The Sense in which the Covenanters refused to say “God save the King.”

The arguement is sometimes made that Margaret Wilson, one of the Solway Martyrs who was executed by drowning in  May 1685 for refusing to take the Abjuration Oath, could have saved herself by saying “God save the king”. But that is over simplistic and does not comprehend the true meaning of what was required by the Oath.

They women were quite ready to use the words in the spirit of that exhortation of Paul: “I exhort, therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for alt men; for kings and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1 Tim. ii. 1, 2). The sense in which they declined to say “God Save the king” was the sense put upon the words by their persecutors—a sense which implied an acknowledgment not only of the king’s civil supremacy, which all the presbyterians, with the exception of the Cameronians, were ready to make, but also of his ecclesiasiical supremacy. an acknowledgment which none of them could consistently make, as, according to their principles, this would have been sacrilegious to yield to him that headship over the church which Christ claims as his exclusive and inalienable prerogative. When, in August, 1684, John Campbell of Over-Welwood, in Ayrshire, was imprisoned in Glasgow, Colonel Windram asked him if he would pray for the king. Campbell answered that he both did and would, l pray that the Lord would enable him to live a godly life here, and bestow upon him a life of glory hereafter. “‘That is not enough,” said Windram; “you must pray for King Charles II as he is supreme over aIl persons and causes, ecclesiastical as well as civil.’’ Campbell replied that in his opinion that was ‘‘ praying for him as the head of the church, which belonged only to Christ; and he reckoned it arrogance in any creature whatsoever to claim it.”—Vodrow’s History, vol. iv., p. 49.; Anderson, Ladies of the Covenant, Appx p 486-7.