The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws,
changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.
—Isa. 24.5

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Protestation against the Lawfulness of the Assembly.

St. Andrews, July 18, 1651.

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TrueCovenanter.com Editor’s Introduction.

This Protestation can be found in the material included in Peterkin’s "Records of the Kirk of Scotland," 1838.  It relates to the “Public Resolutions” which would allow into the armies of Christian Scotland such men as were formerly regarded “Malignant” on account of their opposition to Reformation goals and principles.  The said Resolutions of the state involved both church and state in defection from good practice, formerly embraced and intended to ensure that Scotland’s military and government would be kept free of those with whom the Lord would not stand in battle. (2 Chron. 25.9.)  Due to the politic manners in which the majority of church leaders attempted to ensure compliance by the minority, it became not only necessary for the minority to oppose their deeds, but even reject the lawfulness of their assemblies.  This change of affairs, and division of those who had formerly cooperated as brethren in the reformation of church and state, marked the end of the Reformation in Scotland.

2023.07.25::JTK.

How gracious the Lord hath been to the Church of Scotland, in giving to her pure Ordinances, we trust shall be acknowledged by us whilst we live, with thankfulness to the Most High, of whom we desire mercy and grace to adhere unto the Doctrine, Worship, Discipline, and Government established in this Land: Amongst the many sad tokens of the Lord's Indignation against this Church, The present Differences of His Servants of the Ministry is looked upon by us as one of the greatest: And as we hold it a duty to be deeply humbled before the Lord in the sense thereof, and by all lawful and fair means within the compass of our power and station to endeavor the remedy {632:A} thereof; so we do acknowledge a free General Assembly, lawfully called, and rightly constituted, and proceeding with meekness and love in the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, according to the Rule of the Word, and the Acts and Constitutions of this Church, to be amongst the first and most effectual means appointed of God, for attaining this end, and for preserving the purity, and advancing the power of the Work of Reformation in this Age, and transmitting the same to our Posterity, and to the Ages and Generations that are to come. But as the faithful Servants of God in this Church in former times, did by His good Hand upon them in the right administration of free and lawful Assemblies, bring the Work of Reformation in Scotland unto a great perfection, and near conformity with the first pattern: So, unfaithful men minding their own things more than the things of Christ, and usurping over their Brethren and over the Lord's Inheritance, did deface the beauty thereof, first by encroaching upon the liberty and freedom of Assemblies; afterwards by taking away the Assembly themselves. Therefore, remembering the many bonds and obligations that lie upon us before the Lord, and being desirous to be found faithful in this day of temptation, and to exoner our consciences as in His sight, and to avoid accession to that guiltiness in which many have involved themselves, and conceiving that this present Meeting is not a free lawful General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, in regard that the Election of Commissioners to the same hath been pre-limited and prejudiced in the due liberty and freedom thereof, by a Letter and Act of the Commissioners of the last General Assembly sent to Presbyteries appointing such Brethren as, after conference, remain unsatisfied with and continue to oppose the Public Resolutions, to be cited to the General Assembly; And in regard that Commissioners from many Burroughs and Presbyteries are absent, as wanting free access, by reason of the motion of the ——;[1] and in regard that many of the Commissioners of the former Assembly, who have carried on a course of defection, contrary to the trust committed to them; and who in their Remonstrances and Papers have stirred up the Civil Magistrate against such who are unsatisfied in their consciences with their proceedings, and who have by their Letter and Act prelimited the Assembly, are admitted to sit and vote as Members of the Assembly, and their Moderator appointed to be Moderator of the Assembly, notwithstanding that timeous exception was made against them, that they ought not to be admitted as Members of the Assembly, until their proceedings were first tried and approven by the Assembly; And in regard that his Majesty by his Letter, and his Majesty's Commissioner by his Speech to the Assembly hath incited to hard courses against those who are unsatisfied in their consciences with the proceedings of the Commission, before these proceedings be tried and approven by the Assembly itself. We do upon these and many other important grounds and Reasons to be propounded and given in, in time and place convenient, protest in the name of the Church of Scotland, and in our own Names and in the Name of all Ministers, Ruling-Elders and Professors of this Church, who do or shall adhere to us against the validity and Constitution of this Assembly, as not being free and lawful, and that they may not arrogate nor assume to themselves any authority, nor exercise any power or jurisdiction for determining of Controversies, making of Acts, emitting of Declarations, judging of Protestations or Appeals, or proceedings of Synods or inferior {632:B} Judicatories, or censuring of Persons or Papers, or issuing of Commissions of whatsoever sort, to any persons whatsoever; and particularly we protest, that they may not proceed unto the approving or ratifying of the proceedings of the former Commission, not only because of their want of just power and authority so to do, but also because these proceedings contain many things contrary to the trust committed to these Commissioners, especially the allowing and carrying on of a conjunction with the Malignant Party, and bringing them in to places of Power and Trust in the Army, and in the Judicatures, contrary to the Word of God, the Solemn League and Covenant, the Solemn Confession of Sins and Engagement to Duties, the constant tenor of the Declarations, Warnings, Remonstrances, Causes of Humiliation, Letters, Supplications, and Acts, and Constitutions of this Church, and the laying of a Foundation for the Civil Magistrate to meddle with Ministers in those things which concern their Doctrine and the exercise of Ministerial Duties before they be cited, tried, and censured by the Judicatories of the Church. And we protest that whatsoever Determinations, Acts, Ratifications, Declarations, Sentences, Censures, or Commissions that shall be made, or given out by them, may be void and null, and may be interpreted as not binding to the Church of Scotland, and that notwithstanding thereof it may be free for us, and such as adhere to us, to exercise our Ministry, and enjoy the warrantable Christian liberty of our consciences according to the Word of God, the National Covenant, and Solemn League and Covenant, and Solemn Engagement to Duties, and all the Acts and Constitutions of this Church; and that there may be liberty to choose Commissioners, and to convene in a free lawful General Assembly, when there shall be need, and the Lord shall give opportunity, and to add what further Reasons shall have weight for shewing the nullity of this Assembly, and the unwarrantableness of the proceedings of the Commission of the former Assembly. And that these Presents may be put upon Record by the Clerk in the Registers of the Assembly, to be extant ad futuram rei memoream, and that we may have subscribed Extracts thereof under the Clerk’s hand.

[The following list of signatures for the above protestation are supplied from an earlier publication dated 1692.]

Subscribed and presented at St. Andrews 20. July, 1651. by Mr. A.C. Moderator of the last Assembly.

Mr. Samuel Rutherford.

Mr. James Guthery.

Mr. Patrick Gillespy.

Mr. John Meinzies.

Mr. Ephraim Melvin.

Mr. John Carstaires.

Mr. William Adair.

Mr. Thomas Wylie.

Mr. James Nevoy [Nevay].

Mr. James Simpson.

Mr. William Guthery.

Mr. Alexander Moncreif.

Mr. John Hamilton in Inderkip.

Mr. Robert Muire.

Mr. John Hart.

Mr. Andrew Donaldson.

Mr. Robert Keith.

And ten other Ministers.


Footnotes:

1. This word is omitted in the copy provided by Peterkin, presumably as it is found in Wodrow’s mss.  It is provided by Monroe as, "Enemy."—JTKer.