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of our Presbyterian brethren are still seen to bear the cast-off trappings of the English Puritans, known by the name, not of Edinburgh or of Aberdeen—not of Glasgow or of St Andrews—but of Westminster: a phenomenon in the nature of a Nemesis, which, if we take into account the chief characteristics of the Scottish people—especially their love of independence—is certainly one of the strangest to be found in the history of the Church or of the world. Looking back over that century, and casting up (as I proposed) the account of gain and loss, we cannot but mark how the blessed recovery of the open Bible—being unrestrained by the sober influences of reverence for the past, and unguided by the authoritative interpretations of the primitive and undivided Church—served only to throw a more lurid light upon the crimes and wickedness that prevailed. We see the teaching of the Old Testament not only set above that of the New, but, through the fanatical misapplication of its lessons and examples, employed to justify principles and actions which, rightly understood, it would have been found utterly to condemn. (10) We see the Lord's Day rescued, indeed, from the open violation and profaneness which had formerly prevailed, but only to be perverted into a day of gloom, too often tainted with hypocrisy; while in the havoc which rightly swept away the worship of saints and the keeping of minor holidays, which had become excessive in number, and tended to demoralise rather than to improve the people, the fasts and festivals of the Universal Church—the observance of which might have assisted to place the hallowing of the Christian Sabbath in its proper light—were altogether abolished. (11) We see, as a punishment for past abuses, endowments not reformed and converted to better ends, but sacrilegiously withdrawn into the coffers of dissolute and ungodly nobles and dependants of the Court; and consequently a dearth of theological proficiency just at the time when it was most needed to form the opinions and to guide the actions both of clergy and laity. We know how the great blessing of liberty of thought and speech too often degenerated into licentiousness through the "speaking evil of dignities,” even in the house of God. We remember only too well how, in the name Christ and of His religion, prince and people were arrayed against each other till the former had been led to a bloody death ; and the latter, delivered over to the iron sway of a usurper, sank down exhausted under the effects of their own violence.
But to pass on to the second epoch. I know of nothing which is calculated to cover the faces of Englishmen—and of Scotchmen too, though in a less degree with a deeper blush of shame and confusion than the remembrance of the name by which I have designated this period — the name “Restoration." What might we not suppose would have been the salutary effect of the various troubles and disasters which had been undergone during the previous century—. e., from 1560 to 1660 ? What species of chastisement was there which God could have inflicted, short of calling in the agency of a foreign enemy, as He did in the case of the disobedient Jews — what chastisement was there, I ask, which He did not inflict upon our forefathers through their mutual animosities, fermented chiefly in the holy name of religion, and continually breaking out—not once only, but once and again—in civil war? Within less than two years after the popular party of the two countries, having joined their forces (1643), had dethroned their king and brought about his execution (1649), the Scotch and English of the same party were engaged in a second civil war against each other, which led to the bloody battle of Dunbar in September 1650. And more than this. In October of that year there were actually in Scotland four different armies severally at enmity, and each prepared to maintain with the sword a different cause. (12) And meanwhile, what was the condition, not only materially, but morally and religiously, of the people who had suffered themselves to be provoked into these extremities by the ill-judged, indeed, and arbitrary, but well-meant action of their king? We have only too much and too trustworthy evidence to tell us what it was. It is no other than Robert Baillie, the well-known Principal of the University of Glasgow, and one of the Scotch Commissioners to the Westminster Assembly, who thus writes from Perth, January 2, 1651, to his cousin and fellow-minister, Mr William Spang :
“It cannot be denied that our miseries and dangers of ruin are greater than for many years have been ; a potent, victorious enemy (i.e., Cromwell) master of our seas, and for some good time of the best part of our land: our kirk, state, army, full of divisions and jealousies ; the body of our people south of the Forth spoiled and near starving; they north of the Forth extremely ill-used by a handful of our own; ... none of our neighbours called upon by us, or willing to give us any help, though called. What the end of all shall be, the Lord knows.” (13) Again ; it is the Commission of the General Assembly itself which two months later (March 20, 1651) thus speaks in a short exhortation and warning which it issued “To the ministers and professors of this kirk.... The eminent danger of religion, king, and kingdom, by the unjust invasion of the blasphemous sectarian army; the sad condition of our countrymen in the south parts of the kingdom, and groaning under the grievous oppression of strangers ” (the same who not long before, be it remembered, were their allies in rebellion against their sovereign), “ of strangers, devouring their substance and enslaving their persons; the sad silence in many congregations, whose teachers are driven into corners by the violence of the enemies, contemners of God's ordinances, and mockers of His messengers; the adversaries roaring and making a
strange noise in the midst of some congregations; the inevitable hazard of our dear brethren to be seduced into pernicious heresies and errors by the deceitful practices and speeches of sectaries that are cunning to deceive and speak lies in hypocrisy; the innocent blood of our brethren murdered by the sword of a merciless enemy; the sighing of the prisoners, inhumanly and cruelly used by those who keep them prisoners :” such is the description of Cromwell and his army of Independents, given by this Commission of the General Assembly to their Presbyterian brethren, just two years after the Westminster Assembly had completed its labours (March 1649) by the joint action of the two parties for the extirpation of Prelacy, and purification and better settlement of the Church in both countries ! “All these things,” they continue, “ do cry so loud in the ears of all who have ears to hear, and a heart to understand, to be awake and quickened to the necessary duty of the time, that it is a wonder that any Jonah should be found fast asleep in so great a storm, wherein this kirk and kingdom are like to be overwhelmed. . . . We exhort all men unto repentance, to return from the evil of their thoughts and ways, and to mourn after the Lord.... It is more than high time for all to be humbled under the weighty hand of God who hath cast us down, and is able to raise us up again. ... Let it be seriously laid to heart how much blood is spilt, how many towns and shires are spoiled,