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most loyal subjects, the ministers and elders of the Gereral Assembly of the church of Scotland, cannot look upon ourselves as sitting again under your majesty's most auspicious protection after the late wicked rebellion, which threatened us with the loss of so dear a blessing, without expressing our unfeigned thanks to the Almighty, and declaring to the world our inward joy for your majesty's successes, and our own deliverance.
“ Safe under your majesty's happy government we can look back on the blackest scenes of the late unnatural treason; we can see Rome, in league with the enemy of our church and state, sowing the seeds of rebellion, souring the minds of heedless people with groundless jealousies, plotting the destruction of your royal person, on which our happiness, with that of all the protestant churches, under God, doth depend; and breaking out at length into open war with such multitudes of armed traitors as seemed for a season irresistible: and, at the same time, we can view with pleasure, heaven interposing in your majesty's behalf and in ours, seating your majesty so seasonably upon the throne, early disclosing the hidden treason, guiding your majesty's steady councils, leading your
victorious general, the duke of Argyle, to the unexpected overthrow of such unequal numbers, and conducting him in the pursuit of the pretender to your crown, till, by an inglorious flight, he left our country free from the great dangers we were in from the rebellion, and his deluded friends filled with confusion. Upon all which we cannot but with thankful hearts acknowledge our deep sense of your majesty's wise and fatherly care for your loyal subjects, which neither the extraordinary rigour of the season, nor the fallacious proposals of the rebels could divert from the necessary means of their speedy relief,” &c. &c.
There was but little transacted at this assembly of public interest. The society for propagating christian knowledge was, as usual, recommended to the liberality of the public The long depending case of professor Simpson was left in the hands of the committee formerly appointed, whose powers were renewed by the assembly, they having been prevented
* Printed Acts of Assembly, 1716.
from bringing their labours to a close by the confusion consequent upon the rebellion. It was referred to the commission to give assistance to ministers in obtaining reparation of the damages they sustained by being plundered by the rebels, and for recovering the public libraries, which, it appears, they bad, in some instances, taken away. An injunction was also laid on the procurator and agents for the church, to assist Mr. William M Ghee (or Mackay], at Balmaghie, in obtaining possession of his church and manse, and removing Mr. John Mackmillan therefrom; but we do not suppose
any thing was done in this affair at that time, at least, if there was, it was not done successfully, for we find, that years after this Mr. Mackmillan was still at Balmaghie. With a particular view to advantage the Highlands, which did then, as they do still, labour under several disadvantages, this assembly passed an act forbidding the settlement of any preacher, having Gaelic, in the Lowlands, or transporting any minister from the Highlands to the Lowlands, without special allowance from the General Assembly.* After fixing the next meeting of assembly for the first Thursday of May, 1717, the assembly was dissolved, with the usual forms, on the sixteenth of May.
We have already seen part of the proceedings of the parliament, with regard to the rebels, and that high court went on to pass bills of attainder against the chiefs of the rebellion in Scotland, the earls of Marr, Linlithgow, Marischal, Seaforth, Southesk, Panmure, the marquis of Tullibardine, lord Drummond, &c. &c. A bill was also passed to " indemnify such persons who have acted in defence of his majesty's person and government, and for the preservation of the public peace of this kingdom, in and about the time of the late unnatural rebellion, from vexatious suits and prosecutions," &c. &c.; a bill for more effectually securing the peace of the Highlands of Scotland, by disarming the people; and a bill for appointing commissioners to inquire into the estates which were forfeited by the rebellion, which the king bad promised to give up for the public service. A separate bill was also passed for attainting general Forster, and brigadier M‘Intosh.
See Unprinted Acts of Assembly, 1716.
Afraid, in the present unsettled state of public feeling, to commit themselves in a general election, the ministry this session, and at this time, brought in a bill, which has been oftener the subject of discussion, and was certainly a matter of more doubtful policy than any of those we have mentioned, for extending the duration of parliaments from three to seven years. The subject was introduced into the house of lords, on the tenth of April, by the duke of Devonshire, who represented triennial parliaments as only serving to keep up party divisions, to foment feuds in families, to produce ruinous expenses, and to encourage the intrigues of foreign princes, which, especially in the present temper of the nation, might be attended with consequences fatal to its best interests. Dangers so alarming he proposed to provide against by enlarging the term of parliaments to seven in place of three years.
He was supported by the earls of Dorset and Rockingham, the duke of Argyle, the lord Townshend, and all the leaders of that party, by a tissue of sophistical reasonings, if reasonings they must be called, that history blushes to record. The tories, who have ever since been the principal supporters of this bill, violently opposed its introduction. The earl of Nottingham observed that frequent parliaments were required by the fundamental laws of the kingdom, ascertained by the practice of many ages. Nottingham was followed by the earls of Abingdon and Poulet, with many arguments that have never yet been satisfactorily answered, though they, too, betrayed their own cause by supporting it with abundance of sophistry. The bill, however, was carried by a great majority in both houses, and has ever since been adhered to. A bill was also passed to enable his majesty to visit his German dominions, and, on the twenty-sixth of June, the session was closed.
Domestic affairs being thus settled to the entire satisfaction of the king and his ministers, his majesty, having appointed general Carpenter commander-in-chief of all the forces in Scotland, in the room of the duke of Argyle-who had, not without good grounds, fallen under some degree of suspicion -the duke of Montrose clerk register, in room of the earl of Ilay, lord Lovat governor of Inverness, the earl of Sutherland president of the Scotish chamberlainry, and his royal high
ness, George, prince of Wales, regent of the kingdom of Great Britain, departed for Holland on the seventh, where he landed on the ninth of July, on his way to Hanover,
On the eighth, the day after his majesty's departure, the prince, on opening his commission in the council, signed the death warrant for twenty-four of the state criminals, who had been temporarily reprieved by his majesty, fixing Friday the thirteenth as the day for their execution. This was a great surprise to them, as from the circumstance of his majesty's departure, they had calculated upon escaping. Twenty-two of them, however, were reprieved upon the Thursday. The remaining two, the Rev. William Paul, and Mr. John Hall, of Otterburn, were executed upon the Friday, according to their sentence. Both of these gentlemen had been urgent with the government for mercy; but both made extraordinary speeches at the place of execution,* and arrogated to themselves all the honours of martyrdom.
* The following is that of Mr. William Paul :--Good people, I am just going to make my appearance in the other world, where I must give an account of all the actions of my past life: and tho’ I have endeavoured to make my peace with God, by sincerely repenting of all my sins, yet, forasmuch as several of them are of a publick nature, I take it to be my duty to declare here, in the face of the world, my hearty abhorrence and detestation of them. And first, I ask pardon of God and the king, for having violated my loyalty, by taking most abominable oaths in defence of usurpation, against my lawful sovereign, king James the third.
And as I ask pardon of all persons whom I have injured or offended, so I do especially desire forgiveness of all those whom I have scandalized by pleading guilty. I am sensible that it is a base and dishonourable action; that it is inconsistent with my duty to the king, and an entire surrender of my loyalty. Human frailty, and too great a desire of life, together with the persuasions of several who pretended to be my friends, were the occasion of it. I trust God, of his infinite mercy upon my sincere repentance, has forgiven me; and I hope all good Christians will. You see, my countrymen, by my habit, that I die a son, though a very unworthy one, of the Church of England; but I would not have you think that I am a member of the schismatical church, whose bishops set themselves up in opposition to those orthodox fathers, who were unlawfully and invalidly deprived by the Prince of Orange. I declare that I renounce that communion, and that I die a dutiful and faithful member of the nonjuring church; which has kept itself free from rebellion and schism, and has preserved and maintained true orthodox principles, both as to church and state. And I desire the clergy, and all members of the revolution church, to consider what bottom they stand upon, when their succession is grounded
The act suspending the habeas corpus, expired on the twentyfourth of June; and the earl of Scarsdale, the lords Duplin and Powis, and several other private gentlemen, took immediate advantage of it, and were admitted to bail. In a short time after,
upon an unlawful and invalid deprivation of catholick bishops, the only foundation of which deprivation, is a pretended act of parliament.
Having asked forgiveness for myself, I come now to forgive others. I pardon those, who, under the notion of friendship, persuaded me to plead guilty. I heartily forgive all my most inveterate enemies; especially the elector of Hanover, my lord Townshend, and all others who have been instrumental in promoting my death. Father, forgive them; Lord Jesus have mercy upon them, and lay not this sin to their charge.
The next thing I have to do, Christian friends, is to exhort you all to return to your duty. Remember that king James the third is your only rightful sovereign, by the laws of the land, and the constitution of the kingdom. And, therefore, if you would perform the duty of justice to him, which is due to all mankind, you are obliged, in conscience, to do all you can to restore him to his crown; for it is his right, and no man in the world, besides himself, can lawfully claim a title to it. And as it is your duty to serve him, so it is your interest; for till he is restored, the nation can never be happy. You see what miseries and calamities have befallen these kingdoms by the revolution; and I believe you are now convinced, by woeful experience, that swerving from God's laws, and thereby putting yourselves out of his protection, is not the way to secure you from those evils and misfortunes, which you are afraid of in this world. Before the revolution, you thought your religion, liberties, and properties, in danger; and I pray you to consider how you have preserved them by rehelling. Are they not ten times more precarious than ever? Who can say he is certain of his life, or estate, when he considers the proceedings of the present administration ? And as for your religion, is it not evident, that the revolution, instead of keeping out popery, has let in atheism ? Do not heresies abound every day? and are not the teachers of false doctrines, patronised by the great men in the government? This shows the kindness and affection they have for the church; and to give you another instance of their respect and reverence for it, you are now going to see a priest of the Church of England murdered for doing his duty. For it is not me they strike at so particularly; but it is thro' me they wound the priesthood, bring a disgrace upon the gown, and a scandal upon my sacred function. But they would do well to remember, that he who despises Christ's priests, despises Christ; and he who despises him, despises bim that sent him.
And now, beloved, if you have any regard to your country, which lies bleeding ander these dreadful extremities, bring the king to his just and undoubted right. That is the only way to be freed from these nisfortunes, and to secure all those rights and privileges, which are in danger at present. King James has promised to protect and defend the church of England; he bas given his royal word to consent to such laws, which yourselves shall think