Page images

grace to

their God by folemn covenants, that were binding upon them and their pofterity after them; fo in this moral duty, We, in our forefathers, followed the example,-entering into a solemn covenant with him, which he many fignal ways countenanced, --attenda ed with internal displays of (his) power and glory.

-To difparage these covenants is to cast dung upon our glory. I think it worse than the breaking burning, and burying of them. To bespatter their reputation, and deny their obligation, is to render them odious to all generations * - -There is a fuperauded obligation lying on us by our covenants of gratitude and duty, which, though it bind us to nothing, but what we were authoritatively bound to before, yet it strengthens the obligation to When God hath manifested his covenant of a people, receiving them to be his people, and they thereupon have entered into a covenant of duty with him, avouching him to be their God, and promising thro' grace, fubjection to him, though it were four hundred, yea four thousand years, it stands; and they who fucceed are bound by the covenant.-- -A number of honest covenanters, when they avouched the Lord to be their God, and promised obedience to him, did it in the faith of his avouching them to be his people, and trusting to his covenant of grace and promife, and not to their covenant or engagement. We, in these lands, have devoted ourselves to the Lord, in which we were warranted by many fcripture precedents.---Never 'was an action done more fedately and advisedly.The binding obligation of it upon us is plain. If we have the benefit: of that religion to which our forefathers swore, we must be heirs of that oath they came under to the Most High (as Levi paid tithes in his father's loins &

Ibid, p. 489.

+ lbid, Vol 11. P. 2242

we, in our forefathers, swore to this covenant.) We are obliged to stand to it, though it were ever so many years after. Being partakers of the benefit, we are bound to do that which they promised to do for it. If a parent bind his children, are not their feed and heirs bound by his promise as well as they were? What continual changes and confusions would there be in the world, if persons themselves were only to be tied by there own personal bonds ? How much more impiety is it for men, to deny that obligation by covenant to God, made by their forea fathers in their name.- -Our folemn covenants, are one of the grounds of our claim to him,—and of his continuing his claim to us, who own these covenants.--How will God avenge the violation of a law, ful oath made with himself in this land ? Unless these profefied Presbyterians can now prove, that Prefbytery is finful, they must acknowledge that our national covenants are binding on us in this matter. If a covenant in things lawful be not binding, then no covenant ever was *.

OBJECT. I. “ Many things were wrong in the impofing and taking of these covenants; and their words are ill chofen, as to extirpate Popery, Prelacy, i. e. to kill Papists and Prelatists.”

Answ. 1. Let us allow no malignant enemy of perjured violator of these covenants to be held a fufficient witnefs against them. Nor let us have the long ago refuted calumnies of such men revived

upon their mere authority.

2. Though the covenant had had infirmities,

* R. Erskine's Works, Vol. II. p. 142, 224, 104. Comp. Hind let loofe, p. 514---521. Apol, Relat. p. 327-6-416, Discourse at the renewing of the covenants, 1688. M Ward's earnest contendings, p, 229---230, 266, Examinat, of 13, Bp, Leighton's Aco comodation, English Ministers' Teftimonies to Solemn League, Covenanters' Plea, Crofton's tracts on covenant, &t. &c


even infirmities sufficient to have hindered the swear ing of it, as the Doctors of Aberdeen and Oxford pretended, was the case,--it may nevertheless bind when once it is sworn. Though its matter had been in part finful and self-contradictory, it would bind to the part which was lawful. Though the authority which imposed it, had been insufficient, and the manner of imposing it improper, it would bind when once sworn. Zedekiah was in some respect compelled to swear allegiance to Nebuchadnezzar, whose sovereignty over Judah was very disputable,

his oath bound him, Ezek. xvii. 12--19. 2 Chron. xxxvi. 13-Though our covenanters' ends had been carnal, or even sinful, the oath, as far as lawful in its matter, is binding, when once it is sworn.

-Without allowing these things as fixed principles; no oaths or covenants could be.

any securities among mankind.

3. If Popery and Prelacy be plants which God hath not planted, why may we not, as lawfully, in our stations, endeavour to extirpate or root them out, as we may mortify the deeds of our body, that we may

live? The one includes no more violence de gainst men's persons than the other, Rom. viii. 13. Do you imagine, that the covenanters swore to cut. their own throats, or tear out their own hearts, when they engaged to endeavour, in their station, to extir. pate every thing contrary to the power of godliness, as in. dwelling fin, vain thoughts, &c. which adhere to believers in this life, certainly are.

OBJECT. II. “ Many in England and Ireland never took the Solemn League, or took it in a sense consistent with Prelacy or Independency."

Answ. 1. I do not expect that any hater of that covenant will ever be able to invalidate the proof which hath been giver of the number of the cove. nanters in both these kingdoms.

2. The covenanters declared « that an oath is to be taken in the plain sense of the words, without equivocation or mental reservation. It cannot bind to fin; but in any thing not sinful, being taken, it binds to performance, although to a man's own hurt *.” All but Jesuits profess the same principle. And indeed if oaths, vows, or covenants bind not men, according to the plain meaning of their words, they become quite useless. Men's prevarication therefore, in favours of Prelacy or Independency, cannot free them from the obligation of an oath, which strikes against both.

3. As the Scots stood bound by their National Covenant to every duty contained in the Solemn League, long before the English had a thought of covenanting along with them, and did also swear the Solemn League, no neglect or prevarication of either English or Irish can free us from our obligation. It was neither to the English nor to the Irish, but chiefly to the faithful and unchangeable God of all grace, that our fathers bound themselves and their feed. The Affembly in their Letier to the council of London justly observe, “ It is not in the power of any human authority to absolve you from adhering to this so solemnly fworn League and Covenant." And in another letter, “ The covenant hath been broken by many in both kingdoms. We do not doubt, but there are many feven thousands in England, who have retained their integrity in that business.” And in their Warning 1648, “ The violation of the cove. nant by some in England doth not fet us free from the obligation of it. No laws, nor authority on earth can absolve us from fo folemn an obligation to the Most High. -We are not acquitted from the obligation of our solemn covenants because of the

• Confeffion of Faith, Chap. xxi. 4.


troubles. In the worst of times, all those duties whereunto, by covenant, we oblige ourselves, do ftill lie upon us. -We have sworn, and we must perform it.” And in their Warning 1649, “ Albeit the League and Covenant be despised by that prevailing party in England, yet the obligation of that covenant is perpetual; and all the duties contained therein are conttantly to be minded and prosecuted, by every one of us and our poflerity, according to their place and station.” And in their Letter to brethren in England, “ Although there were none in the one kingdom, who did adhere to the covenant, yet were not the other kingdom, nor any person in either of them, absolved from the bond thereof; since in it, we have not only fworn by the Lord, but also covenanted with him. It is not the failing of one more that can absolve others from their duty or rie to him. Besides, the duties therein contained being in themselves lawful, and the grounds of our TIE thereto moral, though others forget their duty, yet doth not their defection free us from that obligation which lies upon us. by the covenants, in our places and stations. The covenant being intended as one of the best means. of stedfastness, it were strange to fay, that the backslidings of any should absolve others from the Tie thereof, especially seeing our engagement therein is not only national, but personal.--All these kingdoms joining together to abolish that oath by law, could not dispense therewith, much less can any one of them, or any party in either do the fame. (They are) testimonies which the Lord Christ hath entered as protestations, to preserve his right in these ends · of the earth, long ago given unto him for his poffes. fion, and of late confirmed by folemn covenant."

Object. III. “ The influence of the Highland chiefs, and the gross ignorance of the Scotch ilands,

« PreviousContinue »