Acts of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland 1638-1842. Originally published by Edinburgh Printing & Publishing Co, Edinburgh, 1843.
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The Principall acts of the generall assembly, holden at Edinburgh, July 7, 1649.
Sess. 4, July 7, 1649, ante meridiem.—Approbation of the Proceedings of the Commissioners of the General Assembly.
The Generall Assembly, having heard the report of the committee appointed for revising the proceedings of the commissioners of the preceding Assembly; and find ing thereby that in all their proceedings they have been zealous, diligent, and faithfull, in the discharge of the trust committed to them; do, therefore, unanimously approve and ratifie the whole proceedings, acts, and conclusions, of the said commission; appointing Mr John Bell, Moderator, pro tempore, to return them heartie thanks, in the name of the Assembly, for their great pains, travail, and fidelity.
Sess. 6, July 10, 1649, ante meridiem.—Approbation of the Commissioners sent to his Majesty.
The Generall Assembly, having taken in serious consideration the report of the travells and proceedings of the commissioners sent to his Majesty, presented by them this day, together with the commission and instructions which were given unto them; do finde, by the report, that they have been very diligent and faithfull in the discharge of the trust committed to them; and, therefore, do unanimously approve of their carriage, and return them hearty thanks for their great pains and travails in that employment.
Sess. 18, July 19, 1649, post meridiem.—Act discharging Promiscuous Dancing.
The Assembly, finding the scandall and abuse that arises thorow promiscuous dancing; do, therefore, inhibit and discharge the same, and do referre the censure thereof to severall Presbyteries, earnestly recommending it to their care and diligence.
Sess. 19, July 20, 1649, ante meridiem.—Act concerning the receiving of Engagers in the late unlawfull War against England to publick satisfaction, together with the Declaration and Acknowledgment to be subscribed by them.
The Generall Assembly, considering what great offence against God, and scandal to his people at home and abroad, hath arisen from the late unlawfull Engagement in war against England, whereby, contrary to the law of God and of nations—contrary to the Solemn League and Covenant—contrary to the petitions of almost the whole kingdom—contrary to the Declarations of the Judicatories of this Kirk—contrary to the protestations of a considerable part of the Parliament—contrary to the frequent and clear warnings of the servants of God in his name, not only an association in counsels and arms was made with malignant persons, who had formerly shewn their disaffection to the Covenant and cause, but an invasion of the neighbour nation was prosecuted; from whence flowed the oppression of the persons, estates, and consciences of many of the people of God in this land, the shedding of the blood of some, the losse and dishonour of this nation, and severall other inconveniences: And considering that the Commissioners of the last Generall Assembly have acquitted themselves faithfully, in ordaining to be suspended from the renewing of the Covenant, and from the ordinance of the Lord's Supper, such as are designed in their acts of date the 6th of October, and 4th of December last, referring the further consideration and censure of the persons foresaid to this present Generall Assembly: Therefore, the Generall Assembly, for removing of such offences, and for prevention of the like in time coming, and for restoring of such as are truly humbled, do declare and appoint,—
I. That all those who have been guilty and censured as aforesaid, and withal do not, by their addresses to kirk judicatories, testifie their dislike thereof, and give evidences of their repentance therefor, that these be processed, and continuing obstinate, be excommunicated; but if withall they go on in promoving malignant designes, that they be forthwith excommunicated; as also, that all such persons guilty as aforesaid, who, after profession of their repentance, shall yet again hereafter relapse to the promoting any malignant designe, that these be likewise forthwith excommunicated.
II. That all these who have been guilty and censured as aforesaid, and desire to testifie their repentance, and to be admitted to the Covenant and Communion, shall, besides any confession in publick before the congregation, subscribe the declaration hereto subjoyned, of their unfained detestation and renunciation of that Engagement, and all other malignant courses contrary to the Covenant and cause, promising to keep themselves from such ways in time coming, and acknowledging, that if they shall again fall into such defection thereafter, they may justly be accompted perfidious backsliders, and breakers of the Covenant and Oath of God, and proceeded against with the highest censures of the Kirk.
III. That of these who have been guilty and censured as aforesaid, and desire now to testifie their repentance, whosoever were formerly joyned in arms or counsell with James Graham in his rebellion, or who were generall persons or colonels in the late unlawfull Engagement, or who went to Ireland to bring over forces for that effect, or who have been eminently active in contriving of, or scducing unto the said Engagement, or whosoever above the degree of a lieutenant commanded these parties, that in promoving of the ends of the said Engagement shed blood within the kingdom, either before that army of Engagers went to England, or after their return, or who above the degree foresaid commanded in the late rebellion in the North; that none of these be admitted or received to give satisfaction, but by the Generall Assembly or their commissioners.
V. That all who have been guilty as aforesaid, before their receiving to the Covenant, shall make a solemn publick acknowledgement in such matter, and before such congregations as the Commission of the Generall Assembly or Presbyteries respectivè, shall prescribe, according to the degree of their offence and scandall given.
VI. That none of the foresaid persons be admitted or received as elders in any judicatories of the Kirk, but according to the Act of the Generall Assembly of the last of August 1647, against complyers of the first classe.
And because many have heretofore made shew and profession of their repentance, who were not convinced of their guiltinesse, nor humbled for the same, but did thereafter return with the dog to the vomit, and with the sow to the puddle, unto the mocking of God, and the exceeding great reproach and detriment of his cause: Therefore, for the better determining the truth and sincerity of the repentance of those who desire to be admitted to the Covenant and Communion, it is appointed and ordained, that none of those persons who are debarred from the Covenant and Communion shall be admitted and received thereto, but such as, after exact triall, shall be found, for some competent time before or after the offer of their repentance, according to the discretion of the respective judicatories, to have in their ordinary conversations given real testimony of their dislike of the late unlawfull Engagement, and of the courses and wayes of Malignants, and of their sorrow for their accession to the same, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly; and if any shall be found, who, after the defeating of the Engagers have uttered any malignant speeches, tending to the approbation of the late unlawfull Engagement, or the blood shed within the kingdome, for promoving of the ends of the said Engagement—or any other projects or practises within or without the kingdome, prejudiciall to religion and the Covenant, or tending to the reproach of the ministry or the civill government of the kingdom—or who have unnecessarily or ordinarily conversed with malignant and disaffected persons—or who have had hand in, or accession to, or compliance with, or have any wayes countenanced or promoved any malignant design, prejudiciall to religion and the Covenant: That these, notwithstanding their profession of repentance, be not suddenly received, but a competent time, according to the discretion of the judicatory, be assigned to them for tryall of the evidence of their repentance, according to the qualifications above mentioned. And the Generall Assembly ordains Presbyteries to make intimation of this act in the severall kirks of their bounds, so soon as they can after the rising of the Generall Assembly, that none pretend ignorance; and that Presbyteries make accompt of their diligence in prosecuting of this act to the quarterly meetings of the commission of this Assembly.
The Declaration and Acknowledgement before mentioned
I, after due consideration of the late warre against the kingdom of England, and having also considered the course pursued and promoted by the Earle of Lanerk, George Monro, and their adherents in and about Stirling, and by others in the late rebellion in the North, against all which, not only eminent testimonies of God's wrath have been given in defeating of them, but they were in themselves sinfull breaches of Covenant, and preferring the interest of man unto God; I doe, herefore, in God's sight professe that I am convinced of the unlawfulnesse of all these ways, as contrary to the Word of God and to the Solemn League and Covenant, not only in regard of the miscarriages of these that were employed therein, but also in respect of the nature of these courses themselves; and, therefore, professing my unfained sorrow for my guiltinesse by my accession to the same, doe renounce and disclaim the foresaid Engagement, and all the courses that were used for carrying on the same, either before or after the defeat of the Engagers, as contrary to the Word of God and Solemn League and Covenant, and destructive to religion and the work of reformation; and I doe promise, in the power of the Lord's strength, never again to own any of these or the like courses. And if hereafter at any time I shall be found to promote any malignant design or course, that I shall justly be accompted a perfidious Covenant-breaker and despiser of the oath of God, and be proceeded against with the highest censures of the Kirk. Likeas I doe hereby promise to adhere to the National Covenant of this kingdome, and to the Solemn League and Covenant betwixt the kingdomes, and to be honest and zealous for promoving all the ends thereof, as I shall be called thereunto of God, and to flee all occasions and temptations that may lead me into any the like snares against the same. Subscribed at the day of.
Sess. 23, July 24, 1649, post meridiem.—To the High and Honourable Court of Parliament.
The Generall Assembly, Humbly Sheweth,
That, whereas we have seen and considered the act of Parliament abolishing patronages, and doe highly commend the piety and zeal of the Estates of Parliament in promoving so necessary a point of reformation; the Generall Assembly do humbly supplicate, that, beside the settling of the ministers' stipends, that the tythes mentioned in the said act may be affected with the burthen of pious uses within the respective paroches, conform to a draught of an act seen by the Commissioners of the late General Assembly before it passed in Parliament; and that the foresaid act may be made effectuall for the settling of ministers' stipends in kirks erected, and necessary to be erected according to the tenour of the act of Parliament; and, for this effect, that your Lordships will hasten the sitting of the commission for Plantation of Kirks, with all convenient diligence, and your Lordships' answer.
Sess. 27, July 27, 1649, ante meridiem.—A seasonable and necessary Warning and Declaration, concerning present and imminent Dangers, and concerning Duties relating thereto, from the General Assembly of this Kirk unto all the Members thereof.
The Lord, who chooses Jerusalem in a furnace of affliction, hath been pleased, since the beginning of the work of reformation in this land, to exercise his people with many trialls. All that desired to keep a good conscience were not long ago under many heavy and sad pressures from the insolency and oppression of a prevailing party of disaffected and malignant men, who, under a pretext of bringing the King to a condition of honour, freedom, and safety, did carry on an unlawful Engagement against the kingdom of England; and if the Lord had not been mercifull unto his people, they were like either to have been banished out of the land, or to have been kept in a perpetuall bondage in their consciences, persons, and estates. But he whose messengers those men had mocked, and whose word they had despised, did bring them down suddenly in a day, and restored liberty and peace unto his people,—a mercy and deliverance, which, as it ought to be remembred with thankfulnesse and praise, so may it engage our hearts not to faint in troubles and straites that do yet abide us, but to trust in the name of the Lord, who both can and will deliver us still out of all our afflictions.
Albeit we do now enjoy many rich and precious blessings, wherin we have reason to be comforted, and to rejoyce; yet it were to shut our own eyes if we should not see our selves involved in and threatned with many and great dangers at home and from abroad. It is matter of exceeding great sorrow to think upon the ignorance and profanity, the impenitencie and security, that abounds still in the land, notwithstanding all the gracious dispensation of the Gospel, and means of grace in such purity and plenty, that none of the nations round about us can boast of the like, and of all the long-suffering patience of the Lord, and of all his sharp rods wherewith he hath afflicted us from year to year, and of all the mercies and deliverances wherewith he hath visited us, and of our late solemn confession of sinnes, and engagement unto duties, sealed with the renewing of the Covenant and the oath of God, which some men have so far already forgotten, as to return with the dog to the vomit, and with the sow to the puddle: And many signes of inconstancy and levity do appear among all sorts and ranks of persons, who seem to want nothing but a suitable tentation to draw them away from their steadfastnesse; our army is not yet sufficiently purged, but there be still in it malignant and scandalous men, whose fidelity and constancy as it is much to be doubted, so is the wrath of the Lord to be feared upon their proceedings and undertakings, without a speedy and effectuall remedy.
That prevailing party of sectaries in England, who have broken the Covenant and despised the oath of God, corrupted the truth, subverted the fundamentall government by King and Parliament, and taken away the King's life, look upon us with an evill eye, as upon these who stand in the way of their monstrous and new-fangled devices in religion and government; and though there were no cause to fear any thing from that party but the gangrene and infection of those many damnable and abominable errours which have taken hold on them, yet our vicinity unto and daily commerce with that nation, may justly make us afraid that the Lord may give up many in this land unto a spirit of delusion to believe lies, because they have not received the love of the truth.
Neither is the Malignant party so far broken and brought low, as that they have abandoned all hopes of carrying on their former designs against the Covenant and work of reformation. Beside many of them in this kingdom, who are as foxes tied in chains, keeping their evill nature, and waiting an opportunity to break their cords, and again to prey upon the Lord's people, there be standing armies in Ireland, under the command of the Marquesse of Ormond, the Lord Inchqueen, the Lord of Airds, and George Munro, who, forgetting all the horrible cruelty that was exercised by the Irish rebels upon many thousands of the English and Scottish nations in that land, have entred into a peace and association with them, that they may the more easily carry on the old designes of the Popish, Prelaticall, and Malignant party; and the Lord of Airds and George Munro have, by treachery and oppression, brought the Province of Ulster and garrisons therein under their power and command, and have redacted our countrymen, and such as adhere unto the Covenant and cause of God in that province, unto many miseries and straits, and are like to banish the ministers of the Gospell, and to overturn these faire beginnings of the work of God, which were unto many a branch of hope, that the Lord meant to make Ireland a pleasant land.
But which is more grievous unto us then all these, our King, notwithstanding of the Lord's hand against his father's opposition to the work of God, and of the many sad and dolefull consequences that followed thereupon, in reference to religion and his subjects, and to his person and government, doth hearken unto the councels of these who were authors of these miseries to his royall father and his kingdoms, by which it hath come to passe that his Majesty hath hitherto refused to grant the just and necessary desires of this Kirk and kingdom, which were tendred unto him from the Commissioners of both for securing of religion, the liberties of the subject, his Majesty's government, and the peace of the kingdome; and it is much to be feared that those wicked counsellours may so farre prevaile upon him in his tender yeers, as to engage him in a warre for overturning (if it be possible) of the work of God, and bearing down all those in the three kingdoms that adhere thereto, which if he shall doe, cannot but bring great wrath from the Lord upon himself and his throne, and must be the cause of many new and great miseries and calamities to these lands.
It concerns a nation thus sinfull and loaden with iniquity, and involved in so many difficulties and dangers, by timous repentance and unfained humiliation to draw near to God, and to wrestle with him in prayer and supplication, that our sin may be pardoned, and our iniquity done away; and that he would establish the land in the love of the truth, and inable every one in their station to do their duty boldly and without fear, and in a humble dependance upon the Lord, in whom alone is the salvation of his people. Every man ought, with all faithfulnesse and diligence, to make use of all these means that are approven and allowed of God, for preserving and carrying on of his work, and for securing and guarding the land against all enemies whatsomever, both upon the right hand and upon the left.
The spirit of errour and delusion in our neighbour land, in the policie of Satan, hath vailed it self in many under the mask of holinesse, and is, in the righteous and wise dispensation of God, armed with power, and attended with successe; therefore, all the inhabitants of this land would labour for more knowledge and more love of the truth, without which they may easily be deceived, and led into tentation, and would learn to distinguish betwixt the shew and power of godlinesse. We know that there be many in England who be truly godly, and mourn with us for all the errours and abominations that are in that land; but it is without controversie, that that spirit which hath acted in the courses and counsels of these who have retarded and obstructed the work of God, despised the Covenant, forced the Parliament, murthered the King, changed the civill government, and established so vast a toleration in religion, cannot be the spirit of righteousnesse and holinesse, because it teaches not men to live godly and righteously, but drawes them aside into errour, and makes them to bring forth the bitter fruits of impiety and iniquity, and therefore ought to be avoided. And not only are such of our nation as travel in our neighbour land to take heed unto themselves, that they receive not infection from such as are leavened with errour, but these also who live at home, especially in those places where sectaries, upon pretext of merchandise, and other civill imployments, ordinarily traffique and converse. Neither needs any man to be afraid of the power and successe of that party. They who have gadded about so much to change their way shall ere long be ashamed; the Lord hath rejected their confidences, and they shall not prosper in them. How farre they may proceed in their resolutions and actings against this kingdome, is in the hand of the Most High. If the Lord shall suffer that party to invade this land, it may be the comfort and incouragement of all the inhabitants thereof, that not only hath that unlawfull Engagement against the kingdom of England been declared against and condemned both by Kirk and State, but also that these men can pretend no quarrell against us, unlesse it be that we have adhered unto the Solemn League and Covenant, from which they have so foully revolted and backslidden; and that we have borne testimony against toleration, and their proceedings in reference to religion and government, and the taking away of the King's life. And, therefore, we trust, that in such a case none will be so farre deficient in their duty, as not to defend themselves against such injust violence, and, in the strength of the Lord, to adhere unto their former principles with much boldnes of spirit and willingnesse of heart. In this certainly we shall have a good conscience, and the Lord shall be with us.
We are not so to have the one of our eyes upon the Sectaries, as not to hold the other upon the Malignants, they being an enemy more numerous, and no lesse subtile and powerfull nor the other, and at this time more dangerous unto us, not only because experience hath proven that there is a greater aptitude and inclination in these of our land to complie with Malignants then sectaries, in that they carry on their wicked designes under a pretext of being for the King; but also, because there be many of them in our own bowels, and for that they doe pretend to be for maintenance of the King's person and authority, and (which is the matter of our grief) because the King ownes their principles and wayes; which, if it be not taken heed unto, may prove a great snare, and dangerous tentation to many to side with them against the Lord's people and his cause. The constant tenour of the carriage of these in this land who stand for the cause of God, are undeniable arguments of their affec tion to monarchy, and to that royal family and line which hath sweyed the scepter of this kingdom for many hundreds of yeers past. Albeit his Majesty who lately reigned refused to harken to their just desires, yet did they, with much patience and moderation of mind, supplicate and solicite his Majesty for satisfaction in these things that concern religion and the Covenant, and were still willing, that upon satisfaction given, he should be admitted to the exercise of his power; and, whatsoever envie and malice objects to the contrary, were carefull to get assurance concerning the safety of his Majesty's person, when they brought their army out of England; and when, notwithstanding of that assurance, the prevailing party of sectaries were acting for his life, did, to the utmost of their power, endeavour by their commissioners that there might have been no such proceeding; and when their desires and endeavours were not successfull, did protest and bear testimony against the same. And, as both Kirk and State had testified their tender respect to his Majesty who now reigns, by their letters written to him whilst his father was yet living, so, no sooner did the Parliament heare of his father's death, but they did, with all solemnity, proclaim him King of these kingdoms; and after they had acquainted his Majesty by messages with their proceedings herein, commissioners were sent both from State and Kirk, instructed with power and commission to expresse the affection of this kingdome to monarchy, and his Majesty's person and government, together with their desires concerning the security of religion, and the peace of those kingdoms. And albeit the desires of both, which are now published to the world, with his Majesty's answers thereto, are such as are most just and necessary, yet the counsels of the Malignant party had so great influence upon his Majesty, that his answers are not only not satisfactory, but short of that which was many times granted by his royall father, and cannot be acquiesced unto, unlesse we would abandon the League and Covenant, and betray religion and the cause of God.
We hold it the duty of all who live in this land to wrestle with God in the behalfe of the King, that he may be recovered out of the snare of evill counsell, and brought to give satisfaction to the publick desires of Kirk and State; and in their places and stations, to use all endeavours with himselfe and others for that effect, and to be willing, upon satisfaction given, to admit him to the exercise of his power, and cheerfully to obey him in all things, according to the will of God and the lawes of the kingdom, and to do every thing that tends to the preservation of his Majesty's person, and just greatnesse and authority, in the defence and preservation of the true religion and liberties of the kingdomes.
But if his Majesty, or any having or pretending power and commission from him, shall invade this kingdom, upon pretext of establishing him in the exercise of his royall power, as it will be an high provocation against God to be accessory or assisting thereto, so will it be a necessary duty to resist and oppose the same. We know that many are so forgetfull of the oath of God, and ignorant and careless of the interest of Jesus Christ and the Gospel, and doe so little tender that which concerns his kingdom and the privileges thereof, and do so much dote upon absolute and arbitrary government for gaining their own ends, and so much maligne the instruments of the work of reformation, that they would admit his Majesty to the exercise of his royall power upon any termes whatsoever, though with never so much prejudice to religion, and the liberties of these kingdomes, and would think it quarrell enough to make war upon all those who for conscience sake cannot condescend thereto. But we desire all these who fear the Lord, and mind to keep their Covenant, impartially to consider these things which followes:—
1. That as magistrates and their power is ordained of God, so are they, in the exercise thereof, not to walk according to their owne will, but according to the law of equity and righteousnesse, as being the ministers of God for the safety of his people; therefore, a boundles and illimitted power is to be acknowledged in no king nor magistrate; neither is our King to be admitted to the exercise of his power as long as he refuses to walk in the administration of the same, according to this rule, and the established laws of the kingdom, that his subjects may live under him a quiet and peaceable life, in all godlinesse and honestie.
2. There is ane mutuall obligation and stipulation betwixt the King and his people; as both of them are tied to God, so each of them are tied one to another, for the perform ance of mutuall and reciprocal duties. According to this, it is statute and ordained in the 8th Act of the 1st Parliament of King James the Sixth, "That all kings, princes, or magistrates whatsoever, halding their place, which hereafter shall happen in any time to raign and beare rule over this realm, at the time of their coronation, and receipt of their princely authority, make their faithfull promise by oath in the presence of the eternall God, that, during the whole course of their lives, they shall serve the same eternall God to the utmost of his power, according as he hath required in his most holy Word, contained in the Old and New Testament; and according to the same Word, shall maintain the true religion of Christ Jesus—the preaching of his most holy Word—and due and right ministration of his sacraments, now received and preached within this realm—and shall abolish and gainstand all false religion, contrary to the same—and shall rule the people committed to their charge according to the will and command of God, revealed in his Word, and according to the lovable lawes and constitutions received within this realm—and shall procure, to the utmost of their power, to the Kirk of God and the whole Christian people, true and perfect peace in all time comming, and that justice and equity be keeped to all creatures without exception." Which oath was sworn, first by King James the Sixth, and afterwards by King Charles at his coronation, and is inserted in our Nationall Covenant, which was approven by the king who lately reigned. As long, therefore, as his Majesty who now reignes refuses to hearken to the just and necessary desires of State and Kirk, propounded to his Majesty for the security of religion and safety of his people, and to engage and oblige himself for the performance of his duty to his people, it is consonant to Scripture and reason, and the laws of the kingdom, that they should refuse to admit him to the exercise of his government, untill he give satisfaction in these things.
3. In the League and Covenant which hath been so solemnly sworn and renewed by this kingdom, the dutie of defending and preserving the King's Majesty's person and authority is joyned with, and subordinat unto, the dutie of preserving and defending the true religion and liberties of the kingdoms; and, therefore, his Majesty standing in opposition to the just and necessary publick desires, concerning religion and liberties, it were a manifest breach of Covenant, and a preferring of the King's interest to the interest of Jesus Christ, to bring him to the exercise of his royal power, which he, walking in a contrary way, and being compassed about with malignant counsels, cannot but employ unto the prejudice and ruin of both.
4. Was not an arbitrary government and unlimited power the fountains of most of all the corruptions both in Kirk and State? And was it not a restraint of this, and for their own just defence against tyranny and unjust violence, which ordinarily is the fruit and effect of such a power, that the Lord's people did joyn in Covenant, and have been at the expense of so much blood, pains, and treasure these yeers past ? And if his Majesty should be admitted to the exercise of his government before satisfaction given, were it not to put in his hand that arbitrary power, which we have upon just and necessary grounds been so long withstanding, and so to abandon our former principles, and betray our cause?
5. The King being averse from the work of reformation and the instruments thereof, and compassed about with malignant and disaffected men, whom he hearkens unto as his most faithfull counsellers, and looks upon as his best and most loyall subjects, we leave it to all indifferent men to judge, whether his Majesty, being admitted to the exercise of his power before satisfaction given, would not by such counsells endeavour an overturning of the things which God hath wrought amongst us, and labour to draw publick administrations concerning religion and the liberties of the subject, unto that course and channell in which they did run under Prelacie, and before the work of reformation; which we have the more cause to fear, because his royall father did so often declare that he conceived himself bound to employ all the power that God should put in his hands, to the utmost, for these ends; and that he adheres as yet to his father's principles, and walkes in his way, and hath made a peace with the Irish rebels, by which is granted unto them the full liberty of Popery.
6. It is no strange nor new thing for kingdoms to preserve religion and themselves from ruine, by putting restraint upon the exercise of the power and government of those who have refused to grant those things that were necessary for the good of religion and the people's safety. There have been many precedents of it in this and other nations, of old and of late. Upon these and other important considerations, it shall be the wisdom of every one who dwell in the land to take heed of such a temptation and snare, that they be not accessory to any such designes or endeavours, as they would not bring upon themselves and upon their families the guilt of all the detriment that will undoubtedly follow thereupon to religion and the Covenant, and of all the miseries and calamities that it will bring upon his Majesty's person and throne, and upon these kingdoms. Such a thing would in all appearance be the undermining and shaking, if not the overthrowing and destroying, of the work of reformation; and, therefore, whosoever attempt the same, oppose themselves to the cause of God, and will at last dash against the rock of the Lord's power, which hath broken in pieces many high and lofty ones, since the beginning of this work in these kingdoms—and it is unto us a sure word of promise, that whosoever shall associate themselves, or take counsell together, or gird themselves against God and his work, shall be broken in pieces.
It is not only joyning in armes with the Malignant partie, that all these who would keep their integritie has need to beware of, but also subtill devices and designes, that are promoted by fair pretexts and perswasions to draw men to dispense at least with some part of these necessarie desires that are propounded to his Majesty for securing of religion. After many turnings and devices, the foundation of the unlawfull Engagement was at last laid by his Majesty's concessions in the year 1648. Wherein, though many things seemed to be granted, yet that was denied without which religion and the union betwixt the kingdoms could not have been secured; and it is probable that such a way may be assayed again, and prosecuted with very much cunning and skill, to deceive and ensnare the simple. It doth therefore concern all ranks and conditions of persons to be the more warie and circumspect, especially in that which concerns the Nationall Covenant, and the Solemn League and Covenant, that before his Majesty be admitted to the exercise of his royall power, that, by and attour the oath of coronation, he shall assure and declare by his solemn oath, under his hand and seal, his allowance of the Nationall Covenant, and of the Solemn League and Covenant, and obligation to prosecute the ends thereof in his station and calling; and that he shall, for himself and his successours, consent and agree to Acts of Parliament injoyning the Solemn League and Covenant, and fully establishing Presbyteriall government, the Directory of Worship, the Confession of Faith and Catechisme, as they are approven by the Generall Assembly of this Kirk, and Parliament of this kingdom, in all his Majesty's dominions; and that he shall observe these in his own practise and familie, and that he shall never make opposition to any of these, nor endeavour any change thereof. Albeit the League and Covenant be despised by that prevailing party in England, and the work of uniformity, thorow the retardments and obstructions that have come in the way, be almost forgotten by these kingdoms, yet the obligation of that Covenant is perpetuall, and all the duties contained therein are constantly to be minded, and prosecuted by every one of us and our posterity, according to their place and stations. And, therefore, we are no lesse zealously to endeavour that his Majesty may establish and swear, and subscribe the same, than if it were unanimously regarded and stuck unto by all the kingdom of England; for his Majesty swearing and subscribing the League and Covenant will much contribute for the security of religion, his Majesty's happinesse, and the peace of his kingdoms.
As it is incumbent to all who live in this Kirk and kingdom to be watchful and circumspect, so it concerns these of the High and Honourable Court of Parliament and their Committees, in a special way, to see to their duty, and to be straight and resolute in the performance of the same. Their former proceedings is unto us a sufficient evidence and ground of hope, that they will not be wanting in any necessary testimony of dutie and loyalty that they owe to the King, by using all just and seasonable endeavoures for obtaining satisfaction of his Majesty, that so he may be established upon his thrones. And we trust, that, upon the other hand, the sense of their obligation to God, and his oath that is upon them, will make them constantly to adhere to their former principles, resolutions, and desires, concerning religion and the Covenant, that reall satisfaction may be had thereanent, before the King be put in the exercise of his power; and that they will carefully provide for the safety of the kingdom, both in regard of intestine dangers, and in regard of invasion from without. It is not long since they, together with the rest of the land, made solemn publick confession of compliance with Malignants, carnall confidence, following of self interests, and hearkening to the counsells of flesh and blood, and did in a speciall way engage themselves to comply and seek themselves and their own things no more, to abandon the counsels of their own hearts, and not to rely upon the arm of flesh, and to purge judicatories and armies from profane and scandalous persons; and God forbid that they should so soon forget or neglect so necessary duties, and fall again into so great and grievous transgressions. We trust that they will seek the things of Christ, and not their own things— that they will hearken to his word, and not walk in the imaginations of their own hearts—that they will relie upon the arm of the Lord, and not upon the arm of flesh—that they will be wary and circumspect in discerning the dispositions and affections of those whom they put in trust; and that, seeing this kingdom hath so much smarted, and been so often deceived by compliance with Malignants, they will carefully avoid this snare, in regard of those who were upon the former unlawfull Engagement, and be tender in bringing in of such; and we cannot but exhort them, in the name of the Lord, to take notice of the oppression of the people and commons in the land, by the lawlesse exactions of landlords, collectours, and souldiers. We do not justifie the murmurings and grudgings of those, who, preferring the things of the world to the Gospel and things of Jesus Christ, repine at necessary burthens, without which it is not possible that the land can be secured from invasion without, and insurrection within, or the cause and people of God be defended from enemies. It is the duty of every one who hath taken the Covenant willingly, and with a cheerfull minde, to bestow their means and their pains as they shall be called thereunto, in an orderly way. Yet should these to whom God hath committed the government take care that they be not needlessely burthened, and that none grind their faces by oppression, not only by making of lawes against the same, but by searching out of the cause of the poor, and by executing these lawes timously upon these that oppresse them, that they may find real redresse of their just grievances and complaints, and be encouraged to bear those burthens which cannot be avoided.
As the Parliament have begun, so we hope they will continue, to purge out all these from trust that are not of known integrity and affection to the cause of God, and of a blamelesse and Christian conversation, and that they and the officers of the army, in their respective places, will seriously mind, and speedily and resolutely goe about the removing from the army all malignant and scandalous persons, and also the removing of sectaries when any shall be found therein, that they may give real evidence that they did not deal deceitfully with God, in the day that they engaged themselves thereto.
Albeit we hope and pray that those who beare charge in our army will, from the remembrance of the Lord's goodnesse to them, and the honour that he hath put upon them, endeavour to carry themselves faithfully and straightly; yet it cannot be unseasonable to warn them to take heed of tentations, and to beware of snares that they be not drawn to indifferencie or neutrality in the cause of God, much lesse unto connivance at or compliance with the courses and designes of Malignants or Sectaries, but to stick closely by the same, and to be zealous against all the enemies and adversaries thereof: And it concerns souldiers to be content with their wages, and to doe violence to no man, but as they are called unto the defence of the cause and people of God, so to behave themselves in such a blamelesse and Christian way, that their cariage may be a testimony to his cause, and a comfort to his people. So shall our armies prosper, and the Lord shall goe out with them.
But most of all, it concerns the ministers of the Gospel, whom God hath called to give warning to his people, to look to their duty. It is undeniably true, that many of the evils wherewith this Kirk and kingdome hath been afflicted in our age, have come to passe because of the negligence of some, and corruptions of others, of the ministry. Whilst some fell asleep, and were carelesse, and others were covetous and ambitious, the evil man brought in Prelacy and the ceremonies, and had farre promoted the Service-Book, and the Book of Cannon, and the course of backsliding and revolting was carried on, untill it pleased God to stirre up the spirits of these few who stood in the gap to oppose and resist the same, and to begin the work of reformation in the land. Since which time, the silence of some ministers, and compliance of others, hath had great influence upon the backsliding of many amongst the people, who, upon the discovery of the evil of their way, complain that they got not warning, or that if they were warned by some, others held their peace, or did justifie them in the course of their backsliding. We can look upon such ministers no otherwise than upon those that are guilty of the blood of the Lord's people, and with whom the Lord will reckon for all the breach of Covenant and defection that hath been in the land. The priest's lips should preserve knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of Hosts. But such are departed out of the way, and hath caused many to stumble at the law; therefore hath the Lord made them contemtible and base before all the people, according as they have not kept his wayes, but have been partiall in his law. Because they have lost their savour, he hath cast out many of them as unsavoury salt; but such as have been faithfull, as he hath preserved them from the violence and fury of men, so hath he verified his word in their mouths, both against his enemies, and concerning his people and his work; and makes them see, though not all their desires concerning the Gospel, and the work of God in the land, yet very much of the fruit of their labour, by preserving the doctrine and all the ordinances of Jesus Christ in their purity, and adding in some measure thereto the power and life thereof. We doe, therefore, charge all the ministers of the land, before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing in his kingdom, as in every thing to be ensamples of a good conversation, and to walk without offence, that the ministry be not blamed, so to take heed unto the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made them overseers—to declare unto them all the counsell of God, and to give them timous warning concerning every danger and duty—and to hold forth unto them the solid grounds of reall consolation, by which they may be encouraged and comforted in all their trials and afflictions, that they may be free of the blood of all men, and have this as a ground of rejoycing, even the testimony of their consciences, that in simplicity and godly purenesse, not with fleshly wisdome, but by the grace of God, they have had their conversation in the world, and have exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one committed unto them, as a father doth his children. Especially, ministers are to be careful to be much in discovering the temptations, and pressing the duties of the times, that these who are under their charge may know what to avoid, and what to embrace and pursue. If all the watchmen in the land shall give warning, and blow the trumpet at once, it shall not be easie for enemies to prey upon the people of God. We know no cause why any whom God hath called to preach the Gospel should be afraid to speak boldly in the name of the Lord, since God hath given so manifest a testimony of his care and protection, in preserving them, these yeers past, who have striven to be faithfull to him who hath called them, from all the fury and malice of haters of the work of God, and of the kingdom of his Sonne Jesus Christ, who hath promised to be with his servants unto the end of the world.
Albeit the land be involved in many difficulties, and compassed about with great and iminent dangers, yet there is hope and ground of consolation concerning this thing. The Lord is in the midst of us, and we are called by his name;—our eares hear the joyfull sound of the Gospel, and our eyes see our teachers;—we behold the arm of the Lord stretched out daily in working salvation for his people, and answering their desires upon their enemies by terrible things in righteousnesse. Although we be but few in number, yet the Lord of Hosts is with us, and in the power of his strength we shall be able to prevaile;—although our land be filled with sin, yet we have not been forsaken of the Lord our God, but he hath alwayes had compassion upon us, and delivered us in all our distresses;—although some of understanding fall, it is but to try, and to purge, and to make white, even to the end, because it is yet for a time appointed:—although many cleave to us by flatteries, yet there be a remnant who keep their integrity, and the Lord shall doe good to these that be good; but such as turn aside to crooked wayes shall be led forth with the workers of iniquity.
The Lord's people in England and Ireland, who adhere to the cause and Covenant, may be perplexed, but shall not despair; they may be persecuted, but shall not be forsaken; they may be cast down, but shall not be destroyed; and although uniformity, and the work of reformation in these lands, seem not only to be retarded, but almost pluckt up by the roots, and the foundations thereof razed; yet the seed which the Lord hath sowen there shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward. "The zeal of the Lord of Hosts shall performe this."
Sess. 30, July 30, 1649, ante meridiem.—Act concerning Catechising.
The Generall Assembly, taking to their serious consideration the great darknesse and ignorance wherein a great part of this kingdom lyeth, together with the late solemn engagement to use all means for remedy thereof, doe ordaine every minister, with assistance of the elders of their severall kirk-sessions, to take course, that in every house where there is any who can read, there be at least one copie of the Shorter and Larger Catechisme, Confession of Faith, and Directorie for Family Worship. And doe renew the Act of the Assemblie, August 30, 1639, for a day of weeklie catechising, to be constantly observed in every kirk; and that every minister so order their catethetick questions, as thereby the people (who doe not conveen all at one time, but by turns, unto that exercise) may at every dyet have the chief heads of Saving Knowledge, in a short view, presented unto them. And the Assembly considering that, notwithstanding of their former act, these dyets of weekly catechising are much slighted and neglected by many ministers throughout this kingdome, doe, therefore, appoint and ordaine every Presbytery to take triall of all the ministers within their bounds, once at least in the halfe year, whither they be carefull to keep weekly dyets of catechising; and if they shall finde any of their number negligent herein, they shall admonish for the first fault, and if after such admonition they shall not amend, the Presbytery for the second fault shall rebuke them sharply, and if after such rebuke they doe not yet amend, they shall be suspended.
Sess. 40, August 4, 1649, ante meridiem.—Commission for Publick Affaires.
The General Assembly, considering how necessary it is for preservation of religion in this kingdom, and prosecution of the work of uniformity in all his Majesty's dominions, that the Commissions formerly granted to that effect be renewed; therefore, they doe renew the power and Commission granted for the Publick Affaires of the Kirk, by the Generall Assemblies, held in St Andrews, 1642, and at Edinburgh, 1643, 1644, 1645, 1646, 1647, and 1648, unto the persons following, viz., Masters Alexander Rollock, John Murray, Thomas Lundie, John Freebairne, George Murray, Harie Livingston, William Macjore, Hew Henderson, Samuel Austine, Gavin Young, David Laing, William Maxwell, John Maccleland, James Erving, Robert Ferguson, John Scot, Thomas Wylie, Hew Eccles, John Bell, John Nevoy, William Gutherie, John Hammiltoun, Hew Peebles, Alexander Dunlope, Harie Semple, David Dickson, Patrick Gillespie, James Durham, Robert Baillie, William Hammiltoun, Francis Aird, James Nasmith, Richard Inglis, William Summervail, Evan Cameron, Robert Blair, Samuel Rutherfoord, James Wood, John Macgill, elder, Alexander Balfoure, William Row, John Moncreife, Fredrick Carmichaell, Harie Wilke, William Oliphant, George Pitillo, John Robeson, James Thomsone, William Rate, David Campbell, Andro Cant, John Menzies, Andro Abercromby, Robert Sheyn, William Forbes, John Paterson, Duncan Forbes, William Chalmers, John Annand, William Falconer, Murdoch Mackenzie, Robert Jameson, Gilbert Marshell, John Dallase, William Smyth, Robert Hume, Thomas Swintoun, James Stratoun, John Douglas, James Gutherie, Thomas Donaldson, William Jameson, John Livingstoun, John Scot, Andro Dunkeson, John Dalzell, Arthur Forbes, James Fleming, James Robison, Hew Campbel, Robert Douglasse, Mungo Law, George Leslie, John Adamson, James Hammiltoun, John Smyth, Hew Mackell, George Hutchison, Patrick Fleming, John Hay, Ephraim Melvill, John Row, Gilbert Hall, George Bennet, Kenneth Logic, John Crafurd, Ministers; Archibald Marquesse of Argyle, Earle of Sutherland, Alexander Earle of Eglintoun, John Earle of Cassills, William Earle of Lothian, the Viscount of Arbuthnet, Daniel Lord Elcho, Lord Brichen, Robert Lord Burly, James Lord Couper, Sir Archbald Johnstoun of Waristoun, Clerk-Register, Sir Daniel Carmichael, Thesaurer-Depute, Sir John Hope of Craighall, Mr George Winraham of Libbertoun, Mr Alexander Person of Southhal, A. Brodie of that Ilk, four of the Ordinary Lords of the Session, Arthur Ersken of Scotscrage, Laird of Wauchtoun, Sir David Hume of Wedderburne, Laird of Edzell, Laird of Nidrie, Sir William Scot of Harden, Laird of Greenheid, Laird of Freeland, Laird of Cesnock, Sir James Stewart of Kirkfield, the Laird of Swintoun, younger, Laird of Eight, Sir James Fraser, Sir Thomas Ker, Laird of Fernie, Sir Robert Adair, Sheriff of Tiviotdail, younger, Tutor of Pitsligo, Sir John Chiesly, Laird of Englistoun, Laird of Leslie, younger, Laird of Dunbeth, Laird of Watertoun, Sir John Smyth, Mr Alexander Colvill of Blair, Whitbank, younger, Laird of Grenock, Galloshiels, younger, Buchchantie, Crachlaw, Cloberhil, Dalserfe, Mr Robert Burnet, younger, Mr Thomas Murray. James Eleis, David Kennedie, Alexander Jaffray, James Sword, George Porterfeild, Mr Robert Barclay, Hew Kennedey, William Glendoning, Thomas Macbirnie, Robert Lockart, Mr James Campbel, John Carsane, John Boswel, Dr Alexander Dogulasse, Mr Alexander Skeen, William Brown, Elders; giving unto them full power and commission to do all and every thing for preservation of the established doctrine, discipline, worship, and government in this Kirk, against all who shall endeavour to introduce any thing contrarie thereunto; and for prose. cuting, advancing, perfecting, and bringing the works of uniformitie in religion in all his Majesty's dominions to a happy conclusion, conform to the former commissions granted by preceding Assemblies thereanent.
And, to that effect, appoints them, or any nineteen of them, whereof thirteen shall be ministers, to meet in the citie to-morrow, the 7th of this instant, and thereafter, upon the second Wednesday of November, February, and May next, and upon any other day, and in any other place, they shall think fit; giving also unto them full power to send commissioners to the kingdom of England, for prosecuting the treatie of uniformitie, as they shall find conveniencie, and to give instructions and commissions to that effect, conform to former commissions granted thereanent: And likewise, in case delinquents have no constant residence in any one Presbytery, or if Presbyteries be negligent or overawed, in these cases the Assembly gives to the persons before named power of censuring compliers and persons disaffected to the Covenant, according to the acts of the Assembly; declaring alwayes and providing, that ministers shall not be deposed but in one of the quarterlie meetings of the Commission: And further, authorizes them, as formerlie, with full power to make supplication, remonstrances, declarations, and warnings, to indict fasts and thanksgivings as there shall be cause, to protest against all encroachments upon the liberties of the Kirk, and to censure all such as interrupt this Commission or any other Church judicatorie, or the execution of their censures, or of any other sentences or acts issuing from them; and with full power to them to treat and determine in the matters referred unto them by this Assemblie, as fullie and freelic as if the same were here fully expressed, and with as ample power as any Commission of any former Generall Assemblies hath had or been in use of before: Declaring also, that all opposers of the authoritie of this Commission in matters intrusted to them, shall be holden as opposers of the authoritie of the Generall Assemblie, and this Commission in their whole proceedings are comptable to and censurable by the next Generall Assemblie.
Directory for Election of Ministers
When any place of the ministrie in a congregation is vacant, it is incumbent to the Presbytery with all diligence to send one of their number to preach to that congregation, who, in his doctrine, is to represent to them the necessitie of providing the place with a qualified pastor, and to exhort them to fervent prayer and supplication to the Lord, that he would send them a pastor according to his own heart; as also, he is to signifie that the Presbytery, out of their care of that flock, will send unto them preachers whom they may hear; and if they desire to hear any other, they will endeavour to procure them an hearing of that person or persons upon the sute of the elders to the Presbytery.
2. Within some competent time thereafter, the Presbytery is again to send one or more of their number to the said vacant congregation, on a certain day appoynted before for that effect, who are to conveen and hear sermon the foresaid day, which being ended, and intimation being made by the minister that they are to goe about the election of a pastor for that congregation, the session of the congregation shall meet and proceed to the election, the action being moderated by him that preached; and if the people shall, upon the intimation of the person agreed upon by the session, acquiesce and consent to the said person, then the matter being reported to the Presbytery by commissioners sent from the session, they are to proceed to the triall of the person thus elected, and, finding him qualified, to admit him to the ministry in the said congregation.
3. But if it happen that the major part of the congregation dissent from the person agreed upon by the session, in that case the matter shall be brought unto the Presbytery, who shall judge of the same; and if they doe not find their dissent to be grounded on causelesse prejudices, they are to appoynt a new election in manner above specified.
4. But if a lesser party of the session or congregation shew their dissent from the election without exceptions relevant and verified to the Presbytery, notwithstanding thereof, the Presbytery shall go on to the trials and ordination of the person elected; yet all possible diligence and tendernesse must be used to bring all parties to an harmonious agreement.
Sess. ult. Aug. 6, 1649, ante meridiem.—A Brotherly Exhortation from the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland to their Brethren in England. (fn. 1)
The many and great obligations which lie upon us in reference to our brethren in England, who hold fast their integrity, and adhere to the Solemn League and Covenant, together with the desire which we have to testifie our sympathie with them in their afflictions, and to preserve, so far as in us lieth, that fellowship and correspondence that hath been entertained betwixt the Church of Scotland and England these years past, do call upon us and constrain us not to be silent in this day of their trouble and distress.
Albeit the Lord (who hath his fire in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem) hath now for a long time past afflicted these kingdoms with many and sharp rods, and that his wrath seems not yet to be turned away, but his hand stretched out still; yet in all this it becomes us, who live in these lands, to stop our mouthes, neither can any impute iniquity to the Most High.
It is rather a wonder that any mercy should be continued, and that England and Scotland are not cut off from being nations, seeing the backslidings and provocations of both has been so many and so grosse. Although the Solemn League and Covenant was sworne and subscribed by both, yet have many in both despised the oath of God, as appears by the late unlawfull Engagement against the kingdom of England, contrived and carried on by a prevailing party of Malignants in this land, and by the proceedings of the sectaries in England, in reference to religion and government.
We shall not insist upon what hath been the condition and carriage of the Lord's people in this land, in reference to the late unlawfull Engagement. As we desire to magnifie the power and loveing kindnesse of the Lord, who enabled all the judicatures of this Church, and a considerable part of the Parliament, and the body of the land, to dissent from, and bear testimony against the same, which made the House of Commons, in their Letter directed to the last General Assembly, or their commissioners, to declare that that Engagement could not be looked on as a nationall breach; so we look upon it as a wonder of his wisdom and mercy, that he hath disposed and directed the same for the furtherance of his work in our hand, and purging his house amongst us. All this cometh forth from the Lord of Hosts, who is wonderfull in counsel and excellent in working. Neither was it the least part of the Lord's goodnesse to us in that day of our strait, that we were led in a plain path, and kept from complyance with Sectaries on the one hand, no less than with Malignants on the other. We have obtained this mercy to be steadfast to our old principles, in bearing free and faithfull testimony against their proceedings, both in reference to toleration and government, and the taking away of the King's life.
And as the danger and judgement which threatens the authors and abettors of these things doth affect our spirits with horrour, and maketh us desire that it may be given to them of God to repent; so we should conceive ourselves void of Christian affection and compassion toward those in England, who suffer for the truth and cause of God, if we were not very sensible of all their present troubles and calamities. It is no small grief to us that the Gospel and government of Jesus Christ are so despised in that land, that faithfull preachers are persecuted and cryed down, that toleration is established by pretext of law, and maintained by military power, and that the Covenant is abolished, and buried in oblivion. All which proceedings cannot but be looked upon as directly contrary to the oath of God lying upon us, and therefore cannot eschew his wrath when he shall come in judgement, "to be a swift witnesse against those that swear falsly by his name."
These things are the more grievous to us, because (beside many other wofull evils brought forth by them) they have interrupted the building of the Lord's house in England; the foundation whereof was laid by oath and Covenant with the Most High God, and followed for some years with many declarations and protestations of faithfull adhering thereto, and with great expense of blood and treasure; which things were to all the godly in these nations a branch of hope that the Lord would bring to perfection the work of uniformity (so far advanced in all the parts thereof) in these three kingdoms.
But the great obstructions and sad interruptions that have been made therein, by the strange and unexpected practises of many now in place and power in England, are to all the well-affected in both kingdoms, and in all the churches abroad, the matter of their sorrow and humiliation. And if there be any place left for admonition, we warn such as have forgotten the Covenant, and despised the oath of God, and turned aside to lies and errour, to consider whence they are fallen, and to repent. Prosperity and success for a time are no warrantable evidences of a good cause, nor sufficient guards against the wrath of God. It is no good use of the Lord's mercy for such men, under pretext of liberty, to make both themselves and others slaves to corruption, and to make all men, both in Church and State, like the fishes of the sea, or the creeping things, that have no ruler over them. Are these things according to the Word of God, and the pattern of the best reformed churches? Or is that the endeavour to bring the three kingdoms to the nearest uniformity that may be in doctrine, worship, government, and discipline? Or is that the maintaining of the union betwixt the three kingdoms, when the straitest bond thereof is utterly dissolved and quite taken away, and the fundamentall government, by King and Parliament, wholly overturned? The just God, who is of pure eyes, beholds these things; and shall with no lesse fury and indignation break the horn of these men, than he hath broken the power, and brought down the pride of Malignants before them, if repentance prevent not.
Amidst those fears and griefes, it is unto us matter of rejoycing, that there be many in England who mourn for all these abominations, and labour to keep their garments pure, by refusing to comply with that course of backsliding, and by bearing testimony against the same. And we hope the expectation of such shall not be disappointed, but that the Lord will open to them a doore of hope for carrying on of his work, and making the lying spirit to passe out of that land.
And albeit many think no otherwise of the Covenant and work of reformation than as a mean to further their own ends; yet we are confident that none who hold fast their integrity have so learned Christ, but are carefull to make con science of the oath of God lying on them; and we are sure (whatever be the base thoughts and expressions of backsliders from the Covenant) it wants not many to own it in these kingdomes, who (being called thereto) would seale the same with their blood.
Although there were none in the one kingdome who did adhere to the Covenant, yet thereby were not the other kingdom, nor any person in either of them, absolved from the bond thereof, since in it we have not only sworne by the Lord, but also covenanted with him. It is not the failing of one or more that can absolve others from their duty or tye to him; besides, the duties therein contained, being in themselves lawfull, and the grounds of our tye thereunto moral, though others do forget their duty, yet doth not their defection free us from that obligation which lyes upon us by the Covenant, in our places and stations. And the Covenant being intended and entered into by these kingdoms, as one of the best means of stedfastnesse for guarding against declining times, it were strange to say that the backsliding of any should absolve others from the tye thereof, especially seeing our engagement therein is not only nationall, but also personall, every one with uplifted hands swearing by himselfe, as it is evident by the tennor of the Covenant.
From these, and other important reasons, it may appear that all these kingdomes joyning together to abolish that oath by law, yet could they not dispense therewith; much lesse can any one of them, or any part in either of them, doe the same. The dispensing with oathes hath hitherto been abhorred as Antichristian, and never practised and avowed by any but by that man of sin; therefore, those who take the same upon them, as they joyn with him in his sin, so must they expect to partake of his plagues.
As we shall ever (God willing) be mindfull of our duty to the faithfull that adhere to the Covenant in England, having them alwayes in our hearts before the Lord, so we desire to be refreshed with their singlenesse and boldnesse in the cause of God, according to their places. This is the time of their triall, and the houre of tentation among them. Blessed shall they be who shall be found following the Lamb, and shall not be ashamed of his testimony. We know in such dark houres many are drawne away with the multitude, whom the Lord will again purge and make white; and we doubt not but many such are in England, whom the bold and clear preaching of Christ may reclaim. Much, therefore, lieth upon the watchmen at this time, that their trumpet may give a certain and distinct sound, warning and exhorting every one, as those that must give account. And blessed shall those servants be, who shall be found faithfull in their Lord's house, distributing to his houshold what is meet for this season, and can say they are free of the blood of all men, having shewn them the whole counsell of God, being in nothing terrified of the threats of their adversaries. And blessed and happy shall that people be that walk in the light holden forth by them, and staye upon the Lord in this dark time, harkning to the voyce of his servants, and walking in the light of his Word, and not in the sparks of their owne kindlings, which will end in sorrow. How inexcusable will England be, having so foulie revolted against so many faire testimonies which the Lord Christ hath entred as protestations, to preserve his right in these ends of the earth, long since given unto him for his possession, and of late confirmed by solemne Covenant. Christ's right to these kingdomes is surer than that he should be pleaded out of it by pretended liberty of conscience, and his begun possession is more precious to him than to be satisfied with a dishonourable toleration. All that yet we have seen doth not weaken our confidence of the Lord's glorifying the house of his glory in these lands, and of his Son's taking unto him his great power, and reigning in the beauty and power of his ordinances in this island. His name is Wonderfull, and so also are his workes; we ought not therefore to square them according to our line, but leave them to him who hath the government laid upon his shoulder, all whose wayes are judgement, and whose ruling these kingdoms had never yet reason to decline. It is good for us to be stedfast in our duty, and therein quietly to wait and hope for the salvation of God. The word of promise is sure, (and hath an appointed time,) that "he that will come, shall come, and will not tarry." There is none hath cause to distrust the Lord's word to his people; it hath often, to our experience, been tryed in the fire, and hath ever come forth with a more glorious lustre. Let not, therefore, these that suffer in England cast away their confidence: they are not the first who have needed patience after that they had done the Lord's will; but let them strengthen the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees, and say to the fearfull in heart, "Be strong, fear not, behold your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence: he will come and save you." Now the just shall live by faith, whereas these that draw back, or become lukewarm in the Lord's work, his soul shall abhorre them, and he shall spue them out of his mouth. But we perswade ourselves of better things of these our brethren in England, and pray that the God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, may make them perfect in every good work to doe his will, working in them that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
Act for a Collection for entertaining Highland Boyes at Schooles.
The Generall Assembly, considering that the contribution of fourty shillings, for entertaining of Highland boyes at schools, in respect of the penury and great indigence of those parts, hath not taken the intended effect; therefore, in respect of the necessity and profitablenesse of so pious a work, the Assembly, in lieu of the said fourty shillings, do appoint and ordain that there be an extraordinary collection at the kirk doors for that use one Sabbath in the year; and to that effect, that a certain Sabbath yearly be appointed and designed, whereupon that collection shall be gathered, intimation being made by the minister the Sabbath before to prepare for such a collection, and the necessity and usefulnesse thereof being laid out to the people for that end. And if the collection in any little private congregation shall be lesse then fourty shillings, the session shall make up what wants of fourty shillings; and where the collection is more, it is hereby specially inhibited and discharged that any part thereof be retained or interverted to any other use whatsomever: And these collections shall be sent to the persons formerly appointed to receive the fourty shillings, that they may see the right distribution and employment thereof; recommending to Presbyteries to see this punctually performed, and accompt thereof shall be craved at Synods and Generall Assemblies. It is alwayes to be remembred that the congregations exeemed from the fourty shillings are also exeemed from this collection.
Commission for a Conference of Ministers, Lawyers, and Physitians, concerning the Tryal and Punishment of Witchcraft, Charming, and Consulting
The Generall Assembly, taking to their serious consideration the growth of the sins of witchcraft, charming, and consulting, notwithstanding the frequent recommendations for restraining thereof, and remembring that the Generall Assembly, 1647, did propose a good way for the tryall and punishment of these sinnes, by appointing conferences with some ministers, lawyers, and physitians in that matter, which hath never yet taken effect; therefore, the Assembly doth appoint Masters Robert Dowglas, Robert Blair, Mungo Law, James Hammilton, John Smith, Robert Traill, George Leslie, John Hamilton, John Duncan, Samuel Rutherfoord, James Wood, John Leviston, James Guthrie, Andro Cant, David Calderwood, John Moncreiff, Frederick Carmichael, James Durhame, Patrick Gillespie, Robert Ker, Ephraim Melvill, ministers, to consider seriously of that matter, and to consult and advise therein amongst themselves, as also with Sir Archbald Johnston of Wariston, Clerk-Register, Mr Thomas Nicolson, his Majesty's Advocate, Mr Alexander Pierson, one of the Ordinary Lords of Session, Sir Lewes Stewart, Mr Alexander Colvill, and Mr James Robertson, Justice-Deputes, Masters Rodger Mowet, John Gilmoir, and John Nisbet, lawyers; and with Doctors Sibbald, Cunninghame, and Purves, physitians, severally or together, as occasion shall offer. And the Assembly earnestly requests, and confidently expects, from these learned and judicious lawyers and physitians beforenamed, their best endeavours and concurrence with their brethren of the ministrie, for advise and counsell herein, and for conference in the said matter; and ordaine the said brethren to make report of the result of their consultations and conferences from time to time, as they make any considerable progresse, to the Commission for Publick Affaires; and the said Commission shall make report to the next Generall Assembly.
Recommendation for Maintenance of Schoolmasters and Precenters
The Generall Assembly doe humbly recommend to the Parliament or Committee for Plantation of Churches, that whatever, either in paroches of burghs or landwart, was formerly given to the maintenance of these who were readers-precentors in congregations, and teachers of schooles, before the establishing of the Directory for Publick Worship, may not be, in whole or in part, alienat or taken away, but be reserved for the maintenance of sufficient schoolmasters and precentors, who are to be approven by the Presbytery; and Presbyteries are hereby required to see that none of that maintenance given to the foresaid uses, or in use to be payed thereunto, before the establishing of the Directory of Worship, be drawn away from the Church.
Act concerning Persons to be admitted Bursars.
The Assembly doe hereby ordaine, that none be sent to universities from Presbyteries, nor be admitted as bursars of divinitie, but pious youths, and such as are known to be of good expectation and approven abilities.
Reference to the Commission for Publick Affaires, for re-examining the Paraphrase of the Psalmes, and emitting the same for publicke use
The Generall Assembly, having taken some view of the new Paraphrase of the Psalmes in meeter, with the corrections and animadversions thereupon, sent from severall persons and Presbyteries, and finding that they cannot overtake the review and examination of the whole in this Assembly; therefore, now, after so much time and so great paines about the correcting and examining thereof, from time to time some yeares bygone, that the worke may come now to some conclusion, they do ordain the brethren appointed for perusing the same during the meeting of this Assembly, viz., Masters James Hammiltoun, John Smith, Hew Mackail, Robert Traill, George Hutcheson, and Robert Lowrie, after the dissolving of this Assembly to goe on in that worke carefully, and to report their travels to the Commission of the Generall Assembly for Publick Affaires, at their meeting at Edinburgh in November; and the said Commission, after perusall and re-examination thereof, is hereby authorized with full power to conclude and establish the Paraphrase, and to publish and emit the same for publick use.
Letter to the King's Majesty
Most gracious Soveraigne,
We, your Majesty's most humble and loyall subjects, the commissioners from all the Presbyteries in this your Majesty's ancient kingdome, and members of this present Nationall Assembly, having expected to finde at our meeting a gracious and satisfactory returne to those humble representations made to your Majesty at the Hague, by the commissioners of this Kirk, cannot but expresse our great sorrow and griefe, that your Majesty's goodnes has been so far abused, as that not only the just and necessary desires presented by them to your Majesty, which so much concerne the glory of God, your owne honours and happinesse, the peace and safety of your kingdomes, are utterly frustrated, as we perceive by the paper delivered in answer to them; but also this Assembly hath not received so much as any signification by letter of your Majesty's minde; which princely condescension had not wont to be wanting in your royall father to former Generall Assemblies, even in times of greatest distance. Our witnesse is in heaven, and record on high, that we are not conscious to ourselves of any undutifull thought or disloyall affection, that might have procured this at your Majesty's hands; and that, as we doe from our hearts abominate and detest that horrid fact of the sectaries against the life of your royall father, our late soveraigne, so it is the unfained and earnest desire of our soules, that the ancient monarchicall government of these kingdoms may be established and flourish in your Majesty's person all the dayes of your life, and be continued in your royall family, which, by divine Providence, hath, without interruption, reigned over us and our predecessors for so many generations, since the time that we were a kingdom; and that there is nothing under the glory of God, and cause of our Lord Jesus Christ, for which we doe more heartily solicite the throne of grace, or would more readily expose unto hazard all that is deare to us in the world, than for this. And now, though this very great discouragement might incline us to hold our peace at this time, yet the tendernesse and uprightnesse of our affection and love to your Majesty's happinesse, (which many waters cannot quench,) together with the conscience of our duty which our Lord and Master has laid upon us, in this our place and station, constraineth us, yea, and your Majesty's owne goodnesse and gracious disposition, whereof the late commissioners have given us so large a testimony, doth much encourage us, to renew our addresses to your Majesty in this humble, faithfull representation, both of the great and growing dangers to your royall person and throne, and of these duties which the Lord of Lords and King of Kings call for from you, as you would look to finde favour in his eyes, and to be delivered out of your deepe distresses.
Our hearts are filled with fears and troubles in your Majesty's behalf, when we look upon the sad calamities which have been already produced by such wayes and courses, as we perceive your Majesty is entred, and in danger to be further led away into, by the prevalency of evill councell upon your tender age; particularly, your refusing to give satisfaction to the just and necessary desires of the people of God, for advancing the work of reformation of religion, and establishing and securing the same in your Majesty's dominions, which is nothing else but to oppose the kingdome of the Sonne of God, by whom kings doe reign, and to refuse that he should reign over you and your kingdomes in his pure ordinances of Church government and worship—your cleaving unto these men as your trustiest counsellors, who, as they have never had the glory of God, nor good of his people, before their eyes, so now, in all their wayes and counsels, are seeking nothing but their owne interests, to the hazard of the utter subversion of your throne, the ruine of your royall family, and the desolation of your kingdomes—your owning the practises, and entertaining the person of that flagicious man, and most justly excommunicate rebell, James Graham, who has exercised such horrid cruelty upon your best subjects in this kingdom, which cannot but bring upon your throne the guiltinesse of all the innocent blood shed by him and his complices—and, above all, that, which we cannot think upon without trembling of heart and horrour of spirit, your settling of late such a peace with the Irish Papists, the murderers of so many thousands of your Protestant subjects, whereby not only they are owned as your good and loyall subjects, but also there is granted unto them (contrary to the standing lawes of your royall progenitors, contrary to the commandment of the Most High God, and to the high contempt and dishonor of his Majesty, and evident danger of the Protestant religion) a full liberty of their abominable idolarty; which cannot be otherwise judged, but a giving of your royall power and strength unto the Beast, and an accession to all that blood of your good subjects wherewith those sonnes of Babell have made that land to swim.
We do, in all humility, beseech your Majesty to consider and lay to heart what the mouth of the Lord of Hosts hath spoken of all the attempts of people, nations, kings, and rulers, against the kingdom of his Son, that they imagine a vaine thing, and that he that sitteth in heaven will have them in derision, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Consider how he hath blasted and turned upside downe these yeares bypast, all the devices and plots of those men that now beare the sway in your Majesty's counsels—consider how the anger of God has been kindled, even against his dearest saints when they have joyned themselves to such men as he hateth and has cursed;—consider how severely he hath threatned and punished such kings as have associate with idolaters, and leaned unto their helps. Surely great is the wrath of God, whereof you are in danger; and yet the Lord, in the riches of his goodnesse, forbearance, and long-suffering, is waiting to be gracious to your Majesty. To-day, if ye will heare his voice, harden not your heart; but humble your self under the mighty hand of God, lamenting after him as for the iniquities of your father's house, especially the opposition against the reformation of religion and cause of God, the permitting and practising antichristian idolatry in the royall family itself, and the shedding of so much blood of the people of God, so also, for your owne entering to walke in the like courses in the beginning of your reign. It is high time to fall downe before the throne of grace, seeking to get your peace made with God through Jesus Christ, whose blood is able to wash away all your sins—to walk no longer in the councel of the ungodly, nor cleave to such as seeke their own things and not the things of Jesus Christ, nor the welfare of your subjects and government— but to set your eyes upon the faithfull in your dominions, that such may dwell with you, and be the men of your councells—to serve the Lord in feare, and kisse the Sonne of God, by a sincere and cordiall contributing your royall allowance and authority for establishing in all your dominions the reformation of religion, in doctrine, worship, and government, as it is now agreed upon, according to the cleare and evident warrant of the Word of God, by the Assembly of Divines at Westminster, and the Generall Assemblies of this Church; and also, laying aside that Service-Book, which is so stuffed with Romish corruptions, and conforming your owne practise, and the worship of God in your royall family, to that Gospel simplicity and purity which is holden forth from the Word of God in the Directory of Worship; and not only to grant your royall approbation to the Covenant of these three kingdomes, (without which your people can never have from you sufficient security, either for religion or their just liberties,) but also your selfe to joyne with your people therein as the greatest security, under heaven, for your person and just greatness, and to cause all of them stand to it by your royall command, according to the practise of that gracious King Josiah, to whom we wish your Majesty in these your younger yeares, and this begining of your reign, to look as to an ensample and kingly portract approven of God. These things if your Majesty do, as we are well assured that the hearts of all your good subjects in these kingdomes will be enlarged with all cheerfulnesse to embrace your person, and submit unto your royall government, so we darre promise, in the name of our Lord, that you shall finde favour with God, peace, and joy unspeakable and full of glory to your soule, and deliverance out of your sad afflictions and deep distresses in due time; but if your Majesty shall go on in refusing to hearken to wholesome councels, we must, for the discharge of our conscience, tell your Majesty, in the humility and griefe of our hearts, that the Lord's anger is not turned away, but his hand stretched out still against you and your family. But we hope, and shall with all earnestnesse and constancy pray for better things from and to your Majesty. And whatsoever misconstruction (by the malice of those that desire not a right understanding and cordiall conjunction between your Majesty and this Kirk and Kingdome) may be put upon our declaration, yet we have the Lord to be our witnesse, that our purpose and intention therein is no other but to warne and keepe the people of God committed to our care, that they runne not to any course which would bring upon themselves the guilt of highest perjury and breach of covenant with God, and could not but prove most dangerous to your Majesty and your government, and involve you in shedding the blood of those who are most desirous to preserve your Majesty's person and just right in all your dominions. And now, we doe, with all earnestnes, beseech your Majesty that you will follow the courses of truth and peace; and that when there is a doore opended for your Majesty to enter to your royall government over us in peace, with the favour of God, and cordiall love and embracings of all your good subjects, you will not suffer your selfe to be so farre abused and misled by the councels of men, who delight in war, as to take a way of violence and blood, which cannot but provoke the Most High against your Majesty, and alienat from you the hearts of your best subjects, who desire nothing more than that your Majesty may have a long and happy reign over them, and that they may live under you a peaceable and quiet life, in all godlinesse and honestie.
Presbyteries and Provincial Assemblies recommended to consider Matters referred to them
The Generall Assembly, not having now time to consider the references of preceding Assemblies, and the most part of Presbyteries not having sent their opinions in writ; therefore, do yet againe recommend to Presbyteries and Provinciall Assemblies to consider all matters referred by this or by any former Assemblies, and to send their opinions therein in writ to the next Generall Assembly.
The Assembly again met at St Andrews, July 1651, and, after sitting for a few days, adjourned to Dundee, in consequence of the arrival of Cromwell's army in Fife. A Dundee, however, the Assembly continued its sittings for three days only. Intelligence having been received that the enemy was marching towards Perth, the business was brought to an abrupt conclusion, and the members obliged immediately to disperse.
Another Assembly met at Edinburgh in July 1652, but against the lawfulness of this, as also of the Assembly of 1651, protestation was taken by several ministers, elders, and professors. Several documents connected with these two Assemblies are to be found in the Wodrow MSS. A small tract, entitled "Three Acts of the General Assembly, for promoving the Knowledge of the Grounds of Salvation, and observing the Rules of Discipline," was published in 1652, and will be reprinted in an Appendix to the present work.
An Assembly met at Edinburgh, July 20, 1653, concerning which, Mr Baillie thus writes to his friend Mr Calamy, minister at London:—"On the 20th of July last, when our Generall Assemblie wes sett in the ordinarie tyme and place, Lieutenant-Colonell Cotterall besett the Church with some rattes of musquetiers and a troup of horse; himself (after our fast, wherein Mr Dickson and Mr Dowglass had two gracious sermons) entered the Assemblie-house, and, immediately after Mr Dickson the Moderator his prayer, required audience; wherein he inquired, If we did sitt there by the authority of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of England? or of the Commanders-in-Chiefe of the English forces? or of the English Judges in Scotland? The Moderator replied, That we were ane ecclesiasticall Synod, ane spirituall court of Jesus Christ, which medled not with any thing civile; that our authoritie wes from God, and established by the lawes of the land yet standing unrepealed; that, by the Solemn League and Covenant, the most of the English army stood obliedged to defend our Generall Assemblie. When some speeches of this kind had passed, the Lieutenant-Colonell told us, his order wes to dissolve us; whereupon he commanded all of us to follow him, else he would drag us out of the rowme. When he had entered a protestation of this unheard-of and unexampled violence, we did ryse and follow him; he led us all through the whole streets a myle out of the towne, encompassing us with foot-companies of musqueteirs, and horsemen without; all the people gazing and mourning as at the saddest spectacle they had ever seen. When he had ledd us a myle without the towne, he then declared what further he had in commission, that we should not dare to meet any more above three in number; and that against eight o'clock to-morrow, we should depart the towne under paine of being guiltie of breaking the publick peace: And the day following, by sound of trumpet, we were commanded off towne under the paine of present imprisonment. Thus our Generall Assemblie, the glory and strength of our Church upon earth, is, by your souldiarie, crushed and trod under foot, withou the least provocatione from us, at this time, either in word or deed. For this our hearts are sadd, ou eyes runn downe with water, we sigh to God against whom we have sinned, and wait for the help of hi hand; bot from those who oppressed us we deserved no evill."