Delivered Up To Satan: The Covenanters’ Excommunication of King Charles II at Torwood

It is one of the most radical acts in Scottish history. On Sunday 12 September, 1680, the Covenanting minister Donald Cargill excommunicated king Charles II and six other leading figures in the Anglo-Scottish elite at the Wallace Oak at Torwood.

The site of Cargill’s preaching was probably an attempt by the Society people to harness the Wallace legend to their cause. The symbolism of the Cargill preaching by the Wallace Oak (perhaps in Wallace’s Kailyard close by) was probably not lost on the audience. The association of the Torwood Oak with William Wallace, the thirteenth-century Scottish patriot, certainly stretches back to 1687, probably to 1643 and possibly to long before the latter date. According to tradition, the oak had been used by Wallace and his followers in their resistance against Edward I’s conquest of Scotland. It is not clear when the legend of Wallace as “democratic” patriot began, but it was in existence in the Eighteenth Century and Cargill’s preaching by the oak pushes that legend back to 1680.

There are striking similarities between the predicament of Wallace in the late 1290s and that of the Society people in 1680. Like Wallace, the Society people were upholding a seemingly lost cause after defeat. Like Wallace, they saw themselves as struggling with a “compromised” elite which had “betrayed” Scotland. And also like Wallace, they viewed themselves as liberators of Scotland from tyranny.

The Wallace Oak was possibly the perfect site for Cargill to excommunicate Charles II, however, there are no contemporary sources which indicate that the Society people made the connection to the Wallace legend beyond their unusual presence there. The field preaching at Torwood was an unusual location for Cargill to use, as there was no base of militant presbyterians in the area, he usually preached in boundary sites between shires and there was no obvious line of retreat to escape government forces. It appears to have been a deliberate and collective choice.  For a detailed discussion on the Wallace Oak and the site of the Torwood Excommunication, see here.

The Wallace Oak at Torwood

The excommunication took place more than a month after Cargill’s preaching at Craigmad (1 August) and a week before he preached at Falla Hills (19 September). For a discussion on the date of the excommunication, see here.

There are three narrative sources which describe the Torwood Excommunication. The first two sources come from hostile moderate-presbyterian ministers.

Row’s Torwood
The first narrative source is a history of the Restoration period up to 1680 written by William Row, the minister of Ceres parish in Fife, who died in c.1697:

‘All this while by-past, Mr Donald Cargill, since his escape at the Queensferry [4 June, 1680], is roving up and down West Lothian and farther west, and in Stirlingshire, keeping field conventicles and venting strange doctrines. In September, on a Lord’s day, preaching at the Torwood, he did very summarily, yet formally, excommunicate the King, Duke of York, Monmouth, Lauderdale, the Chancellor, King’s Advocate, General Dalziel, giving reasons of their excommunications. (Row in M’Crie, Life of Blair, 579-80.)

Law’s Torwood
The second source is Robert Law’s Memorialls, which Law worked up between 1684 and his death in c.1687:

‘Upon the 15th [probably an error for 12th] of September 1680, being the Lord’s day, did Mr Donald Cargill, (who incited the people to the rebellion at Bodwell [i.e., Bothwell], keep a conventicle in the Torrwood, and there at his own hand, popelyk, did excommunicat the King, Duke of York, Duke of Monmouth, the Chancellor Rothes, the King’s Advocat, and Generall Dalzell, and the Lord Rosse. Some of his hearers told he grounded his sentence on 1 Cor. v. Some of them fixed copies of it on the Mercat-cross of Edinburgh, and the doors of the Parliament-house, and other remarkable places. Also they reported, that there were mo[r]e yet to be excommunicated. O, whither shall our shame go, at such a h[e]ight of folly are some men arrived!’ (Law, Memorialls, 161.)

Walker’s Torwood
The third, latest and friendly source about Torwood came from the pen of one of Cargill’s followers, Patrick Walker. He took care to place Cargill’s decision to excommunicate in the context of prayer. In his preamble to the events at Torwood, Walker describes a withdrawn Cargill in the aftermath of Richard Cameron’s death at Airds Moss involved in ‘secret prayer’, who ‘spake little’ and was ‘much alone’.

‘From his Youth he was much given to secret Prayer, yea whole Nights; and it was observed by some, both in Families, and when in secret, he always sat straight upon his Knees, without resting upon any Thing, with his Hands lifted up (and some took Notice he died the same Way [in July, 1681] with the bloody Rope about his Neck) especially after the bloody Murder of Mr. Cameron, and these Worthies with him at Airds-Moss, July 22d 1680, until the following September, that he excommunicated these wicked Men at the Torwood. He was much alone both Night and Day, and spake little even in Company; only to some few he said, he had a Tout to give with his Trumpet that the Lord had put in his Hand, that would sound in the Ears of many through Britain, and other Places in Europe.’ (Walker, BP, II, 7-8.)

Walker’s portrayed Cargill as an isolated prophet seeking direction from God for the next blast of the trumpet against Christ’s enemies. The available evidence suggests that Cargill did withdraw, as he did not field preach for about six weeks after he fulfilled prearranged field preachings at Starryshaw (25 July) and Craigmad (1 August) until he preached at Torwood.

The importance of Cargill’s withdrawal should not be overlooked. The defeat at Airdsmoss had brought Cameron’s strategy of open ‘war’ with the regime to an abrupt end. There were notable differences between the approach of Cameron and Cargill, which became more pronounced as Cargill continued his mission. At the risk of over simplifying, where Cameron incited insurrectionary ‘war’ against the state and led a large body of followers in open defiance of the regime, Cargill travelled with a small band of protective followers, many of whom were women, and placed greater focus on offering testimony, martyrdom, and the creation of a secretive movement that was able to survive persecution. Cameron may have provided the foundation document of the Cameronian movement in the Sanquhar Declaration, but it was Cargill and his confidant, Walter Smith, who provided the structure, organisation and defining characteristics of that movement.

Cargill’s goals were more realistic in the face of persecution and a distinct lack of enthusiasm for renewed insurrection, but he also unleashed a new wave of radical dissent which one opponent christened ‘the new mode against monarchie’. Torwood marks the first stage of a new strategic direction for the Society people to take the Lord’s standard forward.

According to Walker, Cargill surprised everyone, with the exception of Walter Smith, on the morning of the excommunication: ‘None knew what he was to do that Morning, except Mr. Walter Smith, to whom he imparted the Thoughts of his Heart:’ (Walker, BP, II, 8.)

The Scots Kirk in Rotterdam

Smith was probably a key contact between Cargill and the circle of Robert MacWard, the chief ideologue of the militant movement at the Scots Kirk in Rotterdam. He had been the clerk of the Covenanters’ council of war during the Bothwell Rising and after their defeat he had rescued Cargill from the battlefield and aided his escape to the United Provinces. Alongside Alexander Shields, MacWard’s protege and secretary, he became a student at Utrecht and both he and Shields supported MacWard in the presbyterian disputes in the Scots Kirk at the end of 1679 and beginning of 1680. At the time of Torwood, it appears that Smith had recently returned to Scotland, as under interrogation in July 1681 he stated that he had met John Balfour of Kinloch in the United Provinces in around July, 1680. Whether Smith had brought instructions, counsel or guidance from MacWard is not known, but the connections between the militant networks in Scotland and the United Provinces suggest that Cargill would not have taken such a step without at least obtaining Smith’s opinion of the Rotterdam circle’s  view.

According to Walker, Cargill wanted the excommunication to send a signal ‘that would sound in the Ears of many through Britain, and other Places in Europe’. In other words, Cargill intended the excommunication to send a message beyond the Society people in Scotland to other militant Protestants in Britain and the United Provinces.

Cargill justified his sentence in the excommunication (see below) and on the following Sabbath at Falla Hills:

‘I know I am approven of God, and am perswaded, that what I have done on Earth is ratified in Heaven: For, if ever I knew the Mind of God, and clear in my Call to any Piece of my Generation-work, it was in that; and I shall give you two Signs whereby you may know that I am in no Delusion. 1. If some of these Men do not find that Sentence binding upon them ere they go off the Stage, and be obliged to confess it from their Terror, and to the Affrightment of others. 2. If these Men die the ordinary Death of Men, then God never sent me, nor spoke by me.’ (Walker, BP, II, 9.)

Intriguingly, it was Alexander Shields, MacWard’s right-hand man, who also provided a later justification in 1687 for Cargill’s actions. Shields stated that Cargill had reached for excommunication so ‘that no weapon which Christ allows his servants under his standard to manage against his enemies, might be wanting’:

‘Now remained Mr. Donald Cargill, deprived of his faithful colleague, destitute of his brethren’s concurrence, but not of the Lord’s counsel and conduct; by which he was prompted and helped to prosecute the testimony against the universal apostacy of the church and nation, tyranny of enemies, backsliding of friends, and all the wrongs done to his Master on all hands. And considering, in the zeal of God, and sense of his holy jealousy, provoked and threatening wrath against the land, for the sins especially of rulers, who had arrived to the height of heaven-daring insolence in all wickedness, in which they were still growing and going on without controul; that notwithstanding of all the testimonies given against them, by public preachings, protestations, and declarations, remonstrating their tyranny, and disowning their authority; yet not only did they still persist in their sins and scandals, to make the Lord’s fierce anger break forth into a flame, but were owned also professors, not only as magistrates, but as members the christian and protestant church; and that, however both the defensive arms of men had been used against them, and the christian arms of prayer, and the ministerial weapon of preaching, yet that of ecclesiastical censure had not been authoritatively exerted against them: Therefore, that no weapon which Christ allows his servants under his standard to manage against his enemies, might be wanting, though he could not obtain the concurrence of his brethren to strengthen the solemnity and formality of the action, yet he did not judge that defect, in this broken case of the church, could disable his authority, nor demur the duty, but that he might and ought to proceed to excommunication. And accordingly in September 1680, at the Torwood, he excommunicated some of the most scandalous and principal promoters and abettors of this conspiracy against Christ, as formally as the present case could admit: After sermon upon Ezek. xxi. 35, 26, 27. ‘And thou profane wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come,’ &c. He had a short and pertinent discourse on the nature, the subject, the causes, and the ends of excommunication in general: And then declared, that he was not led out of any private spirit or passion to this action, but constrained by conscience of duty, and zeal to God to stigmatize with this brand, and wound with the sword of the Lord, these enemies of God that had so apostatized, rebelled against, mocked, despised, and defied our Lord, and to declare them as they are none of his, to be none of ours:’ (Shields, A Hind Let Loose, 168-9.)

There is no doubt that Cargill’s action on that day took many by surprise. According to Walker, some were terrified when he began the excommunication of the King:

‘When he began, his best Friends feared that some wicked Person would shoot him; his Landlord, in whose House he had been that Night, cast his Coat and ran for it. Some serious, solid Christians, yet alive, who were Witnesses to it, can testify, When he ended the Sentences of Excommunication, he said, That, if these unhappy Men die the ordinary Death of Men, God never spake by him.’ (Walker, BP, II, 8.)

Charles II

Cargill’s Lecture at Torwood

And thou profane wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come, when iniquity shall have an end.
Thus saith the Lord God, Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: this shall not be the same: exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high.
I will overturn, overturn, overturn it, and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is, and I will give it him.” (Ezekiel 21.25-27.)

‘Now, I have only one thing to beg of you, that you would not entertain prejudices against us before you hear us speak.

1. God is judge of the whole world, and this gives us assurance thereof – I say this gives assurance to all men, that God is judge of all. He will judge oppression. If He will not relieve the oppressed, I doubt not but He will reward oppressors.

2. God is a righteous Judge, and He will not suffer the wicked to pass unpunished. Now ye have heard that this word gives us assurance, that there is a Deity, a righteous Judge. The word shows us this, and the Lord knows whether or not it may be rightly applied to some. The words imply that the Lord is about to make a change. The Lord is wearied of many, and He knows whom to put in their place. He will give them their leave, but He is about to make a great change; and when He is about to make a great change, He will take away kings; He will take away princes; He will take away nobles, and He will lay waste many fair buildings. But ye may say, “Why will He make this great change?” He will do it, if it were no more but because men have taken away His authority. Now, He is saying to Britain, “Who rules here?” But ere it be long He will make them know who rules in Britain. “And thou profane wicked prince of Israel,” &c. [Ezekiel 21.25.] By their profanity and wickedness, you may easily cast their horoscope. Now there is a great one fallen. It is not an ordinary death or an ordinary fall. It would in that case be too small a token of God’s displeasure. He must stigmatize with more than ordinary brands.

Now 1st, we see that there is a great one fallen. The Lord is saying, “And thou profane wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come,” &c. [Ezekiel 21.25] As if the Lord had said, “The day is come when you must tyrannize no longer; you must live voluptuously no more.” O dreadful woe! whose day is come! Now must he leave all his pleasures. Now must he leave his court. Now must he leave all his voluptuousness. Now must he leave all his dishes. But we may say this one word of the wicked, of the most voluptuous that ever lived, that their day is coming, and great wickedness hastens and helps forward their day. “Whose day is come, when iniquity shall have an end.” [Ezekiel 21.25] As if God had said, “I will shorten their voluptuous living. I will shorten their reigning. I will shorten their pleasure.” Oh, if they knew what was coming amongst them, “when their iniquity shall have an end!” Oh, blessed shall we account that day, when sin and iniquity shall fall and have an end! We are persuaded that this joy is allowed to devout persons in Scripture; when iniquity shall fall there shall be no more sinful and iniquitous laws. When the sinful lawgiver shall fall, and God shall arise, iniquity shall fall and stop its mouth. But let them fall, be who they will; be they father, or mother, or brother, or be who they will, if God arise let them fall before Him.

Now 2ndly, “Iniquity shall have an end. Thus saith the Lord, Remove the diadem; take off the crown.” [Ezekiel 21.25-26.] The Lord stands by, and, as it were, disrobes the king. The Lord stands by, and gives orders to take the filthy garments from Joshua, and to clothe him with change of raiment, and to “set a fair mitre upon his head.” [Zech. 3.5.] Just the contrary is here. The Lord gives orders to disrobe the profane, wicked prince, to remove the diadem, and, in a word, to rend his insignia regalia. And is God saying, “Remove the diadem, take off the crown.” [Ezekiel 21.26.] There may indeed be much blood shed in keeping it on. They may keep it for a while, but it shall fall, and they shall never recover it again. “Remove the diadem, take off the crown. This shall not be the same; exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high.” [Ezekiel 21.26.] Now, they must change places, If ours be ill, theirs shall be worse. We shall say this, that the worst change in all the earth is not like this change of a wicked magistrate; for their change is from the throne to eternal fire-from the crown to eternal fire. But let the man of low degree rejoice; for unto them their bringing low comes from mercy, but unto the wicked who are high, from wrath.

3rdly, it is to be observed concerning the overthrow of princes, that it is generally of great extent. “Overturn, overturn, overturn” [Ezekiel 21.27.] may be applied to three states, or to these three sorts in the land, viz., king, nobles, priests, and people. We see, that one overturning sufficeth not. Alas! this overturning extends to many more, nay, it will go through. It is like an earthquake – it will not leave a house unshaken in all the city. “Overturn, overturn, overturn.” Ye think ye shall be free of it, Sirs; but as the Lord lives, ye shall have a part in this overturning.

In the next place, “This shall not be the same.” [Ezekiel 21.25-26.] It is a contemptuous saying, a word of contempt. What does the Lord regard a magistrate, when he is an enemy to Him? Here He takes them all in together, in the very act of doing their wickedness, and says, “This shall not be the same.” They are all included. Is he now a king, a duke, an earl, a general? Still he is comprehended. They are all moth-eaten, they are already rotten down. It must not be, “This shall not be the same; it shall be no more.” [Ezekiel 21.26-27.]

And Lastly, it is questioned, how long shall this be? It is answered, “Until he come whose right it is, and I will give it him.” [Ezekiel 21.27.] For a while the Lord shall hold it, till He get a fit man, fit governors, or fit men for the government. They are low, it may be, this day, whom He will make fit for it. And oh, that we could pray that He would raise up fit men for it! He never gave it to other men but by a wrathful permission, as He doth all such things. They get them by a permission in His wrath.

And 1. There is an overturning.
And 2. A styling. He will in His own time put it in their hand, that will rule for Him.

1. Then He begins: “And thou profane, wicked prince of Israel.” [Ezekiel 21.25.] Here observe a strange title given unto a king. But sure I am, it does not belong to or become a faithful minister to give any king, who is an enemy to God, any other name. Oh, the parasites, the court flatterers, the flattering creatures of this generation! It is a wonder to see so many of them. They are not like Job, or rather Elihu, that would not give flattering words or titles unto men. We should give greatness its due, but when employed against God, it ought to be testified against. It is strange, that ministers would make us believe that the same titles, the same names, and the same obedience is due to them when apostatized and wicked, that is due to them [when] in the right way. If our hearts be not right with regard to them, we will get a fall, I assure you. And take heed, Sirs, it is a good part of this day’s work to set your hearts right with respect to them.

Then 2. What means Ezekiel by profane? Observe: it is either when a man neglects the worship of God altogether, or when he defiles all that he handles thereof. So he is said to be profane who altogether neglects the worship of God, as Esau, who worshipped and sacrificed a while, but he soon left it, and for one morsel of meat sold his birth-right. He is most profane who defiles the worship of God as they do who go from their whoredoms to their sacraments, and from their sacraments to their whoredoms, as the princes and great men now do; so that they may justly be called profane and wicked men.

And 3. he is called “Wicked prince of Israel.” [Ezekiel 21.25] What is called wickedness? Why, wicked men are full of enmity against God, against His way, and against His people. That is wickedness. In a word, it is a stiff, stubborn kind of sinning – a stiff kind of wickedness in sinning. They will not submit nor bow to God at all.

Now let us see whether they are such or not who are called our rulers. Let every soul apply it without prejudice. Is not this the style that should be given them? They have sinned stubbornly, and they will not bow at all to God, “whose day is come, when iniquity shall have an end.” [Ezekiel 21.25] But his day is come. “He shall be broken.” [Dan.8.25.]

His day is coming. There have been great lamentations for the death of kings, but he hath been so great a burden to the people, that in the event there shall be as great a singing and rejoicing. I say, “When the wicked perish, there is shouting.” [Prov. 11.10.] Their death shall be desired. When they are dead, it shall be as when the sea hath been long in a storm – it rages long after the wind is calm. “Thus saith the Lord, Remove the diadem: take off the crown.” [Ezekiel 21.26.] This is the Lord’s disrobing of him. He is taking away the crown. As when a Popish priest turns Protestant, they take him out to some public place with all his priestly garments on, and then, beginning at the head, they take off the mitre and disrobe him from top to toe. Just so here: the Lord disrobes him, and He will take away the insignia regalia, as we said before.

Now He will do to some as if a king took in a beggar from a dunghill, set him on high, put his own robes upon him, and caused him to feast and be royally attended. Next day he takes him out and disrobes him, and sets him back where he was, whereby he becomes most contemptible. When the greatest and highest fall, they become the greatest contempt. The higher they are they shall become the more contemptible. “Exalt him that is low: and abase him that is high. I will overturn, overturn, overturn. And it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is, and I will give it him.” [Ezekiel 21.26-27.]

Now they are sitting low indeed whom He will set up. Pray that the Lord would seek them out, and that the Lord would make a way for them, and that the Lord would give success in mercy, as there hath been success in judgment. Amen.’

Cargill’s Discourse Prior to the Excommunication
‘That we may make way for what we are about, let us join the first words of our lecture, “And thou profane wicked prince of Israel,” &c., with the last words of the fifth chapter of the first epistle of Paul to the Corinthians:– “Therefore put away from amongst yourselves that wicked person;” [1Cor.5.13.] a connection which indeed shows that there is a holy consistency betwixt such a wickedness and excommunication, and that the conclusion is just and right, and should necessarily (if ministers of the gospel fail not in their duty) be made. Although excommunication be one of the censures of the Church, and the highest censure (for we do not make a difference between excommunication and anathematizing [as the Catholics did], which is the highest degree of excommunication, and doth, besides exterminating, add a curse), yet, this being the highest censure of the Church, and the sword of the Lord to revenge all disobedience to God, must not be drawn out at all times and against all sins. We acknowledge, however, that it is the sin of the present generation that it hath been so long in drawing out; for although it be an excellency in God, and a glory to Him, to forbear and suffer long, yet it is no excellency in us that we do in this kind bear with them that are evil. “Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel,” [Rev. 2.20.] which Mr. [James] Durham [c.1622-1658] interprets of non-excommunication and casting her out of the Church, which was properly in their power. [See Durham A Commentarie upon the Book of the Revelation (1680), 140.] But though it hath been our sin, that this sentence hath been so long in being passed, yet it shall have this advantage, that the longer it hath been a-doing (being deserved), it must be acknowledged to be the more just when done, and to have the greater weight. Nor yet must this sword be drawn out by a private spirit, or by a desire to revenge private injuries (as frequently hath been done under Popery), but by the Spirit of God, and out of zeal to God’s glory. Those who live in Him ought not to see His dishonour. That so we may stigmatize with this brand, and wound with the sword of the Lord, these enemies that have so apostatized, rebelled, mocked, despised, and defied thus our Lord, and to declare, that as they are none of His so they are none of ours.

We shall then discourse a little of the nature of excommunication. And who are the subjects thereof? And what are the causes of it? What are the ends for which it should be exerted?

For the first, The nature of excommunication is a declaring:–
1. That a man, who pretends to belong to a true Church, and to be in the right way, by his sinning is become an alien, though he still continue under the covert of the name of a Christian, and fearer of God. I say it is a declaring, that notwithstanding this he belongeth to the other body or corporation whereof Satan is head, and not unto that body whereof Christ is the head; and a declaring withal, that he doth injuriously and by usurpation wear that livery, bear that badge, and possess that name, proper unto the spouse and members of Jesus Christ.

2. It is a taking away, and rending of the insignia of Christianity (as we see is done in the case of defaulters, when the coat of arms of the defaulters is rent to pieces), after the person hath put off the nature, subjection, and evidences of a Christian in the sight of the Church of God.

3. It is a ministerial punishment, in which the servant, at the command of the Lord and Husband, takes from the whorish wife the husband’s tokens, and disgracefully thrusts her out of doors and delivers her up to the hand of the hangman to be chastised by him.

4. It is a ministerial declaring of the mind of the Lord (as a herald at the public cross declares the mind of his king and states) concerning such, viz., that God quits formally these wicked persons, and divests them of that Church and domestic relation of children, that they professed to have with Him, and that He will deny them from henceforth that inspection, and those favours that they might have looked for in their former estate, and that He quits them and gives them up to Satan as his own, to be tempted, tortured, and punished of him according to God’s will. So that they pass not from God to devils by their own will only, but are also given up by the just judgment of God, not to be treated of devils at their pleasure, but to be punished by devils at God’s pleasure. It is very remarkable, that where this sentence is just, it passeth the power of devils to make them have such a life as they had before. For after that, they are still languid, vexed, and anxious at heart, as persons falling from the highest and best condition, and justly cast off by the best of heads and husbands, and falling under the worst of heads, and into the most dreadful of companies and conditions.

Lastly, it hath the Lord’s ratification, for that is His promise, “Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven.” [Matt. 18.18.] So that they may expect that henceforth the strong and jealous God will neglect and contemn them as undervaluers of His privileges; follow them with terrors as fugitives; hate them as those who are fallen off to His greatest enemies, and as those who have done the greatest of mischiefs; and lastly punish them as the greatest of apostates and rebels, who have preferred devils unto God, filthiness and wickedness unto righteousness and holiness.

The second thing is to show who are the subjects of excommunication. And they are those who either are, or were the members of the true Church; who were entered by baptism, and have fallen away by error and impieties, and not those who are without the Church. All Christians we mean, one as well as another, the great as well as the small, ministers as well as people; for all are obliged unto the like obedience, though their relation, offices, and investiture (so to speak) may make a difference. So he that is the highest, and hath the greatest benefits and best opportunities, is most obliged to the greatest and most loving obedience (as the tenants who have the greatest and best farms are obliged to pay the greatest rents). I say, then, all people, priests, princes, and kings, are the subjects of excommunication, for excommunication, as it hath causes, so it ought to follow upon the disobedience of the subjects to God, and that indifferently upon all without respect of persons; as God, who is the commander of this judgment, will proceed Himself in judgment without respect of persons. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, justly excommunicated Theodosius the Emperor, for the slaughter committed by him at Thessalonica, and debarred him from the privilege and benefits of the Sacrament till he repented, humbled himself, and acknowledged his fault with tears.

Thirdly, for the causes of excommunication, they are:–

1. Sins great and incontrovertible (at least, amongst those who have received and acknowledged the faith and the Reformed religion) — such as blasphemy, paganism, atheism, murder, adultery, incest, perjury, willing and open profanation of the Sabbath;

or 2. When there is added contumacy to these sins, and obstinacy in regard of repentance; for though the sins be smaller, if there be these things, there is just cause of excommunication. Much more is this the case when the sins are greater, and contumacy joined or added thereunto.

Fourthly, for the ends of excommunication, they are these:–

1. Zeal to God’s glory that will not suffer such to abide in His house upon God’s account, because they are a discredit to Christians and saints, who are the followers of this society and a reproach to the Holy One who is the head thereof, lest such should be accounted His who walk contrary unto Him. And

2. That wickedness, which, like leaven (if given way to), leaveneth the whole lump, may be hindered from further infection, and that the putrefied members which are ready to infect the rest may be cut off before its infection spread farther. This ought especially to be attended to in the case of the great ones; for sins in them are most public and visible, and so most powerful to draw others after them who will either reckon these things virtuous, or at least palliate them in order to stand fair for their favour and rewards.

3. It is for this end, to be a warning to those who are thus guilty and cast out, these censures being the forerunners and prognostics of ejection and banishment from God and from eternal happiness, and a sorting them unto their own party and fellowship, of which they will be eternally if they repent not.’

An imagined portrait of Cargill

After prayer, Cargill then moved on to the censure.

The Excommunication
‘We have now spoken of excommunication, of the nature, subject, causes, and ends thereof. We shall now proceed to the action itself, being constrained by the conscience of our duty, and by zeal for God, to excommunicate some of those who have been the committers of such great crimes, and authors of the great mischiefs of Britain and Ireland, but especially those of Scotland. In doing this, we shall keep the names by which they are ordinarily called, that they may be better known.

I, being a minister of Jesus Christ, and having authority and power from Him, do, in His name and by His Spirit, excommunicate and cast out of the true Church, and deliver up to Satan, Charles II. king, &c., and that upon the account of these wickednesses:-

1st, for his high contempt of God, in regard that after he had acknowledged his own sins, his father’s sins, his mother’s idolatry, and had solemnly engaged against them in a declaration at Dunfermline, the 16th of August, 1650, he hath, notwithstanding all this, gone on more avowedly in these sins than all that went before him.

2ndly, for his great perjury in regard that, after he had twice at least solemnly subscribed that covenant, he did so presumptuously renounce, and disown, and command it to be burnt by the hands of the hangman.

3rdly, because he hath rescinded all the laws for establishing that religion and reformation engaged unto in that covenant, and enacted laws for establishing its contrary; and also is still working for the introduction of Popery into these lands.

And 4thly, for commanding armies to destroy the Lord’s people, who were standing in their own just defence, and for their privileges and rights, against tyranny, and oppression and injuries of men, and for the blood he hath shed on fields, and scaffolds, and seas, of the people of God, upon account of religion and righteousness (they being willing in all other things to render him obedience, if he had reigned and ruled according to his covenant and oath), more than all the kings that have been before him in Scotland.

5thly, that he hath been still an enemy to and persecutor of the true Protestants; a favourer and helper of the Papists, both at home and abroad; and hath, to the utmost of his power, hindered the due execution of the laws against them.

6thly, for his bringing guilt upon the kingdom, by his frequent grants of remissions and pardons to murderers (though it is in the power of no king to pardon murder, being expressly contrary to the law of God), an indulgence which is the only way to embolden men to commit murders to the defiling of the land with blood.

And lastly, to pass by all other things, his great and dreadful uncleanness of adultery and incest, his drunkenness, his dissembling both with God and men, and performing his promises, where his engagements were sinful.

Next, by the same authority, and in the same name, I excommunicate and cast out of the true Church, and deliver up unto Satan, James, Duke of York, and that for his idolatry (for I shall not speak of any other sin but what hath been perpetrated by him in Scotland), and for setting up idolatry in Scotland to defile the Lord’s land, and for his enticing and encouraging to do so.

Next, in the same name, and by the same authority, I excommunicate and cast out of the true Church, and deliver up unto Satan, James, Duke of Monmouth, for coming unto Scotland at his father’s unjust command, and leading armies against the Lord’s people, who were constrained to rise, being killed in and for the worshipping of the true God; and for refusing, that morning, a cessation of arms at Bothwell Bridge, for hearing and redressing their injuries, wrongs and oppressions.

Next, I do by virtue of the same authority, and in the same name, excommunicate and cast out of the true Church, and deliver up unto Satan, John, Duke of Lauderdale, for his dreadful blasphemy, especially for that word to the Prelate of St. Andrews, [James Sharp,] “Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool;” his atheistical drolling on the Scriptures of God, and scoffing at religion and religious persons; his apostacy from the covenants and reformation, and his persecuting thereof, after he had been a professor, pleader, and presser thereof; for his perjury in the business of Mr. James Mitchell [executed in 1678], who being in Council gave public faith that he should be indemnified, and that to life and limb, if he would confess his attempt on the Prelate; and notwithstanding this, before the Justiciary Court, did give his oath that there was no such act in Council; for his adultery and uncleanness; for his counseling and assisting the king in all his tyrannies, overturning and plotting against the true religion; for his gaming on the Lord’s day, and lastly for his usual and ordinary swearing.

Next, I do by virtue of the same authority, and in the same name, excommunicate, cast out of the true Church, and deliver up to Satan, John, Duke of Rothes, for his perjury in the matter of Mr. James Mitchell; for his adulteries and uncleanness; for his allotting of the Lord’s day to his drunkenness; for his professing and avowing his readiness and willingness to set up Popery in this land at the king’s command; and for the heathenish, and barbarous and unheard of cruelty (whereof he was the chief author, contriver and commander, notwithstanding his having engaged otherwise), to that worthy gentleman, David Hackstoun of Rathillet [executed in July, 1680], and lastly, for his ordinary cursing, swearing, and drunkenness.

And I do by virtue of the same authority, and in the same name, excommunicate, cast out of the true Church and deliver up to Satan, Sir George M’Kenzie, the King’s Advocate, for his apostacy in turning into a profligacy of conversation, after he had begun a profession of holiness; for his constant pleading against, and persecuting unto the death, the people of God, and for alleging and laying to their charge things which in his conscience he knew to be against the word of God, truth, and right reason, and the ancient laws of this kingdom; for his pleading for sorcerers, murderers, and other criminals, that before God and by the laws of the land ought to die, and for his ungodly, erroneous, fantastic, and blasphemous tenets printed in his pamphlets and pasquils.

And lastly, I do by virtue of the same authority, and in the same name, excommunicate, and cast out of the true Church, and deliver up to Satan, [Thomas] Dalziel of Binns, for his leading armies, and commanding the killing, robbing, pillaging, and oppressing of the Lord’s people, and free subjects of this kingdom; for executing lawless tyrannies and lustful laws; for his commanding to shoot one [David] Findlay at a post at Newmills, without any form of law, civil or military (he not being guilty of anything which they themselves accounted a crime); for his lewd and impious life led in adultery and uncleanness from his youth, with a contempt for marriage, which is an ordinance of God; for all his atheistical and irreligious conversation, and lastly, for his unjust usurping and retaining of the estate of that worthy gentleman, William Mure of Caldwell, and his other injurious deeds in the exercise of his power.

Now I think, none that acknowledge the word of God, can judge these sentences to be unjust; yet some, it may be, to flatter the powers, will call them disorderly and informal, there not being warning given, nor probation led. But for answer: there has been warning given, if not with regard to all these, at least with regard to a great part of them. And for probation, there needs none, their deeds being notour and public, and the most of them such as themselves do avow and boast of. And as the causes are just, so being done by a minister of the Gospel, and in such a way as the present persecution would admit of, the sentence is just, and there is no king, nor minister on earth, without repentance of the persons, can lawfully reverse these sentences upon any such account. God being the Author of these ordinances to the ratifying of them, all that acknowledge the Scriptures of truth, ought to acknowledge them. Yet perchance, some will think, that though they be not unjust, yet that they are foolishly rigorous. We shall answer nothing to this, but that word which we speak with much more reason than they that first used it, “Should he deal with our sister, as with an harlot?” [Gen. 34.31.] Should they deal with our God as an idol? Should they deal with His people as murderers and malefactors, and we not draw out His sword against them?’

For who heard the Torwood Excommunication, see here.

Cargill’s afternoon sermon at Torwood and the reaction to the excommunication will be discussed in later posts.

Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved.

~ by drmarkjardine on January 5, 2012.

18 Responses to “Delivered Up To Satan: The Covenanters’ Excommunication of King Charles II at Torwood”

  1. […] the afternoon of the Torwood Excommunication, Donald Cargill preached a sermon on the survival of “a Remnant” of militant […]

  2. […] text of the Torwood Excommunication was quickly publicised by the Society […]

  3. Oh dear, Patrick Walker gilding the lily again! The clever inference he tries to make about Cargill’s character when he writes, “…he always sat straight upon his Knees, without resting upon any Thing, with his Hands lifted up (and some took Notice he died the same Way [in July, 1681] with the bloody Rope about his Neck…” is an obvious attempt to add weight to the occasion. Having read other Walker ‘accounts’ it seems clear that he never lets the truth get in the way of the good old story he wants people to repeat.

    Unfotunately Patrick’s assertion about Cargill’s character would seem at odds with Fountainhall.

    “On the 13 of July 1681, was apprehended Mr. Donald Cargil at Co- vington milne, besyde Lanerk, with 2 of his accomplices, on Smith and on Boog. This Cargil was a great feild preacher, and he who excommu nicated the King at Torwood in September last, and stirred up many poor peeple against the governement. He was brought in to Edinburgh on the 15 of July, and examined before the King’s councell, and gave shifting answers, only he ouned the lawfulnes of defensive armes.” (Fountainhall, Historical observes of memorable occurents in church and state, from October 1680 to April 1686, P.44)

    “The same 26 July, Cargil and 4 of his disciples, viz. Mr. Walter Smith, Mr. James Boog, on Cutle, and on Thomson, ware tryed at the criminal court, and found guilty of treason and treasonable principles ; in disouning the King and his authoritie, for ouning the Sanquhar declaration and covenant, for being in rebellion and armes at Bothuelbridge, excommunicating the King at Torwood, calling the King a tyrant, disouning his supremacy, and refusing to say God save him, though that would redeme ther life. They ware all 5 hanged at the marcat crosse of Edinburgh, on the 27 of July, (which some thought but ane ill preparation to the Parliament to be ridden the nixt day.) They dyed all a great deall more stout and firme then ther leader Cargil, who behaved most timorously to save his life, (if it could have been converted to banishment,) and minched ther principles, and begged for a longer tyme, that he might be judged in Parliament ; but finding ther was no remedy, he put on more stayednesse and resolu tion after his sentence..” (Ibid, P.45)

    I am not questioning that event occurred – it most certainly did – rather I am commenting on Walker as any kind of reliable source.

    Interesting – if Fountainhall is correct – that Cargill “behaved most timorously to save his life”. Surely that doesn’t accord well with ‘reliable covenanter tradition’?



  4. […] he owns the [Torwood] Excommunication against the King used by [Donald] Cargill, and thinks the Reasons of it […]

  5. […] at Cairnhill (6 June), Kype Water (18 July with Cameron), Starryshaw (25 July), Craigmad (1 Aug), Torwood (mid Sept), Falla Hills (late Sept), Craigwood (3 Oct?) Largo Law (24 Oct) near Carnwath (31 Oct) […]

  6. […] interrogated if he owns the Excommunication of the King [at Torwood] to be just? refuses to […]

  7. […] To the Excommunication at the Torwood, by Mr D[onald] C[argill], as it is just and lawful, and will stand in force and record, ay, till […]

  8. […] about what Young had owned: ‘Bothuel-Bridge [as no rebellion], [the] Lanrick Declaration, the [Torwood] Excommunication of the King, and all ther other extravagancies;’. (Fountainhall, Historical Notices, II, […]

  9. […] informed that Mr. Donald Cargil had, to the great Astonishment of all honest Men, proceeded to the Excommunication of your sacred Majesty, your Royal Brother, and some of your Servants, and that he had continued to preach that horrid Principle, of the Lawfulness of assassinating […]

  10. […] also adhered to the Rutherglen Declaration, the Sanquhar Declaration, Cargill’s Torwood Excommunication, the Queensferry paper of 1680, the burning of the Test at Lanark when the Lanark Declaration was […]

  11. […] And likewise I leave my testimony to the Excommunication at the Torwood [of 1680], passed by Donald Cargill against these enemies of […]

  12. […] 1680, Donald Cargill delivered up to Satan, ‘[Thomas] Dalziel of Binns, for his leading armies, and commanding the killing, robbing, […]

  13. […] interrogated if he owns the Excommunication of the King [at Torwood] to be just? refuses to […]

  14. […] produced in Scotland, the Torwood Excommunication at the Wallace Oak by Donald Cargill, the text of which delivered the leaders of the Scotland up to Satan. From what the report says, below, (printed?) copies of it were quickly torn down by the […]

  15. […] arms in defence of the Gospel and our sworn Covenants, and the whole work of Reformation. 7. To the Excommunication at the Torwood [of 1680], by Mr Donald Cargill. 8. To the Sanquhar Declaration [of 1680], as a thing most agreeable to the […]

  16. […] Lord’s day, preaching at the Torwood [on 12 September], he did very summarily, yet formally, excommunicate the King, Duke of York, Monmouth, Lauderdale, the Chancellor, King’s Advocate, Gener…, giving reasons of their excommunications. This by sober men or [moderate presbyterian] ministers […]

  17. […] at Cairnhill (6 June), Kype Water (18 July with Cameron), Starryshaw (25 July), Craigmad (1 Aug), Torwood (12 Sept), Falla Hills (19 Sept), Craigwood (3 Oct?) Largo Law (24 Oct) near Carnwath (31 Oct) and […]

  18. […] Torwood Excommunication is discussed in detail in other posts. You can find out what took place, what was in his afternoon sermon, who Cargill delivered up to Satan,  what it meant, when he did […]

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