Ad Gloriam Dei

"Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." - 1 Corintians 10:31

"Let us pursue the things which make for peace and those by which one may edify another"- Romans 14:19

"As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." - Proverbs 27:17

Monday, September 24, 2007

The 20th and 21st Centuries: Barthianism, Feminism, Ecumenism, Charismaticism and Reformed Revival

1900 United Free Church (UFC) formed by the union of the majority of the UPC with the majority of the Free Church, although in both cases minorities remain. Sadly, pietism, the spirit of compromise, and a lax view of theological distinctions and subscription to the Westminster Standards are behind these well-intentioned unions, rather than agreement through more faithful adherence to the teachings of Scripture.

1905 The remnant Free Church repeals the legislation allowing man-made hymns and instrumental accompaniment in worship.

1910 Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland formed by the union of the Remonstrant Synod (1830) and the Presbytery of Antrim (1725/26).

1921 Parliament passes an act recognising the spiritual independence of the mainstream Church of Scotland, paving the way for union with the UFC.

1921-22 The Fisherman’s Revival – A great revival breaks out in the north-east of Scotland.

1921-25 In Ireland, revival breaks out through the preaching of W.P. Nicholson, especially in 1922. In Belfast, a new warehouse has to be built to handle the amount of stolen goods that are returned! More than a quarter of the population of Ballymena claim to be born again through the influence of his preaching in 1923.

1926 The PCI allows women elders.

1927-28 Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Ireland – False teaching in the Union Theological College of the mainstream PCI by Prof. Ernest Davey goes undisciplined, leading to a secession forming the EPCI, who at this time are called the Irish Evangelical Church. This tiny denomination is more akin to the OPC and the more conservative elements of the PCA, and has close ties with the descendants of the Cameronians, the RPCI (who make no claims to largeness either!).

Liberalism, and particularly Barthianism, would plague the PCI through much of the 20th century, although not to the same degree as other mainstream Presbyterian churches.

1929 The United Free Church eventually joined the Church of Scotland in 1929, although a remnant UFC remain outside. Sadly this union is not in response to advances in faithfulness, but as a result of decline in doctrine and practice.

1930 Remnant UFC ordains first women elders.

1935 Remnant UFC ordains first woman preacher, Elizabeth Barr.

Synod of Munster enters the Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland.

1936 Ecumenical Iona Community established in Scotland by a Church of Scotland minister, George McCleod.

1948 Ecumenical World Council of Churches (WCC) formed. PCI becomes a member. The Roman ‘Catholic Church’ are not members, but the WCC are keen on its participation.

1951 Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster (FPCU) formed by a number of Fundamentalists from various denominations, but mainly the PCI, through the influence of Ian Paisley. This Church theoretically holds to the Westminster Standards, but would be viewed as more Fundamentalist than Reformed (although ultimately all Evangelicals are Fundamentalists), although some of its preachers are certainly very Reformed in their outlook. Interestingly, this Church allows for both paedobaptist and anti-paedobaptist beliefs and practices.

1956 Original Secession Church (the part did not unite with Free Church in 1852) unites with Church of Scotland. A remnant unites with the Free Church.

1958 Accession of the liberal Pope John XXIII.

1959 Remnant UFC elects Elizabeth Barr to moderatorship.

1961 The Vatican sends observers to the WCC meeting in New Delhi.

1962 The Moderator of the Church of Scotland visits the Pope in Rome.

The WCC send observers to the Second Vatican Council.

1965 Ecumenical Corrymeela Community established in Ireland, partly by former members of the Scottish Iona Community.

1966 The Church of Scotland allows women elders.

1968 The Church of Scotland allows women preachers.

1969 “The Troubles” erupt in Northern Ireland.

1972 United Reformed Church (URC) formed from union of Presbyterian Church of England (formerly part of Scottish church) with Congregational Church in England and Wales.

1976 The PCI allows women preachers, although evangelical influence begins to strengthen in the 1970’s.

The FPCU starts its first work in North America.

1978 Strengthening evangelical influence in the PCI leads to its suspension of membership of the WCC.

1980 The PCI completely withdraws its membership of the WCC, although it remains a member of other organisations that are members of the WCC.

1989 Associated Presbyterian Church (APC) splits from the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland (FPCS) over what they see as liberty of conscience. One of the events that precipitate this division was the attendance by Lord Mackay, who was both an elder in the FPCS and the highest judge in the land, at a funeral mass.

1994 The IRA declares a ceasefire, which they later break.

1997 The IRA declares a second ceasefire.

1998 The Good Friday, or Belfast, Agreement – An agreement is signed between the British and Irish governments and endorsed by all the major parties, except the DUP, in Northern Ireland. This is further endorsed by the Ulster electorate.

2000 The Free Church experiences a split into a majority remnant and the Free Church (Continuing) due to lack of discipline regarding the alleged sexual misconduct of its leading theologian, Donald Macleod. The RPCI, not having sufficient evidence regarding this affair, cuts off relations with the majority Free Church due to the lack of discipline over seriously-erroneous theological statements made by the same professor.

Both Free Churches, together with the RP Churches, the FPCS and the APC still sing psalms exclusively without instrumental accompaniment.

2003 First woman moderator of the Church of Scotland.

2007 Ian Paisley MP MLA MEP becomes the First Minister of the NI Assembly (a secondary legislative body under the British Parliament), sharing government with Sinn Fein, the political arm of the IRA. He agrees not to stand for re-election to the office of Moderator of the FPCU, due to concerns within the FPCU about his political role as First Minister, although having held this office every year but one since the formation of the denomination.

The PCI General Assembly votes by a slim majority to receive (not adopt) a report that placates the homosexual community, including those within the denomination.


The Church of Scotland is as bad as the PCUSA, and Scotland is the most liberal nation within the United Kingdom. How are the mighty fallen!

Evangelicals still remain within the Church of Scotland, as in many unfaithful “churches”. Outside the Church of Scotland, the divided nature of the evangelical Presbyterian churches and issues with church discipline continue to be a problem.

Pray for Scotland’s revival and reformation!


Although traditional Liberalism is not that prevalent in the PCI and it is not beset with the same degree of error as the Church of Scotland, it still has many serious problems. These include ecumenism, charismaticism, downgrade in worship and ethics, a majority inactive and unbelieving membership, and allowing women to be ordained as preachers and elders. In the opinion of some, Church House and its committees are increasingly centralising the rule within the PCI. In the opinion of others, the PCI is undergoing a gradual, but slow reformation. It is undoubtedly true that God is blessing the faithful evangelistic endeavours of a number of PCI churches in the predominantly Roman Catholic Republic of Ireland.

The RPCI and EPC still maintain a strongly Reformed witness, as they have throughout their existence. Despite their small size, these denominations have an increasingly evangelistic emphasis while maintaining historic, Westminster Presbyterianism. The RPCI is actively planting churches and still adheres to the covenanting beliefs of their forefathers. Throughout most of the north and east of Ulster you can’t travel 15 minutes without coming to a Reformed church.

The FPCU also continues to maintain a strong evangelical witness. It is hoped also that it will move towards a more clearly Reformed outlook, both in theology and practice.

Evangelicals continue to have a significant influence in Northern Ireland, including civil government, but this is declining through the choking effects of materialism.

How we need God’s power in true revival in Ireland once more! Pray for this!


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Presbyterianism Transplanted to America

1683-84 Francis Makemie, “the Father of American Presbyterianism,” establishes the first Presbyterian congregation in Maryland.

1706 The first American mainstream presbytery formed in Philadelphia.

1720-45 The most significant period of migration of Scots-Irish Presbyterians to America.

1753 First American Associate (or Seceder) Presbytery.

1768 Dr John Witherspoon, leader of the Orthodox party in the Church of Scotland, emigrates to become Principal of Princeton College, and later a signatory of the Declaration of Independence.

1774 First American Reformed Presbytery.

1782 Some of the Seceders and all the Covenanter preachers unite to form what would eventually evolve into the Associated Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARP) (hence Erskine College and Erskine Theological Seminary in South Carolina).

1798 The Reformed Presbytery re-established in America.

The greater part of the Presbyterians that came to America did not come directly from Scotland, but were Scots-Irish or Ulster Scots from the North of Ireland (e.g. Francis Makemie was from North-West Ulster, or the Laggan, and two of the earliest presbyteries were Donegal and Londonderry). These Scots-Irish had settled the wilderness of Ireland amongst wild and dangerous inhabitants, and so were ideally suited for the plantation of America.

In Ireland, Presbyterians did not enjoy the same freedom as their brethren in Scotland due to the establishment in Ireland of the Episcopalian Church, e.g. a marriage performed by a Presbyterian minister was illegal. This together with unjust taxation and exorbitant rents led to a large emigration from Ulster. The continued migration of many from the RPCI to America over the years, due to the greater poverty of its membership, would have a profoundly weakening effect on this small denomination. (Their poverty was exacerbated by the fact that they did not have the help of government money as the other Presbyterians did.)

In America, these Irish Presbyterians would experience similar persecution by Episcopalians in Virginia and unjust taxation and usurpation of power by the British Parliament, thus leading to the predominant influence of these people in the War for Independence. Lord Mountjoy told the British Parliament, “We have lost America through the Irish [i.e. the Scots-Irish Presbyterians, not the Irish Catholics].” Prime Minister Walpole in a jibe to his Cabinet (i.e. Executive) said, “I hear that our American cousin has run away with a Scots-Irish [Presbyterian] parson.” They applied many of the same principles in rejecting George III as King as the Covenanters had in rejecting Charles II and James II at Sanquhar.

The Scots-Irish would have a profound effect on the history of America, providing many of its presidents (e.g. Andrew Jackson), generals (e.g. Stonewall Jackson), pioneers (e.g. Davy Crockett) and leading businessmen. Many of those who live in the country areas of America and derive their blood from the earlier settlers would have Scots-Irish descent.

During the movement westward, many of these Scots-Irish would become Baptists and Methodists due to the inability of the Presbyterian Church to adapt to the Frontier conditions and the influence of revivalism.


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The 19th Century: Evangelicalism, Missions, the Great Disruption, the Ulster Revival, Divisions and Unions, and Arianism and Liberalism

1800’s In both Scotland and Ireland, the evangelical revival leads to a great increase in missionary activity throughout the world. The British Empire and the Pax Britannica are vital to the spread of the good news of the Gospel to all the ends of the earth.

1806 Scottish Anti-Burgher Synod divides into Old Light and New Light factions over the same questions as the Burghers did in 1799.

1808 Synod of Ulster starts to prepare its Code to formalise a set of laws for order and discipline for the first time. This seemly bureaucratic measure would be important in the battle with Arianism to come.

1810 The RPCS large enough to form a Synod.

1811 The RPCI large enough to form a Synod.

1812-36 Presbyterianism revived in England by the establishment of Presbyterian congregations by Scottish immigrants, but these congregations remain part of Scottish Church, and are not a distinct English body until 1836, when the Church of Scotland congregations become the Presbyterian Church in England.

1818 Irish Burgher and Anti-Burgher Seceders unite to form “the Presbyterian Synod of Ireland, distinguished by the name Seceders.”

1819 John Paul of the RPCI publishes various writings against Arianism, and in defence of creeds and confessions

1820 United Secession Church formed in Scotland by union of New Light Burghers and New Light Anti-Burghers. A remnant remains of the New Light Burghers.

1821 The Arian Controversy – Henry Cooke begins his battle against Arianism by following and speaking out against a visiting English Unitarian as he toured the country.

The half measures adopted by the Synod of Ulster in dealing with the Non-subscribing Presbytery of Antrim were beginning to bear fruit. Cooke, when addressing the Parliamentary Commission on Irish Education in 1824, estimated that about 35 out of the 200 ministers in the Synod were Arians.

“For at least half a century, subscription to the Westminster Confession of Faith had fallen into disuse, and candidates had been admitted to license without any reference to their religious principles.” (Reid).

Professor Bruce chosen for the Chair of Greek in the Belfast Academical Institution by those who hold Arian and unorthodox views, causing a great controversy, though there is no evidence that he was himself not orthodox. The problem was that the Arians’ candidate one through, even though better men were possibilities.

1822 Cooke brings before the Synod of Ulster his concerns about the Arian influence in the Belfast Academical Institution. Cooke stands alone at this stage of the controversy as the courage of his brethren fails: “I seem this day to stand alone. Yet I am not alone. Men may draw back in fear, but God and truth are with me!”

Dr Bruce Sr., the father of Professor Bruce, and a member of the Presbytery of Antrim publishes the “first printed avowal and defence of Unitarian opinions in Ireland since the time of Emlyn.” (J.S. Porter). He asserts that Arian principles are making extensive, though silent progress in the Synod of Ulster.

John Paul of the RPCI publishes “an acute and powerful polemic” against Dr Bruce’s theses.

1824 The Code for the Synod of Ulster is finished by a committee including Cooke. After the falling away of Subscription, the Code re-asserts that “presbyteries, before they license candidates to preach the Gospel, shall ascertain the soundness of their faith, either by requiring subscription to the Westminster Confession of Faith, or by such examination as they shall consider best adapted for this purpose.”

Strangely the Arian party welcomes this as “tantamount to a repeal of the law of subscription” (Reid).

Synod rejects Bruce Sr.’s assertion that Arianism was spreading extensively within it.

William Porter of Limavady admits publicly to Parliamentary Commission on Irish Education that he is an Arian, and that Arianism was “gaining ground amongst the thinking few”.

1827 The Report of the Parliamentary Commission on Irish Education is published and Porter’s profession of Arianism becomes known. A motion is tabled to removing him from being Clerk of Synod for his opinions.

The Synod of Ulster discusses this and originally intends to condemn certain parts of Porter’s testimony, while permitting him to retain his situation to avoid the imputation of “persecution for the sake of opinion” (Reid).

Henry Cooke tables a resolution that the members of Synod “for the purpose of affording a public testimony to the truth, as well as of vindicating their religious character as individuals, declare, that they do must firmly hold and believe the doctrine concerning the nature of God contained in these words of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, namely, that ‘there are three persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.’”

A heated debate begins and Henry Montgomery, the leader of the Arian party within the Synod of Ulster, attacks the “iniquity of creeds or confessions” (Reid). However, Cooke’s motion is carried by an overwhelming majority.

Montgomery’s speech is printed and circulated throughout the land.

Scottish New Light Burghers remnant unites with Old Light Anti-Burghers.

1828 John Paul of the RPCI “demolishes” Montgomery’s arguments in his own publication.

At the Synod of Ulster, Cooke moves a series of overtures to establish a committee for the examination of candidates for license and ordination, with a view to excluding those who denied fundamental doctrines, such as the Trinity. He struggles against the orthodox who want less stringent measures. A heated debate ensues, but over two-thirds of the ministers and ruling elders vote for the measures.

At a public meeting, the New Light party adopted a Remonstrance, threatening to secede from the Synod of Ulster and form a separate association unless the overtures were withdrawn.

1829 John Ferrie, a Scottish Arian, is appointed to the Chair of Moral Philosophy in the Belfast Academical Institution.

Ferrie’s election causes a heated debate in the Synod of Ulster. Montgomery speaks to Synod for three hours (!), during which he slanders Cooke with lying and threatens division. Cooke defends himself successfully.

A special synod is called to discuss the overtures from 1828, but the Arians agree not to attend. At the pro re nata meeting of Synod, memorials are received approving of the overtures and calling for Arians to be excluded from ecclesiastical communion. The Remonstrance is also received and the Arian representative asks that if the overtures are approved that arrangements should be made for their separation.

1830 Remonstrant Synod of Ulster – The Arians officially separate from the Synod of Ulster.

Edward Irving condemned by Church of Scotland for holding heretical views of Christ.

1833 Thomas Chalmers, at the General Assembly of the Established Church of Scotland, proposed that “no pastor should be intruded on any congregation contrary to the will of the people.” The vote was lost by a small majority, but showed that the Evangelical Party were soon to gain the ascendancy over the Moderates.

1834 The Veto Act – The General Assembly of the Established Church of Scotland approves a motion to allow the people to veto any candidate proposed by the patron.

The Chapel Act – The Assembly also approves a motion to allow the preachers in chapels of ease to exercise their ruling as well as teaching roles in the Church. (The Chapels of Ease were to augment the parish churches due to the vast increase of people in the towns, were not under patrons and generally had evangelical preachers.)

Henry Cooke convinces the Synod of Ulster to reject the Government’s proposal for a National System of Education as he saw that it sought to undermine the freedom to use Scripture in the schools and would allow Romanist and Unitarians, as well as unbelieving aristocrats to have control over the Church’s schools.

1835 Irving deposed after further erroneous teaching and practice, including supposed miracles.

The Synod of Ulster passes an overture in favour of unqualified subscription to the Westminster Confession.

1837 The Auchterarder Case – The patron presents a candidate that was rejected by the vast majority of those able to exercise the veto. The patron and the candidate brought the case to the Civil Courts, who found against the Established Church of Scotland by a majority of 8 to 5 of the judges in the Court of Session.

1838 The Church appeals to the House of Lords in the Auchterarder Case, but is rejected.

The Lethendy Case – Mr Clark, a vetoed presentee, appeals to the civil courts to apply an interdict against a candidate approved by the people, Mr Kessen. The civil courts apply the interdict. The Commission of the General Assembly instructs the Presbytery of Dunkeld to proceed with the settlement of Mr Kessen, the people’s choice. Mr Hope, the leader of the Moderates, threatens the Presbytery with imprisonment. The Presbytery proceeds with ordination despite the threats.

The (Civil) Court of Session instructs the members of the Presbytery to appear before it and reprimands them. The Presbytery are sentenced to provides damages worth several thousand pounds to the vetoed presentee, Mr Clark.

1839 Majority of Old Light Burghers (Seceders) unite with the Established Church of Scotland. A remnant remains.

The Marnoch Case – The Presbytery of Strathbogie in north Aberdeenshire (an area “studded with Moderate clergy from the days of Prelacy” – McCrie) resolves to intrude a presentee upon the parish of Marnoch, despite only one man signing the call, who was the publican of the house at which the Presbytery met, and despite the orders of the Commission of the General Assembly.

The Commission passes the sentence of suspension upon the seven ministers of the Presbytery of Strathbogie. Hypocritically the Moderates cry out for respect for their consciences!

1840 Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) formed from the union of the ‘mainstream’ Synod of Ulster with the Irish Seceders (Associate Synod).

The system of National Education in Ireland is modified sufficiently to be accepted by the PCI and its schools join the scheme.

The Eastern RP Synod – This is formed by a minority, led by John Paul, who split from the RPCI, and which is based in Greater Belfast, the Londonderry/ Donegal area and at Cullybackey, near Ballymena. The division is the culmination of 10 years of heated debate about the role of the civil government in matters of religion between two parties in the Church led respectively by Thomas Houston and John Paul. Dr Paul states that the reasons for secession were Synod’s decisions in support of Mr Houston and “were directed against Mr Houston on the grounds that he taught persecuting principles; that he has represented the Covenanting Fathers as wanting to extirpate not principles but persons; that had accorded to the Civil Magistrate in a Gospel Age, powers that were consistent with the Mosaic Law; and that intolerable burdens were placed on the consciences of Christian People by such teaching.” (Loughridge) One sees similarities with the modern debate on Theonomy.

Later on, half of the Eastern RP Synod will come back into the RPCI, and half will join the PCI.

The Presbytery of Strathbogie applies for and receives an interdict against the General Assembly of the Established Church of Scotland from the civil courts. The Commission of the General Assembly prepares a libel against them.

1841 The Presbytery of Strathbogie proceeds to settle the vetoed presentee at Marnoch. An elder confronts them and asks if they appeared by the authority of the General Assembly. They refuse to answer. A representative of the congregation presents their objections to the settlement. The people as a body pick up their Bibles and leave the church building, never to return. The farcical and illegal act of ordination proceeds nonetheless.

The Presbytery of Strathbogie applies for and receives an interdict from the civil courts forbidding any member of the Church from preaching within their bounds. Candlish, Chalmers and others disobey this tyranny. Candlish was due to be appointed to the Chair of Biblical Criticism, but the appointment is withdrawn as punishment for this act.

The General Assembly of the Established Church of Scotland approves the parliamentary bill proposed by the Duke of Argyll to establish the ecclesiastical Veto Act of 1834 in civil law.

At the General Assembly, the Presbytery of Strathbogie is deposed and the illegally ordained presentee of Marnoch has his licence removed. A Commissioner of the Court of Session presents the Moderator with an interdict, applied for by the Presbytery, prohibiting the General Assembly from deposing these men. The Assembly passes various resolutions asserting the rights of the Assembly and resolving to communicate these to the Queen in council.

A public meeting is held after the Assembly at which 1200 office-bearers attend and over which the Moderator, Dr Gordon, presides. Gordon declares to the meeting, “It has come, I say, to this, that I am called upon either to renounce these principles [that the Church has a spiritual authority distinct from the civil government], or to renounce the privileges which I hold as an ordained minister of the Church of Scotland.”

The Culsamond Case – The Presbytery of Garioch in Aberdeenshire seek to ordain against the dissent of people and the laws of the Church. The people crowd the church building with a “noisy and tumultuous assembly,” forcing the Presbytery to ordain the presentee in the manse with barred doors.

1842 Original Secession Church formed in Scotland by union of Old Light Burghers remnant and Old Light Anti-Burghers.

“The Forty” – Forty of the Non-Intrusionists (i.e. those who opposed the intrusion of a patron’s presentee against the wishes of a congregation) divide from the others, begin separate talks with the Civil Government and show signs of compromise. This compromise undermines the efforts of the Church in its negotiations with the State and McCrie goes so far as to say that “at the doors of these unfortunate men lies the ruin of the Scottish Establishment.” These men would remain in the Establishment at the Disruption.

The frustrated presentee of the Auchterarder Case of 1837 seeks damages of £16,000 against the Church in the civil courts, precipitating what was soon to come to pass.

Argyll’s parliamentary bill to support the Veto Act of 1834 fails.

At the Assembly, Cunningham’s motion against patronage, and to petition the Civil Government concerning it, is passed.

“The Claim of Rights” – Chalmers’ motion to the Assembly asking for adoption of this document is passed by 241 against 110 votes. It consisted of three parts:

A Claim to certain legal rights granted to the Church by Parliament guaranteeing her freedom.

A Declaration that they cannot intrude presentees against wishes of the people or be subject to coercion by the Court of Session.

A Protest that they hold all infractions of their legal rights by the Parliament at the time of Union to be null and void, that they or their successors shall be free to claim restitution of the those civil rights and privileges that they may be compelled to give up to preserve their freedom.

The Commissioner agrees to convey the Claim of Rights and the petition against patronage to the Queen.

500 Non-Intrusionist preachers meet in Edinburgh on 27th November. Prior to the business meeting, worship is held as which Chalmers preaches on the text, “Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness.” Only preachers are present to allow the men to feel free to voice their mind. Over six days they discuss the state of affairs, and agree that the Church could not submit to the civil authorities without losing her character as a true Church of Christ, that they should apply to the civil authorities for protection in the exercise of their freedom, and that if this application should fail then, rather than protract the struggle and embroil the country, they should leave the Establishment.

1843 The Chapel Act of the Established Church of Scotland (1834) is declared invalid by the Civil Courts. At this stage there are around 50 lawsuits against the Church.

Parliament rejects the petition of the Established Church of Scotland. The Prime Minister, Robert Peel, argues that the Church was exceeding its boundaries in relation to non-intrusion and that the rights of the patron are a civil matter, not an ecclesiastical one! He also states that repealing the Patronage Act was “no less injurious to religion than dangerous to the state.”

The leader of the Moderates, Dr Cook, moves at a meeting of Commission prior to the Assembly that the Quoad Sacra ministers (i.e. those in the chapels of ease) be expunged from the Assembly’s roll in obedience to the Civil Authorities. After he loses his motion, the Moderates retire from the meeting in protest.

“The Great Disruption” – The battle between Evangelicalism and Moderatism/ Erastianism leads to 40% of the preachers (470), a similarly large number of ruling elders and 33% of the people seceding from the Established Church to form the Free Church under the moderatorship of Thomas Chalmers.

Interestingly, a huge portrait of William III, which had stood for nearly 150 years in Holyrood Palace, falls from its place on this fateful day, and the cry goes up, “There goes the Revolution Settlement!” referring to the Erastian compromises made in the Church of Scotland through the power of that King.

At their first Assembly, the Free Church signs an Act of Separation from the Establishment.

The Free Church people leave manses, church buildings and seminaries behind at the time of the Disruption, and build new ones, suffering great loss.

During the period before and after the Disruption, Scotland produced many gifted preachers, theologians and historians such as Robert Murray McCheyne, Andrew and Horatius Bonar, Thomas Chalmers, William Cunningham, James Bannerman, George Smeaton, Patrick Fairburn, Robert Candlish, Hugh Martin, John Kennedy, John ‘Rabbi’ Duncan, John Paton, the Symington Brothers, Andrew Thomson, J.A. Wylie, Thomas McCrie and James Beggs. However, some are infected by Evolutionary beliefs, e.g. Thomas Chalmers and Hugh Miller.

1845-49 The Irish Potato Famine – Terrible famine grips the land and the landlords evict many from their homes, forcing vast number of Irish Catholics to emigrate, particularly to America. What is often not mentioned is that Presbyterians in various parts of the country are also affected.

From 1728 to 1851, there were 24 failures of the harvest in Ireland.

1847 United Presbyterian Church (UPC) formed from the union of the United Secession Church and the Relief Synod

1850 Temperance Association in connection with the General Assembly” of the PCI is formed, pledged to total abstinence from intoxicating liquors. (It should be noted that whisky was the staple of the Scots-Irish, not beer or wine.)

1851 UPC introduces man-made hymns. (Mainstream American Presbyterianism was influenced by Methodism and Congregationalism in the 18th Century and so some of its congregations adopted hymns earlier.)

1852 Majority of the Original Secession Church unites with the Free Church.

1859 “The Ulster Revival” takes place, when it is estimated that 100,000 people are converted. These are products of the sovereign work of God’s Spirit and not the man-made creation of revivalism.

This is why, in God’s grace, this tiny nation has been greatly influenced by Evangelicalism, despite a significant Roman Catholic minority. It is worth noting that there is a not insignificant stream of Gaelic Irish blood amongst the Scots-Irish Presbyterians due to the power of the Gospel in the land, but we long to see our fellow Irishmen to be completely delivered from the bondage of Rome.

1861 The Established Church of Scotland introduces man-made hymns.

1863 Majority of RPCS vote that “the members of the Church, who may be led by the resolution to exercise the elective franchise, or take the oath of allegiance, shall not be visited with the infliction of ecclesiastical penalties to the effect of suspension and expulsion from the privileges of the Church.”

A minority dissent and divide from the majority. These declare themselves to the true RPCS and the RPCI and RPCNA only recognise this minority.

1865 The Established Church of Scotland allows all aspects of public worship to be ordered by the presbyteries, leading to the introduction of instrumental accompaniment.

1868-86 Every year the General Assembly of the PCI is exercised with debates about the use of instruments in worship. In 1882, instruments are formally banned, as a few congregations had introduced them, and discussion on the topic is banned for 5 years from 1886. Instruments were gradually introduced despite the fact that even today they are technically illegal!

1871 The disestablishment in Ireland leads to the PCI losing the ‘Regium Donum’ (money from Government) which they had received since the Revolution.

1872 The UPC (or Seceders) lifts its ban on instrumental accompaniment in worship.

1873 The Free Church introduces man-made hymns.

1876 RPCS (Majority Synod) joins with the Free Church, because it has freed itself from Erastianism.

Free Church (including one former RP congregation) and UPC congregations in England unite to form Presbyterian Church of England.

1875-81 Professor William Robertson Smith of the Free Church writes articles in the Encyclopaedia Britannica without endorsing the Bible as literally true in 1875. This leads to a heresy trial from 1878 to 1880, when he is formally cleared of heresy but cautioned to abstain in future from expressing “incautious or incomplete public statements”. Soon after, another of his publications comes out which shows that Robertson Smith’s higher critical views are unchanged and he has been dishonest. He is dismissed from his chair in Aberdeen.

The problem was that in their pride, the Free Church had “gone one better” than the Established Church, which they had left, and sent their students to finish their studies in Germany, where they imbibed Higher Criticism, leading to the introduction of Liberalism.

1879 UPC issues a Declaratory Act relaxing subscription to the Westminster Standards, including six-day creation.

1883 The Free Church lifts its ban on instrumental accompaniment in worship.

1892 The Free Church, following the example of the UPC and the Church of Scotland (1889), passes a Declaratory Act relaxing the stringency of subscription to the confession, which is widely perceived as paving the way for unification with the UPC.

1893 Those opposed to the Declaratory Act and union with the UPC divide into two groups: one which advocates staying and fighting, and another which advocates secession. Those who secede from the Free Church form the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, which is not to be confused with the FPC of Ulster.

1896 Man-made hymns introduced into the PCI.


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The 18th Century: Erastianism, Moderatism, Secession, Non-Subscriptionism and Emigration

1703 John Abernethy, the leader of the 18th Century Non-subscribers, is ordained and installed in a congregation in Antrim town. A fashionable zeal for anti-subscriptionism would afflict the Presbyterian and Reformed churches in Europe.

1704 Test Act – Non-conformists, including Presbyterians, are banned in Ireland from government offices including the army, the navy, customs and excise, post office, the courts of law, magistracy and municipal offices. They are ejected from their current positions. All who hold such offices had to partake of the Lord’s Supper in an Episcopal Church, supposedly to stop Papists from holding such offices.

1705 Synod of Ulster enacts that all ordinands must provide a written and recorded subscription to the Westminster Confession of Faith. They had previously uniformly required some form of subscription, including verbal, to the Westminster Standards, but now it was enacted and strengthened.

The Belfast Society formed – John Abernethy founds this group, which is formed of ministers from the generality locality of Belfast, Antrim and North Down. They meet monthly to discuss various topics, including “the rights of conscience and private judgment”, anti-subscriptionism and views tending to undermine the orthodox doctrine of justification. Although professedly not adhering to Arian opinions, many begin to be influenced by Arian writings such as those written by the heretical Anglicans Samuel Clarke, William Whiston and Benjamin Hoadley.

The two leading members, John Abernethy and James Kirkpatrick, were fellow-students with Professor Simson of Edinburgh and corresponded with him regularly, and most of the members had studied under him.

The members of the Belfast Society were to have a profound influence in the Synod of Ulster due to their geographical position around the principal city. From 1709 to 1716, no fewer than 5 of the 6 moderators of Synod belonged to this group.

1706 The first Reformed Presbyterian preacher in Scotland, John McMillan, secedes from the Established Church.

1707 The Union of the Parliaments of England and Scotland“No public event was at the time more unpopular in Scotland (McCrie). The United Societies (RP) issue a formal protest against it. This was indicative of the general abuse of the people by the Scottish aristocracy in the 18th Century. It was noted by the godly that there was a decline in morals and religion as a result and, through this union, the Church of Scotland came under the power of a British Parliament dominated by English Episcopalians.

1710 Dr William Whiston expelled from the University of Cambridge for holding Arian views.

1712 Patronage Act – “Patrons,” usually aristocracy, have the right to appoint preachers to their parishes in Scotland.

1714 Dr Samuel Clarke arraigned before the Convocation of the Church of England for his Arian views.

1714-16 The first trial of Professor Simson of Glasgow by the General Assembly in Scotland. James Webster of Edinburgh, an old sufferer for the Covenants, brings charges against him “for teaching certain Arminian heresies and loose sentiments regarding natural religion” (McCrie). The Assembly issues a mild rebuke, but at the same time subtly attacks the evangelical party in their findings. This inadequate treatment of Simson would have not only a profound effect on the Church of Scotland, but also the Synod of Ulster.

1714-20 Significant numbers of Scots-Irish Presbyterians emigrate to New England.

1715-46 Various Jacobite Risings seek to bring the Stuarts back to the throne, but are decisively beaten at the Battle of Culloden (16th April 1746).

1719 Toleration Act ­­– Non-conformists in Ireland officially allowed to worship and govern their churches as they please. The Test Act and all the other abuses still continue, e.g. Presbyterian marriages still not lawful.

Salters’ Hall Debates in England ­– English non-conformists, including Presbyterians, divide over subscription to the doctrine of the Trinity, despite the union between the Presbyterians and Congregationalists specifying in 1690 that they subscribe to the 39 Articles, Westminster Confession, Westminster Shorter Catechism, Westminster Larger Catechism, or Savoy Declaration. Most of the non-subscribers are Trinitarian, but for various reasons oppose being “bound” by subscription.

Disastrously, non-subscription would lead to the fatal decline into Rationalism and Unitarianism (Arianism) by the English Presbyterians and General Baptists.

Modern English Presbyterianism is mainly a product of Scottish immigration, not the original English Puritan Presbyterianism. Sadly the vast majority of even the descendants of the Scots are now within the liberal United Reformed Church. (“United Reformed” refers to their union with the Congregationalists.)

This English Presbyterian zeal for non-subscribing would have a dangerous influence on the mainstream Synod of Ulster as would Arian, Arminian, Neo-nomian and Socinian writings that emanated from England at this time.

1720 At a meeting of the sub-synod of Belfast, all the members of the Belfast Society freely announce their opposition to subscribing confessions of faith as tests of orthodoxy. It becomes clear that “some presbyteries had taken upon them to sanction a lax mode of subscription, by which the [act of Synod of 1705] might have been evaded altogether, and the Church deprived of her security against the introduction of error among her ministers” (Reid).

Private letters by members of the Belfast Society begin to be circulated acknowledging doubts regarding Christ’s divinity and, even if true, was by no means a fundamental doctrine.

The Pacific Act – The Synod adopts a measure for conciliation whereby all must subscribe to the Westminster Confession according to the original act of 1705, but also “legalis[es] the practice of receiving explanations of objectionable phrases, and thus sanctioned and encouraged further departures from it” (Reid).

Within a month, a Mr Haliday refuses to avail himself of the provisions of the Pacific Act, or to subscribe the Confession of Faith at his installation in Belfast. Through the influence of members of the Belfast Society, the majority of the presbytery receives his own form of confession (a form of ‘System Subscription’) in direct violation of the act of Synod.

1720-24 The battle over Subscription continues in the Synod of Ulster.

1721-29 The second trial of Professor Simson in Scotland. He is accused of teaching Arian heresies and is suspended from his teaching position; but being “a scion of one of the old Levitical Church families” (John Macleod) is treated with partiality and does not receive the discipline he deserves, in contrast to the treatment of the Evangelical Marrow Men. Thomas Boston is the only one to register his dissent.

“Show me your kin and I will show you your law.”

1722 A group of men called the Marrow Men, including Thomas Boston, and Ralph and Ebenezer Erskine, are rebuked and admonished by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland for defending the doctrines contained in the book The Marrow of Modern Divinity.

1725 The Synod of Ulster adopts three overtures regarding the Subscription crisis: firstly, allowing believers who scrupled communion with non-subscribing ministers to follow the light of their own consciences, e.g. leave their congregation and go elsewhere; secondly, distinctly provided that the Pacific Act did not warrant the questioning of any doctrine in the Westminster Confession, but only the phrases in which they were expressed; and lastly, forming new presbyteries in the Belfast and Antrim districts and putting all the Non-subscribers in the Presbytery of Antrim.

1726 Overtures ‘for peace’ from the non-subscribing Presbytery of Antrim are laid before the Synod of Ulster, in which amongst other things they continue to oppose any compulsory declarations of faith, even in the divinity of Christ. The Synod rejects these proposals. The moderates try to avoid a split through procrastination and other undignified, political expedients.

A vote to separate from the Non-subscribers by not “maintain[ing] communion with them in church judicatories as formerly” is carried mainly because of the ruling elders, rather than the ministers, who were almost evenly split.

The limited nature of this separation was unsatisfactory, not only because it allowed for other forms of communion with the Non-subscribers, but it allowed a significant number of ministers to remain within the Synod of Ulster, who had opposed and renounced the principles of the Church and who had secretly adopted the Non-subscribers’ opinions. These ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’ would secretly disseminate their error, leading to further problems, culminating in a further battle against Non-subscriptionism and Unitarianism in the next century, and a further division.

1725-28 Disastrous harvests in Ireland. Food costs more in 1728 than at any time in living memory. 31–year land leases from just after the Revolution expire and the new rent rates are raised to an overwhelming degree. Tithes paid to Episcopalian clergy also greatly increase in line with the rents. (After the Revolution, when landlords needed people on the land, they set the rents much lower.)

Mass migrations of Scots-Irish Presbyterians to America as a result.

1732 Thomas Boston dies.

1733 Original Secession – Some secede from the Established Church, including the Erskine Brothers, to form the Associate Presbytery.

During the 18th Century, a significant number, who held similar views to the Cameronians (e.g. continuing obligation of the National Covenants and anti-Erastianism), would secede from the Established Church of Scotland and are known as the Secession Churches.

Some of the reasons for these secessions included: the continuing encroachment of state control over the Church as the Erastian influences that the Cameronians had pointed out took hold; and a deadness, termed “Moderatism,” had taken hold of much of the Established Church, which was probably largely due to the state of the ministers that existed as a result of the compromises during the Killing Times and the period of Indulgences.

The Moderates were “moderate in ability, showing a moderate amount of zeal and doing a very moderate amount of work,” and their motto was, “Let sleeping dogmas lie”. They sought to oppose evangelical orthodoxy and more especially to appeal to the fashionable, cultured elite that they themselves were fashionable and cultured, and not overtaken by the religious zeal of the Evangelicals. One of the main battlegrounds was their support for the Patronage Act both to please the aristocratic patrons and to strengthen their own influence and numbers.

1740-1 Terrible famine ravages Ireland, killing 400,000 people, and causing another peak in the migration of Scots-Irish Presbyterians to America.

1742 The Cambuslang Work – George Whitefield preaches at Cambuslang in Scotland and many are converted. This is partly due to the faithful labours of the local preachers prior to this.

1743 The first Scottish Reformed Presbytery formed.

1744 Associate Synod formed in Scotland.

1746 Isaac Patton, the first Irish Seceder, or Associate Presbyterian, preacher, is ordained at Lylehill, south of Templepatrick.

1747 Burgher/ Anti-Burgher Division – Associate Synod divides into Burgher (or Associate) and Anti-Burgher (or General Associate) factions. The Burgess Oath declared that “the individual taking it would defend the religion of his country as by law established.” One party in the Associate Synod held this oath unlawful, as approving of all the abuses of the civil establishment of the Church. Another party held that it simply bound them to defend the Protestant faith against secret and open enemies. Being free to take the oath, this party was popularly termed ‘Burghers,’ and those who refuse to be sworn, the ‘Anti-Burghers.’ Erskine brothers attach themselves to the Burgher church.

Fraser of Brea’s strange writings advocating a form of universal redemption in his Justifying Faith are published posthumously by the Anti-Burgher, Thomas Mair. However, it should be noted that Fraser himself had not circulated these opinions, although he had great opportunity, and could merely have been working through these issues privately.

1752 Professor William Robertson, the leader of the Moderates, induces the Scottish General Assembly to persecute the majority of the Presbytery of Dunfermline for refusing to cooperate in the ordination of a candidate proposed by a patron against the will of the congregation.

Thomas Gillespie, one of their number, is deposed as an example for defending a congregation’s sole right to choose its own preacher.

1753 A minor split in the Reformed Presbytery due to some adopting several of the opinions expressed in Fraser of Brea’s Justifying Faith.

1757 Thomas Mair, the publisher of Fraser of Brea’s Justifying Faith, is deposed by the Anti-Burgher Synod.

William Martin, the first Irish Reformed Presbyterian preacher, is ordained at the Vow north of Kilrea on the River Bann. He would later emigrate to America with 1200 people in 1772, due to the abuses of Lord Donegall.

1760’s Dr John Witherspoon, later the Principal of Princeton College and a signatory of the Declaration of Independence, leads the Orthodox party in the Church of Scotland in successfully winning several battles against the Moderates in the Scottish General Assembly.

1761 Relief Secession – Thomas Gillespie, Thomas Boston the younger and Thomas Collier form the Presbytery of Relief.

1762 Highland Clearances begin. The chiefs betray their people and clear them off the land to ‘improve’ it by replacing the people with sheep and other ‘more profitable’ uses. This leads to a mass migration of the Highland Scots to North America.

1763 The first Irish Reformed Presbytery formed.

1773 Presbytery of Relief becomes large enough to form the Relief Synod.

1779 Irish Reformed Presbytery dissolved by the death and emigration of some of its preachers.

Irish Burgher (Seceder) Synod formed.

1780 Test Act of 1704 repealed.

1782 Irish Reformed Presbytery re-constituted.

1788 Irish Anti-Burgher (Seceder) Synod formed.

1796 The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland rejects overtures to encourage missionary work.

1797 Robert and James Haldane, disgusted by the lack of missionary zeal in the Church of Scotland, leave it to form a society of independent churches with others.

1798 Rebellion of the United Irishmen – Many of the rebels are Presbyterian, as well as Roman Catholic, and are spurred on by the example of the American War for Independence and the French Revolution.

1799 The Anti-Evangelical Moderate party in the Church of Scotland are at the peak of their power. The General Assembly bans chapels of ease, Sabbath schools and interchange of communion with evangelical churches outside of the Established Church.

Burgher Synod divides into Old Light and New Light factions. The New Light church liberalise their stance on the National Covenants and adopt the voluntary principle as opposed to the establishment principle, i.e. they deny the right of the civil magistrate to “interfere” with the Church, and of the Church to accept support from the State.


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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Deliverance and Compromise in Scotland, but Continued Suffering in Ireland under William III

1688 “The Glorious Revolution” – William of Orange lands at Torbay in England (4th November) and James II flees to France (attempts on 11th December and succeeds on 23rd).

Tyrconnell raises the Jacobite forces in Ireland and by November ensures that all the principal cities’ garrisons are loyal to James, except Londonderry. The Jacobite forces reach the Walls of Derry, but find the gates locked by the Apprentice Boys (7th December).

1689 William and Mary accede to the English (12th February) and Scottish (11th April) thrones.

Although the English Parliament declares that James had forfeited the throne by ‘abdicating’ and fleeing for France, the Scottish Parliament, in the Claim of Right Act, declares that he has also forfeited the crown not by ‘abdicating’ but through illegal and tyrannical actions which he committed. This list is in many cases similar to those set forth by the United Societies at Sanquhar.

The Scottish Parliament abolishes Episcopacy by the Prelacy Act and declares its purpose to establish the form of church government that is most agreeable to the people, rather than that which has divine right from the Bible.

The General Assembly of the Established Church of Scotland is re-constituted (20th May) and the ministers from Ulster present a list of the members of its Synod to this meeting.

The Strict Covenanters called the United Societies (nicknamed the Cameronians) spend their General Meetings in this period debating their response to William III, the new government and the newly Established Presbyterian Church of Scotland.

Bloody Claverhouse, the great persecutor of the Covenanters, raises the standard for the Jacobites in Scotland at Dundee (16th April). Although they defeat a larger Williamite army at the Battle of Killiecrankie (27th July), Claverhouse himself is killed. A defeat of Highland forces at Dunkeld (21st August), principally by some of the Cameronians (who were eventually to form the famous Cameronian Regiment), leads to the Jacobite forces retreating to their Highland strongholds.

James lands in Ireland at Kinsale with French and Jacobite forces (12th March) and eventually arrives at Londonderry (18th April) where he summons the city to surrender, but the cry goes up for the first time: “No Surrender!” Derry is besieged, but does not surrender. The people are relieved after the breaking of the boom across the River Foyle by the ship ‘Mountjoy’ and the siege ends (31st July).

1690 Battle of the Boyne – James’ Irish forces are decisively beaten on 12th July and he abandons his forces for France.

The United Societies divide over their response to the new church and state: some join the newly Established Presbyterian Church of Scotland and support the Williamite government, including all three Scottish ministers (Shields, Linning and Boyd), while others reject both.

The Society People who reject the new establishment (sometimes termed “the Old Dissenters”), led by the ruling elder Robert Hamilton, see themselves not as seceding from the Church of Scotland, but as being the “poor, wasted remnant” of the “true Presbyterian Church of Scotland”. These were to form the Reformed Presbyterian Churches of Scotland, Ireland, North America, Australia and Japan.

1691 The first Synod of Ulster since the time of Charles II is held (8th April), but the only minister of the Irish United Societies, David Houston, does not join it.

The Irish Jacobites are completely beaten at the Battle of Aughrim (12th July).

William offers the Jacobite Highland Clans a pardon (17th August) if they take an oath of allegiance by 1st January 1692. James allows the Highlanders to do this and some manage to take the oath before the allotted time.

1692 After the Massacre of Glencoe (13th February), most of the Highland chiefs swear the oath of allegiance by the spring and the Jacobite Rebellion officially ends.

1696 David Houston of the Irish United Societies dies, leaving them without an Irish-based preacher for 61 years.

1697 The Irish Presbyterians begin to be harassed again by the Episcopal authorities in Ireland, where Episcopacy is still the established religion. Such harassments include:

not being permitted to bury their dead without an Episcopal clergyman,

not being permitted by many Episcopalian gentry from building Presbyterian church buildings on their land (the land was mainly controlled by the gentry),

being compelled to pay tithes and other duties to the Episcopal clergymen,

being compelled to become Episcopal church wardens and take certain official oaths against their consciences,

being prohibited from having Presbyterian school teachers,

the libelling of Presbyterian ministers for performing marriages,

the libelling of the marriage parties as having committed fornication and their children declared as illegitimate, and,

the overruling of Presbyterian local government appointments by the central government.

The Church of Scotland was restored to a large measure of spiritual freedom and liberty, but the Williamite Government established Presbyterianism in Scotland not by divine right, but as the polity preferred by the people. The Irish Presbyterians, although having a great measure of respite, continued to suffer from the Episcopal Establishment in Ireland.

The reasons for dissent from the Established Church of Scotland by the remnant of the United Societies may be summarised as follows:

1. The Church was not merely established, but was Erastian in character, and compromised the sole headship of Christ over His Church. (Erastianism refers to state control of the Church, as opposed to Establishmentism, where the state supports the Church.)

2. The vast majority of the preachers had compromised the Kingship of Christ over His Church in accepting the indulgences of the Stuart Kings, and had not confessed their sin, nor repented of it.

3. Some of the ruling elders in the Church had been foremost in the persecution of the brethren and had blood on their hands. Many, if not all, were also involved in many lesser crimes and compromises. There was no attempt to discipline these men.

4. The state of Reformation of the Church was degraded and had been based on the Acts of Parliament of 1592, rather than those of the Second Reformation of 1638.

5. The solemn Covenants that the nation and Church had made with God had been trampled under foot. These Covenants had a descending obligation because of the nature of the parties: both the nation as represented by the civil government and the Church as represented by the elders were moral, or legal, bodies whose obligations continued as long as the bodies did. These entities still existed at the time of the Revolution Settlement (and they do today) and so were (and are) still under obligation. For the same reasons, treaties between countries continue to have a binding obligation even though those who made it are dead. Sadly, nations might be held to account for their oaths with other nations, but not those with God!

For these reasons, they would be without preachers for some years because they had to wait until a properly ordained preacher would either leave the Establishment, or be trained and ordained in a foreign church, as Renwick and others had been.

The United Societies remnant’s opposition to the sinful and unlawful state of the civil government led them also to absolutely reject the civil government and refuse any recognition of it. Several would be temporarily imprisoned for this


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Sunday, September 09, 2007

The Period of Persecution under Charles II and James VII/ II

1660 Charles II, an exile since Worcester, is restored to the throne of England and Scotland after the death of Crom­well (1658). He throws off his former allegiance to the Scottish Presbyterians and packs the Scottish Parliament with his own supporters. An act is passed recognizing the King's authority in matters both civil and ecclesiastical, and soon prelacy (the government of the Church by bishops) is re-established by law. The Church of Scotland thrown into a furnace of 28 years' persecution.

1661 The last Synod of Ulster held until after the Williamite Revolution.

1662 “The Great Ejection” – 400 ministers ejected from their churches (as in England, where 2000 are ejected). At Edinburgh all ministers required to comply with the new order of things or leave the city and desist from preaching.

1663 Ejected ministers begin preaching in the open-air at “field meetings.” The government attempts to suppress them by fines and military force.

1666 Increasing oppression provokes an unpremeditated rising amongst the “Covenanters” (the term by which those who adhered to the old Presbyterian principles became known) in Galloway, but their ill-equipped forces overcome at Rullion Green (28th November). This event followed by many executions and gives excuse for greater persecution­ – “the first time Scotland ever endured so much cruelty” (Kirkton).

1669 An Act of Indulgence promises relief (on certain conditions) to ministers who could not conform to the established order. Some accept this relief but the more resolute Covenanters refuse it. This divides the Presbyterians into the “in­dulged” and the “non-indulged.”

1670 “Field meetings” made treasonable and preaching at such a meeting becomes a capital offence. Nevertheless these meetings rapidly increase. About this time arms begin to be carried for self defence and “field meetings” begin to develop into “armed conventicles.”

“Through unrelenting persecution these decent congrega­tions were transformed into what their persecutors had at first falsely asserted them to be – battalions of armed men, resolved to defy opposition, and prepared to take the field against their aggressors.” (T. McCrie.)

1679 The Covenanters rise in Galloway, condemn all the proceed­ings of the government since 1660, and defeat the govern­ment's forces at the battle of Drumclog (1st June). But they fail to take Glasgow and become divided over their attitude towards those who had accepted the Indulgence and towards King Charles II.

The strict party begins to maintain that the King, by breaking his coronation oaths (made to the Presbyterians at Scone in 1651) and by assuming ecclesi­astical powers, had forfeited all right to the civil obedience of his subjects. The Covenanters, disheartened by the divisions amongst their leaders, are overcome by superior numbers at Bothwell Bridge (22nd June).

1680 “The Sanquhar Declaration” – At Sanquhar, Richard Cameron and others publicly disown Charles II as King for tyranny, breaking his coronation oaths and the laws governing the rule of the King, and covenant-breaking (22nd June).

He and Cargill, leading the party which disowned civil allegiance, continue field-preaching; the former is killed at Ayrsmoss, or Airdsmoss, (22nd July, 1680) and the latter executed in Edinburgh (27th July, 1681).

“The subsequent period down to 1688 exhibits little more than a series of executions, civil and military, differing from each other only in their degrees of horror and atrocity.” (T. McCrie.)

1682 The Edict of Nantes in France leads to many Huguenots (French Presbyterians) fleeing to Ireland for refuge. They are given toleration by the Episcopal authorities, but the same toleration is withheld from the Irish Presbyterians.

1684-85 "The Killing Times" – the hottest period of persecution.

Common soldiers are empowered to put suspected persons to death without trial.

Charles II dies (6th February, 1685) and is succeeded by his Roman Catholic brother, James II.

A daring remnant, led by James Renwick, continues to outbrave the government by continuing to hold “field meetings.”

“The Second Sanquhar Declaration” – Renwick and others, following Cameron’s example, publicly disown James II as King at Sanquhar (28th May, 1685).

1688 Renwick captured and martyred.

John Howie in his famous book, “The Scots Worthies”, estimates that during the 28 years of persecution in Scotland “above 18,000 people, according to calculation, suffered death, or the utmost hardships and extremities.” He breaks down this number as follows:

1,700 were banished to America and 750 to the northern islands of Scotland.

3,600 were imprisoned, outlawed, or sentenced to be executed when apprehended.

680 were killed in skirmishes or died of their wounds.

7,000 voluntarily left Scotland for conscience’s sake.

362 were executed after process of law, and 498 slaughtered without process of law.

In addition to the above, "the number of those who perished through cold, hunger, and other distresses, contracted in their flight to the mountains, and who sometimes even when on the point of death were murdered by the bloody soldiers, cannot well be calculated, but will certainly make up the number above specified."


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