That the parliament at this time, or the king and parliament conjunctly, acted from the above latitudinarian principle, is further evident, from their establishing and consenting to the establishment of these two different and opposite forms of church government, Presbytery in Scotland, and Prelacy in England and Ireland, and both of them considered as agreeable to the word of God, and the only government of Christ's church in the several kingdoms, where they were espoused; which, as it is self-contradictory and absurd, so it is impossible they could ever have done this, if they had believed the divine right of either of them. And finally, by this conduct of theirs, the state declared their approbation thereof, and resolution to copy after the 16th Act, Sess. 2d Parl. 1st of Charles II (yet in force), which ascribes an Erastian power to the king, of settling church government as he shall think proper. By all which it appears quite inconsistent with the Revolution settlement, to consider church power in any other light, than as subordinate to the power of the state. And yet with this political and Erastian settlement of religion, the Revolution Church have declared themselves satisfied; they have not condemned Episcopacy, as contrary to the word of God, nor positively asserted the divine right of Presbytery, and disclaimed the claim of right and act of settlement, as their right of constitution; but, on the contrary, approved of both, as appears from the commission's act, 1709, and their address to the parliament, 1711, both homologated by the succeeding assemblies. Whereby they declare, that they have dropped a most material part of the testimony of the reformed church of Scotland, and are not faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ, in maintaining the rights of his crown and kingdom. From the whole, it may too justly be concluded concerning the Revolution settlement of religion, what the prophet Hosea declares of the calf of Samaria, Hos. viii, 6: "For from Israel was it also, the workman made it, therefore it is not God; the calf of Samaria shall be broken in pieces." It is not a divine institution founded upon the word of God, and regulated by his revealed law; but a human invention, owing its original in both kingdoms to the inclinations of the people, and governed by laws opposite to the laws of Christ in the word.
Hence we have the idolatrous institutions of Prelacy, established in the one nation, and Erastianism, under the specious pretext of Presbytery, in the other; and both under an exotic head of ecclesiastical government.
From what is said above, respecting the Revolution constitutions, and settlement of religion in the nations, it will appear, that the same are opposite to the word of God, and covenanted constitutions of both church and state, and to the reforming laws, between 1638 and 1650, ratifying and securing the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government of the church, and all divine ordinances, sacred and civil, according to scripture revelation; and therefore cannot be acknowledged as lawful, by any that make the law of God their rule, and desire to go out by the footsteps of the flock of Christ.
The Presbytery proceed now to consider the administration since the late Revolution, as standing in immediate connection with the forementioned constitutions and settlement: only, in the entry, it may be observed, that as the mal-administrations, civil and ecclesiastical, are increased to almost an innumerable multitude, so that it would be next to an impossibility to reckon them all; the Presbytery propose only to observe so many of the most remarkable instances, as shall be sufficient to justify a condemnation of the present course of the nations, although the constitutions could not, be excepted against as sinful. And,
1. The Presbytery declare and testify against the gross Erastianism that has attended the administrations of both church and state, since the Revolution. As the constitutions of both (above noticed) were Erastian and anti-scriptural, so their conduct ever since has been agreeable thereto, tending evidently to discover that, while the state is robbing out Redeemer of his crown, and his church of her liberties, this church, instead of testifying against, gives consent to these impieties.
Particularly, 1, as at the forementioned period, so ever since, the king has continued, by his own authority, to call, dissolve, and adjourn the national assemblies of this church. The first Revolution Assembly was held, by virtue of an Erastian indictment, and by the same power dissolved. The nest was, by royal authority, appointed to be at Edinburgh 1691, but by the same power, adjourned to 1692, and then dissolved, without passing any act; and though again indicted to meet 1693, yet was not allowed to sit until March 1694, near a year after the parliament had made an humble address to the sovereign for granting that privilege. But it would be endless to attempt an enumeration of all the instances of the exercise of Erastianism in this particular, which is annually renewed. How often, alas! have the assemblies been prorogued, raised, and dissolved, by magistratical authority, and sometimes without nomination of another diet? How frequently also, have they been restricted in their proceedings, and prelimited as to members, and matters to be treated of, and discussed therein; depriving some members of their liberty to sit and act as members, though regularly chosen, merely, because such had not taken the oaths appointed by law? All which exercise of Erastian supremacy natively results from the parliamentary settlement 1690. And when no adequate testimony was ever given by the church against such Erastian usurpations, but they are still crouched under and complied with, it may justly be constructed a tame subjection and woful consent to this supremacy. That this is no forced inference from the continued practice of this church, appears from this (besides other evidences that might be adduced), viz., That as the Revolution parliament, when ratifying the Confession of Faith, entirely left out the act of Assembly 1647, approving and partly explaining the same (wherein these remarkable words are, "It is further declared, that the Assembly understands some parts of the second article of the 31st chapter, only of kirks not settled or constituted in point of government") as being inconsistent with the Erastian impositions of the magistrate. So this church, when they cause intrants into the ministry subscribe the Confession, do not oblige them to subscribe it with this explanatory act (which does by no means admit of a privative power in the magistrate, destructive of the church's intrinsic power), but they only do it as the parliament ratified it.
2. Another instance of Erastianism practiced by both church and state, is, that when the king and parliament did bind down episcopal curates upon congregations, forbidding church judicatories the exercise of discipline upon the impenitent, and enjoining the Assembly to admit such, without any evidence of grief or sorrow for their former apostasy, upon their swearing the oath of allegiance, and subscribing a formula, homologating the Revolution settlement, substituted in the room of the covenants; the church approved of this settlement, and protection granted by the civil powers to such curates all their lifetime in their churches and benefices, who yet were not brought under any obligation to subject themselves to the government and discipline of the church. The truth of this is manifest, from sundry of king William's letters to the Assemblies, together with after acts of parliament, relative thereto. In his letter, dated February 13th, 1690, to the commission of the Assembly, he says, "Whereas there has been humble application made to us by several ministers, for themselves and others, who lately served under episcopacy; we have thought good to signify our pleasure to you, that you make no distinction of men, otherwise well qualified for the ministry, though they have formerly conformed to the law, introducing Episcopacy, and that ye give them no disturbance or vexation for that cause, or for that head: and it is our pleasure, that, until we give our further directions, you proceed to no more process, or any other business." In another letter, dated June 15th, 1691, he says, "We are well pleased with what you write, to unite with such of the clergy, who have served under Episcopacy; and that you are sufficiently instructed by the General Assembly to receive them; from all which, we do expect a speedy and happy success, that there shall be so great a progress made in this union betwixt you, before our return to Britain, that we shall then find no cause to continue that stop, which at present we see necessary; and that neither you, nor any commission or church meeting, do meddle in any process or business, that may concern the purging out of the episcopal ministers." And in a letter to the episcopal clergy, he says, "We doubt not of your applying to, and concurring with, your brethren the Presbyterian ministers, in the terms which we have been of pains to adjust for you; the formula will be communicated to you by our commissioners," &c. See also the 27th Act, Parl. 1695, where it is declared, "That all such as shall duly come in and qualify themselves, shall have and enjoy his majesty's protection, as to their respective kirks and benefices, they always containing themselves within the limits of their pastoral charge, within their said parishes, without offering to exercise any part of government, unless they be first duly assumed by a competent church judicatory; providing, nevertheless, that as the said ministers are left free to apply, or not, to the foresaid church judicatories," &c. To which agree, Act 2d, Parl. 1700; Act 3d, Parl. 1702; Act 2d, Parl. 1703, &c. Behold here the civil magistrate, exercising the supremacy in matters ecclesiastical, in that he both establishes the old Scots curates in their respective parishes, upon their former footing, limits them in the exorcise of their function, discharging them from exercising any part of ecclesiastical polity, but upon their uniting with the Presbyterians, on the terms he had adjusted for them. And further, by his authority stops the exercise of church discipline against these curates (though the most of them were notoriously scandalous); nay, even discharges the Assembly from proceeding to any other business, until they received other directions from the throne. Which palpable instance of Erastianism in the state, was not only peaceably submitted to, but heartily acquiesced in by the church: for as they had declared they would censure no prelatical incumbent for his principles anent church government, however much disaffected to a covenanted reformation, and had given frequent discoveries of their readiness to receive into communion the episcopal curates, according to the terms prescribed by the parliament (as appears from the Assembly records); so the Assembly 1694, Act 11th, having framed a sham formula, for receiving in the curates, containing no such thing as any renunciation of abjured prelacy, the abominable test, and other sinful oaths these creatures had taken, but only an acknowledgment of the Revolution settlement of religion, as established by law, by the foresaid act, appointed their commission to receive all the episcopal clergy who applied, and being qualified according to law, would also subscribe their formula, and that without requiring the least show of repentance for their scandalous public sins, and their deep guilt of the effusion of the blood of God's faithful saints and witnesses during the tyranny of the two brothers. These instructions to the commission and other judicatories (as appears by their acts), were successively renewed by the Assembly upward of twenty times, from 1694 to 1716, and were indeed attended with good success, as is evident from their address to the queen, recorded Act 10th, 1712; where they declare, as an instance of their moderation, "That since the Revolution, there had been taken in, and continued, hundreds of the episcopal curates upon the easiest terms," viz., such as were by the royal prerogative adjusted to them. Which practice, as it declares this church homologators of Erastianism, so is directly opposite to Presbyterian principles, the discipline and practice of our reformed church of Scotland, and to the laws of Christ, the supreme lawgiver, Ezek. xliv, 10-15; 2 Cor. vi, 17, 18, &c.
3. A third instance of the Erastianism practiced since the revolution, is, that the king and parliament have taken upon them to prescribe and lay down, by magistratical authority, conditions and qualifications, sine qua non, of ministers and preachers. For proof of which, see Act 6th, Sess. 4th, Parl. 1st, 1693, where it is enacted, "That the said oath of allegiance be sworn the same with the foresaid assurance, be subscribed by all preachers and ministers of the gospel whatever—certifying such of the foresaid persons as are, or shall be, in any public office, and shall own and exercise the same without taking the said oath and assurance in manner foresaid,—ministers provided to kirks shall be deprived of their benefices or stipends, and preachers shall be punished with banishment, or otherwise, as the council shall think fit." Also, Act 23d, 1693, it is ordained, "That no person be admitted or continued to be a minister, or preach within this church, unless that he have first taken and subscribed the oath of allegiance, and subscribed the oath of assurance in manner appointed. And further statute and ordain, that uniformity of worship be observed by all the said ministers and preachers, as the same are at present performed and allowed therein, or shall hereafter be declared by the authority of the same: and that no minister or preacher be continued and admitted hereafter, unless that he subscribe to observe, and do actually observe, the foresaid uniformity." The Erastianism in these acts seems screwed up yet a little higher, by Act 7th, Sess. 5th, Parl. 1st, 1695; where, after appointing a new day to such ministers as had not formerly obeyed, it is ordained: "With certification that such of the said ministers as shall not come in between and said day, are hereby, and by the force of this present act, ipso facto, deprived of their respective kirks and stipends, and the same declared vacant, without any further sentence." The Erastianism in these acts is so manifest at first sight, that it is needless to illustrate the same; only it may be remarked, that, by these acts, the civil magistrate prescribes new ministerial qualifications, viz., the oaths of allegiance and assurance; and these imposed instead of an oath of allegiance to Zion's King, viz., the oaths of the covenants. As also, that ministers are hereby restricted from advancing reformation, being bound down to observe that uniformity at present allowed, or that shall hereafter be declared by authority of parliament. And further, Erastianism is here advanced to the degree of wresting the keys of government out of the hands of the church altogether—taking to themselves the power of deposing all such ministers as shall not submit to their anti-christian impositions, and of declaring and ascertaining, by their own authority, what mode of worship or government shall take place in the church hereafter. This Erastian appointment of ministerial qualifications, &c., is evidently injurious, both to the headship of Christ in his church, and to the church's intrinsic power. It pertains to the royal prerogative of Christ, to appoint all the qualifications of his officers, which he has done in the Word. And it pertains to the church representative, by applying the laws of Christ in his Word, to declare who are qualified for the ministry, and who are not. But here the civil power, without any regard to church judicatories, by a magisterial authority, judges and determines, the qualifications that gospel ministers must have, otherwise they cannot be acknowledged ministers of this church. At the same time, it must be regretted, that the church, instead of faithfully discovering the sinfulness of foresaid conduct, and testifying against it, as an anti-christian usurpation, have declared their approbation thereof, by taking the above named illimited oaths, according to the parliament's order; and also by the assembly's enjoining their commission to act conform to the parliament's directions respecting ministerial qualifications, in their admission of those that had formerly conformed to Episcopacy, and refusing to admit any into their communion without having these new ministerial qualifications.
4. A fourth piece of Erastianism exercised since the commencement of the revolution settlement, against which the presbytery testify, is, the civil magistrate, by himself and his own authority, without consulting the church, or any but his parliament, privy council, and diocesan bishops, his appointing diets and causes of public fasting and thanksgiving. A number of instances might here be condescended on. So an act of the states, anno 1689, for public thanksgiving. An act of parliament 1693, appointing a monthly fast, declares, "That their majesties, with advice and consent of the said estates of parliament, do hereby command and appoint, that a day of solemn fasting and humiliation be religiously and strictly observed, by all persons within this kingdom, both in church and meeting-houses, upon the third Thursday of the month of May, and, the third Thursday of every month thereafter, until intimation of forbearance be made by the lords of their majesties' privy council; and ordains all ministers to read these presents a Sunday before each of these fast days, nominated, by authority; and ordains all disobeyers to be fined in a sum not exceeding 100L., and every minister who shall not obey, to be processed before the lords of their majesties' privy council; and requiring sheriffs to make report of the ministers who shall fail of their duty herein, to the privy council." But it is to no purpose to multiply instances of this kind, seeing it has been the common practice of every sovereign since the revolution, to appoint and authorize national diets of fasting, with civil pains annexed. And as the state has made these encroachments upon the royalties of Christ, so this church, instead of bearing faithful testimony against the same, have finally submitted thereto. In agreeableness to the royal appointment, they observed the monthly fast for the success of the war against Lewis XIV (of which above), and in favor of the Pope, which king William was bound to prosecute by virtue of a covenant made with the allies at the Hague, February, 1691, to be seen in the declaration of war then made against France, wherein it is expressly said, "That no peace is to be made with Lewis XIV, till he has made reparation to the Holy See for whatsoever he has acted against it, and till he make void all these infamous proceedings (viz., of the parliament of Paris) against the holy father, Innocent XI." Behold here the acknowledgment of the Pope's supremacy, and his power and dignity, both as a secular and ecclesiastical prince; and in the observation of these fasts, the church did mediately (tell it not in Gath—) pray for success to the man of sin—a practice utterly repugnant to Protestant, much more to Presbyterian, principles, and which will be a lasting stain upon both church and state. As this church did then submit, so since she has made a resignation and surrender of that part of the church's intrinsic right to the civil power, see Act 7th, Assem. 1710: "All ministers and members are appointed religiously to observe all fasts and thanksgivings whatever, appointed by the church or supreme magistrate; and the respective judicatories are appointed to take particular notice of the due observation of this, and Act 4th, 1722, Act 5th, 1725." From which acts it is manifest, that the Revolution Church has not only declared the power and right of authoritative indicting public fasts and thanksgivings for ordinary, even in a constituted settled national church, to belong, at least equally, to the civil magistrate, as to the church; but, by their constant practice, have undeniably given up the power of the same to the civil power altogether—it being fact, that she never, by her own power, appoints a national diet of fasting, but still applies to the king for the nomination thereof. And further, as a confirmation of this surrender, it appears from their public records, that when some members have protested against the observation of such diets, the assembly would neither receive nor record such protest. Now, the sinfulness of this Erastian practice still persisted in, is evident from the Scriptures of truth, where the glorious king of Zion assigns the power of appointing fasts, not to the civil magistrate, but to the spiritual office-bearers in his house. Jer. xiii, 18: "Say unto the king and queen, Humble yourselves." Here it is the office of the prophets of the Lord, to enjoin humiliation work upon those that are in civil authority, contrary to the present practice, when kings and queens, usurping the sacred office, by their authority, say to ministers, "Humble yourselves." See also, Joel i, 13, 14, and ii, 15, 16, compared with Numb. x, 8-10. Here whatever pertains to these solemnities, is entrusted to, and required of, the ministers of the Lord, without the intervention of civil authority. The same is imported in Matth. xvi, 19, and xviii, 18; John xx, 23—it being manifestly contained in the power of the keys committed, by the church's head, to ecclesiastical officers. Moreover, this Erastianism, flowing from a spiritual supremacy exercised over the church, is peculiarly aggravated by these particulars:
1. That commonly these fasts have been appointed on account of wars, in which the nations were engaged, in conjunction with gross anti-christian idolaters, who have been most active in their endeavors to root out Protestantism. Now, it cannot but be most provoking to the Majesty of Heaven for professed Presbyterians to observe fasts, the professed design of which, includes success to the interest of the avowed enemies of our glorious REDEEMER. Again, the above practice is aggravated, from this consideration, that these diets of fasting, with civil pains annexed to them, are sent by public proclamation, directed to their sheriffs and other subordinate civil officers, who are authorized to dispatch them to the ministers, and inspect their observation thereof. And while professed ministers of Christ tamely comply with all this, it amounts to no less, than a base subjection of the worship of God, in the solemnity of fasting in a national way, to the arbitrament of the civil powers, when whatever time and causes they appoint, must be observed.
From all which, in the words of the ministers of Perth and Fife, in their testimony to the truth, &c., 1758, the presbytery testify against the above Erastian conduct, as being, in its own nature, introductory to greater encroachments, and putting into the hands of the civil powers, the modeling of the worship of God, and things most properly ecclesiastical.
5. Another piece of Erastianism, respecting the present administration, which the Presbytery testify against, is the king and parliament their arbitrarily imposing several of their acts and statutes upon ministers and preachers, under ecclesiastical pains and censures; while this Revolution Church, by their silent submission and compliance therewith, have, at least, interpretatively given their consent thereto. Thus, as the oaths of allegiance and assurance were enjoined upon all in ecclesiastical office, under the pain of church censure (of which above), so likewise, Act 6th, 1706, ordains, "That no professors and principals, bearing office in any university, be capable, or be admitted to continue in the exercise of their said functions, but such as shall own the civil government, in manner prescribed, or to be prescribed by acts of parliament." In consequence of which, there is an Act 1707, an act in the first year of king George I, and another in the fifth year of his reign; by all which statutes, ecclesiastical persons are enjoined to take the oath of abjuration, with the other oaths, under pain of having ecclesiastical censures inflicted upon them. And they ordain, "That no person be admitted to trials, or licensed to preach, until they have taken the public oaths, on pain of being disabled." The foresaid act, in the fifth year of George I, ordains, "all ministers and preachers to pray in express words for his majesty and the royal family, as in former acts." The king and parliament at their own hand prescribe a set form of prayer for the Church of Scotland, and that under Erastian penalties, upon the disobeyers. Again, by an act of 1737, framed for the more effectual bringing to justice the murderers of Captain Porteous, it is enacted, "That this act shall be read in every parish church throughout Scotland, on the first Lord's day of every month, for one whole year, from the first day of August, 1737, by the minister of the parish, in the morning, immediately before the sermon; and, in case such ministers shall neglect to read this act, as is here directed, he shall, for the first offense, be declared incapable of sitting or voting in any church judicatory; and for the second offense, be declared incapable of taking, holding or enjoying any ecclesiastical benefice in that part of Great Britain called Scotland." The Erastianism of this act is very plain, the penalties thereof are ecclesiastical, and infer a kind of deposition; seeing the disobeyers are hereby disabled from exercising and enjoying what is essential to their office. Moreover, the wickedness of this act appears, in that it was appointed to be read on the Sabbath day, and in time of divine service; whereby ministers being constituted the magistrates' heralds to proclaim this act, were obliged to profane the Lord's day, and corrupt his worship, by immixing human inventions therewith, which was directly a framing mischief into a law. Yet, with all these impositions above noticed, this church has generally complied; and thereby declared that they are more studious of pleasing and obeying men, than God, seeing their practice therein infers no less, than a taking instructions in the ministerial function, and matters of divine worship, from another head than Christ.
6. The last piece of Erastian administration in church and state, the presbytery take notice of, and testify against, is that of patronages. When the parliament 1690, had changed the form of patronages, by taking the power of presentations from patrons, and lodging it in the hands of such heritors and elders as were qualified by law, excluding the people from a vote in calling their ministers, this Erastian act, spoiling the people of their just privilege, was immediately embraced by the church, as is evident from their overtures for church discipline, 1696, where they declare that only heritors and elders have a proper right to vote in the nomination of a minister. Also their overtures, 1705 and 1719, do lodge the sole power of nomination of ministers in the hands of the majority of heritors, by giving them a negative over the eldership and congregation. But, as if this had not been a sufficient usurpation of the people's right, purchased to them by the blood of Christ, by an act of parliament, 1712, the above act, 1690, is repealed, and patrons fully restored to all their former anti-christian powers over the heritage of the Lord; which yoke still continues to oppress the people of God. While again, this church, as if more careful to please the court, and court parasites, than Christ and his people, have not only peaceably fallen in with this change, daily practicing it in planting vacant congregations, but, as fond of this child of Rome, have further established and confirmed the power of patrons, by the sanction of their authority, as appears from several acts of assembly, thereby declaring their resolutions to have this epidemic evil continued, though it should terminate in the utter ruin of the church. Patronage was always by the Church of Scotland since the reformation, accounted an intolerable yoke; and therefore she never ceased contending against it until it was at last utterly abolished by acts both of reforming assemblies and parliaments; and that as one of the inventions of the whore of Rome.
As this anti-christian practice was unknown to the church in her primitive and purest times, until gradually introduced with other popish corruptions, so it has not the least vestige of any warrant in the word of truth: nay, is directly opposite thereto, and to the apostolical practice: Acts i, 15-24; chap. vi, 2-7: as also, xiv, 23, and xvi, 9, with other passages therein;—a book, intended to give us the apostolical practice and pattern, in the settlement of the Christian church: and 2 Cor. iii, 19, &c. Wherefore the presbytery testify against this Erastian usurpation, as most sinful in itself, most injurious to the church of Christ, and inconsistent with the great ends of the ministry; and against this church, for not only submitting unto, but even promoting this wickedness; which is evident, from her deposing some of her members, for no other reason but because they could not approve of this pernicious scheme. Witness Mr. Gallespie, minister at Carnock, who was deposed May, 1752: and against all violent intruders, who, not entering by the door, can be regarded only as thieves and robbers; John x, 1.
These are a few of the many instances of the Erastian usurpations of the headship of Christ, as a Son, in and over his own house, and of the church's intrinsic power assumed by the state, and consented to by this church since the Revolution. And without condescending upon any more, the presbytery concludes this part, with observing upon the whole, that when Henry VIII of England did cast off the authority of the see of Rome, and refused to give that subjection to the pope formerly paid by him and his predecessors; he did, at the same time, assume to himself all that power in his dominions, which the pope formerly claimed; and soon afterward procured to have himself acknowledged and declared, by act of parliament, to be head of the church—head over all persons, and in all causes, civil and ecclesiastical. And which anti-christian supremacy has, ever since, continued an essential part of the English constitution, and inherent right of the crown; so that all the crowned heads there, have ever since been as little popes over that realm: and that all such still appropriate unto themselves that blasphemous anti-christian title of the head of the church, and supreme judge in all causes, is undeniably evident from the known laws and canons of England: and further appears from a declaration made by King George I, June 13th, 1715, where he styles himself Defender of the faith, and supreme Governor of the church in his dominions; declaring, that before the clergy can order or settle any differences about the external policy of the church, they must first obtain leave under his broad seal so to do. Which title or authority for man, or angel, to assume, is a downright dethroning and exauctorating of Christ, the only and alone Head and Supreme Governor of his church. From this spiritual anti-christian supremacy, granted by English laws to the king of England, confirmed and established, by virtue of the incorporating union, in British kings, by acts of British parliament, do flow all the forementioned acts imposed upon the Revolution Church of Scotland. And as these acts and laws declare, that the British monarch confines not his spiritual supremacy to the church of England, but it extends it also over the church of Scotland: so this Revolution Church, having never either judicially or practically lifted up the standard of a public, free and faithful testimony, against these sinful usurpations, flowing from the fountain of said supremacy, and clothed with the authority of an anti-christian parliament, where abjured bishops sit constituent members, but, on the contrary, has submitted to every one of them; therefore, this church may justly be constructed, as approvers and maintainers of Erastian supremacy. And hereby, indeed, the revolt of these degenerate lands from their sworn subjection and obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ, as supreme in his own house, is completed, when they have these many years substituted another in his place, and framed supremacy into a standing law, to be the rule, according to which their kings must lord it over the house and heritage of the Living God. Again:
The presbytery testify against the manifold, and almost uninterrupted opposition to the ancient glorious uniformity in religion between the nations, that has appeared in the administrations of both church and state, since the last Revolution. The revolution constitution and settlement of religion, as has been already observed, laid our solemn covenants and work of reformation, sworn to therein, in a grave, and many stones have since been brought and cast upon them: many ways and measures have both church and state taken to make sure the revolution sepulcher of a covenanted work of reformation, and prevent, if possible, its future resurrection: against all which, the presbytery judge themselves bound to lift up their testimony. Particularly,
1. The presbytery testify against the incorporating union of this nation with England; and as being an union founded upon an open violation of all the articles of the Solemn League and Covenant, still binding upon the nations; and consequently, destructive of that uniformity in religion, once happily attained to by them: which will at first view appear, by comparing the articles of the union with those of the Solemn League. All associations and confederacies with the enemies of true religion and godliness, are expressly condemned in scripture, and represented as dangerous to the true Israel of God: Isa. viii, 12; Jer. ii, 28; Psal. cvi, 35; Hos. v, 13, and vii, 8, 11; 2 Cor. vi, 14, 15. And if simple confederacies with malignants and enemies to the cause of Christ are condemned, much more is an incorporation with them, which is an embodying of two into one, and, therefore, a straiter conjunction. And taking the definition of malignants, given by the declaration of both kingdoms joined in arms, anno 1643, to be just, which says, "such as would not take the covenant, were declared to be public enemies to their religion and country, and that they are to be censured and punished, as professed adversaries and malignants;" it cannot be refused, but that the prelatical party in England, now joined with, are such. Further, by this incorporating union, this nation is obliged to support the idolatrous Church of England; agreeable whereto, the Scottish parliament, in their act of security, relative to the treaty of union, declares, "that the parliament of England may provide for the security of the Church of England, as they think expedient." Accordingly, the English parliament, before entering upon the treaty of union with Scotland, framed an act for securing the Church of England's hierarchy and worship, as by law established. Which act, they declare, "Shall be inserted, in express terms, in any act of parliament which shall be made for settling and ratifying any treaty of union, and shall be declared to be an essential fundamental part thereof." Hence, the act of the English parliament for the union of the two kingdoms, contains the above act for securing the Church of England. Which act being sent down to Scotland, stands recorded among the acts of the last Scottish parliament. Moreover, the last article of said union contains, that all laws and statutes in either kingdom, so far as they are contrary to, or inconsistent with the terms of these articles, or any of them, shall, from and after the union, cease and become void; which, as in the act of exemplification, was declared to be, by the parliaments of both kingdoms. Thus, this nation, by engrossing the English act, establishing Prelacy, and all the superstitious ceremonies, in the act of the union parliament, and by annulling all acts contrary to the united settlement, have sealed, as far as men can do, the gravestones formerly laid upon the covenanted uniformity of the nations. To all which the revolution church, by consenting, and practically approving this unhallowed union, have said Amen; though, at first, some of the members opposed and preached against it, yet afterward changed, and (if some historians may be credited) by the influence of gold, were swayed to an approbation. This church's consent to the union is evident, from their accepting of the act of security, enacted by the Scots parliament, as the legal establishment and security of the Church of Scotland; and from the assembly 1715, utterly rejecting a proposal to make a representation to the king, that the incorporating union was a grievance to the Church of Scotland; though it ought still to be regarded as such, by all the lovers of reformation principles, because it is a disclaiming of our sworn duty, to endeavor the reformation of England and Ireland. It is a consenting to the legal and unalterable establishment of abjured Prelacy in them, obliges the sovereigns of Great Britain to swear to the preservation of the prelatical constitution, and idolatrous ceremonies of the episcopal church, and join in communion therewith; and, therefore, for ever secludes all true Presbyterians from the supreme rule. This union establishes the civil, lordly power of bishops, obliging the Church of Scotland to acknowledge them as their lawful magistrates and ministers, to pray for a blessing upon them in the exercise of their civil power, and is therefore a solemn ratification of anti-christian Erastianism. It has formally rescinded, and for ever made void any act or acts, in favor of a covenanted uniformity in religion, that might be supposed to be in force before this union: and therefore, while it stands, it is impossible there can be a revival of that blessed work, which was once the glory of the nations of Scotland, England and Ireland.
2. The presbytery testify against the sinful practice of imposing oaths upon the subjects, contradictory to presbyterian principles in general, and the oath of the covenants in particular, as the allegiance, and particularly the abjuration; all which oaths, imposed by a British parliament, exclude our covenanted uniformity, and homologate the united constitution. But, to prevent mistakes, let it be here observed, that the presbytery do not testify against any of these oaths, out of the remotest regard to the spurious pretended right of a popish pretender to the throne and crown of these kingdoms; for they judge and declare, that, by the word of God, and fundamental laws of the nations, he can have no right, title or claim, to be king of these covenanted kingdoms—seeing, by our covenants and laws, establishing the covenanted reformation, which are well founded on the divine law, all Papists, as well as Prelatists, are forever excluded from the throne of these, and especially of this land. So that it is utterly inconsistent with the principles maintained by this presbytery, constituted upon the footing of the covenanted church of Scotland, and the oath of God they, with the nations, are under, ever to acknowledge and own the popish pretender, or any of that cursed race, as their king; but they testify against these oaths, because they bind to the acknowledgment of the lawfulness of a prelatic Erastian constitution of civil government, and homologate the incorporating union, in one article whereof, it is declared, that these words, "This realm, and the crown of this realm, &c," mentioned in the oaths, shall be understood of the crown and realm of Great Britain, &c.; and that in that sense the said oaths shall be taken and subscribed, and particularly the oath of abjuration, which whosoever takes, swears to maintain Erastian supremacy, Prelacy, and English popish ceremonies; and so, at least, by native and necessary consequence, the swearing thereof is an abjuring of our sacred covenants. But that which puts it beyond all dispute, that the oath of abjuration, in the literal sense thereof, obliges to maintain the prelatic constitution of England, both in church and state, as by law established, and secured by the union act, is the express words of that act of parliament, by which this oath was imposed, and to which it expressly refers, viz., the act of further limitation, where it is said: "On which said acts (viz., of limitation, and further limitation), the preservation of your majesty's royal person and government, and the maintaining of the church of England, as by law established, do, under God, entirely depend. To the intent therefore, that these acts may be forever inviolably preserved, it is hereby enacted, that magistrates and ministers shall take the following oath," namely, of abjuration. The above act, then, declaring that said oath was directly intended for the support and establishment of the prelatic church of England, it follows, that this oath is a solemn abjuration of the covenanted reformation, as it is also expressly repugnant to Presbyterian principles. But though the above oath is so manifestly sinful, yet the ministers of this church did neither faithfully warn others of the sin and danger thereof, nor faithfully oppose it when imposed on themselves; but, agreeing that every one should act therein as he thought proper, they who refused it may be reputed socii criminis with the generality, who, contrary to their professed principles, did take and subscribe the same, and that (as says the oath) heartily and willingly; whereby they not only engaged to maintain a prelatic government, Prelacy, with all its popish ceremonies, but to maintain only a prelatic government, and to oppose all others, even though Presbyterian, in their accession to the throne; and this by virtue of the sinful limitations and conditions, wherewith the oath is clogged. And hereby, these nominal Presbyterians discover that they are not possessed of a zeal for the advancement of the true Presbyterian cause and principles, proportionable to that which the English discover for their will worship and superstition.
3. The presbytery testify against a sinful and almost boundless toleration, granted anno 1712, a woful fruit of the union; by which toleration act, not only those of the Episcopal communion in Scotland have the protection of authority, but a wide door is cast open, and ample pass given to all sects and heretics (popish recusants and antitrinitarians some way excepted, who yet are numerous in the nation), to make whatever attacks they please upon the kingdom and interest of our glorious Redeemer, in order to the advancement of their own and the devil's, and all with impunity. The foresaid act warrants the Episcopal clergy publicly to administer all ordinances, and perform their worship after their own manner, with all the popish canons and ceremonies thereof, and obliges all magistrates to protect and assist them, while it destroys the hedge of church discipline against the scandalous and profane, and is, therefore, a settling and establishing of Prelacy in Scotland, giving it a security, little, if anything, inferior to that which the established church has. Again, by a clause in the toleration bill, the security given by former laws to Presbyterian church government and discipline, is undermined and taken away, at least rendered ineffectual, and made the subject of ridicule to the openly profane, by the civil magistrate's withdrawing his concurrence, in as much as it declares the civil pain of excommunication to be taken away, and that none are to be compelled to appear before church judicatories. There is nothing in religion of an indifferent nature; "For whosoever [saith Christ] shall break one of the least of these commandments, and shall teach men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven." It must, then, be the most daring wickedness, and an affronting of the Majesty of Heaven in the highest manner, for an earthly monarch to pretend to enact a toleration of religions, and thereby give a liberty where the divine law has laid a restraint; it implies an exalting of himself, not only to an equality with, but to a state of superiority above, the God of glory. Whatever principles are of divine authority require no toleration from man; it is wickedness to pretend to do it, seeing whatever comes under the necessity of a toleration, properly so called, falls, at the same time, under the notion of a crime. And no less wicked is it for a magistrate to protect, by a promiscuous toleration, all heretics, heresies and errors; yea, it is a manifest breach of trust, and plain perverting the end of his office, seeing he is appointed to be custos et vindex utriusque tabulae, intrusted with the concerns of God's glory, as well as the interests of men. Experience has, in every age, taught, that a toleration of all religions is the cut-throat and ruin of all true religion. It is the most effectual method that ever the policy of hell hatched, to banish all true godliness out of the world. But however manifold the evils be that toleration is big with, this church, instead of opposing, seems to have complied therewith, and to be of toleration principles; which is evident, not only from their receiving into communion the Scots curates, of which above; but from their joining in communion with Mr. Whitefield (an English curate and member of that church, and ring-leader of the Methodists there), when he is in Scotland. Again, it is known, that when the Scots gentlemen are sent to attend the British parliament, or at any time in England, they do, many of them, join in communion with the prelatic church—nay, are guilty of taking the sacramental test (that is, taking the sacrament after their superstitious manner, to qualify them for any public post); yet this church receives them into the closest communion, without requiring any satisfaction for these evils; whereby they act contrary to Christ's example, in purging and keeping his house pure, and contrary to the Scripture; Rev. ii, 14, 15, 20.
4. In like manner, the presbytery testify against the tyranny that has frequently appeared in the administration since the revolution, both in church and state. The civil powers have discovered not a little of tyrannical and arbitrary power, in imposing their laws, statutes and injunctions, upon the church, as in the instances of the particulars formerly noticed. But further, it has appeared in their fining and imprisoning persons, because (though endeavoring to live peaceably, as far as possible, with all men) they could not, in conscience, and in a due regard to the covenanted cause, own the lawfulness of their authority, by swearing fidelity to the present constitution. Again, in their dispensing with, and counteracting, the law of God in a variety of instances. Thus, while, without any divine warrant, the crime of theft is capitally punished, yet the grossest adulterers, who are capitally punishable by the divine law, pass with impunity. And frequently reprieves, and sometimes pardons (as in the case of Porteous), have been granted to murderers, expressly contrary to the law of God, which declares that "Whosoever sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed." Another astonishing and full evidence of the above charge, is in the act repealing the penal statutes against witches, &c., 1735, where it is enacted, "That no prosecution, suit or proceeding, shall be carried on against any person or persons, for witchcraft, sorcery, enchantment or conjuration," &c. This act, in plain terms, flatly contradicts and opposes the law of God, in the very letter thereof. See Levit. xx, 6, 27; Deut. xviii, 10-12; Exod. xxii, 18. Not only has the state, in these and other instances (as the imposing almost intolerable taxations upon the impoverished subjects, for supporting the grandeur of useless and wicked pensioners, and for carrying on wars, often not only sinful in respect of their rise and causes, but in their nature and tendency unprofitable to the nations), been guilty of this evil, but also the Revolution Church has exercised a most tyrannical government. As many of the constituent members of the Revolution Church had shown a persecuting, tyrannizing spirit, against the faithful contenders for the truth, in the matter of the public resolutions, so the same spirit has still continued since the revolution, and frequently exerted itself in a most arbitrary manner, against all who have made any appearance for a covenanted work of reformation. Accordingly, soon after the revolution, this church raised some processes against Mr. John Hepburn, minister at Orr, under pretense of some irregularities, but in reality, for his making some appearance against their abounding defection, and for a covenanted work of reformation, and continued their prosecution to suspension and deposition; and further, applied to the civil magistrate, to apprehend said Mr. Hepburn, who accordingly was imprisoned in Edinburgh, and then, because of his preaching to the people out of a window, was carried to Stirling castle, and kept close prisoner there for a considerable time, as a book, entitled Humble Pleadings, fully discovers. They likewise exercised their tyranny against Messrs. Gilchrist in Dunscore, and Taylor in Wamphray, whom they prosecuted, not only to deposition, but even excommunication, for no reason but their bearing testimony against that ensnaring oath of abjuration, and a number of other defections. Again, this church, still fond of suppressing the good old cause and owners thereof, framed and prosecuted a libel, most unjustly (some even of themselves being judges), against Mr. John McMillan, minister in Balmaghie, for presenting, in a regular manner, a paper of real and acknowledged grievances; and, because he would not resile from it, but continued to plead for a redress, was at last deposed. As also Mr. John McNeil, preacher, for the same reason, had his license taken from him; and, by the authority of the assembly, both of them were prosecuted and censured, not for scandal, insufficiency or negligence, error in doctrine, &c., but only on account of their pleading for the covenanted reformation of the Church of Scotland, and maintaining a necessary testimony against the prevailing corruptions and defections of former and present times, as appears from their paper of grievances and joint declinature, printed 1708. Nay, such was their mad zeal against reformation principles, that, by the Act 15th of Assem. 1715, the commission was not only empowered to censure all the forementioned persons, but also enjoined to apply to the civil magistrate for suppressing and punishing them; and accordingly sundry of them were proclaimed rebels over public market crosses, only for their continued adherence to reformation. And besides other instances, their magisterial and lordly power exercised over the flock of Christ, in the violent intrusion of ministers into vacant churches over the belly of the people, and then excommunicating from sealing ordinances such as cannot in conscience submit to the ministry of these intruders, is a most glaring one; while at the same time, severe censures are inflicted upon such ministers as have the honesty to oppose these anti-christian measures. Loud complaints have likewise been made against their arbitrary and tyrannical conduct, with reference to Mr. Ebenezer Erskine, and others with him, designated by the name of the Associate Presbytery, because of their remonstrating against, and endeavoring to rectify, some of the forementioned evils in the church; the justness of which grievances and complaints may be instructed from their own writings on that head.
It must not be here omitted to remark, that as this church is justly charged with tyranny in government, so she is equally guilty of partiality in discipline. Though all that discover any measure of faithfulness in the concerns of Christ's glory, are sure to meet with most severe treatment, yet the loose, profane and erroneous, have seldom any church censures put in execution against them. This church never made any suitable inquiry into the sinful compliances, and sad defections of her members and office-bearers, during the persecuting period: and that unfaithfulness in the exercise of church discipline is still copied after. How few, guilty of the most gross scandals, are censured, such as notorious drunkenness, blasphemy, cursing, swearing, sabbath-breaking, uncleanness, especially among the rich, who are capable to give pecuniary mulcts to free them from church censure? (Thus, in conformity to the prelatical and anti-christian example, setting to sale the censures of the church, and dispensing with the laws of Christ for money.) Nay, not only are such overlooked, but many guilty of these gross sins, together with oppression, neglecters of family worship, and the grossly ignorant, are without any public acknowledgement of these sins, admitted to the highest and most solemn ordinances, viz., both sacraments. And this may be thought the less strange, when persons chargeable with most of these sins, are admitted, and continued to be office-bearers in the house of God. Persons, and even teachers maintaining most dreadful blasphemous errors connived at, patronized, or but slightly censured, and still kept in communion, without any open renunciation of these heresies. Play-houses, the seminaries of vice and impiety, erected in the principal cities of the nation, and stage players, commonly among the most abandoned of mankind, escape with impunity. Yea, this pagan entertainment of the stage is countenanced by the members and office-bearers of this church, and that to such a degree, that one of the ministers thereof has commenced author of a most profane play, called The Tragedy of Douglas, wherein immorality is promoted, and what is sacred exposed to ridicule. Oh! how astonishing! that a minister in the once famous church of Scotland should be guilty of such abominations, and yet not immediately sentenced to bear the highest of all church censure!
5. The Presbytery testify against this established church, for unfaithfulness of doctrine; which will appear by a few instances: although before the Revolution, the Lord Jesus was openly, as far as human laws could do, divested of his headship and sovereignty in and over his church; although the divine right of presbytery had been publicly and nationally exploded, derided and denied, yet this church has never by any formal act, declared that our Lord Jesus Christ is sole king, the alone supreme head of his church—nor in the same manner declared that the presbyterian form of church government is of divine right, and condemned all other forms as contrary to the word. Such a testimony was the more necessary, when the civil powers have arrogated Christ's power to themselves, and continue to exercise it over his church; and the want of it is an evidence of the church's unsoundness in the doctrine of government, and of Christ's kingly office. This church's error in doctrine further appears from their condemnation of a book entitled The marrow of modern divinity, as containing gross antinomian errors; whereby they condemned many great gospel truths as errors, particularly, that believers are altogether set free from the law, as a covenant of works, both from its commanding and condemning power, together with others; whereby they have made way for, and encouraged that legal, moral way of harranguing, exclusive of Christ and his most perfect righteousness (which is so common and frequent in all parts of the land), and opened a door for introducing Baxterian principles, which, in consequence hereof, have since very much prevailed. Another evidence of this church's unsoundness and unfaithfulness in doctrine, is their excessive, sinful lenity toward the most gross heretics. Notwithstanding Arminian and Pelagian heresies, and Arian blasphemies, have been publicly taught; and although true godliness, and the effectual working of the Spirit on the souls of men have been publicly exposed as enthusiasm, and many other damnable heresies vented, yet this church has never lifted up the faithful standard of a judicial testimony, in condemnation of these heresies, and in vindication of the precious truths of Christ thereby impugned. And when the ministers and members of this church have been processed before her assemblies, and convicted of maintaining many gross errors, no adequate censure has been inflicted. This particularly appears in the case of Mr. Simpson, professor of divinity in the college of Glasgow, when processed before the judicatories of this church, in the years 1715 and 1716, for several gross errors; such as, "That regard to our own happiness, in the enjoyment of God, ought to be our chief motive in serving him, and that our glorifying of God is subordinate to it: that Adam was not our federal head;" and other Arminian, Socinian and Pelagian heresies, all to be found in his answers to Mr. Webster's libel given in against him, and clearly proven: yet was he dismissed with a very gentle admonition. Which sinful lenity encouraged him, not only to persist in the same errors, but also to the venting of Arian heresies among his students.
Accordingly, he was again arraigned before the assembly's bar in the years 1727-28-29, when it was found clearly proven that he had denied the necessary existence of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the numerical Oneness of the Three Persons of the Trinity in substance and essence, with other damnable tenets. Yet when these articles, whereby he had attempted to depose the Son of God from his supreme deity, were proven, and when (as one of the members of this church, in his protest against the assembly's sentence, said) the Son of God was, as it were, appearing at the bar of that assembly, craving justice against one who had derogated from his essential glory, and blasphemed his name, at which every knee should bow. Yet such was the corruption and unfaithfulness of this church, that the blasphemer was dismissed without any adequate censure passed upon him, and still continued in the character of a minister and member of this church.
Again, when Mr. Campbell, professor of church history at St. Andrews, was processed before the judicatories of this church, for maintaining a scheme of dangerous and most pernicious principles, which he published to the world, having a manifest tendency to subvert revealed religion, and expose the exercise of serious godliness, under the notion of enthusiasm; to advance self-love, as the leading, principle and motive in all human actions whatever, and to destroy the self-sufficiency of God, making him a debtor to his creatures: yet though these, with a number of God-dishonoring, creature-exalting, and soul-ruining errors, were notorious from his books, and were defended by him; the heretic, instead of being duly censured, was countenanced and carressed: whereby this church has given a most deep wound to some of the most important truths of the Christian religion, and becomes chargeable with the guilt of all the errors maintained by that erroneous professor.
A third instance of this church's unfaithfulness, appears in the case of Mr. Glas, and others, who openly vented, by preaching and printing, independent schemes of church government, with some new improvements; attacked our Confession of faith and Covenants, unhinging all order and government in the church, pulled up the hedge of discipline, to introduce all errors in doctrine, and corruption in worship; and, at last, openly renounced presbytery, name and thing (denying that there is any warrant for national churches under the New Testament), and asserted, that our martyrs, who suffered for adhering to the covenanted reformation, were so far in a delusion, with many other sectarian tenets: for which, the church at first suspended, and then deposed some of them. But afterward, as if this church repented of doing so much in favor of presbytery, they were reponed, to the great danger of the church: for having discovered no remorse for their errors, they immediately employed all their parts to shake presbytery, by setting up independent churches and ordaining several mechanics to be their ministers; and nothing done by the church for putting a stop to these errors, and for reviving and vindicating the precious truths they had impugned.
Likewise, when Mr. Wishart was staged for error vented by him in some of his sermons, with respect to the influence of arguments taken from the awe of future rewards and punishments, and other erroneous notions; he was dismissed without any renunciation of his heterodox principles, and assoilzied by the judicatories of this church: and, as easy absolutions encourage error, so no sooner was he assoilzied, but he had the assurance to recommend erroneous books, such as Doctor Whitchcot's sermons, to his students. It is indeed no small evidence of the unsoundness of this church, when the heads of colleges are suffered, impune, to recommend such books for students and probationers to form upon.
Again, when professor Leechman was quarreled with for his deistical sermon on prayer, by the presbytery of Glasgow, and afterward carried before the assembly; yet although in all his sermons, he presents God as the object of prayer, merely as our Creator, without any relation to Christ, as Mediator; but recommends to his hearers, as the only acceptable disposition of mind, an assured confidence in the goodness and mercy of their Creator: not only has that Christless sermon been very much extolled, but the author dismissed from the assembly's bar in such a manner, as if thereby he had merited their applause. From all which it sufficiently appears, that this church is unsound and unfaithful, in point of doctrine; especially, if it is considered, that she has been frequently addressed by representations, declaring the necessity of an assertory net, affirming and ascertaining the precious truths injured and impuned, and that publicly, by the above mentioned errors; and that a solemn warning should be emitted, discovering the evil and danger of them: yet that necessary duty has still been contemned and disregarded.
The great truths of God, have, for many years, lain wounded and bleeding in our streets, trampled upon by their open and daring enemies; while this church has entirely forgotten and slighted the divine command, to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. And though the Westminster Confession of Faith continues to be subscribed by intrants into the ministry (the covenants owned by the Reformed Church of Scotland, as a part of her confession, being abstracted from the confession of this present church), yet how little of that system and order of doctrine is now taught? the generality having just as much of Christ, and the doctrines of his cross, in most of their discourses, as is to be found in the writings of Plato, Epictetus and Seneca, and the rest of the Pagan moralists. So that this church appears orthodox, in little (or no) other sense than the church of England is so, viz., by subscribing the thirty-nine articles, which are Calvinistical in the doctrinal parts; while yet the Arminian system of doctrine is generally received and taught by her clergy. Add to what is above, that this church maintains no suitable testimony against sins of all sorts, in persons of all stations; neither emits faithful warnings anent the snares and dangers of the nation, nor full and free declarations of present duty, as church judicatories, like faithful watchmen did in former times. But such faithfulness in God's matters is not now, alas! to be expected; seeing this church has made a formal concert, or mutual paction, binding up one another from preaching against, and applying their doctrines to the sins, corruptions and scandals of the times: see Acts of Assem. 16th, 17th, anno 1712; Act 6th, 1713; Act 8th, 1714; Act 6th, 1715. The Presbytery cannot also here omit observing, and that with deep regret, that although the most damnable principles, which have a direct tendency to deny the being of God, and so to propagate opinionative atheism, to subvert all religion, to extol the power of corrupt nature, and exalt Popery, as the best form of religion, to deny the subjection of the world to the providence of God, to destroy all distinction between virtue and vice, and consequently affirm, that there is no moral evil in the world, and to ridicule Christianity, as destitute of divine authority, have been lately vented by David Hume, Esq.; and another designated by the name of Sopho: yet this church has passed no suitable censure upon the authors of these impious and blasphemous principles, though they justly deserve the very highest: nor have they done anything to testify their dislike, or put an effectual stop to the spreading of these abominable tenets. The presbytery therefore, as they declare their abhorrence of these, and the other errors formerly mentioned, so testify against the church's notorious unfaithfulness, in suffering these wretches to pass with impunity; and as being, on all these accounts noticed, unsound and corrupt, in the matter of doctrine, &c. It may also be here remarked, as an undoubted evidence of the corruptness of the state, that, although there are civil laws presently in being, which declare the maintaining of antitrinitarian, atheistical principles, to be not only criminal, but capital; yet the civil powers in the nation have not so much regard to God, and the Son of God, as to punish treason openly acted against them.
6. The presbytery testify against both church and state, for their sinful associations with malignants: as declared enemies to the covenanted interest have engrossed the civil power wholly to their hands, since the public resolutions, that a door was opened for their admission; so such is the nature of the laws presently extant and in force, that one cannot be admitted to any office, civil or military, but by swearing away all friendship to a covenanted reformation. And, moreover, all along since the late Revolution, the nations have been the most earnest pursuing after friendship with the grossest idolators; and, in express contradiction to the word of God, have confederated in the closest alliance with God's declared enemies abroad; nay, have exhausted their strength and substance, in maintaining the quarrel of such as have been remarkable for their hatred at, and persecution of the protestant interest. The Revolution Church has also said a confederacy with such as have, on all occasions, shewed a rooted enmity and hatred at reformation principles: which appears from their admitting such (noticed above) to be office-bearers in the church: from their observing fasts, and praying for success to the allied armies, though almost wholly composed of such, and many of them oftentimes gross Popish idolaters: from their going in with, and approving of the sinful incorporating union with England: from their acknowledging the civil power of church men as lawful: from their joining in religious communion with Mr. Whitefield; and in many other instances. Not to insist further in enumerating particulars, the Presbytery finally testify against church and state, for their negligence to suppress impiety, vice, and superstitious observance of holy days, &c. The civil powers herein acting directly contrary to the nature and perverting the very ends of the magistrate's office, which is to be custos et vindex utriusque tabulae; the minister of God, a revenger, to execute wrath on him that doeth evil. Transgressors of the first table of the law may now sin openly with impunity; and, while the religious observation of the sabbath is not regarded, the superstitious observation of holy-days, even in Scotland, is so much authorized, that on some of them the most considerable courts of justice are discharged to sit. Stage-plays, masquerades, balls, assemblies, and promiscuous dancings, the very nurseries of impiety and wickedness, are not only tolerated, but even countenanced by law. And as these, with other evils, are permitted by the civil powers; so this church seems to have lost all zeal against sin. No suitable endeavors are used to prevent the growth of atheism, idolatry and superstition: and though Prelacy, as well as Popery, is growing apace in the lands, and organs publicly used in that superstitious worship; yet no testimony is given against them, but new modes introduced into the worship of God, for carnal ends, as a gradual advance toward that superstition. Yea, so unconcerned about suppressing vice and extravagant vanity, &c, that not only are the forementioned nurseries of sin frequented by ministers' children, but ministers themselves have countenanced them by their presence, to the great scandal of their office, and manifest encouragement of these seminaries of immorality. And notwithstanding that by the late proclamation, the penal laws against vice and profanity seem to be revived (which is in itself so far good), yet this cannot supersede or remove the ground of the Presbytery's testimony against church and state complexly, on the above account, or even against the thing itself, in the manner that it is gone about. For besides that, notwithstanding of all former endeavors of this kind, since the overthrow of our scriptural and covenanted reformation, immorality and wickedness have still increased and overflowed all these banks; partly, because, after all their pretenses, the laws were not vigorously put in execution (and as good, no law nor penalty, as no execution), and partly, because these law-makers, being also themselves the law-breakers, have entrusted the execution to such as are generally ringleaders in a variety of gross immoralities; it is not likely, that ever God will countenance and bless such attempts, whereby (contrary to scripture and all good order) the ecclesiastical power is subjected to the civil, and ministers made the bare inspectors of men's manners, and informers to inferior judges, without having it in their power to oblige such transgressors (if obstinate) to compear before church judicatories, and conform and submit to the laws of Christ's house. Nay, so far will God be from approving such Erastian methods of reformation, that he will certainly visit for this, among all our other iniquities, and in his own due time make a breach upon us, because we sought him not in the due order. Wherefore, and for all these grounds, the Presbytery testify against both church and state, as in their constitutions Erastian and anti-scriptural, including the substitution and acknowledgement of another head and governor over the church than Christ, as may be sufficiently evident from proofs above adduced. And particularly, because the British united constitution is such as involves the whole land, and all ranks therein, in the dreadful guilt of idolatry, communicating with idolators, apostasy, perjury, &c. They declare they can have no communion therewith; but that it is such an association as that God's call to his people, concerning it, is, "Come out from among them. Be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you, saith the Lord."
* * * * *
SUPPLEMENT TO PART SECOND.
For as much as a good number of people in the north of Ireland have acceded, and submitted themselves to the Presbytery, and one of their number is fixed among them as their proper pastor; the Presbytery intended to have subjoined something by way of appendix to the above Testimony, with relation to the state of religion in that kingdom, especially with regard to the settlement of the presbyterian religion there. But as diocesan Episcopacy is the religion there established by law, against which the Presbytery has declared and testified (as above) as an anti-scriptural, anti-covenanted and merely a human and political settlement (whether considered abstractly or complexly with that in the kingdom of Scotland), there needs nothing be further said anent it. And as those called Presbyterians in Ireland, are equally enemies to the true covenanted Presbyterian cause with those of the Revolution Church of Scotland; so the above testimony equally strikes against them with the other. There seems, however, to be this considerable difference betwixt the Presbyterians in Scotland and Ireland, viz., That although the settlements the same as to the matter of it, yet so it is not as to the form or manner of it, the Presbyterians in Ireland neither having, nor claiming any other security or foundation for their different mode of religious worship than the royal indulgence, or toleration Act. And therefore, as the Presbytery did and do testify against toleration, and toleration principles, disclaiming such an anti-scriptural shelter; they therein, of consequence, bear witness and testimony against all such as do in these lands (where God has given his people a claim of another kind) professedly dwell under such a shadow. But besides, the Presbytery view them (complexly considered) as unworthy of their regard or notice in these papers, as to engaging in any particular or explicit testimony against them, in as much as they have denuded themselves of almost any pretense to the Presbyterian name, by not only disclaiming and opposing the true Presbyterian cause, but having also fallen from the belief and profession of the most important and fundamental truths of Christianity; thereby plainly discovering themselves to be creatures of quite another species and spirit, than the ministers of Jesus Christ, and friends to the blessed spiritual Bridegroom; deserving rather to be termed a synagogue of Libertines, a club of Socinians, Arians, Pelagians &c., banded together against Christ, and the doctrines of his cross than a synod of the ministers of the gospel. Therefore, as the presbytery testify and remonstrate against them, their toleration, or indulgence footing, on which they professedly stand, together with their poisonous jumble and medley of errors, commonly called Newlight, adopted, and with the greatest warmth and diligence, spread and propagated by most of them, and connived at and tolerated by the rest and all their books or prints written by them, or others of the like spirit with them in defense of these dangerous and damnable tenets so they do hereby judicially warn and exhort all the people under their inspection there, to beware of such men, and such books, however they may varnish over the doctrines they bring, with fine words fair speeches and pretenses, in order to deceive the hearts of the simple; and this, as they would not incur the displeasure of a holy and jealous God, and have their souls defiled and destroyed by these error's. On the contrary to endeavor to have their minds and understandings enlightened with the knowledge of the truths of Christ, and mysteries of his gospel, and their hearts warmed with the love of them; so that being through grace established in the belief of the truth, they may not "be as children tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;" Eph. iv, 14, 15. "But speaking the truth in love may grow up in all things unto him, which is the Head even Christ;" and striving to refrain and keep themselves from every wicked, offensive and backsliding course, and to live soberly, righteously and godly, blameless and harmless as the sons of God, without rebuke, adorning the gospel of Christ with a conversation becoming the same; so shall they thereby glorify God, and transmit a faithful testimony for the despised truths of Christ to posterity, that so there may be a seed to do service unto him in these lands, and make his name to be remembered through all generations.
The principles of some parties, who have made the most specious appearances for the Reformation, considered.—Particular grounds of testimony against that body of ministers and people known by the name of the Secession, wherein their partiality and unfaithfulness in their profession of the covenanted testimony of the Church of Scotland is discovered in various instances,—their loose and immoral doctrine about civil society and government—their corruption in worship, sinful terms of communion, &c., &c.
The Presbytery having in the preceding pages exhibited their testimony against both church and state, as now established in these isles of the sea, and therein discovered the reasons, why they are obliged to disapprove of both, proceed, next, to take notice of some of the parties that have made the most specious appearances for reformation in this land since the Revolution, of which that party commonly known by the name of the Secession, are not the least remarkable. It is vast pity, and it is with grief and lamentation, that the Presbytery find themselves, in point of duty, obliged to lift up a testimony against the forementioned party; considering, that they have made a professed appearance under a judicial banner displayed for truth, and a covenanted work of reformation, and have, in reality, showed much zeal in opposing a variety of errors in doctrine, corruption in discipline and government, most prevalent in the national Church of Scotland; have contributed to vindicate some of the most important truths and doctrines of the Christian faith, that have been openly impugned in this day of blasphemy, and may have been instrumental in turning many to righteousness, and reviving the exercise of practical godliness among not a few. But as Paul withstood Peter to the face, and testified against his dissimulation, though both of them apostles of our common Lord and Savior; so it still remains duty to testify against the most godly, and such as may have been very useful to the church in many respects, in so far as they have not showed themselves earnest contenders for the faith once delivered to the saints, but have dealt treacherously with God in the concerns of his glory. It is therefore with just regret they proceed to observe, that they are obliged, to testify against this party designated, first, by the title of The Associate Presbytery (and then that of The Associate Synod)—and that particularly, for their error in doctrine, treachery in covenant, partiality and tyranny in discipline and government. It may at first seem strange, to see a charge of error advanced against those who made the countenancing of error in the judicatories of the established church, one principal ground of their secession therefrom. But by taking a narrower view of the principles and doctrines which they have roundly and plainly asserted, and endeavored to justify in their printed pamphlets anent civil government, the reception and belief of which they zealously inculcate upon their followers, it will appear, that their scheme is so far from tending to promote the declarative glory of God, and the real good of human and religious society, or the church of God, which are the very ends of the divine ordinance of magistracy, that it is not only unscriptural, but anti-scriptural, contrary to the common sentiments of mankind, and introductive of anarchy and confusion in every nation, should it be thoroughly adopted, and therefore ought to be testified against. The sum of their principles anent civil magistracy, may be collected from these few passages, to be found in a print entitled, Answers by the Associate Presbytery to reasons of dissent, &c.—Page 70. "This divine law, not only endows men in their present state with a natural inclination to civil society and government, but it presents unto them an indispensable necessity of erecting the same into some form, as a moral duty, the obligation and benefit whereof no wickedness in them can lose or forfeit.—Page 74. Whatever magistrates any civil state acknowledged, were to be subjected to throughout the same.—Page 50. Such a measure of these qualifications (viz., scriptural) and duties cannot be required for the being of the lawful magistrate's office, either as essential to it, or a condition of it sine qua non: I. It cannot be required as essential thereunto; for then it would be the same thing with magistracy, which is grossly absurd, and big with absurdities. In the next place, it cannot be a condition of it sine qua non, or, without which one is not really a magistrate, however far sustained as such by civil society; for then no person could be a magistrate, unless he were so faultlessly. The due measure and performance of scriptural qualifications and duties belong not to the being and validity of the magistrate's office, but to the well-being and usefulness thereof.—P. 87. The precepts, already explained, are a rule of duty toward any who are, and while they are acknowledged as magistrates by the civil society. Nothing needs be added for the clearing of this, but the overthrow of a distinction that has been made of those that are acknowledged as magistrates by the civil society, into such as are so by the preceptive will of God, and such as are so by his providential will only; which distinction is altogether groundless and absurd: All providential magistrates are also preceptive, and that equally in the above respect (viz., as to the origin of their office) the office and authority of them all, in itself considered, does equally arise from, and agree unto the preceptive will of God.—P. 88. The precepts already explained (Prov. xxiv, 21; Eccl. x, 4; Luke xx, 25; Rom. xiii, 1-8; Tit. iii, 1; 1 Pet. ii, 13-18), are a rule of duty equally toward any who are, and while they are acknowledged as magistrates by the civil society; they are, and continue to be a rule of duty in this matter, particularly, to all the Lord's people, in all periods, places, and cases." These few passages, containing the substance of Seceders' principles on the head of civil government, may be reduced to the following particulars: 1. They maintain the people to be the ultimate fountain of magistracy, and that as they have a right to choose whomsoever they please to the exercise of civil government over them; so their inclinations, whether good or bad, constitute a lawful magistrate, without regard had to the divine law. 2. That the law of God in the scriptures of truth, has no concern with the institution of civil government, but only adds its precept in forcing obedience upon the conscience of every individual, under the pain of eternal damnation, to whomsoever the body politic shall invest with the civil dignity; and that, without any regard to the qualifications of person or office. 3. Whomsoever the primores regni, or representatives of a nation, do set up, are lawful magistrates, and that not only according to the providential, but according to the preceptive will of God also, in regard that God, the supreme governor, has prescribed no qualifications in his word, as essential to the being of a lawful magistrate, nor told what sort of men they must be, that are invested with that office over his professing people, though it is confessed there are many that are necessary to the well-being and usefulness of that office: and therefore, 4. That no act, or even habitual series of the greatest wickedness and mal-administration can forfeit the person's right to the people's subjection, for conscience sake, considered as individuals, while the majority of a nation continue to recognize and own his authority. The absurdity of this scheme of principles may obviously appear at first view to every unbiassed mind that is blessed with any competent measure of common sense and discretion, and tolerable knowledge of divine revelation. That magistracy is a divine ordinance, flowing originally from Jehovah, the supreme and universal Sovereign of Heaven and earth, as the ultimate fountain thereof, cannot be denied. Neither is it to be doubted, but that the Lord has lodged a power and right in the people, of choosing and setting up those persons that shall exercise civil government over them, and to whom they will submit themselves. But then, while God has lodged this power in the people, of conveying the right of civil authority to their magistrates, he has at the same time given them positive and unalterable laws, according to which they are to proceed, in setting up their magistrates; and, by the sovereign authority of the Great Lawgiver, are they expressly bound to act in agreeableness to these rules, without any variation, and that, under the pain of rebellion against him, who is King of kings, and Lord of lords. The Presbytery, therefore, testify against this scheme of Seceding principles, calculated, in order to inculcate a stupid subjection and obedience to every possessor of regal dignity, at the expense of trampling upon all the laws of God, respecting the institution, constitution, and administration of the divine ordinance of magistracy. Particularly, this opinion is,