And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor?—Jeremiah 2.18.

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A

SERMON,

PREACHED at BRAEHEAD,

AT THE

ORDINATION

OF

MR. ALEXANDER MARSHAL,

November 15th, 1744.

On 1 Cor. iii. 9.

We are Labourers together with God.


Printed at the Deſire of the DISSENTERS.


TOGETHER WITH

A ſhort ACCOUNT of the CONSTITUTION, and some of the PROCEEDINGS of the REFORMED PRESBYTERY.


By THOMAS NAIRN, M A.



GLASGOW:

Printed in the Year, MD CC XLV.


X

TrueCovenanter.com Editor's Introduction.

The following document is the first published account of the Reformed Presbytery of Scotland, its organization and principles.  There is little which needs to be said by way of introduction, as the account itself serves the purpose of a brief explanation of these things.  Yet, it may be useful to draw the reader's attention to the fact that there are various parties represented in the account, whose identity and relationship to one another should be understood.

Foremost there are the United Societies, who had their existence for many years prior to the organization of the said Reformed Presbytery. They were an organization of many fellowships of believers who met together for prayer and conference, and such other exercises whereby they might carry on their part in promoting the Covenanted Reformation of the previous century, and encourage one another in a continual perseverance therein. At the time of the Revolution, their numbers are said to have totaled in the thousands.

Mr. John McMillan is also mentioned. A member of the societies many years before, he had thereafter defected and joined in association with the Established Church. There he obtained ordination and was settled in the parish of Balmaghie. As problems in the Established Church continued to grow, and as his conscience continued to drive him in a direction opposite to the course of that body, various events led him to dissent from the Church courts of the Establishment, and seek reconciliation and reunion with the United Societies. For some time he continued to minister to the congregation of Balmaghie, but eventually that relation came to its end.

Mr. Thomas Nairn, author of the document itself, had also been ordained within the Established Church. As time progressed, and he was enlightened by the Spirit of Truth, his convictions led him to disassociate from that body, and first align himself with the Associate Presbytery. Here he hoped to find the Covenanted Reformation vindicated and the obligations of the Covenants owned and acknowledged. As time progressed, he was disappointed of his hopes, finding instead that he and his concerns were not welcome in that organization. Consequently, he was necessitated to secede from the Associate Presbytery, after which he soon found himself welcome by the United Societies, and Mr. McMillan.

Mr. Alexander Marshall had been for some time a respected member of the United Societies. It is believed he had a hand in drafting the Mount Herick Declaration which was published in 1741. At an earlier time, the respect he had among the societies, for his education and faithfulness in the cause, was made evident in their recommendation of him to Mr. McMillan as someone to "call forth to the office of the holy ministry" without presbyterial ordination; a course which, if complied with, would have involved the entire community in a dreadful compromise of the cause for which they stood. Mr. McMillan however, wary of such desperate devices, abstained from such measures, setting an example of faith and patience worthy to be remembered by dissenters still to this day.

As for the Reformed Presbytery, its constitution is explained below. What should be noticed however, is that both Mr. McMillan and Mr. Nairn, at the time of its organization, and also Mr. Marshall afterwards, sustained the relations of ministers to the United Societies as a whole; for it was in this capacity that a call was given to each of these men, that they might be the pastors, not of a congregation or parish, but of the entire community of Dissenters. This will be seen below in Mr. Nairn's description of the call given to Mr. Marshall. Receiving such a call therefore, put every one of these men under the necessity of carrying out intense labours to provide for a widely scattered but very large flock. It also secured to the non-ecclesiastic organization of the United Societies the unusual privilege of treating with these ministers by way of a very large and organized body of fellowship societies, consisting of local prayer meetings, shire meetings or correspondences, and a General Meeting of the societies. Thus, in its first organization, this body of Christians was hardly what one would call a "Church" in the usual sense of the term; yet it contained the essence of a Church, now organized with its own ministry, and had the fairest claim to being both a part of the Visible Church of Christ, and being the Witnessing Church, of all religious organizations then in existence. Both Presbytery and Societies might easily have been mocked by their enemies for their very extra-ordinary organization. The Presbytery consisted of ministers who lacked parishes. The societies exercised the right of admitting and excluding members of the community. It was by no means an ordinary Presbyterian Church. Yet, there was no other Church to which Christians of Reformation principles and practices could go to hear those principles and practices preached and explained, without being taught to submit to the Erastian "powers" that had used their strength to confirm the end of National Reformation in Scotland.

Such was the intensely interesting nature of those circumstances and events described below by Mr. Nairn. To some these actions seemed the trifling and contemptible expressions of stubborn rebellion on the part of "anti-government" fanatics who could not be pleased with any authority in the world. To others, the long awaited answer of many prayers was beginning to appear, as a new occasion of revived excitement for a cause that was the great concern and focus of their lives in this world.

2010.08.24.




A SHORT

ACCOUNT

OF THE

CONSTITUTION,

And ſome of the

PROCEEDINGS

OF THE

REFORMED PRESBYTERY.

HAVING found myself obliged to secede from the Associate Presbytery, for the Reasons contained in my Dissents against their Proceedings lately published; the Revd. Mr. John M‘Millan and I, in Conjunction with certain Elders, upon the 1st. of August 1743. did erect ourselves into a Presbytery, by the Name of The Reformed Presbytery, upon this Narrative, That in regard the above-mentioned Ministers and Elders met together, are of the same Mind as to the Doctrine of our holy Religion, and the proper Form of Presbyterian Government, immediately under Christ, the sole Head of his Church, and the Obligation they stand {4} under by our Solemn and National Covenants, to promote the true Religion, according to the Word of God, and to carry on our Covenanted Reformation: And considering that Ministers of the Gospel should not only exert themselves in their Master's Service, by preaching his holy Word, and instructing his People; but also, by exercising the Keys of Government and Discipline; for doing which, they have Power and Authority from our Lord Jesus Christ, and that his Church may be constituted by a few in Number, being two or three, who may expect his divine Presence from his Promise, Matth. xviii. 20. For where two or three are gathered together in my Name, there am I in the midst of them; and who may constitute the Church, as appears from ver. 17, 18, 19. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the Church, but if he neglect to hear the Church, let him be unto thee as an heathen Man, and a Publican.  Verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on Earth, shall be bound in Heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on Earth, shall be loosed in Heaven.  Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on Earth, as touching any Thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in Heaven.  Therefore, the above Persons did, by solemn Prayer, constitute themselves into a Reformed Presbytery, under Christ their Head, in order to exercise Government and Discipline in Christ's Name, and by his Authority solemnly assumed the Keys of Doctrine, Discipline, and Government, as flowing immediately from Jesus Christ, the alone King and Head of his Church, depending upon his promised Presence, Matth. xxviii. 18, 19, 20, And Jesus came, and {5} spake unto them, saying, All Power is given unto me in Heaven and in Earth.  Go ye therefore and teach all Nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all Things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the End of the World. Amen.  Zech. iii. 7. Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, If thou wilt walk in my Ways, and if thou wilt keep my Charge: then thou shalt also judge my House, and shalt also keep my Courts, and I will give thee Places to walk among these that stand by.  And they thereupon gave to one another the Right Hand of Fellowship. The Presbytery having chosen their Moderator and Clerk, entered upon the Consideration of the Necessity of calling young Men to come under Trials, in order to their being licensed to preach the Gospel:  Mr. Alexander Marshal being sufficiently attested with respect to his regular and exemplary Conversation, by the Revd. Mr. John M‘Millan and many others, and also having attended the Divinity-Hall for a competent Number of Years, had the ordinary Pieces of Tryal assign’d him, which he at different Times underwent and delivered before the Presbytery, wherein he was approven; and having finished his Tryals to their Satisfaction, he was upon the 11th. of April 1744, in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, licensed to preach the Gospel, and thereafter by the Appointment of the Presbytery, preached in the ordinary Places in their Bounds.  Upon the 27th of June of the said Year, a Petition from the Elders and People of the united Societies was given in to the Presbytery, representing, That they had several Times heard the said Mr. Alexander Marshal to their Satisfaction; {6} and therefore, craving the Presbytery to appoint one of their Number, to moderate a Call for them to him: Whereupon, the Presbytery appointed their Moderator to preach at Crauford-John, the 30th Day of July thereafter, and did moderate the said Call.

An harmonious Call was accordingly moderated and sign’d to the said Mr. Marshal, which being reported to the Presbytery on the 1st of August 1744. they approv’d and sustain’d the same, and appointed him thereafter to undergo such Pieces of Tryal before the Presbytery as they thought necessary.  At this Meeting of Presbytery, a Commission from the old Dissenters in Ireland was given in, craving in the most pressing Manner, that the Presbytery would allow them Supply, after so long a Time that they had wanted a faithful Minister to dispense Gospel-Ordinances among them; upon which the Presbytery appointed the Revd. Mr. Thomas Nairn, Minister of the Gospel, and the said Mr. Alexander Marshal Probationer, to visit the said Societies with Preaching, &c. as they should be enabled.

These two accordingly went to Ireland, where they remain’d for some Weeks, and after their Return, upon the 29th of October, Archibald M‘Fall as a Commissioner from Ireland, gave in to the Presbytery a Paper sign’d by 146 Persons of the Presbyterian Persuasion, thanking the Presbytery for the Supply they had got by the said Mr. Nairn Minister, and Mr. Marshal Probationer, their dispensing Gospel-Ordinances among them, whereby their Souls had been refresh’d; and signifying their Readiness to receive and submit to a Gospel Minister, in case the Presbytery should send them {7} one; and in the mean Time, craving further Supply.  The Presbytery appointed the Revd. Mr. John M‘Millan to write to them, exhorting them to Steadfastness, and through Grace to separate themselves from the Abominations of the Day, and in Conjunction with their Friends in Ireland, to essay Covenanted Duties, assuring them that the Presbytery would be as helpful to them, in dispensing Gospel-Ordinances among them as their Circumstances would allow.

After Mr. Marshal’s Tryals were over, his Edict was served, and no Objection being made to his Admission, he was solemnly ordained by Prayer, and laying on of the Hands of the Presbytery, and Mr. Nairn, on that Occasion, preached on 1 Cor. iii. 9. (which Sermon is herewith published) and after suitable Exhortations, both to Mr. Marshal and the People, he was receiv’d and admitted to the Presbytery, as a Member thereof. {8} [Page Blank] {9}


X

Editor's Note.

The careful reader may have noticed that in the above account there is no description of a formal adoption of any ‘Terms of Communion’ on the part of the Presbytery organized by Mr. McMillan and Mr. Nairn.  Considering the controversies of later times, amongst those professing to adhere to Reformed Presbyterian principles, it may be of value to consider what Terms of Ministerial and Christian communion were then in use for admission to membership and privileges in the United Societies and early Reformed Presbyterian Church.  Because this will require several paragraphs, it was thought best to defer the matter to the end, and minimize any interruption of the present text.


1 Cor. iii. 9.

We are Labourers together with God.

THE Apostle, a great Promoter of Peace in the Church of Christ, after he had beseeched the Church of Corinth by the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to Unity in Opinion, Love, and Expression, 1 Cor. 1.10, he tells them, that he was inform’d there were Contentions among them, verse 11, It hath been declared unto me of you, my Brethren, by them which are of the House of Cloe, that there are Contentions among you.  Now the Cause of these Divisions was, the having Mens Persons in Admiration, factiously crying up one Minister above another, naming themselves the Followers of this and that Man, setting up Teachers one against another, and even Christ against his Ministers, verse 12, Every one of you saith, I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas, and I of Christ, which ought not to be, for he saith, chapter 3.21, Let no Man glory in Men, i.e. in any Teacher whatsoever, for all Things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the World, or Life, or Death, or Things present, or Things to come, all are yours.  Now this too common Evil, especially where there is a collegiate Ministry, he doth reprove in the Church of Corinth, chapter 1.13, while he saith, Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you, or were ye baptized in the Name of Paul? {10} And finding Contention in this Matter, of so dangerous Consequence among People, and how readily it is kept up and fomented when once it is rais’d, he sees it needful to reprove it again in this Chapter, as an Evil that declares them carnal, verse 3, For ye are yet carnal, for there is among you Envying, and Strife, and Divisions, i.e. ye are in a great Measure so, and these Evils that prevail amongst you prove it to a Demonstration; Envying as the Root bearing Strife, and Strife breeding Divisions and Factions.  There is nothing so like the Devil as an envious Man, with his Cloven-foot to make Division where he comes, which is notourly exemplified in some Persons who were once join’d to this Society, but they went out from us, because they were not of us, for if they had been of us, no doubt they had continued with usPaul did not affect what we call Popularity, to have People following him to the slighting of other faithful Ministers, as many do at this Day.  He would neither have them striving about him, or Apollos his Follow-Labourer, because such Conduct was an Evidence that they were carnal and walked as Men.  And to remedy this carnal kind of Strife, he proposes several Things to be considered, for keeping them in a just Esteem of all faithful Ministers, without overvaluing or despising any of them.  (1.) He tells in his own and Apollos’s Name, what they are with respect to People’s Faith, not the Authors or Lords of it, but Ministers by whom they believed, even as the Lord gave to every Man, i.e. they were only Helpers of their Faith, as the Lord was pleas’d to furnish them with Gifts, and to give a Blessing to their ministerial Endeavours, and therefore they ought not factiously to boast {11} of their Gifts, or to make Parties on that Account.  (2.) To consider what their Work was in the Field of the Church; ’tis to plant and water, they cannot give Increase, or procure the Success of their ministerial Endeavours; so then, neither is he that planteth any Thing, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the Increase.  We must not understand the Apostle speaking this absolutely, but comparatively; they are not any Thing, i.e. any Thing of themselves alone, without the Concurrence of the Spirit, what excellent Gifts soever they have, they cannot of themselves make the Word they preach effectual.  O! how many Souls find both Ministry and Ministers to be nothing as to them and if it be any Thing, ’tis God, and not his Ministers, that makes it so.  (3.) He tells that Ministers whether they plant or water are one, verse 8, i.e. one in Office and Work, serving one Master, having one and the same End and Design in their Service; therefore, they should not be factiously divided either among themselves, or by their Hearers.

Altho’ there is a Variety and Diversity in the Gifts of Christ’s Ministers, yet the Intent and Design of their Ministry being one, they all ought to agree as one.  They should be one in Doctrine, and one in Affection, aiming at one and the same Mark, namely, the Glory of God and Men's Salvation: And it follows, every Man shall receive his own Reward according to his own Labour.  Though God grants not to all them the like Success, yet every one of them shall be rewarded, not according to their Success, but according to their Labour, verse 8. If they labour faithfully, {12} God will reward them proportionably, though few or none have believed their Report. [Isa. 53.1.]

The Apostle having said, that all Ministers were nothing in respect of giving Increase; and lest they should be thought nothing of, because nothing in that respect; therefore to magnify their Office, he tells in the Words of the Text, They are Labourers together with God; they are Labourers, which is a suitable Designation of such as plant and water God's Field, and agrees well with the Metaphor of a Husbandry, which the Church wherein they labour is called in the following Clause, Ye are God’s Husbandry: and as all faithful Ministers by whom the Church believe, are called Labourers, so likewise they are called Labourers together with God.  This is not so to be understood, as if by any Power of their own they could produce any spiritual Effect, as if without God they could work Faith and Repentance in the Hearts of Sinners; but they work only by an external Application of the Ministry of the Word, and the Means of Grace to the Souls of Men.  They are συνεργοι, Labourers together, as it is here well rendered, and Labourers together with God, because they concur with him in the same Work; not as Servants with a Fellow-Servant, but as Servants with their Lord and Master.  He is the first and chief Worker, and they work with him as his Instruments; he needs not their Work, who can work all himself; but he is pleas’d to use them as Instruments in his Work, and they can do nothing without him working in them.  As he is said to work with his Ministers, Matth. 16.20, so here they are said to work with him, and this the Apostle affirms, in his own, and in the Name of all {13} faithful Ministers: Unfaithful Men are not worthy of the Name of Ministers, nor do they deserve the Designation of Labourers together with God; for it is faithful Ministers that are here resembled to Labourers, as the Church is resembled to Husbandry in the Clause immediately following.

DOCT. That faithful Ministers in God's Church, are as Labourers in a Field or Husbandry.

So they are design’d in this Text, and Matth. 9.32, Pray therefore the Lord of the Harvest, that he will send forth Labourers into his Harvest. Again, the Apostle who calls himself here a Labourer, speaks of his labouring more abundantly, 1 Cor. 15.10, and labouring Night and Day, 1 Cor. 2.9. The Word signifies Labour unto Weariness, and Labour after Weariness.

For opening of this Doctrine, I shall shew,

I. Wherein faithful Ministers resemble Labourers in a Field.

II. Wherein they differ from them.

III. Make Application.

First, They resemble Labourers in a Field,  1. With respect to a Commission; no Work-man must go and labour in a Man's Husbandry, or so much as break Ground without his Commission; so faithful Ministers go not to Work in Christ's Church without his Commission; Jeremiah a faithful Man could say, As for me, I have not hastened from being a Pastor to follow thee, thou knowest, Jer. 17.16, where ’tis evident, that this Prophet did not thrust himself into the prophetical Office, and as he did not seek the Office of a Prophet, so when the Lord was pleas’d to call him to that Office, {14} he did not decline it.  The faithful Minister then has God's Call to the Work, For no Man taketh this Honour upon him, but he that is called of God as was Aaron. [Heb. 5.4.]  And here I observe to you, that there is a twofold Call to the Ministry; the one is extraordinary, and the other ordinary.  An extraordinary Call is, when the Lord endues Men with eminent and extraordinary Gifts, and either immediately by himself, or the Dispensation of some remarkable Providence, calls them forth to this Work.  Thus the Apostles had an immediate Call from Christ himself, and Paul had an extraordinary Call by an immediate Voice from Heaven.  Our first Reformers also had an extraordinary Call to labour in the Work of the Gospel; in as much as they were Persons more than ordinarily gifted, and countenanced of God.[1]

2dly, There is an ordinary Call to the Ministry, which I conceive to be twofold.  First, Internal, which stands in two Things,  1. In fit Qualifications for so weighty a Work, such as,  (1.) Sanctity of Life, which fits and disposes a Person for the conscientious Discharge of the ministerial Office.  And sure I am, there cannot be a more loathsome Sight than an unholy Minister, than to see a Man who pretends to urge Holiness upon others, and yet he himself is a Stain to Religion by a loose and ungodly Deportment.  (2.) There must be Soundness of Doctrine, and such Parts of substantial Learning, as may put a Man in a Posture to teach, to speak a Word in Season, to convince Gainsayers, and use sound Speech, Words that cannot be condemned.  (3.) There must be spiritual Skill and Wisdom, whereby a Man may shew himself a Scribe instructed in the Kingdom {15} of Heaven.  2dly, The internal Call consisteth in a sincere Desire by the secret Workings of the Spirit of God after the ministerial Work, and that not out of Ambition, Covetousness, or any other selfish or carnal Design whatsoever, but out of an intire Regard to the Glory of God, and the Salvation of Souls.

2dly, External, which consists,  (1.) In the Election of the Christian People, of whom the Minister is to have the Charge.  (2.) Examination of their Fitness, that this Office be not intruded upon by ignorant Persons.  (3.) In Approbation, when, upon Trial, Men are found able, fit and qualified to preach the Gospel of Christ, then, they are declared to be such, as the Apostle did Epaphras and Tychicus.  (4.) In Separation and solemn Consecration by Fasting and Prayer, and Imposition of the Hands of the Presbytery, 1 Tim. 4.14, Neglect not the Gift that is in thee by Prophecy, with the laying on of the Hands of the Presbytery.

Secondly, They resemble Labourers in a Field, in respect of Instructions; for as the Labourer takes his Instructions from the Master of the Field, whose Servant he is, and whose Commission he bears, so it is with the faithful Minister of the Gospel, he takes his Instructions in the ministerial Work from Christ only, whose the Church is, and whose Servant he only is in his Work in the Church. And as it is a bold Invasion of Christ’s Supremacy and sole Headship over his Church, to impose Instructions on his Servants about their ministerial Work (as was done with the Indulged Ministers in this Land) so it is unworthy of the Servants of Jesus Christ, to accept Instructions from Men in their Work, and not from Christ only; for thus {16} they become the Servants of Men, accommodating themselves rather to their Pleasure, than that of their Master Christ.  Hence says the Apostle, If I yet please Men, I should not be the Servant of Christ.  The Ministers become Men-Pleasers by Flattery and Falsehood, or accommodating their Doctrines to the Humour and Dispositions of Men; but the pleasing of God is our great Work and Business, and therefore let us mind that.  ’Tis true we are to please Men whether great or small for their Good and to Edification; but surely we must please our Lord and Master Christ first, and only in a Consistency with his Pleasure, become all Things to all Men, that we may gain some, not to make a present Gain of them, but that they may be eternal Gainers by us; it is not to exalt ourselves, but that Christ may be exalted in the Hearts and Lives of the Hearers, that we are to seek in and by our Ministry to please all Men.

Herein the Apostle Paul gave us an Example, and in Imitation of him, let us seek to please all Men for their Good to Edification.

Thirdly, They resemble Labourers in their Work: 1st. As the Labourer’s Work is to plow the Ground, so the faithful Minister's Work is to plow up the Fallow-ground of People's Hearts; and make deep Furrows of Conviction by the Plough of the Law's Terrors and Threatnings, to drive Sinners out of themselves, and from all Confidence in the Works of the Law, that so by Faith in Christ, they may obtain Righteousness and Life.  2dly, The Labourer’s Work is to scatter the good Seed he gets from his Master on the Ground; so the faithful Minister rightly divides the good Seed of the Word of God, as the Apostle {17} directs, 2 Tim. 2.15, Study to shew thyself approved of God, a Work-man that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.

The original Word rightly to divide, some think a sacrificial Word, alluding to the right dividing the Sacrifice which was laid upon the Altar, separating the precious from the vile, and severing the Parts that were not to be offered, from them that were, and cutting out the Sacrifice in such Manner as all had their Share in them.  Thus the pure Word of God is to be rightly divided, and faithful Ministers are to give every one his Portion, to every Hearer his Due, methodizing and distributing Truth as God would have it, Terror to whom Terror is due, Comfort to whom Comfort belongs.  3dly, As the Labourer’s Work is to pull the Weeds out of the Field, so faithful Ministers by Discipline, are to pull the Weeds of Sin and Wickedness out of the Church.  4thly, As the Labourer’s Work is to oversee the Field that nothing hurt it, so ’tis faithful Ministers’ Work to oversee the Church; therefore they are called Overseers and Watchmen, because they oversee and watch, that no Error which is contrary to sound Doctrine be brought into the Church, nor dead Forms contrary to the Power of Godliness.

Fourthly, Faithful Ministers resemble Labourers of the Ground, in that whereabout their Work is conversant; for as the Labourer has a Part of good Ground that he labours, and reaps Fruits of it, and he hath also other Ground that is hard to labour, wherein he loses the Seed and his own Pains too, so it is with faithful Ministers,  there are some fruitful they labour among, Aaron’s Rod blossomed and brought forth Fruit, but there are {18} others of their Charge, of whom they have Reason to complain, that they are so hardened and obdured, their Labour on them is in vain, and their Strength spent for nought.

Fifthly, They resemble them in the Manner of their Work;  1st, As the Labourer’s Working is with Diligence, so is the faithful Minister’s; hence says the Apostle, Acts 20.20, I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from House to House; he taught publickly in the Synagogues, and privately from House to House, like a good Shepherd labouring to understand the State of his whole Flock and of every Lamb in it, that no Soul might miscarry through his Neglect.  2dly, As the Labourer’s Work is constant all the Days of the Year, so is the faithful Minister’s, he finds daily some needful Work to do about God’s Husbandry.  3dly, The Labourer’s Work is toilsome, and O! the Fatigue and Toil that a faithful Minister undergoes, which few know or are sensible of.  4thly, As the Labourer’s Work is spending, so the faithful Minister is willing to spend and to be spent in his Work for Christ.  He is willing to spend his Time, his Strength, his Pains, yea his Life, in his great Master’s Service.  O! how tender are some Ministers of their Carcasses, how fearful of their Skin, how sparing of their Pains for Fear of shortning their Days and hastening their End! whereas the Lamp of our Lives can never burn out better than in lighting others to Heaven.  Is it not better that our Flesh consume with Industry and Usefulness, than wear out with Rust and Idleness?  Such are unfaithful Ministers who are not willing to spend and be spent for precious Souls.  5thly, {19} Tho’ the Labourer’s Work be toilsome yet it is pleasant, and he is grieved to be put from it by stormy Weather; so it is with the faithful Minister, his Master’s Work is as Meat to him for Pleasure, and it much grieves him to be laid by through Storms of Persecution.

Sixthly, and Lastly, Faithful Ministers resemble Labourers in the Account they must make; for as the common Labourer must be accountable to his earthly Master, so must faithful Ministers give an Account to their Lord from Heaven, Heb. 13.17, And they watch for your Souls, as they that must give Account.  There is a great Shepherd, a chief Shepherd, even Christ the Prince of Shepherds, to whom all inferior Shepherds must give an Account of their Office, of their Work, and of the Flock committed to their Charge, and very different Accounts will be given by the Ministers of God at the great Day; some with Joy, others with Grief, according as Souls have been thriving or barren and unprofitable under their ministerial Labours.

But O happy Minister that shall then have the Approbation of the great Shepherd, to whom he shall say, Well done good and faithful Servant, and who shall get from him a Crown of Glory that fadeth not away!

I come now to the II. Thing propos’d, namely, to shew wherein the Labourers in God’s Husbandry, and the Labourers in a common Field differ:

First, Other Labourers have a natural Sufficiency for their Labour, but God’s Labourers have it not.  The best of Men that ever God employed in the ministerial Work, have been most sensible of their utter Insufficiency for it, yea, have {20} been ready to sink under the Difficulties that attend it.  2 Cor. 2.16, And who is sufficient for these Things? that is, none are sufficient without proportionable Strength and Help from God, neither Man nor Angel: To preach the Gospel as it ought is a mighty Work, a weighty Work; if any think otherwise, it is either their Ignorance or Inadvertency that makes them think so.  What! is it an easy Matter to search in to the deep Things of God, the deep Mysteries of the Gospel, which have an unfathomable Deep? Is it easy to instruct the Ignorant, to convince the Obstinate, to resolve the Doubting, to reduce the Wandering, to know the State of our Flock, to visit the Sick as we ought, to speak to them, and pray for them as Persons upon the Confines of Eternity?  If we consider how a Gospel-Minister ought to excel in Knowledge, in Utterance, in Prudence and Conduct, in exemplary Piety, in patient Contending with a People’s Frowardness and Perverseness, we may well cry out with the Apostle, Who is sufficient for these Things?  We are so far from being sufficient for these Things, that we have no Sufficiency so much as to think one good Thought, or to think any Thing which is truly and spiritually good: hence says the Apostle, 2 Cor. 3.5, Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any Thing as of ourselves, but our Sufficiency is of God.

Secondly, Other Labourers find their Husbandry passive, but Labourers with God find the Husbandry making active Opposition to them, strong Holds and high Imaginations opposing, resisting and hindering the Success of their Labours, and particularly, the stubborn Will of Sinners is so strong an Hold, that no Power but an almighty {21} Power can influence it to surrender, Psalm 110.3, Thy People shall be willing in the Day of thy Power.

Thirdly, The Instruments of the Labourers are effectual by human Influence, but the Weapons of Christ’s Labourers have no Efficacy, except divine Power be interpos’d, as appears from 2 Cor. 10.4, For the Weapons of our Warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong Holds. verse 5, Casting down Imaginations, and every high Thing that exalteth itself against the Knowledge of God, and bringing into Captivity every Thought to the Obedience of Christ.  ’Tis as possible to make an Impression with your Finger upon a Wall of Brass, as for the best Sermon in the World, to make an effectual Impression upon a Sinner’s Will, without the Co-operation of the holy Spirit.  ’Tis the Spirit that gives Success and Efficacy; there is a real and spiritual Power, and energetical Presence of Christ in his own Institutions.

Fourthly, Other Labourers are generally respected for their Labours; but here it is not so; for these that are the most faithful of God’s Labourers are ill-accounted of, and contemned by the World.  As long as there is a Devil in Hell and wicked Men upon the Earth, all that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer Persecution: but surely the Dregs of this Cup has been in all Ages reserved for the faithful Ministers of Christ Jesus; as if to preach, were nothing else, than to stir up the Rage, and be blotted with the Obloquies of Men.  Hence says the Apostle, We are made as the Filth of the World, and are the Offscouring of all Things. The Word, say some, signifies that Dirt Scavengers do rake together in the Streets, and carry to the Dung-hill.  Such a base and vile Esteem had {22} the World of the most faithful Labourers in God's Husbandry; and can any of the present Labourers complain of hard Usage from the World, when they consider what the Apostles suffered in the World, who did more Service to God in one Day, than perhaps they have done all their Days.

Fifthly, The Lord’s Labourers differ from other Labourers in their Work, which is better than what others labour in, namely, the Word and Doctrine, this is spiritual and heavenly Work, and therefore the most honourable, hence the Apostle requires, 1 Tim. 5.17, Let the Elders who rule well be counted worthy of double Honour, especially they who labour in the Word and Doctrine.  Some think the Apostle in this Requisition, alludes to the First-born, who was the Priest of the Family, and had a double Portion amongst his Brethren, the Levites succeeded them, and the Ministers of the Gospel these, who, when laborious in governing and teaching the Church of Christ, are worthy of more Honour than the unkind World are willing to confer upon them, who instead of double Honour, sometimes deny them civil Respect.

Sixthly, In that which their Labour is taken up, viz. the Souls of Men, the far better Part.  Physicians are taken up about the Body, Lawyers about worldly perishing Estates; but Labourers together with God, their uptaking Work is about the Soul, and the eternal Concerns thereof.  Heb 13.17, Obey them that have the Rule over you, and submit yourselves, for they watch for your Souls, &c.  As Jacob watched over Laban’s, so do these faithful Labourers over Christ’s Flock by Day and Night. {23}

Seventhly, They differ from them in their Gain by their Labours; other Labourers gain but a small Matter, and ’tis not certain, but faithful Ministers’ Gain is certain, and every one of them shall receive according to their Labour.  And it is also very great, for it amounts to no less than to the Salvation of their own Souls, and of the Souls of them that hear them, who shall be their Crown of Rejoicing in the Presence of our Lord Jesus at his Coming. [1 Tim. 4.16; 1 Thess. 2.19.]

Eighthly and Lastly, They differ from all other Labourers to their unspeakable Advantage, for that they are Labourers together with God.  I shall touch a little at the Import of this Phrase, and proceed to the main Work of the Duty, reserving a Word of Application till afterwards.  1st. It imports that God is the Master of the Work, for we labour not with him as a Fellow-Servant, but with him as our Master.  2dly, It imports he is with his Servants at Work, as he hath promised, Matth. 28.ult, Lo I am with you to the End of the World.  He is with them by the Blessing and Assistance of his Spirit, to protect, encourage, and reward them, in the faithful Discharge of their Trust.  3dly, Their labouring together with God imports, that he sees and knows his Servants Labours.  They labour, as of Sincerity, and as in his Sight, and he sees and notices their Labours, so as to approve of them, Matth. 25.21, Well done, thou good and faithful Servant.  4thly, That he actually has his Hand at the Work, else they could not be Labourers with him.  They are Workers together with him, and he worketh with them, Matth. 16.20, And they went forth and preached every where, the Lord working with them.  He works with his faithful {24} Labourers by directing them, assisting them, guiding their Lips, influencing their Minds, quickening their Affections, setting home their Instructions, and crowning all their Endeavours with his Blessing.  O! ’tis sweet Working in Fellowship with Christ and his holy Spirit.  5thly, That they shall not want their Reward, for no good Master misses to reward them that work with him, Isa 49.5, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the Eyes of the Lord.  His faithful Labourers shall shine for ever and ever in heavenly Glory, Dan. 12.3.  Lastly, It imports their being helped in their Labours, for in their Labouring together with him, they are as Apprentices who cannot work but with the Master's Help, or as a Learner to write, who has the Master leading his Hand: hence says Christ, John 15.15, Without me ye can do nothing.  Therefore the Apostle, who all his Life in the Flesh, lived by the Faith of the Son of God, had, no doubt, an Eye to needful Help from him, when he saith, We are Labourers together with God.

Here the Sermon was intermitted for a little, and I proceeded as follows,

After Prayer and singing of Psalms, I intimated to the Elders and People of the united Societies, that they did some Time ago petition the Reformed Presbytery, to appoint one of their Number to moderate a Call to one to take part in the Ministry with us among them; which the Presbytery granted accordingly, and appointed me to preach at Crawford-John, and moderate the said Call; and they having at the said Moderation, given their {25} Consent by the lifting up of their right Hands, to Mr. Alexander Marshal to be one of their Ministers, did thereafter sign a Call to him in my Presence, and before two Witnesses not of this Community; which Call I attested, and being given in to the Presbytery, it was sustain’d by them as orderly proceeded in, and put in the Hand of the said Mr. Marshal; and Trials being appointed him by the Presbytery, wherein he acquitted himself to their Satisfaction, the Presbytery appointed his Edict to be served, which being done accordingly, and no Objection made to his Admission, the Presbytery resolve this Day, (it being a Day set apart by them for Fasting and Prayer) to proceed to his Ordination, after demanding from the said Mr. Marshal, and his giving satisfactory Answers to the Questions agreed upon by the Presbytery, and also the People concern’d, signifying their Adherence to their former Choice of him to be their Minister, and Willingness to submit to him in the Lord.  These Questions being put to the said Mr. Marshal, and he having declared himself, and promised his Endeavours by the Lord’s Help; I demanded of the Christian People, to signify their Willingness to receive and acknowledge him as their Minister, to obey, submit to, and encourage him in all the Parts of his Office, when he shall be set apart to the ministerial Work amongst them.

Accordingly all the People concerned who were then present, did signify the same by lifting up their right Hands.

The said Mr. Marshal being by Prayer, and the laying on of the Hands of the Presbytery, solemnly set apart to the Work of the Ministry, and commended to the Grace of God, we gave him {26} the right Hand of Fellowship, and the Elders and such of the Christian People as had Access took their Minister by the Hand.  I returned to the Pulpit, and essayed the Improvement of the Doctrine formerly delivered, by an Address,

I. To our Revd. and Dear Brother Mr. Alexander Marshal, including ourselves, in a few Inferences.

II. To the People of our Concern.

First, With Respect to ourselves.  Since we are Labourers it is not suitable for us to be idle: Unwillingness to work exposeth Labourers to Disgrace, hinders the Master’s Work, gives Advantage to Enemies, provokes the Master to put them away and hire others in their Room.

Secondly, Neither is it becoming us to meddle and dip in other Employments.  Labourers of the Ground have no Leisure for other Affairs, much less Labourers in God’s Husbandry, wherein having Work that may take them up wholly, they should therefore wholly give themselves to it, and not entangle themselves with the Affairs of this Life, which exceedingly puts out of Case for the Lord’s Work, and without disentangling ourselves of these Affairs, we can neither please our Master, nor profit his Husbandry as we ought.  Therefore says the Apostle, No Man that warreth entangleth himself with the Affairs of this Life, that he may please him that hath chosen him to be a Soldier, 2 Tim. 2.4.  Such a Life of Freedom from Incumberance by secular Affairs, should the Labourers with God desire and endeavour after: they are spiritual Soldiers warring under Jesus Christ their Captain and Commander; now Soldiers must be as free as may be from Distractions, they must put off their Fetters before they put on {27} their Armour.  The Work of these that labour with God lies in the Affairs of the other Life; now he that is entangled about the Affairs of this Life, will do little about the Affairs of the next.

Thirdly, From this Doctrine we may see, what sort of Men Ministers should be.  Labourers should understand their Work; so the Priest’s Lips should preserve Knowledge. [Mal. 2.7.]  Labourers should observe the Labouring-season, so should Ministers observe the fit Seasons of their Work.  Labourers should not be lazy, but willing to work, and not to neglect the Husbandry for any Thing; so should it be with the Labourers in God’s Husbandry.

Fourthly, Are we Labourers? then let us ply ourselves to our Work and Labour, let us mind our Business, set about it in good Earnest, stick to it, and lay out ourselves to do all the Good we can to the Souls of Men; but more particularly,  1st. Let us ply our Work believingly, having the Faith of the Promise of Assistance, and the Promise of Acceptance through Christ.  Psalm 71.16, I will go in the Strength of the Lord God; that is, relying only upon his Strength, John 15.5, Without me ye can do nothingMatth. 28.20, And lo, I am with you alway even to the End of the World.  2dly, Let us do it with all our Might, for our Work is great as you heard.  3dly, Let us do it in Sincerity, for we are in our Master’s Sight, therefore says the Apostle, 2 Cor. 2.17, But as of Sincerity, but as of God, in the Sight of God speak we in Christ.  4thly, With all Courage, for our Opposition is great, we have Flesh and Blood, Principalities and Powers to contend with; let us then quit ourselves like Men and be strong. 1 Cor. 16.13.  5thly, With Heedfulness and Deliberation, {28} for we are in Hazard to do Ill by rash-meddling, 1 Tim. 4.16, Take heed unto thyself and unto thy DoctrineCol. 4.17, And say to Archippus, take heed to the Ministry which thou hast received of the Lord.  6thly, With Constancy and Diligence, that we may fulfil our Ministry. The Colossians must say to Archippus, Take heed to the Ministry to fulfil it; that is, perform all the Parts of our Duty with Care and Faithfulness, persevere in Diligence, particularly, publick Preaching and private Inspection.  7thly, Let us ply our Work and Labour with Unanimity, for we are Servants of one Master, and Labourers together with God.  Let us then thus ply our Work as becomes Labourers.  1. The Case of the Lord’s Husbandry calls for it, for how much hard Ground have we to break up, high Places to level, and how do Briars and Thorns abound every where? what Need of watering has the Husbandry every Day?  2. We have but our Day in the Vineyard as others had before us, and how short while it may continue we know not; Zech. 1.5, Your Fathers where are they? and the Prophets do they live for ever? Our Bodies are earthen and frail, because form’d of the Dust of the Earth; we that preach eternal Life to others, are dying Men ourselves, and whilst the Word of Life is in our Mouths, many Times Death is in our Faces.  3. Our Account is great, and that of the greatest Trust, and happy shall we be, if in the Day of our Account, our great Lord and Master shall both commend and reward us, saying, Well done, good and faithful Servants, enter into the Joy of your Lord; and so find to our eternal Joy and Satisfaction, that our Labour has not been in vain in the Lord. {29}

I shall now address myself to the People, God's Husbandry, as the Apostle calls you.

First, Since we are Labourers, then, Suffer us to labour you.  Labourers labour the Husbandry, you are God’s Husbandry, we are his Labourers, therefore we say not amiss, when we say, suffer us to labour you, i.e. by the Word and Doctrine; and we plead with you that you would suffer it.  To this Purpose the Apostle shuts up and closes his Epistle to the Hebrews, chapter 13, verse 22, And I beseech you, Brethren, suffer the Word of Exhortation.  And he speaks of a Time like to the Time wherein our Lot is to live, in which Men will not endure sound Doctrine, but after their own Lusts, shall they heap to themselves Teachers, having itching Ears, 2 Tim. 4.3.  Therefore we beseech you, suffer us to labour you with Word and Doctrine.  The Ground you tread upon suffers Labouring, though it cannot know the Benefit of it, how much more, should ye suffer Labour, who are capable to know the Good of it.  If ye cannot endure to be laboured, we must tell you, that you’ll be barren, and bring forth nothing but Thorns and Briars, which will bring you near to Cursing, Heb. 6.8.  In this Case, you’ll provoke God to lay you waste, to be eaten up and trodden down, as he threatens the barren Vineyard, Isa. 5.6.  Some complain that we labour them severely; to such we answer, this is not our Choice, but ’tis People’s Hardness, and their being full of Briars and Thorns so deeply rooted, which obliges us to Severity when softer Methods cannot prevail; that if possible, they may be made profitable Ground; besides, our Master commands us so to labour such, and we must obey him, and not gratify the corrupt {30} Humour of Men.  Jude verses 22,23, And of some have Compassion, making a Difference; and others save with Fear.  We are to use Gentleness towards some, and give sharp Admonitions to others, who are more hardened in their sinful ways: if we should be so unfaithful to perishing Souls, as for Fear of their Anger to let them alone, till they be all over-grown with Thorns, and have their End Destruction, they would curse us to Eternity.  But however Men’s Lusts quarrel our severe Labouring of them, yet, We hope we are made manifest to God, and we trust also, are made manifest in your Consciences, 2 Cor. 5.11.

Secondly, We beseech your Assistance in our Labours; but more particularly,  1st, We beseech your Assistance who are Elders; this is the Design of your Office, to be Helps with these that labour in the Word and Doctrine; and there is no Part of our Work except Preaching, and administring the Sacraments, but, by your Office you are obliged to take Part in for our Help.  2dly, We intreat the Assistance of Masters of Families, by private Worship, Instruction and Discipline; that each of your Families may be a little Church.  3dly, We beseech the Assistance of particular Persons, by their exhorting one another, Heb. 10.25, and manifesting their Love to their Neighbour, in reproving him, and not suffering Sin to lie upon him, Lev. 19.17.  In a Word, we intreat Assistance in our Labour from all of you; for,  1. We profess our Insufficiency for it, and who is sufficient for these Things?  2. ’Tis God's Husbandry wherein we labour, and in it all Hands should be at Work.  3. After all your Assistance, we have still enough ado; great and many Opposites to wrestle with, the Devil {31} and all he can stir up against us in our Work.  4. ’Tis your Interest that the Husbandry thrive, if ye do not concern yourselves in it, I have no more to say, but, that in this Case you cannot expect to thrive yourselves.  5. If you will assist us you shall not want your Reward; your Labour who will contribute any Thing for advancing the Work of the Lord, shall not be in vain in the Lord.

I again beseech you, Brethren, to assist us these two Ways:  1st, By being fruitful under our Hands, this will greatly encourage our Hearts, and strengthen our Hands.  2dly, Brethren, pray for us.  Our Work is a Work of the greatest Weight, of the greatest Labour, of the greatest Difficulty and Opposition; and alas! our Shoulders are not stronger than other Men’s, to stand under the Weight of this Burden: and therefore wonder not, when we cry out importunately for the Help of your Prayers. We are Labourers together, therefore let us join together in our Labour that we may be strong; few join us in it, we have therefore the more Need to join together and be so doing; and thus we may expect the more of the Master’s Presence and Blessing with us, and find the unspeakable Benefit and Comfort of it.  This leads me to the Application of the last Thing in the Words; namely, our Labouring together with God.

This lets us see, (1.) That however contemned we are by the World, yet our Office is honourable: O! that we may find Grace to walk worthy of such a Vocation, and so to carry as in the faithful Observation of the Duties thereof, to magnify the same, carefully guarding against every Thing, that may reflect Dishonour on such an honourable Office.  (2.) Being Labourers together with God, is great {32} Encouragement to us to labour; for though the Work be great, and we have few for us, and many against us, yet he with whom we labour, is All-sufficient for all the Work, to make up the Want of other Assistants, and to carry on the Work, maugre all the Opposition of its Enemies, and to enable in all Duties and Difficulties in following our Work.  But let us take Care to labour according to his Instruction, as we would be with him, and have him with us in all our Labours; and have Boldness to boast and say, If God be for us, who can be against us?  If we are Labourers together with God, then, ’tis not below the greatest to labour together with us; yea, ’tis their Honour so to do, as thereby, they come with us to be also Labourers together with God.  (4.) That we may conclude, you should with all Gladness embrace a faithful Minister; for, since he is a Labourer together with God, you may expect God to come to you with him, and that his Labours among you thro’ God’s Presence and Blessing, shall be successful to the saving of your Souls.

FINIS.


Appendix: Terms of Communion

As was noted above, the original constitution of the Reformed Presbytery by John McMillan and Thomas Nairn, as related by Mr. Nairn, lacks an important element usually thought to be essential to historic Reformed Presbyterianism: Explicit Terms of Communion. In 2002 a document was published by Greg Barrow and Larry Birger, Jr. concerning the changes made to Terms of Communion made use of in the RP Churches during the 1800's. In general, there is to be found useful information and comparisons in the document. In two regards it is lacking: (1) The document follows Matthew Hutchison's assumption, (in his History,) that the Terms of Communion in 1761 were identical to those used in the early 1800's and printed with the Explanation and Defence of the Terms of Communion; whereas various documentary evidence suggests that this is not the case. And, (2) The faithfulness of the Terms of Communion, said to date from 1761, is not established but assumed.

Therefore, the editor has thought fit to insert here the following observations:

The United Societies, and Reformed Presbyterian Church as she was originally constituted, professed adherence to not only the principles and practices, but also to the very constitution of the Church of Scotland, as it was adjusted and settled at the time of the Second Reformation, 1638-1649.  And according to that constitution, there were settled Terms of Communion.  Among these was the Subscribing of the National Covenant of Scotland, as it was renewed in 1638, with the additional paragraph against episcopal innovations, as is found in modern printed copies. The printed editions themselves evidence this, having prefixed the General Assembly's "Act ordaining the Subscription of the Confession of Faith and Covenant." Note that what was required was not a mere approbation that others have done so, nor a mere acknowledgment of the perpetual obligation of such covenants. Subscribing itself was required in the General Assembly's Act of August 30, 1639, and this is further made plain in the General Assembly's "Acts for Subscribing the Covenant" dated August 8, 1643. Copies of the Covenants were to be printed, and bound with blank pages, so that every every parish could have a book for the subscription of church members.  Next, the swearing and subscribing of the Solemn League and Covenant, 1643, was also made a term of Communion within the Church of Scotland. Again, the reader is referred to the Acts of the General Assembly to see their "Approbation of the League and Covenant," August 17, 1643. Also, the Assembly's approbation of the overture on this subject at the end of the Acts printed for 1647, and the "Act for taking the Covenant at the first receiving of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, &c." August 7, 1648.

It is not surprising therefore, that when the Covenants were renewed near Douglas, in 1712, by John McMillan and the United Societies, this standing constitution was of direct influence on their actions.  They could not swear the Covenants exactly as they had been sworn during the second reformation. To do so would either require a great many "mental reservations," or else ensnare them in sinful "obligations" directly opposite the purpose of these Covenants when first sworn and subscribed.  Still, those professing to adhere to the Covenanted constitution of the Church of Scotland, free from all schismatic deviation therefrom, saw the importance of swearing these Covenants, in obedience to the standing Acts of the General Assembly, before they would allow themselves to exercise ecclesiastical privileges, whereof these Covenants had been made prerequisites. Thus, they followed the example of an earlier generation of Covenanters at Lesmahego, swearing and subscribing the Covenants with certain marginal explanations (not identical to those at Lesmahego,) and made this their formal Term of Communion for the time to come:

Conclusions of the General Meeting at Crawford-John. Novr. 1712.

2. That the Covenants, as they were renewed at Douglass, be henceforth made the formall terms of our Communion; & that every Correspondence have a bound copy with 4 sheets of clean paper for the subscriptions of all who are, or shall be, members constituent of their Correspondence.

Therefore, when the Reformed Presbytery was first organized in 1743, there was no need, in respect of the United Societies, to settle upon Terms of Communion, for they already existed, and it was evident that Mr. Nairn himself desired to comply with the Term, he having communicated this to the Associate Presbytery, as is related in his Short Account of his Secession from the Associate Presbytery.  Strangely however, it seems that he was not well aware of the fact that swearing the Covenants with the alterations with which they were sworn at Auchensaugh, (which he was willing to do,) was to be regarded as a Term of Communion.  John Hamilton, an elder within the Reformed Presbyterian church, who later declined the Presbytery, relates in his Representation and Testimony how on a certain occasion it was complained that some were taken into communion, and admitted to sealing ordinances, "who were not in communion before, nor yet agreed with the testimony, &c." Apparently this was owing to the conduct of Mr. Nairn himself, for he "rose and said, he would admit all, be what they would, that applied to him."  After discussion the matter was agreeably resolved by the Presbytery, but it seems that from this time forward Terms of Communion were fixed upon by the Presbytery, which did not explicitly require swearing and subscribing of the Covenants.

The editor must confess that it is a little difficult to ascertain the exact order and nature of these events from the two documents which have been consulted: Mr. Hamilton's Testimony, and the Reformed Presbytery's Serious Examination. Before a distinct list of Terms was enumerated, a clause or paragraph from the Informatory Vindication was used as the "Terms of Communion" and put in the Presbytery Minutes. This is said to be "page 52" in the Serious Examination, but it is not said which edition. Page 52 in the 1707 (2nd) edition is located in the opening Declaration, and discusses the "bond of our Communion" with references to Head 2 and Head 5 later in the document. Head 5, however, is evidently an erroneous reference to Head 4.  Mr. Hamilton's Testimony on the other hand, refers directly to Head 4.  In the 1744 edition, page 52 is located in the midst of Head 4 itself, and also discusses the subject of "Church Communion," explaining what ministers must be separated from. In either case it is evident that the Presbytery wished to hold to such Terms of Communion as could be defended on the same principles as were asserted by Mr. Renwick and the suffering remnant before the Revolution.  What is uncertain, is whether or not this Informatory-Vindication-Term-of-Communion had been enacted before the incident with Mr. Nairn mentioned above, or whether this was enacted at the time of the said incident, with the new list of "Terms of Ministerial and Christian Communion" (quoted in the Serious Examination) being adopted a few years later, possibly after Mr. Nairn's departure from the Reformed Presbytery.

In any case, a new list of Terms of Communion were adopted, and published in the introductory account of recent events in the Serious Examination and Impartial Survey, 1754. The above account of events with Mr. Nairn may be concluded to have taken place sometime between 1747 and 1750, given Mr. Hamilton's list of the members of Presbytery present. These Terms therefore, may have been adopted as early as 1747, assuming they were adopted at the occasion related by Mr. Hamilton, or else as late as 1752. They are as follows:

  1. The Acknowledgment of the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be the Word of God, and alone Rule of Faith and Manners;
  2. The [acknowledgment of the] Doctrine contained in our Confession of Faith, and Catechisms, larger and shorter, agreed upon by the Assembly of Divines at Westminster, to be founded upon the Word of God;
  3. The Acknowledgment of the perpetual Obligations of our Covenants National and Solemn League;
  4. Of the divine Right and Original of Presbyterian Church-government; also
  5. The owning and acknowledging all the faithful Testimonies and earnest Contendings of the faithful Witnesses of Christ, whether Martyrs under the late Persecutions, or such as have succeeded them in the Maintenance of the self-same Testimony; and particularly of the Renovation of our said Covenants at Auchensaugh, 1712, and at Crawford-John 1745, as agreeable to the Word of God, Confession of Faith, and Catechisms, larger and shorter, and Covenants National and Solemn League;

shall be Terms of Ministerial and Christian Communion with this Presbytery.

Here, the reader may see, that although the perpetual obligation of the reformation covenants are to be acknowledged, and although the Covenant Renovations at Auchensaugh and Crawford-John are to be acknowledged for faithful Testimonies and earnest Contendings, agreeable to the Word of God and other ecclesiastical standards, yet there is no obligation to either swearing or subscribing the Covenants.  It is also of interest to see that the place later occupied by reference to the Act, Declaration, and Testimony of 1761, is here occupied by a reference to the Covenant Renovations.

Two questions follow from these observations. Brief answers only can be provided by the present editor at this time, and any reader having more information or clearer light on these subjects is welcome to reply with helpful additions or corrections.

Question 1. Did the Reformed Presbytery carry the community of Covenanters in fellowship with them, or under their inspection, into a course of defection by omitting to explicitly require subscription of the Covenants as a Term of Communion?   Answer. In light of the circumstances described in the introduction above, it appears that this alteration did not immediately change whether or not Covenanters were required to subscribe the Covenants. For some time after this, all who would be church members, were expected also to be society members. In the Presbytery's Short Directory they even speak of this participation in Christian fellowship as a "Term of Communion" from the days of the Apostle's Creed.  The societies, one may assume, continued to impose as part of their own regulation, that which the Presbytery did not explicitly require.  Therefore, this possible oversight would have no actual effect until: (a) The disorganization or less frequent activity of shire meetings (correspondences) and General Meetings would occasion the existence of some societies less regulated or strict in adhering to the rules and resolutions of the societies; or (b) The Presbytery would alter this procedure by either instituting or tolerating the admission of members to congregations and communion, who were not admitted, or would not be admitted, to fellowship societies. As time progressed, both of these problems arose.

Question 2. Does the alteration of the Terms of Communion from those adopted somewhere between 1747 and 1752, to those said to have been adopted in 1761 (which, again, does not appear correct,) and published with an explanation and defence in 1801, constitute any step of defection?   Answer. In part, this answer depends upon one's view of the Act, Declaration, and Testimony of 1761. Some Covenanters, such as John Howie of Lochgoin, found the differences between this document and the Renovation of 1712, to be troubling. Later opposition (in the 1800's) to RP Terms of Communion lacking reference to the Auchensaugh Renovation, seems to imply that the Act, Declaration, and Testimony does in some regard come short of representing the Covenanter Testimony embodied within the Auchensaugh Renovation. The newer document is not seen as sufficient without the old document being individually enumerated, even though the newer document includes an "approbation of and adherence to..." the older document ... "as it is founded upon, and agreeable to the word of truth."  Assuming the contents of the Presbytery's Testimony of 1761 are all to be approved, and sufficiently cover all grounds covered in that which may be considered Testimony within the Auchensaugh Renovation, the change to the wording of the Terms does not seem to be material, except for the addition of the sixth Term of Communion,—which is a commendable addition. It might have been better (in this sixth Term,) to have expressed a requirement to actually keep the Covenants, rather than approve, acknowledge, or even subscribe. In any case the addition is a step in this direction.  In the end, the situation comes to the same thing as above.  Most of the passages in the Presbytery's 1761 Testimony which Mr. Howie and others questioned, were questioned because some of the ministry, or church members, made use of these places in order to support or excuse practices or teachings which were seen as new, (such as the covenant theology of Thomas Boston,) and not countenanced in the Covenant Renovations or older Testimonies, (such as pursuing and defending before the established civil courts.)  Had the Judicial Testimony of 1761 never been applied to such ends, it is possible some of these men would have had no complaints.  Thus, the facts of how the new Testimony was used, as well as the two circumstantial problems mentioned in answer to the first Question, all contributed to a course of change and decline which did take place in the Reformed Presbyterian Churches.  The Reformed Presbytery's original Terms of Communion, taken by themselves, were never sufficient as a full adherence to the constitution of the Church of Scotland, nor a proper means to guard against the community's departure therefrom. It was only while the Presbytery's original Terms of Communion were used in addition to the Terms of the Second Reformation General Assembly—the Terms of the United Societies—that such can be regarded as a proper standard for discerning who ought, or ought not, to be admitted to the privileges of membership in the Church of Scotland, in a true conformity to her lawful constitution. And even this, would be of little use without a consistent and rigorous application of discipline, accompanied with the divine blessing, to effectively combat the continual influences of the declining religious world by which they were surrounded.—JTKER.

N.B. If it seems to any that the above considerations are not in harmony with those of the faithful R.P. remnant of the 1800's, such as David Steele, it is not denied that some of these remarks criticize certain ommissions which they did not see reason to criticize, perhaps through want of information or thorough consideration.  But those who have consulted Mr. Steele's periodicals and Reminiscences will also recall that (1.) Mr. Steele was no stickler for maintaining the exact RP Terms of Communion published with the Explanation and Defence, as may be seen in the document of Barrow and Birger mentioned above, and more thoroughly demonstrated from the minutes of Presbytery leading up to the changes there described. (2.) Neither was Mr. Steele a stickler for the 1761 Testimony. This was not his reason for opposing the new testimonies adopted in America and Scotland, as may be seen on pages 212 and 213 of his Reminiscences. (3.) As the matter is represented above, it was also Mr. Steele's belief that the downward course of defection began in the R.P. Church of Scotland long before her Terms of Communion were changed in 1822. In part 2, section 2, of his Reminiscences, he estimates that it was about 20 years after the Testimony (1761) was published that there began to be "open attack" upon the standards of the church. Also, he informs the reader of the activity of Mr. Brown (an unworthy R.P. minister) and his associates in the 1790's. Lastly, he identifies the publication of the Explanation and Defence of the Terms of Communion itself as what was, in reality, "carnal policy, a temporizing expediency, instead of prompt and merited censure." (4.) In the year 1881, the Reformed Presbytery in America, renewed the Covenants in North Union, PA. Renewing the Covenants had all along been a desire and purpose of this Presbytery, first constituted in 1840 and later re-constituted after a brief period in which an insufficiency of pastors effected dissolution of the court. A new act of covenant renovation is what had been desired in Scotland by men such as John Hamilton and John Howie during the 1700's. In the 1800's also, the same desire was alive among the members of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland, and a committee was even appointed to prepare a new bond, with an acknowledgement of sins and engagement to duties. But it could never be effected. What the Reformed Presbytery in America did in 1881, is described on pages 78 & 79 of The Original Covenanter, volume 3. It is evident that these were a people willing to both swear and subscribe the Reformation Covenants;—a people who regarded this as expressive of their necessary unity in the cause and testimony of Jesus Christ.  These four points considered, to take away any mist of confusion or prejudice, it is hoped the reader will see that what is said above, is, with regard to Terms of Communion, a fair representation of what all faithful witnesses for the Covenanted Reformation have been aiming at since the overturn of our national reformation establishments.

2010.08.24::JTKER.


Footnotes:

1. We may note also, that it was no ordinary office to which some of these men were called at this time. And there is no degree or course of training which Calvin, Knox, or others could have pursued in preparation for the ministry, to qualify them for the work the Lord appointed them in opposing principalities, powers, and rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places (Eph. 6.12,) or in so bearing the name of Christ before nations and kings (Acts 9.15,) that cities, and commonwealths should be converted to Christ and their laws and institutions reformed according to his supreme Law.

But beyond the extra-ordinary nature of the gifts and peculiar offices that such men were called to, it should be noted that there is no biblical warrant for extra-ordinary usurpations and commissions of men simply on account of extra-ordinary circumstances. More than once Covenanters have been pressed to testify against these things, as may be seen both in joint and personal testimonies from the late 1600's through the 1800's. The author's distinction above is essential to understanding these matters: for, we must not only distinguish between what is ordinary and extraordinary, but also between a commission which is mediate, and that which is immediate. The ordinary, mediate, commissioning of ministers is, according to the fixed law of Holy Scripture, by Presbyterial Ordination, which also must be distinguished from the mere ceremony thereof. All extra-ordinary commission however, must be immediate, for there is no law to warrant or direct it. Consequently, all legitimate exercise of ministerial functions without an ordinary ordination, must be by virtue of an extraordinary immediate commission of Jesus Christ. Such claims however, must be regarded as self-infatuation and devilish delusion, unless sufficient (extra-ordinary) convincing evidences so accompany the preacher as will warrant others to attend upon his ministry as that of an ambassador of Jesus Christ. Needless to say, since the over-turning of the Reformation, several such claimants have appeared in the earth, but none of them found to be the LORD's messengers. Nevertheless, still they must have their followers. May the Lord waken them early, to remember his warnings: For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things. (Mark 13.22,23.)—JTKER.