September 8th 1745
The Popish Pretender demonstrates ecumenicismOne of the problems facing Prince Charles when he arrived in Scotland was the fact that he had been brought up as a Roman Catholic. It was an inconvenient fact that both he and his father had tried to brush aside as being of no consequence.
In his manifesto, Prince Charles had stated that his father was “fully resolved to maintain the Church of England, as by law established, and likewise the Protestant Churches of Scotland and Ireland, conformable to the laws of each respective kingdom; together with a toleration to all Protestant Dissenters, he being utterly averse to all persecution and oppression whatsoever, particularly on account of conscience and religion.”
The Presbyterian Church for one did not believe in these affirmations of religious tolerance. The General Assembly of November 13th 1745 issued a ‘Warning and Exhortation’ against the Rebellion. “Can we expect liberty from an arbitrary power, or a free Parliament from an armed force, just laws from lawless men, the security of our property from the invaders of property, the protection of our commerce from France and Spain, the safety of the Protestant religion from a Popish Pretender and toleration of tender consciences from a persecuting spirit?”
Independently minded observers might not feel that the answer to each rhetorical question was necessarily No. However it demonstrated the hostility of the Presbyterian Church towards the Rebellion and certainly helped to sway opinion against the Prince.
He, for his part, like his father before him, attended a Protestant service at St John’s Kirk on September 8th while still residing in Perth. He sat in the so-called King’s seat in the middle church, the same seat occupied by Charles 1st on his visit to Perth in 1633, and his father in 1715.
The church was crowded for the occasion and the service was taken by a Mr Armstrong, an Episcopalian minister, who chose for his text, Isiah 14 Verses 1 and 2.
It was meant to be a public demonstration of Prince Charles’ religious ecumenicism but rightly or wrongly few were impressed.