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• The Test was framed by the parliament, August 31st, 1681. At first, only persons in public office, civil, military and ecclesiastical, were obliged to take it. But afterwards it was imposed on persons of all ranks as a test of loyalty ; and the refusal of it was made a pretence for persecuting great numbers to death. This oath, as Hume justly allows, was a medley of contradiction and absurdity. In the first part of it, the protestant religion contained in the first confession of faith is professed, and all principles and doctrines inconsistent with it are renounced. "And yet in the following part of this oath the king's supremacy in its utmost extent, is asserted, again and again ; and also the unlawfulness of resisting the king, on any pretext whatsoevers the obligation of the covenants, national and solemn league, is disowned, and the government of the church, then established by law, is approved. How great was the guilt of the general assembly at the revolution, in passing over the atrocious public evil of taking this abominable oath, without enquiry, and without any particular acknowledgment!
| Imp. Test page 67,
engagements. The assembly's omission of plain duty, on aceount af the apprehensions they were under of meeting with strenuous opposition from great men in power, is not to be justified.
Many other honest ministers of the church of Scotland, as well as the associate presbytery have acknowledged and lamented the unfaithfulness of the proceedings of this church at the revolution.
Mr. Hog, minister at Carnock, in the account of his life written by kimself,* complains; “ That after the happy revolution, under the
spe“ cious names of prudence and just moderation, the testimony of for6 mer times was suppressed ; and it was not thought a proper season 6 to intermeddle with our covenants or with defections from them; " that we might not give the least imbrage to those that were in the
government; many of whom were not of our principles, and some " had been leaders in the former persecution."
Mr. Dickson, another minister of the church of Scotland, in a letter to a friend, a little before his death, which took place in the year 1700, expresses himself in a very pathetic manner concerning the settlement and state of that church after the revolution. “It is many years" says he, “ since the Sun fell low
upon Scotland. Many a dismal day 66 hath it seen since 1649. At that time, our reformation mounted to66 wards its zenith; but since we left building on that excellent foun6 dation laid by our honoured forefathers, we have still moved from « ill to worse; and are likely to do so still more, until we slide our66 selves out of sight and sense of a reformation. We have been lately 6 favoured with a wonderful deliverance from the slavery of a heaven6 daring enemy; but not one line of reformation is pencilled upon our 6 deliverance. It is a long time, since our solemn covenant engage66 ments looked pale. Let us never dream of a reviving Spirit among
us, till there be a reviving respect for the solemn vows of God. If 66 there was but a little appearance of that Spirit which actuated our 6 worthy forefathers in our public assemblies and preachings, you 66 would see a wonderful alteration in the face of our affairs: the fields, 66 I assure you, would look white, near to harvest."
Among the ministers and elders who composed the general assembly in 1690, there was, no doubt, a number who had suffered for the truth, But it seems too evident, that the generality of them had complied, more or less, with the public evils of the preceding period.
Alex. Perhaps the evils you mean, are alluded to in the causes of a fast, which were mentioned a little while ago; in which the general assembly acknowledged, that there had been much fainting, under the late persecution, even of eminent ministers, by either yielding to the defections and evils of the time, or not giving seasonable and necessaa ry testimonies against them.
Ruf. Such public evils ought to have been specified; and the share, that ministers had in them, openly and particularly acknowledged to the glory of God. The truth is, when we consider how much the greater part of the members of this assembly had complied with the public evils of the preceding reigns; when we recollect the distance and reserve, which had been visible in the conduct of most of them towards Mr. Renwick, and others, who had suffered for the truth; and their treatment of the paper offered by Mr. Shields and two other
Quoted in Mr. Wilson's Defence of the Reformation Principles, page 260.
ministers, we have scarcely any reason to consider this assembly as well affected to the revival of the covenanted reformation. I have no doubt, that Mr. Ebenezer Erskine had sufficient ground to assert in a printed sermon from Amos ix. 11, that “when the Lord turned s back the captivity of this church at the revolution, there was no due “ enquiry after the shedding of blood. Nay,” said he, instead of 66 that, men who had dipt their hands in the blood of the saints, were
admitted to sit as constituent members in the supreme judicatories 66 of this church."
Alex. Another instance of slander, with which Mr. Willison charges the associate presbytery, is their asserting, that the assembly in 1690, declared, that the perfidious prelates were not to be deposed for their treacherous defection.* I suppose, he knew, that no such thing was ever declared by that assembly.
Ruf. In order to vindicate the passage of the associate presbytery's Testimony, which Mr. Willison refers to, from the charge of slander, I shall read it, and add a remark or two on some of the terms used by the presbytery.
“ Neither have such as made defection been duly censured; but, “ on the contrary, the index of unprinted acts of assembly, bears a * public declaration by the moderator, That the assembly would de * pose no incumbents, simply for their judgement anent the govern« ment of the church; that is, they declare, that the perfidious pre6 lates and their underlings were not to be deposed for their treaches rous defection from the covenanted principles of this church. And, “in consistency with this declaration, the assembly in 1696, enjoin " their commission, (as several assemblies afterwards did,) to receive “ into ministerial communion such of the late conforming ministers, 56 as, having qualified themselves according to law, shall subscribe “the Formula, which was then framed for them: whereby they were “not bound to acknowledge, that Presbyterian government is founded 6 in the word of God; but only that the church government, as now * settled by law, is the only government of this church.--Upon sign6 ing the above Formula, a great many prelatical ministers and elders
admitted into the body of the church, and had access to sit in s judicatories, without being required to give any evidence of their 66 repentance or sorrow for their heinous and scandalous defection."
The proposition, which Mr. Willison calls a slạnder, is a necessary consequence of the facts here related: if the latter be true, the former can be no slander. By the perfidious prelates the associate presbytery meant such as had once professed the covenanted Presbyterian principles, and were guilty of a treacherous defection from them. Such were the incumbents or ministers of parishes, who, in the preceding reigns, had conformed to episcopacy. If they were not to be censured for their judgement concerning episcopacy, neither were they to be censured for their practice according to that judgement, in the preceding period.
The injunction of the assembly's commission to receive ministers, who had thus conformed, into ministerial communion, upon their subscribing the Formula which was then framed for them, pats the
* Imp. Test. page 169.
matter out of all doubt. For if these incumbents, who had evidently made treacherous defection from the covenanted principles of the church of Scotland, were to be received into communion upon their subscription of a Formula, which contained no proper acknowledg. ment of these principles; it must follow, that they were not to be de. posed, nor indeed censured at all, for their defection; which is justly called treacherous; as having been a deliberate violation of the en. gagements which they had entered into, before the introduction of episcopacy, to maintain Presbyterian principles. That the moderator's declaration before mentionedl, was the mind of the majority of that assembly, appears, from its being recorded in the assemblies' books, and referred to in the index of their unprinted acts; while it accords with their conduct afterwards in receiving those who had conformed to episcopacy without requiring any acknowledgment of the evil of their conformity to it. Mr. Willison denies none of these facts. How, then, can he call the plain and necessary consequence of them slander ?
$ 20. Alex. Mr. Willison adds, that the associate presbytery cast slander on the parliament of Scotland, which met immediately after the Revolution, when they represent that parliament as imposing the oath of allegiance to exclude the oath of the covenant.*
Ruf. In order to establish the charge of slander, Mr. Willison ought to have given the words of the passage he refers to. Having observed, that the parliament appointed the oath of allegiance to be taken in place of any other oaths imposed by the laws and acts of preceding parliaments, the presbytery adds these words : “ Though - it may be said, this had respect to the oaths imposed during the per“ secuting period; yet, the terms in which the act is conceived, ap
pear plainly to exclude the oath of the covenant, which contains a “ very solemn test of allegiance to the sovereign; especially, when it is “considered that the act rescissory, (whereby a covenanted reforma“tion was razed, and the acts and deeds of that covenanting period 66 were declared seditious and treasonable,) was not repealed; and 66 also, that the draught of an act for excluding such as had a share in “ the oppressions of the former period, from places of public trust, 6 was laid aside, after it had been twice read in parliament. Hence, 6 such persons were admitted into places of public trust and power, “ as were, both in principle and practice, opposite to the covenanted 66 reformation."
Thus, considering the disposition which the parliament discovered towards the solemn league and covenant, in leaving it buried under the act rescissory, and in shewing favour to its enemies, there is no reason to doubt the justice of this inference; That, as they declared in the act referred to, that no oath, which the subjects were directed to take by any preceding laws or acts of parliament, was now to be accounted a sufficient test of allegiance to the sovereign; so they meant, that the solemn league and covenant, (the taking of which they well knew, had been enjoined by laws and acts of preceding parliaments in the reforming period,) was not to be accounted such a test, or considered as laying the subjects under any obligation to the alle. giance due to the sovereign. It appears, then, that it was not only
Imp. Test. page 169,
from the parliament's passing an act imposing an oath of allegiance; but from the manner in which the act was expressed, and from the circumstances which attended the passing of it, that the associate presbytery inferred the parliament's intention of excluding the solemn league and covenant.
Alex. Some have blamed the associate presbytery, for saying in their Testimony, that by the parliament's act of settlement at the revolution, a retrogade motion is made near an hundred years backward; and all the legal securities in the covenanting period from 1638 to 1650 are overlooked and passed by; and that all the acts of the first parliament of Charles the second, together with the infamous act rescissory in 1662, by which the covenanted reformation was razed, and the acts and deeds of that covenanting period were declared seditious and treasonable are left untouched.
Ruf. In the covenanting period, several acts of parliament were passed in favour of reformation, such as, the parliament's ratifying, in 1640, the acts of the general assembly ordaining episcopal government to be held unlawful; their rescinding all laws giving places of civil power and trust to ministers of the gospel; their ratifying the act of the general assembly authorising the solemn league and covenant, which was an engagement to endeavour the preservation of the reformed religion of the church of Scotland, in discipline and government as well as in doctrine and worship, and also the advancement of the reformation in the kingdoms of England and Ireland in the same respects; their ratifying in 1649 the act of the general assembly approving the Westminster confession of faith, and asserting the intrinsic power which the church has received from Christ to have synods as often as is necessary for her welfare; their acts forbidding persons that were malignant and disaffected to the covenanted work of reformation to be employed in places of power and trust; and abolishing patronages as a popish custom, having no warrant in God's word. Among the acts of the first session of the first parliament of Charles the second, in 1661, an infamous act rescissory was passed, by which the parliaments of the covenanting period formerly mentioned were rescinded, and all their acts and deeds were declared null and void. Another infamous act rescissory was passed in the second session of the same parliament, in 1662, by which the covenanted reformation was razed, and the acts that covenanting period were declared se. ditious and treasonable. The solemn covenants, national and solemn league, were, by that act, declared to be in themselves unlawful oaths; and, therefore, all acts and constitutions approving them, were annulled. These acts rescissory were not repealed by the act of settlement at the revolution.
Alex. It has been inferred from the general clauses in the act of settlement at the revolution, (viz. hereby reviving, ratifying and * confirming all laws against popery and papists, for the maintenance " and preservation of the true reformed protestant religion, and for « the true thurch of Christ within this kingdom :" And after the mentioning of several acts hereby rescinded, it follows, “ with all “ other acts, laws, statutes, ordinances and proclamations, contrary 66 or prejudicial to, inconsistent with, or derogatory from the protest** ant religion and Presbyterian government now established,"] that