... for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions?—Canticles 1.7.
T E S T I M O N Y
T O T H E
T R U T H O F J E S U S C H R I S T;
To the Doctrine, Worship, Discipline, and Government of
Against the prevailing Errors, Heresies, Blasphemies, &c. &c.
By the MINISTERS of PERTH and FIFE.
PRINTED BY J. WILSON, BOOKSELLER.
P R E F A C E
T E S T I M O N Y
MINISTERS OF PERTH AND FIFE.
THIS Testimony was intended long ago by the ministers of the gospel who are for the protestation in the synod of Perth, and being brought to some perfection about fifteen or sixteen months since by some of these brethren, and some other reverend and godly ministers in the synod of Fife: a copy thereof subscribed by their hands, was a little thereafter offered unto the late Lord Protector his council in Scotland, that being read by them, it might also have been transmitted to him and his council at London: The printing of it, though intended immediately thereafter, hath hitherto been retarded by several emergencies of providence. It is now put to the press, because, besides that written copies are oftentimes uncorrect, and by rescribing, come to be vitiated; and that so many as would either satisfy the true intent of the thing, or the minds of these who are desirous to peruse it, could not conveniently be gotten, the continuance and increase of many of the errors and evils that are witnessed against therein, with the desire of the reverend and worthy brethren, whose letter is hereunto subjoined, do plead for it: How it came at first not to be subscribed by these brethren, they themselves do, we trust, give a satisfying account thereof in their own letter, wherein they do also give their reason for joining in, and publishing of the same at this time. If there be some things in it that do not so quadrat with the present state of the time, by reason of the late changes, that is not material as to the true intent of the Testimony, which when it was first given, did witness against the evils therein mentioned, in the shape wherein it then found them, and it may well be admitted a witness against, as they now are, there being little or no material change appearing to the better. The Lord give a blessing to what is witnessed in simplicity of heart, and with a warrant from the word of truth.
Nov. 29th, 1659.
The T E S T I M O N Y of the Ministers of the gospel undersubscribing, unto the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government of the kirk of Scotland, and to the National Covenant of Scotland, and to the Solemn League and Covenant betwixt the three nations, of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and to the work of uniformity in religion, in one Confession of Faith, Form of Church Government, Directory of Worship, and Catechising; and against the errors, heresies, and blasphemies now on foot in these nations, that are contrary and destructive thereunto; especially against that vast toleration in things religious, lately framed into a law, and proclaimed throughout this nation.PURE religion, which is revealed by the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, and is contained in the scriptures of truth, being the way whereby the sons of men are taught to glorify the Lord their Maker, and to attain happiness and salvation unto themselves, is, of all enjoyments, the most excellent and necessary, the glory and crown, whether of nations, or of families, or of particular persons, and that which every one in his station is most bound to pursue and preserve, and plead for: Therefore have all these who have inclined their ear to wisdom, and applied their hearts unto understanding, sought it as silver, and searched for it as hid treasures, and have judged the merchandize thereof better than the merchandize of silver, and the gain thereof better than fine gold; and the Lord's worthies and witnesses have in every generation, according to their measure, appeared and put forth themselves in excellent wrestlings, by fervent supplications unto God, and serious endeavours with men, and faithful testimonies proclaimed upon the high places; and, when need was, confirmed with their blood for the attainment and preservation, and vindication of the precious truths and ordinances of God. And seeing we are not only Christians by profession, born in a visible church, and in our baptism solemnly devoted and engaged unto the Lord, to be his, and to be for him and his interests upon the earth; and therefore by virtue of our general calling as Christians, bound by the holy commandment of the great and eternal God, in our stations, earnestly to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints, Jude 3. and to testify against the things that are destructive thereunto, Jer. 10.11. Amos 3.13,14. but also by our particular calling, ministers and watchmen in the house of God: And therefore upon that account, in a special way set for the defence of the gospel, Phil. 1.7. and bound to maintain and vindicate the glory of the Lord of hosts, 1 Kings 19.14. and to confess Jesus Christ before men, Matt. 10.32. and to cry aloud and spare not, and to lift up our voices like a trumpet to shew his people their sins, and the house of Israel their transgressions, Isa. 58.1. and to speak unto them all that he commands us, as we would not be found rebellious unto God, and would not have him to consume us before men, Jer. 1.14. Ezek. 2.8. And considering that we have been witnesses, not only to the many solemn public professions and engagements of others in the behalf of God, and of his truth, but that also we ourselves have once and again, (besides private and personal engagements) taken upon us that sacred and solemn tie of the public national covenant, and the solemn league and covenant of the three nations; wherein, we all subscribe, and each one of us for himself, with our hands lifted up to the most high God, do swear, That we shall sincerely, really, and constantly, through the grace of God, in our several places and callings, endeavour the preservation of the reformed religion in the kirk of Scotland, in doctrine, worship, discipline, and government, against our common enemies; the reformation of religion in the kingdoms of England and Ireland, in doctrine, worship, discipline, and government, according to the word of God, and the example of the best reformed churches; and shall endeavour to bring the churches of God in the three kingdoms, to the nearest conjunction and uniformity in religion, confession of faith, form of church government, directory for worship, and catechising, that we and our posterity after us, may, as brethren, live in faith and love, and the Lord may delight to dwell in the midst of us. (2.) That we shall in like manner, without respect of persons, endeavour the extirpation of popery, prelacy, superstition, heresy, schism, profaneness, and whatsoever shall be found contrary to sound doctrine and to the power of godliness, lest we partake in other mens sins, and thereby be in danger to receive of their plagues, and that the Lord may be one, and his name one in the three kingdoms: And that in maintaining and pursuing this common cause of religion, we shall not suffer ourselves, directly or indirectly, by whatsoever combination, persuasion, or terror, to be divided or withdrawn from this blessed union and conjunction, whether to make defection to the contrary part, or to give ourselves to a detestable indifferency or neutrality in this cause, but shall all the days of our lives, zealously and constantly continue therein against all opposition, and promote the same according to our power, against all lets and impediments whatsoever; and what we are not able of ourselves to suppress or overcome, we shall reveal and make known, that it may be timely prevented or removed, all which we shall do as in the sight of God. Therefore having seriously weighed the state of religion in this church at this time, and the manifold injuries that have been, and are daily offered and done to the truth of God, and precious ordinances of Jesus Christ, and to the national covenant, and solemn league and covenant of the three nations, and to the liberties and privileges of the church and government, and officers of the house of God, by which God is highly dishonoured and provoked, and the Lord's sanctuary profaned, and the throne of his glory defaced, and the kingdom of his Son undermined, and many souls involved in dreadful guiltiness and destroying snares, day by day, and more exposed to the hazard of many and strong temptations. We do, for the delivering our own souls from the guilt of these things, and acquitting ourselves in the duty we owe unto God and his church, in the present and following generations, especially to these of our flocks, with the charge of whose souls we are in a more peculiar way intrusted, and that we may, if the Lord so will convince these who are guilty, and persuade them to repentance, at least, that we may bear witness for the truth against the evil of their way, hold ourselves bound to bear testimony, (1.) Unto the way wherein we worship the God of our fathers, we mean, the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government of the church of Scotland, believing the same to be that which is written in the law and the prophets, and in the testament of Jesus Christ, and to the national covenant of Scotland, and the solemn league and covenant of Scotland, England, and Ireland, and to the work of uniformity in religion. And next, against all the injuries done unto, and encroachments, violations, and breaches made upon these; especially against that vast toleration in things religious, a mischief lately framed into a law in these nations, whereby the tie and obligation of these covenants is wholly cast loose, and turned into oblivion, and countenance, and protection, and encouragement is allowed, not only to many errors about the superstructures of religion, but even anent these things that destroyeth the foundations, and to give warning to the Lord's people, especially to these whose souls we are called to watch for, of some necessary duties incumbent upon them in this hour of temptation.
Amos 3.13,14. Hear ye, and testify in the house of Jacob, saith the Lord God, the God of hosts, That in the day that I shall visit the transgressions of Israel upon him, I will also visit the altars of Bethel, and the horns of the altar shall be cut off, and fall to the ground.
Rev. 12.11. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony.
In the first place, therefore, we do with thankful hearts acknowledge, and joyful lips bear record unto the wonderful power and goodness of God, which according to the prophecies and promises revealed of old, That he would give the heathen for an inheritance, and the outmost parts of the earth for a possession unto his anointed One, and that the isles should wait for his law, was graciously pleased many hundred years ago, and a little after the rising of the Son of Righteousness, to give light unto the Gentiles, to pity our forefathers then mancipated unto the service of dumb idols, and worshippers of the host of heaven; yea, of devils and infernal spirits, and to visit them with the light of the glorious and blessed gospel, which having been first preached unto, and received by many private persons, was afterward, about the year 205, received by the king and many peers of the land; so that in a short time the whole nation became Christians, and was blessed and honoured of God for sundry generations, with many eminent professors and pastors, famous for learning and holiness, and piety, and for their pains and success in the work of the gospel, both at home and abroad, until at last, with the rest of most of the Christian churches in Europe, it was involved in the darkness of popish superstition and idolatry, to which it was in bondage for many years; yet so, that there was always a remnant through grace who did not receive the mark of the beast, but did overcome by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and did not love their lives unto the death.
Next, we do with the same thankful mind acknowledge and proclaim that marvelous work of power and mercy, whereby the Lord with a high hand and a mighty and outstretched arm, a little after the discovery of the mystery of iniquity, Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots, and abominations of the earth, by the ministry of his servant Luther, and other worthy instruments whom he raised up for that effect, was graciously pleased, in the days of our fathers, to ransom this land from the bondage of popish tyranny and superstition, and again to bless it with the light and liberty of the gospel, which though it was opposed by the prince of this world, the spirit that wrought strongly in the children of disobedience, and did animate both the civil and ecclesiastic powers of the time, to resist and oppose by fire and sword; yet such was the zeal of the Lord of hosts in performing it, and so strong was his hand upon a few polished shafts, chosen and furnished by himself, that in a few years, not only was the reformed protestant religion established by authority, and popery banished [out of] the land, but most of [the] congregations were planted with the ministry of the gospel, and did yield subjection unto the ordinances of Jesus Christ, and the discipline and government of the church were established, according to the pattern shewed in the mount, in their beauty and strength, in the due subordination of congregational elderships and presbyteries and synods, exercising their respective powers unto edification, for bearing down the throne of iniquity, and advancing of the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, in knowledge, and holiness, and righteousness, unto the terror of the wicked and profane, and comfort and encouragement of the godly. In the thankful acknowledgment of which rare and singular mercies, and for strengthening themselves against adversaries, both of church and state, the national covenant being first subscribed by the king and his household, in the year 1580, was thereafter subscribed by persons of all ranks, in the year 1581, by ordinance of the Lords of secret Council, and acts of the General Assembly, and again by all sorts of persons, in the year 1590, by a new ordinance of council at the desire of the General Assembly. This covenant relating unto the reformed religion then professed in Scotland, and more particularly expressed in the large Confession of Faith, established and publicly confirmed by sundry acts of parliament; as it was then entered into with much cheerfulness and gladness of heart, the whole land rejoicing at the oath of God; so was it attended with many and choice blessings from the Lord: Then was the church of Scotland for doctrine sound and lively; for worship, pure and spiritual; for discipline, powerful and impartial; and for government, and unity, and order, beautiful and comely, and well compact together, which as they were attended with rich breathings, and comfortable influences of the Lord's Spirit upon the souls of his people at home, so were they the matter of this church's commendation in the churches abroad, who because of these, gave her the testimony of one of the purest and brightest shining candlesticks amongst the churches of Christ: but it was not long ere this beauty was marred, and this glory eclipsed, whilst King James following too much the counsels of flesh and blood, and being upon the one hand wroth with the freedom and faithfulness of ministers, and upon the other hand, desirous to gratify the prelatical party in England, by reducing the kirk of Scotland, in its worship and government, unto a conformity with the church of England; did, with the unlucky help and mischievous industry of some ambitious and covetous men-pleasing church-men, in a few years, by politic devices, first overthrow the government of the church by presbyteries and synods, and obtrude instead thereof, a lordly government in the persons of thirteen prelates, and then corrupt the purity of worship, by thrusting upon the church the English popish ceremonies, and accordingly did his son and the prelates proceed to build, until at last the doctrine came to be mingled with Arminian and popish errors, and the worship to be turned over into the English service-book, and the discipline and government into a book of prelatical and popish canons; which course of defection having now continued and increased for the space of near forty years without interruption, and being backed with the authority both civil and ecclesiastic, had no doubt terminated and resolved in popery, if the Lord, when it was least expected by friends, and least feared by enemies, had not in a strange and wonderful way cut asunder the cords of these plowers, who plowed upon the back of his poor church, and revived his work and people.
And therefore we hold it our duty, in the third place, to make honourable mention of the work of the Lord which he hath done in our days, to wit, That in the year 1637, when the prelates were in the height of their power and pride, and had devised and procured that the service-book and the book of canons should be obtruded upon his church, and that there was no probable means, and very few instruments by which these corruptions of the worship and government of the house of God should be resisted; the civil authority being strongly engaged for carrying on thereof, and the greatest part of the ministry being carried away with the course of conformity, and couching with Issachar under the burden. It pleased God, first to stir up the spirits of a few of his servants and people to witness against these things, and so to encourage and countenance them in their proceedings, that in the month of February, in the year 1638, they did, notwithstanding all the threats and opposition of adversaries, which were many and strong, again to revive and renew the national covenant, which now had been forgotten and buried in oblivion for the space of almost forty years; and such the good hand of God upon his work and people, that within not many months thereafter, almost the whole land did subject themselves unto the oath of God; which was attended with more than ordinary manifestations of his presence, and influences of his Spirit in the assemblies of his people, and was in effect to this church, which had in a great measure, and for a long time forsaken her first love, and declined from her primitive purity and integrity, as life from the dead: Neither did the Lord cease to repair the ruin, and build up the breach that had been formerly made upon her, until he had restored her unto her liberty and beauty, in presbyteries and synods, and general assemblies, constituted of ministers and elders, according to the rule of Christ, and exercising their power unto edification. The first of these assemblies, which toward the end of the year 1638, convened at Glasgow, the very place where the top-stone was put upon prelacy, in the year 1610, did revive and approve the registers of the former free and lawful general assemblies, since reformation from popery, in the year 1560; did condemn and annul six pretended and corrupt assemblies that had changed the government, and corrupted the worship; did take away the unlawful oaths of entrants to the ministry, cast out the service-book, book of canons, book of ordination, and the high commission; did depose and excommunicate the prelates, did declare prelacy to have been abjured by the Confession of Faith 1580, and to be removed out of this kirk, and Five Articles of Perth to have been abjured and removed by the same Confession, and did restore kirk-sessions, presbyteries, provincial and national assemblies unto their full integrity in their members, privileges, liberties, powers, and jurisdictions, as they are constituted by the book of policy, registrated in the books of he assembly 1580, and ordained to be subscribed 1590, 1591, and make sundry other laudable acts and constitutions tending to the purging of the church, and advancement and settlement of the work of reformation. And though this assembly, and the determinations thereof, were afterwards much opposed by the popish, prelatical, and malignant party; yet did the Lord so countenance his servants and the people in this land, and his work in their hands, that the reformation was fully established, and at last ratified and confirmed both by king and parliament, in the year 1641. Then was there a sweet combination of truth and peace in the land, and the Lord did in a good measure pour his Spirit from on high, by which the wilderness was turned into fruitful fields, and the fruitful field into a forest; in contemplation of which wonderful mercies and blessings of God, that they might testify their thankfulness for the same, and secure them so far as did lie in them unto their posterity, and lend a helping hand unto their brethren in England, who then were wrestling in the fire against the unjust violence and cruelty of the popish, prelatical, and malignant party; who by their evil counsels, had stirred up the king, first to forsake, and afterwards to make war against the parliament then looking at reformation: This church and nation did, in the year 1643, upon the parliament of England's calling for their help against the common enemy, propound unto them, that there might be a solemn covenant entered into by all the three nations, of Scotland, England, and Ireland, which being agreed upon, was accordingly prosecuted and carried on in all the three nations.
Therefore, as we do from our souls bless the Lord, who did put such a thing into the hearts of his people, to engage themselves in a covenant to his holy and blessed Majesty, and one to another in subordination to him, in order to these things that concern truth, and holiness, and righteousness; so we do hold ourselves bound to testify our cordial approbation of, and real adherence unto that memorable and never to be forgotten solemn league and covenant of England, Scotland, and Ireland; being persuaded in our minds, and convinced in our consciences, that it is a duty for people and nations, who profess the name of the Lord, to enter in covenant with him; this being indeed the first and great commandment of the law, that we should have no other gods before him, and that we should avouch the Lord to be our God, and to walk in his ways, and to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and to hearken to his voice, Exod. 20.2,3. Deut. 26.16-19. and that whereof we have many memorable and praise-worthy precedents in the book of God, especially when a people were called to repent and turn unto God after public backsliding and defection, or were seeking a right way for establishing of themselves in the midst of snares, or of engaging of the Lord to help them in straits, and strengthen them unto great and eminent undertakings, or to express their thankfulness for great and wonderful mercies and deliverances, Deut. 29.1,2; 2 Chron. 15.12-15; and 29.10; and 34.31,32; Neh. 9.39; and 10.29; &c. And being no less persuaded in our minds, and convinced in our consciences, that our solemn league and covenant, in the year 1643, is for the matter just and warrantable, for the ends necessary and commendable, for the time seasonable, and for the parties honourable; the matter and ends are all these precious things that are involved in pure religion, true liberty, and a well grounded uniformity in the former, and union and peace in the latter; or (to speak in the words of a reverend divine) this oath is such, and in the matter and consequence of it of such concernment, as we can truly say, it is worthy of us; yea, of all these kingdoms, yea, of all the kingdoms of the world; for it is swearing fealty and allegiance unto Christ the King of kings, and a giving up of all these kingdoms, which are his inheritance, to be subdued more to his throne, and ruled more by his sceptre, upon whose shoulders the government is laid, and in the exercise of whose government and peace there shall be no end. The parties are the true God, the living God, the everlasting King, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, and doing wonders; and the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland; who though as all the nations, in comparison of him, are but as the drop of a bucket, and vanity, and less than vanity and nothing; yet such as through his grace were amongst the first fruits of the Gentiles, and are for the knowledge and acknowledgment of Jesus Christ, in name and fame, parallel unto if not beyond any kingdoms of the world. The season was the deplorable estate of the church and kingdom of Ireland; the distressed estate of the church and kingdom of England; and the dangerous estate of the church and kingdom of Scotland, that we may truly say, (with the reverend divine already mentioned) such an oath, for matter, persons and other circumstances, the like hath not been in any age or oath we read of in sacred or human stories, yet sufficiently warranted in both. This solemn league and covenant, as it was actually sworn, and taken by the whole body of Scotland, from the highest to the lowest, so also by the honourable houses of the parliament of England, the assembly of divines, the renowned city of London, and multitudes, not only of the people, but of persons of eminent rank and quality throughout that nation, and the nation of Ireland, and all this by the authority and persuasion of the powers civil and ecclesiastic; who can have forgotten how deliberately it was resolved? how unanimously it was concluded? how joyfully it was received and entertained? The respective authorities of church and state in Scotland, did all with one voice approve and embrace the same, as the most powerful mean, by the blessing of God, for settling and preserving the true protestant religion with perfect peace in these nations, and propagating the same to other nations; and after taking of the same themselves, did ordain it also to be with public humiliation, and all religious solemnities, received, sworn, and subscribed by all ministers and professors within this kirk, and subjects within this kingdom; which was accordingly done by the whole body of the land, and in many persons and congregations attended with the feelings of that joy, and comfortable influences of the Spirit of God in the enlargements and meltings of hearts, which they did find in so great measure upon the renovation of the national covenant, in the year 1638. And this solemn oath of God being already taken by the honourable houses of the parliament of England, by the renowned city of London, and by the reverend assembly of divines, the lords and commons in parliament, upon the account of its being thought a fit and excellent means to acquire the favour of Almighty God towards the three kingdoms, of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and likewise to unite them, and by uniting, to strengthen and fortify them against the common enemy, and the true reformed religion, peace and prosperity of these kingdoms; did order and ordain, That the same covenant be solemnly taken throughout the kingdom of England, and dominion of Wales, and did condescend upon directions and instructions for the better and more orderly taking thereof by all the officers and soldiers, by the counties and committees, by the universities, by the ministers and parishes then under the power of the parliament: And as by these instructions, the declaration of both kingdoms joined in the armies for the vindication and defence of their religion, liberties and laws, against the popish, prelatical, and malignant party, (in which such as would not take the covenant, are declared to be public enemies to their religion and country, and that they are to be censured and punished as professed adversaries and malignants) was appointed to be publicly read: So for the better encouragement of all sorts of persons to take the covenant, it was in the same instructions recommended to the assembly of divines, to make a brief declaration by way of exhortation to all sorts of persons to take it, as that which they judged not only lawful, but (all things considered) exceeding expedient and necessary, and to be a singular pledge of God's gracious goodness to all the three kingdoms. In obedience to which, the assembly did frame an exhortation, wherein they do not only hold forth the lawfulness of the covenant, and take off such scruples and objections, as did then lie most in the way of the taking of it; but do also press it as the sovereign and only means to recover an embroiled and bleeding remnant. And upon these grounds, and according to these prescripts, was that solemn covenant taken by the multitudes of persons of all sorts, many of which did rejoice at the oath of God, and did look upon it as a most promising branch of hope held forth by the Lord, for renewing and reviving the church of England, and Ireland, and preserving the church of Scotland, and begetting and bringing forth the great and honourable things amongst the nations and churches abroad, for advancing the kingdom of Jesus Christ, and bearing down the kingdom of antichrist. Neither can it be forgotten, how by the same authority, it is appointed to be subscribed by persons of all ranks severally, writing their names or their marks, to which their names are to be added in a parchment roll or a book, whereunto the covenant is to be inserted, purposely to be provided for that end, and kept as a record in every parish; and how a little thereafter, it was afterwards ordered by the honourable house of commons, that the solemn league and covenant be on every day of fast and public humiliation, publicly read in every church and congregation within the kingdom, and that every congregation be enjoined to have one of the said covenants fairly printed in a fair letter, in a table fitted to hang up in some place of the church to be read; which things wanted not their due effect in many places: And why should we not also mention the mighty power and loving kindness of the Lord, testifying from heaven in his works of providence, his approbation of what was done by his people in these things according to his word, who knows not how from that day and upward, the Lord went forth with his people and their armies, and that the enemy was not able to stand before them, but did fall under them until they were foiled and wholly broken to pieces. These things we mention, to stir up and entertain in ourselves and others, the honourable and due estimation of that honourable and sacred bond of the covenant, thus well warranted by precepts and precedents from the word of the Lord, thus rationally and strongly urged by the authorities in both nations, thus solemnly sworn by so many thousands, thus sealed and attested in the consciences of so many gracious souls, by lively communion and fellowship with God, in bringing themselves under the bond thereof, and thus blessed and countenanced of God with such outward deliverances and successes; and to make it appear that it is not without cause that we judge the obligation thereof still to be in force, and that we do witness and profess our adherence thereunto. For our parts, though we do not judge all the matters contained therein to be of the same importance and weight, some of them being religious, others civil only, nor all the articles thereof to be of the same nature, some of them being absolute and binding absolutely, others being conditional and binding conditionally only: Ye we do judge ourselves and the parties engaged therein, and who have taken it, to be still firmly bound to endeavour, according to our and their places, the performance of the several things therein contained and sworn, according to the common and plain sense of the words and nature of the obligation therein expressed, and that no person or power upon earth can dispense or absolve either themselves or others from the bond and tie of the sacred oath of the most high God.
In the first place, We do testify for, and bear record unto so much of the work of uniformity in religion, as was attained by the reverend assembly of divines at London, and the commissioners of the kirk of Scotland, in one confession of faith, form of church government, directory of worship, and catechising, and ratified and approved by the general assemblies of this church, and parliaments of this kingdom, insofar as did concern them, judging the same to be sound and agreeable to the rule of the word of God, and to be insofar the result of one of these great duties whereunto we are obliged by covenant, viz. To endeavour to bring the churches of God in these three kingdoms, to the nearest conjunction and uniformity in religion, confession of faith, form of church government, directory for worship, and catechising, that we and our posterity after us, may as brethren live in faith and love, and the Lord may delight to dwell in the midst of us; and being followed and practiced, to be such as would singularly contribute for the honour and glory of God, and the edifying of the churches of Christ in these nations, in the knowledge and belief of the truth, purity of worship, strength of discipline, unity of affection, and power of godliness, and to the taking away and suppressing all things that are contrary thereunto.
Having now born testimony for, and professed our adherence unto the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government of the kirk of Scotland, and to so much of the work of uniformity as was attained with England, and to the national covenant of Scotland, and to the solemn league and covenant of Scotland, England, and Ireland, we hold it our duty, in the next place, upon the grounds, and for the ends already set down, as to profess our adherence to the testimonies formerly given by ourselves and others of the Lord's ministers and people of the protesting judgment in this land, since the month of September, in the year 1651, concerning the actings of the present powers against this nation and church: so also at this time, to bear witness against the things now on foot in these nations, that are contrary and destructive unto the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government, uniformity and covenants already mentioned. And therefore,
1. We do profess our abhorrence of the remnant and root of that popish, prelatical, and malignant spirit, which notwithstanding of the Lord's witnessing against it in a most eminent way, now for near twenty years in these nations, both by his word and works; yet doth not only lodge and lurk in thousands, but breaks forth in many, unto the opposing of godliness, and the work of reformation, and in taking hold of every shadow of opportunity that seemeth to contribute for reviving and promoting the old malignant interest and designs, against religion and liberty: And we cannot but bemoan that that spirit, in the actings thereof, as it standeth in opposition to godliness and the precious truths and ordinances of Jesus Christ, is too much connived at, by which it cometh to pass that popery grows and spreads, and that malignant men cast off the yoke of discipline, and set up pastors according to their own heart, and bear down the godly, and the work of God in many places; yea, we cannot but bemoan that many such, through their feigned forwardness and counterfeit zeal to promote the interests of church and state, have screwed themselves into places of power and trust in both, and labour to infuse but too much of that spirit into the very vitals of government, designing, no doubt, to do by fraud what they have not been able to do by force, by making us do, as Amaziah king of Judah did, (who after he had overcome the Edomites, did bow down and worship their gods, 2 Chron. 25.14.) unto the involving of the land again in sinful compliances with the malignant party, contrary to the solemn public confession of sins and engagement unto duties, in the year 1648; to which solemn confession of sins and engagements unto duties, we do also judge ourselves bound to bear testimony, and to profess our adherence thereunto.
2. We do disclaim and testify against all that huge swarm of errors, and heresies, and blasphemies that have been broached, and have broken out in these nations in our days; whether such as deny and oppugn the divine authority of the holy scriptures, or the sacred Trinity of persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, in the blessed unity of essence and being, one infinite, eternal, and almighty God; the Deity of the Son of God; the Deity of the Holy Ghost; God's holy and eternal decrees of election and reprobation; the creation of the world; the being of good and evil angels; original sin; the immortality of the soul; the resurrection of the body; the day of judgment; eternal life and death; the two natures of Jesus Christ, and the union thereof in one person; the real merit and satisfying virtue of his death and passion to take away sin and wrath, and redeeming of souls from the guilt and bondage thereof, and these only who are given to him of the Father, and not all and every individual man; or the impotency and deadness of man's will to all spiritual and supernatural good; or the true nature of faith; or justification by the free grace of God through the imputed righteousness of Christ taken hold of by faith; or the use of the moral law to believers; the inbeing of sin and of a body of death in believers; or their confessing and acknowledging of sin, and praying unto God for pardon thereof; or their being chastised of God for their sins; or the ordinances of Christ as superfluous and not necessary to a saint; or the morality of the Lord's day; or the baptizing of infants born within the church; or the lawfulness of oaths; or degrees prohibited in marriage, Lev. 18. the government of the house of God by presbyteries and synods; and whatsoever is contrary to the law and to the testimony, under whatsoever names or forms; whether Atheism, Antiscripturism, Arianism, Scepticism, Socinianism, Popery, Pelagianism, Familism, Arminianism, Antinomianism, Libertinism, Anabaptism, Erastianism, Prelacy, Separatism, Independency; and whatsoever else that is condemned by the word of God, that hath been published in these nations these years past, or is on foot therein at this day, the particulars whereof being so many and various, would be tedious and irksome to enumerate: Yea, as we do disclaim and testify against all of these, so we judge that many of these are for their grossness to be abhorred, and do wish that they could for ever be buried in immortal oblivion, never to be mentioned nor heard of any more in the churches of God; but when they are vented, and many of them countenanced and encouraged, unto the provoking of the God of truth in a high measure; to the affronting and treading under-foot his precious truth and ordinances; to the subverting and destroying of many souls; to the reproach of the churches of Christ at home, and scandalizing of these that are abroad; to the grief of the godly, and insulting and mocking of the profane; to the amazement of friends, and joy and rejoicing of adversaries, who can hold his peace? Nay, we are afraid that God will, in some eminent way, declare his wrath from heaven against these lands, because of that cursed monstrous brood of errors, heresies, and blasphemies that hath been hatched and bred up therein these years past, and alas, with too little contradiction; would to God not too much connivance and countenance from these who might have done much for crushing that cockatrice in the shell.
3. As we do profess our dissatisfaction that the civil powers should take upon them by themselves, ordinarily to prescribe public humiliation and thanksgiving, with the causes and diets thereof, to all the ministers and members of this church, as being contrary to the well warranted privileges and constant practice of the church itself, and in its own nature introductory to greater encroachments, and putting into the hands of the civil power, the modeling, of the public worship of God, and things most properly ecclesiastic; so we desire with that sobriety that becomes Christians, and that faithfulness and zeal that becomes the ministers of the gospel, to bear witness against these injuries that are done to the true reformed protestant religion, professed in this church, and held forth in our Confession of Faith and Catechisms, and Directories for worship and government, by the late petitions of advice offered by the late parliament at Westminster to his late Highness, and consented unto by him in the article concerning religion, and now homologated by the establishment made of that government in the person of his son according thereto. (1.) Because that article, though it do provide that the true protestant religion, as it is contained in the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testament, be held forth and asserted for the public profession of these nations; yet by prescinding from all our former Confessions of Faith, and attainments in the work of reformation, and by providing that a Confession of Faith yet to be agreed upon by his Highness and the parliament, according to the rule and warrant of the scriptures, be asserted, held forth, and recommended to the people of these nations, it doth wave and cast loose all these former attainments and Confessions of Faith from being the tessera of our public profession, and import a very great reflexion upon the religion which, since the reformation from popery, hath been professed amongst us, and giveth no small scandal to the churches of God at home and abroad, and no small advantage to papists and other adversaries, by ministering unto them but too just occasion to think and say, that after a hundred years profession of the protestant religion, we have it and the Confession of our Faith thereanent yet to seek, and to be determined upon; yea, it leaveth it doubtful, what is or may be understood by the protestant religion mentioned in the article; whether that called Calvinism, or Lutheranism, or Arminianism, or any other that layeth claim to the name of protestant, or some complex of all or more of these, or the things wherein all of them do agree, laying aside the things wherein they differ. (2.) Because the determinations concerning religion made in that article, though reaching to Scotland, no less than to England and Ireland, were enacted and established in a law, not only without the previous determination of a synod or assembly of this church, but also without so much as advise taken or consultation had with any of her synods and assemblies; yea, whilst some of her ministers were earnestly desiring and pressing the contrary, and that any civil power should at the first instant, especially in a church constituted, whose established doctrine, worship, discipline, and government, they are bound not only by the common tie of magistrate's duty, but also by the particular oath of God, to preserve inviolable, take upon them of, and by themselves, to determine things of so intimate and important concernment to religion; yea, take upon them to cast loose their former good and praise-worthy settlements, and to determine the public confession of that church and nation, (as is hinted in that petition of advise) we conceive to be contrary to the word of God, which hath put into the hands of the officers of his own house, and not into the hands of the powers of the world) the keys of his own house, whether the key of knowledge, or doctrine, that consists in expounding and preaching of the word, and determining controversies of faith, according to the rule of the scriptures, or the key of order and decency, by which circumstances of order and worship in the house of God are determined, according to the general rules of the word, concerning order and decency, or the key of discipline for exercising of church censures upon the scandalous and obstinate, or the key of ordaining and sending forth of church officers, for spiritual services and ministrations in the house of God, Matth. 16.19; John 20.23; Mal. 2.7; Deut 17.9-11; Lev. 10.10; Ezek. 22.26. & 33.23,24; Rev. 2.2,14,15; Acts 15.6, &c. and 16.4; John 18.36; 2 Chron. 26.16, &c. and to be contrary to the Confession of the Faith and constant tenor of the doctrine of this church, and former good and laudable laws of the land, as will appear from the large Confession of Faith in the heads of councils, (to which also agreeth the confession of Faith, first agreed upon by the assembly of divines at Westminster, anno 1646, in the head of synods and councils, and in the head concerning the civil magistrate) and the remonstrances and declarations of the general assemblies of this church, particularly from the declaration of the general assembly, against the unlawful engagement in war against England, anno 1648, and from several acts of parliament, particularly from the first act of the twelfth parliament of King James, held at Edinburgh, June 5. 1592. yea, to be contrary to the Confessions of Faith and body of the doctrine of the protestant churches, which do generally and harmoniously teach an ecclesiastic power in the officers of the house of God, distinct from, and independent upon the civil powers, to which belongeth the exercise and use of the keys of the kingdom of Christ: and therefore for the civil power to assume it, is to transgress the bounds, and to remove the land-marks which are set by God, against which the faithful men of God, who lived in this church in the days of our fathers, did witness in the midst of difficulties and dangers. (3.) We hold ourselves bound to witness against that article, because of the toleration of many errors and heresies, and things that are contrary to sound doctrine and the power of godliness that is therein framed and established in a law, viz. Of all these that are consistent with professing faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ his eternal Son, the true God, and in the holy Spirit, God coequal with the Father and the Son, one God blessed for ever, and with acknowledging the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be the revealed will and word of God, whilst the maintainers thereof abuse not this liberty to the civil injury of others, or the disturbance of the public peace; so that this liberty be not extended to popery or prelacy, or to the countenancing such who publish horrible blasphemies, or practice, or hold forth licentiousness or profaneness under the profession of Christ, and therefore not only unto Arminianism, Antinomianism, Anabaptism, Erastianism, Separatism, &c. but also to a great part of Familism, Socinianism, Quakerism, Pelagianism, and many errors that do not only deny and destroy many of the beautiful superstructures, but do also strike at many of the corner stones, and chief foundations of Christian religion: Such a toleration as this we conceive cannot be connived at, much less countenanced and allowed by masters of families in their households; by church officers in the churches of Christ; or by Christian magistrates in Christian states and commonwealths, without palpable crossing and contradicting the will of God revealed in the scriptures of truth, Gen. 18.19. & 35.1-4; 1 Sam. 3.11-14; Psalm 101.1; 1 Tim. 2.3,12; John 10.11; Titus 3.10,11; Rev. 2.6,14-16,20; Deut 13.6,11, &c. Josh. 22.11; 1 Kings 18.40; 2 Chron. 15.16,17; 1 Kings 12.26; 2 Kings 17.18. Ezek. 23.45,49. Amos 5.13. Zech. 13.3. Therefore have the commissioners of the general assembly of this church witnessed plainly and fully against this toleration, whilst it was but yet in the bud, anno 1649. And the reverend assembly of divines at Westminster, as they have in the Larger Catechism, in the exposition of the second commandment, reckoned the tolerating of false religions amongst the sins forbidden therein; so in the Confession of Faith, they do assert it to be the duty of the magistrate to take order that the truth of God be kept pure and entire; that all blasphemies and heresies be suppressed; all corruptions and abuses in worship and discipline prevented or reformed; and all the ordinances of God duly settled, administered and observed: and it is a covering will be found not of the Lord's Spirit, to say, that these commandments and precedents, and threatenings from the word of God, do not concern the magistrate in the days of the gospel, not only because the ends and reasons thereof, viz. The glory of God, and the preservation of the image of God, which consists in holiness and righteousness amongst the children of men, are moral and perpetual; but also because as the Lord hath prophesied and promised of the Christian magistrate in the days of the gospel, that he shall not defile the place of the Lord's throne, and the place of the soles of his feet where he will dwell in the midst of his people, in their setting up of their thresholds by his thresholds, and their posts by his posts, Ezek 43.7,8, and that they shall thrust through the false prophets, Zech. 13.3. So hath the Lord Jesus Christ himself, who is the King of kings and Lord of lords, shown them an example, by making a scourge of cords, and driving buyers and sellers out of the temple, which was the only act of compulsive and external power that we read of him, to have exercised in all his life, that he might therein give an example of that zeal for the house of God, which ought to possess all these against the profaners of his temple, and polluters of his church, to whom God hath given a coactive power over the outward man: And the apostle Paul, Rom. 13. in laying down the magistrate's duty, hath instructed us, that he beareth the sword to be a terror to evil works; we mean, such as appearing in the outward man, do mar the glory of God and the good of men, and are subject to cognizance and trial by men, of which sort are many errors, and heresies, and blasphemies, Phil. 3.2; 2 John 10; 2 Tim. 3.13 Titus 3.10. Rom. 16.17. And is it not prophesied in the book of the Revelation, That the kingdoms of the world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and that the ten horns shall hate the whore, and make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh and burn her with fire, Rev. 11.15. & 17.16. Yea, is not the present powers, their taking upon them to restrain popery and prelacy, an undeniable acknowledgement that the civil magistrate hath power given of God so to do? and if in these things, why not in other things that are no less prejudicial to the glory of God, and spiritual good of men? (2.) Because such a toleration is utterly repugnant unto, and inconsistent with the indispensable oath of God in the solemn league and covenant, professed to be made in the presence of Almighty God the searcher of all hearts, with a true intent to perform the same, as we shall answer at that great day, when the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed. Is this toleration the performing of these vows of God upon us? Or is it not the way to cast loose the reformed religion in Scotland; to hinder reformation in England; to mar uniformity in one Confession of Faith, Directory of Worship, Catechism, and form of church government? And shall we hereby extirpate superstition, heresy, schism, profaneness, and whatsoever shall be found contrary to sound doctrine and to the power of godliness? Or is it not the way to nurse them upon our breasts, and dandle them upon our knees? Is this to free our souls from the guilt of other mens sins? Or is it not to suffer sin upon them, yea, to partake with them therein, and so partake of their plagues? Is this to make the Lord one and his name one in the three kingdoms? Or is it not rather to multiply our gods according to the number of our cities? (3.) Because this toleration, by the countenance which it hath had in this nation these seven years past, hath already produced many sad and sinful effects, such as the growth and increase of popery; the spreading of Libertinism, Quakerism, Anabaptism, and the profaning of the Lord's day, and despising of the ordinances and public assemblies of the Lord's people; the contempt and casting loose of church discipline; the causeless and unjust revolt of men of a malignant spirit from their own lawful pastors and church officers, and sundry such like, that are destructive unto piety and godliness, and to unity and order. And if God shall not be graciously pleased, by a wonderful work of power and mercy to prevent it, what can be expected, when it is now framed into a law, and all laws to the contrary repealed and taken away, but that it should prove the inlet to all sort of error, and distraction and confusion? Who knows not how fertile the spirit of man is of vain imaginations, and how prone to change the truth of God into a lie, that hardly can all these bounds that are set unto it, and these bands that are put upon it by the Lord, when improven by men to the utmost diligence and care kept from debording into error and looseness, shall it now then overflow all its banks when it may do it without contradiction; yea, in many things expect countenance and protection therein? Our hearts tremble to think how the glory of God shall be trodden under-foot; how the precious truths of the gospel shall be corrupted and perverted; how the ordinances of Christ shall be contemned and set at nought; how his government shall be overthrown; his officers had in contempt; his worship polluted; his day profaned; how peoples minds shall be troubled, and souls subverted; how the power of godliness shall be eaten up with vain janglings; how the whole work of reformation shall not only be retarded and obstructed, but in a great measure (if not utterly) rendered void; how, instead of reformation we shall have deformation; instead of the power of godliness, vain jangling; instead of love, bitter heart-burnings and jealousies; instead of union, schism and division; instead of peace, contention and strife; instead of order and government, anarchy and confusion; yea, what else can be the fruits that such an evil tree can bring forth, or the streams that can issue from so bitter and impure a fountain, but that at last our candlestick should be removed, and our sun set in a sad night of obscure darkness? It is above all contradiction, that as the see of Rome, these hundred years past, hath always had an eye upon Britain, for reducing the churches of Christ therein unto their former subjection unto the man of sin, so hath not her hopes been more heightened by any thing, than by this toleration; because thereby advantage is ministered for sending forth her emissaries, for crying down a ministry and ordinances, and perverting of the precious truths of God, and instilling into peoples minds the seeds of the popish doctrine, which maketh many wise men fear that these nations shall again, at last, be carried back again into Rome, and be swallowed in popish superstition and idolatry.
Next, as we do profess the sorrow of our hearts, so we do testify the abhorrence of our souls, against all the injuries and affronts that have been or are offered and done to the national covenant of Scotland, and to the solemn league and covenant of England, Scotland, and Ireland. It is too much sin upon these nations (whereof we acknowledge ourselves to have a large share) that they have not attended the duties to which they are respectively engaged therein, with that sincerity, reality, and constancy that beseems so sacred and solemn vows made unto God, but have, through the power of an unsound and lukewarm heart, and an unstable spirit, come short exceedingly therein; yea, have fallen in many breaches of all the articles thereof. But what a dreadful astonishing thing is it, the like whereof we believe hath scarce been heard amongst the heathen, that these solemn vows and covenants (which for the solemnity, hath had but few parallels among the nations) should not only be scorned and derided by open adversaries, but vilified, reproached, opposed, and trodden under-foot by many who have therein opened their mouths unto God, and subscribed and sealed them with their hands; yea, sought to be buried in oblivion, that the name thereof as to the obligation of them, may be no more mentioned nor remembered. We cannot remember nor repeat but with much indignation and abhorrency of spirit, how some have railed upon, and reviled it, to that height of impudence and impiety, as to call it Nehustane, the brazen serpent that should be broken to pieces, and ground to powder, lest men fall down to worship it, and to compare the pressing of it to the papists holding up the idolatrous eucharist in the eyes of the people, that they may fall down and worship it; and how others of no better spirit have been bold to call it a device of the devil, a cursed covenant hatched in hell: And which doth more afflict us, as being a more public sin upon these nations, not only is there no law nor declaration, since the year 1651, declaring the standing obligation thereof, and former laws and declarations relating thereunto to be still in force, but the very formal tie and obligation thereof is forgotten and laid aside; and all laws, statutes, and ordinances, and clauses in any law, statute, and ordinance, relating to the tie and establishment thereof, repealed, so far as they are contrary to the liberty and toleration in things religious, held forth in the petition of advise. Oh that we were sensible of the dishonour that is done to God in these things, and of the dreadful guilt that these nations are involved into thereby, and of the great wrath that is like to come thereupon because of the same. If covenant breaking be a most heinous and dangerous offence complained of, condemned, threatened, and severely plagued of God, Psalm 78.34-37; Jer. 11.10; 2 Kings 17.15; Lev. 26.25; Deut 29.20-24; Jer. 22.8,9; Ezek. 17.15; Amos 1.9; Josh. 7.11,12; 2 Sam. 21.1,2. If it be true which was delivered from the word of the Lord by a reverend divine, in his exhortation made to the honourable house of commons, and reverend divines of the assembly at London, before he read the covenant, that a truce-breaker is reckoned up amongst the vilest of Christians, 2 Tim. 3.3. So a covenant-breaker is listed amongst the worst of heathens, Rom. 1.31. And which from the same word of truth was delivered by another reverend divine, at the taking of the covenant, by the honourable committee of estates, and reverend commissioners of the general assembly in Scotland, That God would shake out every man from his house, and from his labour, that performed not the words of this promise, Neh. 5.13. If (we say) these be the true sayings of God, as no doubt they are, because delivered by the God of truth, in the scriptures of truth, have we not reason upon the hearing thereof, to be afraid, that great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against the inhabitants of these nations, because of forsaking and despising of his covenant; and upon that account, not only to mourn and humble ourselves in private, but also to give public warning thereof unto others, that (if the Lord so will) we may persuade them also to humble themselves, and repent; or if they will not hearken and hear, that we may deliver our own souls, by bearing witness of God and his truth, and by not hating our brother in our heart, but in any wise rebuking our neighbour, and not suffering sin upon him, Lev. 19.17.
In the last place, we do also, as ministers of the gospel, testify our dislike, that the civil powers, who now bear rule over this nation, should engross into their treasury, the legal settled maintenance of all the vacant churches into the land, and put the disposing thereof into the hands of a civil judicatory, without whose interventing approbation and warrant (notwithstanding of their being called by the congregation, and approven and admitted by the presbytery) none shall be authorized or admitted to any such vacant living or benefice, as is due to the ministry in Scotland, and that they do not allow them this approbation and warrant, until first they do declare under their hands, their purpose and resolution to live peaceably under the present government. (1.) Because this way is contrary unto the word of God. The divine right of the maintenance of ministers is a truth that is clearly taught in the scriptures, both of the Old and New Testament, Numb. 18.8,9; Deut. 14.22-29; Ezek. 45.1-7; Matt. 10.10; Luke 10.7; 1 Cor. 9.4-14; Gal. 6.6; 1 Tim. 5.17. And the scriptures also teach, that as it is the magistrate's duty to see sufficient provision made for the ministry, and (if need be) to supply their want out of their own treasury, Isa. 49.23. & 60.10; 1 Chron. 29.1-4; 2 Chron. 31.2,3,4, &c. Neh. 13.10-13; Gen. 47.22. So also that is a great sin before the Lord for them, or any other, to take away or devour, or intervert holy things that are now already settled and devoted unto the maintenance of the gospel, and of the worship of God, Lev. 27.10,32,33; Deut. 26.12-15; Prov. 20.25; 2 Kings 16.17; 2 Chron. 25.24; Joel 3.4,5; Mal. 3.8,9; Acts 19.37; Rom. 2.22. Add to these things, that the church of Scotland hath a proper patrimony and rents of her own, competent for the entertaining of her ministers, founded for most part upon the tithes and allocations out of the same, and upon particular donations and mortifications of private and public benefactors. (2.) That there is no footstep in the word of God of the civil magistrate his approbation of a minister in the house of God, as necessary, before he have right unto, or power to intromit with his maintenance, or of the civil magistrate his being warranted to put a bar upon the legal maintenance of the ministers of the gospel, that is due unto them by virtue of their office, or to restrain it, until first they have given bonds for their peaceable deportment under his government; but that upon the contrary, the word of the Lord doth clearly teach, that ministers maintenance is due by virtue of their office, and without any such interventing approbation from the civil magistrate, or any such bonds required of them, or given by them: The Holy Ghost, Lev. 7.35,36, calleth the maintenance of the priests, the portion of their anointing, in the day when he presented them to minister unto the Lord in the priest's office, which the Lord commanded to be given them of the children of Israel, in the day when he anointed them, by a statute for ever, throughout their generations, which is repeated again, Numb. 18.18. Their maintenance is in many texts of scripture, called their inheritance, which they were as freely to enjoy, as the people did enjoy their inheritances. The light of nature taught a heathen king to allow heathen priests somewhat more in the freedom of their enjoyments, than to the rest of his subjects, Gen. 47.22. and the part of Levi's covenant of ministers, having access to their maintenance freely by virtue of their office, is of force under the gospel, as well as under the law, as we may see from the 45th chapter of the prophecy of Ezekiel: It is there appointed that an holy portion of the land be assigned for the priests, the ministers of the sanctuary, and given unto them immediately by the assignment and commandment of God, without such interventing approbation of any civil authority, or any such promises required of them, or made by them, as previous unto their right thereunto. And the same thing is also clearly consequent from these texts in the New Testament which we have cited already, that do prove the maintenance of ministers under the gospel, to be due unto them, jure divino, and by virtue of their office. (3.) This way of assuming and disposing of the maintenance of the ministers of the gospel, is contrary unto the liberties, and privileges, and constitutions of this church, founded upon the word of God, and confirmed by a constant current of many wholesome laws and acts of parliament, made in favours of the church. 1st Book of Discipline, head fifth and sixth. 2d Book of Discipline, chap. 9-11. Act of General Assembly at Edinburgh, Dec. 25. 1566. Articles touching reformation condescended upon in the Assembly at Edinburgh, July 21. 1567. Act of the Assembly at Edinburgh, April 24. 1576. Act of Parliament at Edinburgh, Oct. 24. 1581. Act of Parliament at Edinburgh, Jan. 1. 1592. As also, the 6th, 7th, and 8th, Acts of King Charles IId's Parliament at Edinburgh, June 11. 1640. with many other acts of the general assemblies of this church and acts of parliament of this nation, as will easily appear to any that shall peruse the registers of kirk and state. (4.) Because it doth clearly tend unto the bringing of the church and ministers thereof in bondage unto the lusts and will of men, by taking from them liberty of discharging their consciences in declaring all the counsel of God, and reproving of the sins of all men freely, and without respect of persons. Thus being bound in the spirit, we have been constrained in this cold and declining time (wherein few are valiant for the truth, or do faithfully and zealously plead for the Lord and his interest, and many do conspire for making void of his law, though, blessed be his Majesty, he wants not a cloud of honourable witnesses in these nations, who have gone before us in these things, the measure of whose testimony we do desire in some things to fill up, according to the light and strength which we have received of the Lord,) to stand up for his precious truth, and to testify before God, angels and men, our owning and approving of the doctrine, worship, and government of the church of Scotland, and of the national covenant, and of the solemn league and covenant of the three nations, and of so much of the work of uniformity in religion, as is attained in one Confession of Faith, Directory of Worship, form of church government, and catechising; and to profess and avouch our adherence unto all these, as having their foundations laid in the blessed word of truth, and as being agreeable to that rule that bringeth peace in walking according thereto; and to disclaim and disavow all things that are contrary and destructive thereunto, especially the manifold errors and heresies of these times, and the vast toleration thereof now established in a law, and that gross Erastianism whereby the keys of the kingdom of heaven are in many things, by exotic powers, extorted out of the hands of Jesus Christ, and the officers of his house, and the liberties of his house wronged, and his servants brought into bondage, in all which we have (so far as we have obtained mercy to know our own hearts) confidence to take God to record upon our souls, that we have not desired nor designed to provoke any, nor to appear singular; but in the simplicity of our hearts, to discharge our consciences to our flocks, and to this whole church and nation, and to all that are interested and concerned in these things, and to the churches and saints abroad, as many as hear hereof, and to our posterity when we are gone. And therefore we have only to add, first, That it is the earnest desire of our souls, and our serious exhortation and warning to these of our flocks, and to all the Lord's people in the land, that they would labour to have the word of God richly dwelling in them, that they may be able to try the spirits, and to discern of things that differ; to know what is truth, and what is error, and what is right, and what is wrong; and that they would study to be rooted in the faith and in the love of Jesus Christ, and of his precious truth and ordinances, retaining an honourable estimation thereof in their hearts, and expressing their sincere affection and respect thereunto in all their ways, and that they would study to keep fresh upon their souls, the remembrance of all the goodness of the Lord, and of all the great works that he hath done for us, and for our fathers of old; and of our solemn vows and covenants made with God in the sight of angels and men, and never to suffer such forgetfulness and profanity to possess them, as to think themselves loosed from the true and genuine tie thereof; but to keep themselves under the bond of the same, and sincerely, really, and constantly, to endeavour the performance of the duties to which they are thereby obliged, and that they may not be offended nor stumble at Jesus Christ and his work, nor faith, nor cast away their confidence, because of backslidings, and revoltings, and divisions, and heresies; or because of disappointments, and reproaches, and contradictions, and oppositions, and oppressions, and persecutions, for these things must be, that they which are approven may be made manifest, but that they be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might, possessing their souls in patience, and waiting for his salvation, knowing, that he that endureth to the end, shall be saved; and in the mean while, comforting themselves in this, that God hath not cast off the care of his church and people in this land. It is a mercy most worthy of our observation, that errors and heresies, notwithstanding all the advantages they have had these seven years past in Scotland, have taken hold but of few professors, formerly noted for the knowledge and love of the truth; and that the preaching of the gospel, notwithstanding all the disadvantages it hath been attended with these years, yet hath been blessed of God in several places of the land, to the bringing in and building up of souls; and evidence that the Lord is yet amongst us, and a promising branch of hope that he will revive his work, and bring forth his remnant, and continue to dwell in our land. And we are also bold in our God, to warn the higher powers, into whose hand the Lord hath, in the depths of his righteous judgments, given this nation, that they would not look upon this our testimony, as proceeding from any evil spirit, or carnal or politic design, but from sincere and innocent impressions of our duty made upon our hearts by Jesus Christ (who though he is the Prince of peace, yet did the zeal of the Lord's house eat him up, and make him witness against the corrupters of his truth, and polluters of his worship, and profaners of his temple, and all unrighteousness of men) nor despise the words of soberness and truth, which though proceeding but from a very few poor weak instruments, yet we are sure, have their foundations in the scriptures of truth, and are, as to the matter confirmed; we hope, with heart approbation of many of the thousands of the Israel of God in this land, but that laying aside the balances of outward dispensations, and politic principles and intendments, they would weigh things in the balance of the Lord's sanctuary, and in the fear of the great and dreadful name of the Lord, search and try their way in order to this nation; especially in order to the house of God, which doth in a great measure lie waste; yea, would to God were not laid waste and made desolate, and the hedges thereof broken down, whilst men run to build and fence their own house with the spoils and ruins of the house of God: The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. Jerusalem hath been a cup of trembling and a burdensome stone to many people, and hath cut them in pieces, who have burdened themselves therewith, Zech. 12.2,3. and the vengeance of the Lord's temple hath broken in pieces many of the powers of the earth, Jer. 50.15,28. And whoever have endeavoured to raise themselves upon the ruins of his house, have been buried under the rubbish thereof; yea, where services hath been otherwise commanded and prospered of the Lord: Yet when men for rooting of themselves have remitted their zeal for the house of God, and countenanced the worshipping of calves and idol gods, their former services have been imputed unto them for iniquity, and the Lord hath threatened to avenge them upon them and their house, 2 Kings 10.29,32; Hosea 1.4. And therefore it concerns the higher powers that now are, under the peril of the dreadful displeasure of the Lord of hosts, who is zealous for his holy temple, and for his people, timeously and seriously to consider of these things, and whether their actings, in order to his nation and church in those things that concern righteousness and religion, be agreeable to the rule of equity, and to the bond of the brotherly covenant; or if the royal law in these matters be not violated, and the solemn covenant broken and laid aside, and forgotten, and the hedges of the Lord's vine broken down, so that all they which do pass by the way do pluck her, and the boar out of the wood doth waste it, and the wild beast out of the field doth devour it. Return, we beseech thee, O God of hosts: look down from heaven, and behold and visit this vine: and the vineyard which thy right hand hath planted: and the branch that thou madest strong for thyself. It is burnt with fire, it is cut down, they perish at the rebuke of thy countenance. Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand: upon the son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself. So will not we go back from thee: quickenus, and we will call upon thy name. Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts: cause thy face to shine, and we shall be saved.
Subscribed by us,Mr. Samuel Rutherford, professor of divinity at St. Andrews, and minister of the gospel there.
Mr. James Wedderburn, minister of the gospel at Moonsie.
John Crookshank, minister at Regortoun.
James Guthrie, minister of the gospel at Stirling.
Alexander Moncrief, minister at Scoony.
John Murray, minister at Methven.
Robert Campbell, minister at Mullein.
Francis Peirson, minister at Kirkmichael.
A LETTER from several Ministers homologating the former
T E S T I M O N Y.
REVEREND and dear brethren, being informed that you are upon thoughts of causing print the Testimony, given by you in behalf of the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government of the kirk of Scotland, and of the national covenant, and solemn league and covenant, and the work of uniformity in religion, and against the errors, heresies, and blasphemies of the times, and the toleration thereof, &c. And taking to our serious consideration the manifold dangers that do threaten religion, and the work of God in these nations, especially in this church, with the continuance and increase thereof day by day: We could not but encourage you therein; and for the exoneration of our own souls, join with you as joint witnesses in those matters. We could have wished, and we know, so also could ye, that there had been a new draught fitted in every thing, to the present state and condition of the time, and to the workings of the spirit of delusion therein: and in a special way taking notice of that unhappy petition lately subscribed and promoted by some few of our countrymen, in behalf of that vast toleration that is now on foot in these nations; a petition that we are the more bound to witness against, because it is commonly reported, and we believe, not without ground, to be subscribed by Mr. Thomas Ireland, who did once profess himself to be of our number, whose miscarriage in that particular, as we desire to be humbled before God for it, so we judge it our duty, and we know also, so do ye, to bear witness against it before the world; but knowing that it would take a long time before a new draught of a testimony could be condescended upon, by these that live at such a distance, especially in the winter season; we thought it better to encourage you to publish this, and to take hold of the present opportunity of signifying our consent thereunto, than to delay, being altogether uncertain what the present confusions might bring forth. That we did not at the first subscribing join therein, was not upon any dissatisfaction upon the matter which it contains, we being abundantly clear in that from the beginning, but some of us were cut off from the occasion, by physical impediments, and others knowing that there was at that time some endeavours and expectation of and address to be made by several synods, to the civil powers, for remedying of the evils which you then thought fit to witness against, in such way, they judged it more expedient for the time, to delay the giving of any such testimony, until these addresses should prove ineffectual: and there being now no access thereunto, we are very free to homologate your Testimony, and do hereby declare our consent and adherence to the same, desiring that it may be construed of the world, and accepted of God, not only as yours, but as ours and yours jointly: So commending you to the grace of God, we continueYour very affectionate brethren in our Lord Jesus Christ,Nov. 22. 1659.Mr. Thomas Lundie, minister at Ratray.
James Symson, minister at Airth.
George Murray, minister at Fouls.
Robert Rule, minister at Stirling.
Thomas Hogg, minister at Lerber.
Thomas Glass, minister at Dunkell.
James Strachan, minister at Dunkell.
Gilbert Menzies, minister at Fortengel.
Patrick Campbell, minister at Killin.For their reverend brethren Mr. Samuel Rutherford, principal of the divinity college in St. Andrews, Mr. James Guthrie, minister at Stirling, and the rest of the brethren subscribing the Testimony.