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25th April, 1652-He desired to be humbled under, and observe the just cause of scandal and stumbling that we give to brethern, by tolerating in our societies gross external wickedness, profanity, ignorance, atheism, formality; and a body of congregations, professors, members and officers of our churches, admitted to all ordinances, which may give them a loathing of us; as well as their tolerating, in their civil societies, men of corrupt minds against the truth, and spiritnal wickedness, and heresies and errors unpunished. Oh, when will the Lord remove the one couse of stumbling and the other Oh that our Magistrates did more, and our ministers also, for reforming, purging, and taking away sin from among us; and that their ministers and magistrates also did more for taking away and purging out of wickedness. Lord, open the way. If magistrates did more among us, ministers would not need to do so much about external, superficial, formal satisfaction, and penalties and repentance, as we do. The cause for which the Lord has swept away our rulers, [was] because they ruled not for the Lord; his glory was not dear to them. We tolerated Popery, and joined with idolaters; maintained and countenanced superstition, will-worship, formality; and we willingly followed after the commandment. Much profanity, wickedness, unpunished and practised. And will he deal better with us, if we follow the like ways? For this cause we refused to close with him, and admit him to government.
28th April–Observe, that as arguments for toleration do infer and conclude a forbearance to the grossest blasphemies and errors, so the arguments against tolerating of gross errors, do conclude against the toleration of all consequential errors.
3rd May.-A day of humiliation. 1, That the Lord would fit and furnish him for suffering, if it please him to call me to it; and that I may not be letten take any wrong door to go out at, or decline it. 2, That the Lord [would] fit [him] for the participation of the Lord's table, whereto he desires to approach, for renewing his communion with the Lord, and for getting some increase of light and strength; that he may be more rooted in Jesus Christ, and in the truth, and abide in him, and [be] secured thro' his grace against all snares and temptations, and be made partaker of Christ and all his benefits. 3, That the frothiness, levity, and unmortifiedness of his spirit may be purged and subdued; and the carnal-mindedness, unbelief, unsoundness, hypocrisy, formality, leaning to natural wisdom, may be helped and remedied. 4, And that he may know and be taught the Lord's mind in the present Dispensation. And [Here is a Blank much like what follows.]
morally bound to all the substantials of government, many whereof are common with us and Indedependents, against the government of Anabaptists, Familists, and Papists, and others, who do maintain that there is no need of Ordinances, or a distinct office of ministry, or church-officers: for I conceive the word Gospelway may include all, and be extended to all, if the magistrate so please, for he makes himself the judge. 2, I do expressly understand thereby the association of church-officers, ordination by the hands of the Presbytery; for albeit I did agree to the constituting of members and officers, according to the Independent way; yet I conceive it necessary, and of Divine institution, that these churches should, as the Apostle says of the Spirit of the Prophets, be subject to the Prophets; and, if any congregation of ten or twelve should deny the faith, or the one half of them, so that the other could not take order with the defection, or that one were consured or excommunicated by one of these congregations wrongfully, for not consenting with them in the evil, I do hold a subordination necessary, and a moral truth, without which it should appear there were no remedy left us of the Lord for redressing any such case; which were a great defect, and a derogation from his wisdom to think. Nor do I think non-communion, withdrawing fellowship from such a congregation, sufficient to suppress heresy, or rectify the injury done to the wronged member of a congregation, who otherwise hath not so much as way for appeal, or to have his sentence tried again; but must live under it all his days, without subordination and the authority of synods and councils, for many cases which may occur. Now, the word Gospel-way will admit of Papal Government and Prelacy, and these errors that the corrupt mind of man hath not lighted upon, no less than all those which are already broached; for, who does not pretend that their way is the Gospel-way? and Erastianism, that think the whole censure of scandals, debarring fram communion, belongs to the Civil Magistrate, and that church-officers have no authority but to preach, &c. And it is hard, if a synod and convention of the most godly, and wise, and grave church-officers, ministers, and elders, be denied something of that which a congregation of seven or eight do assume; and, if it be a foundation, and ground of anti-christianism, spiritual tyranny in them, which is exercised ordinarily by a few. He is not to teach him that knows far more, and is more able to instruct. Truth is one; and one Gospel-way to which we are morally bound. Nay, it will not be so effectual a remedy as remaining and purging. That he would try at what distance he stands with spiritual wickedness and error. Try whether, if the King had employed malignant profane men, [and] forfeited the precious godly men in Scotland; whether would he have consented to restore him to his government? Try whether, instead of the few errors then broached under Episcopacy, there be not a thousand now; for then were we feared to be spoiled of the truth, now we are not. Papists admitted and tolerated: the most profane and wildest men employed: malign deputies of shires get leave to plant kirks, and restore these profane formal ministers that were deposed. Can you rejoice in this? Is all this done by a law and authority ? None like to be the object of their prosecution, but those that fear the Lord and hate evil. They go for the best who go the farthest length with them. Anabaptists would have no Magistracy. 1, The effects of gathered congregations. 2, The qualifications of a church-member; or, if simply being born in Scottish or English air, give a right to Baptism and to Church membership? 3, Whether a Magistrate for scandal may not remove a Minister from preaching, viz., for drunkenness, laziness; or take away the stipend at least, and give it to a better minister? Responde—Congregations should chuse their ministers. Magistrates de facto may take away the stipends, and banish men out of their land. Quere—What the power of the congregation is in exercise of discipline, chusing members, admitting to fellowship, ordination, &c.? 23rd May.—1, To consider the abuses and oppressions committed by sheriffs, how to be remedied. 2, How to restrain their unjust gain, and how to improve their power and office most for God. Lord, for light and strength, not to partake of other men's sins! 3, To have the laws in Scotland ratified and established, and judges to judge by them. Lord, if thou leadest me to any endeavour of duty in reforming abuses in judicatories, give strength and grace to discern snares, and that he [I] consent not to evil. 16th May.—He desired to be humbled under the want of love to the Lord Jesus: that love sets him not on work to duty, but natural conscience. 2, He goes about duties in his own strength and natural ability, and not humbly and in the grace of Christ. 3, He hath no delight in his service; as indeed, where there is no love, there can be no delight. 4, He thirst not for his glory, and the salvation of others, and gaining them to Christ. 5, Much ignorance, vanity, presumption, and inconsiderateness in his writing. Oh Lord, for pardon and grace in Jesus Christ! 6, Unsettledness and indifferency, no love and zeal for the truth; wavering, unsettled. 30th May.—He desired to be further humbled under these, and under a secret declining and decay of communion with the Lord, and that his heart is estranged from the Lord, and he rests in a mere formality of some outward performances, without zeal, or life, or power, or clear distinct knowledge. So under the Lord's hiding his face from the people through the land, especially from the most precious of his servants in the ministry, who as yet are under a cloud, and know not his mind, are detained and kept under with division, darkness, prejudice, snares, secret pride, formality, unhumbledness. There is meikle wrath on the spirits of men; while they that think they see, see not. Oh, the gross inbreaking of idolatry, blasphemy, superstition, heresy, and all manner of wickedness! And little growth is there of piety or godliness through the land. He desires to be humbled under the objections which Major-General Deans" made to me against coercion. Whose conscience should the magistrate follow in restraining or punishing? as presently in the matter of our difference about the Assembly; while each party pretends to the word of God for his warrant, Independents and Presbyterians also ; who shall be judge in these cases? Lord! grant light to answer, or stoop. He said to the MajorGeneral, that these who agreed with us in the fundamentals of Christian religion, and Confession of Faith, should be forborn ; these who denied and differed in the fundamentals, and the Confession of Faith, and held doctrines contrary, ought not to be tolerated; particularly, simple Independents or Anabaptists holding nothing contrary to the Confession of Faith, except in the matter of Infant-baptism or Government. He sees not the consequences of yielding to this Toleration, nor yet all the consequences of refusing. 20th June.—This day he desires solemnly to set himself to seek the Lord, and to be humbled under the continuing anger of God, which doth as yet burn. There is no end or measure of our dissensions and differences; our darkness is increasing, and we are all in danger to be scattered one from another: therefore to seek that the Lord would return and cause his face to shine upon us. We are stumbling and like to break our neck; , that he would prevent, and make up our breach, and open to us the way he would have us to walk in, and find out an overture to unite the hearts of his people in and for himself. Oh Lord, look on our present confusions, anent the civil government, anent the late Assembly, anent present duties, purging of our societies, ministry, elderships, admission to ordinances and church-fellowship, associations ! In particular, he desires to deal with the Lord for a blessing on the meeting betwixt him and his brother James, that it may not be a means to insnare and intangle either of us by other, but for discovery of corruption, darkness, mistakes, and for clearing our minds, and bringing us to the acknowledgment of the truth in Jesus, and to be confirmed in the faith and love thereof to his praise; that we be not shaken, nor removed, nor blinded. 21st June, 1652.-Memorandum with Mr. Jaffray, to consider my last letter, and correct an expression in it anent church-members, their qualifications, and restrict it to admission to the sacraments 2, To see how far he agrees with me in these things I write of 3, To show that, since my last, my mind is much alienated with General Dean's discourse; therefore, to enquire how can we consent or submit to rulers of such principles. 4, To ask anent the General Assembly, and the others. 5, What overtures of peace or agreement are fallen upon, for these in the west, and others with the English, or among ourselves. 6, To consider their paper and propositions, how far we agree and can close. 7, What way they settle the government, seals, and justice, the feudary elections in burgh and
* Major-General Deane or Deans was one name in Scotland at this time. The one of the Commissioners appointed by the was commander of a regiment of foot; the Parliament of England for settling matters other admiral of the fleet. See note on in this country, in January, 1652. There 8th June, 1653. appear to have been two persons of the