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to which I am joined, Mr Donald Cargill being the only faithful ambassador our Lord has in Scotland! I, following the ordinances on Friday last; being as well armed for defending the Gospel, and myself, as I could; beyond expectation, a party of Linlithgow's soldiers is sent out to my lodging, and not dreading danger in the day-time, I thought our persecutors had never heard of my name. I was apprehended, and now at last brought hither to close prison; the Lord having honoured me to give an ample testimony before the Council and Lords of Justiciary, for my wronged Lord Jesus.
"And suppose I must seal it with my blood, I leave this testi mony to you, my friends and acquaintances in Aberdeenshire, and subscribe it, November 17, 1680,
"From my delectable prison . in which my Lord has allowed me His peace and presence, and comforted me with that I shall reign with Him eternally; for I am His, and bought with His precious blood."
LETTER from Mr James Skene to his Friend and
"MY MUCH HONOURED FRIEND IN CHRIST,—I
give it under my hand, I have no cause to rue my sweet bargain. His cross is easy and light yet; and that which is most terrifying, I hope He will make comfortable. O lovely Lord! what could make Him to choose me to suffer for Him? What is all the world to me, if His honour be at the stake? If His honour be advanced by my death, O happy me!
"I have oftentimes wished a suffering lot; I heard and saw so much of God's goodness, that I thought the cross and comforts in Christ could not be separated. And I have no reason to complain; the Lord is so oft the joy of my heart, that I am forced to wonder at it.
"Leaving further troubling you, hoping you will be as good as your word; be much in prayer for these two or three days. It is likely on Thursday next I will need no help of prayers, being come to the immediate vision of my Lord, to see Him as He is; I will be stupefied, as it were, and amazed at it. If His merits were not of infinite value, I might question, What would I do? But He has promised that I shall reign with Him.
MOTHER LETTER from Mr James Skene to his
"My Dear Friend In Christ,—I received yours, encouraging me to hold on in my blessed Lord's way, which He hath pathed to me. I am not unmindful of you, as I can, and I desire you to pray, that none may offend at the Lord's interest for me, there being willingness on my part to suffer; though justly they cannot condemn me; for they offer me a delivery, if I would submit to the Duke's and Council's mercy; but it is evidently often seen, that the tender mercies of the wicked are cruelty. I find no liberty to deny my Lord for fear of death. I hope He will make up my loss in Himself. All I can desire of you is, to pray much for me, that the Lord will own me, for His own cause, before the adversaries, and in my dissolution. I wish the Lord to comfort His people, and tenderly own His despised interest.
"Mr Carstairs [see note, page 12] said, 'He was ashamed of that principle we maintained, and that we were not sound Presbyterians, and wished the Lord to preserve him from the like. I am no whit troubled at this, I bless my Lord. They would have me conferring with him, I said, I would not notice him if he came near me.
"Tell my friend I would have written, but had no time. I wrote yesternight to him. I need both your helps by supplications and strong cries to the Lord, to carry me cleanly through the valley and shadow of death.
"I must leave here, wishing the Lord to bear you up under all trials. I thought ye should have been in eternity before me; but now I think I shall leave you on the valleys when I shall arrive at the blessed harbour. I am, dear friend, your well-wisher and Christ's prisoner, "JAMES SKENE."
"P.S.—A double of my Confessions you may have from a friend, whom I shall desire to send it to you. I got my summons for eternity with sound of trumpet yesternight; and my indictment with five shouts of the trumpet, and pursuivants in their coats, at seven of the clock, was a grave sight; but my Lord helped me not to be afraid at it, since all was from Him."
HE LAST SPEECH AND TESTIMONY of Mr James Skene, Brother to the Laird of Skene; which he intended to have delivered on the scaffold, December 1st, 1680.
"Dear People,—I am come here this day to lay down my life for owning Jesus Christ's despised interest, and for asserting that He is a King, and for averring that He is head of His own Church, and has not delegated or deputed any, either Pope, King, or Council, to be his vicegerents on earth.
"Since my blessed Lord Jesus Christ has in His love engaged me by a particular covenant, in His own terms, to renounce and resign myself to Him, in soul and body; assuring me by His word, and testifying His acceptance of my resignation by His holy and blessed Spirit; promising to redeem me from all sins; giving me assurance of a saving interest in Himself; and now, having called me in His providence, contriving this my suffering (by permitting His ungodly enemies to apprehend and take me prisoner, having wickedly plotted my taking. in my going on the way to attend what the Lord had to work on my soul by His preached Gospel), to give a testimony for His covenant, interest, and people that are reproached and borne down by a perjured God-contemning generation, and to seal my sufferings and testimony with my blood; I most willingly lay down my life for His interest.
"I leave my testimony to the National Covenant, and the Solemn League and Covenant, which are founded on the Scriptures, the Word of God, which are written by the prophets and apostles in the Old and New Testaments, which has Jesus Christ, the blessed object of our faith, for the chief corner stone of the building. I also leave my testimony to Mr Donald Cargill's papers, taken at the Queensferry, called a New Covenant, according as they agree to the true original copy.
"I adhere to Presbyterian Government, and the whole work of Reformation of the Church of Scotland ; the Confession of Faith, and Larger and Shorter Catechisms, consulted well, and written by the Assembly of Divines; except that article about Magistracy, when ill expounded, in the 23d chapter; because our magistracy is but pure tyranny, exercised by the lustful rage of men, yea, rather devils in shape of men, whom God has permitted, in His holy and spotless wisdom, for a trial to His people, and a snare to some others, to oppress, tyrannise, and blasphemously tread under foot His truth, interest, and people; yea, that article is expounded in the National Covenant, where we have vowed to the Almighty God, not to maintain the king's interest, when he disowns the Covenant, and well-settled Church-government by Presbyteries, Synods, and General Assemblies of the Church of Scotland.''
"I adhere to the Testimony for the interest of Christ, at Rutherglen; at which time the wicked Acts of Parliament and the blasphemous Declarations, by which they have sworn to be enemies to the interest of Christ, were solemnly burnt.
"I adhere to the Sanquhar Declaration; whereby we, that were true Presbyterians, did depose that tyrant Charles Stuart, who is the head of malignants and malignancy, from his exercise of government as to us; and we do no otherwise than the people of Libnah, 2 Chron. xxi. 10: 'At the same time also did the people of Libnah revolt from under the King of Judah, because he had forsaken the Lord God of his fathers.' And this practice is not so gross that I own, in declaring against that monstrous tyrant on the throne of Britain, as many conjecture; if seriously folk would consider the injustice practised in civil matters, by himself, and all his adherent inferior magistrates, (yea, inferior tyrants; for he is the head and supreme tyrant,) that no poor man, that has a just cause, if he be not as profligate and
* Let none mistake this sentence as if this worthy gentleman thereby disowneu that unshaken principle of the Protestant religion ; viz., that infidelity or difference in religion does not make void the magistrate's just and legal authority; for it is plain, he rejects only the false sense that was then put upon it, to make it an argument for defence of tyranny and arbitrary power. [Note by the compilers of" Cloud," in the first edition.'}
wicked as themselves, can have justice; and his usurpation in ecclesiastic matters; which is too great a task for any on earth, since they must take upon them to dethrone our blessed Lord Jesus Christ, who is given in all things to be head to His Church (Eph. i. 22; Ps. ii. 8). You would canvass the justice of disowning his authority, which to do you are engaged by oath to God, he overturning the whole work of Reformation ; which was the great ground of his enthronement in Scotland, to maintain the Covenant, and work of Reformation. His wicked burning of the Covenant, and . Causes of God's Wrath,' is cause enough to me to disown his authority, which is so maintained by perjury. 'Shall he break the Covenant, and be delivered?' (Ezek. xvii. 15-19.)
"Consider likewise his oppression, in ordering military forces to oppress God's people, to obstruct, impede, and hinder the worship of God, the ordinances in houses or fields, and compel them to join with a cursed crew of prelates, curates, and some indulged ministers. Yea, his tyranny is so great, that he ordered an host [i.e., the Highland host] of armed men in the year 1678, to invade a peaceable country in the West: who robbed, stole from, and oppressed poor people, for no other reason, but because they would not pollute their consciences, and be subject to Prelacy; which erastian government he has contended for these several years, and kept up in this land. If there were no other cause of his rejection than these proceedings, they might suffice to justify any, who were engaged by God, having time and place, to cut him off. For, by the law of God, murder, adultery and oppression are punishable by death; and kings are not exempted, far less tyrants that are lawfully excommunicate.
"But to those horrid impieties is added the shedding of the blood of poor innocents; which aggregeth [i.e., aggravatelh] his guilt, so that, though the Lord should make him penitent, he deserves death by the law, according to which blood cannot be expiated but by the blood of him who shed it. For confirmation of what I have said, see Ezekiel xxi. 25-27; read also Ezekiel xliii. 9: 'Let them put away the carcases of their kings far from me, and I will dwell in the midst of them for ever.' Consider how our fathers contended for truth, and must we lose what they gained? Ah! this atheistical generation of perjured, adulterous, and bloody powers are ripe for God's vengeance!
"I give my testimony against the cursed persecuting soldiers; the blood of God's saints is on their heads, and mine is laid on them,