« PreviousContinue »
are, or shall be members constituent of their correspondence. W e find also, stricter conclusions adopted, with respect to the appointment, and the attendance of commissioners to their general meetings, and orders issued for filling up their session
clarations, in the defence of the foresaid covenanted reformation, agreeable to, and fouóded on, God's word, ever since the foresaid year 1650, not regarding the foul aspersions of rebellion, combination, or schism, or what else our adversaries, from their craft and malice, would put upon us; seeing wbat we do is so well warranted, and ariseth from an unfeigned desire to maintain the true religion; to obtain the protection and preserve the honour of righteous government, and promote the peace and happiness of the kingdoms.
And, for the better performance of what we here engage to, we shall sympathize, bear all burdens, embark our interest with, assist and defend all those who enter into, or join with this association and covenant, and shall reckon whatsoever is done to the least of us, for this cause, as done to us all in general, and to every one of us in particular; and shall account it a breach of covenant, if, seeing our brethren pursued for this cause, and having sufficient means to comfort and assist them, any of us shall either make peace with the persecutors, bind up their hands, by oaths and bonds, from resisting them, refuse to hide, harbour, or supply their brethren, decline to venture in lawful and necessary attempts for their relief, or withdraw from their dutifu! support; and being thus united and associated in this cause, as we resolve and oblige ourselves to abide in this firm conjunction, and neither consent nor concede to any combination or counsel, suggestion, persuasion, allurement, or terror, that may have any known tendency or influence, whether direct or indirect, to seduce us, either to division amongst ourselves, or defection to our adversaries, or a base indifferency and neutrality between the two ; but shall, with all zeal, fidelity, and constancy, communicate our best help, counsel, and concurrence, for promoting all resolutions, which, by common consent, shall be found to conduce to the good of the cause; and shall endeavour to discover, oppose and suppress all contrivances or counsels, that may cast in any let or impediment, that may be obstructive or prejudicial to the same. So we shall likewise desire, design, and endeavour, (whenever the Lord in his providence shall offer opportunity to get the defections, unworthy neutralities, and unhappy divisions, which have long and lamentably wounded and wrecked this church, removed and remedied. And shall be willing, with all tender sympathy and compassion, to embrace and welcome, with the outmost bowels of kindness and respect, that we can, all who shall confess and forsake these defections, and, according to their stations, as ministers or private christians, shall, by all proper means, labour to satisfy the consciences of the godly, that are, through these defections and scandals, justly offended, and that, according to the rules of Christ, delivered in his word, and received in this church in her reforming times, and join cordially with us in the prosecution of this cause; and we shall be willing also, at their desire, to acknowledge and forsakc, for peace and unity, whatever we can rationally be convinced to be bad in our
book, by inserting the names of all persons who had been married, and of all children baptized. To receive the stamp upon linen cloth, or to pay the malt tax, lately imposed by the British parliament, was also declared incompatible with the testimony, and strictly prohibited. It was also found, that former recommendations, to provide arms and ammunition, had not been “ duly observed,” and they “ do recommend the same, to the several correspondences, that the neglecters be admonished; and if they continue, be censured, as neglecters of the conclusions of this meeting."*
As the fever of party feeling, that raged through the country, approached to its crisis, their measures became still bolder, and assumed a more decisive character. The several correspondences, were ordered “to get a true list of the martyrs, who were shot, or otherwise killed, without process of law; what were their names and abodes; time and place of their deaths; who killed them; and any other remarkable particulars about them, with a true double of the elegies on all the stones,
conduct and management, as we must acknowledge, that in all things we fail, and come exceedingly short of that perfection which we should and would be at.
And because there be many, who heretofore have not made conscience of the oath of God; but some through fear, others by persuasion, and upon base ends and human interests, have entered thereunto, who have afterwards discovered themselves to have dealt deceitfully with the Lord, in swearing falsely by his name: therefore we, who do now renew our covenants with reference to these duties, and all other duties contained therein, do, in the sight of him who is the searcher of hearts, solemnly profess, that it is not upon any politic advantage, or private interest, or by-end, or because of any terror or persuasion from men, or hypocritically or deceitfully, that we do again take upon us the oath of God; but honestly and sincerely, and from the sense of our duty. And that, therefore, denying ourselves and our own things, and laying aside all self-interests and ends, we shall, above all things, seek the honour of God, the good of his cause, and the wealth of his people; and that, forsaking the counsels of flesh and blood, and not leaning upon carnal confidences, we shall depend upon the Lord, walk by the rule of his word, and hearken to the voice of his servants. In all which, professing our own weakness, we do earnestly pray to God, who is the Father of mercies, through his Son Jesus Christ, to be merciful unto us, and to enable us by the power of his might that we may do our duty, unto the praise of his grace in the churches. Amen.
• Conclusions of the General Meeting, MS. &c. &c.
against the first day of January, 1713, to be sent to Edinburgh.” It was also ordered, “ that one or two of each correspondence, be appointed to sight the arms, and take account of the preparations that the correspondence have made, for their necessary self-defence, in this time of public danger.” “All persons, having occasion to travel abroad,” were, at the same time, ordered to bring along with them, “ testimonials, signed by the hands of some of the members of the fellowships, where they reside, otherwise, no secrecy is to be imparted to them.”*
What was the specific object of these mysterious preparations, is somewhat difficult to determine. That the members of these societies, were equally opposed to the house of Stuart, and the house of Hanover, is abundantly obvious, though the reasons why they would join neither party, they did not think fit to declare at the time. Did they imagine, that by standing publicly on the defensive, so many from both parties, would be induced to come over to their ranks, as would give them a deeided preponderance, and enable them to restore, what they supposed to be, the true and unalterable covenanted Scotish constitution ? If they did, they were certainly no great politicians; and yet, in our estimation, it is only by such a supposition, that their conduct can be rationally accounted for.t
* Conclusions of the General Meeting, MS. &c. &c.
+ We find, by the Hanover Papers, 1714, that they were now taken notice of, at the court of Hanover, and the following letter, is a curious specimen of their spirit and pretensions about this time. " Mr. Kirkpatrick,
We having received information from our friends in Nithsdale, how you retaining your old malignancy, and enmity agt ye people of God, have in pursuance yrof, adventured to run ye risk of meddling wt ye monuments of ye dead, demolishing and breaking ye gravestone of a sufferer for ye cause of Christ, q° is highly criminal in ye eye of y« law, and is more yn your neck is worth, and deserves just severity, as bringing to remembrance your old hatred, and ye hand you had in his sufferings; and now you seem to be longing for a visit for your old murthering actions, q* if you would evite, we straitly charge and command you, upon yo' peril, to repair ye stone, by laying one upon ye grave, fully as good as ye former, wt ye same precise motto, as well engraven, and ye you perforni ye work we all expedition; and if it be not done ag! May-day first, qe is a sufficient time, we promise to pay you a visit, perhaps to yo cost; and if you oblige us yrto, assure yorself, yi yer old deeds will be remembered to purpose, go to assure you of, we have ordered this to be
In the midst of all this zeal, in opposition to the constituted authorities, there was an evident want of cordiality in the body. Never perhaps, was the folly of attempting, by any device, or by any sanction, however awful, to secure uniformity of sentiment, upon abstractions that are either doubtful, or difficult of apprehension, more fully manifested, than in the history of the old dissenters. Only two years after the engagements, they' so solemnly came under at Auchinsaugh, we find from an act of session, at Crawfordjohn, in the month of June, 1713, that severals who had joined in these engagements, had already fallen “ into contrary courses, and practices, and some of them into scandals and immoralities, to the great prejudice of their holy profession,” while others, to whose characters, nothing, either in a moral, or religious point of view, could be objected, from diversity of sentiment, or from offence taken at the conduct of some of their brethren-often upon very frivolous grounds withdrew from public ordinances, to which they could never be persuaded to return. So much were they divided in sentiment, that though they were all agreed upon the propriety of a day of public fasting, for their own sins, and for the sins of the land, years elapsed, before they could agree about the causes that should be assigned for it; nor could they have for many years, the Lord's Supper dispensed among them, partly from the same causes, and partly from the alleged inability of Mr. Mackmillan, who “ could not easily condescend to set about it, until he should have more help, because of his own frailty, and the greatness of the work.”* They appear, however, to have been all the while labouring to have their differences removed; but the removing of one, seems too often to have created more. The want of presbyterial authority was evidently severely felt by them, and though they made many efforts to obtain the benefit of it, first, by attempting to persuade some of their number to accept of ordination from Mr. Mackmillan, and the session, accompanied by the call of the people, in which they could not come to unanimity
written in presence of our correspondence, at Crawfordjohn, March 1st, 1714, and subscribed in our name, by Hu. Clark cls.”—Conclusions of the General Meeting, MS. &c. &c.
* Conclusions of the General Meeting, MS. &c. Pamphlets of the lime, &c. &c.
Secondly, by applying to Mr. Adamson, who had been processed before the church courts, for opposing some parts of their public managements, but afterwards became independent in his views
-Thirdly, to Mr. M`Hendry, who was similarly situated, and took a similar course-Fourthly, to Messrs. Taylor and Gilchrist -Fifthly, to the twelve Marrow-men, as they were then called; and lastly to some individual ministers of the Scotish church, they did not succeed, till a more formidable breach in that church, rendered their opposition of comparatively little consequence.
But to return to the parliament-near the end of the session, the queen came to the house of lords, and stated the preliminary articles of peace, that had been agreed upon, between her and the French king, as far as they related to England; and she promised her best endeavours, for procuring satisfaction for her allies. She received an address of thanks, from both houses in return. The preliminary* terms, however, fell so far short of what had been generally expected, that they occasioned universal depression and discontent, and gave new and strong grounds for arraigning the conduct of ministers. The parliament, however, after censuring a few opposition pamphlets, probably with the view of checking their apprehended increase, during the approaching vacation, was, after a. short speech from the queen, adjourned by the lord keeper, on the 21st of June.
The highest hopes were all this time cherished by the Jacobites as well as by James himself, who maintained a constant correspondence with some of the principal members of the British government, and, by means of the lady Masham, even with the queen, who, it was confidently anticipated by the more enthusiastic admirers of the exiled prince, would very soon, from a sense of duty, yield up to him that throne, which, according to the doctrine of her new friends, she had no right to
* When the articles of the peace were laid before the privy council, the duke of Buckingham, holding up his hands, exclaimed, “ Good God ! How has this poor nation been governed in my time! During the reign of king Charles the second, we were governed by a parcel of French whores. In king James the second's time, by a parcel of popish priests. In king William's time, by a parcel of Dutch footmen, and now we are governed by a dirty chambermaid, a Welsh attorney, and a profligate wretch, that has neither honour nor honesty."--Parker's Military Memoirs, p. 219.