their Ears against such wicked and indefatigable Calumniators. They give their Enemies open and publick defiance upon this Head; it is enough that they are banished, rifled, and plundered in the most savage manner, tho they be not robb'd of the Compassion of Strangers. It is true, that in the Records of Council, relating to the deprived Clergy, there is a Column containing Immoralities libelled against some of them; but it's as true, that tho they are recorded (to make the World believe them guilty) yet they were never examined fairly; the Artifice of their Enemies is mean, as it is wicked; first, to invent Calumnies and Slanders, and then leave them unexamined, boldly to vent them amongst Strangers, when they had not the Confidence at home to give one instance of such Immoralities amongst so many Hundreds that have been deprived. How easily and how sadly might they recriminate upon this Head; but that's not so pleasant in it self, nor will it serve the designs of Christianity: But shortly there shall be a more full, free, and particular Answer given to those scandalous Reports, in a Treatise ready for the Press. The Persecutions of the Clergy here are beyond any parallel. I cannot forbear to give you one instance of it, Mr. John Mowbray, Minister of Strachbrock, complyed with the present Government in all its steps (a place not above Eight Miles from Edinburgh); yet upon the 12th of July 1689. a Company of Fanaticks who were sufficiently taught how to behave themselves, entered his House in a hostile manner, tore hi Gown, threatened his Life, beat his Daughter, and frighted his Wife to death; when their Fury was a little over, he ventur'd once again to officiate; but my Lord Cardross, Patron of the said Church, and one of the Privy-Council, caused lock the Church Doors, and sent his Minister a packing, tho he defies the severest Tryal for Life or Doctrin; and all this for no other reason, but because he had Episcopal Ordination; for my Lord's Conscience did not allow him to hear any such.
As to the other Accusation of their being Ignorant, I would gladly know, who are these learned Gentlemen among the Scotch Presbyterians that found them so after Tryal; this is a thing they dare not so much as whisper at home, except it be amongst those good Women that sell Tripes at the Cow-Gate. There could not be any thing thought on more comfortable to the Clergy here, than that there were some learned and grave English Church-Men sent hither to enquire into the Literature and Sufficiencies of both the contending Parties. But this Proposal will never be heard, it's enough that they are once run down with Clamor, Violence, and Noise: But it is no part of their business to have things put to a fair, serious, and open Tryal, they dare not attempt it, and therefore I allow you to defie the Accusers of the Clergy upon this Head also, and to convince Strangers how improbable this Calumny must be, let them consider how much the oppressed Clergy was and is favored by the honorable and learned Society of the College of Justice, who are the best Judges in this Case. The Blasphemies and Fooleries that are heard at present from the Pulpits of Edinburgh, make up the Entertainment of most Companies, they discourse of the Mysteries of Christianity so coarsly and familiarly, as they do of the meanest and vilest things in Nature. But it is not possible that the regular Clergy can be so ignorant as their Enemies represent them: For the steps of their Tryal are various and difficult, before they are allowed to preach in publick: And when they are presented to a Church, they undergo the same Tryals over again in Theology, Languages, and Preaching. I never heard that the Presbyterian Genius was very fond of too much Learning, especially among the Scotch Cameronians, a kind of People so wedded to their own peculiar and nonsensical Whimsies, that they are now become Antipods to Mankind in their Language, Behaviour, Morals, and Intellectuals. There cannot be any thing imagined more fantastically foolish than the Education of their Preachers, when they have so much Latin as to understand a Dutch System, they are thought profound, and more learned than is necessary, and very few of them arrive at this. Lately one of them who had spent much of his time in selling Buttur and Cheese, would turn a Minister, and being asked it he understood Greek and Latin, answered No, he could read the English Bible, and that was enough. It is the saddest Oppression to be run down with Clamor, and no probability of being heard: But let the Enemies of the Clergy remember the Jewish Proverb, That he that pulleth a Stone out of the Temple, ere it be long the Dust will fly in his Eyes. The Ruin and Disgrace of so many Clergy-Men, one would think, cannot be a good Foundation for a new Government. But this is not all, when the Clergy are thrust from their Houses and Livelihoods. It seems there is a further design to starve them, as appears by a late Act of Council promoted by the Presbyterian Party, discharging all Judges within the Nation, to pass Sentence in favors of the Clergy for the by-gone Tythes yet unpaid and due to the Episcopal Ministers, until the Parliament take that Affair into their consideration. I have sent herewith a Double of that Act, make what use of it you please: I do not encline it should be printed (tho this should) for that would reflect too much upon the Honor of our Nation. What to with either, I cannot advise you at this distance. Farewel.