Excerpt from The Practical Works of the Rev. John Willison: With an Essay on His Life and Times
When Charles II. Was restored to the throne of his ancestors, in the midst of the giddy and frenzied joy of the nation, which in its feverish exultation, neglected to stipulate for the secur ity of civil and religious liberty, that heartless monarch and his equally heartless but more designing courtiers, immediately began to sub vert the constitution, preparatory for the eroc. Tion of a complete and absolute despotism. The first direct act of tyranny was the assumption by the king of ecclesiastical supremacy in Scot land, which but afew years before he had solemn ly abjured, when with lifted hands he swore to observe and defend the national covenant. But the church and people of Scotland were not convinced by the monarch's perjury, and there fore they refused to yield obedience to this usurped supremacy. Then began the fearful conﬂict. About four hundred of the most faith ful and godly ministers in the land were driven from their houses and places of worship; for bidden to preach the gospel to a devoted and religious people; and exposed to every kind of suffering when they presumed to obey God rather than man. For not less than twenty eight terrific years the dreadful struggle con tinned to rage with unabated, or rather with increasing violence; while power put forth all its terrors, fraud employed all its treacheries, and persecution glutted its burning thirst in the blood of myriads of guiltless victims. It has been computed, that not less than eighteen thousand persons, men, women, and children, suffered by death, exile, or imprisonment dur ing that fearful period. In many parts of the kingdom the country was almost entirely depo pulated, and the few inhabitants that remained were reduced to a state of the utmost destitution and wretchedness. Even where such dire results had not taken place, the people had sunk or been cast into the depths of ignorance, and thoroughly demoralized. Such were the fruits of des potism and prelacy in Scotland, and such was the state of the people, when at the revolution the Presbyterian church was restored to its rightful position as the national church, and permitted again to go forth on its great and sacred mission to heal and bless the bleed ing and sinful land.
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