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vated charges against king James ; and to ask that which her majesty could not legally grant, was, to speak in the softest terms, in the church of Scotland highly unbecoming. At the same time, her majesty seems to have been willing to gratify them as far as was in her power. The withdrawing of the civil sanction from ecclesiastical censures, had filled the hearts of all good men with fearful apprehensions of what, were it possible to alter instantaneously national feelings, and national habits, by positive laws, would most certainly have been the immediate consequence-an overwhelming flood of immorality, * and, on the meeting of the General Assembly, May the first, 1712, in her letter by the commissioner, John, duke of Athol, keeping her eye on this very subject, she thus soothingly addresses them -" It haih always been our concern to employ our authority for suppressing vice and immoraliiy, and we assure you, that such magistrates as shall be most faithful in executing the laws and conforming themselves to our royal pleasure, signified in our proclamations, in punishing all such practices as are a scandal to the christian profession, shall have most of our countenance and favour. Lest any late occurrences may have possessed some of you with fears and jealousies, we take this solemn occasion to assure you, it is our firm purpose to maintain the church of Scotland as established by law; and whatever ease is given to those who differ from you in points, that are not essential, we will, however, employ our utmost care to protect you from all insults, and redress your just complaints.” The assembly, in return, observe, “ It is a satisfaction to us that your majesty is pleased to assure us, that such magistrates, as shall be most faithful in executing the laws against those practices which are a scandal to the christian pro
: * The advantages flowing from moral and religious habits, and the mis chievous tendency of bad laws, were, perhaps, never more fully manifested than in Scotland by these measures. Awed by moral and religious feeling, patrons, for a number of years, took little interest in the settlement of parishes, and it was long before candidates were found profligate enough to acknowledge them. Had it not been for the shameless conduct of ministerial candidates, patronage might have to this day remained a dead inoffensive letter. Magis. trates too, continued to act as formerly, notwithstanding the new law, and it was comparatively long before the church of Scotland know how much, by these acts, she had been shorn of her strength.
fession, shall have most of your majesty's countenance and favour; and we humbly presume to persuade ourselves, that your majesty will, in your royal wisdom, find out such methods as shall be most proper for making your pious purposes, expressed in your royal proclamations, more effectual than hitherto, to our deep regret, they have been.
« The late occurrences, which your majesty is pleased to take notice of, have, we must acknowledge, possessed us with fears and jealousies : but as we have always embraced, and do at present lay hold upon the assurance your majesty is pleased to give us, of your firm purpose to maintain the church of Scotland, as established by law, so we cannot, but with all dutiful submission, and in that truth and ingenuity that becomes the faithful ministers and servants of our Lord Jesus Christ, put your majesty in mind of the representations and petitions laid before you by the commission of the last General Assembly, for a remedy in these matters; humbly hoping that our most just complaints may come in due time and manner to be redressed.”*
The measures pursued by this assembly, however, were not calculated for obtaining any thing like a speedy redress of their grievances. Instead of intrenching themselves behind that legal constitution, which had so lately been declared unalterable; laying open the absurdity and contradiction of the oath itself, with its conséquent sinfulness; discharging all under their inspection, from discrediting their principles, and debauching their consciences by having any thing to do with it, and, with the spirit of ancient confessors, boldly saying, we are not careful, O queen, to answer thee in this matter, they contented themselves with simply approving the representations of the commission, which they ordered to be engrossed in their books, made a similar protestation of loyalty, and, after supplicating, in the same words, for a dispensation for such of their brethren as might find themselves under the necessity of refusing it, proceeded to “ most seriously obtest all the ministers and members of this church, whatever may happen to be their different practice, to entertain a good understanding herein,
* Printed Acts of Assembly, 1712.
in all mutual forbearance, firmly hoping, through the grace of God, that if they continue in the same good mind, seeking and serving the Lord in sincerity, and bearing with one another in mutual love and charity, our gracious God will extricate us out of all these difficulties.” They also “instructed and empowered their commission, to advert carefully to all good opportunities, and to use all proper and dutiful means and methods, whereby these our grievances may be redressed;" but a paper, proposing some means to be used for that end, drawn up by Mr. John Hepburn, minister of the parish of Urr, and a number of the societies in the south and south-west adhering to him, was rejected without so much as a hearing. *
There appears to have been a great neglect of the ordinance of the Lord's Supper in the church of Scotland at this period; and this assembly passed an act, ordering its dispensation in every parish at least once a year. The assembly further renewed their injunctions with regard to the society for propagating christian knowledge in the Highlands and Islands, and had the satisfaction of learning, from a committee of that society, that they had already agreed to set up eleven schools, beside the catechist or schoolmaster established at St. Kilda, viz, one at Abertarf, one in Castletown of Braemar, a third in Auchintoul, these last both in the Highlands of Aberdeen, a fourth in the parish of Larg, in Sutherland, a fifth in the parish of Durness, in Strathnaver, a sixth in Erlish, in the presbytery of Skye, an eighth in Glenelg, a ninth in Harray, Orkney, a tenth in the Island of Sandy, in the north Isles there, and the eleventh in Zetland; and it was added, that for all these they had found young men duly attested, and upon suitable trial sufficiently qualified. Another act was also passed, in favour of students having the Irish or Erse language, in order that there might be an abundant supply of instruments for the propagating the light of divine truth in that benighted portion of the country; and the assembly was concluded with a “recommendation to all synods, presbyteries, and kirk sessions to be much in prayer for direction to the ministers and judicatories of this church, and that God would
* Humble Pleadings, &c. &c.
preserve what he has wrought for us, and to return thanks to God for bringing this assembly to so comfortable a conclusion."*
The assembly having thus left the oath of abjuration to be taken or not, according to the discretion of individuals, it became a grievous snare to the church of Scotland. Many ministers absolutely refused it; and many members declined all communion with those who took it. Many of those, too, who took it, took it with explanations, which went to render their taking it of no utility, and made them objects of pity to their nonjuring brethren, and of contempt to their enemies the Jacobites, who were watchful spectators of their conduct, and did not fail to represent it in the most odious light.t
• Index to unprinted Acts of Assembly, 1712.
+ The following is a copy of the oath :-“I A. B. do truly and sincerely acknowledge, profess, testify, and declare, in my conscience, before God and the world, that our sovereign lady, queen Anne, is lawful and rightful queen of this realm, and of all other her majesty's dominions and countries thereunto belonging. And I do solemnly and sincerely declare, that I do believe, in my conscience, the person pretended to be prince of Wales, during the life of the late king James, and since his decease pretending to be, and taking upon himself the style and title of king of England, by the name of James the third, or of Scotland, by the name of James the eighth, or the style and title of king of Great Britain, hath not any right or title whatsoever to the crown of this realm, or any other the dominions thereunto belonging. And I do renounce, refuse, and abjure any allegiance, or obedience to him. And I do swear that I will bear faith and true allegiance to her majesty, queen Anne, and her will defend to the utmost of my power, against traitorous conspiracies and attempts whatsoever which shall be made against her person, crown, and dignity. And I will do my utmost endeavour to disclose and make known to her majesty and her successors all treasons and traitorous conspiracies which I shall know to be against her, or any of them. And I do faithfully promise to the utmost of my power, to support, maintain, and defend the succession of the crown against him, the said James, and all other persons whatsoever, as the same is and stands settled by an act entituled, An act declaring the rights and liberties of the subject, and settling the succession of the crown to her present majesty, and the heirs of her body being protestants; and as the same by another act entituled, An act for the further limitation of the crown, and better securing the rights and liberties of the subject, is and stands settled and entailed, after the decease of her najesiy, and for default of issue of her niajesty, to the princess Sophia, electress and dutchess dowager of Hanover, and the heirs of her body, being protestants. And all these things I do plainly and sincerely acknowledge and swear, according to the expre:s words by me spokeu, and
These latter had also the craft to raise an opinion which was widely spread, and readily reported by some of the jurant presbyterians, to bring discredit upon their nonjuring brethren, that the scruples they had against the oath were raised by
according to the plain and common sense and understanding of the same words, withont any equivocation, mental evasion, or secret reservation whatsoever. And I do make this recognition and promise, heartily, willingly, and truly, upon the true faith of a christian. So help me God.”
The following is the declaration, which was made at taking the oath, by the synod of Dumfries, aud it may be presumed that explanations made in other places would be of a similar tendency :-“We, the ministers of the established church of Scotland, in the synod of Dumfries and sheriffdom thereof, undersubscribing, are come hither to take the oath of abjuration, required of us by authority; which the act of security, for our church government, obliges us to understand only in a sense that is not any way contrary unto, or inconsistent with the true protestant religion, presbyterian church government, worship, and discipline, established by the said act, conform to an address from this church to her majesty, graciously received by her : and, therefore, we do declare, that we take it only in the said sense ; and that we reckon ourselves nowise obliged, from any thing in this oath, to approve of, or support the hierarchy, or ceremonies of the church of England, or any thing contrary to the said presbyterian church government, worship, and discipline. The which declaration we conceive to be agreeable to the true meaning of the words of the oath : and, therefore, crave the same to be recorded in the justices of the peace of the said sheriffdom their books, as the only sense wherein we take the said oath. Signed at Dumfries," &c. &c.*
The following account of the matter, by Lockhart of Carnwath, has a good deal of bitterness, but, we are afraid, at the same time, a great deal of truth.
“ It is also well worth remarking, that such of the presbyterian brethren as, in compliance with this law, became jurors, acted as odd a part, in the way and manner of their taking, as Mr. Carstares did in obtaining the oath of abjuration; for, as a great many, especially in and near to Edinburgh, would not by voncompliance run the hazard of incurring the penalties in the act contained, they were at the same time very solicitous to retain their reputation with the populace, and, in order thereto, framed ane explanation, containing the sense in which they took the said oath, viz. in so far as it was consistent with their known principles, and no further. After the brethren of the presbytery of Edinburgh, and I was told they followed the same method in most other places, had sworn and signed the oath, which to them was administered by a fill meeting of the justices of peace, they retired to a corner of the court, where Mr. Carstares repeated, or rather whispered, over the aforesaid explanation, in his own and his brethren's names, and thereupon he took instruments in the hands of a public notar, brought thither by hiin for that effect.
* Rae's History of the Rebellion, p. 16.