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.

[Reformation Principles Re-Exhibited: The Editor to the Understanding Reader.]
 
The Original
REFORMATION PRINCIPLES, &c.
RE-EXHIBITED.

A
C O L L E C T I O N;
CONTAINING,

  1. THE NATIONAL COVENANT and SOLEMN LEAGUE AND COVENANT, with the ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF SINS, and ENGAGEMENT TO DUTIES, as they were renewed at Douglas, July 24, 1712, with Accommodations to the present Times—Together with a PREFACE, containing a Narrative of the Manner of the Action, &c.
  2. PLAIN REASONS FOR PRESBYTERIANS dissenting from the Revolution-Church of Scotland.
AS ALSO,
Their PRINCIPLES concerning CIVIL GOVERNMENT, and the Difference betwixt the Reformation and Revolution Principles.

NOW CORRECTED AND ENLARGED.

Published  for  confirming  of  the  Weak,  and  informing
of  the  Misinformed  in  these  Matters.

    DEUT. xxvi. 17. Thou hast avouched the Lord this day to be thy God, and to walk in his Ways, and to keep his Statutes, and his Commandments, &c.
    1 PET. iii. 15.—Be ready always to give an Answer to every Man that asketh you a Reason of the Hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.
G  L  A  S  G  O  W:
P r i n t e d   b y   D A V I D   N I V E N,   f o r   R O B E R T   F A R I E,
Bookseller,  Saltmarket.   1787.
 


THE EDITOR

TO THE

UNDERSTANDING READER.


JUDICIOUS READER,
OF all the ages since Christianity breathed its existence in the world, the professors of this generation may be figured forth to posterity, as those who talked most about religion and loved and practised it least—Nay, the contests and animosities about principles, practices, doctrines, and points of testimony that now prevail and obtain amongst professors, have almost rendered religion and faithful witness-bearing itself a controversy—And yet what matter of thankfulness to the Lord, that, amidst all these defections, divisions, delusions, and declensions from the purity of the gospel and a Covenanted Work of Reformation, he hath never left himself altogether without a witness: No, three has always been some (though comparatively few) who have contended for that cause, in its purity, both as to church and state, according to the word and will of God, in face of all opposition, as the following sheets will indicate and discover; which is yet ground of comfort and encouragement, that the Lord will not utterly cast off his people, but will have a remnant to contend and witness for his despised truths and interest, in Covenanted Scotland, "until he appears to build up Zion again, when her set time is come;" nay, I may say, until his second coming.

It may be by some remembered, that a Preface to this republication, concerning the true state of the Testimony and Covenanting, was proposed and intended: Among other reasons for this, it has been shrewdly insinuated by the authors of different publications of late, both on this and the other side of the Atlantic, that Dissenters’ principles on this head were unknown in the Christian Church, till the rise of their party, at or since the Revolution, &c. But {iv} as this was perhaps thought by some to be too much for one of my station or abilities to undertake; and that the Presbytery had it in agitation to publish somewhat concerning Covenanting; and besides all, the Book being swelled so many sheets beyond the limits proposed, by the additions already inserted, a prolix introduction could not be admitted: Upon these accounts, I have laid aside my intentions in part for the present; and only, in a few hints, notice, that the Testimony of the Reformed and Suffering Church of Scotland, as maintained by Dissenters, and by them exhibited, in the following sheets, is a threefold cord Testimony, "that cannot be easily broken." And although the word of God, that is God’s own testimony, be the foundation of the Church’s testimony, by bearing witness to all the truths contained therein; yet there are some certain or prime truths that she is, in different periods, called forth in a more particular manner, to contend and witness for. The question betwixt Israel of old and the idolatrous nations was, whether Jehovah or their blind idols was the true God—The prime truth betwixt the Apostles and primitive Christians and the unbelieving Jews and Heathens was, whether Christ was the Son of God, and promised Messiah and Redeemer or not—The contest betwixt the witnesses of Christ and vassals of Antichrist was, whether the word of God or men’s traditions should be the alone rule of faith and practice, and, upon the authority of God’s word, the Testimony of that period depended. At the Reformation from Popery, (especially in our own land) the Church’s Testimony became more extensive, and more clearly stated, not only in opposition to Popish idolatry, but also to Prelatic superstition and Erastianism: As,

1mo. The Reformed Covenanted Church and Kingdom of Scotland (according to the platform of God’s word and command to the church and commonwealth of God’s professing Israel of old) got the constitution, qualifications, and stipulations of government, in both church and state, settled and established upon their scriptural basis; which scriptural plan of the Reformation of the State, as well as the Church, then, and ever since the general overthrow of that happy uniformity, has been a word of the Church Testimony. Now, in the present circumstances, are there not several denominations of witness-bearers, who contend against the defections and corruptions of the Church, and give testimony {v} to the Covenanted work of Reformation in our Reforming periods? But, what then? They own and acknowledge these very powers, who are not only destitute of these scriptural and covenanted qualifications, which the word of God requires, but constitute on a footing diametrically opposite to the same; which, at best, must be only half a Testimony: Whereas Dissenters extend their Testimony to both Church and State, as our Reformers left it: In consequence of which, the lawfulness of no power, supreme or subordinate in and over these lands, can be justly acknowledged, while destitute of such constitutional qualifications and limitations, as the word of God, and our Reforming Acts and Laws founded thereon, requires; as I have made more evident on that head, in the Plain Reasons.

2do. The Reformed Church of Scotland has, as an article of faith, agreeable to God’s word, declared, the Lord Jesus Christ to be sole King and Head of his church, and Holy Hill in Zion: Now, upon the Civil powers of these nations’ usurping Christ’s headship, and assuming a blasphemous Erastian supremacy over all persons and causes, ecclesiastic as well as civil, making it an essential right of holding the Crown, sine qua non, formally and virtually over these nations; this becomes a prime word of Christ’s patience, and the Church’s Testimony. Well; are there not several parties of professed witness-bearers who have both doctrinally and judicially declared for Christ’s headship; yea, made it one of the distinguishing points of their Testimony? But, what then? They have likewise declared for the owning, obeying, supporting, and praying for success too; nay, some musts needs qualify for offices under these usurpers of Christ’s crown-rights and royal dignities in these lands; whereas Dissenters can acknowledge them in none of all these respects as such, while wearing Christ’s Regalia on their heads; encroaching on the sacred rights of his Church, and opposing and bearing down a Covenanted work of Reformation. Full and pertinent to the purpose are the words of that gallant, courageous, and brave subject and soldier of King Christ (who fought his way, sword in hand, to the heavenly kingdom) Mr. Richard Cameron, when he says, "Since it is so declared, that we must either quit him (viz. King Charles I.) or Christ; indeed, for my part, I am for no King but Jesus Christ, since they will have no {vi} King but Csar, when Christ is seated upon his throne, and his crown upon his head—Let such Magistrates be appointed in every particular station, as will employ their power for the advancement of Christ’s kingdom, and for the destroying the kingdom of darkness, in this land, and in every place where Christ shall reign; and then let them be owned," &c. Here is the true portrait of the scripture-loyalist, in opposition to the owning of every one who, in Providence, shall gain the consent of the representatives of an apostate, backslidden people; and a pattern for all Christ’s faithful witnesses to copy after: And whoever will not say amen to this, I am at no loss to announce them no genuine successors of this valiant champion for the truth, nor honest Presbyterian Dissenters.

3tio. No sooner did Israel emerge out of Egyptian bondage, and became an organized church, than they commenced a Covenanted church and people to the Lord (even before either judicial or ceremonial laws were delivered them; and therefore as Mr. Rutherfoord well observes on the point, "Covenanting, under the Old Testament dispensation, could neither be wholly typical or ceremonial; but a moral duty, the very first precept of the Ten Commandments: Thou shalt have no other gods—or avouch the Lord to be thy God, and keep his commandments, being the sum and substance thereof.") In like manner, our Reformers, no sooner emerged out of Popish darkness and Prelatic superstition, than they brought themselves and their posterity under solemn Vows and Covenants to the Most High; for the propagation and defence of the true Reformed Presbyterian religion; in which they were many ways countenanced of the Lord, particularly by filling his temple with his glory, by pouring down his Spirit from on high, as in Isa. 61.2, Psalm 110.3. In this desirable work they were no less than ten times engaged in the space of an hundred years, until they were, by several laudable acts and laws, made the very test or terms of Christian and Ministerial communion; enjoying places of power, trust and privileges, {vii} in church and state, in these Covenanted isles of the sea, Great Britain and Ireland; which has been not only entered as solemn protestations by the Lord Christ, to preserve his rights in the utmost parts of the earth, given him in possession long ago; but also sealed by the blood of so many eminent martyrs of Christ; nay, these kingdoms, by being made bloody thereafter, on their account, became national martyrs for the Covenants.—But to speak plain truth, how this point of testimony has been managed, by those who acknowledge their perpetual obligation, (I need not speak of sectaries who deny them, name, and thing) perhaps, will be accounted party zeal, or prejudice; for while some has renewed them materially as they stand with marginal notes, others have substitute bonds in their place, by which form some principal parts and articles of these Covenants, namely, these who strike at Malignants, and the extirpation of Prelacy, seems to be materially omitted or overlooked.

Again, there be some who it seems can find no proper season or occasion for their renovation at all, nor perhaps, for five hundred years after, should our present defections and divisions exist at that era. However plausible and pleadable arguments may be used, in defence of such pieces of conduct, it were to be wished that human policy were not at bottom. All are, alas! some way or other involved in compliance; we cannot be restricted, all are under Prelatic and Malignant powers; right covenanting would twit the supremacy (and these must not be fallen out with, for fear of worldly advantage) a glaring evidence indeed, of the fascinating influence of worldly ease and self-interest, prevailing even amongst Christ’s professed witnesses, while the covenanted interest on this score, is so much neglected or overlooked. This brings me to notice a few of the principal {viii} objections that has been made concerning covenanting, and the form here used by the old Dissenters, which I shall only reconitre, as they may come to be more acutely and elaborately handled, by some who are better qualified for such an undertaking.

Objection 1. "Our Reformers and the old Dissenters, behoved to be wrong, in taking in things civil or political into these Covenants; this being a blending things, civil and religious together."

Here I shall only observe, (1.) If we take public covenanting, to be a solemn engagement, to all the duties contained in the moral law, or ten commands, which are by the Lord himself, Deut. 4.13, declared to be the Covenant itself; then, the fifth command, which contains our relative duties, wherein, that of magistrates is comprehended, must, in the objectors’ sense, be struck out of the Decalogue; which not only condemns our Reformers, but impeaches the great sovereign Lawgiver, who has comprised civil and religious duties, into one moral law, or one covenant of duties; which, in a proper sense, are both religious moral duties, as they are morally binding in all ages of time. (2.) The Sinai; nay, all public covenanting behoves to be in this form; for if they do not, as a collective body, engage to perform all these duties incumbent upon them, in their several stations and relations, they could never have been public or national covenants at all—we are told in way of excuse, our Reformers were under a necessity, on account of the malignant faction—true, and we are under the same necessity still: our Reformers stands in no need of such an apology, for if it was wrong, then it must be sinful, and the Lord never lays his people under a necessity to sin; if indifferent, why bustle about it. (3.) Can Covenanting be thought to be of a more religious nature than the ordinances of prayer, preaching, and the Lord’s supper? well, does the objectors make any scruple to take in the civil interest, the king’s person and authority, {ix} in the first of these; and for the last, are they not all debarred from the Lord’s table, that refuse obedience to the present government [in the various non-dissenter communions]? No wonder then, these fall out with the principles and practices of others, who thus fall at odds with their own practice; cast out his interest in the Covenant, take in his person and government, in prayer and administration of the sacrament; it were difficult to find out a medium here, to make these two practices look one another in the face—But, happy is he, that condemneth not himself, in that thing which he alloweth.

Objection 2. "Dissenters here, by marginal notes, swear in a sense to a magistrate, that has no existence, and so is a mere non-entity." This, (as the old proverb goes) is only "an old tout in a new horn," with improvements, by a late anonymous reviewer.

In answer to this, let me enquire: only, (1.) Did not the Lord give laws to Israel, respecting the qualifications and administrations of their kings, and what was to be the rule of their obedience, four hundred years before such existed; and laws concerning the temple, and temple service, hundreds of years before it was built; which laws were engaged into by them, by Covenant, in the plains of Moab, and again at Shechem, Joshua 24, long before these acts of obedience existed, or could be by their posterity performed; all which, in the objector’s sense, behoved to be swearing to a non-entity.—But the case is, we engage to all the ordinances and duties contained in God’s word; and this of magistracy, as it is God’s ordinance absolutely, but to the person in office conditionally, if there are such qualified and established as the word of God requires; and if not, to such as exists in his own law, lawful magistrates; such as he has promised, and will undoubtedly give unto his people, Isa 1.26, 49.23, which by the eye of faith, we are to look and wait for, till they be accomplished. (2.) It will not be denied, that in the body of these Covenants, yea, in the objector’s bond itself, all relative duties are engaged unto; now, are there not duties in station or calling, that for the present, the swearer is neither called unto, nor is in a capacity or situation to perform them: for illustrating this by fact there is no minister nor elder Presbyterian, married or unmarried, but what in their ordination questions, engages thus, "Do you engage in the strength and grace of our Lord and master Jesus Christ, to rule well your own family, &c." Now, {x} some has no family then, nor yet afterwards: as a proviso for this, Seceders adds thus, (if it shall please the Lord to give you one) now, here is a marginal sense, only with this small alteration, that the one is in notes, the other enclosed in crotchets; and if the one is a non-entity, so is the other; and this makes two non-entities, another inconsistency; and how the objectors will get out of the nooze of a self-contradiction here, I have not yet learned: only, I may say, with the apostle, in similar case, ‘For wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest, doth the same thing.’

Objection 3. "These Covenants cannot be renewed, but by a nation, or a majority in it."

To this I shall only reply, that this flies in the face of scripture precept, prophecy, and example, in different periods of the church; for precept, it enforces the duty, ‘Thou shalt avouch the Lord to be thy God, vow and pay:’ but the number is not specified. Though national Covenanting has been the honour and privilege that the Israelitish church and nation, and the Reformed church of Scotland, by the good hand of God, in a general Reformation, has attained unto; yet this has not been the particular honour of every church and nation; no, when the major part declines the minor, though a few in number, may, and ought to do it; for if a kingdom, why may not a province, congregation, &c. do it? nothing but civil sanction being a-wanting. It is prophesied, that five cities in the land of Egypt should do it; the church of Macedonia, if we allow they covenanted at all, had no such sanction for it. For practices, how many leagues, and bonds religious, has been entered into, by provinces and cities, in the Reformed churches already; there were four such entered to in our land, before they became national—the General Assembly, some Synods, and Presbyteries, renewed the National Covenant 1596; some Presbyteries and Parishes 1604: and what were the handfuls at Lanerk, Lesmehago, Auchensaugh, or Douglas, Dunscore, Wamphray, and Crawford-John, to the united kingdoms, or a majority of persons or parties therein; yet all this, lays no foundation for making public Covenanting run on a level with the initiating seal of the Covenant baptism: a few of a congregation, to renew them time after time, once, and never more in their lives—no, it is evident, that although our Reformers made Covenanting a term of church communion, yet, it is as certain, one and the {xi} same persons (I say not every one) swore them along with others, as they could have opportunity or occasion. Those who refuse my authority on this, shall have their own testimony for it: John Wilson from Kilmaurs, who suffered at Edinburgh, December 22d, 1666; in his last speech says, ‘I did swear the Covenants four times, and the last at Lanerk, which was the sweetest time of them all, &c.’ And so says that old flourishing Christian and stout contender for truth, James Mason, who died since the Revolution; in his dying testimony, in manuscript before me, ‘Then it pleased the Lord to send more light, by bringing the godly of the land to enter into the National Covenant, which I took in the kirk of Traquier, about 1645; then after, I took it in several places, as at Dumfries, Penpont, Kirkmaho, and Iron-Gray; which I never rue to this day, and hopes never to do, &c.’

Objection 4. "Covenanting is an occasional duty, we are not called at every season to it, but only when harmony and reformation can be promoted thereby."

In any thing I am to offer here, I am not to determine the point, whither Covenanting be an ordinary stated duty, or only occasional, but shall leave it to more able hands to decide; there are plausible arguments advanced on both sides of the question—only, I think, some of these offered in defence of the objection, are too weak, and others seems too strong; and that which is too strong, proves little or nothing: on the other side, it is granted, that there are times and seasons more proper for it than others, though every season, in some cases, may be proper for duty, when the Lord calls us to it.

But what I intend to say is, that whether we take it for an occasional or a stated duty, sure there was never more occasion for it than now, when apostacy and defection runs so high, and a Covenanted work of Reformation sinks so low; Christ’s crown rights, and the liberties of his church, are more and more invaded; toleration principle, comes near its meridian; Prelacy becomes fashionable, and Popery is making wide strides to these nations; almost every error abjured in these covenants, are now teeming out of the mouths and pens of these frogs, the false prophets. And what civil {xii} subject, but is, or has entered into some corporation or association, for carrying on their intended scheme; nay, Satan’s subjects, now parties themselves in clubs and combinations, by error and immoralities, for the propagation of their master’s kingdom; and shall Christ’s professed subjects, friends, and followers be behind, in entering into these religious bonds of association, for promoting, maintaining, and defending the concerns of his glory, and interest of his kingdom in their own hearts, the church and the world around them; surely no; other motives might be noticed, such as the palpable breach of Covenant, church, state, and sectaries opposition to them; a revival of true practical religion, which ofttimes attends integrity in covenanting; but as these are more fully handled in the following preface, it were needless to insist here upon them.

As to the last member of the objection, Reforming times are only Covenanting times, I cannot expatiate on this, I shall only say, that though it be no agreeable duty for any person, party, or nation, who does not resolve to leave their apostate courses, and break off their sins by true repentance, and endeavour through the Lord’s strength, a thorough reformation, &c. This we cannot do, but in virtue of the Lord’s first looking upon us, with any eye of pity and compassion; but we should endeavour after it. Is our defections not high enough yet? is it not yet high time to reform? at least to apply fervently to the Lord, for the spirit of repentance and reformation. Or was there ever a time, had more need of reformation than this; and every reformation had a beginning, and who knows but the Lord may bless and countenance such endeavours; it was just at such a crisis of defection, and more advanced steps of deformation, that the Lord’s people set about this duty, both in the old and new Testament times; it was so when these Covenants were sworn, 1638; they were also renewed at Lanerk, 1666, on the back of the general overthrow of that Covenanted work of Reformation: as Lesmehago, 1669, when it was almost laid in its dismal grave, by another Popish tyrant; at Auchensaugh, near Douglass, 1712, after that Covenanted work was in a great measure left under its gravestone, by the Revolution-settlement, and new encroachments made, sinful oaths imposed on churchmen and statesmen, in place of the Covenant; toleration granted, and patronage revived, and the nations threatened with the invasion of a Popish Pretender. {xiii} The Dissenters entered upon the same exercises at Crawford-John, 1745, on the back of a more advanced step of defection, and the eve of another invasion. And could we now be enabled to set about it, (sure there is much need for it) to come over all lets and hindrances, which Satan and a wicked world, and our own corrupt hearts are ready to muster up unto us; and to avouch the Lord our God, and his Covenanted interest, were it even at the cross of Linlithgow, or the High-street of Edinburgh, I mean not a precipitant proceeding against probabilities, without the Lord’s call, council, advice, and serious deliberation.—But I am inclined to think, yea, I am assured of it, that true religion shall never prosper and flourish in heart, practice, church, and nation, with us; nor shall we see good days in these lands, till these Covenants be as openly avowed and sworn, and these heaven-daring acts Rescissories, exterminated in the public places of these nations; as these Covenants, and our Reforming acts and laws, were in these places ignominiously burnt and destroyed, could we be harmonious, resolute, and courageous in it.—It was a brave resolution in that warlike Israelitish generalissimo, (though otherwise none of the best of men) when he said to his brother commander, "Be of good courage, and let us play the men for our people, and for the cities of our God (the church) and the Lord do what seemeth him good."

It has also been objected to Auchensaugh work, that they engaged against owning or supporting the present powers, directly or indirectly. But as this is a random shot without book, as will be found, I presume on perusing it, I need form no answer to it; only, as this weapon has been used on two different accounts, to wound the character of Dissenters, it may be nothing out of the way here, to touch at this charge in its different acceptations. And 1st, If the term indirect, be understood of Dissenters causing (or seeing as they are pleased to call it) others to do that for them underhand, which they could not do in their own persons, without being accounted a breach of public testimony; then this is absolutely refused, this says their testimony or principle does not allow it, and for this practice, it is what no honest Dissenter will allow or avow; and though some in such a course of time should inadvertently have fallen into it, or if a friend or connection without consent, or without reimbursement for it, should, to prevent further damage, do it for them, where {xiv} is the juggling? or what militates this against the approven principles and practices of Dissenters? nothing at all; but prejudice must be ever carping and catching at a straw, ere it grip at nothing.

2dly, If owning and supporting is meant by paying taxes, or excise on bread, ale, spirits, salt, coal, candle, leather, tolls, custom, coin, &c. then this was never accounted an owning of any authority, however far they may be indirectly supported by it: for (1.) All men have a right to use the necessaries of life, meat, drink, clothing, medicine, things for which the manufacturer pays, without regard to any power human; there can be no prohibition, but those "who will not work should not eat," we buy such things as we cannot live without, let them use the price as they will. The apostolic injunction in a similar case is, "Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, eat, asking no questions for conscience sake;" a refusal of these would be a breach of the sixth command, for what murder worse than self-murder. (2.) If it could be justly argued that magistrates, lawful or unlawful, were properly acknowledged, or supported by these, then should the Pope or king of France demand such, by the same rule we were obliged to give it, the absurdity of such consequences are abundantly obvious.—Our late sufferers, men of as quick conceptions as any in our day, never dreamed of the alleged consequence, they used coin, and things necessary, under the bloody tyrants, mean while laid down their lives on fields and scaffolds, testifying against these subsidies, whose ends were declaredly evil, and tended to homologate their rights, and support them in their tyrannical authority. If pertinent to the purpose, the author of Exercitatio, &c. said to be Mr. Harle, prolocuter to the Westminster Assembly, after Dr. Twisse, says, "Objection. This payment or other charges, is taken and will be sued to an evil end, &c. Reply. But 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, &c. if I stand out." As for coin, says an author, it were absurd to say, because an usurper should stamp his image on my coat, or arms, I must not use them as mine own; and so is my money; money belongs {xv} not properly to the king, but to the people, and he has nothing but what they give him.

After all, some may allege, they engaged unto that which in practice they were not able to perform, to this I need make no proper return, but only say, there are indeed things engaged against that then became a piece of trial to some, and would be still more so to many now, for its hard living without being involved some way or another:—But did they swear to anything sinful, contrary to God’s word, or inconsistent with their known principles, or to that which he in whose strength they behoved to engage, was not able to make them perform; if not, then we must allow they acted a most ingenuous and honest part, according to what light he had given them, and the best can do no more.—Though they had faults and failings, being men of like passions with others, yet they were comparatively few, they served their generation, for the most part faithfully, and got off the stage honourably, and left a plain well-stated testimony behind them,—let us never counteract that, nor speak diminutively of their persons, or contendings, who claim a lineal descent from them, by succession or profession, "lest (as a very sensible writer lately observes, on the same point, anent our late martyrs) they rise up in the judgment and condemn us."

All I shall say anent the authors of this Collection, or the way or manner in which it is now republished is, that these called old Presbyterian Dissenters, who renewed these Covenants, were a small handful, the principle of whom were of the suffering remnant, who never acceded to the Revolution settlement in church or state, this part of their contendings, Auchensaugh’s work, is now republished entire, without alteration or addition, lest it should otherways been by some accounted an injury to their memory and contendings.—For Plain Reasons, it would appear from the minute of their general meeting that the materials were gathered by the different correspondents, and ordered to be by them brought in to be published; yet it was retarded from time to time, till one Mr. Andrew Clarkson, a student, then in communion with them, collected them together and printed it, 1731; but in the space of fifty years, a number {xvi} of defections and encroachments has occurred in both church and state, which behoved to be added in their proper places; else it could have been republished to no advantage, besides the contest betwixt Dissenters and the secession had not then breathed into existence. A variety of things has occurred, particularly by some publications of late, wherein Dissenters are put to a defiance to prove their principles from scripture, human authority, Annotators, &c. and bid produce them if they had any; this occasioned me to enlarge that head in adding, writing over, and bringing forward as many of these proofs as could be got admitted, wherein I have waved all authors who were a party. Mr. Currie had also in his Essay on Separation staged it with a number of blunders, mistakes, &c. but from the corrections and short notes I have placed, upon these the reader may form some idea of the justice of this charge.—But all this not being properly adverted to, when proposals were published, I have been so restricted and limited both in additions, notes, and quoting, that I have confined myself to just as many words as makes our the sense, and sometimes scarcely that, which, it is hoped the charitable reader will excuse, only in reading page 253 and 255 by reason of a mistake in the press, consult the errata.—To the whole I have added the contents of some few indigested practical Advices to Dissenters.

After what has been observed, little more seems necessary to be said, as motives to enhance this republication. Once for all, I may venture, without falsehood or flattery, to say, that I know not of any one volume of the like size or extent, wherein as much of Reformation principles and practices is comprised, this day, in print in Scotland; and sure it were highly expedient that these were more universally known and esteemed by this generation than what they really are:—Neither is it unnecessary that those concerned, who intends to maintain and prosecute these principles and practices, namely Covenanting, should have a view of the form and formal grounds whereon their progenitors has gone on before them.—Besides it is well known that this handful has been since the Revolution, as well as before it, branded and stigmatized by compliers as schismatic; separatists—blind zealots—rejectors of magistrates and ministers; men of anti-government, bloody principles, &c. And though they have often discharged themselves of such calumnies, yet a better vindication cannot be produced than a summary of those {xvii} principles and practices for the owning of which they were thus vilipended:—And for such as would make any conscience of contending by separating from the men of these abominations, it is abundantly necessary they be conversant with the moral grounds of their conduct, that they may be the more able "to give an answer to every one that asketh a reason of the hope that is in them, with meekness and fear."

No question, both these pieces, and what I have done or said anent them, will be condemned for impossibilities, over-strictness, needless reflections, &c. not only by those whom nothing offends more, than speak of defections in church and state,—Covenanting and faithful contendings, &c.—But even by professed witness-bearers, who relish nothing but what those of their own party publish:—Nay ignorance will censure perhaps, before reading, et adeo gravo judicum, est ignorantes, the ignoranter of principles, or divine truths, the severer judges:—But this affects the cause nothing, and for me (who has therein evited what may be called the effects of party zeal, or a ruffled temper, as far as possibly) I may say alas, and much more, with the faithful chariot-man martyr, Mr. Cargil, on a similar occasion, "woes me that I have not more worth and authority for that cause; but truth itself, if it be rightly pleaded, will have weight upon consciences."

But to conclude, judicious Reader, in many instances has the Lord appeared to own his Covenant relation to this unworthy land, let us never be ashamed to own our Covenant relation to him, this has been our glory and will yet be our safety in time of danger:—Let us take a retrospect view of the testimony of Jesus, as maintained by that noble Cloud of Witnesses gone before us, standing upon the sea of glass:— Let us, with hearts duly affected, consider unto what a low ebb it is reduced unto now,——with the fearful judgments that is impending, and will be poured out upon these apostate sinning lands, to avenge the contempt of the gospel, broken, burnt, and buried Covenants, and the blood of his servants:——But above all, look forward to these glorious days of the Son of man abiding these other lands, when the storm is blown over, which shall be such as can scarcely be equaled.——That the Lord may stir up many, to witness faithfully for his despised truths and interest, enable such as contend to more stedfastness in his cause, and {xviii} through divine grace, make the following sheets, amongst other means, prove useful for these ends or purposes, is the earnest prayer and desire of thy well-wisher in the truth,

JOHN HOWIE
LOCHGOIN,
March 22d, 1787.
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