And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death.—Exodus 21.16.

 Show Menu 
Hide Banner

QUERIES and ADMONITIONS,

Used by Mr. John Howie of Lochgoin,

For the Social Profession of Faith & Engagement

Of his Godly Christian Children at Home

Who declined to join the R.P. Church.

X

TrueCovenanter.com Editor's Introduction.

PRACTICAL Question: If it is the duty of all Christians to make public profession of their faith, and if it has been found, throughout history, to be edifying that young Christians make profession of their faith before the Church in testimony to their own resolved engagement to be the Lord’s, then what is to be done for such young believers when the backslidden state of the Church obliges faithful Christians to stand aloof from the public assemblies of those among whom they would have otherwise made such open profession?

This question is by no means unique to our own day, when not only state churches and mainline denominations have departed from the truth, but those, which sometimes opposed their corruptions, also stray too far from the path of our Lord Jesus.  The following extract from the Memoirs of John Howie, a constant and zealous Reformed Presbyterian of a former generation, suggests a possible resolution to this question.  The present editor does not propose that it be strictly followed as any rule in itself.  Rather, it is presented for consideration, that a new generation of Covenanters may determine what remedy will be best for their own time and circumstances.

2013.03.14::JTK.

This spring, 1789, one who had for some time been a suitor to my eldest daughter, (who was but about twenty years of age,) came to insist upon marriage.  This gave me some uneasiness or difficulty; one reason was, she was but of a tender weakly constitution, besides some other ailments, which had inclined me to decline consenting for some time before this.  However, he insisted, and it went on.—About the beginning of May this year, her and my two eldest sons, had never joined in church communion [with the Reformed Presbyterian Church] upon several reasons and seeming discouragements, and I could not press them, though I never dissuaded them from it: And no appearance of things being got better, I now thought of appointing a family fast, and to cause them take on their own engagements, in as solemn a way as we in a private capacity, and the circumstance of things would admit.  Accordingly, a little before her marriage, we appointed a day, wherein, besides the ordinary duty or exercise of the day, I set about this, by telling them what was intended, and somewhat of the nature of the thing, and then proceeded to the articles or questions to be proposed, in which I copied after that form that had been used in an adjacent parish, who had of all the west country been most punctual in this method with young ones, before their admission to the sacrament, which was as proper and suitable in form, as what I could have proposed anew: the substance, index, or import of which follows:

1. Do you believe the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be indeed the word of God, and Testament of Christ, the charter of your privilege, the only infallible rule of faith and practice, {125} and the rule by which you are to be judged at the last day?

2. Agreeable thereunto, Do you believe in God the Father, the maker of heaven and earth, who is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in all perfections, blessedness, and glory, and whose kingdom and providence ruleth over all?

3. Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who came from the bosom of the Father, to seek and save lost sinners, to redeem them from sin and misery, and to bring them to a state of salvation, by fulfilling all righteousness in their stead, in his birth, life, and sufferings even unto death?

4. Do you believe in God the Holy Ghost, the third person of the ever blessed Trinity, as the great Sanctifier of his church, and applier of the redemption purchased by Christ, without whose gracious assistance you can do nothing that is spiritually good or acceptable to God?

5. Are you convinced that you are sinners by nature and by practice, are guilty creatures before God, in a lost and perishing condition, deprived of his image, liable to the wrath and curse of God, out of which, by your own endeavours, you cannot extricate yourself out of this deplorable state of sin and misery?

6. Do you, from the bottom of your heart, approve of, and acquiesce in God’s covenant of grace and peace, which he entered into with his chosen from eternity, that you have exhibited unto you in the gospel, avouching God for your portion, Christ as your Surety and Redeemer, the Holy Spirit as your Guide and Sanctifier, and resolves to abide in this choice while you live?

7. On the other hand, and in terms of the same covenant, are you willing to be, and live as his redeemed ones, to devote yourselves to him as his peculiar people and willing subjects?  &c.  &c. {126}

8. Do you now own the obligation of your baptismal vows and engagements, to be the Lord’s, and acknowledge the equity and reasonableness of what your parents did for you in your infancy?  &c.  &c.

9. Respects the admission to the Lord’s table or supper.

10. Is it not your fixed purpose to cleave to God’s covenant; and whatever others do in a world, you will, by divine grace, seek and serve the Lord your God, and him only, renouncing all other lords and masters, particularly the devil, the world, and the flesh, and that you will cleave to him with full purpose of heart, and endeavour after new obedience?

11. Do you accept of Christ’s people for your beloved friends, firmly resolving to join his little flock, &c. and purpose, through grace, not to follow a multitude to do evil, but resolutely to avoid all temptations, snares, and evil company, saying with David, Depart from me ye evil doers, for I will keep the commandments of my God?

12. Finally, Is it not your fixed resolution to take up your cross, and follow Christ, and his holy religion, whatever may befal you in the world; to fight the good fight, in opposition to all and every temptation, denying all ungodliness, and worldly lusts, live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present evil world, till God shall be pleased to take you out of it by death?

And therefore I call heaven and earth to record this day, that the way of life and death, blessing and curse, has been laid before you, and that you (profess to) have chosen life; that you love the Lord your God, obey his voice, and cleave unto him;—yea, you are witnesses against yourselves, that you have chosen the Lord to serve him.—If there is joy in heaven over one that repenteth, as the father rejoiceth over one prodigal son, &c.  Certainly the day of espousals is the day of the gladness of Christ’s heart, and the friend {127} of the Bridegroom must greatly rejoice likewise, &c. &c. &c.

These, and more, having been gone over at full, and somewhat of the danger of being remiss, though not called out at present to the seal of the covenant, the supper; yet the same duties were engaged unto, all relative, and absolutely necessary, in the Christian course;—they were admonished in as solemn a manner as the circumstances would admit, and as the Lord enabled.  After which, the whole was concluded by singing and fervent prayer, as the Lord was pleased to countenance, in way of devoting them, and the rest of the children over to him; and craving his pity, countenance, and direction in, and through the whole course of the Christian life; that so, having finished it with joy, our feet, at last, might be found standing within the courts of the new Jerusalem.

And here, perhaps, some may censure this part of my conduct; but in this they must take their freedom.  All I shall say, as a reason for my conduct, is, altho’ I did not look upon this to free me of parental duties, even to these while under my hand, yet I thought it might lighten and sweeten it a little.  And should any say, I had no right, it was ministers and public persons, when admitting such to the church, that this action belonged unto:—To this I only say, I imposed no oath, nor any thing more (if my treacherous heart deceive me not) but what, as a parent, I had a right to do.  And, amongst all other reeling confusions, on a retrospect view of my past actions in life, I have hitherto never had the least grudge or challenge [of conscience] for what I did in this.  But rather, I was negligent, and has not done what I might have done with respect unto my children, and other connections and relations; for which I implore and beg forgiveness from him, whose prerogative it is to forgive and pass by transgression, and pardon sin, through the all prevailing merit of his only Son, our Saviour, and {128} the Spirit of all grace, one God over all, blessed for ever.  Amen.

Sometime after this, while in bed one morning, and being thinking or meditating somewhat concerning the different turns or dispensations of the Lord’s holy providence, and adorable ordering concerning persons and affairs in this world;—this, concerning my daughter’s situation, though she was married in a most agreeable way, to one of the same profession, and no despicable situation, or way of living in the world; yet, if she continued of such a tender way, (with some other circumstances I forbear to notice here,) what would she do?  This had oft-times been matter of thought unto me, which I desired to commit and lay before the Lord, who had hitherto done all things well for me.  Suddenly these two texts, or words of scripture came into my mind, which had no connection with the matter I was anxious, alas! too anxious about.  The words were,—Secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things that are revealed belong unto us, &c. connected with Christ’s own words,—It is not for you to know the times and seasons.  These scriptures I found to be in Deut. 29.29, and Acts 1.7.  And here I found myself reproved, which had this effect upon my spirits, that I was never so anxious afterwards; for, if the case had at any time presented itself unto my mind, then these scriptures, Secret things belong unto the Lord;—it is not for you to know the times and seasons, occurred as fresh as at first, and so my anxiety evanished.  If any thing be noticeable here, let free grace, and God’s goodness to me, a poor, worthless creature, be exalted.

And though some may think the mentioning of this frivolous, yet it may have its own proper effects, whereby something may be learned, if seriously considered, as a reproof against our too anxious prying into the hidden mysteries of his providence.