Willison’s Testimony: Prefatory Statement by the Transcriber



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nor to the obligation of our covenants: nay, they proceeded to worse afterwards, by declaring that the parliament of England might provide for the security of the church of England within the bounds of that kingdom, as they should think expe­dient; whereby they consented to the securing of the prelacy and ceremonies of that church as a fundamental of the union. This being both against the word of God and our solemn league, we have cause to mourn over it as a national breach of covenant, in some respect; though it is a mercy the church was helped to remonstrate against it; for the commission when informed of it, present­ly presented a third address (though greatly op­posed) craving that there might be no such stipula­tion or consent for the establishment of the hierar­chy and ceremonies, as they would not involve themselves and the nation in guilt, &c. From all which it is evident, that this church did remonstrate a­gainst making an union with England upon terms not consistent with our ancient covenant union with that kingdom: for the ensuing assembly 1707 approved the commission in what they did.

But, notwithstanding of the church's remonstrance against this union and the foresaid sinful stipulation, it was concluded and ratified by both parliaments; but it doth not appear that this memorable transaction has been followed with the special blessings of heaven, seeing it hath brought on very much sin, and many growing evils upon this poor land, to the dishonour of God, and decay ­of true Christianity among us. For after the uni­on, when our correspondence and communication with the English was greatly increased, the Lord's day began to be profaned after their example, and other immoralities much to abound, and the


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societies for reformation of manners to dwindle away. Likewise our nobility and gentry have been since that period giving up gradually with family religion, and the very form of Godliness, and falling into a looser way of living; for many of them since the union do either dwell or spend much time in England, whereby they learn many of their vices and evil customs; they are either reconciled to the English hierarchy and worship, or live much in the neglect of all public worship; and, being there under the inspection of no parish-minister they and their families get leave to live as they list: and, when they come down to Scotland, they get many to follow their loose examples. Also, since the union, public oaths are prodigiously multiplied, in qualifying men for offices, in collecting and paying of taxes; and manifold perjuries are thereby committed, and particularly by custom‑house oaths, and running of goods, which also opens a door to many other sins. And hereby Atheism, Deism and infidelity have made progress in the land.

Likewise soon after the union, the English ser­vice and ceremonies were set up in several places, and afterwards the parliament gave a toleration for it, and the body of the Episcopal clergy embraced that worship, though their ancestors had always supposed it heretofore. Yea, by this law, almost all errors are tolerated; and now even the Popish worship is kept openly, and connived at.—A superstitious form of swearing was soon introduced; from England, by laying the hand on and kissing the gos­pels. The sacramental test, and conformity to the liturgy and ceremonies, is imposed upon the members of this church while serving the king in England and Ireland. Likewise many other incroachments are made upon the government, rights and


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privileges of this church by the toleration act, and by the act for restoring patronages, by the act for a vacation of the lords of session and other courts in the end of December, whereby the keeping of holy days is encouraged; and lastly, by refusing access to the house of peers, unless the address be direct­ed to the lords spiritual. And all these grievan­ces are brought upon us, notwithstanding of our security by the union‑act, and the English faith so much talked of. From all which we may con­clude, That as our union with England was made upon sinful terms, so in the event it hath proven a great judgment upon this land and church. Alas! we have been perfidious to God, and no wonder though men should be left to prove perfidious to us.

Very soon did Scotland feel the bitter effects of the union; for, in the view of its being concluded, several of the Episcopal clergy began to set up the English service in meeting houses, hoping to find more countenance and support from England on this account. This way of worship was wholly new and strange, and could never find place in Scotland before. Wherefore the general assembly 1707, that met soon after the conclusion of the u­nion, gave an honest testimony against this new worship, by their 15th act, intituled, Act against innovations in the worship of God; wherein they say, The purity of Divine worship, and uniformity therein, hath been the great happiness of this church ever since her reformation; and that the introduc­tion of these innovations was not so much as once attempted, even during the late prelacy; that they are dangerous to this church, and manifestly con­trary to our own known principle, viz. that the assembly


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moved with zeal for the glory of God, and the purity and uniformity of his worship, doth dis­charge the practice of all such innovations of Di­vine worship within this church; and doth require and obtest [supplicate] all the ministers of this church, especial­ly these in whose bounds any such innovations are, or may happen to be, to represent to their people the evil thereof, and seriously to exhort them to beware of them, &c. And they appoint the commission to use all proper means for suppressing such innova­tions. Which the commission did, as appears by their act 5th August 1709, which they ordained to be read in all the churches through Scotland. But the more the church opposed this new worship (as they judged they were warranted to do by the laws of the land) the more forward were their ene­mies to set it up, and at length got the parliament to espouse their cause.

Likewise, soon after the union, gross profanation of the Lord's day began to abound, by traveling, carrying goods, driving cattle, and other abuses on that holy day; as appears from the 12th act of ass. 1708. For preventing whereof, the assembly in that act appointed each presbytery to send some of their number to attend the lords of justiciary [judicial officer] at their first circuit that falls to be in their bounds, and to represent to their lordships the profanation of the Lord's day by the foresaid wicked and sin­ful practices. And the general assembly did seri­ously recommend to the lords of justiciary to take effectual course to restrain and punish the foresaid abuses; which, the assembly say, they will acknowledge as a singular service done to God and his church. Also they enjoin all ministers to represent to their profile, among whom such practices are, the great hazard their immortal souls are in by



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such courses; and also to proceed not only with ecclesiastic censures against sabbath breakers, but also to apply to justices of peace and other magis­trates in their bounds, to execute the laws against them.—But our commerce with England still in­creasing, the profanation of the Lord's day among us is come to a great height, in spite of all the church hath done against it.

But, our sins and provocations against God being highly aggravated; as a just punishment upon us, God was pleased to let loose our enemies in the British parliament to bring in a bill, which they got past into a law, for allowing those of the Episcopal clergy the use of the English liturgy in Scotland, containing some grievous clauses in it against the just and legal rights of the established church. ­While the bill was in dependence March 1712, the commission met and addressed the queen, in which they gave free and faithful testimony against the said bill, which the assembly that met in May 1712 did unanimously approve; and, as a token of it, did insert their address in their books, and print it with their acts. In it, they say,

The church of Christ in Scotland is in hazard of sad alterations and innovations,

inconsistent with and contrary to that happy establishment, secured to us by the

laws of both of God and the realm; by the said bill.—If the matters in question did

only relate to our own case and better accommodation, we should patiently bear the

same: but when we see the glory of God, and the power and purity of our holy

religion, and of the ordinances of Jesus Christ in this church, so much concerned, we

cannot but hope that your majesty will allow us to plead our just right, &c.—


Afterwards they plead the several acts of parliament for settling and
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securing the worship, discipline and government of this church, with her rights and privileges; all which acts were ratified by the parliaments of both kingdoms in the treaty of union, and declared to be a fundamental, essential and unalterable condi­tion of the said treaty of union in all time coming. It is observable, after their pleading the 5th act parl. 1690, which allows the Presbyterian ministers and elders to have power to try and purge out all insuf­ficient, negligent, scandalous and erroneous minis­ters by due course of ecclesiastical process and cen­sures, and likewise to redress all other church disorders;—They add, By which act it is evident, that Presbyterian church government being thus established, the ministers and elders of this church have all the powers committed by our Lord and Master to his ministers and officers, to watch over the flock, and to guard against all usurpers and in­truders.—Afterwards they add, We cannot but ex­press our astonishing surprise and deep affection to hear of such a bill, offered for such a large and almost boundless toleration, not only threatening the overthrow of this church, but giving a large licence almost to all errors and blasphemies, and throwing up all good discipline, to the dishonour of God, and the scandal and ruin of the true Christian religion, and the infallible disturbance of the quiet, and to the confusion of this church and nation.—And there­fore we do in all humility, but with the greatest earnestness, beseech, nay obtest your majesty, by the same mercy of God that restored this church, and raised your majesty to the throne, to interpose for the relief of this church, and the maintenance of the present establishment, against such a manifest and ruining incroachment.—The church being most earnest to oppose this toleration­
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and other grievances then coming upon the church, they sent three of their number, Masters Carstares, Blackwall, and Baillie, to London, to present this and others of their petitions, and to a­gent the church's cause: but, notwithstanding of all that this and other acts were past against the church; all Episcopal ministers were allowed to preach, pray, administer the sacraments, and mar­ry, without any other caveat that appears for their doctrine save that that they shall not deny, in their preaching or writing, the doctrine of the blessed Trinity. They are not by that act obliged to sa­tisfy the church, or any person or society, concerning their belief of the doctrine of the Trinity; it is enough if they do not openly impugn it: so that there is a liberty given to the most erroneous or scandalous men to preach and dispense sacraments, without being accountable to any.

We do here join with the church in testifying against such a boundless toleration, as being contra­ry to the word of God, and the practice of reforming magistrates and churches therein commended: as in 2 Chron. xxxiv. 3.3. Rev. ii. 2. and to these texts wherein such a toleration is reproved, as Rev. ii. 14,15, 20. as also it is contrary to our Confes­sion of Faith, chap. 23. and to our Larger Catechism upon the 2nd commandment.

At the same time there was another distressing bill presented in the parliament for restoring of patronages, and repealing the act 1690, which gave liberty to parishes to call their own ministers.—This also carried against the church, notwithstand­ing of the common's address, which was in like manner approven by the assembly. In this address they plead and assert, That
the act 1690, abolishing patronages, is a part of our Presbyterian
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constitution, ratified by the acts of parliament of both kingdoms in the treaty of union, and decla­red to be unalterable: That, from our first reformation from Popery, patronages have still been reckoned a yoke and burden upon this church; and this is declared by the first and se­cond books of Discipline: that the restoring of them will inevitably obstruct the work of the ­gospel, and create great disorders and disquiet in this church and nation; and that there is one known abuse attending patronages, viz. the lay­ing a foundation for Simoniacal pactions betwixt patrons and those presented by them.
Though this did not avail to stop the bill, yet it was a plain testimony from the church against Patronages; which we cannot but approve and adhere to.

Likewise we approve of that noble testimony which the general assembly gave against both the toleration, and patronages, May 14th 1715, when they approved a memorial concerning them, which they appointed to be sent to the duke of Montrose

principal secretary of state, most humbly entreatng him to lay it before the king, viz. King George I. The tenor of it is as follows:
The church of Scotland, being restored at the happy revolution, was by the claim of right, and acts of parliament following thereupon, establish­ed in its doctrine, worship discipline and govern­ment; and, that this legal constitution and esta­blishment might be unalterably secured, it was declared to be a fundamental and essential con­dition of the union, and accordingly ratified in the parliaments of both kingdoms. But the zeal of the established church of Scotland for, and their steady adherence to, the Protestant succession, did expose them to the resentments of a
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disaffected party. And now they account themselves aggrieved by some acts past in the parliament of Great Britain; as 1mo, By the act grant­ing such a large and almost boundless toleration to these of the Episcopal persuasion in Scotland,

while the liberty allowed to Protestant Dissent­ers in England (who had always given the most satisfying proofs of their undoubted zeal and good affection to the Protestant succession) was retrenched. And though the church of Scotland hath an

equal security in a legal establishment with that of England, yet there is a vast

inequali­ty as to the toleration of the respective Dissent­ers. In Scotland the toleration

doth not restrain the desseminating the most dangerous errors, by requiring a

Confession of Faith, or subscription to the doctrinal articles of the established church,

as is required of Dissenters in England: it also weakeneth the discipline of the

church against "the scandalous and profane; by withdrawing the concurrence of the

civil magistrate. It is also an inequality and hardship upon the established church of

Scotland, that these of her communion who are employed in his majesty's service in

England or Ireland, should be obliged to join in communion and conformity to the

church of England; whereas conformity to this church is not required (nor do we

plead that it should be) of members of the church of England, when called to serve

his majesty in Scotland, who here enjoy the full liberty of Dissenters without

molestation; and the common and equal privileges of the subjects of the united

kingdom, stipulated by the union, do claim the same liberty to the members of the

church of Scotland, when employed in his majesty's service in England and

Ireland.


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2do, By the act restoring the power of presentation to patrons, the legally established constitution of this church was altered in a very important point: and while it appears equitable in itself, and agreeable to the liberty of Christians and a free people, to have interest in the choice of these to whom they intrust the care of their souls, is an hardship to be imposed upon in so tender a point, and that frequently, by patrons who have no property nor residence in the parishes; and this besides the snares of Simoniacal pactions [a “Simoniacal paction” is the buying or

selling of ecclesiastical pardons, offices, or emoluments via an agreement or

bargain.], and the many troubles and contests arising from the power of

patronages, and the abuses thereof, by disaffected patrons putting their power into

other hands, who as effectually serve their purposes; by patrons competing for the

right of presentation in the same parish; and by frequently presenting ministers

settled in eminent posts to mean and small parishes, to elude the planting thereof:

By all which, parishes are often kept long vacant, to the great hindrance of the



progress of the gospel.
Although the church of Scotland was brought under the distress enough by the toleration and patronages, yet, to add to it, the oath of abjuration was also imposed upon the ministers thereof in the year 1712. This occasioned a great question among them, and much writing upon it, whether the conditions or qualifications required of the successor to the crown, in the act so of parliament settling the succession, of which this is on that he must join in communion with the church of England, be understood as any part of the oath, or not? These who were not clear to take it, apprehended these conditions might be reckoned a part of the oath, because in it they were to swear to maintain
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the succession AS entailed by such acts of parlia­ment, in which these conditions were contained. Others again understood these conditions as no part of the oath, seeing when the oath was first framed in the English parliament in the year 1701, and a clause was offered to be added to it for main­taining the church of England, it was rejected, be­cause the Dissenters could not take it: and at the union the parliament had expressly exeemed these of this church from all oaths inconsistent with their principles: and consequently, that the AS in the oath was not reduplicative upon the qualifications of the successor, but merely indicative, as only pointing out the act wherein the succession was settled, and the illustrious family and persons on whom it was entailed failing the heirs of king Wil­liam, queen Anne and her heirs, &c. And there­fore they understood that the oath brought them under no other obligation, but to allegiance to the sovereign, and to an engagement against a Po­pish pretender, and to the succession in the Protestant line: and, to prevent mistakes and misrepresentations they might be liable to in this matter, they resolved to give in written declarations to this pur­pose upon instrument, at taking of the oath, which generally they did. At this time the commission addressed the queen (as also did the assembly) in favours of these who still scrupled at the oath, as if the AS in it did some way refer to the condi­tions required of the successor, that such might be favourably dealt with, as her loyal subjects. As also they petitioned her, that their declarations of loyalty to the queen, their renouncing the Pretend­er, and engagements to support the succession to the crown in the Protestant line in the family of Hanover, as contained in their address, might be accepted by her as their sense of the said oath,


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without respect to the condition scrupled at.—In answer thereto, the queen, in her letter to the as­sembly, declared that the address of the commission did so much manifest their loyalty to her, and their true concern for the succession in the Protestant line by law established, that it could not but be acceptable. This answer did very much confirm these who judged that the AS in the oath did not reduplicate upon the qualifications of the successor, and gave freedom to many to take it.

After king George I came to the throne, and understood our difficulties by the representation of assembly 1715, and former addresses, he inter­posed for the relief of these who scrupled at the oath, and got the parliament to turn the AS into WHICH, as also to declare that the oath was not meant to oblige his majesty's subjects in Scotland to any thing inconsistent with their church esta­blishment according to law. This removed the scruples of many; but nevertheless there were not a few worthy ministers who remained uneasy and scrupulous upon account there was still mention, made in the oath of the act of parliament that required the conditions of the successor, and there­fore wanted to have it wholly taken out of the oath. Which, upon application, the king was so good as to grant, by an act of parliament in the 5th year of his reign.—Thus did the Lord in his mercy settle the great commotions that were in the church by reason of that oath, and extricate her out of some of her difficulties; yea, so far, that the most strict and zealous ministers in Scotland were brought to declare both from the pulpit and the press, that the embracing or refusing the oath of abjuration did not afford the least ground for separation.



It is remarkable, that in the midst of all these
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grievances and pressures which the church groan­ed under, the Lord did not suffer her to sink.­—The times indeed became very cloudy and dark; the church's friends were turned out of place, and her enemies were exalted in power; Jacobites were put in places of highest trust, and many of them became so insolent, as to maltreat and abuse the

ministers of the gospel, and sometimes to cause burn at market‑crosses the acts of synods for fasts, because in them they appointed prayers to be made for maintaining the Protestant succession, and for defeating the designs and plots then forming for overturning it, and for bringing in a Popish Pre­tender. Yet even then the Lord inspired the com­mission with courage and resolution to emit their famous seasonable warning at their meeting 19th August 1713, which was read from the pulpits; wherein they obtest all good Protestants and lo­vers of their country to look to themselves, that they be not deluded by the subtile devices of a Jacobite party, who would bring us under the yoke of a Popish Pretender.—Here the commission mention their artifices at large; one whereof is, They with great appearance of zeal, espouse and promote the English liturgy through the land, though neither they nor their fathers would receive it heretofore; and at the same they omit all, the prayers for queen Anne and princess Sophia­.—Likewise they make a great outcry, especially in distant places, of their having suffered grievous persecutions because of their being of the Episcopal persuasion though withhout ground. Blessed be God (say they) we ran appeal to the consciences of all who know our conduct, that we have never since the late happy revolution in the least returned the



severities, and unparalleled cruelties, which we
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met with when they had the ascendant; and which we from their present temper, as well as from their former behaviour may reasonably conclude they want nothing but power to renew against the min­isters and members of this church.—Wherefore they, seriously obtest and beseech all ranks of persons to humble themselves deeply under the many sad causes and tokens of the Lord's anger, and turn to him with all their hearts, and flee to the blood of sprinkling for reconciliation, and pray earnestly to God to disappoint the designs and hopes of a Popish and Jacobite party, preserve the Protestant succession in the house of Hanover, sanctify the troubles which have afflicted our Zion, and turn us

from all these sins which have procured them, &c.

And glory be to a prayer hearing God, who soon blasted all the Jacobites’ plots and hopes, and made the Protestant succession take place, by the acces­sion of K. George I within less than a year, to the of this poor oppressed church, and of all true Protestants.

Towards the end of the queen's reign the Jacob­ites turned so uppish, that they encouraged Epis­copal ministers to intrude into vacant churches, and ministers and preachers who were sent to preach in them were rabbled. They and their preachers did publicly solemnize the Pretender's birth day, set up bonfires, drink his health as king before great multitudes, and confusion to all the Presbyterians. But upon the accession of king George I these riots and insults were suppressed, and the laws and good order began again to take place. The church represented her grievances from the laws lately made; but the breaking out of the rebellion in 1715 put a stop to designs of that sort for a time. Until then, there were a good number

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