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

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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