« PreviousContinue »
arms; but the sword and the dagger were the covenant's weapons. And I put it to the conscience of any reasonable presbyterian to decide which species of armour is most consistent with the religion of Christ, the gospel of his apostles, and with our duties as good soldiers and servants of the Author of our salvation. Whence come wars and fightings among christians, but from pride and (lisobedience to the ordinances of God? But civil and ecclesiastic government are two of his most sacred institutions, both of which were despised and overturned by the rebellious principles of the covenant; therefore it cannot be a christian covenant. The soldier of the faith is commanded to gird up his loins with truth, to put on the breastplate of righteousness, to shoe his feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace, to take the shield of faith and obedience, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit or the word of God; but the soldier of the covenant girt his loins with bandaliers, put on the breast-plate of bypocrisy, shod his feet with boots and spurs, took the shield of rebellion, the helmet of selfrighteousness, and the sword of steel; therefore the arms of the covenant were not the christian's armour. They made the most unbounded pretensions of loyalty to the sovereign, and of godliness and allegiance to “ King Jesus," of whose whole mind, they alleged, they were in perfect and infallible possession ; yet in one of their acts of Assembly they assert,“ though our Saviour told his disciples that his kingdom was not of this world, and that, therefore, they ought not to fight for Him; yet that doctrine does not now oblige covenanted christians, for they may fight without, yea and against the consent of the supreme magistrate, for the cause of God; and a probable capacity to effectuate their designs, is the call of God to do it.” Therefore this decision is as antichristian as the famous non obstanti of the council of Constance, respecting the Eucharistic cup, to which the language of the Assembly bears a very striking resemblance-a family likeness," though Christ did institute in both kinds, and the primitive church did so administer, yet we desire the contrary to be observed.”
THOUSANDS of worthy presbyterians of the present day never heard of, and will not believe, the atrocities committed by their forefathers, and have not consented to their sins, nor bound them on their own souls, by wishing them God speed; and thousands of them will doubtless come and sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven, when the children of the kingdom may be cast out into outer darkness. It is, therefore, my heart's desire and prayer that such hidden seed of God's people should come out of the kirk, and partake no longer of her sins of schism and division, and which, by a retributive justice, have been her own punishment, from the Glasgow Assembly to the present hour. Though the prophet's sight was shortened, yet the Searcher of hearts saw seven thousand true Israelites who had not bowed the knee to Baal; the same omniscient Being has “much people" among the presbyterians, who would hail with joy the haven of rest in the church, were the veil of delusion under which they labour removed from their hearts. May the “ strong delusion” be withdrawn from the people, and may the spirt of schism be removed from their unsent prophets, and a zeal of God according to knowledge be amply vouchsafed to them, that they may become one fold under one shepherd—that Great Shepherd of the sheep, the Shepherd and Bishop of souls !
PRESBYTERY, THE SOLEMN LEAGUE AND COVENANT, AND THE GRAND
1648.-A General Assembly.-Letter from the synod of divines.-Collision be.
tween the commission and the committee.-Assembly ratifies and approves of the opposition to the “ Engagement”—their answer respecting securities for religion The committee's ironical reply.-Assembly's declaration-another against the “Engagement." — Assembly's letter to the king—Remarks.Catechism authorised.-Smaller transactions.-Three riding committees appointed.—Deposition of the episcopal clergy.-Military stores sent by the prince secured.-The duke's army begin their march-routed by Cromwellduke made prisoner.-Loudon raises troops.—Movements of the Scottish army.-Cromwell comes northward-arrives at Edinburgh-conferences betwixt him, Argyle, and the ministers.-Lambert left in Scotland.—Cromwell's proceedings at London.- 1649.-Parliament.--Commissioners at London their instructions.--Act or CLASSES.
1648.—THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY sat down on the 12th of July, and George Gillespie, one of the ministers of Edinburgh, was chosen moderator. In their first session, the Assembly received a letter from the synod of divines in England, setting forth their own determination to maintain the Solemn League and Covenant, and exhorting their “right honourable, right reverend, and dearly beloved brethren in Jesus Christ,” to do the same, in opposition to “profaneness and malignancy on the one hand; and of error, schism, heresy, and blasphemy, on the other.”
It was generally expected that notwithstanding the opposition which the commission had made to raising the army, and which this Assembly had so heartily approved, now it was actually embodied and in the field, that they would have shewn some moderation; yet, says Guthry,“ never had any Assembly carried so highly and arbitrarily as they did.” Their first collision was with the committee of the estates, who sent the earl of Glencairn, sir James Carmichael, treasurer-depute, and Archibald Sydserf, one of the magistrates of Edinburgh, to
i Guthry's Memoirs, 231.-Stevenson's Church and State, 600.
Johnston's Collections, 371, 372.
desire that before they should proceed to revise and approve the late commission's transactions, they would hear what the committee of estates had to say. Some of the ministers, who were not in the secret, expected there would have been a debate in earnest ; but such of the royalists whose suspicions were awake, and could look deeper than the surface,saw that th's was a sham fight, got up betwixt the ruling elders on the one side, and the dictator on the other. And after several delays and much speaking, the Assembly ratified and approved of the acts of the commission ; and an act of approbation was passed on the 18th, wherein it is stated, that “having examined the proceedings of the commission of the preceding Assembly, especially their declarations, remonstrances, representations, petitions, vindication, and other papers relating to the present Engagement in war, do unanimously find that in all their proceeding, they have been zealous, diligent, and faithful, in discharge of the trust committed to them : and therefore ratify and approve the whole proceedings, acts, and conclusions of the said commission, particularly their papers relating to the said Engagement, and their judgment of the unlauwfuless thereof, appointing Mr. John Moncrief, moderator pro tempore, to return them hearty thanks in the name of the Assembly, for their great pains, travels, and fidelity, in matters of great concernment to the cause of God and to this kirk, amidst so great and many difficulties 1."
On the 17th and 24th the committee sent two papers to the Assembly, desiring to know what securities for religion they required. To which the Assembly replied, on the 26th—“That we do see no possibility of securing religion, so long as this unlawful Engagement is carried on, religion being thereby greatly endangered—1, Because none of the just and necessary desires of the late General Assembly for securing religion have been granted or satisfied ; more particularly . ... it was necessary that the popish, prelatical, and malignant party, be declared enemies to the Cause, upon the one hand, as well as sectaries on the other, and that all associations, either in forces or councils, with the former as well as the latter, be avoided. That his majesty's concessions and offers concerning religion be declared unsatisfactory. That before his majesty's restitution to the exercise of his royal power, .... (that he give] his solemn oath, under his hand and seal, for settling religion according to the covenant, that their lordships should keep themselves from owning any quarrel concerning his majesty's negative
1 Guthry's Memoirs, 232.—Johnston's Collections, 371, 372.
voice .... and that there might be no Engagement without a solemn oath, wherein the kirk ought to have the same interest they had in the Solemn League and Covenant .... notwithstanding the Engagement hath been carried on without satisfaction to these and the like desires; and so without giving security in the point of religion, but with great and manifest danger to the same. 2. [The true reformed religion is weakened and hurt by] their associating and joining with known malignants and incendiaries, and such as have been declared enemies to this Cause. . . . 3. The Engagement is carried on by such means and ways as tend to the destroying of religion, by ensnaring and forcing the consciences of the people of God with unlawful bands and oaths, and oppressing the persons and estates of such as have been most active and zealous for religion and the covenant. All which is strengthened and authorised by acts of parliament, appointing that all that do not obey, or persuade others not to obey the resolutions of parliament and committee anent this Engagement, or who shall not subscribe the act and declaration of the 10th of June, imposed upon all the subjects, shall be holden as enemies to the Cause and to religion, and have their persons secured, and their estates intromitted with. 4. ... Wherefore the security of religion and carrying on of the present engagement being inconsistent, we do propose, for the necessary security and safety of religion, that all the dangers thereof may be taken into consideration, and amongst the rest the said Engagement as one of the greatest ?."
THE COMMITTEE received the above answer, and in reply sent them a paper which appears replete with irony, desiring, “ 1. That the General Assembly would be pleased to demonstrate in writing, from the Holy Scriptures, the unlawfulness and sinfulness of this present Engagement. 2. That the Assembly would be pleased to demonstrate, from the Word of God, that the kirk has interest in the undertakings in war, and to declare what heir interest is in determining thereof: after which the committee, if needful, shall give a full and clear answer to those politic reasons adduced in their paper.” These queries were subsequently answered, but, in the meantime, the Assembly passed an act and declaration against the act of parliament and committee of estates, ordained to be subscribed the 10th and 12th of June, and against all new oaths or bonds in the common cause, imposed without consent of the church : in which, after a long preamble, they “ Do unanimously declare