Restoration of Scotland.
In Scotland Episcopacy (the Anglican State Church) was restored. All the acts that had raised Presbyterianism to the state religion of Scotland were annulled. It will be recalled that in 1643 Episcopacy had been abolished by Parliament and a thoroughly Presbyterian system of church government, a directory of worship, and a new Calvinistic confession (known as the Westminster Confession had been prepared by an assembly known as the Westminster Assembly. These preparations had been adopted by Parliament in 1648. It meant the abolition of Episcopacy as the state religion. This had happened under the protectorate of Cromwell. However, Cromwell died in 1658.
Six months later the king’s brother James, later James II of England, was put in charge of Scottish affairs. James II, as we have noticed, oppressed the Presbyterians with such severity that the first year of his reign became known in history as “kiting time.”
The Presbyterians were hunted on the mountains and tracked by bloodhounds of the privy council to the caves and dens in which they hid themselves. The King’s dragoons were continually on the pursuit, shooting down men and women in the fields and on the highways. As fast as the prisons could be emptied they were filled with other victims brought out by the spies. The persecution fell with equal severity on all who appeared for the cause of the Presbyterian religion. Some of the best intellects were hanged, and the ghastly spectacle of their heads and limbs met the eyes of the gazers in the chief cities of the kingdom. It has been calculated that during the twenty-eight years of persecution that 18,000 persons suffered death or hardships approaching it.
Such was James IPs mighty attempt to exterminate Presbyterianism in Scotland. This monarch, at heart a thorough-going Catholic, engaged in restoring the religion of his heart in his realm, was a second Philip of Spain in whom the Spanish Inquisition with all its horrors was revived.
However, there came a breathing-spell for the persecuted Presbyterians when the King issued letters of indulgence granting freedom of worship. As in England so in Scotland, the release of the Catholics from penalty aroused the hostility of all shades of Protestants.
Then William and Mary mounted the throne. The Presbyterians were their friends. However, Scotland was more divided than England both religiously and politically. The Stuarts were scots and though the Episcopalians disliked the Catholicism of James, they also disliked the Calvinism of Dutch William. Nevertheless, the revolution in Scotland triumphed, and all shade of belief rallied about him. James II was repudiated by the great majority of Scots. May 11, 1689, Mary and William became rulers of Scotland.
In 1690 Parliament restored all Presbyterian ministers in Scotland, deposed since 1861, ratified the Westminster Confession, and declared Presbyterianism to be the state religion of the realm.
The legal elevation of Presbyterianism to the state religion continued to be opposed by the Cameronian wing of Presbyterianism. They, and rightly so, continued their hostility to the system of church government that placed the control of the church in the hands of the civil magistrate. King William III became at once the head of the Presbyterian State Church of the realm.
The legal establishment of Presbyterianism was also opposed by the Episcopalians, who were strong in northern Scotland. Nevertheless, they were permitted by the Toleration Act of 1712 to use their own liturgy. Thus both in England and in Scotland the long quarrel between Protestants came to an end, adjusted by toleration. What also came to an end is the continued attempt of Rome to re-establish through her agents Catholicism in the British Isles. The one man instrumental in stemming the rising tide of Catholicism in both the British Isles and the continent was William III of Orange. Though the place he occupied in the church as civil magistrate did not belong to him, yet the Lord used him in that place to promote His cause and to deliver His people from the claw of the lion.