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The Renewal of the Covenants

At Auchensaugh:

An INTRODUCTION

By Thomas Henderson,

Pastor of the REFORMED PRESBYTERIAN Congregation

Kilmalcolm.

TrueCovenanter.com Editor's Note.

The following Introduction and Appendix to the edition of the Auchensaugh Renovation of the Covenants printed in 1820, were prepared by Thomas Henderson, one of the senior ministers of the Reformed Presbyterian Church at that time. The author's reason for writing will appear plainly from the text, wherein it is evident that he, as well as some of the other senior ministers of the Reformed Presbyterian Church (namely, John McMillan III, Walter Grieve, and James Reid), wished to stay the tide of defection then hurrying onwards within the Covenanter Church in Scotland. That defection, long in working, brought about its first constitutional alteration in the Church two years after this publication. The following year, Mr. Henderson's contendings in this world were terminated, and he was taken away from those who had taken from him that Church of his youth which he remembered with so much admiration, but whose changes in his later years he could not but lament. His doing so in the following publication would no doubt be accounted by many as an offensive discovering of his Mother's nakedness [Ezek 16.37.], but his faithful witnessing against defection and corporate decline was and is the very thing needed by ecclesiastical communities which have turned into byways, and forgotten the beauty and order of earlier generations.

There are a couple items mentioned within the text of the Acknowledgment of Sins and the Engagement to Duties read at Auchensaugh, to which the author himself takes exception. And while he cites another author maintaining that the Reformed Presbytery's Testimony was on these subjects consistent with the work at Auchensaugh, he elsewhere acknowledges that that work, approved by the Church, is "qualified, limited, and explained" by the Testimony and that the "same subject has been farther limited and qualified" by the Presbytery's Explanation & Defence of the Terms of Communion. The reader may consult these documents in order to form an estimate of their consistency, and to determine which most accurately expresses the principles & practices of the Reformation and of the Bible. It may be conceded to those who opposed retaining reference to the Auchensaugh Renovation in the RP Church's Terms of Communion, that "qualifying, limiting, and explaining", if it is truly necessary, is indicative of a need for revisions and corrections, which would be more proper than a Presbytery Explanation (which is not a Term of Communion,) being allowed to give meaning to the documents referenced in the Terms of Communion to which Church members promise to adhere. In the case of the RP Church of Scotland, and assuming the above need, a new Renovation of the Covenants, done faithfully without receding from any of the Covenanter Testimony, while expressed in greater scriptural accuracy, would have been a proper solution to such a problem. Sadly however, those who so strongly opposed the Auchensaugh Renovation, effectively prevented this possibility, by carrying on their course of defection to the point that such a new Renovation of the Covenants was no longer "necessary";—and it may be added, no longer possible, given the lack of unity that ever afterwards existed in the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland on account of the influence of those addicted to Innovation, and averse to Presbyterian Discipline.


Introduction.


COVENANTING WITH GOD is the most signal honour, to which a people or nation can be exalted in this world: but no nation, under the New Testament dispensation, seems to have been more eminently honoured in this respect, than the kingdom of Scotland. So soon as our land emerged out of darkness, and attained the light of evangelical truth, our renowned Ancestors, of all ranks, entered into various Covenants, to maintain the True Religion, betwixt 1557 and 1582, in opposition to all the idolatry and errors of the apostate church of Rome. The chief of these was the National Covenant of Scotland, which was subscribed by the King and his household, in the year 1580, and by persons of all ranks, 1581.

After lordly Prelacy had gained the ascendency over the True Presbyterian Religion about forty years, the Second Reformation commenced 1638, and gradually advanced until 1649 inclusive. During that memorable period great things were done in our land, which we ought ever to keep in grateful remembrance. 1. The National Covenant was renewed, in which all the idolatrous rites of Popery are formally abjured, and by the subscription of it, the Five Articles of Perth, viz. kneeling at the Lord's Supper, private communion in that ordinance, private baptism, confirmation of children, and observation of holy days, the government of the kirk by bishops, and the civil places and power of kirkmen, are declared to be unlawful. 2. The Solemn League and Covenant of the Three Kingdoms, Scotland, England, and Ireland, was framed and sworn, in which our Ancestors, for themselves and posterity, engaged to maintain the True Reformed Religion; and to endeavour, by all lawful means, to eradicate Popery, Prelacy, superstition, heresy, schism, profaneness, and every thing contrary to sound doctrine, and the power of godliness, as plants not planted by their heavenly Father. 3. The Westminster Confession of Faith, as approved, limited, and explained by the Act of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, 27 Aug. 1647, Sess. 23, and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms were composed, as a Summary of Evangelical Doctrine, extracted from, and confirmed by, the Holy Scriptures. 4. Christ's alone supremacy over his church, set by his Father over his holy hill of Sion, and given by him to be Head over all things to the Church, which is his body; together with her intrinsic right, to call, adjourn, and dissolve, her Assemblies at pleasure, whether the civil magistrate give his sanction, or not, was expressly asserted by the Church. 5. The Divine right of Presbyterian Church Government, as the only form revealed in the Word of God, in opposition to the idolatrous forms of Popery, the superstitious hierarchy of Prelacy, and the sectarian confusion of the different orders of Independency, was legally established according to Scripture-rule. 6. Patronage, that great evil which robs the Christian people of the privilege of choosing those pastors, who are to take the oversight of their precious and immortal souls, was legally abolished, and the Church restored to that liberty, wherewith Christ hath made his church and people free. 7. The {iv} Estates of Parliament also enacted, that all Kings and Princes, who shall reign over this realm, shall solemnly swear, to observe and defend the True Reformed Religion, according to the Word of God—and by and attour the foresaid oath shall declare, by his solemn oath and seal, his allowance of the National Covenant and of the Solemn League and Covenant, and obligation to pursue the ends thereof in his station and calling.—Collection of Acts, p. 141.

These Covenants, (viz. the National Covenant and the Solemn League and Covenant) constituted the formal marriage relation between Jehovah and the United Kingdoms, and were the condition of admission to office and privilege. On account of them we were called Hephzibah, and Beulah, a land delighted in, and married to the Lord. [Isa. 62.4.] While we were faithful to God, he was good and gracious to us, and allowed us eminent times of refreshing from his presence. But when we forsook him, he also forsook us, and gave us up to counsels of our own, and we have vainly wandered ever since. By admitting the enemies of Reformation into places of power and trust, by the Public Resolutions;—by submitting to the usurpation of Oliver Cromwell, and by the unhappy restoration of Charles II. without any security in favours of the True Religion, our gold became dim, our most fine gold was changed. A bloody persecution commenced against the friends of the Reformation, which raged with great violence twenty-eight years. Our solemn Covenants, were disregarded, their obligation denied, and the Deeds themselves ignominiously burnt, in London, Edinburgh, and Linlithgow. By authority, the taking, or the administering of them was declared to be sedition and treason; and defending them by word, or writ, was accounted criminal in law. All Acts made in their favours, or in favours of the work of Reformation between 1638 and 1650, were rescinded, and such black Oaths, Bonds, Tests, and Indulgences were imposed, as ensnared and polluted the consciences of all, who accepted of, or agreed to, them. About 18,000 Presbyterians are supposed to have suffered persecution, in one form or another, by imprisonment, banishment, tortures and death, from 1660 to 1688. The principal heads of their sufferings may be reduced to three. 1. Refusing to renounce the Covenants, and to declare it unlawful, to enter into Deeds of that kind, without consent of the civil magistrate. 2. Denying the King's supremacy over the Church, according to Act of Parl. 16, Nov. 1669, in which it is enacted, asserted, and declared, "that his Majesty hath the supreme authority and supremacy over all persons, and in all causes ecclesiastical, within this kingdom, and that, by virtue thereof, the ordering and disposing of the external government and policy of the Church doth properly belong to his Majesty, and his successors, as an inherent right to the crown," &c. 3. Refusing to acknowledge the authority of the Duke of York, as he was a professed Papist, an open enemy to the True Religion, a tyrant over the liberties of the nation, and a violent persecutor of the faithful friends, and followers of the Lamb. The pious Mr. James Renwick was the last, who sealed the Church's Testimony with his blood, on a public scaffold, and triumphantly entered into the joy of his Lord.

The Nation, weary of the tyranny and oppression of James VII. agreed to dismiss him from the throne, and to invite William and Mary, Prince and Princess of Orange, to come over, and assume the reins of {v} government, in these kingdoms. At their accession, the Nations did not improve the opportunity afforded them, to have Church and State settled according to the Word of God, and to the Reforming Laws of the land; but left the Covenants and work of Reformation buried under the infamous Act Rescissory. Our renowned Ancestors entered their Public Protestation against said Settlement, both civil and ecclesiastic, at the Market Cross of Sanquhar, because the King was not a professor of the True Religion;—did not take the Covenants, according to the established law of the nation;—was engaged by his Coronation Oath to maintain Prelacy inviolable, to the latest posterity, contrary to the Second Commandment and Solemn League and Covenant;—was vested with a sinful headship over the Church, in being declared head over all persons and causes, civil and ecclesiastical;—and established two forms of religion, as agreeable to the inclination of the people, though in direct opposition to one another, without any regard to the Holy Scriptures, as the alone rule of either;—because many of the constituent members of the Convention of Estates had an active hand in murdering the precious saints of God, during the late persecution;—and because the Parliament of Scotland read, judged, voted, and ratified, the Westminster Confession of Faith, for the whole Church of Scotland, without consulting with her, more or less, on the subject; which was gross Erastianism. They [our faithful Ancestors] also dissented from and protested against the ecclesiastical constitution, because the ministers, who composed the first Assembly, after the Revolution, were composed of the Indulged and Curates, that had complied with the evils of the times, during the persecution, had taken some of the sinful Oaths, Bonds, Tests, or Indulgences, during that period; and many of them grievously reproached the honest sufferers, so that they had no right to come near unto God, to do the office of a priest unto him, until they were cleansed, according to the purification of the sanctuary;—they passed over the best time of our Reformation, and went back to 1592, when the Church's attainments were not come to their greatest purity.

By thus overlooking the steps of Reformation, attained to, between the years 1638 and 1650, they violated the Divine precept, "Whereunto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, and mind the same thing." Phil. 3.16.—They submitted to new ministerial qualifications, viz. the Oaths of Allegiance and Assurance, substituted and imposed, in room of the Covenants, under ecclesiastical pains and censures, as deprivation, suspension, and the like. Such qualifications, fixed and appointed by the civil magistrate, for gospel ministers, as a condition of the exercise of their office, was injurious to the Headship of Christ, and to the intrinsic power of the Church; and was, in the very nature of it, downright Erastianism: and ministers tamely submitting to them, was a surrendering the Church's rights to a foreign head, and discovered great want of fidelity to Sion's King.—They allowed the King to call, adjourn, and dissolve, their Assemblies at his pleasure; and sometimes, without transacting any business at all; and they complied with his command, to receive into their communion all the Curates, that would qualify according to Law, without requiring any evidence of repentance, or inflicting any censure upon them, for their former corrupt and superstitious principles, and practices.

However, all things considered, little better could be expected, {vi} from the state of the Nation, at that time. The most religious and faithful ministers and people had either been put to death, or banished, during the persecution; and it could not be thought that the Laodicean compliers with the backsliding courses of that period, would be honoured to build up Sion's walls, and to settle her on her true Scriptural Covenanted foundation. These were not the materials, proper for erecting anew, the ancient Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland.—After the death of that faithful minister and martyr of Jesus Christ, Mr. James Renwick, the surviving friends of the cause, for which he suffered, came to be unhappily divided in judgment among themselves.

As the sword of persecution was now sheathed, and external peace restored, it was natural to desire ease, and quiet: and those, who should have been examples to the little flock of Christ, proved a snare to them. The truth of the prophet's declaration was verified: "The leaders of this people cause them to err." [Isa. 9.16.] Their public teachers Messrs. Shields, Linning, and Boyd, carried them down the stream of defection, and seduced them into a sinful compliance with the evils of the time. 1. They encouraged them, to take up arms, to guard the Convention of Estates, many of the members of which had their hands deeply imbrued in the blood of God's dear saints, during the late persecution—2. They enticed them, to raise the Angus Regiment, and to join, in a military association, with malignants, to a Covenanted work of Reformation, contrary to their professed principles, and to the express prohibition of Scripture: "Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy." [Isa. 8.12.] Many of them repented of this action afterwards, and blamed Mr. Shields to his face, for leading them into it.—3. They advised them, to address William and the Parliament, concerning their grievances about religion, which many of them had scruples in doing, as they were suspicious, that William's principles were not favourable to the Covenants, and work of Reformation; and the more faithful part were afraid, that petitioning the Parliament might be viewed as an acknowledgment of the members of it, as the lawful Representatives of the Nation; while the greatest part of them were disqualified from holding such an office, on account of the active hand, which they had taken, in persecuting the faithful followers of the Lamb, and in destroying, suppressing, and subverting the Covenanted Reformation; and had given no evidence of repentance, for their sinful conduct therein.—4. They induced them, to enter rashly into the renovation of the Covenants at Lesmahago, without due time to consider on the importance of the work, and to seek sanctuary preparation for sanctuary service; to ponder seriously the sins confessed, and the duties to which they engaged, which many of themselves regretted afterwards.—5. They exhorted them, to join with unfaithful complying ministers, under pretense of entering a protestation and remonstrance, and reserving a right to testify against every thing, which they judged wrong, though the constitution itself was settled on an unscriptural foundation.—6. They carried as many of them, as they could, along with themselves, into the communion of the Revolution Church, and landed them in the quagmire of Erastianism.

But the Lord still preserved a select few, who did not defile their garments with these corruptions. Sir Robert Hamilton, in the first General Meeting which he attended, held at Douglas, 6th Nov. 1689, {vii} after his return from Holland, entered his protest against these, and similar steps of defection, and compliance: and, at a future meeting, refused to accept of a commission, for drawing up a representation of grievances, and a protestation against defections, to be given in to a general meeting of ministers, and afterwards a General Assembly, in connexion with persons of such jarring opinions and practices; especially with Messrs. Shields, Linning, and Boyd, whom he considered, as equally guilty, if not more so, than the complying ministers of the time. Sir Robert was justly held in estimation by the Community of Old Dissenters.

He [had gone] over to Holland, soon after the battle of Bothwell Bridge, and during his residence there, proved of eminent service to the Sufferers for the Truth in Scotland. He acted as their Commissioner, to represent their case, and solicit the sympathy of the Church there; and, by his attention and fidelity, he prevailed with the Presbytery of Groningen, to ordain the pious and faithful Mr. James Renwick a minister of the gospel, for the persecuted, True Presbyterian Church of Christ in Scotland. And afterwards, as their Delegate to the Presbytery of Embden, he induced them to ordain Mr. Thomas Linning a minister of the gospel for the same Church. Some time after his return to Scotland, when the three teachers foresaid had deserted the noble cause, which they had formerly espoused, and, by their advice and example, had drawn many into a state of apostacy, along with themselves, Sir Robert stepped in, and lifted up the Testimony, as Mr. Renwick left it, and was the honoured instrument, in the Lord's hand, of collecting, out of their dispersed state, such of the Old Sufferers, as had escaped the general contagion, and defection: and united them together, in Praying Societies, for their spiritual improvement; and in Correspondent and General Meetings, for managing their public concerns. Never do piety and faithfulness appear to have been more eminent among Dissenters than during this period: their private religious exercises, by themselves, with their Families, and in their Societies, were refreshing, and comfortable. They had frequently days of fasting and humiliation, for mourning over their own sins, and those of a guilty land, and, on these days, they expressed an ardent desire after the public ordinances of religion, and were very earnest in their supplications, that the Lord would prepare, qualify, and send, a faithful gospel minister, to break the bread of life to them, and to discover unto them the reason, why this great blessing was withheld from them.

Sir Robert was apprehended, and imprisoned in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, for having an hand in publishing the Sanquhar Declaration [1692], and was called different times before the Council; but he declined them as [in]competent judges, because they were not qualified, according to the Word of God, and our solemn Covenants. He would make no acknowledgment whatever of any thing wrong in his conduct, nor make any promise or engagement, to act differently from what he had done; and he was so honest to his principles, that, before his liberation, he gave in a most faithful protestation and declinature, to the Privy Council and Parliament of Scotland; sent a letter, of the same import, to Sir James Stuart the Advocate; and, upon coming out of the Tolbooth, he left another protestation in the hands of the keepers, against his unjust imprisonment; and showing his firm adherence to the cause, for {viii} which he had suffered, declaring, at the same time, that his outcoming was merely on account of his finding open doors, and desiring his protestation to be inserted in the ordinary register.

From his liberation to the time of his death, he contended earnestly for the faith once delivered unto the saints, and acted the part of a tender father, and affectionate friend, to the faithful few, that continued witnessing for the truth; and by his pious example, and judicious counsel, he encouraged and exhorted them, to attend seriously to the concerns of their souls, and to the genuine principles of the Testimony which they held. After having maintained Christian communion with them for several years, and drawing near the conclusion of his life, he left a faithful Testimony behind him, to the Cause and Testimony of Christ, which is contained in the Christians Conduct and in the Scots Worthies. He died in peace, 21st Oct. 1701.—Aged 51 Years.

After the death of Sir Robert Hamilton, not many years intervened, until God sent them that seasonable Gift, the Rev. Mr. John M'Millan, Minister of Balmaghie, who, from the time of his ordination, shewed a strong attachment to the Covenanted principles of the Reformed Church of Scotland. The treatment which he met with from the judicatories of the Revolution Church, and a vindication of his character and conduct against numerous misrepresentations, may be seen in the Appendix to Thorburn's Vindiciæ Magistratus, published 1773, and in the Short Account of Old Dissenters, 1806. Many severe things have been published against him of late years, about Balmaghie business, when very few know the circumstances and motives, from which he acted. As the pastoral relation had been fixed between him and the people of the parish of Balmaghie, he seems to have been desirous, that they should embrace Reformation principles, and the majority of them were greatly attached to his ministry, stood firmly by him, and kept him in possession of the manse, kirk, and glebe, for many years, in opposition to the tyrannical Acts, both of Church and State. The grievances of which he complained, in the Church, they considered as grievances also. When he received and accepted a Call from the Community of Old Dissenters, about the year 1707, he, at the earnest request of his old parishioners, continued with them for a number of years. He is blamed for sitting in Session with Erastian Elders. He did sit in Session with the Elders of his parish, who were not come to the clear light of separating from the Established Church altogether; but they were far from approving of any thing like Erastianism in her: and he wished to give time for examining into principle. Insinuations have been made, that his great motive for continuing with that people was his lusting after the stipends of Balmaghie. This calumny confutes itself. If he had been a man greedy of filthy lucre, he would never have given up his comfortable habitation, and the legal stipend, in that parish, for any thing that Dissenters could give him: and, if he would have withdrawn his paper of grievances, he might have enjoyed all the emoluments, annexed to his official situation, for life. No judicious reason could be assigned, why he should have given up such a profitable living, except a real regard to the Reformation cause, and holding the testimony of a good conscience. Much against the inclination of his adherents in Balmaghie, he left the parish altogether, and came to Clydesdale, about the year 1727, and spent the remainder of his life, in dispensing gospel ordinances in the Community of Old Dissenters, to their edification and comfort. {ix}

Mr. M'Neil, Preacher, joined with Mr. M'Millan about the year 1708. So soon as Old Dissenters were favoured with a Gospel Minister and Preacher to their satisfaction, they took into their consideration the obligation lying upon them, by virtue of our solemn Covenants, to rescue them from the state of contempt and oblivion, under which they had lien above 50 years. In their Correspondent and General Meetings, they proposed setting about renewing them, in a way suited to their circumstances; and after spending many days in fasting, humiliation, and prayer, in their Private Societies, for light and direction, they agreed, that this was a duty, which God called for at their hands, as they were now the only people, that held the Testimony of the Martyrs, who suffered for their adherence to the Covenanted Cause. They then set about the necessary preparation, by encouraging one another to Personal Covenanting, and explaining the Covenants article by article, in every Society; and the members were examined carefully one by one, as to their knowledge of the contents of the Deeds, which they were to swear. On account of the great pains taken for the instruction of the people, by the more judicious members, by the Elders, and by the Minister and Preacher, whom they then had, it is probable, that never any religious body of men entered into these solemn transactions, and sware the Covenants, with more judgment; and the impressions of that work continued with many of them to their dying day.

Auchensaugh Deed has long deservedly held a distinguished place, in the public profession of Old Dissenters. It contains the reasons, which induced our Ancestors, at that time, to enter upon the renovation of our solemn Covenants, in a way adapted to their peculiar circumstances;—the manner of proceeding in the work;—the seasonableness of it;—the difficulties attending it;—the encouragements to it;—the vindication of it, as present duty;—and the obviating of objections raised against it, both as to substance and manner. The National and Solemn League and Covenant are next added, with marginal references, adapting certain clauses to the peculiar circumstances of the Covenanters at that time, with an explicit Declaration at the conclusion of them, (in large print) that they only sware them in their private station, in their genuine sense, according to the Explication and Application thereof, in their present Acknowledgment of the Public Sins, and Breaches of the same; and in their Engagement to Duties contained therein, which did, in a special way, relate to their times, and were proper for their capacities therein. This Acknowledgment, containing a particular enumeration of the sins, whereby each Article of the Solemn League had been violated, with an application of the Holy Scriptures to said violation; and the Engagement to duties, in opposition to said sins, are subjoined. By this Deed our renowned Ancestors brought themselves and their successors formally under the obligation of the Covenants, which the Nations had broken, and ignominiously burnt;—exemplified, how a small minority ought to adhere to Public Covenants, under apostacy;—distinguished the substance of the Covenants from their accidents;—brought the Covenants and the breach of them to Scriptural test, by adding suitable texts;—and specified those sins, national, ecclesiastical, and personal, which provoked God, to plead a controversy with the whole land, and caused him to go to his place, to see if they would acknowledge their offences, and seek {x} him early. [Hos. 5.15.] They also engaged, in the strength of Divine grace, to perform Covenanted duties, so far as competent to them in their different relations.

The approbation of this transaction was a Condition of Admission into the Community of Old Dissenters, from the time that it was sworn: and, when the Reformed Presbytery was first constituted 1743, it was formally established, and announced as a special Term of Communion, and continued so, until the year 1800, when it was united with the Article, acknowledging the Obligation of the Covenants, National and Solemn League—upon posterity. Still it was retained as a Condition of Church Fellowship, without the least motion to remove it from the Terms altogether.

In stating the reasons, why our church ought to retain this Deed in our Terms of Communion, it is not intended to ascribe any improper motives to, nor to cast any injurious reflections upon, those, who wish to remove it from its present place, and to class it among the deeds of general reference. Charity obliges us to believe, that they are acting according to their views.—Nor is it meant to insinuate, that our brethren do not agree to the same truths here stated, taken abstractly. But, considered in the character of Witnesses for the Covenanted Cause and Testimony of Jesus Christ, the friends of this work think that we ought to connect the great substance of that Deed, with our religious exercise at the Lord's Supper. And I fondly hope that those, who are acquainted with the earnest struggling, and faithful contending, which our Forefathers had to get it carried through, and with the gracious discoveries of the Divine presence, which attended it, will feel disposed to retain it, for the following reasons.

1. As it was a signal attainment, and an eminent document of the church's faithfulness; a part of the faith once delivered to the saints;—and having received it into our public profession, as agreeable to the Scriptures, we ought to hold it fast without wavering, to contend earnestly for it, and, at a sacramental table, to be exercised about its contents, as it relates to the coming of Christ's kingdom and interest in the world.

2. As it brings us under formal obligation, to perform our part of the solemn Covenants, after the Nation at large has violated them, and prevents us from partaking with them in their sin of apostacy. As the Covenants were the Condition of Admission to privileges, in the Reformation Church, so we, by this Deed recognize them, as the Condition of Admission to privilege, in our church still.

3. As it adapts the National Deeds to the case of a minority, desirous to be faithful to God, and conscientious, in performing Covenant-duties to a Covenant-keeping God. However small our number, or however mean our situation in life, we may claim our marriage-relation by Covenant to him, and avouch him, over the separated symbols of bread and wine, as our own God.

4. We receive the Lord's Supper, under the Banner of a Testimony displayed for Truth, of which this Deed is a part. As witnesses for Christ, we profess to be grieved for the afflictions of Joseph, and to lament over the breaches of Covenant, which offend a holy God, and cause him hide his face from his ordinances and people, so that it is not with them, as in months past, when the candle of the Lord shined {xi} upon them. As we ought to have common friends and common enemies with Christ, we ought to oppose all backsliding courses, which this Deed instructs us to do.

5. In this holy ordinance, his own people, when admitted into gracious nearness with God, and enjoying comfortable fellowship with him, have an opportunity of pleading with him, on account of the low state of Zion, and praying for a revival in her bondage, that he would return to our long desolations, where he had his habitation in times past, and yet make his Jerusalem a praise in the earth; and they plead on the footing of his Covenant with them, that he will be a Covenant-keeping God.

6. In this ordinance we are warranted to plead for Covenant-blessings, graciously annexed to Covenant-keeping; Psalm 25.10, and 103.18; and to pray, that God would remember his Covenant, made with our Fathers, and yet return to these Covenanted lands, and take up his habitation as in the days of old.

7. As the breaches of Covenant specified in this Deed, are still standing grounds of God's controversy, not nationally repented of, nor turned from, we should be religiously exercised at the Lord's table, that we may have grace to keep clean garments in the midst of evil times, and be found sighing and crying on account of the abominations done in the midst of the land.

8. Removing this Deed from its proper place has a tendency to produce division in the church, which is too much divided already. Although no injury were done to truth by the proposed removal, there are many religious members of our church, who know what exercises have been in her, on Communion occasions, about the contents of this Deed, that durst not consent to the alteration.

9. It is a virtual condemnation of the conduct of our pious Ancestors, for making it a Term of Communion, and using it as such for a century bygone. If the Deed were proved morally evil in itself, and we were certain, that they had dishonoured God every time, that they approached a communion table, with full approbation of the spirit and scope of it, it would be a very different thing; but no person, who knows what manner of men they were, will venture to form such a judgment of them.

10. Removing this Deed has a tendency to hurt all friendly confidence in church rulers. If they remove this Deed now, they may remove another again, until none be left.—No human composition can lay claim to perfection, and all the books of our subordinate standards require to be qualified, limited, and explained. The Church of Scotland received the Westminster Confession of Faith with limitation and explanation. The martyrs did the same, and our church has all along received the whole of her subordinate standard-books in this way, and has declared, in her Testimony, the sense in which she understands them.

With these views it cannot reasonably be expected, that the genuine friends of this work could, in their judgment and with a safe conscience, give their consent, to pass sentence of perpetual banishment upon it, from our terms of communion. A majority being against it, could not change their minds. Yet for the sake of peace in the church they could agree to any reasonable qualification, explanation, or limitation, that might promote the general good. {xii}

It may by some be objected here, If the knowledge of this Deed is of such importance, what is the reason that it has been so little read and known? A[nswer]. The fault of this greatly attaches to us who are ministers. Our Fathers taught the contents of it, in their ordinary ministrations, and few Sabbaths passed but the breach of Covenant, idolatry, superstition, and other sins, specified in it, were publicly exposed; the judgments, threatened in the Word of God, against these sins, were declared, and a warning was given to seek chambers of safety. In prayer, these sins were also confessed, and the pardon of them implored. In their Table-services they united personal religion with the glory of Christ's kingdom, so that the substance of this work was familiar to the members of our church. But since a generation of lukewarm Laodicean professors arose, who do not wish to hear any thing of a public doctrinal testimony, for the kingly prerogatives of Jesus, real religion has greatly declined among us, and practical immorality greatly increased. Personal, family, and social religion are much neglected, and the public ordinances much despised. Tipling and drunkenness greatly prevail, and uncleanness, a sin long unknown in our church, abounds notoriously among us. And have we not cause to fear, that living so long in the omission of the duty of Public Covenanting has provoked God's displeasure against us, so as to give us up to counsels of our own, and to allow us to wander after the sinful imaginations of our own corrupt hearts, and to follow the multitude of other denominations to do evil?

It has been objected against this Deed, that it contains an engagement to pay no taxes, directly nor indirectly, to the present government. A[nswer]. Although this has been often said, by both ministers and people, it is a great mistake. There never was such a sentence in it; nor is directly or indirectly ever mentioned along with paying taxes. Our Forefathers well knew, that no government could exist without taxes; but they distinguished between those that were exacted for the immediate support of government, and those that were imposed on the necessaries of life. Themselves purchased salt, leather, and ale, and used these as the creatures of God, to which they had a moral right by his own law, without asking any questions for conscience-sake, though these articles were taxed; and they thought the Active Testimony people went to a right-hand extreme, when they imported, and smuggled their salt and shoes from Ireland. The members of our church have never, since the Revolution, paid tribute or stipend, as a matter of right, to the nation's rulers, civil or ecclesiastical: but under protestation, that they had no other title to them, than what the superior strength of a majority gives over a minority, when nothing respecting religion is concerned. Mr. Herle, Prolocutor of the Westminster Assembly, answers an objection similar to what may be stated against this, This payment—is taken and will be used to an evil end. "But," says he, "that is beyond my deliberation, and not in my power to prevent: it will not be avoided, by putting them to force it from me, but rather more gain will accrue to them—if I stand out." It has been alleged, that Dissenters would not pay taxes themselves, but hired others to pay them for them. This no judicious man among them, acting in character, ever did, and if any weak mind should have done so, this is nothing against the profession itself.—Some satisfied their minds, as to the payment of public burdens, such as the supply, {xiii} minister's stipend, and schoolmaster's salary, by viewing them as onus terræ, or a burden on the lands: And, whether paid by the Landlord or Tenant, that it was no debt of theirs. The Landlord paid nothing for it: the sum of it was deduced from the rental, when he purchased the property, and he is only the holder of it, for the time being, in behalf of the possessors of the offices, to which it is annexed, who have sufficient physical power to command it. If the Tenant pay it, he has value for it, as he rents his land so much cheaper, on account of these burdens. The great body of farmers, however, preferred a freedom from these burdens altogether, and many Landlords were disposed to favour them, as they had a scruple at paying them, and some do so still.

I shall here add the opinion of the oldest Rev. Father in our church, when an objection was made in the year 1796, respecting the inconsistency between Auchensaugh Bond and our Testimony, concerning the paying of taxes. Says he, "The Presbytery equally (as Auchensaugh people) disapprove of the Constitution, as Erastian and anticovenanted, and of whatever in its own nature implies a real acknowledgment of them (i.e. the rulers) as lawful. But they do not think, that submitting to public burdens, even though oppressive, laid upon a people in common, by a prevailing power, amounts to any more than a passive acknowledgment, that might is on the side of the oppressor: and therefore whatever inconsistency may be in expressions, there is no real and substantial difference, or opposition, between Auchensaugh work and the Presbytery's Testimony. They are the same in their spirit, as appears from the particular, and cautious explication, given by the Presbytery, towards the conclusion of their Testimony, which, if duly and impartially attended to, might contribute to remove our brethren's scruples, on that head."

It has been objected, that this Deed engages not to go to law before the present Rulers. A[nswer]. Our Ancestors were of opinion, that no person could go to law without recognising the lawfulness of the authority; but our Testimony, p. 170, foot note, limits and explains this subject. I write with diffidence here, lest self-interest should lead into mistake; but I think it is possible to apply to the rulers of any society whatever, for redress of acts of injustice, done by their members, contrary to their own law, when there is nothing required, that may either recognise the lawfulness of the society, or of its rulers. But, if differences can be settled by fair arbitration of honest men, it is surely preferable: as there may be forms in fencing courts, loyalty of language in course of the process, and other involvements, that a judicious and conscientious Dissenter would find difficulty in approving; and the less he is engaged in that way, so much the better.

It has also been objected to this Deed, that our Forefathers were of antitolerant principles. A[nswer]. Our Ancestors, and all honest Presbyterians, were against all authoritative toleration of gross Heresy, Idolatry, Blasphemy, and Popery, and were for restraining such as disturbed the peace of Church and State, by opposing the Covenanted uniformity. Such, as know the situation in which they were placed, are sensible, that they had to build with the one hand, and defend the work with the other. They had both Prelacy and the Sectaries, to contend with; and both equally opposed the establishment of Presbytery, according to the Word of God. I am aware, that punishing with civil pains[1] has been much exclaimed {xiv} against by Glass and his Independent brethren, by several ministers of the Relief Church, and by lukewarm Presbyterians, in different churches. The following defence of our Reformers on that head has been made by a friend to the Reformation cause. His opponent states, that under all civil pains might be included confiscation of goods, imprisonment, banishment, forfeiting of life and fortune. His reply is, "I have heard it affirmed by such as are well acquainted with our Scots laws, that unless the law expressly declares Death to be the punishment, or mentions the pains of treason, any other penalty, even the highest annexed to any Parliamentary statute, cannot be construed in law, to amount to death; and that, when the punishment is all civil pains, the judge is at liberty to proportion the punishment to the nature of the crime, and the quality of the offender: And therefore, where the Covenant was enjoined under all civil pains, it appears to me, that no more was intended, than that the refusers of the Covenant should not be admitted into places of power and trust; and this I humbly judge may be very well vindicated." After quoting the clause of the act after all civil pains, he subjoins, "Here the reader may observe, that no higher penalty is decerned against such refusers, than excluding them from voice in Parliament."—

The universal Sovereign of the world has a right to give laws, and to annex penalties to the breach of them, which no creature has a right to change. Our Ancestors desired no more, than that the open violation of God's law should be punished as that law requires, and they knew no right of conscience, to authorize a man to trample upon the law of his Creator.—See this subject judiciously discussed, in Wylie's Sons of Oil, pp. 48,49. and in Brown's Letter on Toleration.

In concluding this Introduction, I would seriously advise my brethren in the ministry, while I would also take the advice to myself, to observe the signs of the times, the visible symptoms of approaching judgments, and as faithful watchmen on Sion's towers, to set the judgment trumpet to their mouths, to cry aloud and not to spare, but to shew Jacob their sins, and Israel their transgressions, and to warn the wicked of the evil of their ways, lest they perish in their wickedness, and the Lord require their blood at the watchman's hand. Comparing our situation with that of Israel and Judah, we will find a strong resemblance: and we ought to follow the example of the prophets, in warning the generation of their danger. Breach of Covenant, gross idolatry, shameful adultery, obstinate rebellion against God, wilful rejection of the gospel, persecution of the servants and saints of God, and incorrigibleness under judgments, were the sins which procured the righteous judgments of God against his people. These same sins, with the additional aggravation, of being committed under the clear dispensation of the gospel, are raging among us. We are therefore called upon, to warn the nation of their danger, from the approaching judgments of God, except they repent, and turn from the evil of their ways, before it be too late; and to invite the people of God, to come into the chambers of safety, until the indignation be overpast. In this way, although the wicked die in his iniquity, we shall have delivered our own souls.

I would also beseech the members of the church, to study vital religion, and to make sure work of their own personal conversion. A form of godliness, without the power thereof, will be of small importance, when you come to die. Be assured, brethren, it is not your being for {xv} or against, the following Deed, as a Term of Communion, that will evidence you to be the real friends of Christ. Many on both sides are ready to go to extremes, and to calumniate the characters of one another, and of the ministers of religion, very wickedly. Severe, harsh, and intemperate language, does no honour to either party. A good cause does not need it, and a bad one cannot be supported by it.—Count the cost, and consider seriously, what is necessary to constitute you faithful witnesses for Christ and his truth. You must have, 1. Spiritual life, without which you can perform no living service to God. 2. Knowledge of doctrine, principle, and duty, from the Holy Scriptures, without which you cannot distinguish between truth and error. 3. Living faith in the atonement of Christ, without which you cannot please God. 4. Genuine love to God, without which you cannot obey his commandments. 5. You must make a scriptural confession of the name of Christ with your mouth, before men, by worshipping him in spirit and in truth, without which you cannot be his disciples. 6. You must adorn all, by maintaining a conversation as becometh the gospel of Christ, without which you cannot glorify God. I would rejoice to see our church composed of such members. I have no doubt that there are many such in her. I do not at all mean to degrade her. I believe our principles are better than those of others, and that our people are no worse. Still we need a revival in point of practical religion, and a more accurate knowledge of our public profession.—Attend the ordinances of the gospel with holy diligence, and endeavour to profit under them. Esteem a soul-searching ministry highly, where the unbelief, corruption, enmity, deceitfulness, and desperate wickedness of the heart are laid open. This will prove of infinitely more consequence, than a showy address, elegant language, theatrical gesture, vain boasting of boundless liberality and new-fangled innovations. These may please the carnal fancy, but can afford no relief to sin-sick souls. The apostle says, "My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of men's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power." Great talents will not supply the place of faithfulness to the Cause of Christ. Mr. Shields seems to have had more depth of theological knowledge, than Messrs. Cameron, Cargill, and Renwick, united together, and yet they were honoured to seal the Testimony of Jesus with their blood, while Mr. Shields, after having drawn many after him into apostacy by sinful compliance, died in a foreign land, unknown and unlamented.—Beware of every association, that may lead you aside from your received principles, or draw you into a confederacy with them, that have said A confederacy [Isa. 8.12,] against Christ and his Cause. Union among Christians is a most desirable object, when it has truth and holiness at the foundation. It is in the promise that God will give his people one heart and one way; Jer. xxxii.39; and they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion, Isa. lii.8. Then, and not till then, will the friends of Christ unite cordially together. In all proposed unions of different denominations, it ought to be seriously considered, if the grounds, on which they were formerly separate, be removed;—if either or both parties have changed to the better;—if the corrupt parts of their principles, which led to the stating of a public testimony against them, be relinquished;—and if nothing of this kind has been done, no union in the way of truth can be effected. In joining popular societies, we are to judge of their {xvi} systems, not by feelings, or mere outward appearances, but according to the Holy Scriptures. We are carefully to examine, if the constitution be according to the Divine word;—if the rulers be the open friends, or enemies to the true religion;—if the persons, sent to dispense the ordinances of religion, be sent according to the Divine rule;—if the ordinances dispensed by them be dispensed according to the Word;—and if the effects produced be such, as the Scripture accounts good fruits. If these be awanting, no inward piety, no common gifts or talents, no anxiety to do good, are sufficient to constitute a Christian minister. The Scripture does not say, How shall they preach, except they be pious? except they be gifted? except they be in earnest to do good? but, How shall they preach except they be sent? No rapturous emotions of joy, no awful feelings of terror, no common illumination of the Spirit; not even being made partakers of the heavenly gift, or having tasted of the powers of the world to come, will certainly evidence the reality of religion in the soul, without spiritual life by union to Christ, a scriptural knowledge of God, in the revealed perfections of his nature, genuine faith in Christ, embracing him in all his offices, repentance unto life, and evangelical holiness.—It is a great gift to be able to try and discern the spirits whether they be of God; for many false teachers are gone out into the world. Satan's ministers transformed as the ministers of righteousness have deceived many. O pray much, that you may be preserved from their corrupt influence.

Let parents remember the solemn responsibility, which attaches to them, in bringing up their children, in the good old way of the Covenanted Reformation, according to their baptismal engagements.—Let children attend to the vows of God which lie upon them, to renounce the service of the Devil, the world, and the flesh; to abstain from all appearance of evil, and not to touch, taste, nor handle, with the ensnaring amusements of this degenerate age; but earnestly to pray, that the Lord would give them the knowledge of the truth, as it is in Jesus, keep them from the paths in which destroyers go, and prepare them by his grace, for his everlasting kingdom. Amen.

The Reason of publishing this Deed at present is, on account of its scarceness, that the members of the church may have the opportunity of perusing it, with religious attention; and may plead with the Lord, at a throne of grace, that he would have respect to his Covenant, and keep his church and people faithful to himself, in the midst of evil days.

It is to be observed, that the following work is now approved by the Church, as it is qualified, limited, and explained, in her Public Testimony [1761]. And, that it may be blessed for promoting the glory of God, and the peace and prosperity of Zion, is the sincere desire of

Thomas Henderson.

Kilmalcolm,

24th Dec. 1819

}

N.B. The Writer alone is responsible for the contents of the Introduction and Appendix.


[Here follows the text of the Auchensaugh Renovation in the edition of 1820.]




APPENDIX No. I.

THE Massacre at Glencoe, mentioned page 74, was a most barbarous and treacherous action. Old M'Donald of Glencoe was attached to the Family of Stewart. He had taken the Oath to King William; but the fact of his submission was concealed, while a troop of soldiers were sent to the Vale of Glencoe; and after being entertained with the greatest hospitality and festivity for 15 days, early one morning M'Donald's house was surrounded, and himself shot through the head, in the arms of his Lady, who died delirious next day. An universal massacre ensued; boys, women, infants, and old men, in all about 40 persons, were inhumanly butchered and chiefly in their beds. After this they burnt the village and carried away the spoil.—Abridgment of Robertson's History of Scotland, and Simpson's History of Scotland.

No. II.

Heresies Mentioned, Page 93.

INDEPENDENTS maintain, that each church or congregation has sufficient powers to perform every thing relating to religious government within itself, and is not subject nor accountable to other churches, or superior courts of any kind, whether presbyteries or synods, for any opinion or doctrine, however contrary to the holy scriptures. By this they destroy the unity of the visible church as one body, and prevent that uniformity which ought to be observed among all the subjects of Messiah's kingdom. They lodge the keys of government in the hands of the community of the faithful, and hereby overthrow the distinction between those that rule, and those that are ruled; those that teach, and those that are taught: and they require positive evidences of regeneration to be produced to the church, before a person be admitted into full communion with them; whereas the scriptures only require a competent measure of knowledge, and a credible profession, accompanied with a holy conversation. They, with Cromwell at their head, had an active hand in overturning the covenanted uniformity of the three kingdoms, and introducing a formal toleration of the Sectaries, which brake down the carved work of God's sanctuary, as established in the days of Reformation.

BROWNISTS, another kind of Independents, who maintained, that there is no other pure church but themselves;—that the whole body of the faithful should be divided into small congregations, not larger than those which were thought to be formed by the Apostles, in the infant state of the church;—that such a number only, as could meet in an ordinary place of worship, ought to constitute one church or society, enjoying all the rights and privileges of an ecclesiastical community;—that such a society is independent, by divine right, of all other authority;—that the power of governing each congregation, and providing for its welfare, resided in the people;—and that all points of doctrine and discipline were to be judged of, and determined by, the whole congregation; and that the brethren might speak publicly upon any useful subject, when the ordinary pastor had finished his discourse. They allowed lay preaching: And all the peculiarities of their system {101} were in opposition to our covenanted uniformity. The modern Tabernacle plan seems to be formed after their model.

ANABAPTISTS are so divided into different parties, that it would be difficult to ascertain their different tenets. It would not be fair to charge all the present enemies of infant-baptism with all the extravagant principles of the old Anabaptists of Germany. Many of them in England are evangelical in sentiment, and maintain all the peculiar doctrines of the Gospel, relative to the sinner's salvation by Christ. Among many of the Scots Anabaptists it is otherwise. The Disciples of M'Lean deny the eternal Sonship of Christ; the legal imputation of original sin; the peculiar nature of true faith, as receiving its object, confining it solely to a simple assent. All kinds of them, however, deny membership to the infant seed of believing church members, in virtue of God's gracious promise, "I will be thy God and the God of thy seed;" refuse baptism as a seal of God's Covenant to these infant-members; and so rob them of a seal of the righteousness of faith, to which they were intitled, under the former dispensation. And they are all independent in their views of Church Government, and so inimical to our covenanted uniformity.

ANTINOMIANS maintain, that the law is of no use under the Gospel dispensation:—that good works do not further, nor evil works hinder, salvation;—that a child of God cannot sin, more than Christ could sin;—that God never chastises any land for the sins of its inhabitants;—that murder, adultery, drunkenness, and the like, are no sins in the children of God;—that no Christian should be exhorted to perform the duties of Christianity. This system is destructive of religion and morality, and contrary both to the doctrine and principles of the reformation.

ARMINIANS maintain; 1. That God has not elected any particular number of persons to eternal life. 2. That Christ died for all mankind. 3. That every man has a power to save himself, if he pleases. 4. That the special grace of God may be resisted by men. 5. That believers may fall away from a state of grace. This scheme has a tendency to overthrow the method of salvation by the grace of God and the righteousness of the Saviour, and to murder the precious souls of men.

SOCINIANS deny the proper Divinity of Christ, and maintain that he was a mere man, who never existed, until he was born of the Virgin Mary;—that he never gave any satisfaction to Divine justice in the room of his people;—that he came into the world only to set before us an example of holiness, which we ought to imitate;—that reason is our only guide in matters of religion;—and that the Christian ought to believe nothing that he cannot comprehend. They are open blasphemers of the Holy Trinity, and have too many disciples in modern times.

LIBERTINES maintained, that there is only one spirit, which is that of God, diffused through all things—that our souls are nothing but this spirit of God;—that the soul dies with the body;—that sin is a mere chimera, and only subsists in opinion, so that it is God who does all, both good and evil;—that paradise (or heaven) is a dream, and hell a phantom invented by priests, and religion a state-trick, to keep men in awe. They were also dreadful blasphemers of Jesus Christ.

FAMILISTS, also called the family of love, maintained, that it is no matter what opinions Christians entertained concerning the Divine nature, provided their hearts burned with the pure and sacred flame of piety and {102} love;—that the union of the soul with Christ transforms it into the essence of the Deity;—that the letter of the scripture is useless, and that it ought to be interpreted in an allegorical manner;—that, if for their convenience, it was lawful to swear to a falsehood, either before a magistrate, or any other person, who was not of their society;—that there is no other Christ but holiness, and no other Antichrist but sin;—that the family of love hath attained the same perfection that Adam had before he fell.

SCEPTICS are those who doubt the truth of religion; and some have carried their doubts so far, as to question their own existence, and the existence of every thing else. Scepticism is a short way of overturning all religion, by calling in question the truth of everything. The world abounds with Sceptics.

QUAKERS originally maintained, that there is no Trinity, or one God subsisting in three distinct persons;—that Christ hath no other body but his church;—that all men have a light in them sufficient to salvation;—that the soul is a part of God, and long existent before the body: but it is said that modern Quakers do not hold the same blasphemous sentiments as their predecessors respecting the Trinity. Still they deny the proper use of the Bible and of Gospel ordinances, as to regular preaching of the word, dispensing Baptism and the Lord's Supper according to the plain appointment of the Saviour. By trusting to a light within, they despise the imputation of Christ's righteousness, and hold justification by their own inherent righteousness, and they declaim against all regular visible churches whatever.

DEISTS deny revealed religion, as contained in the scriptures, and all the peculiar doctrines of the Gospel, contained in them, and profess to believe the existence of God, as the great first cause, who made the world, while they think, that he does not at all concern himself with the management or government of it:—and some of them have certain articles of what they call natural religion, while at the same time, for many of these, they are indebted to Divine revelation.

BOURIGNONISTS maintained, that as God is independent he made man's will so, not subjecting it even to himself;—that the power and freedom of man's will is so perfect, that it is truly God himself;—that Christ had a two-fold body; one glorious, another mortal; the one proceeding from Adam before Eve was formed, or sin had corrupted the human nature, to which God united himself most strictly; the other from the Virgin Mary, as a covert to that one, that he might experience the miseries of sinful man;—that Christ really had and felt a rebellion in his nature and will against the will of God, which he had to resist and fight against;—that, by his becoming man, his human nature was of the same corrupt kind with the nature of other men, as proceeding from the same common stock;—that Calvin brought the doctrine of Christ's satisfaction to divine justice, and of our Lord's body suffering for the crimes of so many persons, from hell; that the doctrine of the Trinity is a Romish error. However blasphemous and absurd these tenets are, they spread in the north of Scotland to that degree, as to engage the pen of the great Mr. Blackwell to confute them.

ERASTIANS maintain, that the civil magistrate is supreme over all persons, and in all causes ecclesiastical, as well as civil;—that the office-bearers of the church, in their ecclesiastical functions and administrations, are subordinate to the civil magistrate;—that the external {103} government of the church is uncertain, and depends on the will and pleasure of the civil magistrate;—that the ordering and disposing of the external government and policy of the church doth properly belong to the civil magistrate, by virtue of his prerogative and supremacy in all causes ecclesiastical;—and that he may emit such acts, concerning her meetings, and external administration, as he, in his wisdom, shall think proper.

These various opinions do differ greatly, in the degree of guilt attached to them, and when our ancestors complain, that they are not punished with civil pains, according to their demerit; or in scripture language [Prov. 20.26], that the wheel is not brought over the obstinate propagators of them, it is not to be understood, that all of these are to be punished with the same kind or degree of punishment; but simply that the Divine law is to be executed, according to the nature of the crime, whether by restraining from publishing corrupt sentiments, tending to affect the public peace of church and state; keeping from filling up public offices, by which they might hurt the interests of religion, and prevent the coming of Christ's kingdom according to his word; banishing those who would not live peaceably; or putting to death such as openly commit treason and rebellion against the righteous Governor of the universe, tending to bring down his judgments on the nation, by the most impious blasphemy, and murder the souls of men, so as to disqualify them for the important duties of civil society; and at the same time the law of the God of heaven expressly requiring them to be punished in this manner. All heresies here mentioned are in opposition to the true Presbyterian Reformed religion; and, while the Divine command is to pluck up every plant that is not the planting of the Father's right hand, these should be rooted out, as noxious weeds, injurious to the doctrines and truths of Christ, to the purity of his ordinances, and to the peace and prosperity of church and state; yet only by means authorised by God's law.

No. III.

THE clause, page 97—Not to corroborate their unjust authority, by paying them cess and supply for upholding their corrupt courts and armies employed in an unjust and antichristian quarrel, has been interpreted as an engagement to pay no taxes whatever to the existing rulers. But, according to the plain sense and meaning of the language, it does not extend to taxes in general; but to a particular tax, applied to a specified sinful purpose, viz. to support courts and armies employed in an unjust and antichristian quarrel. This is the express reason assigned for the non-payment of that tax, and the antichristian quarrel, to which it solely alludes, is stated in the Testimony, p. 73, (fifth edition) where the sinful conduct of both church and state, respecting it, is testified against.

In agreeableness to the royal appointment, they (viz. the ministers of the church) observed the monthly fast, for the success of the war against Lewis XIV. (of France) and in favours of the Pope, which King William was bound to prosecute, by virtue of a covenant (or treaty) made with the Allies at the Hague—Feb. 1691, to be seen in the Declaration of war, then made against France; wherein it is expressly said, "That no peace is to be made with Lewis XIV. till he has made reparation to the Holy See, for whatsoever he has acted {104} against it, and till he make void all these infamous proceedings (viz. of the Parliament of Paris) against the Holy Father Innocent XI." Behold here the acknowledgment of the Pope's supremacy, and his power and dignity both as a secular and ecclesiastical prince; and in the observation of these fasts, the church did mediately (tell it not in Gath—) pray for success to the man of sin: a practice utterly repugnant to protestant, much more to presbyterian principles, and which will be a lasting stain upon both church and state.

Considering, then, the cess used for the immediate support of Antichrist's kingdom, and in favours of the House of Austria, one of the main pillars of that kingdom; and an implacable enemy, and persecutor of the true reformed religion, it was no wonder that they scrupled to pay a tax thus employed.

The matter of taxes, as to us, has been qualified, limited, and explained, by our public ecclesiastical deeds. In the Testimony, there is a plain distinction made between a free and conscientious payment of taxes, to lawful moral rulers, who are ministers of God for good, and a constrained forced payment, by mere superior physical power. And also between taxes, exacted for the common security and protection of the country, without any thing affecting our religion and conscience, and those exacted for the express purpose of suppressing the pure preaching of the Gospel in the fields, as was the case with the additional cess in the time of the persecution. There is also a difference between a people, who are in a state of liberty, having power over their own persons and property, that they may dispose of them according to their best judgment, and a people in a state of captivity, who have kings set over them, on account of their sins, and have dominion over their bodies, and over their cattle, at their pleasure.—The conclusion to be deduced is, that paying common taxations is not sinful.

The same subject has been farther limited and qualified, in the Explanation of the Terms of Communion. There it is declared, that we and our zealous forefathers are perfectly agreed, as to the great leading principle, that it is inconsistent for Dissenters to submit to any such things, as, strictly speaking, imply an approbation of the present constitutions, or a proper recognizing of the constituted authorities;—that the taxations, which our noble martyrs positively refused to pay, were imposed avowedly for suppressing the very cause, which they were endeavouring, at the hazard of their lives, to maintain.—This brought the matter closely home to their consciences, as faithful witnesses for Christ and his persecuted cause. But as no taxations, in our time, are as yet imposed for a similar purpose, it is surely pushing the matter too far, to conside the bare yielding unto them for wrath's sake, as necessarily involving a contradiction to the martyr's testimony.—While we do not find the general national burdens demanded as any proof of our loyalty, nor for suppressing the cause, which we are endeavouring, through grace, to maintain, we cannot consider ourselves as convicted of inconsistency; though we be obliged to allow that those, who are set over us, have dominion over our bodies, and over our cattle, at their pleasure, and we are in great distress. [Neh. 9.37.]


Footnotes:

1. The phrase "all civil pains" in this discussion, refers to the Act of Parliament, 1640, ratifying the National Covenant of Scotland and ordaining that the Covenant be sworn by all subjects "of what rank and quality soever, under all civil pains"; and an Act of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, 1639, petitioning that the National Covenant be so ratified and enforced. This context should be kept in mind when considering the discussion of this objection. What the phrase itself is actually capable of implying seems naturally to be more than what is suggested here; but the same interpretation is also given in John Anderson's Alexander and Rufus and William Robert's Reformed Presbyterian Catechism. In either case, the history of the times and events which followed make clear that what was intended was not a license for tyranny and persecution, but chiefly the exclusion of the ungodly from any privileges that would enable them to either overturn or hinder the progress of a Biblical Reformation of Religion in Scotland.—JTK.