« AnteriorContinuar »
bond used in 1638, as they arc to be found subjoined to that nearly antiquated sjstem, The Confession Of Faith; and the divine authority, to be found in a still more antiquated code of laws, the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, I have little room to doubt, such is the Candour, Moderation, and LiBerality Of Sentiment which falls to the portion of the Reverend Principal, but that lie mould have found the measures pursued as constitutional and salutary as the Transactions themselves were warrantable and laudable: And the covenanters, instead of rebels, the best patriots which that, or any other age ever produced.
2. The political views, and hypocritical purposes, which induced some enemies to Reformation principles to enter into the National Covenant and Solemn League, are no objections against these Transactions themselves; nor a»ainst the conduct of such as entered into them with sincerity of heart. In the days of danger, the Church is diminished by apostacy; and in the days of prosperity, file is no less endangered by a too rapid increase in hypocrisy. The latter was the cafe in the last age. But, if the argument be good in .this cafe, it must also be valid against Christianity itself; as it is well known, that nations and princes have sometimes been induced to embrace Christianity from political views. One
cannot easily explain, however, the motives of many who make tlie above objection. Who were the persons who took the covenants from political motives? Were they not such as had a secret enmity at the Presbyterian system, and a monarchy limited by law? Were they not the friends of Episcopacy and absolute government? The rest, generally speaking, were in good earnest, in avowing their Creed: But, to qualify for places, the royalists, as they are styled, swallowed all the national oaths; and yet their successors cry out of hypocrisy 1 •Would not one imagine, that a decent regard to their predecessors would enjoin them silence in this matter?
3. These Transactions were lawful) as'to the matter; and necessary, as to the time. They were such as comprehended every attainment in Reformation. It has been their fate to meet with much opposition in the world, indeed; as well as their friends with amazing obloquy and reproach. I shall only single out one instance of both, from the many which might be produced. They are represented not only as encroaching on the rights of private judgment, but also as binding to sanguinary measures and persecution for conscience sake. It has been said, that the Solemn League binds to Extirpate Prelacy, &c. But, let it be-observed, that the phrase does not appear to be stronger than that of our Saviour, to Root * Oooo OUT Out every plant-which the Father's right hand hath not planted. Prelacy, in the view of every Presbyterian, who believes the divine right of the Presbyterian form of government, is a plant of this kind. Nothing sanguinary was intended by Christ j and the conduct of Presbyterians, when in power, suffers nothing by a comparative view with that of Prelates, as to complying with the will of Christ in this matter. The former provided Sustenance for the life of the ejected; the latter a Prison. No measure which was used by the Presbyterians ever equalled the Bartholomew Bushel, or the Corporation Act; not to mention the Star Chamber, under Laud. The doctrine of the right of conscience was as well understood by the Presbyterians in Britain, as in any of the Protestant Churches: But the truth is, it was reserved to Locke to set them in a still clearer point of view. In one word, if any thing sanguinary was meant, we expressed our dissent as early as 1737*.
4. These Covenants had the seal of Heaven's approbation set unto them, not only by bringing many to enter into them; but also, by the effusion of his Spirit on the Covenanters, at the season of their entrance, and enabling them, at last, to seal them with their blood.
* Vide Testimony.
THE foregoing Covenants were renewed in 1648: And the Confession of Sins, and Engagement to Duties are to be found usually bound up with our Confession of Faith. From the violation of these engagements, by what is called the Public Resolu Tions, until the Revolution, there followed a scene of covenant-violation altogether unexampled in the annals of mankind. If the violation was less flagrant at, and after the Revolution 5 yet, the proper season of covenant-renovation Was utterly neglected. There were a handful of Oooo 2 sufferers sufferers who had kept themselves, in a great measure, from the pollutions of the world, who survived the Persecution. These were shamefully deserted by their ministers; and left in great confusion, as to both their political and religious principles. The judicatories of the Revolution Church were a very heterogeneous composition: They were composed of members who had sailed with the wind for thirty years bygone, for one portion; another was made up of the indulged; and a third of such as had bejen refugees in other countries. The iron and clay were tempered together by the force of civil authority. Various overtures and proposals were made, for putting hand to a Covenanted Reformation; but the diversity of opinion and practice among the clergy prevented the wisties of the few from any renovation of our Solemn Covenants at that memorable deliverance. Never had a church a fairer opportunity, or a louder call to it, than at that time: They had been delivered from slavery and absolute government in the State, and a long period (twenty-eight years) of hot persecution for conscience sake. Never did a church and nation so shamefully neglect the golden season which God put into their hand. Those who polluted their consciences by swearing the covenants, and die oatlis of canonical obedience, as well as all oaths by which the Covenants were abjured, could not well be expected to be honoured by God as instruments in such a