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wherein we live, are surely perilous times upon sundry accounts, and call us not only to join in fervent prayer to God for mercy and help for Christ's fake, and to be deeply humbled for, and to mourn over, the procuring causes of God's wrath ; but also to bear free and open testimony against these evils which are the Achans in our camp, and Jonahs under deck, that raise such terrible storms against this poor church and land. It cannot but make deep im. preffion, when sometimes we call to mind the fore thoughts and predictions of several of God's worthies in this land, from scaffolds, and also from the pulpit and press, that • God would at length proceed to terrible judgments, in resentment of his controversy with covenant-breaking Scotland, before the return of his wonted glory and presence in the fanctuary ; yea, that our land should be made to swim with biood for the blood of God's faints that hath been shed therein.” Now, the oftener that God delivers us from Popilb enemies, and the longer we unthankfully abuse and misimprove God's mercies and deliverances, our guilt and danger still become the greater. As the cup of our inquiry fills up, so doth the cup of God's wrath pro. portionably.
Ought not then these awful dispensations to move and quicken us to act a faithfui part, both for God's glory and our own safety, even to pray, diffent, declare, and testify against these evils which we cannot stop? Were we helped to do this fincerely, we might hope, through vur Redeemer's mediation, that they would not be charged upon us in the day of count and reckoning, and that we should even be bid in the day of the Lord's anger. For we find the angel of the covenant doth hold the winds, until the fervants of the living God be sealed for preservation in a time of danger: nay, an upright witneffing remnant might, through Divine mercy, be the happy means of preserving the whole land from the invasion of cruel and bloody ene. mies, and of getting the pour decayed church of Scotland interested in that promile, Jer. xx8. 11. • I am with thee, to save thee : a.d though I make a full end of all nations about thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee; but I will correct thee in measure, and not leave thee altogether unpunilhed.' May the Lord himself direct ministers and others to proper measures for turning away the fierceness of God's anger froin us; and open the eyes of men to discern the true grounds and causes of God's controverty with the land! And if it should please the Lord to blefs the following testimony for promoting these ends in any measure, yea, though it were but to convince one minifter or preacher of the evil of intrusions, of supporting patronage, and of the neglect of preaching Christ, it would contribute to support me under all the discourage. ments I have met with in making the Eflay to lift up a testimony againf these evils. That the mighty Lord, who can accomplish great things by small means, may succeed this honest design, is the prayer of
FAIR AND IMPARTIAL
A Number of MINISTERS, Elders, and ChristIAN PEOPLE
of the Church of SCOTLAND, &c.
A CCORDING to ancient historians, our gracious
O God was pleased to visit Scotland very carly with his glorious gospel, by means of some preachers and other Christians, who were forced to flee to Scotland to be out of the reach of Roman cruelty under the second persecution raised by the emperor Domitian about the year of our Lord 95, which was before the death of the apostle John; where they propagated the knowledge of Jesus Christ, which at length conquered Pagan darkness and idolatry so far, that in the beginning of the third century, about the year 203, king Donald I. did publice Jy profess the faith of Jesus Christ; and he himself, his queen, his family, and divers of the nobles, were folemnly baptized. After which, the king used his best endeavours to root out idolatry and heathenish superstition from his dominions, and to settle a gospel ministry in every corner thereof.
But, this religious king being much hindered in his good designs by his continual wars with the Romans
under the emperor Severus, this bleffed work was after. · wards greatly neglected by following princes until the
reign of king Crathilinth, who about the year 277 set about the glorious work of advancing Christianity after the example of king Donald the first Christian king, but was greatly hindered by the heathenish priests named
Druids, Druids, called fo (as some think) because of their facrie ficing in greves under oaks. These idolatrous priests had got great irt-r«st ard credit among the people, by reason of the r sense pleasing worship, and of their having drawn into their h nd the determining of civil affair ; wherefore the people reckoned then fo necefs ry, that they knew not how to live without tliem. But the Lord in mercy feconded the intentions of the good king, by several worthy men, both ministers and private Christians, from the south parts of Britain, and other parts of the Ron an empire, who were obliged to flee in the time of the ninth perfecution under Aurelius, and of the tenth under Dicclesian, from the terrible flaughter then made among the Christians. And these retiring to Scotland for refuge, as others had done long before them, were very helpful id turning the people from idolatry. • King Crathilinth finding amorg these refugees many men of eminent piety and learning, did kindly entertain them, and employ them in opposing the Druids, and further settling of Christianity through his kingdom. These hoiy men being settled in several places of the land, and choosing retirement from all civil and worldly affairs, and giving up themselves wholly to the service of God in the ministerial work, were called Culdees, or Cultores Dei. These Culdees, through the divine blefling, got the better of the Druids, and were great instruments of advancing true piety and Christianity in Scotland; so that “ from these uttermost parts of the earth were fongs heard, even glory to Jesus Christ the righteous :" and thus were accomplished in part the ancient promises made to our Redeemer, that “ the heathen should be given to him as his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession ; that the illes should wait for his law, and their kings bring presents to him: that he should be the confidence of the ends of the earth, and of them that are afar off upon the sea.” . : These blessed instruments, the Culdees, were strict in their lives, and in governing the church of Christ. They allowed no higher order among them than pres. byters or parochial bishops, and so continued for many years, until Palladius was sent thither by pope Celestine
about the year 452, who by his fubtile infinuations did gain so far upon the fimple people, as to bring them to consent to a change of the government of the church into prelacy, and he himself became the chief prelate, ao mong them. Both the historians of our own and other nations, fuch as Fordun, Boethius, John Major, Buchanan, Sir Thomas Craig, Prosper, Baronius, Beda, Baleus; &c. do all agree that the Scots for feveral hundred years aster Christ were taught and governed by priests and monks without bishops, and that Palladius was the first bishop or prelate that ever Scotland faw. John of Fordun, in his Scots Chronicle, lib. 3. cap. 8 faith, “ Before the incoming of Palladius, the Scots had for teachers of the faith, and minifters of the sacraments, presbyters only, or monks, following the rites and customs of the primitive church." And who questioned but the Scots were a3 fincere Christians, their ministers as real minis. ters, and their facraments as true facraments, all these 400 years, as they were in after-ages ? Yea, Baleus in his history of the Britains, cent. 14. cap. 5. saith more, Anté. Palladium Scoti, &c. " Before Palladius came, the Scots had their bishops and minifters, according to the ministry of the word of God, chosen by the suffrage of the people, after the custom of those of Alia; but these things did not pleafe the Romans who hated the Aliatics." So that we fee the ancient Scots maintained presbytery, without either prelacy or patronage, till the Romans or church of Rome introduced both. And . furely the Scots have ftill good reafon to be zealous for their ancient church government and privileges, which they long enjoyed, in oppofition to the Roman corruptions. · But Palladius having got our government changed, and our acquintance made with Rome, then the mitress of the world, the church fell into a decaying condition, and popish corruptions increased more and more, till at length gross darknefs overspread this whole land, as well as other naticus ; under which the lay for many ages (for what we read) until the year 1494, in the reign of king James IV. when the Loliards of Kyle, to the num. ber of thirty perfons; were fu.nmoned before the king. Vol. IV. xx