in Chronological Order
Order of Contents
Defenses of Cameronianism
Here are the major Scottish defenses of covenanting and writings surrounding the Indulgence controversy from the Persecuting Era of Scottish history (1661-1688).
Important doctrines expounded and debated in these works include the continuing spiritual obligation of the Scottish, national covenants, civil resistance, presbyterianism, Church unity and communion, Church discipline, degrees of separation and the error of separatism.
Here is the historical background to this period:
The era of persecution began in 1661 when King Charles II was restored to the throne and passed the Rescissory Act, which civilly annulled the Scottish, national covenants. Erastian prelacy was shortly established in the Church.
As harsh, oppressive measures against dissenting presbyterians increased, such as the outlawing of field preaching, fining those not attending the parish churches and setting up an inquisitorial court of high commission, the covenanters took up armed defensive measures to protect their rights and liberties from God. Most of the covenanter ‘handbooks’ in the 1660’s defend the presbyterian constitution of the Church of Scotland and the right of civil resistance.
In a devious (and largely effectual) attempt to divide the opposition, the government (in 1669, 1672, 1679, 1687) offered ‘Indulgences’ to ministers in order to allow them to serve in an established parish ministry with numerous restrictions. The early indulgences contained the most restrictions, the later ones less.
As an explicit affirmation of Erastianism and Prelacy was not required, one being able to maintain their own private convictions regarding such things, numerous ministers took each indulgence. In the 1670’s, up till 1678, most of the covenanting works argued the sinfulness of accepting the Indulgences and continued reasons for non-conformity.
In 1680, a small fraction of the resisting, non-Indulged, covenanters, nicknamed Cameronians after their leader Richard Cameron, threw off the authority of the Scottish civil government and also argued and practiced separation from Indulged ministers.
The inception of this division in the covenanters had begun in 1679, right before the battle of Bothwell Bridge. For an illuminating account of the meetings and debates regarding this important parting of ways, see pp. 328-330 and 334-336 of Thomas M’Crie’s Story of the Scottish Church. For the fascinating, full, primary source account, see Wodrow’s, History of the Sufferings of the Church of Scotland, vol. 3, pp. 90-99
Thus, during the early 1680’s, one comes to the most interesting treatises of the period, over the questions of double separation, communion or non-communion with Indulged ministers and the occasional hearing of their preaching. These treatises reach to the heart of Christianity, even to the fundamental, Scriptural principle of Church unity, in contrast to separatism.
Through the whole period one will find a development and progression of thought and practice from the mid-1600’s covenanters of the Scottish Second Reformation to the covenanters in the 1660’s, and each decade after, culminating in the defenses of the Cameronians in the 1680’s.
This collection represents a major strand of the theological writings of the period.
For very helpful notes on the authors and context of the works below, see the annotated bibliography for this period in John C. Johnston, Treasury of the Scottish Covenant, pp. 321-411 ff., ‘The Literature of the Later Covenanters’.
For one example of a stirring and poignant sermon from this period, drink in Robert M’Ward’s The Poor Man’s Cup of Cold Water Ministered to the Saints and Sufferers for Christ in Scotland who are in the Midst of the Scorching Flames of the Fiery Trial (1676).
May these resources prove a blessing to you, and confirm us in the Truth, as it is in Jesus.
Honyman (1619-1676) was a zealous covenanter before the Restoration of 1660, though turned his back to the cause and became a chief antagonist.
Matthew, Lord Bishop of Ely – An Abandoning of the Scottish Covenant: a Brief Theological Treatise Touching that Unlawful Scottish Covenant, after the Manner of a Sermon 1662 54 pp.
Brown of Wamphray, John – An Apologetical Relation of the Particular Sufferings of the Faithful Ministers and Professors of the Church of Scotland, since August 1660 1665 Rotterdam, Netherlands?
“without doubt, the most important [Scottish] theologian of this period” – James Walker (Theology and Theologians, 1888, p. 107)
One of the major handbooks defending the Scottish covenanters. “The book had the honor of being burnt by the common hangman.” Honyman, an ex-covenanter, responds to this work below.
Stewart, James & James Stirling – Naphtali, or the Wrestlings of the Church of Scotland for the Kingdom of Christ 1667
Stewart was a leading covenanting lawyer. “Stewart wrote the defence of the Covenanters and the (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland, justifying their position historically and legally. That the book was ordered to be burned, and a 10,000 pound fine imposed on any possessing it, only increased its popularity.” – Dictionary of Scottish Church History, p. 794
Honyman, an ex-covenanter, responds to this work below.
A Survey of the Insolent and Infamous Libel, Entitled, Naphtali etc., wherein several things, falling in debate in these times are considered, and some doctrines in Lex Rex and the Apologetical Narration (called by this author martyrs) are brought to the touch-stone 1668 140 pp.
Survey of Naphtali: Part II, discoursing of the heads proposed in the preface of the former, together with an examination of the doctrines of the Apologetical Narration concerning the King’s Supremacy in and about Ecclesiastic Affairs, and the Obligation of the Covenants 1669
Stewart draws especially from the principles of Buchanan and Rutherford, though in somewhat different circumstances than them. This work responds to Andrew Honyman’s response to Naphtali, entitled, A Survey of the Insolent and Infamous Libel…
Burnet (1643-1715) was a latitudinarian, Arminian, conforming Anglican. This work was responded to by MacWard, The True Non-Conformist.
The True Non-Conformist 1671 written in response to Burnet’s ‘Conference’ above.
MacWard was a protege of Rutherford. This was a major, ultra-handbook of covenanting. Written from Holland, MacWard was a friend of Brown. This work was responded to by Burnet in 1673. MacWard opposed his own successor in Rotterdam, Robert Fleming, over the question of communion with Indulged ministers.
The Case of the Accommodation Lately Proposed by the Bishop of Dumblane to the Non-conforming ministers Examined wherein also the ancient Prostasia, or, Episcopus Præses is considered, and the Solemne League and Covenant occasionally vindicat : together with a copy of the two letters herein reviewed : vvhereunto also is subjoined an appendix in ansvver to a narrative of the issue of the treaty anent accommodation 1671
Burnet, Gilbert – A Vindication of the Authority, Constitution, and Laws of the Church and State of Scotland: in Four Conferences, wherein the answer to the dialogues betwixt the Conformist and the Non-Conformist, is examined 1673 360 pp.
An English, conformist response to MacWard’s The True Non-Conformist.
Nye, Phillip – A Case of Great and Present Use whether we may Lawfully hear the now Conforming Ministers who are Re-ordained and have Renounced the [Solemn League and] Covenant and some of them supposed to be scandalous in their lives, considered and Affirmatively Resolved 1677
Nye was a Westminer divine and English Independent. He had given speeches at the taking of the Solemn League and Covenant (1643) before the English Parliament and the Westminster Assembly. He argues for hearing Indulged ministers.
Smith, Hugh & Jamieson, Alexander – An Apology for or Vindication of the Oppressed Persecuted Ministers & Professors of the Presbyterian Reformed religion in the Church of Scotland: emitted in the defence of them… 1677 210 pp.
Brown of Wamphray, John – The History of the Indulgence, showing its rise, Conveyance, Progress, and Acceptance: together with a demonstration of the unlawfulness thereof and an answer to contrary objections, as also a vindication of such as scruple to hear the indulged 1678 162 pp.
Responded to below by an indulged minister, Vilant, in 1681.
Vilant, William – A Review and Examination of ‘The History of the Indulgence’ by MacWard 1681
Argues for the lawfulness of accepting the Indulgence and hearing Indulged ministers.
Brown of Wamphray, John – The Banders Disbanded, or An accurate discourse solidly and plainly demonstrating how inconvenient, scandalous and sinful it is, in the present circumstances of the Church of Scotland, for ministers of Christ there that they may obtain a pretended liberty to preach and administer the Sacraments… 1681, about the 3rd Indulgence of 1679, with a preface by MacWard. Brown died in 1679. Johnston says Brown wrote it, EEBO says MacWard.
While not approving the indulgence, pleads for communion with indulged ministers. Fleming was a minister of the Scots Church in Rotterdam, Holland, succeeding MacWard.
MacWard, Robert – Epagounismoi, or Earnest Contendings for the Faith circa 1681 Being a response to Robert Fleming’s first and second papers for proposals for union with the Indulged
Nye, Philip – The Lawfulness of Hearing the Public Ministers of the Church of England Proved, by Mr. Philip Nye & Mr. John Robinson, Two Eminent Congregational Divines. Together with the Judgment of Dr. Goodwin, Dr. Owen & Other Independents, as well Ancient as Modern, Concerning Forms of Prayer, Parish Churches & Communion with them, & the Judgment of other Nonconformists about Kneeling at the Sacrament (London, 1683)
Forrester, Thomas – Rectius Instruendum, or, A Review and Examination of the doctrine presented by one assuming the name of Informer, in three dialogues with a certain Doubter, upon the controverted points of Episcopacy… 1684 725 pp. Table of Contents
Forrester (c.1635-1706) was a presbyterian and argues against Erastianism. See Johnston, p. 382.
Dick, John – A Testimony to the Doctrine, Worship, Discipline, and Government of the Church of Scotland, and the Covenanted Work of Reformation as it was professed in the Three Kingdoms, together with an Account of the Persecution of Some of the Most Eminent our Days… appx. 1684 60 pp.
Dick was a presbyterian martyr.
Mackenzie, George – Jus Regium, or, The Just, and Solid Foundations of Monarchy in General, and more especially of the Monarchy of Scotland: Maintained against Buchannan, Naphtali, Dolman, [John] Milton, etc. 1684 160 pp.
Mackenzie (1636/1638–1691) was a Scottish lawyer, Lord Advocate, essayist and legal writer.
This work was written against the political-resistance writings of George Buchanan, Rutherford’s Lex Rex and James Stewart’s Naphtali and Jus Populi Vindicatum, amongst others, and advocates the divine-right of kings. It was written during some of the worst days of the Killing Times.
Brown of Wamphray, John – A Vindication of Fellowship Meetings, and of Hearing Faithful Suffering Ministers
MacWard, Robert – The Movement
“Attributed to M’Ward. It is an answer to a Prelatic disputant, and goes over the whole controversy between Presbyterians and Episcoplians.” – Johnston
Fraser of Brea, James
“An argument showing that by the [Solemn League and?] Covenant we are not bound to hear ‘conform ministers’. Printed from a manuscript, in the days of the Erskines [Seceders in the early 1700’s] who, in view of the ‘sinful compliances’ of their time, deemed it ‘very seasonable and necessary.'” – Johnston, p. 367
“About 1663 I left off hearing the established Episcopalian clergy…” – Fraser’s Memoirs
Robinson, John – A Treatise on the Lawfulness of Hearing of the Ministers in the Church of England 1634 19 pp. in Works, vol. 3, pp. 339-378
Though in a different context, John Robinson, one of the founding fathers of New England Separatism, argues here for the lawfulness of occasionally hearing the preaching of the Church of England ministers that they separated from.
Defenses of Cameronianism the more significant ones
Renwick & Shields – The Informatory Vindication 1687
The most important, and lengthy, of the Cameronian declarations. For the other several Cameronian declarations from that time see the mainpage of TrueCovenanter.com.
Renwick, James – The Testimony of Some persecuted Presbyterian Ministers of the Gospel, unto the Covenanted Reformation Jan. 17, 1688
ed. Shields, Michael – Faithful Contendings Displayed, being a historical relation of the State and Actings of the Suffering Remnant of the Church of Scotland who subsisted in Select Societies… 1681-1691 595 pp.
An overview of this work by Sherman Isbell:
“In A Hind Let Loose, Shields justified the Camerionian resistance to royal absolutism and the divine right of kings. He argued that government is divinely ordained, but the people are entitled to bring a king to judgement for wrongdoing. Parliament is commissioned by the people to oversee the nation’s affairs, but the compact between the people and their rulers does not entail a forfeiture of the people’s power to depose tyrants and confer authority on someone else. Government is by consent, and must justify itself to the consciences of the people. God has given men the right of self defence, and this extends to a a right not only passively to resist, but also to kill relentless persecutors,” (Dictionary of Scottish Church History and Theology, p. 773)
A Letter Concerning the Due Boundaries of Christian Fellowship; specially, with whom ’tis lawful to join in divine worship, and from whom ’tis duty to withdraw: written to the prisoners for conscience, in Dunnottar-Castle, 1685 34 pp.
The last three Cameronian ministers, Alexander Shields, Thomas Lining and William Boyd, all joined the reorganized Church of Scotland post-1690. Shields said that he still affirmed all of the principles of the Informatory Vindication (1687), which he co-wrote, but here applies more Scriptural principles to the changed historical circumstances. Here are his reasons.
For background to, and a summary of the arguments of An Enquiry into Church-Communion, see Matthew Vogan’s article, Alexander Shields, the Revolution Settlement, and the Unity of the Visible Church.