Wednesday, July 05, 2017

July 5: What Was the “Third Indulgence”?

by davidtmyers
Today we will borrow a few paragraph from Men of the Covenant by Alexander Smellie in order to relate the story of the Third Indulgence of King James II of England.  Indulgences 1 and 2 were on February 12 and March 31 of 1687.  This Third Indulgence took place in London on June 28th, 1687 and then reissued on this day July 5, 1687.  Smellie writes:
“King James touched nothing which he did not mismanage and spoil. His policy was a curious mixture of tyranny and toleration.  A Romanist himself, he was resolved to grant new liberties to his Catholic subjects. But he dared not single them out alone for the enjoyment of favour; the country, he realized, was too fervently Protestant to permit such a preference.  Of necessity he embraced other excluded folk in the largesse he distributed. In Scotland, the year 1687 saw no less that three Indulgences issued under the royal seal.  These suspended ‘all penal and sanguinary laws made against any for nonconformity to the religion established by law,’ and gave sanction to His Majesty’s ‘loving subjects to meet and serve God after their own way and manner, be it in private homes, chapels, or places purposely hired or built for that use.’ Only against the Coventicler did the lightnings continue to flash forth; the Acts which Parliament had decreed for the suppression of the gatherings in the open fields were left in full force; for impenitent Cameronians it seem that there could be no whisper of mercy and no outgate into freedom.  Yet here were large measures of relief which might carry in them the promise of a hopefuller era. If the followers of Renwick denounced them, there were Presbyterian ministers, in prison or banishment  or hiding,  who welcomed James’s Indulgences, and returned to their homes under the shelter of their provisos. But even they, profiting although they did by the altered current of affairs, had no confidence in the man who brought it about.” (p. 411)
W. M. Hetherington, author of the History of the Church of Scotland to the Period of the Disruption in 1843, picks up the account of this Third Indulgence. He writes on pg. 286 – 287:  “Few were deceived by these hypocritical pretences (of the king). All true Protestants . . . perceived clearly enough, that direct favor of the Papists was intended; and it was not unfairly surmised that, by the universal toleration, the king hoped to throw the various denominations of Protestants into such a state of rivalry and collision, that they would weaken each other, and prepare for the establishment of Popery upon their ruins. There is little reason  to doubt that such as his majesty’s aim and expectation; but both the immediate and the ultimate consequences were very different from what he intended and hoped. . . . In Scotland, almost all the Presbyterian ministers in the kingdom availed themselves of the opportunity which it gave them of resuming public worship, and collecting again the scattered congregations. Many, both ministers and people, returned to their long-lost homes, and engaged with renewed fervor in the reconstruction of the Presbyterian Church by the revival of its unforgotten forms of government and discipline, the reunion of its scattered but still living members, and the resuscitation of its imperishable principles.”
Words to Live By: Let us always remember that “the king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He  turns it wherever His wishes.” (Proverbs 21:1 NAS).  Whether we live and move and have our being in a kingdom or a republic, the truth remains the same.  Let us beseech our sovereign Lord to move in the hearts of those who govern our times to recognize that “righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.” (Proverbs 14:34 NASB.)

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