Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.—Rom. 8.33

[A Brief Rehersal of some few of the many steps of our defections, by Walter Smith]
A  BRIEF REHEARSAL of some few of the many steps
       of  our  defections,  from  the  1649 to the 1681,
       drawn  up  by  the  famous   Mr.  Walter  Smith,
       at  the  earnest  desire  of  some United Societies
       in  Clydsdale,   and  which  he  owns  and  refers
       himself  to  in  his  last dying words, when he got
       the  crown  of  martyrdom  July  27, 1681, at the
       Cross of Edinburgh, about 26 years of age.
I. THAT notwithstanding of the shining brightness and presence of God in the Church of Scotland in these years, from the 1638 to the 1649, by which iniquity's mouth was much stopt, and the hands of the godly much strengthned, that yet the greatest part of our ministers, and others with them, should have fallen upon publick resolutions to bring in again known malignants to places of power and trust, in judicatories and armies, who, to this very day, have it for their work to ruin religion and godliness, and all persons in the land, who dare not follow them in their wicked and pernicious courses whatsomever.

II. That after the removal of the late king, both Church and State have agreed to proclaim and bring home and set up this man Charles II., who is now both an idol and a tyrant, to rule over a Christian people in covenant with God, while by many evidences he was known to be a heart-enemy to God and godliness, and, in all his oaths and declarations, a mocking hypocrite; and yet our ministers and others have been still so wedded to malignant rulers, that, at the same time or thereabout, they deposed several faithful ministers, and excommunicate worthy Colonel Strachan to gain these enemies' favour, thus for our backsliding we are filled with our own ways.

III. When in the providence of God this tyrant was beat at Worcester,1 and redacted to exile, yet we would not hear the language of the rod, but in our hearts cleaved to our idol king, against whom, together with ourselves, the Lord had expressed his hot indignation, immediately after we had espoused his quarrel and interest. Now the Lord makes our own doings to correct us, and we are ensnared with the work of our own hands.

IV. That in all that interval of time, betwixt his going out of the nation after Worcester and his return in the year 1660, there was so little done for God by either Church or State, but a door kept open for his return to tyrannize and set up his heathenish laws and government, which, in the righteous judgment of God, hath since been both our snare and our scourge.

V. When in the year 1660, and afterwards, this tyrant came to the throne, minding none of his former engagements to God and his people, he overturned the sworn-to work of reformation, and burnt the Covenants, and brought in abjured and antichristian Prelacy upon us, that yet there was not only a deep silence at all this, both in Church and State, which was hainous ingratitude to God, and a grievous breach of our former engagements (for then should the whole land solemnly have rejected him), but also a dreadful compliance expressed by all ranks in setting on of bonfires, ringing of bells, ranting and rejoycing, and never a publick testimony to be heard of against such iniquous courses; but, on the contrary, watchmen, that should have warned others, made it their work many of them to stop the giving of a testimony, for fear of irritating these unrighteous rulers, and thus Mr. Guthry, Argyle, and Waristoun were basely murdered,2 and the land defiled with precious innocent blood, and not a man of us to speak against it, for which cause, amongst many others, God, in his just judgment, has to this day plagued us with spiritual blindness, that still we go further astray from him.

VI. That upon the issuing out of that sacrilegious Act at Glasgow, when 600 of the ministers had complied with that detestable Prelacy, the rest slipped from their kirks, as if they had not been obliged to obey God rather than man;3 and the greater part of them not only left their flocks to be destroyed by hireling wolves, but also went and heard the curates themselves, and perswaded the people to follow their base and bad example.

VII. When in the year 1666, these otherwise worthy zealous Christians were forced to arms by the oppression of the tyrant's emissaries, they renewed the covenants,4 without either acknowledging former breaches, or keeping out the tyrant's interest, who had overturned the work of reformation, and broken and burnt these covenants, tho' they never bound us to their and our destroyers.

VIII. That after our gracious God had given us a door of hope, by accepting of a testimony at the hands of many witnesses, who were murder'd and martyr'd at and after Pentland; and preserved some and raised up others, both ministers and professors, to be zealous for him in preaching and hearing the persecuted blest gospel on the high places of the fields in jeopardy of their lives; yet nevertheless many of our ministers, that for the most part had lurked and lien by from their Master's work, did actually accept and imbrace that dreadful and divisive indulgence tendered by the tyrant and his bloody Council to break us, and left their faithful brethren to be the butt of the enemy's malice and malignants' cruelty, and others of them gaping after it, tho' they could not have it. And thus that base idol was worshipped in his usurping supremacy by the greatest part, and the rest of them dealt neither faithfully nor freely with their brethren, for their unheard-of steps of defections, by withdrawing from them, as they ought to have done, seeing they walked disorderly and caused divisions and offences, contrary to the doctrine which we had learned. [Rom. 16.17.] Nor did they faithfully warn the people to avoid them, but strengthned their hand in their evil courses, by joining with them in preaching in their pulpits, and refusing to preach in the fields within the bounds of their indulged parishes, or baptize or marry any in these parishes, tho', in the second article of our engagement to duties, we are bound to defend our Church's liberties and privileges against all incroachments from what hand soever.5

IX. When a number of idle ly-by ministers, that had lurked at Edinburgh and Glasgow and elsewhere, could not but see that the Lord was carrying on and countenancing the great work of the persecuted gospel in mosses, muirs and mountains, they thought it high time for them to bestir themselves, came out to the help of their brethren in the fields, without acknowledging and mourning over their shameful and sinful silence, and their compliance with Prelacy and the indulgence; and, instead of preaching Christ to the poor people in all his three offices, preached up the credit of their indulged brethren, and down the duty of defending the persecuted gospel, which so stumbled many of their hearers who were capable to distinguish betwixt sin and duty in such points, that they knew not whom to hear, nor what to receive as commanded duty, little remembring our national engagements.

X. That at two several meetings of ministers, one at Edinburgh, and another at Dunscore, they censured worthy Mr. Cameron, whom the Lord raised up to be faithfully free, for his preaching against the hearing of the indulged ministers, and laid bonds on others not to preach against them?

XI. That while we had our ministers and ordinances in somewhat both of power and plenty, tho' under the enemy's constant persecution, we did idolize them, made ministers our rule, and gave them too much of Christ's room in our hearts. And now, when they are turned aside, and laid aside their Master's work, and, by their sinful and shameful silence, the land's laid desolate, and no publick testimony kept up at least by preaching, we are ready to be bitter against their persons more than their defections, and to make them more the subject of our discourse and contempt than of our mourning and humiliation before God, which speaks out this plainly, that amongst all our other spiritual plagues there is yet still a spirit of pride, self-confidence and ignorance abounding amongst too many, contrair to the scope of gospel-principles.

XII. That ministers gave so little faithful warning of the adversary's dreadful designs, in putting through their several ensnaring bonds, together with their other dreadful acts and proclamations to ensnare the people's consciences, and to make them by force and fraud peaceably to submit to the tyrannical government; and that Act of their pretended Convention of Estates for imposing a cess to uphold soldiers, or rather (we may say) robbers and murderers, for destroying of the Lord's work, and to imprison and murder all that would faithfully witness against these wicked and abominable courses. And thus many, for want of faithful warning of the sinfulness of these defections, and others, for fear of trouble and suffering, have dreadfully sinned and strengthned the hands of these bloody butchers both in city and country, and so the whole land's in great guilt, and brought under great wrath. Oh Lord, save a remnant

XIII. After the Lord gave us the victory over Clavers and his party at Drumclog, anno 1679, we behaved not as persons that were fighting the Lord's battles; but, instead of pursuing the victory that God wonderfully put in our hands, and sanctifying the Lord of Hosts in our hearts and before the people by giving him the praise, did greedily run upon the spoil, and took some of the enemy prisoners, and gave them quarters, tho' guilty of death, and so brought ourselves under that curse of doing the work of the Lord deceitfully, by withholding our sword from shedding of their blood; and yet we refused to be convinced that our sparing of the lives of these, whom God has appointed to utter destruction, is one of the causes why our lives go for theirs [1 Kings 20.42.]: and after that went to Glasgow out of time, without asking solemn counsel of God or consulting right reason.

XIV. When after all this the Lord continued to be tender of that army, there was a paper presented to the council of war for regulating the army, and keeping out of scandalous and disaffected persons; yet it was neglected and slighted, and so a door was left open for all sorts of persons to come in amongst us, whereby a number of idle vagabonds and self-seeking plunderers [came in] that brought reproach upon the cause and army; and moreover we were opprest by a number of indulged ministers and gentlemen that still opposed the keeping of a day of humiliation, lest we should make mention of their idol the indulgence, as one of the causes of the Lord's controversy with the land, which they will needs have to be referred to a General Assembly, and other things in controversy to a free Parliament; and by these means that great duty was neglected, and our great guilt before the Lord past over and covered.

XV. When that party of ministers and others publish'd that sinful and shameful declaration at Hamiltoun and elsewhere, with a 'Save the King' at the end of it; and afterward, contrair to engagement, printed it, there were few or none of us all that faithfully opposed it; but it was sent abroad as a declaration of that army, whereby the state of the Lord's cause was quite perverted, and there were so many mediators to keep us together that we never separated ourselves from such persons, nor protested against their sinful and shameful foolish practices. But, as if all this had been a small matter, we were drawn over by them to send a petition to the Duke of Monmouth, for that which we should neither have sought from him, nor was he in a capacity to grant us. But by this the enemy's hands were strengthned and ours weakned, and we shamefully put to flight before them.

XVI. That after the murdering of Mr. John King and Mr. John Kid at the Cross of Edinburgh, anno 1679, upon the issuing out of that which they called an indemnity, and a liberty to ministers that would be peaceable to preach in houses upon the people's bond, there was nothing but bonfires and rejoicings, notwithstanding of the death of these two faithful ministers and martyrs that same afternoon; and the ministers came out of their prisons, submitting themselves with their own hands, with the adversary's fetters upon them and their ministry, one witness in Stirling Castle excepted; and afterwards a meeting, calling themselves a General Meeting, voted for the acceptation of the new liberty, some of them actually accepting of it; and others, tho' they did not astrict themselves to one place, nor the people bind themselves for their peaceable behaviour, yet to preach generally in houses (quite altering their former method before the defeat at Bothwel-bridge, wherein the Lord did countenance them in a singular manner, while they stood in the defence of the free preached gospel); either keeping close to Council's orders, or else giving no particular testimony against them that did so, nor against the Council's usurpation: and, when ever the Council recalled their liberty, they returned generally to their former lurking. Thus they did violence to the law of God, by giving obedience to the unjust laws of wicked and perjur'd men.

XVII. After the Lord in his providence had brought home Mr. Cameron out of Holland, there was none of the ministers that would give their consent to his going to the fields at that time to keep up a publick testimony for our Lord Jesus Christ, and against the publick and avowed adversaries and these detestable indulged courses, except Mr. Donald Cargill and Mr. Thomas Douglas, who went along with him for a time.

XVIII. After the work of the gospel was again carried on by these worthy, eminent witnesses, in some places of the nation, with much of the power and presence of God, and these usurping tyrants and murderers rejected by the declaration at Sanquhar,6 tho' in the just judgment of God on these lands, because this duty was so long neglected, and this omission not mourned over as it ought, we are this day left desolate to lament the loss of such honoured instruments: yet notwithstanding of all this, the generality both of ministers and professors have taken the same course with the actually indulged, to calumniate and persecute the witnessing remnant—both the living and the dead, who have overcome by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, not loving their lives unto the death—[by] the reproaching of them with unsound and Jesuitical principles, as tho' they and we both were not bound, by our covenant-vows to the most high God, to bring malignants, and all that are enemies to the sworn-to work of reformation, to condign punishment, and also, to maintain the liberties and privileges of the once reformed, but now deformed and ruined Church. Oh let us seek for hearts to mourn, that ministers and professors should thus cast off the bonds, and despise the oath of God, and become persecutors of the truth.

XIX. That now, after the rejecting and excommunicating of that tyrant and these traitors, we are so little resolute in looking to the Lord only for relief and outgate, but taking offensive courses to be out from under the cross; some petitioning the bloody Council, others bribing the excommunicate advocate Mr. Mackenzie: some giving bond to live peaceably with them, others giving bond to compear before their courts at their pleasure and call: and thus, by their own consent, a snare is laid for their lives if they shall be found, in the way of their duty, faithfully witnessing for Christ and his persecuted truths. O let us mourn for this, that there are so many to do against the truth, and so few for the truth.

XX. That notwithstanding of all the various ways that the Lord hath been taking to increase knowledge, and to make the light of the glorious gospel break forth amongst us, and particularly knowledge of that soul-reviving truth of Christ's being the only king and head of his Church; yet so few ministers have been workers together with him in this matter, in examining and catechising, and holding forth the terms of the covenant of grace to professors of all sorts, and particular heads of families. Notwithstanding of all our spiritual plagues and judgments, we are so little diligent to set time apart, alone and with others, to wrestle with God to abide in the land, and to seek a right way for ourselves; and that we have been so little diligent to instruct the ignorant, and especially those under our charge, in the principles of the true religion, by making them read, and teaching them to understand our Confession of Faith, catechisms, and our national covenants and engagements.

XXI. That after many have been convinced of the sinfulness of our backslidings and complying courses, particularly of paying cess and locality to dragoons and soldiers, strengthning the hands of the adversaries, weakning our own hands, and offending our brethren: that we continue in and venture upon such sinful courses, for fear of suffering for Christ, not trusting in God for through-bearing in a present world, which, alas! speaks but much heart-atheism, unbelief, and little acquaintance with the love of Christ in a spiritual and holy gospel-conversation, before this adulterous and persecuting generation.

XXII. That now when this excommunicated Papist, the Duke of York, is received and entertain'd with so great grandeur, and we ready to be swallowed up by Papists, and the land covered with Egyptian darkness, if the Lord prevent it not; yea, we are so far from a sight of our own and the land's guiltiness, that there is little agreement or concord amongst us [in] falling upon a way to prevent the utter ruin of our persons, families and estates, and true religion, but bitterness, passion, pride and envy, every one esteeming themselves, and their own way, better than their neighbours, contrary to that gospel-precept, 'Let every one esteem another better than themselves.' And thus there is a refusing to receive conviction of sin in particular, but a hardning [of] our faces against the Lord's dispensations, tho' never so speaking. And here we obtest and intreat these men (who once seemed to be brethren in covenant with us; but now, by their indulging courses, have betrayed the cause of Christ, and, by their language and practice, have rendred us, the poor suffering remnant, the butt of the enemy's malice to act their cruelty on us, tho' they were bound, in their covenant to God, to contend for the privileges of the church as well as we) in the bowels of Christ to consider well the nature of that union which they drive and plead for, seeing the whole ingredients of a Christian union must only have the stamp of divine institution, and can in nowise suffer the mixture of human inventions.


1. The battle of Worcester was fought on the 3rd of September, 1651.

2. The Marquis of Argyle suffered at Edinburgh on the 27th of May 1661; James Guthrie on the 1st of June 1661; and Wariston on the 22nd of July 1663.

3. "By another wicked act of Council at Glasgow above 300 ministers were put from their charges; and afterwards, for their non-conformity in not countenancing their diocesan meeting, and not keeping the anniversary day May 29, the rest were violently thrust from their labours in the Lord's vineyard, and banished from their parishes… In this fatal convulsion of the Church, generally all were struck with blindness and baseness, that a paper-proclamation made them all run from their posts and obey the King's orders for their ejection" (Hind let Loose, 1687, p. 101.)

4. The National Covenant and the Solemn League and Covenant were renewed at Lanark by those in arms on Monday the 26th of November 1666 (Memoirs of Veitch and Brysson, pp. 28, 404; Wodrow's History, ii. 25). The battle of Pentland Hills was fought on Wednesday the 28th.

5. "Because many have of late laboured to supplant the liberties of the Kirk, we shall maintain and defend the Kirk of Scotland, in all her liberties and privileges, against all who shall oppose or undermine the same, or encroach thereupon under any pretext whatsomever. (Acknowledgement of Sins and Engagement to Duties).

6. This is the Declaration published at Sanquhar on the 22nd of June 1680. It is printed in Wodrow's History, iii. 212, 213; and in An Informatory Vindication, 1707, pp. 173-176.