[Protestation by Mr James Guthrie and Mr David Bennett]

Protestation by Mr James Guthrie and Mr David Bennett of 22 February and presented to the committee upon the 28 February thereafter

At Perth, 22 February 1651

Whereas the king's majesty and your lords having been pleased, upon a narrative relating to our doctrine and ministerial duties, to desire and require us to proceed to this place against a certain day, contained in your letter of 14 February instant, in answer to which we excused ourselves that we could not so precisely come here because of bodily infirmity of the one of us, known to be of verity, promising withal to wait on his majesty and your lords so soon as the Lord should remove the necessity of our delay, or in case of the non-removal thereof, that the other should come toward the end of that week with the mind of both. And we accordingly compearing before your lords, did show how willing we were to hear what was to be said to us and to answer thereto, as is contained in our declaration and protestation formerly given in to your lords relating thereto. Yet, nevertheless, in the interval of time between his majesty's and your lords' receipt and public reading of our humble excuse and our appearance before your lords, it has pleased his majesty and the committee of estates not only to require us again to come to this place (which upon the first letter we were careful to do with all all possible diligence), but also to ordain we should stay here or at Dundee until his majesty returned from Aberdeen, that in a full meeting of the committee such course may be taken as may be found most appropriate for the safety of that place where we serve in the ministry, as his majesty's and your lords' letter of 19 February 1651 bears. Which letter, albeit it came not to our hands before the time of our appearing before your lords, but was then delivered and communicated to us, yet in relation thereto, we have also offered to your lords assurance that we should return here against his majesty's coming back from Aberdeen until which time his majesty's and your lords' letter did continue and delay the business, as also was declared by your lords to us at our appearing before you, notwithstanding whereof your lords have not been pleased to accept of any such assurance nor to allow us your liberty to proceed to our charges until that time; and albeit this seems strange to us, especially in a matter of our ministerial function and yet in dependence between the kirk judicatories and us undecided, nevertheless that we even should not so much as seem in any way to irritate you or that offence be not taken in any way by any, especially by the civil magistrate, do resolve, for preventing of mistakes and testifying our respect to civil authority, to endeavour to satisfy such an appointment so far as we can without prejudice to our consciences, the liberty of our ministry and the solemn bonds and obligations lying upon us to preach the Gospel in the stations where God has set us, adhering always to our former declaration and protestation. Likewise we do now hereby protest that we do not acknowledge his majesty and your lords to be competent judges to presbyterial acts and letters or our ministerial function or preaching or any part thereof, which are the subject matter of your lords' letter, requisition and ordinance, because they are ecclesiastical and belong to ecclesiastic assemblies as the only proper judges thereof; and because neither the presbytery of Stirling, who are the proper authors of the aforesaid letter, which is the first ground of the said requisition and ordinance, nor we have been convened for that before any ecclesiastic judicatory, neither were we ever convened or convicted for breach of any ecclesiastic act in the premises, and so there has preceded no antecedent sentence of the said judicatories finding that we have violated any act of the church in preaching against the present way of levy or that we have ill and unwarrantably appealed from the commission of the general assembly's desire and charge to us in that particular. As also we humbly protest that there be reserved to us all remedy competent of the law to us against the censure we suffer by being thus convened and confined by a civil judicatory and having our liberty refused to us to return to our charges, notwithstanding of assurance offered to attend at the time to which our business is continued, seeing this procedure is contrary not only to divine law, the word of God and to the covenant and solemn engagement to the acts of our kirk, but also to acts of parliament and laws of this kingdom and the established rights, privileges and liberties of this kirk.

And upon supposition that the king's majesty and your lords were competent judges of these things (which we do not acknowledge, but protest against for the reasons contained in this and our former declaration and protestation, and for many other reasons of that kind), yet the hearing of parties before judgment passed upon them being a part of their native liberty that is due to all men (who do not by their absence from and contempt of the judicatories forfeit the same) as being founded upon the light of nature, common reason and equity and agreeable to the word of God and laws of all nations, and the king and your lords having in your first letter to us proposed that method of proceeding with us notwithstanding thereof, and of our undertaking to compear within a competent time, his majesty and your lords have, without hearing of us, passed such a judgment in reference to us. Therefore we also protest against such manner of procedure as being contrary to that liberty which is due to us and which we may justly challenge as subjects, and which his majesty and your lords are bound by the law of nature, the law of God, the covenant and the laws of the land to maintain and preserve inviolably.

And albeit we do not resolve upon any light consideration to depart from this place or from Dundee where his majesty and your lords have appointed us to stay until his majesty's return from Aberdeen, but for preventing of mistakes and testifying our respect to civil authority, to endeavour (as we have already declared) to satisfy such an appointment so far as we can without prejudice to our consciences, the liberty of our ministry and the solemn bonds and obligations that lie upon us to preach the Gospel in the stations wherein God has set us, yet do we protest that our staying here or at Dundee may not be esteemed or interpreted an acknowledgement of the ordinance in reference to our stay, but that, notwithstanding thereof, it is still free for us to make use of all these privileges and liberties which are due to us as the ministers of Jesus Christ in as free a way in time coming as we might have done before our compearing before your lords or having any such ordinance intimated to us.

Mr James Guthrie; Mr David Bennett

Perth, 28 February 1651

Read in presence of the committee of estates.

13 March 1651

Read in plain parliament after the production by [John Campbell, earl of Loudoun], lord chancellor.

  1. NAS. PA3/2/10, f.174r-174v. Back
  2. Letters from the committee of estates summoning Mr James Guthrie and Mr David Bennett before parliament can be found at NAS. PA11/10, f.70v-71r and 79r. Back