The absurdity and perfidy of all authoritative toleration of gross heresy: blasphemy, idolatry, popery, in Britain. In two letters to a friend. ... By John Brown, ...
Brown, John, 1722-1787.

LETTER II. On the PERFIDY of all AUTHORITATIVE TO∣LERATION of gross Heresy, Blasphemy or Ido∣latry, in BRITAIN.


TO exhibit the contrariety of an authoritative toleration of gross heresy, blasphemy, and ido∣latry, to many, if not all the Burgess Oaths, in our country, and to the established oaths of allegiance to His Majesty, or even to his own Coronation Oath, to maintain the true Protestant religion, as by law esta∣blished in his dominions, and to our Solemn vows in Baptism and the Lord's Supper, I leave to some fit∣ter hand, and shall only represent it as a violation of these public covenants with God, which our fathers framed, as their strongest human securities against gross heresy, blasphemy, idolatry, Popery, and every thing fimilar.

Page  96 Being treacherously and cruelly opposed in their re∣formation of religion, by their two Popish Queens, the Protestant Lords and others in Scotland, entered into five several bonds, A. D. 1557, 1559, 1560, 1563, in which they solemnly engaged to assist and protect each other, in promoting the free exercise of the Protestant religion. It was only the smaller part of the Protestants in our land, which entered into these bonds,—nor doth it appear, they were intended as ge∣neral obligations.—But, when the Papists abroad were labouring, with all their might, to extirpate the Pro∣testant religion; and the Pope was found to have granted dispensations for qualifying his votaries, to undermine it in our land,—the National Covenant was formed and sworn in 1581—in order to frustrate their attempts, and secure the reformation attained. In it the abominations of Popery were expresly and parti∣cularly abjured; and it was understood as adhered to and renewed in every religious bond that sollowed. After God had marvellously frustrated the attempts of the Spaniards and other Papists against Britain, our fathers, in thankfulness to Him,—and to secure themselves against the Popish confederates abroad, and their friends at home,—with much unanimity and joy renewed their National Covenant, A. D 1590, along with the subscription of a General Bond for preserva∣tion of the Protestant religion, and the King's Majes∣ty. In 1596, apprehensions of danger from the Po∣pish Lords, and the treacherous regard shewed them by K. James, and especially a very extraordinary effu∣sion of the Holy Ghost on the General Assembly, is∣sued in much solemn mourning for sin, and renovati∣on of their covenant with God. After forty years of fearful perfidious apostacy, and much sinful veering towards the abjured abominations of Popery, they, awakened by K. Charles and Archbishop Laud's im∣position of an almost Popish Liturgy and Book of Ca∣nons,—Searched out, and lamented, their perfidy to God, as the cause of their manifold miseries; and so∣lemnly renewed their covenant with Him, as a mean of obtaining his gracious assistance, and securing their Protestant religion and liberties. Affrighted by the Papists massacring of about two hundred thousand Page  97 Protestants in Ireland, instigated by their distresses in England, and encouraged by the remarkable coun∣tenance of God's Spirit and Providence to the Scotch covenanters. Most of the English and Irish Protestants in 1643 and 1644. along with them, entered into a Solemn League and Covenant with God, and with one another, in which they expresly abjured Popery, and Prelacy as a branch of it.—K. Charles had scarce granted a peace, a kind of establishment of their re∣ligion to the murderous Papists in Ireland; and Duke Hamilton's attempts to restore him to his throne with∣out giving any security for religion or liberty miscar∣ried in England, when the Scots, and not a few of the Irish renewed their Covenant, with a solemn acknow∣ledgment of sins and engagement to duties.—To manifest the fearful perfidy of all authoritative tolera∣tion of gross heresy, blasphemy, idolatry, Popery, and every other form of encouragement to, or recep∣tion of them, the solemn, the religious nature of these covenants, and their extensive and perpetual obligati∣on must be considered.

God alone bath a supreme and unlimited authority and right to regulate his own, and the conduct of all his creatures, Psal. lxxxiii. 18. Dan. iv. 35. James iv. 12. But the very constitution of a rational crea∣ture, implies a power derived from him to govern it∣self, even as mens standing in the relation of parents, masters, magistrates, or church-rulers, necessarily im∣plies their power to govern others,—in subordination to him. By virtue of their divinely originated authority over others, parents, masters, and other rulers make laws, or binding rules, for directing the external be∣haviour of those who are committed to their charge. And by their authority derived from God to rule their own Spirit, and to govern and keep in subjection their whole body, Prov. xvi. 32. James iii. 2. 1 Cor. ix. 27. all men are empowered to make for themselves laws of self engagement, in promises, oaths, vows and co∣venants, which extend to their purposes and inclinati∣ons as well as to their external acts. And, as all the authority, which men have over themselves or others, is derived srom that supreme and independent autho∣rity, which is in God himself, and is communicated Page  98 to them, by an act of his will, and is implied in his giving them such a nature and station, it is plain, that no human laws of authority, or self-engagement, can have any obligation or binding force, but what are re∣gulated by and subordinated to the divine laws of na∣ture or revelation, 2 Cor. xiii. 8. and that, if such laws and engagements be lawful, God, not only doth, but must necessarily ratify them, his law requiring the fulsilment of them, under pain of his highest dis∣pleasure, Rom. xiii. 1,—6. Mat. v. 33.

As no deputed authority derived from God, can increase that supreme, that infinite authority, which he hath in himself; so no human command or engagement can increase that infinite obligation to duty, which his law hath in itself. But, if lawful, they have in them a real obligation, distinct, though neither separated nor separable, from the obligation of God's law. To pre∣tend with Bellarmine and other Papists, that our pro∣mises or vows do not bind us in moral duties comman∣ded by the law of God, is manifestly absurd. It ne∣cessarily infers, that all human commands of superiors as well as human promises, oaths, vows, and cove∣nants, are in themselves destitute of all binding force, except in so far as they relate to such trifling things, as the law of God doth not require of men in such particular truths; and thus saps the foundation of all relative order and mutual trust and confidence among mankind. Commands of superiors must be mere de∣clarations of the will of God in his law, and promises, oaths, vows and covenants must be nothing but mere acknowledgments, that God's law requires such things from us,—in so far as relating to moral duties. It re∣presents the authority which God hath in himself, and with which he hath invested men, as his deputies, as so inconsistent and mutually destructive of each other, that men cannot be bound to the same thing by both. It represents the law of God as necessarily destructive of the being of an ordinance appointed by itself, to promote the more exact observance of itself,—in so far as that ordinance binds to a conscientious and diligent obedience to it. It is contrary to the common sense of mankind in every age, who have all along consi∣dered Page  99 mens promises, oaths and covenants, as binding them to pay their just debts, perform their just duties of allegiance or the like, and to declare the truth and nothing but the truth in witness bearing, &c. It is contrary to scripture, which represents promises, pro∣missory oaths, vows, and covenants, as things which are to be performed, paid, or fufilled, and which may possibly be transgressed and broken, Mat. v. 33. Deut. xxviii. 21, 22, 23. Eccl. v. 4. Psal. xxii. 25. & l. 14. & lxi. 8. & lxvi. 13. & lxxvi. 11. & cxvi. 13,—18. & cxix. 106. Isa. xix. 21. Judges xi. 35. Isa. xxiv. 5. Jer. xxxiv. 18.—which represents an oath as a strong and decisive confirmation, putting an end to all doubt or strife, Heb. vi. 16,—18.—and which in one of the plainest and least figurative chapters of it, repeatedly represents a vow, as constituted by our binding ourselves, binding our own souls with a bond, and represents a vow as a bond or obligation, Heb. ISSAR, a very fast and strait binding bond or obligation,—as our own bond, that stands upon or against us, Num. xxx. 2,—12.—Self-binding, self engagements, is so much the essential form of vows, and of all covenants, promises, or promis∣sory oaths, whether of God or man, that they can∣not exist at all, or even be conceived of without it, any more than a man without a soul, or an angel with∣out an understanding and will. To represent vowing as a placing of ourselves more directly under the law of God, or any command of it; or, as a placing of ourselves in some new relation to the law, is but an at∣tempt to render unintelligible that which the Holy Ghost hath, in the above-mentioned chapter, labour∣ed to make plain, if it doth not also import, that we can place ourselves more directly under the moral law than God hath or can place us, or, more directly than Christ was placed.—To pretend, that mens commands or engagements derive their whole obligation from the law of God's requiring us to obey the one,—and pay, or fulfil or perform the other, is no less absurd.—These divine commands, requiring us to obey, pay, perform or fulfil human laws and engagements, plain∣ly suppose an intrinfic obligation, in these laws and en∣gagements, and powerfully enforce it. But no law of God can require me to OBEY a human law, or ful∣fil Page  100 an engagement which hath no obligation in itself, any more than the laws of Britain can oblige me to PAY a Bill, or FULFIL a Bond consisting of nothing but mere cyphers.

The intrinsic obligation of promises, oaths, vows, and covenants which constitutes their very essence or essential form, is totally and manifestly distinct from the obligation of the law of God in many respects. (1.) In his law, God, by the declaration of his will, as our supreme Ruler, binds us, Deut. xii. 32. In promises, vows, covenants, and promissory oaths, we, as his deputy-governors over ourselves, by a declaration of our will, bind ourselves with a bond, bind our •…uls with our own bond, our own vow, Num, xxx. Psalm lxvi. 13, 15 & cxix. 106, &c. (2.) The obligation of our promises, oaths and covenants is alway subject to examination by the standard of God's law, as to both its matter and manner, 1 Thess. v. 21. But it would be presumption, blasphemous presumption, to examine, Whether, what we know to be the law of God be right and obligatory, or not, James iv. 11, 12. Isa. viii. 20. Deut. v. 32. (3.) The law of God ne∣cessarily binds all men to the most absolute perfection in holiness, be they as incapable of it as they will, Matth. v. 48. 1 Pet. i. 15, 16. No man can, without mock∣ing and tempting of God, bind himself by vow or oath to any thing, but what he is able to perform. No man may vow to do any thing which is not in his own power, and for the performance of which he hath no promise of ability from God. But, no mere man since the fall is able, in this life either in himself or by any grace received from God, perfectly to keep the commandments of God, Eccl. vii. 20 James iii. 2. While God remains God, his law can demand no less than absolute perfection in holiness. While his word remains true, no mere man since the fall, in this life, can possibly attain to it; and therefore ought never to promise or vow it. The least imperfection in holi∣ness, however involuntary, breaks the law of God, and is even contrary to the duty of our relative stati∣ons of hushands, parents, masters, magistrates, mini∣sters, wives, children, servants or people, 1 John iii. 4. Rom. vii. 14, 23, 24. But it is only by that Page  101 which is, in some respect, voluntary sinfulness, that we break our lawful vows, Psal. xliv. 47. Nothing can more clearly mark the distinction of the two obligati∣ons, than this particular. There is no evading the force of it, but either by adopting the Arminian new law of sincere obedience, or by adopting the Popish perfection of saints in this life. (4.) The law of God binds all men for ever, whether in heaven or hell, Psal. iii. 7, 8. No human law or self-engagement binds men, but only in this life, in which they remain imperfect, and are encompassed with temptations to seduce them from their duty. In heaven they have no need of such helps to duty, and in hell they can∣not be profited by them.

The obligation of lawful promises, oaths, vows and covenants, as well as of human laws, respecting moral duties, however distinct, is no more separable from the obligation of God's law, than Christ's two distinct natures are separable, the one from the other, but closely connected in manifold respects. In binding ourselves to necessary duties, and to other things so long and so far as is conducive thereto, God's law as the only rule to direct us how to glorify and enjoy him, is made the rule of our engagement. Our vow is no new rule of duty, but a new bond to make the law of God our rule. Even Adam's engagement to perfect obedience in the covenant of works was noth∣ing else. His sallibility in his estate of innocence, made it proper, that he should be bound by his own consent or engagement, as well as by the authority of God. Our imperfection in this life, and the temp∣tations which surround us, make it needful, that we, in like manner, should be bound to the same rule, both by the authority of God, and our own engage∣ments. It is in the law of God, that all our deputed authority to command others, or to bind ourselves is allotted to us. The requirement of moral duties by the law of God obligeth us to use all lawful means to promote the performance of them; and hence requires human laws and self-engagements, and the observance of them as conducive to it. Nay they are also expres∣ly required in his law, as his ordinances for helping and hedging us in to our duty. In making lawful Page  102 vows, as well as in making human laws, we exert the deputed authority of God, the supreme Lawgiver, grant∣ed to us in his law, in the manner which his law prescribes, and in obedience to its prescription. In forming our vows as an instituted ordinance of God's worship, which he hath required us to receive, observe, and keep pure and entire, Psal. lxxvi. 11. & cxix. 106. & lvi. 12. Isa. xix. 18, 21. & xlv. 23, 24. & xliv. 5. Jer. l. 5. 2 Cor. viii. 5.—we act precisely according to the direction of his law, and in obedience to his au∣thority in it,—binding ourselves with a bond, binding our soul with a bond, Num. xxx. 2,—11.—binding our∣selves by that which we utter with our lips, ver. 2, 6, 12.—binding ourselves with a binding oath,—binding our∣selves—binding our soul by our own vow—our own bond, ver. 4, 7, 14. In forming our vow, we, according to the prescription of his own law, solemnly constitute God, who is the supreme Lawgiver and Lord of the conscience,—the witness of our self-engagement, and the Guarantee, graciously to reward our evangelical fulfilment of it, and justly to punish our perfidious violation of it. The more punctual and faithful ob∣servation of God's law, notwithstanding our mani∣fold infirmities and temptations, and the more effec∣tual promoting of his glory therein, is the END of our self-engagements, as well as of human laws of autho∣rity. And by a due regard to their binding force, as above stated, is this end promoted,—as hereby the ob∣ligation of God's law is the more deeply impressed on our minds, and we are shut up to obedience to it, and deterred from transgressing it—In consequence of our formation of our vow, with respect to its matter, manner, and end, as prescribed by God, He doth, and necessarily must ratify it in all its awful solemnities, requiring us by his law, to pay it as a bond of debt,—to perform and fulfill it as an engagement to duties, and an obligation which stands upon or against us, Num. xxx. 5, 7, 9, 11. with Deut. xxiii. 21,—23. Psalm lxxvi. 11. & l. 14. Eccl. v. 4, 5. Mat. v. 33. In o∣bedience to this divine requirement, and considering our vow, in that precise form, in which God in his law, adopts and ratifies it, and requires it to be ful∣filled, Page  103 We pay, perform, and fulfil it as a bond, wherewith we, in obedience to Him, have bound ourselves, to endeavour universal obedience to his law, as our only rule of faith and manners. Who∣ever doth not, in his attempts to obey human laws or to fulfil self-enagements, consider them as having that binding force which the law of God allows them, he pours contempt on them, as ordinances of God, and on the law of God for allowing them a binding force. Thus, through maintaining the superadded but subor∣dinate obligation of human laws, and of self-engage∣ments to moral duties, we do not make void, but es∣tablish the obligation of God's law.

The obligation of a vow, by which we engage our∣selves to necessary duties commanded by the law of God, must therefore be INEXPRESSIBLY SOLEMN. Not only are we required by the law of God before our vow was made; but we are bound, in that per∣formance, to fulfil our vow, as an engagement or o∣bligation founded in the supreme authority of his law warranting us to make it. We are bound to fulfil it as a mean of further impressing his authority manifested in his law, upon our own consciences,—as a bond se∣curing and promoting a faithful obedience to all his commandments We are bound to fulfil it, in obe∣dience to that divine authority, by derived power from which, we as governors of ourselves made it to pro∣mote his honour. In those or like respects, our ful∣filment of our vows is a direct obedience to his whole law.—We are moreover bound to fulfil it, as a so∣lemn ordinance of God's worship, the essential form of which lies in self-obligation, and must be received, observed, kept pure and entire, and holily and reve∣rently used, and so in obedience to Command I. II. III. We are bound to fulfil it, as an ordinance of God, in which we have pledged our own truth, sincerity and faithfulness; and so in obedience to Command IX. I. II. III. We are bound to fulfil it, as a solemn deed or grant, in which we have made over our persons, property, and service to the Lord and his church; and so in obedience to Command I. II. VIII. nay, in obedience to the whole law of love and equity, Mat. xxii. 37, 39. & vii. 12. We are bound to fulfil it Page  104 from regard to the declarative glory of God, as the witness of our making of it, that he may appear to have been called to attest nothing, but sincerity and truth; and so in obedience to Command I. III. IX. We are bound to fulsil it from a regard to truth, honesty, and reverence of God, as things not only com∣manded by his law, but good in themselves, agree∣able to his very nature, and therefore necessarily com∣manded by him,—and from a detestation of falsehood, injustice, and contempt of God, as things intrinsically evil, contrary to his nature, and therefore necessarily forbidden in his law; and thus in regard to his au∣thority in his whole law, as necessarily holy, just and good We are bound to fulfil it, from a regard to the holiness, justice, faithfulness, majesty, and other perfections of God, as the Guarantee of it, into whose hand we have committed the determination and exe∣cution of its awful sanction,—as the gracious rewar∣der of our fidelity, or just revenger of our perfidy,—and hence in regard to our own happiness, as con∣cerned in that sanction—In fine, We are bound to fulfil it in obedience to that command of God, which adopts and ratifies it, requiring us to pay, fulfil, or per∣form our vow, oath or covenant, Psal. l. 14. & lxxvi. 11. Eccl. v. 4. Deut. xxiii. 21,—23 Mat. v. 33.

In VIOLATING such a vow, We do not merely transgress the law of God, as requiring the duties en∣gaged, before the vow was made. But we also rebel against, and profane that divine warrant which we had to make our vow. We profane that authority over ourselves in the exercise of which we made the vow, and consequentially that supreme authority in God, from which ours was derived; and so strike a∣gainst the foundation of the whole law. We mani∣fest a contempt of that law, which regulated the mat∣ter and manner of our vow. We profane the vow, as an ordinance of God's worship, appointed in his law. By trampling on a noted mean of promoting obedience to all the commands of God, We mark our hatred of them, and prepare ourselves to transgress them, and endeavour to remove the awe of God's au∣thority and terror of his judgments from our conscien∣ces. We blasphemously represent the Most High as Page  105 a willing Witness to our treachery and fraud. We pour contempt on him, as the Guarantee of our en∣gagements, as if he inclined not, or durst not avenge our villainy. Contrary to the truth and faithfulness required in his law, and pledged in our vow, we plunge ourselves into the most criminal deceit and falsehood. Contrary to equity, we rob God and his church of that which we had solemnly devoted to their service. Contrary to devotion, we banish the serious impression of God's adorable perfections. Contrary to good neighbourhood, we render ourselves a plague and curse, and encourage others to the most enor∣mous wickedness. Contrary to the design of our creation and preservation, we reject the glory of God, and obedience to his law from being our end. Mean∣while, we trample on the ratification of our vow, by the divine law in all its awful solemnities, and mani∣fold connections with itself,—and requirement to pay it.

It is manifest, that our covenanting ancestors un∣derstood their vows in the manner above represented. They never represent them as mere acknowledgments of the obligation of God's law, or as placing themselves in some new relation to God's law, or more directly under any command of it. But declare that a man binds him∣self by a promissory oath to what is good and just—It cannot oblige to sin: but in any thing not sinful, being taken, it binds to performance.—By a vow we more strictly bind ourselves to necessary duties*. And, in expressions almost innumerable, they represent the obligation of their vows as distinct and different, tho' not separable from the law of God. They no less Page  106 plainly declared, that no man may bind himself by oath to any thing, but what he is ABLE and resolved to perform;—no man may vow any thing which is not in his own power, and for the performance of which he hath no promise of ability from God. And in their several forms of covenant, they never once pretend to engage performing of duties in that abso∣lute persection which is required by the law of God,—but sincerely, really, and constantly to ENDEAVOUR the performance of them.

II. These public covenants of our ancestors, in which they abjured the Popish and other abominati∣ons, may be called NATIONAL, because the represen∣tatives, or the greater or better part of the nation, jointly entered into them, as covenants of duty graft∣ed upon the covenant of grace. But they ought never to be called national or civil, in order to exclude them from being church-covenants, and thus diminish the solemnity or continuance of their obligation. Both church and state jointly promoted them, and in dif∣ferent respects they related to both, being at once cove∣nants of men with God, and with one another. In so far as therein they covenanted with one another, with an immediate view to promote or preserve what belong∣ed to the state, they served instead of a civil bond. But at the same time, they covenanted with one ano∣ther as church-members, in subordination to their covenanting with God himself as their principal party.—The ratifications given to these covenants by the State were really civil ratifications, which adopted them as a part of the laws of the State.—But that no more rendered them merely civil covenants, than the civil ratifications given to, and embodying our Confessions of Faith, made them merely civil con∣fessions, and mere acts of Parliament,—or than the repeated legal establishment of our Protestant religion in doctrine, worship, discipline and government, made it a mere civil religion. These covenants were some∣times used as means of promoting civil purposes. But that will no more prove them merely civil, than the Page  107 use of fasting and prayer for advancing or securing the welfare of the State, will prove them a mere civil worshipping of God.—These covenants were formed for promoting the happiness of both church and state, and were calculated to answer that end. But so is the chris∣tian religion and all the ordinances of it, if duly obser∣ved, 1 Tim. i. 8. Prov. xiv. 34. I admit, that there was sometimes too mixed an interference of civil and ec∣clesiastical power in enjoining these covenants. But abuse of things doth not alter their nature. God's ordinances are too often used in a carnal, sensual and devilish manner, without ever being rendered such themselves. It is only, as really religious covenants, and not as civil or state covenants, they can be adopt∣ed into ordination vows or baptismal engagements. And that they were such, the following arguments evince.

1. The Covenanters themselves, who best knew their own intentions do, times without number, re∣present them as Vows, which their Confession de∣clares to be a religious ordinance, as covenants with God, which must be religious, if any dealings with him be so*. The Assembly in 1649, in their last ses∣sion, represent them as consirmations of that right which the Father had given Christ to the ends of the earth.—They, times without number, call them religi∣ous covenants,—a religious covenant with God,—among themselves,—a voluntary covenanting with God,—a more free service to God, than that which is command∣ed by civil authority; and hence distinguish their co∣venant, as having a religious and perpetual obligation,—from acts of parliament establishing religion, which are changeable, and of the nature of a civil ratificati∣on. Concerning the Solemn League, Principal Baillie says, The English were for a civil league, we Page  108 for a religious. They were brought to us in this. The Assembly 1645, in their Letter to the Dutch, say of it,

"Having made a religious covenant, even as bound to God by the firmest bond, that God might avert his wrath already smoking and hanging over our heads,—a covenant renewed with God, (which shews that the Scots considered it as a real renovation of their national covenant) a religious covenant with God and among ourselves.—If it should seem meet to your prudence to think of joining in the religious fellowship of such a covenant."
How absurd, for persons of weaker capacities and less instructed by the Spirit of God, to pretend, at this distance of time, to know better the nature of their covenants, than themselves did!

2. Except perhaps in 1581, the church, in her Ge∣neral Assemblies, or Commissions, took the lead in promoting the covenanting work. And the state, when it did any thing, did little more than ratify the deeds of the church appointing these covenants to be sworn§. Nay to me it appears evident, that even from 1581 to 1595, the national covenant was sub∣scribed more in obedience to the church, than in o∣bedience to the state.

3. In A. D. 1596 and 1638, in which the covenan∣ting work was most delightfully carried on, in Scotland, the state had no influence at all in promoting it. Nay in 1638, the court did all it could, to oppose the covenanters procedure. Indeed our zealous an∣cestors in the preamble to their bond of that year quote many acts of Parliament in favours of that religion to which they engaged, and of the stedfast maintenance of it. But they never condsiered these acts as a part of their bond, or as a command to covenant in their manner; but as an evidence that they were doing nothing rebellious or treasonable, as their adversaries Page  109 pretended. Nay, till 1640, no act of Parliament en∣joined covenanting work.

4. All along in Scotland, England and Ireland, ministers not statesmen, were the ordinary administra∣tors of these covenants. And upon religious occasions on the Lord's day, before administration of his Sup∣per, or solemn fasting, were they appointed to be tak∣en*. If, without law, laymen sometimes administer∣ed them, that will no more prove them merely state covenants, than mid-wives baptizing of children, will constitute baptism a mid-wife ordinance. To protect them from the insults of Popish and other profane op∣posers, the ministers in A. D. 1590, had a royal com∣mission, and a number of attendants appointed them, when they administered the covenant. But that will no more prove, that they acted as civil judges, than that ministers, receiving an order from King or Par∣liament to observe a public fast, or hold a Synod, they must, in their fasting and judging work, renounce Christ's sole headship over his church, and adopt the magistrate into his place.—If it is pretended, that mi∣nisters marrying of persons is not a religious but civil work, I insist, that the marriage of Christians, which is to be only in the Lord,—to bring up an holy seed for Him and his church, and the family to be a church in the house, and the parties mutual duty copied from, and influenced by the example of Christ,—and as it is a covenant of God which is not like civil contracts, dis∣solvable by the will of parties, be plainly proven to be a merely civil and nowise religious bond. If bishops, as spiritual lords, administer the king's coronation-oath, I leave it to others to explain and defend their conduct.—It is certain, the defence of religion is a lead∣ing article in that oath.

Page  110 5. There appears nothing in the origination of these covenants, which can prove them merely civil. No∣thing appears in the five bonds of our Reformers, in 1557, 1559, 1560, 1563, but may well accord to the na∣ture of a religious engagement. As Christians, and not merely as civil lords, they bound themselves,—chiefly to promote the true religion according to God's word.—Had K. James been not only the original adviser, but even the framer of the National Covenant, it might nevertheless have been a religious bond. The psalms which K. David penned and James versified, are not thereby rendered merely civil. The fast which K. Jehoshaphat appointed, and at which he publicly pray∣ed, was really religious, not merely civil. Our Con∣fessions of Faith and Protestant religion were not rendered merely civil, though in 1560 and 1690, the State took the lead in the ratification and establishment before any General Assembly of these periods. It is not improbable, that the ministers of the church had a principal hand in the origination of our national covenant. In 1580, James was about fourteen years of age, and by no transcendent genius, qualified for the work. Just before, and quickly after, we find him marking his hatred of true reformation. His ruling favourites were not a little suspected and com∣plained of, by the zealous clergy, as addicted to Po∣pery.—Through the tearing out of the minutes of four sessions of the Assembly, October 1580, by some parasite of the court, Calderwood's history, at least his printed abridgment, is imperfect on this period. He only says, that

"the second Confession of Faith, i. e. national covenant, commonly called the King's Confession, was subscribed by the King and his hous∣hold, i. e. privy council, January 28th, 158, which is but an appendix to the First, i e. Scotch Confession, and comprehends it; and so both are one,—that a charge was subscribed by the King, March 2d, where∣by subjects of all ranks were charged to subscribe the Confession, (national covenant) and requiring mini∣sters to demand said subscription, and to censure such as refused.—The General Assembly in April ap∣proved the said Confession, and enjoined the subscrip∣tion of it.—The Assembly in October peremptorily Page  111 enjoined ministers, to see that this Confession of Faith be subscribed, by all under their charge.—The Assem∣bly in February 1588, enjoined all ministers to deal with noblemen and gentry to subscribe this Confession of Faith.—In March 1590, the privy council, at the earnest desire of the Assembly, appointed about ninety-six ministers to conveen before them, persons of all ranks to subscribe the Confession and general Bond.—The Assembly appointed the Confession and Bond to be subscribed anew on copies printed by Robert Waldgrave," (in 4to, and fronted with these scriptures, Josh. xxiv. 15. 2 Kings xi. 17. Isa. xliv. 5. which certainly respect religious covenants)*.
Petry affirms,
"That Romish dispensations for Papists to swear the oaths, or do other things required of them, providing they continued true to the Pope in their heart,—being shewed to K. James (but whether by ministers appointed to watch over the dangers of the church, he says not) occasioned the formation and swearing of the national covenant, in order to defeat the intention of them. Mr. Craig, a celebrated mini∣ster, formed the draught of it at the desire of King James," (and perhaps instigated James to desire it).
—With respect to James' conduct in the drawing, and first subscription of this covenant, Spotswood, who had the best access to original vouchers, had he been inclined to a faithful use of them, says,
"So careful was the King to have the church satisfied and the rumours of the Court's defection from the (Pro∣testant) religion repressed"
—Remarks in Wil∣liamson's Sermon, 1703, says,
"The Presbyterian party, A. D 1580, got an act of Assembly at Dun∣dee against Episcopacy. That did not content them. They raised mighty jealousies against the King and his court, as if they intended to re-introduce Popery. To convince his subjects of his sincere adherence to the Protestant religion, His Majesty caused his mini∣ster John Craig to compile the negative Confession, (national covenant) in the form of an oath§."
Col∣lier says,
"This covenant was signed, either by the Page  112 king or the lords of the council, at the request of the General Assembly*."
Rapin says,
"It was drawn up by order of the General Assembly."

The origination of the Solemn League and Cove∣nant was equally consistent with a religious vow. Not a few of the most pious clergymen in England had all along, from Elizabeth's establishment of the Protestant religion, hated part of the ceremonies, and the lord∣ly power of the bishops. Many of these, driven from their charge, by the Prelatical persecution, under Eli∣zabeth and James, and Charles I had been compas∣sionately taken into the families of great men, for the education of their children. Their instruction and e∣xample were remarkably blessed, for rendering their pupils and others intelligent and pious. They per∣ceived the encroachments made upon their religion and liberties by Abp. Laud and his assistants, and not a few of them conceived a strong relish for what was then called Puritanism. The success of the Scotch covenanters, in their struggles with the tyrannical court, made many of the English wish and hope for a similar deliverance. In their treaty with Charles 1641, the Scots requested, that the English should be brought to a reformed uniformity with themselves in religion. The Scotch ministers, who attended their Commissio∣ners at London, in forming that treaty of peace, by their instructions and example, recommended their Presbyterian reformation not a little to many of the most learned and pious of the English. A correspon∣dence for promoting a religious uniformity between the two churches was carried on by a number of the English clergymen with the Scotch Assemblies, 1641, 1642, 1643; and by the English parliament with the Assemblies, 1642, 1643. At their request, the As∣sembly appointed Messrs Henderson, Rutherford, Gil∣lespy and others, to assist the Westminster Assembly in compiling ecclesiastical Standards, of doctrine, wor∣ship, discipline and government. Alarmed by the terrible massacre of the Protestants in Ireland, and re∣duced to strats in their war with K. Charles, the English Parliament requested, that for promoting and Page  113 establishing uniformity in religion, and preserving their respective liberties, the two nations might be more closely connected by a mutual League. The Letter from a multitude of English ministers,—the papers from the English parliament and their Commissioners, and the Scotch Assembly's answers, manifest that an uniformity of religion was the principal thing propos∣ed by this League. Henry Vane and perhaps some o∣ther English Commissioners, nevertheless, from a dis∣like of the Scotch Presbyterianism, thought to have gone no further than a civil league, but the Scots be∣ing positive for a religious one, he yielded It appear∣ed from that readiness and avidity, with which the Solemn League was received in England, that it an∣swered to the wishes of his constituents. After the Westminster Assembly had examined and approved it, the English Parliament appointed it to be sworn by persons of all ranks, and issued forth instructions and an exhortation for promoting that work.

6. There is nothing in the matter of these cove∣nants, which doth not enter into the faith and prac∣tice of true religion. They principally engaged to the belief, profession and practice of the true Protes∣tant religion, in doctrine, worship, discipline and go∣vernment; and renounced, and promised the regular extirpation of Popery, Prelacy, and whatever else should, by the word of God, be found contrary to said doctrine, worship, discipline, and government, and holy practice. The preservation of the King's person and authority, and of the rights and privileges of the parliament and nation was promised as a thing subordinated to the interests of religion, in which view, it is a very necessary and important branch of practical Christianity, Rom. xiii. 1,—8. 1 Pet. ii. 13, 17. Tit iii. 1.

7. The manner of covenanting represented in these covenants, corresponds not to merely civil but to re∣ligious Bonds. In their Bond 1581, 1590. &c. Our ancestors covenanted as throughly resolved in the truthPage  114by the word and Spirit of God,—as believing it with their heart,—and joining themselves to the reformed kirk in doctrine, faith, religion, and use of the holy sacra∣ments, as lively members of the same, in Christ their Head. If these expressions be but understood, as re∣lating to the visible church, her concerns as such, are of a spiritual and religious nature, John xviii. 36. Their covenanting in 1596, was so much detached from the State, and so religiously conducted, that you dare not pretend it to have been state-covenanting; yet they viewed it as a mere renovation of their na∣tional covenant, in a manner suited to their circum∣stances. Shield in Hind let loose, De Foe, Crook-shanks, and Stevenson, and Petry in their church-histories, and Gillespy in his English Popish ceremonies, call it a renovation of their national covenant*. E∣pistola Philadelphi subjoined to Altare Damascenum, says,

"Their sacred and solemn covenant was renew∣ed, in which men of all ranks covenanted with God, that they would adhere to the religion and disci∣pline."
Calderwood, who was perhaps present, says, "The end of the convention March 1596, was to enter into a new league with God,—holding up their hands,—entering into a new league and covenant with God,—that the covenant might be renewed in Synods, after the same manner.—The covenant was renewed in Synods.—The covenant was renewed in Presbytries.—The covenant was renewed in Parishes.—In 1604, the whole brethren of the Presbytry of St. Andrews and Synod of Lothian, subscribed the confession of faith and national covenant anew, like as they subscribed the same—in the year 1596,—which confession, i. e. national covenant is solemnly renewed in the covenant celebrated in the general and provincial Assemblies, Presbytries, and Kirk-sessions, in the year 1596; and how shall any be heard against that which he hath solemnly sworn or subscribed§? The Assembly 1638, Ses. 17th, say,
"The covenant was renewed in 1596."
The preamble of the cove∣nant, Page  115 1648, affirms, that
"the Assembly 1596, and all the kirk judicatures, with the concurrence of the nobility, gentry and burgesses, did with many tears acknowledge before God the breach of the national covenant, and engaged themselves to reformation."
—In 1638, they covenanted in obedience to the command of God, conform to the practice of the godly in sormer times, and according to the laudable example of their worthy and religious progenitors, and of many yet living among them, (i. e. who had covenanted in 1596.)—They covenanted as agreeing with their heart to the true religion,—and from the knowledge and conscience of their duty to God, their king and their country, with∣out worldly respect or inducement, so far as human in∣firmity will suffer;—as Christians renewing their cove∣nant with God;—as resolved to be good examples of all goodness, soberness and righteousness.—In 1643, they covenanted as unseignedly desirous to be humbled for their sins, in not duly receiving Jesus Christ, and walking wor∣thy of him.—In 1648, they covenanted in imitation of their penitent predecessors in 1596,—as deeply affect∣ed with their sins, especially the undervaluing of the gos∣pel, that they had not laboured in the power thereof, and received Christ into their hearts;—and as really and sincerely penitent; denying themselves, and resolving not to lean on carnal confidences, but to lean to the Lord. Dare you pretend, that all these expressions, in their several bonds, represent men, merely as members of a commonwealth, employed in mere state-covenanting?

8. The ends of their covenanting expressed in their several bonds are religious not merely civil. In 1581-1596 and 1604 they covenanted in order to pro∣mote and preserve the profession and practice of the true Protestant religion;—in order to advance the kingdom of Christ, as the principal, and the welfare of their country as their subordinate end—In 1638, they cove∣nanted as a means of obtaining the Lord's special sa∣vour, and of recovering the purity of religion. In 1643, they covenanted that they and their posterity might as brethren, live together in saith and love, and the Lord delight to dwell among them; and that the LordPage  116might be one, and his name one, in all the three kingdoms, that the Lord might turn away his wrath and heavy in∣dignation, and establish these churches and kingdoms in truth and peace.—In 1648 they covenanted, for ad∣vancing the knowledge of God, and holiness and righteous∣ness in the land.

9. There is nothing in these covenants, or in the seasons of taking them, which doth not perfectly har∣monize with a taking hold of God's covenant of grace. Mens beli•… profession and practice of the true Pro∣testant religion, and labouring to promote the wel∣fare of their king and country, agree well to it, Tit. ii. 11, 12, 14. & iii. 1, 8, 14. Prov xxiii. 23. 1 Pet. ii. 13, 17. Rom. xiii. 1,—8, 11,—14.—Their volun∣tary joining themselves to the church of God as lively members in Christ,—and agreeing with their whole heart to his true religion and ordinances, agree exact∣ly to it, Psal. xxii. 27,—31. & cx. 3. 2 Cor. viii. 5. Having before their eyes the glory of God, and ad∣vancement of the kingdom of Christ, and their ear∣nest and constant endeavours, in their stations, that they and their posterity might live in faith and love, delightfully agree with it, Mat. vi. 9, 10. 1 Cor. x 31. Eph. iii. 14,—19. 2 Thess. iii. 1. Psal. lxxviii. 4,—9. Isa. xxxviii. 19. An unfeigned desire to be humbled for their sin in not duly receiving Christ, and walk∣ing worthy of him, and for their unworthy use of the sacraments;—a real and sincere repentance, self-de∣nial, and resolution to lean upon the Lord alone, ac∣cord excellently with it, Ezek. xvi. 62, 63 & xxxvi. 25,—32. Phil. iii. 3, 8,—14. The covenanting sea∣sons being remarkable for trouble or danger,—the out pouring of the Holy Ghost,—and deep convicti∣ons of sin, are precisely those marked out for that work in scripture, Joel ii 12, 13. Psal. l. 14, 15. & lxvi. 13, 14. Ezek. xx. 36, 37. Hos. ii, 7, 14. & v. 15. & iii. 4, 5, Isa. xliv. 3,—5. Acts ii. 2 Cor. viii 5. Jer. l. 4, 5.

These covenants indeed connect fulfilment with gra∣cious rewards, and violation with fearful judgments. But this annexed sanction no more renders them cove∣nants Page  117 of works, than so help me God, in the conclusion of oaths, renders every oath a covenant of works. Notwithstanding this sanction annexed to the Israe∣lites covenants of duty with God, they might well stand stedfast in the covenant of grace, Lev. xxvi. Deut. xxvii,—xxx. 1 Kings ix. In this world, the Law, as a rule of life, hath an annexed sanction of gra∣cious rewards and fearful chastisements, as well as it hath as a covenant, one of legal rewards and punish∣ments, Psal. i. Isa iii. 10, 11. Exod. xx 6, 12. Rom. ii. 7,—10. & viii. 13. Heb. xi. 6. Gal. vi. 7,—10. 1 Cor. xv. 58. Without Neonomianism, the Holy Ghost calls that which is annexed to believers obedi∣ence, a reward, and that which is connected with their disobedience, a punishment, Psal. xix 11. & lviii. 11. Prov. xi. 18. & xxiii. 18. Mat. v. 12. & x. 41. Gen. xv. 1. Ezra ix. 13. Amos iii. 2. 2 Cor. ii. 6 Lam. iii. 39 Psalm xcix. 8.

"The threatenings of God's law shew believers what even their sins deserve, and what afflictions in this world they may expect for them, al∣though freed from the curse thereof, threatened by the law. The promises of it shew them God's appro∣bation of obedience, and what blessings they may ex∣pect upon the performance thereof, although not as due to them by the law as a covenant of works; so as a man's doing good, and refraining from evil, because the law encourageth the one and deterreth from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law, and not under grace"

10 The remarkable effusion of the Spirit of God, which attended the swearing of these covenants, for the conviction, conversion, and confirmation of mul∣titudes, fixing in their hearts such a deep sense of reli∣gion, as all the profaneness and persecution of twenty eight years could not eradicate,—is no contemptible evidence that He looked upon them as religious, not merely state covenants. It is at our infinite hazard, if we call that common and unclean, which God hath so singularly honoured.


"Our Covenanters characterizing themselves Noblemen, Barons, Burgesses and Commons,Page  118 proves their covenants to be mere civil covenants."
ANSW. Will then others characterizing themselves ministers render them, at the same time, church-cove∣nants? Hath Solomon's denominating himself King of Israel, in his Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, rendered these two books merely civil, not religious? If, in a Bond or Bill, I denominate myself minister of the gos∣pel, Will that render the Bond or Bill religious and ecclesiastical? (2.) As they never used such charac∣ters in their bonds, but when they covenanted contra∣ry to their King's will, they probably intended no more by them, than merely to mark the great harmo∣ny of all ranks, for the encouragement of their friends, and the terror of their malicious enemies. (3.) There was no irreligion, in subjecting themselves and all their honours to the service of Jesus Christ, as made of God Head over all things to his Church, Revel. xxi. 24.


"In 1638, and 1643, they framed their covenants to admit Episcopalians and Indepen∣dents, whom they would not have admitted to the sacraments."
ANSW. As in taking these covenants, men bound themselves to the regular reformation of every thing found sinful, when tried by the word of God, our ancestors agreeable to Rom. xiv. 1. Isaiah xxxv. 3, 4. were willing to help forward the weak, and admit to their covenant and church fellowship, every person, who appeared willing to receive more light. even though they were not in every respect, e∣qually enlightened and reformed as themselves. But, I defy you to prove, that they excluded one upright covenanter from their religious communion. (2.) The covenants of 1638 and 1643, were not framed to admit any who resolved obstinately to adhere to Episcopacy or Independency. In the bond of 1638, men bound themselves to forbear the practice of Episcopa∣lian government, and of the articles of Perth, till they should be TRIED and ALLOWED in a free General Assembly. The covenanters declare, that their inten∣tion in that bond, was against all innovations and corruptions. In the covenant of 1643, that para∣graph, Page  119 which peculiarly respected the Protestants in England and Ireland was prudently suited to the weakness of many of them. But there is nothing in it, which favours either Episcopacy or Independen∣cy. The preservation of the reformation attained in Scotland sworn to, excluded them both. If then E∣rastians or Independents, and others dissembled with God, and their brethren, in taking it, they, not the covenant, are blameable. Mens hypocritical recepti∣on of the sacraments will not render them civil ordi∣nances. (3.) You can never prove, that the covenant of 1538 was tendered to the Doctors of Aberdeen, after they had shown their obstinate attachment to Prelacy. Or that Philip Nye, or any others, after manifesting their obstinate attachment to Independen∣cy, had the covenant of 1643, tendered to them by any truly zealous covenanter. Baillie affirms, that the Scots were peremptory against keeping open a door to Independency in England.


"The imposition of these covenants under civil penalties, proves them to have been mere∣ly state covenants."
ANSW. No more than the re∣quirement of men under civil penalties, to partake, at least once a year, of the Lord's Supper, rendered it a merely civil ordinance. An ordinance may re∣main religious, though a civil sanction should be sin∣fully annexed to it. (2.) If, which I do not, you be∣lieve, that Asa and Josiah, by penal laws, compelled men to take their covenants, you can scarce condemn our covenanters annexing civil penalties to the refusal of their bonds, especially as they knew, it would scarce come from any, but such as were malignant ene∣mies to the civil as well as religious liberties of the na∣tion. (3.) In 1596, 1638, 1648, and 1649, these covenants had no penalty either civil or ecclesiastical annexed to the not swearing of them, without any hint from the covenanters, that this altered the na∣ture of the engagement.


"Our ancestors gave up with their covenanting work, whenever they got the state of the Page  120 nation settled by means of it; and having got their civil liberties otherwise secured at the Revolution, they never covenanted at all."
ANSW. (1.) Did ten years of murderous invasion and outrageous conten∣tion, and twenty-eight years of horrible profaneness and persecution make our nation so happy, that co∣venanting with God our deliverer was no more nece∣ssary? Or, Have the fearful profanation of the name of God by unnecessary and wicked oaths, or the shocking bribery and perjury, too common in the e∣lection of our Representatives in Parliament, and our other outrageous abominations, rendered Britain so holy, that these covenants need no more be regard∣ed? (2.) Not the alteration of the national affairs to the better, but the alteration of mens hearts to the worse, made covenanting with God to be so contemned at the Restoration and Revolution.

III. That these solemn and religious covenants with God, in which all gross heresy, blasphemy, idolatry, Popery, and other abominations have been repeatedly abjured, bind not only the immediate swearers or sub∣scribers, but all their posterity and other representees, in all generations following, to a saithful performance of every thing engaged, must now be demonstrated.

1. That which is engaged in these covenants, being moral duty, commanded by the law of God, is of perpetual obligation. The whole faith and practice to which we therein engage are stated from the oracles of God, in our excellent Standards. If the matter in itself, were contrary to God's law, no human cove∣nant could bind us, or any represented by us, to it for a moment. We can have no power from God to bind ourselves or others to any thing sinful, 2 Cor. xiii. 8. Nor can any human deed be valid in opposi∣tion to his supreme authority.—If the matter were indifferent, no vow or promissory oath could lawful∣ly constitute a perpetual obligation, as the alteration of circumstances might render it very unexpedient and unedifying, 1 Cor. vi. 12. & x. 23. & xvi. 14 Rom. xiv. 19. But if that which is engaged, be precisely, what every person, in every age or circumstance, is Page  121 bound to, by the antecedent tie of the law of God, no man can be, in the least, abridged of any lawful liberty, by being brought under the most solemn obli∣gation of an oath or vow.—The strictest fulfilment of it cannot but tend to the real profit of every one concerned, both in his personal and his social capaci∣ty, Psal. xix. 11. 1 Cor. xv. 58. Isa iii. 10. Proverbs xiv. 34. Rom. ii. 1,—10. It is therefore for the ad∣vantage of us and our posterity, to be hedged in, and bound up to the most exact conformity to God's law, by every mean which he requires or allows, in his word,—even as it is for our advantage to have our li∣berty bounded by the ledges of bridges.—The law of God requires us to do every thing which is calculat∣ed to promote or secure our own or our children's walking in the truth, Gen. xvii. 7. Psal. xlv. 17. & lxxviii 1,—9 Isa. xxxviii. 19 3 John, ver. 4.—It re∣presents solemn vows as a mean most effectual to an∣swer this purpose, Psal. cxix. 106. & lxxvi. 11. & l. 14. & lvi. 12. & lxvi. 13, 14. & lxi. 8. & cxvi. 12,—19. & cxxxii. 1,—5. Gen. xxviii. 20. Deut. v. 2. & xxix. Josh. xxiv. 15, 24. 25. 2 Chron. xv. 12. & xxiii. 16, 17. & xxiv. 10. & xxxiv. 30,—32. Ezra x 3. Neh. ix. x. Isa. xix. 18, 21. & xliv. 3,—5. & xlv. 23, 24. Jer. l. 4. 5. 2 Cor. vii. 5.

2. By the repeated judicial acts of both church and state, approving and imposing these covenants, they were constituted the adopted laws of both, proper to be acknowledged and submitted to, by all their mem∣bers, in the most solemn manner, which their circum∣stances permitted.—Several of these acts, as well as the best duties of Christians, had their sinful infirmities particularly on the head of penalties, which I mean not to defend. But in so far as these acts approved and authorized these covenants, which bound men to receive and hold fast such temporal and spiritual pri∣vileges, as God had given them, and thankfully im∣prove them to his glory,—and required a Christian, regular, and seasonable taking of them,—they were certainly good and valid. Being good in themselves, and the exact performance of them calculated to pro∣mote the glory of God, and eminent welfare of both church and state, these covenants, if once regularly Page  122 adopted as laws, must remain obligatory upon the a∣dopting societies, while they exist. Civil rulers being ordained ministers of God for good to men, Rom. xiii. 1,—4. and church officers appointed by Christ for the edifying of his body, Eph. iv. 11,—14. have no power against the truth, but for the truth, 2 Corinth. xiii. 8, 10. and so can no more repeal a law, which promotes only that which is morally good, any more than they can give validity to a sinful one.—These covenants must therefore, in the view of God and conscience, continue binding, as laws divinely ratifi∣ed, upon us, as subjects, and as Christians. But it is their much more solemn obligation as public Vows and Covenants with God, which I mean to establish, par∣ticularly with reference to Scotland.

3. The matter of these vows being morally good, calculated to promote the holiness and happiness of e∣very person in every age, the immediate covenanters were such as laid every possible foundation of trans∣mitting the obligation of their vow to the whole church and nation, to all generations. The REPRESENTA∣TIVES of both church and state,—the MAJORITY of the Society, and our own PARENTS, in their respec∣tive stations, took these covenants. What could tran∣smit and extend an obligation to posterity, if all this did not? You cannot but allow, that even in private civil deeds, the obligation is extended far beyond the immediate engagers. In bonds, respecting money or service, men bind not only themselves, but their suc∣cessors, and assigns, especially, if they have the con∣tinued right to, or possession of that fund or property from which that money or service natively ariseth. The obligations contained in a call to a minister, fix on the whole congregation, if subscribed by the majority, without any regular dissent,—and on such as after∣wards accede to it. The treaties of peace, traffick, &c. contracted by Kings, Parliaments, Magistrates, are held binding on their subjects, and even on their posterity. They, who accede to any society, fall un∣der the binding force of its social engagements for debt, duty, &c. If bonds and covenants did only bind immediate contractors, nothing but the wildest disorder would ensue. If the immediate engagers, Page  123 quickly after died, they who trusted to their engage∣ment, might be totally ruined.—A minority, who had been silent during the transaction, might, in a few days, overturn a bond or contract of the majori∣ty. Subjects might, at their pleasure, render void the contracts and treaties of their rulers. To pretend, that men may not use the same freedom, in binding their representees and posterity to God, as in binding them to men, is highly absurd and shocking, as it represents God as more dangerous, and less honoura∣ble and useful to be dealt with, than the very worst of men. Why may not a parent, in offering his child to God in baptism, take hold of God to be his God, and the God of his seed after him to all generations,—and dedicate not only that child, but all his poste∣rity to God, as his honoured vassals and servants, Gen. xvii. 7. Acts ii. 39.?—Is this less dutiful, safe, or honourable, than to infeft himself and them in some earthly property, and bind them as possessors of it, to be the vassals of some sinful superior?—If the majority of a society, especially in distress, may put the whole under the authority and protection of a man who is a great sinner, why must they act either wickedly or foolishly, if, by a solemn dedication, they put it under the especial care and protection of the Great GOD our Saviour? Rev. xi. 15. Psal. ii. 12. & xxii. 27. If the representatives of a people, may bind them to live peaceably and trade honestly with earthly neighbours; or may, in some cases, sub∣ject them to the power, laws, or exactions of other earthly superiors,—why allow them no power to stu∣dy peace with God, and to follow peace with all men and holiness?—No power to surrender them to God, to be ruled by his law,—and to render him his due re∣venues of honour?—Hath not God an original and supreme right to all men as his creatures, subjects, and children? Are they not all bound by his law to the whole of that duty, to which, we contend, any man ought to be bound by a vow of perpetual obliga∣tion? Is it not inexpressibly honourable, safe and pro∣fitable to stand under the special care of, and in rela∣tion to God in Christ, Deut. iv. 7. & xxxiii. 29,? Page  124 Why then more shy of devoting posterity, or other representees to him, than to a sinful man and his ser∣vice?

In covenants with men, a proper and timely dissent may frequently be well founded; and may effectually divert this obligation from the dissenters. But how there could be a lawful dissent from an engagement carefully to keep all the commandments of God and nothing else, I know not. Had the whole, or even the body of the Hebrew nation, timely and regularly dissented from the treaty made by their princes with the Gibeonites, it might have diverted its obligation from them.—Inslead of this, they appear to have a∣greed to the final stating of it, without a single mur∣mur, Josh. ix. But, if these princes had, by cove∣nant, devoted themselves and their tribes to a careful keeping of God's commandments; I know not how the people's dissent could have diverted the obligation from themselves.—In covenants with men, the non-fulfilment of some condition or some dispensation or remission may weaken, if not perfectly annul, the ob∣ligation. But none can dispense with, or grant re∣missions, in the matters of God. Covenants made with God are more absolute, and less clogged with conditions, and so more obliging The covenants of which we now treat, being about indispensible duties of morality, upon which dependeth the glory of God, the advancement of the kingdom of Jesus Christ, the honour and happiness of magistrates, and the public liberty, safety and peace of the nation, and the good of posterity in all time coming, ought to have their obligation allowed to fix, wherever any ground can be found, while Christ hath a kingdom, and the cove∣nanters a posterity, particularly in Scotland; for,

(1.) Our civil Representatives by these covenants devoted themselves in their station, and their subjects, in so far as under their power, to the service of God. In 1581 and 1590, King James and his privy council took the National Covenant, and required their sub∣jects to follow their example. In 1638, the privy council again took it, as it stood in 1581. In 1640, the members of Parliament took it, as explained by the Assembly 1638, to abjure Prelacy and the five ar∣ticlesPage  125of Perth, and appointed it to be sworn by all the members of every future Parliament. It was sworn by the members of Parliament 1644. In 1649, the national covenant, and the Solemn League which was materially the same, were renewed by the members of Parliament, with solemn fasting and humiliation. The oath framed in 1641, to be sworn by members of Par∣liament, at taking their seats, expresly approved the national covenant. King Charles I. gave a solemn approbation of it. King Charles II. and other magis∣trates took the covenants in 1650 and 1651. Now, if a covenant made by the princes of Israel with the representatives of the Gibeonites, in a matter which concerned the Lord's land and the remote service os his altar, extended its obligation to the whole nation of Israel, who consented to it, no otherwise, than by si∣lence at the final stating of it,—and to their posterity, for many generations,—that four hundred years after, they were punished with a famine on account of Saul's breach of it, Josh. ix. with 2 Sam. xxi. and to the Gibeonites and their posterity;—Why not allow the covenanting deed of our Princes to extend its obliga∣tion in like manner? If magistrates be the ministers of God for good to men, Why should they not be ca∣pable to surrender themselves and their subjects to the special care and service of God, their common and beneficent Superior? If they possess the powers assign∣ed them in our excellent Standards, Why may they not, as nursing sathers of the church, devote them∣selves and their subjects of the same true religion, to the enjoyment of God himself in his oracles and or∣dinances, and to serve Him regularly in Christ? If Joshua could bind himself and his family to serve the Lord, why may not magistrates bind themselves and their subjects of the same true religion, to receive and hold fast the like honour and happiness? If for the benefit of their subjects, magistrates may, in a time of need, subject themselves and their people to some powerful Monarch, whose fury is terrible, but his fa∣vour extremely profitable, or may approve and ratify some former grant of that kind,—Why may they not for the same end, devote themselves and subjects to the Great GOD our Saviour, and Prince of the kings Page  126 of the earth? Why may they not bring their glory in∣to the church? and as judges kiss the Son of God, solemnly approving and in their station ratifying that grant which his Father made to him, of the outer∣most ends of the earth? Rev. xxi. 24. & xi. 15. Prov. viii. 15, 16, Psal. ii. 8,—12.

(2.) In these covenants our Representatives in the church, in their station, devoted themselves and their people to the faith, profession and obedience of Christ. In April 1581, the General Assembly unanimously approved the national covenant, and then in October ensuing, in the name of Christ, appointed it to be sub∣scribed by all Protestants. In 1588 and 1590, they made further acts for promoting this subscription. The general Assemblies of 1596, 1638, 1639, and the Commissions or Assemblies of 1643, 1644, 1648, 1649, enjoined the swearing of the covenant by all a∣dult church-members. I do not know of one Presby∣terian minister or ruling elder in Scotland, who, in a∣ny of the covenanting periods of 1581, 1590, 1596, 1638, 1643, 1648, declined taking it. Now, if ci∣vil representatives may bind their subjects and their posterity by civil contracts, Why ought not the har∣monious dedication of themselves and people to God, by church-rulers to have a like binding force? If, in public prayers, ministers may devote themselves and congregations to Christ, why may not they and ruling elders conjunctly do it, by public covenant? But we do not chiefly rest the matter on these grounds; for,

(3.) It is beyond all contradiction, that the lawful and public covenants civil or religious, which are made by parents, do bind their posterity. The oath of Esau, in which he resigned his birthright to Jacob, bound his posterity never to attempt recovering the privileges of it, from Jacob or his descendents. Hence Esau and his family, after the death of Isaac, remov∣ed intirely from Canaan, Gen. xxv. 33. & xxxvi. 6. Even the public curse, which the Jews took upon themselves and their children, hath been manifestly binding on them these seventeen hundred years past, Mat. xxvii 25. The vow of parents in the antient circumcision, or the Christian baptism of their infants, Page  127 extends to these children,—nay according to the ex∣tent of God's covenant and promise to all their future seed, Gen. xvii. 7. Acts ii. 38, 39. Hence, what∣ever any of them do contrary to that vow, must at once be perfidy and rebellion against God. Nor will their wilful or slothful ignorance of that obligation, or their non-consent to it, when grown up, free them from that guilt, any more than ignorance of Adam's covenant, or of the breach of it, can free his posterity from the guilt of his first sin, or from perfidy in their personal violations of that covenant of works. In Deut. v. 2, 3. God, by Moses declares, that the co∣venant made with the Israelites at Sinai, was not made with them only, but with all that new generation of their children and grand children, who survived them, Num. xxvi. 64.—In Deut. xxix. 14, 15. he declares, that the covenant taken by that new genera∣tion in the plains of Moab, did not only bind them who were alive and present at the entrance into it, but also others, even their posterity.—Their covenant with the Gibeonites did not only bind the immediate engagers and consenters, but also their posterity, ma∣ny ages afterward, Josh. ix. 15, 19. with 2 Sam. xxi. 1.—Now, these covenants of allegiance to God and duty to men, of which we are treating, were sworn and subscribed by our own natural, tho' now mediate parents, and when it is considered, how FREQUENT∣LY that covenant, the same in substance in the seve∣ral Bonds, was sworn or subscribed, and how GENE∣RALLY;—and how readily some covenanted on one occasion, whose ancestors had not on a preceding;—and how families have been since intermixed, it will scarce remain probable, that there is a Scotchman, at least on the continent of Britain or Ireland, who is not descended from some covenanter. If any, to his own disgrace, will contend that in all these and diffe∣rent periods of covenanting 1581, 1590, 1596, 1638, 1639, 1643, 1648, &c. all his progenitors were such mere neutrals, or malignant opposers of the true reli∣gion and liberties of the country, that none of them took the covenant, let him take heed, lest, after all, God his Creditor find him a perjured transgressor of the covenant of his fathers,—or at least, of the cove∣nant Page  128 made by his church and nation, and their respec∣tive Representatives.

(4.) That lawful covenants, made by the greater part of a society bind the whole, and every future acceder to it,—at least, unless the minority or acceders have, by a proper dissent, diverted the obligation from themselves;—and that, if remarkably calculated to promote the common advantage, they bind the mem∣bers of it, while it continues a society,—Common sense will not allow us to doubt. That the exact ful∣filment of our covenants with God, is remarkably cal∣culated to promote the honour of Christ and his Fa∣ther, and the welfare of both church and state, hath been formerly hinted. No person therefore could, or can, by any lawful dissent, divert their binding force from himself. Nor do I remember of any, who regularly attempted it in Scotland.

Without doubt, the majority, nay body of the Scotch nation nation entered into their Solemn Cove∣nant with God. In 1581, both the privy council and the General Assembly, in their respective acts enjoined the taking of the National Covenant.

"In this year, in the month of March, was the National Covenant solemnly taken by the king, his council and court, and afterwards by the inhabitants of the kingdom*." "The National Covenant (was) subscribed by the King, his court, and council, and afterwards by all ranks of people in the land." "That good order of the church was three years ago approved, sealed, and confirmed with profession of month, subscription of hand, and religion of oath, by the King, and eve∣ry subject of every estate."—"In 1590, the Natio∣nal Covenant was again subscribed by all sorts of per∣sons§" "In March 1590, the bond for religion was again ratified in council and about ninety-six mini∣sters, in different parts of the kingdom, were appoint∣ed Page  129 to conveen before them the godly of all ranks, and minister unto them the National Covenant, and to take their subscriptions; and an hundred and thirty of the nobility and gentry to assist them, as should be necessary—In consequence hereof, copies of the co∣venant and general Bond were dispersed through the whole kingdom, and the covenant subscribed*." "Their Confession of Faith and Solemn League and Covenant (was) subscribed by the whole Scotch na∣tion." "It was subscribed by all sorts of persons, the whole land rejoicing at the oath of God. It was attended by many choice blessings from the Lord."
About this time the General Assembly appointed this covenant to be renewed in Universities every year.—In 1596, the covenant was renewed in the General Assembly by about four hundred ministers, besides el∣ders and others, with great solemnity, and attended by a remarkable effusion of the Holy Ghost, and bit∣ter mourning for sin, and earnest reformation from it. It was afterwards renewed in Synods, Presbytries, and Parishes; but in many parishes, particularly in Edinburgh, where the court had much influence, it was delayed and neglected. In 1604, the covenant was subscribed by all the members in the Presbytery of St. Andrews and Synod of Lothian§.

The renovation of the covenant in 1638, was still more universal and harmonious.

"This covenant like an alarm bell brought together all the Scots, who were dissatisfied with the government, that is almost the whole nation. It was subscribed by the great men and the people, except the privy counsellors, the jud∣ges, and the bishops, and such ministers as were dig∣nitaries Page  130 in the church.—By the publication of this covenant, the Royalists were not above one to a thou∣sand. The covenant was the sole law the people would follow, with respect to religion‡‡." "All ranks and conditions, all ages and sexes flocked to the subscrip∣tion of this covenant. Few in their judgment disap∣proved it, and still fewer dared openly to condemn it. The King's ministers and counsellors were, most of them, seized by the general contagion.—The cove∣nanters found themselves seconded by the zeal of the whole nation*." "In the several counties and shires, it was received by the common people as a sacred ora∣cle, and subscribed by all such, as were thought to have any zeal for the Protestant religion, and the li∣berties of their country. The privy counsellors, the judges, the bishops and the friends of arbitrary power were the principal who refused it." "These right∣ly judging that the procuring cause of all the calami∣ties of the nation was the violation of their National Covenant, unanimously resolved to renew the same. The town of Aberdeen was the only place of any note in the kingdom, that declined joining in the covenant,—(yet even there) severals of special note cheerfully put their hands to the covenant, which was sworn by the generality of all ranks through the nation, before the end of April." "They resolved upon renew∣ing the national covenant, which had been almost bu∣ried for forty years before.—Being read in churches, it was heartily embraced, sworn, and subscribed by all ranks, with many tears and great joy; so that the whole land great and small, a very few excepted, with∣out any compulsion from church or state, did, in a few months cheerfully return to their antient princi∣ples, and subject themselves to the oath of God for reformation. Both the court and prelates were enrag∣ed against them for it; but the Lord remarkably countenanced them with the extraordinary manifesta∣tion of his presence and down-pouring of his Spirit§." Page  131 "The whole body of the people of Scotland were en∣gaged to God, by solemn covenants and vows fre∣quently renewed, to own and endeavour the preserva∣tion of the reformed religion, &c.—Not only did the body of the commonalty, swear these covenants, but the magistrates themselves did take on the same vows and engagements,—solemnly promised to prosecute the ends of this covenant. All the lovers of God and friends to the liberties of the nation did solemnly renew the na∣tional covenant, wherein they were signally counte∣nanted of the Lord*."
So much for the testimony of foes and friends, who lived at some distance of time.

Let us now hear eye and ear witnesses of that work.

"Upon the first of March 1638, the covenant was publicly read and subscribed by them all, with much joy and shouting—Afterward the covenant was subscri∣bed every where in parishes, with joy, except in the North." "Within not many months, almost the whole land did subject themselves to the oath of God, which was attended with more than ordinary influen∣ces of the Spirit." "The Lord did let forth much of his Spirit on his people in 1638, when this nation did solemnly enter into covenant.—Then did the nati∣on visibly own the Lord, and was visibly owned by him. A remarkable gale of Providence did attend the actings of his people, which did astonish their ad∣versaries, and force many of them to own subjection.§" "Except one day at the kirk of Shots, I never saw such motions from the Spirit of God,—all the people generally and most willingly concurring (in swearing the covenant) thro' the whole land, except the profess∣ed Papists, and some few who for base ends, adhered to the prelates, the people universally entered into the co∣venant Page  132 of God‡‡."
When the covenanting work of that year was still unfinished, Dickson, Henderson, and Cant affirm, that almost the whole kirk and kingdom had joined in the late covenant, and that they had been sent to Aberdeen from almost the whole kirk and kingdom. And this the Prelatic Doctors there, grant to be true*.
"The covenant being drawn up, was subscribed by all present (at Edinburgh) and copies thereof sent to such as were absent, and being read in the churches, it was heartily embraced, sworn and subscribed, with tears and joy. Great was that day of the Lord's power; for much willingness and cheerfulness was among the people, so as in a short time, few, in all the land did refuse, except some Papists, some aspiring courtiers, some who were addicted to the English ceremonies, and some few, who had sworn the oath (of supremacy and canonical obedience) at their entry." "This covenant was subscribed by almost every assertor of liberty, who was present (at Edinburgh). Copies of it were sent to such as were absent, to be communicated to all the inhabitants of the kingdom, that every one who had religion at heart, might swear this covenant.—The non-cove∣nanters were first all the Papists, the number of whom scarce exceeded six hundred,—some court parasites, who had lately been advanced to dignities, or eagerly grasped at them, or who were more addicted to the English rites and canons,—as the doctors and magis∣trates of Aberdeen.—Some others for a time declin∣ed subscribing from a regard to the oath (of Supre∣macy and Canonical obedience) which they had tak∣en, and because the king had not enjoined this cove∣nant, and because it bound them to assist one another in this cause§." "The national covenant having been agreed to, with so great harmony, amidst a world of difficulties,—upon the first of March was subscrib∣ed by several thousands, consisting of all the nobles, who were then in Scotland, (except the Lords of pri∣vy council, and four or five more)—and of commissio∣ners Page  133 from all the Shires within Scotland, and from e∣very Burgh, except Aberdeen, St. Andrews, and Crail,—and of other gentlemen and ministers—Be∣fore the end of April; every parish through Scotland, where the minister was friendly to the reformation then sought, having observed a fast, to humble them∣selves for the former defection and breach of covenant, did renew the same with great solemnity, scarce a per∣son opposing himself, but every one, women as well as men, concurring, and publicly avouching the Lord to be THEIR God, with their right hand lifted up, except, (1.) Papists, to whom it was not offered,—the number of whom in all Scotland, was not reckon∣ed above 600 persons. (2.) Courtiers, who had no will to displease the king. (3.) Some of the clergy, who had sworn the oath for conformity, (to Prelacy) or were dignitaries in the church, the chief of whom were the doctors of Aberdeen.—The most of the Hamiltons, Douglasses, all the Gordons who were under the influence of Sutherland and Kenmure,—all the Campbells, Forbeses, Frasers, Grants, M'Kenzies, M'Kenzies, M'Kays, M'Intoshes, M'Leans, M'Donalds, Irvines, and Innesses, subscribed the covenant. Many in Aber∣deen and Glasgow, who for a time refused, subscrib∣ed. Not a burgess in St. Andrews refused.—In E∣dinburgh Dr. Elliot a minister, and Robert Rankin, and John Brown, Regents of the college, were the only persons of note, who declined subscription*."
Add to all these, the 28,000, who, at King Charles' command, subscribed the covenant as it stood in 1581, declared to be the same in substance with the other Bond,—and it will appear that few, very few, then neglected to swear or subscribe the covenant ‡. What numbers took the covenant from 1639 to 1643, in o∣bedience to the peremptory acts of church and state enjoining it, I know not.

In 1643 and 1644, the swearing of the Solemn League and Covenant by all adult persons, was very peremp∣torily Page  134 required by both church and state. From a co∣py of it before me, I have reason to think, that the subscription of it was pretty universal. The takers of it in Scotland are affirmed to have been seven to one of their opposers.

"It was solemnly sworn and subscribed almost in all parts of the nation§." "With a marvellous unanimity was this every where received. In God's great mercy all that I have yet heard of, have taken this oath. Our land now, I hope, in a happy time, hath entered into a league with Eng∣land{horizontal ‡}."
In their speech to the council of London, after their return, Henry Vane and Stephen Marshal affirm, That they believed the Solemn League had been universally taken by the whole Scotch nation. The exhortation of the English Assembly and Parlia∣ment affirms, that the
"whole body of Scotland had willingly sworn it, with rejoicing."
Rutherford, and his sixteen faithful brethren, affirm, that
"the So∣lemn league was actually sworn and taken by the whole body of Scotland, from the highest to the lowest—by the whole body of the land{right †}."
Sir James Stew∣art and Mr. Stirling who, perhaps, both covenanted that year, affirm, that
"in 1648, in the month of December, (the Solemn League) was, for the second time, sworn in all the congregations of Scotland, upon the same day, except where a vacancy, or the mini∣ster's being under scandal, did occasion a delay till a∣nother day,—with great solemnity and such mixture of joy and sorrow, as became people entering into covenant with the Lord.—There was at that time a great zeal for God, from clear knowledge and sad ex∣perience, generally and solemnly professed before God and all men, in our public acknowledgments 1648,—in consequence whereof, the League and Covenant was also, by the whole kingdom, renewed that same year, and in answer thereto, the Lord did mightily save us.—He did highly advance his blessed work*."

That the body of the English nation also swore the Solemn League and Covenant, is manifest. The Page  135 Westminster Assembly and English Parliament, af∣firm,

"The honourable houses of Parliament, the Assembly of Divines, the renowned city of London, and multitudes of other persons of all ranks and qua∣lity in this nation, and the whole body of Scotland, have all sworn it, rejoicing at the oath so graciously seconded from heaven. God will, doubtless, stand by all those, who with singleness of heart shall now enter into an everlasting covenant with the Lord§."
Ru∣therford and his sixteen faithful brethren, affirm, that
"this Solemn League was actually sworn and taken by the whole body of Scotland,—also by the honourable houses of the parliament of England, the Assembly of Divines, the renowned city of London, and multitudes not only of the people, but of persons of eminent rank and quality throughout that nation, and the nation of Ireland, and all this by the authority of the powers, civil and ecclesiastic. Who can have for∣got, how deliberately it was resolved, and how unani∣mously it was concluded? The respective authorities of both church and state in Scotland, did all with one voice approve and embrace the same, as the most power∣ful mean by the blessing of God for settling and preser∣ving the true Protestant religion, with perfect peace in these nations, and propagating the same to other na∣tions, did ordain it to be, with humiliation and all reli∣gious solemnities, received, sworn and subscribed by all ministers and professors within this kirk, and sub∣jects within this kingdom,—which was accordingly done by the whole body of the land, and in many congregations attended with the feelings of that joy, and comfortable influence of the Spirit of God,—which they did find in so great a measure upon the re∣novation of the national covenant in 1638.—And this solemn oath of God being taken by the honoura∣ble houses of the Parliament of England, by the re∣nowned city of London, by the reverend Assembly of Divines,—the Lords and Commons, upon the account of its being thought a fit and excellent means to ac∣quire the favour of God towards the three kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland, and to establish Page  136 and propagate the true reformed religion, peace and prosperity of these kingdoms, did—ordain, that the same covenant be solemnly taken throughout the kingdom of England. And upon these grounds, and according to these instructions and exhortations of the Assembly and Parliament, was that solemn covenant taken by multitudes of all ranks and sorts, many of which did rejoice at the oath of God. A little there∣after, it was ordered by the House of Commons, that the Solemn League and Covenant be, on every day of humiliation, (i. e. once every month) publicly read in every church and congregation, within the king∣dom; and that every congregation have one of the said covenants fairly printed on a fair letter, in a ta∣ble to hang up in some place of the church, to be read, (where many copies continued hanging till the resto∣ration).—No power on earth can absolve either them∣selves or others from the bond and tie of this sacred oath of the Most High*."
An apologetical declara∣tion of the conscientious Presbyterians of the province of London, and of many thousands of other faithful and covenant-keeping citizens and inhabitants, which was subscribed by these many thousands in January, 1649, at the hazard of every thing dear to them, hath these words,
"calling to mind our Solemn League and Covenant, which was so religiously and unanimous∣ly sworn." "The sacred oath was first taken by the Lords and Commons legally assembled in Parlia∣ment, then by the generality of the people in Eng∣land.—They (the parliament) no sooner met in 1649, but they ordered it to be hung up before their eyes, as a constant monitor to them." "If all ta∣bles were as legible as those of the Lords and Com∣mons, I believe their (i e subscribers of the covenant) number would be found more than a 4th part of the nation (in 1660, notwithstanding the death of perhaps more than one half of them from 1644 to 1660).
Can any considerate observer, take notice, that the cove∣nant (in England) was imposed on, and submitted to, by all sorts and degrees of men in all counties, cities, Page  137 and towns, tendered, and fince testified, by their public subscriptions, by the most of ministers in their several counties, and to their individual congregations, and yet without the supposal of a very great mortali∣ty, imagine not a fourth part of the nation (now liv∣ing in 1660) to have taken it?—Nor shall I insist on the universal alacrity, joy and content of the most serious in England and Scotland, that accompanied the first making of the covenant, and the solemnities and order, in which it was taken in the city of Lon∣don, and the several counties and congregations of England,—than which—no act ever passed among the people of England, more solemnly or more religiously.—The Solemn League and Covenant is really public and national (in England). (1.) Its matter is public and national, relating to the kingdom under its civil, religious and reformed capacity, being the reformati∣on and defence of religion, under a national profession, and the honour and happiness of the king, privileges of the Parliament, and liberties of the subjects. (2.) These matters were consulted, debated and agreed to, by two distinct nations in their most public capacities. (4) The end of it was public and national,—the true liberty, peace, and safety of the kingdom, wherein every one's private condition is included;—and that the Lord may be one and his name one in the three kingdoms; and the kingdoms of England and Scotland may remain conjoined in a firm peace to all posterity,—in a case that concerned the good of these kingdoms (5.) The covenant was sworn by the nation. [1.] Collectively, in the most full and complete body, that could, or e∣ver did represent the same, the Parliament consisting of Lords and Commons, and that in their public capaci∣ty, and with the greatest solemnity imaginable, did as the representative body of the kingdom, swear the co∣venant, which as a further testimony that it was a na∣tional covenant, they caused to be printed with their names subscribed, and to be hung up in all churches, and in their own (Parliament) House, as a compass, whereby to steer their debates, and to dictate unto all that should succeed them into that place and capa∣city, what obligations before God ly upon the body of Page  138 this nation. [2.] It was universally sworn by the people of this kingdom, (England) solemnly testified in their particular places of convention, all over the kingdom, and by all manner of persons, from eigh∣teen years and upwards, and that at the command of, and by the authority of the Parliament, who, in their place, and in behalf of this nation, did order it to be universally sworn.—Certainly, whoever will but weigh the directions given and duly executed, in the tender∣ing of the covenant in all counties and parishes, and ta∣ken by all persons, religious, military or civil.—If the several rolls within the several parishes and pre∣cincts of this kingdom, in which the several names of such, as did swear the Solemn League and Cove∣nant, were ingrossed, be viewed, it will be found that it was sworn by the universality of the nation;—and I hope we, who are a free people, tied by no bonds but such as we lay upon ourselves, may be al∣lowed to bind ourselves by an oath. [3.] His Majes∣ty (Charles II) did swear the Solemn League and Covenant, in behalf of himself and his successors, and that as King of Great Britain and Ireland.—More than six hundred ministers of England in thirteen dif∣ferent counties, in their testimonies, (1648) to the truths of Christ and to the Solemn League and Cove∣nant, attest it as national.—The Yorkshire ministers say,
"It cannot but be known to the churches abroad, that all the three kingdoms stand engaged by virtue of the Solemn League and Covenant*."
The Lon∣don ministers say,
"We shall never forget, how so∣lemnly and chearfully the sacred league was sworn,—wherein the three kingdoms stand engaged jointly and severally. The Parliament have not only enjoined it to be taken by all men above eighteen years of age, throughout the kingdom of England and dominion of Wales; but the Commons have also required it to be published on every monthly fast-day, for the better remembrance and observation of it, and that every congregation have one of the said Covenants fairly printed in a fair letter, in a table, fitted to hang Page  139 up in some public place of the Church, to be read."

In IRELAND, Rutherford and his sixteen faithful brethren, who had full access to know the truth, af∣firm, That multitudes swore the solemn league. In Cox' history of Ireland, Ormond, then Lord lieute∣nant there, says,

"The covenant hath been imposed by ordinance of (English) Parliament, (which hath the supreme power over Ireland as a dependent king∣dom Act 6. Geo. I.)—The covenant was imposed on all that were under the power of the Parliament."
In a subsequent page it is affirmed, That all the pro∣vince of Ulster (in which the Protestants chiefly re∣side), and a considerable part of Munster were under the power of Parliament; and that in 1649. The Puritans and Presbyterians prosessed, that their re∣gard to their covenant made them side with Charles II, against the Sectarians headed by Cromwel§." In the Christian loyalty of the Presbyterians, particularly in Ulster, since their Settlement there by K James,—the most of which is verified by original papers inserted, we have the following and like hints,—
"The petiti∣on of many thousand Protessant inhabitants of Ulster presented to the English Parliament 1640, avows their approbation of the Scotch national covenant; and complain, that the Irish Prelates had exclaimed against it, and concurred with Lord lieutenant Strafford in imposing an oath, renouncing it;—The Scots, who were generally dissenters, i. e. Presbyterians took arms against the Popish massacrers, and were the first that appeared in Ulster against the common enemy, who were then exercising unheard of cruelty;—With the Scotch army of six thousand, under Gener. Alexan∣der Lesly, which were sent to check the ravage of the murderous Papists, ministers were sent to attend the several regiments, who, associating themselves with some formerly in Ireland, formed themselves into a Presbytery, in which Lesly and several other officers of the army, sat as ruling elders.—They preached both in camp and country.—At this time, those who Page  140 had fled from Ireland, on account of the oath impos∣ed by Strafford, before the massacre begun, returned in great numbers, and joined with the Scotch army, and Sir John Clotworthy, a zealous puritan; so that he with his party scoured the whole county of Antrim from massacring Papists.—When the established (i. e. Episcopalian) clergy were generally destroyed by the massacre, or had fled, the work of the ministry was mostly in the hands of Presbyterians, who, with in∣defatigable industry, attended both camp and country, not without comfortable success.—In 1642, the I∣rish Protestants petitioned the Scotch General Assem∣bly, that some ministers of the gospel might be sent to comfort them in their great calamity, when, by the massacre, left as without shepherds; and particularly that their own ministers, who had been formerly ba∣nished by Abp. Laud's partizans, might be restored to them.—Six ministers were sent to concur with those of the Scotch army sent thither by authority of king and Parliament; and as they came very seasonably to encourage the army and their friends, God mightily blessed their endeavours with success*."
Upon a re∣quest of very great numbers, the Assembly 1643, sent them further supply of ministers.—A petition of the distressed Christians in the North of Ireland, subscrib∣ed by very many hands to the Assembly 1644, says,—
"Your reward is with your God, for your zeal and care to have your reformation spread, in sending hi∣ther that blessed League and Covenant, which we much desired and longed for,—which hath had a wished and gracious success, by the blessing of God accompanying the pains of those, to whom the ten∣dering of it was intrusted by you.—When the said—covenant was presented to the regiments (of your army) we made bold to lay hold on the opportunity, and chearfully and unanimously joined ourselves thereto, that, if we die (by the hand of the Popish murderers) we may die a covenanted people;"
and they beg sup∣ply of ministers for twenty-four desolate congregations Much about the same time, "the English Parliament Page  141 by an ordinance enjoined that covenant to be taken in Ireland; and accordingly it was sworn by almost all the Protestants in Ulster, who acknowledged the au∣thority of the Parliament,—the greatest part of the Protestants in Ireland all concurred in it,—and their posterity enjoy large estates from that English Parlia∣ment which enjoined the taking of the covenant.—It known, that the Irish army under the Lord of Ards, were all Presbyterian covenanters.—Many of the I∣rish Protestants renewed the Solemn League about 1649; and hence the Presbytery of Bangor in their declaration that year affirm, "That they and others had renewed their covenant,—and warn, that none who had renewed covenant, should join the army of Ards, who, after he and they had lately renewed the covenant, had turned over to assist the malignants; and foretel that the quarrel of the covenant should pursue them,—as it soon did, in their ruin and of Or∣mond's army which they assisted.—The Irish Pres∣byterians, in their representation against the procedure of the Sectarians with K. Charles I, publicly read in their several congregations, avow the Solemn League, as their covenant; and warn the well affected to that covenant, to avoid all compliance with the Sectaries. The Presbyterian ministers in their Narrative to go∣vernment of their stedfast loyalty, and of their suffer∣ings under Cromwel, say,
"We could not own them, i. e. Cromwel and his substitutes, as lawful ma∣gistrates, and could not pray for their success, &c.—considering the strong obligation of the oath of God, that lay still upon us, to maintain His Majesty's power and greatness according to our covenant."
—Not∣withstanding all the cruel banishment, imprisonment, &c. which they had suffered under Cromwel, for their attachment to K. Charles, there remained so many staunch covenanters in Ireland, that in one Synod of Bellimenoch, fifty-nine ministers, in 1662, refused to conform to Prelacy, which is more than were in some six Synods in Scotland. Nor, in any Synod here, except in that of Glasgow, which consists of a∣bove Page  142 130 ministers, and in which the Protestors chief∣ly resided, was that number of Non-conformists ex∣ceeded*. From these hints it appears, that the body of Protestants in Ireland took the Solemn League and Covenant; and that the number of Covenanters there, could not be less than 50 or 60,000, if it was not dou∣ble or triple that reckoning.

If then, Sir, the public engagements of representa∣tives of Church and State can bind those represented by them and their posterity;—if the public engage∣ments of parents can bind their descendents;—if the public engagements of the greater part of a society can bind the whole and their successors;—Our pub∣lic covenants with God must bind the Protestants in Ireland, the whole nation of England, and in a pecu∣liar manner the Scots, who are so manifestly affected by all the four sources of obligation, that no not our perjured Prelatists, for their own vindication, ever dar∣ed, that I know of, to contest it. And answerable to this source, these fourfold vows must fix upon us a kind of foursold solemn obligation to God, frequently repeated, renewed, or confirmed: How fearful then must be our guilt, if we cast all the cords of God behind our back, in favours of gross heresy, blasphemy, idolatry, Popery!

4. Our ancestors did not covenant with God as mere individuals, but as a BODY. Covenanting at the same time with each other, they made a joint sur∣render of themselves to God. In their Bond of 1636, they call it a blessed and loyal conjunction. In their Reasons against giving it up, they call it a Bond of u∣nion and conjunction.—a mutual union and conjunction a∣mongst themselves; and in reasons of protestation they call it a bond of inviolable union amongst them∣selves The Assembly August 6th, 1649, say,—

"Our engagement therein is not only national, but personal."
—The subject bound by the covenant being thus, not merely particular persons, but a church and nation, the obligation of it must be as permanent as the society bound by it.

Page  143 5. Our ancestors did what they could to make their covenant as binding as possible. The express terms in which the different forms of it are conceived, manifest it a promise, an oath, a vow, a covenant. If then there be any binding force in a promise from the truth of men which is therein pledged; if there be any reli∣gion in an oath because of the reverence we owe to the sacred name of God interposed in it; if any obli∣gation results from a vow, because of the fealty we thereby owe to God; if a man be obliged to keep his covenant from regard to truth or justice due to others, who are parties in it;—all these, transacted with the utmost solemnity, must concur in constituting the bin∣ding sorce of this public engagement.—Hence the Com∣mission 1651, in their Warning, say,

"The bonds and obligations that lie upon us to this duty, by the law of God, the law of nature and the National Covenant and Solemn League, and the pains therein contained, whereunto we have devoted ourselves, if we shall de∣sert or fail*."

6. Our ancestors plainly intended, that their pub∣lic covenants should bind all future generations. In 1638, they lamented their own sins as breaches of the covenant made or renewed in 1581, 1590, 1596. In their Reasons against giving up their sworn cove∣nant, they asfirm,

"Our religious ancestors, by the like oath, have obliged us to the substance and tenor of this.—This our oath being a religious and perpetu∣al obligation, should stand in vigour, for the more firm establishment of religion in our own time, and in the generations following.—Although the innovations of religion were the occasion of the making of this covenant, yet our intention was against these and all other innovations and corruptions, to establish religion by an everlasting covenant, never to be forgotten§."
In their preamble to the covenant that year, they say,
"Being convinced in our own minds, and professing Page  144 with our months, that the present and succeeding ge∣nerations are bound to keep the foresaid national oath and subscription (of 1581, 1590, 1596) inviolable."
In the Solemn League, they swear,
"We shall en∣deavour that these kingdoms may remain conjoined in a firm peace and union to all posterity."

7. The ends of these covenants declared in their ex∣press words are perpetual till the end of time, viz.

"To maintain the true worship of God, the majesty of our king, and the peace of the kingdom, for the common happiness of ourselves and our posterity,—that religion and righteousness may flourish in the land to the glory of God, &c." "To promote the glory of God, and the advancement of the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ,—the honour and happiness of the King's Majesty, and his posterity, and the pub∣lic liberty, safety, and peace of the kingdoms; that we and our posterity may, as brethren, live in faith and love, and the Lord delight to dwell in the midst of us;—that the Lord may be one and his name one in the three kingdoms,—may turn away his wrath, and establish these churches and kingdoms in peace§."

If then, the matter being moral duty, was proper for a covenant of perpetual obligation; if the cove∣nanters had full power to bind the whole society and their posterity; if the subject upon which the obligati∣on was laid be permanent; if the end of the covenan∣ters and their covenant was to fix the obligation upon posterity, as well as upon the immediate engagers; and if they did every thing in their power to render that obligation solemn and permanent, What surther evidence of the perpetuity of that obligation can any man demand, who singly regards the honour of God, or the welfare of this church and nation? May I therefore adopt the words of a truly great man, "It was the glory of Scotland, that we were solemnly in covenant with God,—wherein our forefathers, for themselves engaged and swore against Popery, Prelacy, superstition, and every thing contrary to the word of God;—and to the doctrine, worship, discipline and government of the reformed church of Scotland, Page  145 and that as we should answer to Jesus Christ at the great day, and under the pain of his everlasting wrath;—May not our hearts bleed to think on our defecti∣on from old covenanted principles, and our violation of our engagements, yea of the burning and burial of our covenants,—and the prevalence of abjured Popery in this land.—Covenant obligation to duty is what we still stand under,—though many be ashamed and re∣fuse to own these obligations,—the glory of our land.—Let us go forward—lamenting our sinful defection from a covenanted reformation, and acknowledging our solemn covenant-obligation.—Never was a na∣tion more solemnly bound to the Lord by national co∣venants. Religious covenants in scripture comprehend absent as well as present, and posterity to come as well as the covenanting forefathers, Deut. xxix. 14, 15, 22, 24, 25. Now, our solemn covenants, which our forefathers entered into, being nothing but a super-added and accumulative obligation, to what we were previously bound to by the word of God, they cannot but stand binding upon us their posterity§.—As Is∣rael avouched the Lord to be their God by solemn covenants, that were binding upon them and their pos∣terity after them; so in this moral duty, We, in our forefathers, followed the example,—entering into a solemn covenant with him, which he many signal ways countenanced,—attended with internal displays of (his) power and glory.—To disparage these covenants is to cast dung upon our glory. I think it worse than the breaking, burning, and burying of them. To be∣spatter their reputation, and deny their obligation, is to render them odious to all generations.—There is—a superadded 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{horizontal ‡}.—When God hath manifested his covenant of grace to a peo∣ple, receiving them to be his people, and they there∣upon have entered into a covenant of duty with him, avouching him to be their God, and promising thro' Page  146 grace, subjection to him, though it were four hun∣dred, yea four thousand years, it stands; and they who succeed are bound by the covenant.—A num∣ber 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 promise, and not to their covenant or engagement. We, in these lands, have devoted ourselves to the Lord, in which we were warranted by many scripture precedents.—Never was an action done more se∣dately and advisedly.—The binding obligation of it upon us is plain. If we have the benefit of that reli∣gion 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, so we, in our forefathers, swore to this covenant). We are obli∣ged to stand to it, though it were never so many years after.—Being partakers of the benefit, we are bound to do that which they promised to do for it. If a pa∣rent bind his children, are not their seed 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 their own personal bonds?—How much more im∣piety is it for men, to deny that obligation by covenant to God, made by their forefathers in their name.—Our solemn 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 lawful oath, made with himself in this land?—Unless these professed Preshyterians can now prove, that Presbytry is sinful, 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§.

Page  147 OBJECT. I.

"Many things were wrong in the imposing and taking of these covenants; and their words are ill chosen, as to extirpate Popery, Prelacy, i. e. to kill Papists and Prelatists."
ANSW. (1) Let us allow no malignant enemy or perjured violator of these covenants to be held a sufficient witness against them. Nor let us have the long ago refuted calum∣nies of such men revived upon their mere authority. (2) Though the covenant had had insirmities, even infirmities sufficient to have hindered the swearing of it, as the Doctors of Aberdeen and Oxford pretend∣ed, was the case,—it may nevertheless bind when once it is sworn. Though its matter had been in part sin∣ful 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 al∣legiance to Nebuchadnezzar, whose sovereignty over Judah was very disputable, yet 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 in∣cludes no more violence against mens persons than the other, Rom. viii. 13. Do you imagine, that the co∣venanters swore to cut their own throats, or tear out their own hearts, when they engaged to endeavour, in their station, to extirpate every thing contrary to the power of godliness, as indwelling sin, vain thoughts, &c. which adhere to believers in this life, certainly are.


"Many in England and Ireland never took the Solemn League, or took it in a sense consis∣tent with Prelacy or Independency."
ANSW. I do not expect that any hater of that covenant will ever be able to invalidate the proof which hath been given of the number Page  148 of the covenanters 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 sin; but in a∣ny thing not sinful, being taken, it binds to perfor∣mance, 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 use∣less. Mens prevarication therefore, in favours of Pre∣lacy or Independency, cannot free them from the ob∣ligation 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 a∣long 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 seed. The Assembly in their Letter 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 sworn League and Covenant."
And in another letter,
"The cove∣nant hath been broken by many in both kingdoms.—We do not doubt, but there are many seven thou∣sands in England, who have retained their integrity in that business."
And in their Warning 1648,
"The violation of the covenant by some in England doth not set us free from the obligation of it. No laws, nor authority on earth can absolve us from so solemn an obligation to the Most High.—We are not acquit∣ted from the obligation of our solemn covenants be∣cause of the troubles.—In the worst of times, all those duties whereunto by covenant, we oblige our∣selves, do still ly upon us.—We have sworn, and we must perform it."
And in their Warning 1649,
"Al∣beit the League and Covenant be despised by that pre∣vailing party in England, yet the obligation of that covenant is perpetual; and all the duties contained Page  149 therein are constantly to be minded and prosecuted, by every one of us and our posterity, according to their place and station."
And in their Letter to breth∣ren 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 sworn by the Lord, but also cove∣nanted with him. It is not the failing of one or more that can absolve others from their duty or TIE to him. Besides, the duties therein contained being in them∣selves 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 say, that the back∣slidings 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 same.—(They are) testi∣monies which the Lord Christ hath entred as protesta∣tions, to preserve his right in these ends of the earth, long ago given unto him for his possession, and of late confirmed by solemn covenant."


"The influence of the Highland thiefs, and the gross ignorance of the Scotch islands, together with the general dislike of the covenant at the Restoration and Revolution, are internal eviden∣ces, that but a part, perhaps a small part, of the Scots took the covenant."
ANSW. I boldly defy you to in∣validate the proofs I have brought to the contrary. Nay, for ought I know, you cannot produce one of these perjured Prelatists, that pretended that only the smaller part of the Scotch nation took the covenant, especially in 1590, 1638, & 1643. (2.) Were the Highland chiefs, and the gross ignorance of the islan∣ders, occasioned by the negligence of the curates, a whit more able to withstand the enlightening and heart-bowing power of God, so remarkably manifest∣ed on these occasions, than K. Charles and many o∣thers Page  150 on the continent? Have we not produced evi∣dence that multitudes of the Highlanders entered into the reformers covenant, 1638, and were not Argyle, Mar, and many other Highland chiefs zealous cove∣nanters? Did not such as were otherwise minded take the covenant of 1581, as imposed by the Privy coun∣cil according to its original meaning? Did not 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 covenanting work was not carried on in the Scotch islands, but such as we have, that ne∣ver a Hebrew child was circumcised on the 8th day, from Isaac to John Baptist;—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 general 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 sinner, 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 gene∣ral concurrence of the Hebrews in worshipping the gol∣den calf, prove that they had not entered into solemn 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 heinous and repeated denial of Christ, prove that he had not, a few hours before, solemnly engaged against it?


"Force or fear caused many to cove∣nant."
ANSW. Though force or sear should have rendered the manner of covenanting unacceptable to God, they cannot render void an oath which is sworn. (2.) I will never contend, that the penalty annexed by Page  151 law to the refusal of the covenant in 1643, or even on some other occasions, was proper. But, after a labo∣rious search, I find no proper evidence, that any force was ever used in Scotland to make any take the cove∣nant, except in 1639, by Montrose and Monro, 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 in∣ventions of perjured violators of these covenants, who were glad to say any thing to conceal or excuse their own wickedness. (3.) In 1638, when the covenanting was most universal, the bishops and some other anti∣covenanters, afraid of prosecution 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 obli∣ged to do so for refusing the covenant. Fear of dan∣ger 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, occasioned by the king's suspension of the common exercise of the civil law, and the sitting 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 favours of the covenant. If the influences of God's Spirit, and the affecting 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 ac∣count?—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 have been threatened with the want of their stipends for refusing their sub∣scription; but some have of their own accord, gone to court for procuring protection against their credi∣tors,—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 Page  152 have subscribed.—Arguments have been taken from (promised) augmentation of stipends to hinder sub∣scription. Fear of worldly loss rather hinders men to subscribe, than scruples of conscience.—The prelates flight seems rather to have proceeded from inward fu∣ries 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 subscrip∣tions, 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 Ghost,—attended with perhaps more sincere mourning for sin,—more serious repentance and solid 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 world∣ly respect or inducement, as far as human in firmity would allow,—Take heed, Sir, lest after your objection hath manifested the carnality, selfishness, and dissimu∣lation of your own religious appearances.—God, at last, should publicly expose you as a blasphemer of his great work, and a malicious slanderer of his peo∣ple, as wilfully perjured.


"It is impossible our covenanters could understand their bonds, particularly in that which relates to Popery in the notional covenant, or to prelacy in the solemn league."
ANSW. Ignorance indeed hin∣ders a right and acceptable swearing of oaths or cove∣nants, but cannot invalidate their binding force if once they be sworn; otherwise millions in Britain would, Page  153 through ignorance; be freed from all their solemn en∣gagements 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 ministeri∣al office, in order to render their ordination vows or subscriptions altogether unobligatory. (2.) Being trai∣ned up in the abominations of popery or prelacy, or having frequent access to witness them, our covenan∣ting ancestors, who had common sense, might have more knowledge of them, than most 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.


"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 posterity: It is absolutely inconsistent with sound philosophy, Christianity or common sense to imagine that any human deed can bind to any thing de∣clared in the word, or required by the law of God"
ANSW. 1. Then it seems the common Protestant doc∣trine of our Confession of Faith, which in your ordi∣nation vows you solemnly declared to be founded on the word of God, viz. That a man BINDS HIMSELF by oath to what is GOOD and JUST, that in ANY THING not sinful, it BINDS to performance; That by a vow we more strictly BIND OURSELVES TO NECESSARY DU∣TIES, &c. must be grosly erroneous. (2) Instruct∣ed by some Papist or some ring-leader in the perjuri∣ous violation of these covenants in the last century, you have indeed now hit upon a sentiment, which if proven, would effectually undermine the obligation of our covenants, and for ought I know, all religion,—all morality,—all mutual trust and order among man∣kind along with it. If our promises, oaths, vows or covenants can have no binding force except in things to which the revelation and law of God cannot reach; Page  154 neither Adam, nor Christ as Mediator, could bind themselves to fulfil God's law; and so there must be no proper, no real covenant of works or of grace; and so no religion among mankind. And, for the same reason, the promises of God, in so far as their matter corresponds to his natural excellencies can have no binding force; and thus the foundation of our faith and hope is quite overturned. All engagements in Baptism or the Lord's Supper to believe what God re∣veals, receive what he offers, and do what he com∣mands, must be absolutely null and void, destitute of all binding force.—Jesuitical equivocation and mental reservation are no more necessary in the making of promises, covenants or vows, or in swearing promis∣sory oaths of allegiance, fidelity or witness bearing; or in subscribing Articles, Creeds or Confessions of Faith, Calls to ministers, Bonds or Bills of service or debt.—If the law of God, which is exceeding broad can but reach to the matter of them, and require the believing, maintaining or practising of what is therein engaged, that alone renders them null and void, and not binding to all intents, and purposes. And so there can be no such a thing as perjury, perfidy, or breach of promise, except it be with respect to such things as the law of God could not directly or indirect∣ly reach,—which if it be as perfect and exceeding broad as the Bible affirms, must certainly be very few and very trisling;—for where there is no law,—no binding of a law,—there can be no transgression.—Mens promi∣ses, covenants, oaths and vows, in word or writ, in so far as they respect things to which the law of God can reach, must be mere villainous impositions, seeming to bind, while they do not, in the smallest degree; and therefore ought to be detested, instead of being requir∣ed, made, or trusted.—For the same reason, no com∣mands of parents, masters, magistrates, or any other superiors being human deeds, can have any binding force in any thing relative to religion, equity, kindness, &c. to which the law of God can reach its requirements, and hence cannot be lawfully OBEYED, or their autho∣rity regarded, except when they commend what is ab∣solutely indifferent and trisling.—If human engage∣ments and commands can only bind men to that which Page  155 is absolutely indifferent, it is plain, that we can only be answerable to men for such parts of our conduct as the law of God did not reach;—but, let men once firmly believe, that their promises, covenants, oaths or vows, and the commands of superiors, have no bin∣ding force, but in that which is left absolutely indiffe∣rent by the law of God; and that they are answerable to men only for such parts of their conduct as the law of God could not reach,—how naturally they will rush headlong into all manner of profligacy, every man doing that which is right in his own eyes, in every thing important. (3) How absurd to pretend honouring of religion, or of the law of God by making it the murderer of that deputed authority which God hath, by it, granted to men; or of these covenants, oaths or vows, which He hath therein appointed as means of his worship—Not only scripture, but even common sense dictates, that the authority of God in his law cannot be rightlyregarded, unless in a way of also regard∣ingthat authority which he hath deputed to men, and all the commands or self engagements which proceed from it, in due subordination to it. If I read my Bible daily, in obedience to the command of God as my God in Christ,—in obedience to Christ as appointed by God to be my mediatorial, prophet and king,—and at the same time in due subordination hereto,—in obedience to my civil ruler, as the minister of God for good to men,—in obedience to my pastor or church judicature as the messenger of Christ to me,—in obedience to my parents or masters as God's deputy-governors over me,—and in fulfilment of the vow, which I as God's de∣puty-governor over myself, have laid myself under, according to his appointment, Where is the inconsis∣tency? Must I wickedly put asunder the immediate and deputed authority of God, which he hath so closely and delightfully joined together? God forbid.


"What have we to do with our fa∣ther's engagements in religion, to which we never gave any personal consent, especially after we have become capable to judge and choose for ourselves,—nay to do with engagements, which I cannot prove my ancestors ever took."
ANSW. (1.) To rest obligation to pay debt or perform duty on the debtor's proving the contraction of it, or engagement to it, is highly ab∣surd Page  156 in itself, and opens a wide door for breaking through almost every engagement. According to this scheme you may hold your ancestors, who lived 130 years ago unbaptized Heathens and perhaps yourself too, and so renounce your baptism, because you can∣not prove that ever you received it. If God, who is our creditor in these covenants, can prove our ances∣tors taking of them, he will hold us bound by their deed; and even though they did not take them, he will hold us bound by the deed of the society and its representatives. (2.) You know, that Lord —, about four hundred years ago, granted your ancestor, the valuable estate of —, to be held under him and his heirs, for a very small honorary service, as an ac∣knowledgment of vassalage; and that the celebrated farmer A. B. about six years ago took a ninety-nine years lease of one of your farms at a very high rent. Have you certified the present heirs of that Lord and Farmer, That they are no-wise bound by their proge∣nitors deeds, unless they have given their own personal consent,—and that the one may recal your estate, and the other may keep your farm, and refuse to pay you any rent?—You have not, nor ever will You al∣low such freedoms only to be used with God,—not with yourself;—too strong a presumption, That you more value your estate and rent, than all that you hold of God in religion, and all the honour you owe to him. (3.) If our fathers bound us to any thing in religion which is not warranted by the word of God, we have nothing to do with it, but to bewail their sin in such engagement. But, if they bound us to what is commanded by the law of God, we must stand bound,—till we prove from scripture, that vows binding to duty are not lawful; or that fathers have no right to devote their children to God's service. No slothful or wilful ignorance or withholding of personal con∣sent, can so much as excuse the non-performance of such engagements. Nothing can free from their binding force, which would not annual our baptismal vows. (4) Once more, Sir, be pleased to review these public covenants of our fathers, in their princi∣pal contents and meaning. They were a solemn acqui∣escence in and confirmation of God's grant of the utmost ends of the earth to his Son Jesus Christ for hs posses∣sion. Page  157 They implied a solemn acceptance of God him∣self in Christ as the God, Saviour and portion of the covenanters and their posterity freely granted to them in the gospel,—and of his oracles and ordinances as the means of familiar fellowship with Him,—a resolution through his grace to retain him and them, as their inestimable privileges,—and a solemn engagement, thank∣fully to improve these privileges in an holy obedience to all his commandments, to promote his glory, and the temporal, spiritual and eternal advantage of these covenanters and their seed. Now, Sir, do you so heartily envy our Redeemer his Father's grant of the ends of the earth for his possession, Psal. ii. 8. that you would gladly renounce our ancestors solemn ac∣quiescence in it? Do do you so heartily dislike the hav∣ing of a reconciled God in Christ for your and your posterity's God, Saviour and portion, and his pure o∣racles and ordinances for your privileges, that you would fondly renounce a solemn acceptance of God's gracious grant of them sealed and consirmed by the re∣markable influences of his Spirit? Do you so under∣value these enjoyments, and hate a grateful and self-profiting obedience to all the commandments of God, that you would gladly renounce a solemn obligation to it? Or, are you offended with the declared ends of these covenants, viz. the glorifying of God, the pre∣servation and reformation of religion and promoting the welfare of the nation,—and that God may delight to dwell among us to the latest posterity?—You will perhaps pretend, that you love our reformed doctrine. worship, Presbyterian government and discipline; but hate to be bound to them, especially by others than yourself. But, Sir, for the same reason you must re∣nounce your baptismal engagements, and state your quarrel with God himself, who hath appointed vows. as his ordinance for hedging up men to their duty, and who hath entered into covenants with parents for their posterity as well as for themselves. Moreover, it is scarce credible, that you can love every thing engaged to in a vow, and yet hate to be bound by it, after God hath signally countenanced it. It is scarce possible, that my wife can dearly love her husband, and the or∣der and enjoyments of my family, if she hate and wish to renounce her marriage Vow.