Declaration: remonstrance of the general assembly

The which day Mr Robert Douglas, in name of the commissioners of the general assembly, gave in to the estates the remonstrance following, whereof the tenor follows:

Remedies of the dangers of religion

To the honourable convention of estates, the humble remonstrance of the commissioners of the general assembly concerning the remedies of the present danger of religion.

Although it be more easy, especially in a time of many corruptions and great difficulty, to complain of diseases and dangers than to find out the right cure and remedies, yet from our conscience of duty in the charge committed to us at this time from our confidence in God, whose providence has discovered the dangers and will in his own time provide sufficient remedies by the example of the general assemblies of this kirk, and in obedience to your lords' commands, we find a necessity laid upon us and are most willing according to our knowledge to show what we conceive to be the best remedies, leaving the further consideration of them to your lords' wisdom. Politic and worldly men are indifferently disposed towards every religion, and do conceive that the knowledge of a few principles joined with the profession of religion is sufficient for salvation, without descending into particular differences and controversies. But this cannot be a remedy, for we know that heresies and sects have been of old and must still be, that those who are approved may be made known reconcilers, who, under the specious pretext of pacification between Protestants and papists, intend no other thing but in a subtle and crafty way to reduce the Protestant kirks into anti-Christian servitude, and, in the golden cup of the whore of Babel, to give again to us all their abominations and filthiness. These are also to be rejected and abhorred as presenting us with deadly poison instead of remedies, a third there is but an insufficient remedy. We do with all thankfulness and reverence as becomes good subjects receive the king's majesty's declaration of his intention for maintaining our religion, and esteem it no small happiness to live under a prince orthodox in the faith and a nurse-father of the kirk; but his majesty's disposition to religion can neither oblige his royal successors (as the frequent change of religion in England and other kingdoms with the change of their princes has taught us), nor can it preserve us from the plots and power of papists, as we have even now learned by the conspiracy of the Irish, English and Scottish papists. If they have been devising mischiefs against us in the very time of his majesty's declaration, what may be in all reason expected afterwards from their immortal hatred and incessant working? And what may we look for presently if, while they are now in arms, their fury shall have success and they suffered to prevail? We pray God save the king, but we may say cursed be their anger, for it is fierce and their wrath for it is cruel. The first true remedy, which Christian piety and prudence minister to us, is to receive the love of the truth, and to labour for the power of godliness. It is never enough observed that papistry, Arminianism and diversity of sects are the just judgement of God upon many in the reformed kirks for their formality in religion; without this one remedy, all other remedies will want the blessing of God and prove unprofitable.

A second remedy is to abhor and detest popery, not upon conceit or common opinion, but from the particular and distinct knowledge of the gross heresies in doctrine, manifold idolatry in worship and cruel tyranny in government which it teaches, defends and practices, from which the Lord in a wonderful mercy has delivered us. Against which so many thousands of the holy and faithful martyrs of Christ have borne record of the word of God and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and washed their robes in the blood of the lamb, and by which the Lord suffers us and other reformed kirks this day to be threatened again because we have been unthankful for our deliverance, not knowing the greatness of the ill from which we have been delivered, nor considering the heaviness of that anti-Christian yoke if it shall be again wreathed upon our necks, which would to God all kings, princes, republicans and people would take to heart.

The third is that all true patriots and professors of the reformed religion may learn to discern and know the enemies of the kirk, which will be found not only to be papists but malignants also, who, under colour of the same profession with us, oppose themselves to the preservation of religion here to the reformation of religion into England, no less than papists, who make bonds contrary or prejudicial to our National Covenant; who frame and present petitions crossing the petitions of the commissioners of the general assembly; give information to the king's majesty, contrary to the information of the kirk and kingdom; do oppose the publishing of the necessary declarations of the kirk, read papers in the assemblies of God's people without warrant from the kirk, and offer to presbyteries in all the quarters of the kingdom papers contrary to the declarations of the commissioners of the assembly; do hold their meetings against the convention of estates, and if they could find ministers to join with them, would keep ecclesiastical assemblies against the assemblies of the kirk, which is the most factious, the most scandalous and the most dangerous way of division and separation that has been heard of in any kirk or kingdom, and therefore by ecclesiastic censures and civil punishments to be speedily and powerfully suppressed as a most pernicious practice, tending to the destruction both of religion and peace of this kingdom and directly opposite to the propagation of the Gospel and reformation of other kirks, which God by his providence is bringing to pass, and is ardently desired and constantly hoped for by all the godly.

The fourth is if after all good means are used to reduce the enemies of religion, whether papists or malignants, to repentance and obedience, the kirk be constrained by their obstinacy to proceed to the sentence of excommunication, some solid course may be taken that the civil punishment which is according to law may be really and timely inflicted, that neither the law be eluded nor any delinquent for his greatness or any other respect be exempt or spared.

The fifth is because such want of sure and timely intelligence, a great part of the people are either left to uncertain rumours or slighted by the negligence of common bearers, or abused with malignant information, that they neither know their own danger, nor the danger of religion and country, a solid order would be set down whereby intelligence may go forth from Edinburgh to every shire and so to every particular pastor, that the people may be informed both of their danger and duty, and an account taken of the faithfulness of men to whom matters of so necessary and public concern shall be committed, and of particular ministers, how they acquit themselves in matters of so great trust.

The sixth is that for the more special applying of some clauses of our National Covenant against the present evil, certain articles may be framed to be subscribed and consented to by all the well-affected, that we may be more strongly united amongst ourselves in the cause of God; and that all malignants and secret enemies who hide themselves under their subscription of the covenant may be discerned and discovered.

The seventh is that a remonstrance be sent to the king's majesty from the honourable convention of estates, expressing the present dangers of the kirk and kingdom, with a renewed supplication for unity in religion and uniformity of kirk government, for disbanding of all papists' forces, and for using of means for the queen's conversion.

The eighth is although we be very well assured of the wisdom and good affection of this honourable convention, for which, as a means of great happiness to this kirk and kingdom at this time, we heartily bless the Lord, yet from the necessity of our duty, which enforces us to exhort civil powers to all vigilance and faithfulness, and according to the laudable example of the general assemblies of this kirk in former times of public danger, we must crave leave to entreat and excite your lords speedily to think and resolve upon the ways for the safety and security of the kingdom against insurrection of papists and malignants from within and invasion from without, which may also be a means to try and discover the minds of the disaffected; and to commit so great trust to none but to such as are known to be zealous of the safety of religion, of the king's honour and peace of the kingdom.

The ninth is because the hearts of people are secure and slow in apprehending of dangers, and the enemies suggest that there is not any great cause of fear, whenever any letters of negotiation and traffic between papists or malignants here and in other places are intercepted, or any plots or conspiracies discovered, the same, without respect to any persons whatsoever, may be published in print and sent through the kingdom, that all may be warned of the danger and be in readiness to use the best means for their safety; and that such wicked instruments may be censured and punished.

The tenth is that for the credit of the Gospel, for keeping the public faith of the kingdom and for promoting the desired and intended unity in religion and uniformity in kirk government, all the articles of the treaty of peace between the two kingdoms be inviolably observed and justice done without partiality upon the contraveners. And forasmuch as at the time of reformation and in our late declarations and remonstrances in the time of our troubles and since the expressions of our desires to unity and amity with the kingdom of England have been many and large, and we have many times from our feeling and fears made open profession that the not reforming or endangering of religion there has an influence upon our religion and the mutual peace of the kingdoms, we do humbly entreat, according to the example of the general assemblies of this kirk, that this honourable convention may be pleased to take into their greatest consideration the renewing of the league and association with England for defence of the religion against the common enemy, and how far the same may be extended against prelacy and popish ceremonies for uniformity in external worship and kirk government.

Thus have we pointed at the principal remedies, which we humbly present to be more particularly resolved upon by this honourable convention as a matter worthy of the gravest deliberation and the greatest care and diligence, for which, as we shall be required, we shall most willingly, according to our place and calling, contribute our counsels and endeavours, beseeching God, who never leaves his people when trouble draws near, first to direct and next to fulfil all your counsels to his own glory and the public good.

  1. NAS. PA8/1, f.47v-49v.