Page images
PDF
EPUB

Popish enemy, it was abundantly natural, as I was not acting the mere hiftorian, to approve or difapprove of what they did. Hence, in the doctrinal part of the subject, I mentioned their conduct with an air of approbation; not with refpect to it's every punctilio, but in regard of the motives wherewith they were animated, and the great lines which run, as a visible vein, through what they did.

When improving that part of the fubject in. which the covenants of our ancestors were mentioned, I was neither ashamed nor afraid to teach the lawfulness of national covenanting; endeavouring to prove it from Ifaiah xix. 18,—21. and xliv. 5.: nor did I hear of the leaft whifper against my doctrine, as either unfound or unfeasonable.

In attempting to establish the lawfulness of covenanting, I preached none other doctrine than what I judged agreeable to the Westminster confeffion of faith, which, by ordination and admiffionties, I am folemnly bound to maintain*: and no other than what I had believed from my youth; and from which I have never feen cause to refile. Had I meant to handle the fubject at large, I

The fecond Question put to Probationers for the ministry, and to Minifters at their ordination, is, "Do you fincerely own "and believe the whole doctrine of the Confeffion of faith? "and do you own the whole doctrine therein contained, as the "confeffion of your faith?" Averfe as I am to innovations, I could with a previous queftion were put, viz. "Have you "read, and confidered the Confeffion of Faith?"

would have taken a much more extenfive range, in adducing a greater variety of arguments for, and in answering the numerous and plaufible objections against, public covenanting: But this was not my purpose.

Approving in general of what our pious progenitors did, I disclaimed the coercive methods they, at any time, used to promote reformation-work. I am as much convinced of the unlawfulness of thefe, as of the lawfulness of covenanting: fully perfuaded, that while in the most public manner we may give ourselves to the Lord, we must not force others to do the like. No: a forced religion is as great a contradiction in morals, as a square circle in mathematics. There are none but volunteers in Meffiah's army: no impreffed men, Pfal. cx. 3. Compulfion makes men hypocrites, not true Christians. At the fame time, I candidly confess, that tho' our ancestors could not lawfully enjoin the covenants, under civil pains; yet they might very lawfully tie up the hands of Papifts and malignants by fuch means.

Though they could force none to build Jerufalem's wall, they might, by force, prevent declared enemies from throwing it down. These are things totally diftinct; and pity it were that ever they fhould be confounded. Wide is the difference between those who, through fcruples of confcience, cannot go all the lengths with others in building

the fanctuary, and those who break down it's carved work, at once, as with axes and hammers, Pfal. lxxiv. 6.—The very venerable Affembly, at Westminster, paid great regard to this distinction. See the order. of proceeding to excommunication, parag. 3.

On revifing my papers, with a view to the préfent publication, I found it neceffary to make confiderable alterations and additions, in a great many places; and particularly on the subject of covenanting, which I threw into the form wherein it now It seemed neceffary not only to give my appears. judgment on this head, but the reasons which induced me to be of fuch a judgment. Perfonal covenanting, or engagement to duty, I confidered as an unanfwerable argument for the lawfulness of public. Elihu taught of old, Surely it is meet to be faid unto God;-I will not offend any more, Job xxxiv. 31.: and if mect to be faid, it cannot be finful to be fworn, Pfal. cxix. 8, 106.-The old-testament expreffions, Giving the hand to the Lord, 2 Chron. xxx. 8.; joining ourselves to the Lord, Jer. 1. 5. perfectly coincide with the new, Giving ourselves to the Lord, 2 Cor. viii. 5.: and all of them imply, dedication and engagement.

4

When infifting on covenanting, I have frequently quoted the Confeffion of Faith, in fupport of my fentiments. It undeniably teacheth, That as the moral law binds us to the obedience thereof; fo by

a vow, we more strictly bind ourfelves to neceffary duties, Confeff. chap. xix. 5. xxii. 6. Such a vow, therefore, seems to me to be itself a neceffary duty: For, if a vow to do finful things, be finful; if a vow to do ceremonial things, was ceremonial; analogy feems to require, that a vow to perform moral duties, should also be moral. By it we are devoted to the fear of the Lord, Pfal. cxix. 38.Agreeable to this, the very venerable Affembly at Westminster teach, That vowing unto God is a duty required in the fecond commandment of the moral law, Larg. Cat. 2. 108.

It is undeniable, that a purpose, or refolution, to obey God, is a moral duty; and lies as at the bottom of all holy and acceptable obedience, Pfalm xvii. 3. Luke xv. 18. Acts xi. 23. Now, what is a vow, but such a purpose expressed in words before the Lord? Gen. xxviii. 20,-22.

I am fenfible, that what I have faid concerning covenanting, cannot be very pleafing to the present age. Popery, baneful Popery, against which the covenants were directly intended, has now the ear of many. They have got very favourable impreffions of it; they fcruple not to pronounce it quite another thing than once it was; and, at the same 、 time, baptize those with the name of fools, or worse, who cannot fubfcribe their Creed. But while feveral of the courtly clergy have harangued on the innocence of Popery, as if the harlot had loft her

thirst after the blood of the faints, the Popish bishop himself, G. H. has tried to vindicate the burning of Hufs; and to answer Dr. A. D's arguments for the toleration of heretics.-Now, can it be a queftion, whether he or they are beft acquainted with the true spirit of Popery? Shall we not credit the teftimony of a son, beyond that of strangers?

As the covenants were chiefly levelled against the Roman beast, and by them his head was wounded in these lands; fo now, that his wound is a healing, they are fallen into great difrepute among all ranks. Facts are obftinate things, and ready to make deeper impreffions, than fpecious and finefpun reasonings can. It is undeniable, that in the covenanting periods, Popery was falling, whereas in this, it is rifing faft. However this phenomenon may be accounted for, one thing is evident, that the covenants and Popery are contraries.

I cannot conceal my apprehenfions, that as this, fo other Proteftant nations are on their return to Rome: whether they have reached the Rubicon, is not for me to fay. I am afraid that the Proteftant Intereft fhall grow weaker and weaker, while that of Rome fhall grow ftronger and stronger, till it fwallow up the witnesses themselves. Inftead of two, there fhall not be one publicly to fupport the truth. Black and dark the night indeed! When Chrift was crucified in perfon, there was one witnefs to aver his innocence, and to acknowledge his

« EelmineJätka »