Cloud of Witnesses

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Thomas Paterson

Upon the defeat of the covenanters at Pentland, 28th November, 1666, about 80 prisoners in all were brought to Edinburgh. Of these, the greater number were lodged in Haddock’s Hold, a place which, as Wodrow remarks, has since then been turned to a better purpose, being now used as a church.

Such, however, as were most distinguished by their station or office, it was thought proper to secure in the tollbooth prison. And of this number, it seems Mr. Paterson was one.

He was a merchant in Glasgow, and had probably joined the insurgents in their progress from Ayr to Lanark. It seems he was confined in a chamber with some of the ten who were shortly after condemned and executed, and that he must have shared their fate, had he not died of his wounds before the trial.

That his death preceded the trial appears from his name not being in the process. The following testimony, therefore, to which he assented, must have been agreed upon by his companions in trouble, previous to December 4th, the day on which they were condemned.

Men and brethren, being condemned by our rulers as traitors, lest we should seem to many to suffer as evildoers,

“In the first place, we bless and praise the Lord our God, who hath made us (the unworthiest of all men) worthy to be faithful to Him, who is ‘King of kings and Lord of lords,’ and in simplicity and godly sincerity, singly to mind His glory; and who also makes the cross of Christ (though by men superscribed with treason) our sweet consolation, and His own joy, our strength.

“We declare, in the presence of the same God, before whom we are now ready to appear, that we did not intend to rebel against the king and his just authority, whom as we acknowledge as our law­ful sovereign; so we earnestly pray in his behalf, that God would open his eyes and convert his heart, that he may remember his vows made unto God, relieve this oppressed church, and long reign and flourish in righteousness.

“We declare, that perceiving the holy covenants of our God broken, the work of the Lord overturned, the gospel and kingdom of Jesus Christ despised and trampled upon, His pure ordinances corrupted, His faithful and our soul refreshing ministers cast out, and the land filled with perjury and profanity, and like to be hurried back to that gulf of ignorance, superstition, and confusion, whence the Lord did so gloriously deliver us; and finding ourselves not only spoiled of our most precious blessings, and most dear enjoyments, but urged and compelled by cruel violence and barbarous persecution, to the wicked apostasy from our holy covenants, and to rebellion against our God.

All this done by no other hand than the wicked and perjured prelates; and for no other ends (whatever they may pretend) than the satisfying of their own vile lusts, and establishing their so often abjured antichristian tyranny, over both souls and bodies of men.

“Lastly, finding former petitions condemned as seditious, and our private complaints, when but muttered, insolently rejected, we did in the fear and zeal of our God, and by the warrant of His Holy Word, according to the first and most innocent instinct of pure nature, and the practice of all people and persons in the like case; and after the example of all the oppressed kirks of Jesus Christ, and of our noble ancestors, take the sword of necessary self defence, from the rage and fury of these wicked and violent men, until we might make our heavy grievances known to his majesty, and obtain from his justice a satisfying remedy.

“We will not now mention our particular sufferings, nor the sighs and groans of poor wasted Galloway, which though very heavy from the hand of man, are all too light for Jesus Christ.

Nor are we willing to reflect upon these grievous and bitter laws and edicts, by which they seem to be warranted: only we know, that God is righteous, whose laws and judgments are superior and above all the laws and actions of men.

And to Him who will judge righteously, we entirely commit our cause, which is none other than the reviving of the work of God and renewing of His covenant: which though it pleased the holy and wise God, not to favour with success in the field, and though by men it may be made our condemnation, yet it is our righteousness, innocence, and confidence in His sight.

And all praise and thanks be unto our God, who not only kept us steadfast in His covenant, and made us willing and ready to venture our lives for His name, but has also accepted and dignified our offer with this public appearance, where, in His own glorious presence, before whom we shall instantly appear, and before our often sworn and once zealous and tender brethren in the same cause, and in midst of thee, O Edinburgh!

Once famous for the glory and zeal of God and of this covenant, we may give and seal this our testimony with our blood.

We therefore, the unworthiest of all the faithful, do, in the Spirit of God and glory, testify and seal with our blood and lives, that both the national covenant and solemn league and covenant, are in themselves holy, just, and true, and perpetually binding, containing no other thing than our indispensable obligation to all duties of religion and righteousness, according to the revealed will of God.

No authority nor power of man, is or ever shall be able to disannul: and that our blessed reformations, both from popery and prelacy, and all that was done or ensued, in the sincere and upright prosecution thereof, was and is the work of God, which though men fight against, yet shall they never be able to prevail.

And as this is our faith, so it is our hope to all that wait for the salvation of God, that our God will surely appear for His own glory, and vindicate His cause and persecuted people, and render vengeance to His adversaries, even the vengeance of His holy temple and broken covenant.

O be not then moved with our sufferings, which are but light and momentary, for they ‘work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,’ and for you also a strong confirmation, and abounding consolation against the like trial that possibly may befall you.

O then save yourselves from this wicked and apostate generation, and ‘be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work and cause of the Lord; waiting for the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ, which in His time He shall show, who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach, whom no man hath seen, or can see, to whom be honour and power everlasting’