A Seasonable Warning and Exhortation of the Commission of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland
Warning and Exhortation
Commission of the General Assembly
Of the CHURCH of SCOTLAND,
Met at Edinburgh the 15th November 1745.
THE Commission of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland is considering that a wicked and desperate Rebellion is raised and carried on these Kingdoms, against our only rightful and lawful Sovereign King George; and with an Intent to subvert our present happy Establishment, by setting a Popish Pretender on the Throne, educated in all the Maxims of Popish Superstition and French Tyranny: Judge it our indispensible Duty, as appointed by our Great Lord and Master to watch for the Souls of Men, and in pursuance of the Trust committed by the General Assembly to watch over thse concerns of this Church, to give faithful and public Warning to the People under our Care, of the imminent Danger to with which every thing valuable to us, as we are Men and Christians, is evidently threatened. We therefore do earnestly obtest all Protestants, all Lovers of our Religion, Liberty, and native Country, to beware of the delusive Arts which Romish Emissaries from Abroad, and the Enemies of our Constitution at Home, have industriously and indefatigably used to destroy that glorious Structure, which our gracious GOD reared up at the Revolution, by King William of immortal Memory.
Specious Declarations are made, by the Pretender and his Son, of securing to British Protestants their Religion and Liberties; but they are made by the Sons of a Church, whose known Principle and Practice is never to keep Faith with Hereticks, (and such she reckons all Protestants) a Church which never omitted an Opportunity of destroying all those who separated from her, when it was in her Power: She considers them as the Pests of human Society, from whose Contagion she thinks herself obliged to deliver the World:——Witness the Treatment of John Huss and Jerom of Prague, and the barbarous Massacres of Paris and Ireland.
To strengthen this pretended Security, a Promise is made to call a free Parliament, and to act always by the Advice of Parliaments.——But, can any thing be more absurd, than to imagine, that he who founds his Title to govern upon an hereditary and indefeasible Right; that he who considers the whole Nation as his natural Estate, and all the Members thereof as his Property, will allow himself to be restricted by any Limitation, or have Regard to any thing but sole Will and Pleasure? What Authority can Laws have, when, notwithstanding the most notorious Violations of them, this pretended Right remains entire, and not to be forfeited by any Conduct whatsoever?
By these Principles of indefeasible hereditary Right and arbitrary Power, France and Spain are governed. These are the Principles the late King James pursued in his Administration; notwithstanding the Declaration he made, immediately upon his accession to the Throne, in the English Council and Parliament; than which nothing can now be devised stronger: And notwithstanding the solemn Engagements he then came under to govern according to Law; yet did he break through all these Engagements; on which Accounts he justly forfeited the Crown.
Have we not Reason to think the Pretender would do the same; who says in his Declaration, That all who are employed in the Service of the present Government cannot but be sensible, that no Engagements entered into with our only rightful Sovereign King George, whom he arrogantly calls the Usarper, can dispense with the Allegiance they owe to their Natural Sovereign, as he vainly calls himself?——Can we then believe His Declarations of eſtabliſhing the Protestant Religion, whose Conscience is subject to a foreign Power; and who is under prior Engagements to his spiritual Sovereign, the Pope of Rome, to destroy it?
Tho' the Pretender's Son would seem to acknowledge some Miscarriages in former Reigns, is it not evident, that he treads in the Steps of the late King James, by levying Money in an arbitary Manner as he did, immediately after his Accession? Has he not treated the Country as a Conquered Nation, by enforcing his exorbitant Demands with the threatening of military Execution? If such Things are done whilst he courts a Crown, what may we not dread, if he should be possest of it?
What Abuses might not be expected from the Army he employs to raise him to the Throne? a great Part of which is made up out of the barbarous Corners of this Country? many of whom are Papists, under the immediate Direction of their Priests, train'd up to the Sword, by being practised in open Robbery and Violence; void of Property of their own; the constant Invaders of that of others; and who know no Law, but the Will of their Leaders.
Whilst our most gracious Sovereign treated them with the greatest Indulgence and Clemency; and did every Thing to encourage them to honest Labour, and to render them useful to the Country: And whilst, as a true Father of his People, he yearly bestowed a considerable Sum, for instructing such of his Subjects as live in Places where Ignorance and Popery prevail, in the principles of true Religion; a just Share of which Sum was bestowed for their Instruction, they, as restless Disturbers, have risen in open Rebellion against their only lawful Sovereign and bountiful Benefactor.
But, to complete our Destruction France and Spain, the avowed Enemies of our Country; not only of our Religion, but of our Trade and Commerce, are called in to their Assistance: Who, whilst they are preparing to invade us at home, are distressing our Trade abroad; with whom we are at Open War, on the same Principles on which the War was waged in the Reign of Qeeen Anne. The Pretence of calling in such dangerous Allies, is the Assistance given us by the Dutch; and said to be expected from Danes, Hessians and Swiss. Let it be considered, that these are Protestant States; that the Dutch are obliged to assist us, by Treaty made for their and our safety; that such Aid was called in, when our Army was employed abroad in the common Cause of Liberty; and that, as this seems to be the last Effort to overthrow the Protestant Religion; is it any wonder Protestant Powers should join together to defend us? Our Interest, as to Religion; is the same with theirs; and the Preservation of it depends upon the Defeat of this wicked Design.
Of all Wars, a Civil War is the most dreadful; in which Countrymen shed the Blood of their Countrymen, Children rise up against their Fathers, and those of the same House are divided against each other; Laws are silent, Justice banished, and Violence is unstrained. Such is the dreadful War the Rebels have kindled in this Nation.
If they should be defeated, as we trust in GOD they shall, they may be ruined; but Scotland is in no Danger, as they pretend it is who are already engaged in this wicked Attempt, that they may involve others in the same pernicious Scheme:——But, on the contrary, our Country will be preserved from Ruin.——Few have joined them on the South-Side of Tay, notwithstanding their boasted Victory at Preston:——The most considerable Clans, in the West and North-Country, continue faithful to their Duty, and zealous in defending the Government: The great Property of the Nation is in the Interest of the King and Government; and that of the Rebels bears but a very inconsiderable Proportion to it. What then have the Well-affected in Scotland to fear?——What may they not hope, from a Sovereign who has been so mild to his Enemies?——And what can be the Effect of the Destruction of Jacobitism; but the Security of Our Religion, the Establishment of our Peace, and the increasing the Value of our Property?
Loud Complaints are made, of insufferable Grievances, and Encroachments upon our Liberties, under the benign Administration of our present gracious Sovereign; to redress which, is the pretended Design of this wicked Rebellion. But how is this heavy Charge made out? Do our Enemies pretend to produce any one Act of lawless Power, ever done, or so much as attempted by his present Majesty, or his Royal Father, through the whole Course of their Reigns? No: but instead of this, they tell us of some Things which are of a doubtful and disputable Nature; and about which the wisest, the best, and the freest Men, have different Apprehensions and Views:——Things are mentioned as Encroachments, which were never done at all; but barely proposed; and after being for some time canvast by the Legislature, were laid aside:——And none of the Things complained of can be alledged to have been done, or the least Attempt made to do them, any otherways than by Law.——Law, Enacted by and with the Advice and Consent of the Representatives of the People, chosen by the Freeholders and Men of Property in the Nation. What a Degree of Impudence must it require, for any Man to compare Things of this Nature, with the many known Acts of mere Power and Violence (not only without Law, but in the Face of the plainest standing Laws) done in former Reigns before the glorious Revolution? about which it was then dangerous to debate, and of which it was held criminal to complain! And how justly might we expect the Repetition of such Acts of Violence, under the Reign of one, who claims the Crown by the pretended indefeasible Right of Succession to these Princes; extols the Equity and Clemency of their Administration; and sets it before him as the glorious Pattern of his intended Government.
The Minds of these Men must be monstrously perverted, who can favour a Design, the natural and necessary Consequence of which must be, the Subversion of what Great Britain glories in above all Nations, Religious and Civil Liberty! Can we expect Liberty from arbitrary Power;——a free Parliament from an armed Force?——Just Laws from lawless Men?——The Security of our Property from the Invaders of Property?——The Protection of our Commerce from France and Spain?——The Safety of the Protestant Religion from a Popish Pretender?——and Toleration of tender Consciences from a persecuting Spirit!
Our own History acquaints us, that there are some yet alive who remember to have seen the best Blood of the Nation shed on Scaffolds, in the Cause of Religion and Liberty; and great Numbers of peaceable Men fined, imprisoned and put to Death, for serving GOD according to their Consciences; sometimes under Form of Law, and sometimes without any Form of Law, by Soldiers who were authorised to do so; who were at once Judges, Witnesses, Jury and Executioners.
As we detest the Principles of Slavery; as we abhor this flagitious Rebellion, and the base Methods by which it has been carried on; so we do, in the warmest Manner, exhort all Persons of our Communion to persist in that Loyalty to our Sovereign King George, by which they have been always distinguished; neither to be allured by Promises, nor over-awed by Threatenings, to join with these wicked and deluded Men: And let your honest Zeal for our happy Constitution, rise in Proportion to the Violence with which it is attacked. We put you in mind to be subject to Principalities and Powers; to obey Magistrates, and to be ready to every good work. Let every Soul be subject to the higher Powers: For there is no Power but of God; the Powers that be are ordained of God: Whosoevor therefore resisteth the Power, resisteth the Ordinance of God; and they that resist shall receive to themselves Damnation: For Rulers are not a Terror to good Works, but to the evil Fear the Lord and the King, and meddle not with those that are given to Change Submit yourselves to every Ordinance of Man for the Lord's Sake; whether it be to the King as Supreme; or unto Governors, as unto them that are sent by him, for the Terror of Evil-doers, and the Praise of them that do well.
Cultivate the Principles of true Liberty; and teach them to your Children; that they may not be early ensnared by slavish Doctrines, which may render them hurtful to Society, and involve themselves and their dear est Concerns in Ruin.
The Calamities we in this Country have felt, and the Judgments with which GOD has been pleased to visit us, should awaken our Consciences; and excite us to a sincere and deep Repentance, for those Sins which have been the procuring Causes of them.——How insensible have many been of the Excellency of that Religion we have long enjoyed, pure from Idolatry and Superstition? With what Contempt has the everlasting Gospel of Christ, and his Ordinances been treated? And how little of the Power of Religion has been seen in the Lives of its Professors! How much have profane Swearing, and horrid Perjury abounded?——How much has Luxury, the Parent of many Vices, and productive of the greatest Miseries, spread its malignant Influence over all Ranks?——And how has Infidelity, Libertinism and Licentiousness, prepared the Minds of not a few for any Form of Religion that is calculated for an Indulgence to Vice?——How much more have men been ffected with temporal Inconveniences, and the Loss of their Goods, than with the Danger to which our holy Religion is exposed?
Consider the inestimable Privileges you have long possest, The Wonders of GOD's Providence in the Reformation of those Nations from Popery; the Establishment of that Reformed Religion, by the glorious Revolution under King William; and the Confirmation of it, by raising the illustrious Family of Hanover to the Throne of these Kingdoms.——Let a lively Sense of these valuable Blessings be continually preserved in your Minds; that you may not be shamefully unthankful to GOD, ungrateful to your worthy Ancestors, and unfaithful to your Posterity.
We must earnestly recommend it to all the Ministers of this National Church, to endeavour, by public and private insruction, to fill the Minds of People of all Ranks and Ages, as they have Opportunity, with a just Abhorrence of the Abominations of Popery; the Terrors of arbitrary Power, and of the extreme Danger these Lands must be certainly exposed to, of being over-run with Superstition, Tyranny and Oppression, if GOD for our Sins should ever suffer the Pretender to reign over us.
Sensible of the Peace, and the many great Privileges we have long enjoyed; and the danger to which we are now exposed:——Let us mourn over our own Sins, and the Wickednesses that are daily committed in the Land, which have drawn down these heavy Judgments upon us.——Let us search and try our Ways, and turn again unto the Lord; that, for Jesus Sake, he may have Compassion upon us; pardon our Sins; prevent our Ruin, and strengthen what he has wrought for us.
Let us, in the most earnest Manner, address Almighty GOD of infinite Mercy, thro' the Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, to pour down a Spirit of Grace and Supplication, of Repentance and Reformation, upon all Ranks of Men:——That he would enable us to walk worthy of the Gospel of Christ, and animate us with a Temper of Mind suitable to it:——That he would teach us to improve the present awful Dispensation of his Providence; unite us in the Bonds of Peace and Truth; and give us all one Heart and one Way, to fear him and keep his Commandments always; that GOD may dwell with us, and with our poserity after us.——Let us fervently pray, that GOD may eminently bless our only rightful Sovereign King George, and all his Royal Family; protect his Person, from all the secret and open Attempts of his Enemies; establish his Throne, direct his Councils, and give Success to his Arms by Sea and Land, at Home and Abroad.
As we pity those unreasonable Men who have risen up against us; so let us all heartily pray to GOD, that he would convince them of their Folly and Wickedness; give them Repentance unto Life, and the Forgiveness of their Sins; that being reclaimed from the Error of their Way, the further Effusion of Blood may be prevented: But that, if they should still persist in this unnatural Rebellion, GOD may defeat it; and make it a Means of strengthening our happy Constitution, and of discouraging for ever all Attempts of this Nature.
The above Warning and Exhortation having been sundry Times read and fully considered, was this Day unanimously approved by the Commission; and they appoint the same to be forthwith printed, and Copies thereof to be sent to all the Ministers of this Church, who are hereby appointed to read the same from their Pulpits, each of them the first Lord's Day he conveniently can, after it comes to his Hands;——and the several Presbyteries are to enquire particularly into the Observation of this Act. Subscribed by
- Who were both burnt at Constance, for what the Church of Rome called Heresy, though the ﬁrst of them had the solemn Deed of the Emperor, for his safe Passage to, and Return from thence; and the Council of Constance, then sitting, declares, That, notwithstanding the said safe Conduct, the Church had a Right to condemn him, and deliver him over to the Flames.
- Where and in other Cities of France, 30,000 Innocents were murdered in a very short Time, without Distinction of Age, Sex, or Condition; at the News of which Slaughter the Court of Rome triumph'd, and caused Medals to be struck for the perpetual Memorial of it.
- In which some hundred thousands of Protestants perished.
- Titus iii. 1.
- Rom. xiii. 1, 2, 3.
- Prov. xiv. 21.
- 1 Pet. ii. 13, 14.