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together with the general dislike of the covenant at the Restoration and Revolution, are internal evidences, that but a part, perhaps a small part, of the Scots took the covenant.”
Answ. 1. I boldly defy you to invalidate the proofs I have brought to the contrary. Nay, for ought I know, you cannot produce one of these perjured Prelatifts, that pretended that only the smaller part of the Scotch nation took the covenant, ese pecially in 1590, 1638, & 1643.
2. Were the Highland chiefs, and the gross ignorance of the islanders, occafioned by the negligence of the curates, a whit more able to withstand the enlightening and heart-bowing power of God, fo remarkably manifested on thefe occasions, than K. Charles and many others on the continent? Have we not produced evidence that multitudes of the Highlanders entered into the reformers' covenant, 1638, and were not Argyle, Mar, and many other Highland chiefs zealous covenanters? Did not such as were otherwise minded take the covenant of 1581, as imposed by the Privy Council according to its original meaning? Did noi even the Doctors and Prelatic inhabitants of Aberdeen take that bond, without approving the Council's limitation of it to its original meaning?
3. You can produce no evidence that the cove. nanting work was not carried on in the Scotch illands, but such as we have, that never a Hebrew child was circumcised on the 8th day, from Isaac to John Baptift;--or that never a weekly Sabbath was observed from the creation till the manna fell around the Hebrew camp, i. e. want of positive evidence to the contrary,--and that too in places, of which, to this moment, we have little account, except what relates to their situation, soil, product, or the like.
4. It is highly absurd to pretend, that the so gem neral disregard of the covenants, twelve or forty years after the last taking of them, is internal evidence that few had taken them. Will it irrefragably prove, that Adam was never made after the image. of God, or taken into covenant with him, because within a few days or hours he had become a finner, hating both God and his covenant---or that devils were never created holy and happy, because within a few days they had left their first estate? Will the general concurrence of the Hebrews in worshipping the golden calf, prove that they had not entered into folemn covenant with God, about forty days before? Will their subsequent apostasies, prove that but few of them had covenanted with God, under Joshua; Asa, Joash, Hezekiah, Josiah, Ezra, and Nehemiah? Will Peter's fearfully henious and repeated denial of Christ, prove that he had not, a few hours before, folemnly engaged against it?
OBJECT. IV. “ Force or fear caused many to com venant.
Answ. 1. Though force or fear should have rendered the manner of covenanting unacceptable to God, they cannot render void an oath which is fworn.
2. I Will never contend, that the penalty annex ed by law to the refusal of the covenant in 1643, or even on some other occasions, was proper. But, after a laborious search, I find no proper. evidence, that any force was ever used in Scotland to make
any take the covenant, except in 1639, by Montrose and Munro, two military men, without any warrant from either Church or State,--the former, if not both of whom afterward turned out a malignant murderer of his covenanting brethren. Never, Sir, pick up or retail the mere inventions of perjured violaters of these covenants, who were glad to say any thing to conceal of excuse their own wickedness.
3. In 1638, when the covenanting was most univerfal, the bishops and some other anti-covenanters, afraid of profecution for their enormous debts, or for their oppressive and other wicked deeds,-and perhaps chiefly to calumniate the covenanters at court, did flee their country. But none were obliged to do so for refusing the covenant. Fear of danger probably restrained some from reviling a Bond which the nation so highly esteemed. But none, that I know of, were thereby constrained to swear it. Some mobs happened, occafioned by the king's fufpension of the common exercise of the civil law, and the fiting of its courts. But these were detested by the zealous covenanters, and not one of them appears either to have been intended, or to have issued in favour of the covenant. If the influences of God's Spirit, and the aifecting appearances of his Providence--as at Sinai or in the apostolic age, awed or allured numbers to take the covenant whose hearts were not sincere before him,--should we quarrel with the Almighty on that account? -But, Sir, Henderson, Dickson, and Cant, who being the principal leaders of the covenanting work that year, affirm to the doctors of Aberdeen, who were eager to have detected them of falsehood, if it had been possible, “ No pastors in our knowledge have been either forced to flee or haye been threatened with the want of their stipends for refusing their fubfcription, but some have of their own accord, gone to court for pracuring protection against their creditors,-and have made lies between the king and his people. Others have wilfully refused to abide with their flocks for no reason, but because the people have subscribed.--Arguments have been taken from (promised) augmentation of ftipends to hinder subscription. Fear of worldly loss rather hinders men to dubscribe, than scruples of conscience. The prelates'
flight seems rather to have proceeded from inward furies of accusing consciences, C.--In this day of the Lord's power, his people have most willingly offered themselves in multitudes like the dew of the morning. Others, of no small note, have offered their subscriptions, and have been refused till time should try their fincerity, from love to the cause, and not from the fear of man. No threatenings have been used, except of the deserved judgments of God, nor force, except the force of reason from the high respects which we owe to religion, to our king, to our native country, to ourselves, and to our posterity *."
4. Since the covenanting work was so remarkably countenanced by the Holy Ghoft,---attended with perhaps more sincere mourning for fin,-- more serious repentance and folid conversion to God, than hath within an equal space of time and place, happened any where in the world, since the apostolic age,-and since the covenanters in their vow deponed, that they covenanted without any worldly respect or inducement, as far as human infirmity would allow,- Take heed, Sir, left after your objection hath manifested the carnality, selfishness, and diffimula. tion of your own religious appearances.
-God, at last, should publicly expose you as a blasphemer of his great work, and a malicious flanderer of his people, as wilfully perjured.
OBJECT. V. “It is imposible our covenanters could understand their bonds, particularly in that which relates to Popery in the national covenant, or to prelacy in the Solemn League.”
* Answers to Doctors of Aberdeen, P. 42, 44.
The General Assembly 1649, in their act, Sef. 19th, appear to far from forcing men into their covenant, that they earnestly enjoin and appoint the utmost caution to be used for preventing fach persons taking of it as did not fincerely approve it, and refolve to profecute the ends of it.
Answ. 1. Ignorance indeed hinders a right and acceptable swearing of oaths or covenants, but cannot invalidate their binding force if once they be sworn; otherwise millions in Britain would through ignorance, be freed from all their folemn engagements in Baptism and the Lord's Supper; and thousands freed from all obligation of their oaths of allegiance or fidelity to magistrates; or even their oaths to declare the truth and nothing else, in witness bearing. Candidates for the ministry needed but keep themselves in a great measure ignorant of the doctrines of the Confession of Faith and duties of the minifterial office, in order to render their ordination.vows or subscriptions altogether unobligatory.
2. Being trained up in the abominations of PopeTy or prelacy, or having frequent access to witness them, our covenanting ancestors, who had common fenfe, might have more knowledge of them, than moft clergymen in Scotland now have; even as a common sailor, who hath served 20 years in a man of war, may have more knowledge of her tackling and other pertinents, than all the learned doctors of fix British universities.
OBJECT. VI. “ If nothing be engaged to in these covenants, but what God hath declared or required in his word, they never could lay any obligation upon the covenanters, much less a perpetual obligation upon their pofterity: It is absolutely inconsistent with found philosophy, Christianity or common sense to imagine that any human deed can bind to any thing declared in the word, or required by the law of God."
A NSW. 1. Then it seems the common Protestant doctrine of our Confession of Faith, which in your ordination vows you foleminly declared to be founded