The Act & Apologetick Declaration of the
True Preſbyterians of the Church of Scotland,
Publiſhed at Lanerk, January 12. 1682.
ALthough we ought to take in good part, whatever God in His Infinite wisdom hath, for the punishment of our sins, carved out unto us, & eye & acknowledge Him alone in it; And though we always ought to acknowledge Government & Governours as ordained by Him, in so far as they rule & govern according to the Rules set down by Him in His word, & Constitutive Laws of the Nation, & ought to cast the mantle of Love on the lesser errours of Governours, & give the best countenance to their Administration, that the nature of their Actions will bear: Yet when all these Laws, both of God & the Kingdom, conditional & constitutive of the Government, are cassed & annulled, by pretended Laws, & the highest of usurpation, & an inexplicable prerogative in matters Ecclesiastick, & arbitrary Government in matters Civil, is arrogate; when a banner of impiety, profaneness, & atheism is avowedly displayed against the heavens; a door open to abominations of all sorts & sizes, & the remedy thereof still denied, by him who should be as a sun & shield to the people; when the Parliaments, who ought to be the grand Trustees of the Kingdom, to whom it belongs in such a case to secure the Civil & Spiritual Interests, are so prelimited by Law, as that no true son of the State or Church hath Liberty to sit & vote there; So that the parliaments, & all places of publick trust & offices of the Kingdom, from the highest to the lowest, are made up of none but these who are corrupted, overawed, overruled, & bribed; what shall the people do in such an extremity? Should they give their Reason as men, their Consciences as Christians, & resign their Liberties, fortunes, Religion, & their All to the inexorable obstinacy, incurable wilfulness, & malice of these, who, in spite of God & man (& notwithstanding of their many oaths & vows both to God & his people) are resolved to make their own will the absolute & sovereign Rule of their Actions, and their strained Indulgences the measure of the subject’s hope & happiness? Shall the end of Government be lost, through the weakness, wickedness, & Tyranny of Governours? Must the people, by an implicit submission & deplorable stupidity, destroy themselves, & betray their posterity, & become objects of reproach to the present generation, & pity & contempt to the future? Have they not, in such an extremity, good ground to make use of that natural & radical power they have, to shake off that yoke, which neither we nor our forefathers were able to bear? Which accordingly the Lord honoured us (in a General & unprelimited Meeting of the Estates and several Shires of Scotland) to do; A Convention of unprelimited members, a Convention of men who had only the glory of God & the good of the Commonwealth before their eyes; The Like whereof the present reigning Tyrant could never since his home coming pretend to? At which Convention, he was most Legally & by General consent cast off, by the Declaration afterward published at Sanquhar, by especial warrant from the said Convention. But that we may not seem to have done that, or yet to do the like, upon no grounds, or yet upon few & small grounds, we shall hint at some of the many thousands of the misdemeanours of the now cast off Tyrant, in his overturning of our Church and State.
And First, At his very entry, as if he had attained to Nero’s desire, at one blow, in his first Parliament, he cut off the neck of that noble constitution of Church and State, which our noble & worthy Ancestors had made; And not thinking it enough treacherously & falsely to perjure himself, he made such constitutions & Laws (if it be not an abuse of Language to call them so) as that none but fowls of his own feather, & such as would run with himself to the same excess of riot, should have access to the very meanest place or office in the Kingdom: And though that in itself is enough, yet not the thousand part of what he hath done.
2. Did he not take to himself a Licentious privilege, the exalting of himself unto a Sphere exceeding all measures Divine & human, tyrannically obtruding his will for a Law, both in matters Civil & Ecclesiastic, making us a Laughingstock to the neighbouring Nations, who imagined that what he was doing (however tyrannous in itself) to be consonant to our Law, blaming the badness of the Law instead of the badness of the Governours, whereas nothing could be less consonant to the tenor & end of our, & all other Laws, divine & human. For we have reason to praise the Lord, who so eminently assisted our Ancestors in framing of our Laws, So that we may (upon good ground) say, that there is no Nation in Civilibus hath better, & in Ecclesiasticis so good Laws as we; having (by God’s great providence) attained unto a more excellent & strict Reformation than any nation. The observing of which Laws, was the very Constitutive & absolute Condition, whereupon he was admitted to the Royal office, & without which he was not to have the exercise of his power, & to which he was most solemnly & deeply sworn oftener than once, with his hands lifted up to the most High God; he himself declaring the subjects tye no longer to remain or continue, than the ends & constitutions of these Convenants were pursued and preserved by him: All which are (contrary to his engagement foresaid,) by his pretended (& as aforesaid constitute) Parliaments cassed & annulled, and the Laws no more made the Rule, but his own will in his Letters: So that we are made the reproach of the Nations, who say we have only the Law of Letters, instead of the Letter of the Law.
3. Hath it not been his constant method, to adjourn & dissolve parliaments at his pleasure, when they (though his own creatures) were so sensible of his misdemeanours, that they began to question, & when questioned by them ye may easily conjecture what they were.
4. Hath he not seated himself as supreme head over all Persons, in all Causes Civil & Ecclesiastick? And by virtue of that arrogantly arrogated power, fabricate a Chimerick Government, or rather Pageantry in the Church, with such Ludibrious eminences, pompous power & pride, through the vanity of men’s depraved imaginations, the grievous & mysterious abyss, from whence have issued all the calamities, all the languishing Sorrows, & confounding shames & reproaches, which, in this day of blackness & darkness, have invaded, involved, polluted, & pestered the Church and Kingdom. And thus hath he approven himself to be the Defender of the faith, under which the godly party, true sons of the Church & Nation, have been groaning these twenty years bygone, & in great numbers murthered & slain in the fields, led as Lambs to the slaughter upon scaffolds, imprisoned, & kept in irons, & with exquisite tortures tormented, exiled, banished, & sold as slaves amongst savages: All which they endured most patiently a long time, ere ever they offered to appear in publick in arms against him. And all this they have met with as a reward (just upon the Lord’s part, though unjust & ungrate as to his part) for their too great & inordinate Love wherewith they prevented him in the day of his distress; being the first & only beginning of his unhappy restoration.
5. Time would fail us to narrate, what exorbitant taxings, cessings, & every way impoverishing of the subjects, & grinding of the faces of the poor, dilapidating the pendicles, rights, & revenues of the Crown, for no other end, but to employ them for keeping up a Brothel, rather than a Court, since there is no Court in the world hath attained unto such a height of debauchery & depravedness, as that Court by his example hath done. For
Regis ad exemplum totus componitur orbis.
6. And Lastly, as if it had not been enough to exercise such a tyrannical & arbitrary power himself, he, by a late Parliament such as the former, intends that his cruelty & tyranny should not die with himself, but that he shall in his own time install such an one (if not worse) as himself, contrary to all Law, reason, & Religion, And in that Parliament to unhinge very Protestantism itself, by framing a Test, such as no Protestant (how corrupt soever) can take, And so ridiculous, that it is made the laughingstock even of enemies themselves.
Is it then any wonder, considering such dealings & many thousands more, that true Scotsmen (though we have been always and even to extremity sometimes Loyal to our Kings) should after twenty years tyranny break out at last, as we have done, & put in practice that power, which God & nature hath given us, & we have reserved to our selves, All our engagements with our princes, having been always Conditional, as other Kingdoms are implicitly, but ours explicitly?
Let none therefore object against the Legality of what we have done, or are doing: For we offer us (how inconsiderable soever we are said to be) to prove our selves to have done nothing against our Ancient Laws Civil or Ecclesiastick, against any Lawyers or Divines whatsoever, our Ancient Laws being judges; And we having safety to pass & repass (if the publick faith after so many breaches can be trusted) for that effect. So then, let no foreign Kingdoms or Churches through misinformation or false copies (as they are many) of what we act or do, because we have no access to the press as they; We say, let them not take up a wrong opinion of us, or our Proceedings: for we are only endeavouring to extricate our selves from under a Tyrannous yoke, & to reduce our Church & state to what they were, in the years 1648 & 1649.
We Therefore, have Conveened, In our Name & authority, Ratify & Approve what hath been done by the Rutherglen & Sanquhar Declarations. And do by thir [these] presents, Rescind, annul, & make void, whatsoever hath been done by Charles Stewart or his Accomplices in prejudice to our Ancient Laws & Liberties, in all the several pretended & prelimited Parliaments & Conventions, since the year 1660. And particularly, the late Parliament holden at Edinburgh the 28. July 1681. by a Commissioner professedly Popish, & for villany exiled his native Land, with all the acts & Laws there statue & enacted: As that abominable, ridiculous, unparalleled, & soul-perjuring Test, & the rest.
We therefore Command & charge you to pass to the mercat Cross of Lanerk, And in our name & authority, publish this our Act & Declaration as ye will be answerable. Given at the 15. December 1681.
Let King Jesus reign, & all his enemies be Scattered.
[ This text is presented above as it was published in the original 1687 Informatory Vindication; which may be considered the most authentic available, being published by those who adhered to the declaration. Minor adjustments or corrections have been made to the spelling of some words. As in the edition of 1687, Italicized phrases represent expressions which were excepted against by those who criticized the Declaration, which are either explained or disowned in Head 2 of the Informatory Vindication.—JTKer. ]