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, conveened at Edinburgh, July 12, 1648.
Sess. 1, July 12, 1648, post meridiem.—The Letter from the Synod of Divines in England to the Generall Assembly.
Right Honourable, Right Reverend, and dearly beloved Brethren in
As we have great cause to blesse God for the brotherly union of these two nations in the common cause of religion and liberty, and for that good hand of blessing which hath accompained the joynt endeavours of both in the prosecution thereof; so we cannot but be sadly and deeply sensible of those many obstructions and difficulties wherewith God, in his wisdom, hath seen good to exercise his servants in both kingdoms in the carrying on of that work wherein they stand so much engaged. Herein he hath clearly manifested his own power, wisdom, and goodnesse, for our encouragement to trust him in the managing of his own work, and our utter inability to effect it of our selves; thereby to train us up to a more humble and faithfull dependency upon him to do all, when we by our own wisdom and strength can do nothing. Our perplexities, we must confesse, are and have been many; and yet in the midst of them all we cannot but thankfully acknowledge it as a token for good, and that which hath been, and still is, a great comfort and refreshing to our hearts, that God hath given you wisdom timely to foresee approaching dangers, but especially to behold, as the stedfastnesse of your faith, in that both formerly you have been and at present are able to trust God in straits, and to appear for him in greatest dangers, so your eminent faithfulnesse and integrity, in your firm adhering to your first principles, and chiefly in your constancy and zeal for the preservation and prosecution of the Solemn League and Covenant, so religiously engaged in by both kingdoms; in your vigorous pursuance whereof, with much thankfulnesse to God, we are very sensible, more particularly of your steering so steady and even a course between the dangerous rocks of prophanesse and Malignancie on the one hand, and of errour, schisme, heresie, and blasphemy on the other hand; as also of your constant desires and endeavours to preserve the peace and union between the two nations, so nearly and so many wayes united. In all which we humbly acknowledge the mercy and faithfulnesse of God, in guiding you so graciously hitherto; and through his assistance we shall still be ready to afford you the best help and incouragement of our prayers and praises to God on your behalf; having this confidence, that he who hath already vouchsafed you and us so many blessed pledges of his favour, will, in his own time and way, accomplish his own work, which so much concerneth his own glory and his people's good. To his most gracious protection and guidance in these doubtfull and dangerous times we humbly commend you and all your holy endeavours, and rest.
Subscribed in the name, and by the appointment of the whole Assembly, by us,
Charles Herle, Prolocutor.
William Gouge, Assessor.
Henry Robrough, Scriba.
Adoniram Byfield, Scriba.
Westminster, June 7, 1648.
Direct.—To the Right Honourable, Right Reverend, the Generall Assembly of the Church of Scotland, or their Commissioners.
Sess. 4, July 15, 1648, ante meridiem.—Act concerning Commissions from Burghs.
It is resolved by the Generall Assembly, untill the matter concerning commissioners from burghs be further thought upon, that, in the mean time, according to the ordinary practise, no commission to the Generall Assembly be admitted from burghs, but such as shall be consented to and approven by the ministry and sessions thereof, the persons elected being always elders.
Sess. 6, July 18, 1648, ante meridiem.—Act concerning the Examining of the Proceedings of the Commissioners of Assemblies.
The Generall Assembly renews and revives the Act of the Assembly holden at Bruntiland, anno 1601, concerning the examination of the proceedings of the Commission of the Generall Assembly, tenour whereof follows: "The Assembly hath ordained, that in every Assembly to be conveened in all time coming, such as shall happen to be appointed commissioners from the Generall Assembly, to endure whill the Assembly next thereafter, shall give an account of their proceedings during the whole time of their commission in the beginning of the Assembly, before any other cause or matter be handled, and their proceedings to be allowed or disallowed as the Assembly shall think expedient."
Sess. 7, July 18, 1648, post meridiem.—Approbation of the Proceedings of the Commission of the preceding Assembly.
The Generall Assembly, having examined the proceedings of the commission of the preceding Assembly, especially their declarations, remonstrances, representations, petitions, vindication, and other papers, relating to the present Engagement in war, do unanimously finde, that in all their proceedings they have been zealous, diligent, and faithfull, in discharge of the trust committed to them; and, therefore, ratifie and approve the whole proceedings, acts, and conclusions, of the said commission; and particularly their papers relating to the said Engagement, and their judgement of the unlawfulnesse thereof; appointing Mr John Moncrieff, Moderator, pro tempore, to return them hearty thanks, in name of the Assembly, for their great pains, travells, and fidelity, in matters of so great concernment to the cause of God and to this Kirk, amidst so great and many difficulties.
Sess. 10, July 20, 1648, post meridiem.—Approbation of the Larger Catechisme.
The Generall Assembly, having exactly examined and seriously considered the Larger Catechisme agreed upon by the Assembly of Divines sitting at Westminster, with assistance of Commissioners from this Kirk, copies thereof being printed and sent to Presbyteries for the more exact tryall thereof, and publick intimation being frequently made in this Assembly, that every one that had any doubts or objections upon it might put them in; do finde, upon due examination thereof, that the said Catechisme is agreeable to the Word of God, and in nothing contrary to the received doctrine, worship, discipline, and government of this Kirk, a necessary part of the intended uniformity in religion, and a rich treasure for increasing knowledge among the people of God; and, therefore, the Assembly, as they blesse the Lord that so excellent a Catechisme is prepared, so they approve the same as a part of uniformity; agreeing, for their part, that it be a Common Catechisme for the three kingdoms, and a Directory for catechising such as have made some proficiency in the knowledge of the grounds of religion.
Sess. 11, July 21, 1648, ante meridiem.—Act against sudden admitting Deposed Ministers to particular Congregations.
The Generall Assembly, considering the danger of sudden receiving of deposed ministers at this time when Malignancy is likely to spread; therefore, finding it necessary, untill the ends of the Solemn League and Covenant be settled and secured, to restrain the suddenness of admitting deposed ministers to particular charges, do ordain that notwithstanding any license to be granted for opening the mouths of deposed ministers, yet they shall not be actually admitted to any particular congregations without consent of the Generall Assembly; declaring, for such as have already their mouths opened before the time, that if any calling to a particular charge offer unto them before the next Assembly, it shall be sufficient for them to have the consent of the commissioners of this Generall Assembly.
Sess. 14, July 25, 1648, ante meridiem.—The Assemblie's Answer to the Paper sent from the Committee of Estates of the 24th July.
The Generall Assembly, having considered the paper of the 24th July, delivered to them from the Conference, and having compared it with the other paper of the 17th of July, presented from the Honourable Committee of Estates whereunto it relates, and with the declaration lately emitted by the Committee to the Parliament and kingdom of England, finde that it is supposed by their Lordships that we may be satisfied in point of the security of religion according to the Covenant, notwithstanding of the present Engagement in war; the Assembly do, therefore, in answer to the said paper, declare,—
That we see no possibility of securing religion, as long as this unlawfull Engagement is carried on, religion being thereby greatly endangered.
1. Because none of the just and necessary desires of the commission of the late General Assembly for securing religion have been granted or satisfied. More particularly, it was represented to the High and Honourable Court of Parliament, that for securing of religion it was necessary that the Popish, Prelaticall, and Malignant party be declared enemies to the cause, upon the one hand, as well as sectaries upon the other, and that all associations, either in forces or councels, with the former as well as the latter, be avoided. That his Majesty's concessions and offers concerning religion, sent home from the Isle of Wight, be declared by the Parliament to be unsatisfactory;—that before his Majesty's restitution to the exercise of his royall power, assurance be had from his Majesty, by his solemn oath, under his hand and seal, for settling religion according to the Covenant;—that their Lordships should keep themselves from owning any quarrel concerning his Majesty's negative voice;—that the managing of the publike affairs might be entrusted only to such persons as have given constant proof of their integrity, and against whom there is no just cause of exception or jealousie, and that there might be no engagement without a solemn oath, wherein the Kirk ought to have the same interest they had in the Solemn League and Covenant; all which are more particularly expressed in the papers given in by the commission of the late Assembly to the Parliament, notwithstanding the Engagement hath been carried on without satisfaction to these and the like desires, and so without giving security in the point of religion, but with great and manifest danger to the same.
2. As the happy union of the kingdoms, by the Solemn League and Covenant, hath been justly looked upon as a speciall means for preserving and strengthening the true Reformed religion in this island, so it is no lesse weakened and hurt by endeavouring a breach between these kingdoms; which, howsoever disclaimed, is yet manifest, from the reality of the publike proceedings in this Engagement, and namely, from the neglect of endeavouring a treaty between the kingdoms for preventing of war and bloodshed, as was earnestly desired—from their associating and joyning with known Malignants and incendiaries, and such as have been declared enemies to this cause—from their entring the kingdom of England with an army, upon the grounds of the declaration of the Parliament, which cannot but infer a nationall quarrel against the Parliament and kingdom of England—and from their garrisoning the frontire towns of that kingdom.
3. The Engagement is carried on by such means and ways as tend to the destroying of religion, by ensnaring and forcing the consciences of the people of God with unlawfull bands and oathes, and oppressing the persons and estates of such as have been most active and zealous for religion and the Covenant. All which is strengthened and authorized by acts of Parliament, appointing that all that do not obey, or perswade others not to obey, the resolutions of Parliament and committee, anent this Engagement, or who shall not subscribe the act and declaration of the 10th June 1648, imposed upon all the subjects, shall be holden as enemies to the cause and to religion, and have their persons secured, and their estates intromitted with.
4. The Engagement is carried on, not without great encroachments upon the liberties of the Kirk, as we are ready to clear in many particulars.
Wherefore, the security of religion, and carrying on of the present Engagement being inconsistent, we do propose, for the necessary security and safety of religion, that all the dangers thereof may be taken to consideration, and amongst the rest the said Engagement, as one of the greatest, which yet being established and authorized by act of Parliament, we leave it to their Lordships to think of what remedies may be provided for redressing grievances which flow from such acts and ordinances. This we are sure of, the publike desires of the Kirk will abundantly witnesse for us that such things as were necessary for the security of religion were in due season represented, and yet not granted by them that had greater power and authority at that time, when it was much more easie to give satisfaction therein then now; so that the blame cannot lye upon the Generall Assembly or their commissioners, that religion is not secured.
Sess. 18, July 28, 1648, ante meridiem.—Act and Declaration against the Act of Parliament and Committee of Estates, ordained to be subscribed the 10th and 12th of June, and against all new Oathes or Bands in the common Cause, imposed without consent of the Church.
The Generall Assembly, taking to consideration a Declaration and Act of Parliament, of the date 10th of June 1648, highly concerning religion and the consciences of the people of God in the land, and one act of the Committee of Estates, of the date 12th of June 1648, both published in print, whereby all subjects are ordained by subscription to acknowledge as just, and oblige themselves to adhere unto the said Act and Declaration, containing an obligation upon their honours and credits; and, as they desire to be, and to be holden as lovers of their country, religion, laws, and liberties, to joyn and concur with their persons and estates in the assistance of the execution and observation of the Acts and Constitutions of this Parliament, as the most fit and necessary remedies of the bygone and present evils and distractions of this Kirk and kingdom, and for the preservation of religion, laws, and liberties, and of his Majestie's authoritie; with certification, that such as refuse or delay to subscribe the same shall be holden as enemies and opposites to the common cause, consisting in the maintenance of the true Reformed religion, of the laws and liberties of the kingdom, and of his Majestie's authority. Which subscription the Assembly cannot otherwise look upon then as a snare for the people of God, to involve them in guiltinesse, and to draw them from their former principles and vows in the Solemn League and Covenant; for that subscription were and approving of some Acts of Parliament which they have never yet seen nor known, they not being all published—were an agreeing to Acts of Parliament highly concerning religion and the Covenant, made not only without, but expressly against, the advise of the Kirk—were an acknowledging of this present Engagement in war, in all the means and ways for promoving the same, to be the most fit and necessary remedies of the bygone and present evils; whereas so many petitions to the Parliament, from committees of war, synods, presbyteries, and paroches, have made it appear that they are no way satisfied therewith in point of conscience—were an ascribing of a power to the Parliament, to declare these to be enemies to the true religion whom the Kirk hath not declared to be such, but rather friends—were an approving of an act made for the restraining the liberty of printing from the Kirk; yea, and of all the acts of the Committee of Estates, to be made in time coming, till March 1650, which by Act of Parliament are ordained to be obeyed—were an allowing of Acts for securing of the persons, and intromitting with the estates, of such as themselves shall not obey, or perswade others not to obey, resolutions concerning this Engagement, and for protecting persons under Kirk censures; and so an infringing and violating of the liberties and discipline of the Kirk, established by the laws of the land, and sworn to in the Nationall Covenant to be defended, under the pains contained in the law of God. And in all these, such as do subscribe do binde themselves, not only to active obedience in their own persons, but to the urging of active obedience upon all others, and so draw upon themselves all the guiltinesse and sad consequences of the present Engagement; yea, such as are Members of Parliament, and have in the oath of Parliament sworn not to vote or consent to any thing but what, to their best knowledge, is most expedient for religion, kirk, and kingdom, and accordingly have reasoned against, and dissented from, divers Acts of this Parliament. These, by the subscription of this act, cannot eschew the dangers of perjury, in obliging themselves to active obedience to these acts, which according to their oath they did judge unlawfull. Neither can the 38th Act of the Parliament, 1640, wherein such a kinde of band was enacted to be subscribed, be any precedent or warrant for subscribing of this act; for it plainly appears by the narrative of that act omitted in this band, how great a difference there is between the condition of affairs then and now. Then the King's Commissioner had left and discharged the sitting of the Parliament—then the Parliament, for sitting, was declared traitors, and armies in England and Ireland prepared against them—then not only the acts, but the very authority of Parliament, was called in question—then Kirk and State were united in the cause against the Malignant party—then nothing was determined in Parliament in matters of religion without, much lesse against, the advice of the Kirk: but, beside that, it was not thought expedient by the State that that band should be pressed through the kingdom. The case now not only differs from what was then, but is in many things just contrary, as is evident to all who will compare the two together. And, therefore, the Generall Assembly, professing all tender respect to the High and Honourable Court of Parliament, and Committee of Estates, but finding a straiter tye of God lying upon their consciences, that they be not found unfaithfull watchmen, and betrayers of the souls of these committed to their charge, Do, unanimously, declare the foresaid subscription to be unlawfull and sinfull. And do warn, and in the name of the Lord, charge all the members of this Kirk to forbear the subscribing of the said Act and Declaration, much more the urging of the subscription thereof, as they would not incur the wrath of God and the censures of the Kirk. And, considering how necessary it is, that, according to the eighth desire of the Commissioners of the Assembly to the Parliament, the Kirk might have the same interest in any new oathes in this cause as they had in the Solemn League and Covenant, and what dangers of contradictory oathes, perjuries, and snares to men's consciences, may fall out otherwise: therefore, they likewise enjoyn all the members of this Kirk to forbear the swearing, subscribing, or pressing of any new oathes or bands in this cause, without advise and concurrence of the Kirk, especially any negative oathes or bands which may any way limit or restrain them in the duties whereunto they are obliged by Nationall or Solemn League and Covenant; and that with certification as aforesaid. And such as have already pressed or subscribed the foresaid Act and Declaration, the Generall Assembly doth hereby exhort them most earnestly in the bowels of Christ, to repent of that their defection. And ordains that Presbyteries, or in case of their negligence, or being overawed, the Provinciall Synods, or the Commission of the Assembly, which of them shall first occur, and in case of the Synod's negligence, that the said Commission be carefull to proceed against and censure the contraveeners of the act, according to the quality and degree of their offences, as they will be answerable to the Generall Assembly; and that, therefore, this act be sent to Presbyteries to be published in the severall kirks of their bounds.
Sess. 19, Eodem die, post meridiem.—Approbation of the Shorter Catechisme.
The Generall Assembly, having seriously considered the Shorter Catechisme, agreed upon by the Assembly of Divines sitting at Westminster, with assistance of Commissioners from this Kirk, doe finde, upon due examination thereof, that the said Catechisme is agreeable to the Word of God, and in nothing contrary to the received doctrine, worship, discipline, and government of this Kirk; and, therefore, approve the said Shorter Catechisme, as a part of the intended uniformity, to be a Directory for catechising such as are of weaker capacitie.
Act discharging a Little Catechisme, printed at Edinburgh, 1647.
The Generall Assembly, having found in a little Catechisme, printed at Edinburgh, entituled, "The A. B. C. with the Catechisme: that is to say, an Instruction to be Taught and Learned of Young Children," very grosse errours in the point of Universall Redemption, and in the number of the Sacraments; therefore, doe discharge the venting or selling of the said Catechisme of the foresaid impression, or of whatsoever other impression the same be of, and all use thereof in schools or families; inhibiting also all printers to reprint the same, and recommends to Presbyteries to take speciall care that this act be obeyed.
Sess. 21, Ult. July 1648, post meridiem.—A Declaration of the Generall Assembly, concerning the present Dangers of Religion, and especially the unlawfull Engagement in War against the Kingdom of England, together with many necessary Exhortations and Directions to all the Members of the Kirk of Scotland. (fn. 1)
It cannot seem strange to any that considereth the great trust that lyeth on us, comparing the same with the eminent dangers wherewith the cause of God is invironed in this land, if at this time we declare our sense thereof, and warn the people of God from this watch-tower of the present duties incumbent to them. Our witnesse is in heaven, and our record on high, that we doe not this from any disrespect to the Parliament, whom we have honoured and will ever honour, and also obey, in all things which are agreeable to the Word of God, to our Solemn Covenants, and to the duties of our callings—nor from any disloyalty or undutifulnesse to the King's Majesty, to whom we heartily wish, and to his posterity after him, a happy reigne over these dominions—nor from any factious disposition, or siding with this or that party whatsoever—nor from any contentious humour about light or small matters—nor from any favour to or complyance with sectaries, against whose cursed opinions and ungodly practises we have heretofore given ample testimony, and are still obliged by Solemn Covenant to endeavour the extirpation of heresie and schism; but from the conscience of our duty when the glory of God, the kingdom of his Son, his Word, ordinances, government, covenant, ministery, consciences of people, peace and liberties of the Kirk, are encompassed and almost overwhelmed, with great and growing dangers.
How freely and faithfully the servants of God of old have rebuked sin in persons of all ranks, not sparing kings, states, nor kingdoms, the Scripture maketh it most plain to all that look thereon. Neither want we domestick examples, if we look back a little upon the behaviour of our zealous ancestours in this Kirk, who not only in their sermons severally, with great gravity and freedom reproved the sins of the time, but more especially in the Kirk judicatories, plain and downright dealing was most frequent and familiar, as appears in the Assemblies holden in June and in October 1582, in October 1583, in May 1592, in May 1594, and in March 1595. And not only the General Assembly by themselves, but also by their commissioners, faithfully and freely laboured to oppose all the steps of defection; as at other times, so in the year 1596, wherein four or five severall times they gave most free admonitions to the King, Parliament, and Councell, with a protestation at the last before God, that they were free of their blood, and of whatsoever judgement should fall upon the realm; and that they durst not, for fear of committing high treason against Jesus Christ, the only Monarch of his Kirk, abstain any longer from fighting against their proceedings with the spirituall armour granted to them of God, and mighty in him for overthrowing all these bulwarks set up against his kingdom: And in their declaration then emitted to the kingdom, they shew that it was a main design to have the freedom of the Spirit of God, in the rebuke of sin, by the mouth of his servants, restrained; and, therefore, they warne all pastours of their duty in applying doctrine and free preaching. Like as the Assembly, 24th March 1595-6, reckons up amongst the corruptions of the ministery, to be censured with deprivation if continued in, the not applying their doctrine against the corruptions of the time, which was renewed in our late Assembly at Glasgow, 1638. What hath been done since that Assembly is in recent memory, and the papers to that purpose have been published in print, and are in the hands of all. Therefore, being warranted by the Word of God, and encouraged by the forementioned examples, as after exact examination we have approven the proceedings of the Commissioners of the last Generall Assembly, and specially their declarations, desires, representations, remonstrances, supplications, vindication, and other papers, relating to the present Engagement in war, wherein they have given good proof of their fidelity, wisdom, and zeal, in the cause of God, so we finde our selves necessitate to make known unto all the people of God in this nation our sense concerning the dangers and duties of this present time.
The cry of the insolencies of this present army, from almost all the parts of this kingdom, hath been so great that it hath gone up to heaven, and if we should be silent we could not be reputed faithfull in the performance of our duty. We do acknowledge that it is incident unto all armies to be subject unto some disorders, and the ministers of the kingdom have not been deficient in former times to represent the same as they come unto their knowledge, calling for the redresse of them at their hands who had power; but the commissioners of this present Assembly from the severall provinces, have exhibited great variety of abominable scandals, and heinous impieties, and insolencies, committed by persons employed in this service, whereof we think fitting here to give you a touch.
As if liberty had been proclaimed to the lusts of lewd men, these that have been employed in very many places of the land have used horrible extortion of moneys at their pleasure, and beside the taking of victuals as they would for their own use, they have in severall places wilfully destroyed the same, and have plundred many houses, taking all away they could, and destroying what they could not carry away. In this great oppression and spoil of goods, as the sufferers were many, so choise hath been made of those who petitioned the High and Honourable Court of Parliament for satisfaction to their consciences before the Engagement, or who were known to make conscience of the worship of God in their families, on whom they might exercise their raging wrath and unsatiable covetousnesse. Nor stayed their rage here; but as though the war had been against God, publick fasts have not only been neglected, but profaned by riotous spending and making merry—divine worship hath been in many parts disturbed—some ministers and people impeded from coming together, others scattered when they were met—some taken out of kirks in time of worship, others apprehended at their coming out at the kirk doors, and carryed away. Besides these, ministers in performing the worship of God have been menaced, contradicted, not without blasphemous oathes; yea, their persons in pulpit assaulted, not to speak of the spoiling of their goods, taking, beating, carrying away their persons, and detaining them for a time. And, finally, that which exceeds all the rest, and is more immediately and directly against God, there hath also been many cruell mockings of his worship, and horrid blasphemies; and it is not to be marvelled that such insolencies have been committed, since there hath been admitted upon this service some Papists, some bloody Irish rebels, some Non-Covenanters, and very many fugitives from Kirk discipline; finally, even those who have been upon the late rebellion, and these not only common souldiers but commanders, besides many voluntiers, who have no speciall command and trust.
Besides all these, the liberties of the Kirk have been grievously encroached upon,—1. By emitting Declarations from the Parliament and Committee of Estates, containing severall things highly concerning religion, without the advice or consent of the Generall Assembly or their Commissioners, which was a ground of protestation to divers Members of Parliament, who have been most zealous and active in the cause. 2. The article of religion, as expressed in the Declaration of Parliament, hath in it many dangerous expressions, which are particularly instanced in the representation of the Commissioners of the Generall Assembly; and the same article of religion, in the late Declaration of the Committee of Estates of England, is more unsatisfactory than the former: like as in the said late Declaration there is a totall omission of some most materiall things, pretended to in the Declaration of Parliament as satisfactory in point of securing religion, viz., the clause concerning security to be had from his Majesty, by his solemn oath, under his hand and seal, that he shall, for himself and his successors, give his royall assent, and agree to such act or acts of Parliament and bills as shall be presented to him by his Parliaments of both and either kingdoms respectively, for enjoyning Presbyteriall Government, Directory of Worship, and Confession of Faith, in all his Majestie's dominions, and that his Majestie shall never make opposition to any of those, nor endeavour any change thereof; also the clause against association with any that refuse to take the Covenant is omitted. From all which it may appear in how great danger the liberties of the Kirk and even religion it self are left. 3. In the close of the Declaration of Parliament there is a new and unsound glosse put upon the Covenant and Acts of the Generall Assembly, contrary to the sense of the General Assembly itself, as is more fully expressed in the representation of the late Commission. 4. No redresse by the Parliament of certain injuries complained of the their Lordships by the Commissioners of the preceding Generall Assembly. 5. Endeavours to weaken and frustrate Kirk censures, by making provisions for securing the stipends of such as shall be censured for their concurring in or preaching for this present Engagement. 6. A misrepresentation of the proceedings of the Commission of the Generall Assembly, by the Parliament's Letter, of May 11, to the severall Presbyteries, endeavouring to incense them against the Commission of the late Assembly, and to preoccupie their Commissioners to this Assembly. 7. Whereas, there were many petitions presented to the High and Honourable Court of Parliament, from the Commissioners of the Generall Assembly, Synods, and Presbyteries, against the present Engagement, as stated in the Parliament's Declaration; yet, notwithstanding of the said petitions, and notwithstanding of many free and frequent warnings given by faithfull ministers in their sermons—notwithstanding also, that it was not unknown how much the generality of the well affected in the kingdom were unsatisfied in their consciences with the grounds and way of the said Engagement, yet good people are not only left unsatisfied in their and our desires, but compelled and forced either to sin against their consciences, or to be under heavy pressures and burdens. 8. Yea, in the late band, injoyned to be subscribed by all the subjects of this kingdom, men are put to it to joyn and concur with their persons and estates in the advancement, furtherance, and assistance of the execution, obedience, and observation of the acts and constitutions of the late Parliament; and, consequently, as many as think the Engagement unlawful, shall binde themselves not only to obey for their own part against their consciences, but to inforce the same upon others who refuse; and so, not only be oppressed, but turn oppressours of others. 9. This all the subjects are required by the Act and Declaration of Parliament to subscribe, as they desire to be holden true lovers of religion; it being further affirmed in the said Act and Declaration, that the Acts and Constitutions of the late Parliament are the most fit and necessary remedies for preservation of religion; where the Parliament assume to themselves, without the advice and consent of the Assemblies of the Kirk, to judge and determine such things, wherein (if in any thing) the ecclesiastical Assemblies have undoubtedly a speciall interest, viz., who are to be holden lovers of religion, and what are the most fit and necessary remedies for preservation of religion: yea, it is ordained by the fourth act of Parliament, 1640, that for preservation of religion, Generall Assemblies rightly constitute, as the proper and competent judge of all matters ecclesiastical, be keeped yearly and oftner, pro re nata. The Coronation Oath doth also suppose the antecedent judgement of the Kirk, as the proper and competent judge who are enemies to true religion, and who not; for his Majesty obliged himself by that oath, that he should be carefull to root out all hereticks and enemies to the true worship of God, who shall be convict by the true Kirk of God of the aforesaid crimes. 10. The General Assembly and their commissioners are now deprived of their liberty of printing, confirmed and ratified by act of Parliament, there being an inhibition to the contrary upon the printer, under the pain of death, by the Committee of Estates.
Whereas the desires of the commissioners of the last Assembly, for the safety and security of religion, and the right manner of proceeding to war, together with the supplications of Provinciall Assemblies and Presbyteries, all tending to the composing of the present unhappy differences, and to the begetting of a right understanding, have not produced the desired and wished for effect; but, on the contrary, our just grievances being still more and more heightned, iniquity established by a law, and that law put in execution, we cannot chuse but declare and give warning to all the people of God in this land, concerning the sinfulnesse and unlawfulnesse of the present Engagement, which may be demonstrate by many reasons, as, namely—
1. The wars of God's people are called the wars of the Lord, Numb. xxi. 14; 2 Chron. xx. 15. And if our eating and drinking, much more our engaging in war, must be for God, and for his glory, 1 Cor. x. 31. Whatsoever we do in word or deed, we are commanded to do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, and so for his glory, Col. iii. 17. The kingdom of God, and the righteousnesse thereof, is to be sought in the first place, and before all other things, Matth. vi. 33. It was the best flower and garland, in the former expeditions of this nation, that they were for God and for religion principally and mainly. But if the principall end of this present Engagement were for the glory of God, how comes it to passe, that not so much as one of the desires of the Kirk, for the safety and security of religion in the said Engagement, is to this day satisfied or granted? but, on the contrary, such courses taken as are destructive to religion. And if God's glory be intended, what meaneth the employing and protecting in this army so many blasphemers, persecutors of piety, disturbers of divine worship, and others guilty of notorious and crying sins? Again, how can it be pre tended that the good of religion is principally aimed at, when it is proposed and declared, that the King's Majesty shall be brought to some of his houses in or near London, with honour, freedom, and safety, before ever there be any security had from him, or so much as any application made to him, for the good of religion? What is this but to postpone the honour of God, the liberties of the Gospel, the safety of God's people to an humane interest, and to leave religion in a condition of uncertainty, unsetlednesse and hazard, while it is strongly endeavoured to settle and make sure somewhat else?
2. Suppose the ends of this Engagement to be good, (which they are not,) yet the meanes and ways of prosecution are unlawfull, because there is not ane equall avoiding of rocks on both hands, but a joyning with Malignants to suppresse Sectaries, a joyning hands with a black devill to beat a white devil; they are bad physicians who would so cure one disease as to breed another as evil, or worse. That there is in the present Engagement a confederacy and association in war with such of the English who, according to the Solemn League and Covenant, and Declarations of both Kingdoms, 1643, can be no otherwise looked upon but as Malignants and enemies of Reformation and the cause of God, is now made so manifest before sun and moon, that we suppose none will deny it; and 'tis no lesse undeniable, that not only many known Malignants, but diverse who joyned in the late rebellion within this kingdom, are employed, yea, put into places of trust; all which how contrary it is to the Word of God, no man can be ignorant who will attentively search the Scriptures; for we finde therein condemned confederacies and associations with the enemies of true religion, whether Canaanites, Exod. xxiii. 32, and xxxiv. 12, 15; Deut. vii. 2; or other heathens, 1 Kings xi. 1, 2; such was Asa his covenant with Benhadad, 2 Chron. xvi. to ver. 10; Ahaz his confederacy with the King of Assyria, 2 Kings xvi. 7, 10; 2 Chron. xxviii. 16 to ver. 23; or whither the association was with wicked men of the seed of Abraham, as Jehoshaphat's with Achab, 2 Chron. xviii. 3, compared with chap. xix. 2; also his association with Ahaziah, 2 Chron. xx. 35; and Amaziah's associating to himself one hundred thousand of the Ten Tribes, when God was not with them, 2 Chron. xxv. 7, 8, 9, 10. The sin and danger of such associations may further appear from Isaiah viii. 12, 15; Jer. ii. 18; Psal. cvi. 35; Hos. v. 13, and vii. 8, 11; 2 Cor. vi. 14, 15; and if we should esteem God's enemies to be our enemies, and hate them with perfect hatred, Psal. cxxxix. 21, how can we then joyn with them as confederates and associates, especially in a cause where religion is so highly concerned; and seeing they have been formerly in actuall opposition to the same cause ?
3. We are commanded, if it be possible, and as much as lieth in us, to have peace with all men, Rom. xii. 18; to seek peace and pursue it, Psal. xxxiv. 14. War and bloodshed is the last remedy after all the ways and means of peace have been used in vain. The intended war of the nine tribes and a half against the two tribes and half was prevented by a message and treaty of peace, Josh. xxii. The like means was used by Jepthah (though not with the like success) for the preventing of war with the King of Ammon, Judg. xi. The very light of nature hath taught heathens not to make war till first all amicable wayes of preventing bloodshed were tried; yet this war hath been driven on without observing any such method of proceeding, except by a message, wherein not so much as one breach was represented. Yea, though these two kingdoms are straitly united in Covenant, yet these who have carried on this war did not only neglect to desire a treaty, but also slight an offer of a treaty made from the Parliament of England upon the propositions of both kingdoms.
4. There are many clear and full testimonies of Scriptures against the breach and violation of covenants, although but between man and man, Psal. lv. 20; Rom. i. 31; 2 Tim. iii. 3; especially where the name of God was interposed in covenants by any of his people, Jer. xxxiv. 8, 10, 11, 18; Ezek. xvii. 18, 19. How much more the violation of a solemn covenant between God and his people, Lev. xxvi. 15, 25; Deut. xvii. 2, and xxix. 21, 24, 25; Jer. xxii. 8, 9; 1 Kings xix. 10; Dan. xi. 32; Hos. vi. 7. If, therefore, the present Engagement be a breach of our Solemn League and Covenant, then they who have before taken the Covenant, and have now joyned in this Engagement, must grant by necessary and infallible consequence, either that the Covenant itself which they took was unlawful, and such as they cannot per form without sin, (which yet they cannot professe,) or otherwise that the Engagement is unlawfull and sinfull, as being a breach of covenant, and so contrary to the Word of God. That the present Engagement is a breach of covenant, may appear by comparing it with each of the Articles, for it is against all the six Articles of the Covenant.
Against the first, because, instead of the preservation of the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government of this Kirk, there is not only a great quarrelling by those that do engage, at the present doctrine and free preaching, a disturbing of and withdrawing from the worship, and namely from the late solemn humiliation; but also a refusall of such things as were desired by the Commission of the late Assembly and Provinciall Synods, as necessary to the preservation of the true Reformed religion; and we have just cause of fear that the reformation of religion, in doctrine, worship, discipline, and government, is not intended to be sufficiently maintained and preserved, when we finde such a limitation and restriction in the late Declaration of the Committee of Estates to the Parliament and kingdom of England, "That they will maintain and preserve the reformation of religion, doctrine, worship, discipline, and government, as is by the mercy of God, and his Majestie's goodnesse, established by law among us;" but as there is no such limitation in the Covenant, so we have not had such proof of his Majesty's goodnesse, as to establish by law all that hath been by the mercies of God enacted in Generall Assemblies. As to the rest of the first article, concerning the reformation of England and Ireland and the uniformity, as there was some hopefull beginings thereof, and a good foundation laid during the late war against the Popish, Prelaticall, and Malignant party, so the state and ground of the war being now altered, and these chosen for confederates and associates in the war who are known enemies to that reformation and uniformity, how can the Covenant be keeped in that point as long as such a war is carried on ?
The second article is violated, because, instead of endeavouring to extirpate Popery and superstition, without respect of persons, (as exprest in the Covenant,) there is in the late Declaration of the Committee of Estates a desire of the Queen's return, without any condition tending to the restraint of her masse or exercise of Popery. We do also conceive there is a tacit condescending to the toleration of superstition and the Book of Common Prayer in his Majesty's family; because, as it was reserved by himself in his concession, brought home by the Commissioners of this kingdom, so these concessions were never plainly declared by the Parliament to be unsatisfactory to their Lordships—howbeit it hath been often and earnestly desired. Neither can we conceive how the clause concerning the extirpation of Prelacy can consist with endeavouring to bring his Majesty with honour, freedom, and safety, to one of his houses in or about London, without any security had from him for the abolition of Prelacy, it being his known principle, (and publickly declared by himself shortly after he went to the Isle of Wight,) that he holds himself obliged in conscience, and by his Coronation Oath, to maintain Archbishops, Bishops, &c. Can it be said that they are endeavouring to extirpate Prelacy who, after such a declaration, would put in his Majesty's hand an opportunity to restore it ?
As for the third article, we cannot conceive how the preserving of the priviledges of Parliament, and asserting the King's negative voice can consist; and we are sorrowfull that, under the colour of the priviledges of Parliament, the liberties of the subjects are overthrown, and the persons and estates of such as have been best affected to the cause and Covenant are exposed to most grievous injuries, crying oppressions. And whereas the duty in preserving and defending his Majesty's person and authority is, by the third article of the Covenant, qualified with and subordinate unto the preservation and defence of the true religion and liberties of the kingdoms; there is no such qualification nor subordination observed in the present Engagement, but, on the contrary, it is so carried on, as to make duties to God and religion conditional, qualified, limited; and duties to the King absolute and unlimited.
The fourth article of the Covenant is so foully broken, that they who were by that article declared enemies, incendiaries, Malignants, and therefore to be brought to condigne tryall and punishment, are now looked upon as friends and associates, and are the men who get most favour and protection, and sundry of them employed in places of trust in the army and committees.
For the fifth article, instead of endeavouring to preserve peace and union, a breach is endeavoured between the kingdoms, not only by taking in and garrisoning their frontier towns, but also entering the kingdom of England with an army, and joyning with the common enemies of both kingdoms, notwithstanding of an offer of a treaty upon the propositions of both kingdoms, made by the Parliament of England to the Parliament of this kingdom. And whether the way of this Engagement can consist with the large treaty between the kingdoms, we shall wish the Honourable Committee of Estates may yet take it into their serious second thoughts.
The sixth is also manifestly broken, for we are thereby obliged to assist and defend all those that entered into this League and Covenant, in maintaining and pursuing thereof, whereas the army now entered into England is to assist and defend many who have not entered into that League and Covenant: And for those who took the Covenant in that nation, and continue faithfull in it, what they may expect from this army, may be collected not only from their carriage towards their brethren at home, but also from that clause toward the close of the late Declaration of the Committee of Estates—"And that we will do prejudice or use violence to none, (as far as we are able,) but to such as oppose us, or such ends above mentioned." It cannot be unknown that many of the English nation who are firm and faithfull to the Covenant, and Presbyteriall government, do and will, according to their places and callings, oppose some of those ends above mentioned in that Declaration; as namely, the restoring both of King and Queen without any condition or security first had from them; and so by that rule in the Declaration they must expect to be used as enemies, not as friends. That sixth article is also broken by a departing from the first principles and resolutions, and by dividing and withdrawing from those that adhere thereunto, which hath been before cleared by the Commission of the late Generall Assembly in their declaration in March, representation, and other papers, published in print.
5. We leave it to be seriously pondered by every one who is truly conscientious, whether it be any ways credible or probable, or agreeable to Scripture rules, that the generality of all that have been most faithfull and cordiall to the Covenant and cause of God should be deceived, deluded, and darkened in this businesse, and that they who, for the most part, were enemies to the work of God in the beginning, and have never brought forth fruits meet for repentance, should now finde out the will of God more then his most faithfull servants in the land. And who that fears God will believe that Malignants are for the ends of the Covenant, and that they who are most instrumentall in this reformation are against the ends of the Covenant.
All which considered, as we could not, without involving our selves in the guiltinesse of so unlawfull an Engagement, yield to the desire for the army of ministers to be sent by us to attend them; so we do earnestly exhort, and in the name and authority of Jesus Christ, charge and require all and every one of the members of this reformed Kirk of Scotland—
I. That they search narrowly into the sins which have procured so great judgements and so sad an interruption of the work of God—that they examine themselves, consider their wayes, be much in humiliation and prayer, study a reall and practicall reformation—that they also mourn and sigh for the abominations of the land, and stand in the gap to turn away the wrath. Among all these fearfull sins, the violation of the Solemn League and Covenant would not be forgotten, but seriously laid to heart, as that which eminently provoketh the Lord, and procureth his judgements to be powred forth not only upon persons and families, but also upon states and kingdoms. Covenant breakers, though in common things, are reckoned by the Apostle in that catalogue of the abominations of the Gentiles: But among the people of God, where his great name is interposed, the breach of covenant even in meaner matters, such as the setting of servants at liberty, provoketh the Lord to say, "Behold I proclaim a liberty for you (saith the Lord) to the sword, to the pestilence, and to the famine, and I will give the men that hath transgressed my covenant;" and (not excepting, but expresly mentioning princes) he addes, "I will give them into the hands of their enemies." The history of the Gibeonites, who surreptitiously procured the covenant made to spare them, and whom Saul some ages thereafter, in his zeal to the children of Israel and Judah, sought to slay, as being cursed Canaanites, evidenceth with what ven geance the Lord followeth covenant-breakers, whereof there wants not in prophane history also, both forreign and domestick, examples. Therefore, let all the inhabitants of the land, of whatsoever rank, seriously ponder how terrible judgements the violation of a convenant so recently, so advisedly, so solemnly made, and in so weighty matters, may draw on. if not timously prevented by speedy repentance.
II. That they so respect and honour authority, as that they be not the servants of men, nor give obedience to the will and authority of rulers in any thing which may not consist with the Word of God, but stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made them free, and obey God rather then men.
III. That they carefully avoid the dangerous rocks and snares of this time, whereby so many are taken and broken.
Upon the one hand, the sowre leaven of Malignancy, where ever it enters, spoileth and corrupteth the whole lump, postponing religion and the cause of God to humane interest, what ever be pretended to the contrary, and obstructing the work of reformation and propagation of religion, out of false respects and creature interest. As this hath formerly abounded in the land, to the prejudice of the cause and work of God, so of late it is revived, spreading with specious pretences of vindicating wrongs done to his Majesty. We desire not to be mistaken, as if respect and love to his Majesty were branded with the infamous mark of Malignancy; but hereby we warn all who would not come under this foul stain, not only in their speech and profession, but really and in their whole carriage, not to prefer their own and the interest of any creature whatsoever before the interest of Christ and religion. The characters of these have been fully given in former declarations, specially in the declaration of the Commissioners of the Generall Assembly in March last, which we hold as here repeated; only adding this, that they ordinarly traduce kirk judicatures, as medling with civill affairs, which as it is no new calumny, but such as hath been cast upon the servants of God in former times, so the whole course of proceedings doth manifestly confute the same.
Upon the other hand, sectarisme hath no lesse hindered the blessed and glorious work of reformation in our neighbour kingdom, against the venome whereof, lest it approach and infect this Kirk, we have need to watch diligently, to avoid all the beginnings and dangerous appearances thereof. The many faithfull testimonies from godly ministers in severall parts of England, against the vile errours and abominable blasphemies abounding there, as they are to us matter of rejoycing before the Lord; so they ought to be looked on as warnings to all sorts of people, especially that regard religion, to beware of Satan's snares, craftily set to catch their souls. And because such gangreens creep insensibly, all that love the honour of God and welfare of religion, would seriously consider the following points, both by way of marks to discern, and meanes to escape the danger of this infection—
1. Whosoever are misprisers of the blessed work of reformation established within this land, and do not show themselves grieved for the impediments and obstructions it hath met with in our neighbour kingdom, these are even on the brink of this precipice, ready to tumble down in this gulf whensoever occasion is offered; all, therefore, that love the Lord Jesus would stir up their hearts, in the light and strength of the Lord, highly to prize and thankfully to acknowledge what the right hand of the Most High hath done among us, as also to thirst fervently after the advancing and perfecting of the Lord's work among our neighbours.
2. Disrespect to the publick ministery and ordinances is a symptome of a dangerous inclination to that disease; and, therefore, as all Christ's ministers ought to stir up themselves to walk as becometh their high and holy calling, lest they be stumbling-blocks to the people of God; so also all the people of God ought most carefully to stir up themselves unto a precious estimation of the ordinances of God, and highly to esteem the stewards thereof for their work's sake—a duty at all times needfull, but now especially, when Sathan by all means endeavours the contrary.
3. Indifferency in points of religion, and pleading for toleration to themselves or others, how far soever different among themselves, is not to be forgotten among the characters of sectaries, and, therefore, ought the more carefully to be avoided and opposed by all who desire to hold fast the profession of their faith without wavering.
4. They who are glorying in and sceking after new lights, or, under the pretext of them, are self-conceited in singular opinions, or who affect new and strange expressions, are entring into the snare, "ready to be carried about with every winde of doctrine." And, therefore, albeit we ought always, as disciples of the Lord, to set our selves as in hs sight, to be taught by his Spirit according to his Word, yet in this time, so fertile of errours, it becometh all the lovers of truth to hold fast what they have received, that no man take their crown.
5. Whosoever, brings in any opinion or practise in this Kirk contrary to the Confession of Faith, Directory of Worship, or Presbyterian Government, may be justly esteemed to be opening the door to schisme and sects: And, therefore, all depravers or miscrontructers of the proceedings of kirk judicatories, especially the Gnerall Assembly, would take heed least, by making a breach upon the walls of Jerusalem, they make a patent way for sectaries to enter.
6. They who separate the Spirit from the Word, and pretend the Spirit, when they have no ground or warrant from the Word, are already taken in an evil snare: And, therefore,'tis necessary to try the spirits, whether they are of God, for many false prophets are gone out into the world; "if they speak not according to the word, it is because there is not light in them."
Besides the former, these are also marks of a sectary: If any commend and recommend to others, or spread and divulge the errneous books of sectaries, if any allow, avow, or use conventicles or private meetings forbidden by the Acts of the Generall Assembly, 1641 and 1647, last past—if any be unwilling, and decline to reckon sectaries among the enemies of the Covenant, from whom danger is tobe apprehended—and (though we disallow the abusing and idolizing of learning to the patronicie of errour, or prejudice of piety) if any contemn literature as needlesse at best, if not also hurtfull to a minister.
When we thus expresse our selves for preventing the dangers of sects and schimes, it is far from our intention to discourage any from the duties of piety and mutuall edification, according to the directions of the last Assembly, published in print, and seriously recommended by them, or to give any advantage to Malignants and prophane persons, with whom it is frequent to cast upon all those who adhere to former principles, and cannot approve the present Engagement, the odious nicknames of Sectaries and Independents. For the better discovery of such prophane mockers, we give these marks and characters: 1. They do prophanely and tauntingly abuse the name of the Spirit, under that name deriding the work of grace and sanctification. 2. They esteem and speak of exercises of conscience as fancies or fits of melancholy. 3. They mock at family worship, and the means of mutuall edification so much recommended by the last Assembly, in their directions. 4. They do usually calumniate godly ministers, and professors who follow holinesse, with the names of Sectaries, or the like odious names, without any just cause. As we account all such to be enemies to the practise and power of godlinesse, so we do exhort all the lovers of truth to hold on in the way of holinesse, through good report and ill report, being stedfast, immovable, alwayes abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as they know their labour is not in vain in the Lord.
IV. That they do not concur in nor any way assist this present Engagement, as they would not partake in other men's sins, and so receive of their plagues; but that, by the grace and assistance of Christ, they stedfastly resolve to suffer the rod of the wicked, and the utmost which wicked men's malice can afflict them with, rather then to put forth their hand to iniquity.
V. That they suffer not themselves to be abused with fair pretences and professions usuall in the mouths of those that carry on this designe, and often published in their papers, but remembers that the foulest actions have not wanted specious pretences; and if they who killed the Apostles did both pretend and intend to do God good service, what marvall that they who engage against the Covenant pretend to engage for it. Neither is it to be forgotten, that after the first subscription or our National Covenant, these who had the chief hand in managing publick affairs, and had subscribed the Covenant, especially the Duke of Lenox, and Captain Jones, then Earl of Arran, in the years 1581, 1582, 1583, 1584, when their designe was to subvert both the doctrine and discipline of this Kirk, yet gave great assurances, by promises and oaths, to the contrary. At the Assemblies 1598, 1599, 1600, it was declared, with many vows and attestations by the King, statesmen, and these ministers who were aspiring to Prelacy, that they intended no such thing as a change of the government of the Kirk, or an introducing of Episcopacy, yet they were really doing what they disclaimed and professed not to do. And suppose that some who have an active hand in carrying on the present publick affairs, have no design either to destroy religion or utterly to sleight it; yet the way they are on, and work they are about, as it is contrived, doth of itself, and in its own nature, tend to the endangering, if not to the utter subversion of religion; for it cannot be denyed, but the very undertaking of this war sets the once suppressed Malignants on work again, and successe therein puts them in a capacity to set up, according to their principles, abolished and adjured corruptions, which will be the more hardly hindered, considering his Majesty's propension, and professed resolution that way, especially seeing his Majesty's concessions (though it hath been often desired) have never been plainly declared unsatisfactory by the Parliament. And who in reason can think that any more then his Majesty's concessions sent from the Isle of Wight will be required of him, by them who thereupon have proceeded to this Engagement. The King's negative voice, (asserted in the papers of the Commissioners of this kingdom unto England, which are owned in the late Declaration to the Kingdom of England as the sense of this kingdom,) considered in relation to religion, makes the danger yet the greater and more palpable, yea, may reach further to shake and unsettle religion established in this land; if to the premises this be added, which is not only often declared but also demanded, that his Majesty be brought to one of his houses in honour, freedom, and safety, which may infer the admitting of his Majesty to the free exercise of his royall power, before security had from him for religion, or application made to him for the same, who sees not now what hazard religion runs, certainly greater then a good intention can salve ?
VI. That they do not mistake or misunderstand the nature of the true Reformed religion, and of the government of Jesus Christ, as if thereby either the prerogative of kings, priviledges of parliaments, or liberties of burghs, and other corporations, were any wayes hurt or weakened; whereas indeed religion is the main pillar and upholder of civill authority or magistracie, and it is the resisting, and not the receiving, of the government of Christ, which hath overturned civill powers. If the throne be established by righteousnesse, (as we are plainly taught by the Word of God,) then it is overthrowne by unrighteousnesse and iniquity.
VII. That they beware of all things which may ensnare their consciences, as evil councell, evil company, false informations, rash promises; and especially that they beware of taking any oathes, subscribing any bonds which may relate to the Covenant and cause of God, unlesse such oaths or bonds be approved by the Generall Assembly or their Commissioners for the Publique Affairs of the Kirk.
VIII. That they do not cast away their confidence nor sink into despair, because of the present dangers and difficulties, but live by faith, wait for better times, and continue stedfast, as seeing him who is invisible, firmly believing that such a course as is not of God, but against him, will come to naught.
IX. To remember that as the violation of the Covenant by some in England doth not set us free from the observation thereof; and as no laws nor authority on earth can absolve us from so solemn an obligation to the Most High God, (which not only hath been professed by this Kirk, but in a petition of the city of London, and in publique testimonies of many of the ministery of England;) so we are not acquited and assoiled from the obligation of our Solemn Covenant because of the troubles and confusions of the times; but that in the worst of times all those duties, whereunto by Covenant we oblige ourselves, do still lie upon us; for we have sworn, (and must perform it,) concerning that cause and Covenant wherein we solemnly engaged, "that we shall all the dayes of our lives zealously and constantly continue therein, against all opposition, and promove the same according to our power, against all lets and impediments whatsoever." And if against all lets and impediments whatsoever, then the altering of the way of opposition, or of the kinde of impediments, doth not alter the nature or tye of the Covenant, but we are obliged to all the duties therein contained.
We do also exhort and charge, in Christ's name, the Prince of pastors, all the ministers within this Kirk, that in no wayes they be accessory to this sinfull Engagement, but in all their conferences and reasoning, especially in their publick doctrine, they declare themselves freely and faithfully, as they would eschew the wrath of God, due for a violated Covenant, and as they would escape the censures of the Kirk; and let all Presbyteries be watchful within their bounds, and carefully, wisely, and zealously to inflict ecclesiastick censures.
Finally, we exhort all civill judicatories, and every one intrusted with power to manage the present affairs, that they would seriously remember the strict account they are to give before the Judge of the quick and the dead—considering deeply how fearfull a thing it is to oppresse the consciences of their brethren, either by pressing them to act where they finde no satisfactory warrant, or by putting heavy pressures upon them for not acting according to their injunctions; and especially that they offer not to insnare by new oaths or bonds those that make conscience of the great oath of their Solemn Covenant, and hitherto have proven faithfull and constant in promoving joyntly all the ends thereof.
If this our faithfull warning finde favourable acceptance, so that the grievous things already enacted be no more prosecuted and pressed, we shall blesse God, who reigns in the kingdoms and councells of men; but if it fall out otherwise, (as God forbid,) we have liberate our souls of the guiltinesse of this sinfull way of Engagement, and of all the miseries that shall ensue thereby upon this Kirk and kingdom; and shall lament before the Lord that our labours have not as yet had the desired successe. In the mean time, we dare not east away our confidence, but trusting in the name of the Lord, and staying upon our God, shall, by his grace and assistance, continue stedfast in our Solemn Covenants, and faithfull in all the duties of our calling.
Sess. 22, August, 1, 1648, ante meridiem.—The Generall Assemblie's Answer to the Paper sent from the Honourable Committee of Estates, of the date July 28, 1648.
The Generall Assembly, having considered the paper of the 28th of July, delivered to them from the Honourable Committee of Estates, do finde that the first part there of, concerning the great offers made by the Parliament and Committee of Estates for the security of religion, is no other but what was fully answered in our last paper of the 25th of July, delivered to their Lordships, wherein it was plainly demonstrate, by theologicall reasons, (though their Lordships are pleased to call them politick,) that the present Engagement is inconsistent with the safety and security of religion. Next, whereas it is affirmed in their Lordships' paper that these grounds and reasons are the same, which were fully answered before, we wish it had been instanced when and where they were answered, for we know no such thing.
Another reflection upon that former paper of ours is thus expressed: "That the Generall Assembly hath proceeded to such a declaration before they had, in an ecclesiastick way, from clear testimonies out of the Word of God or convincing of our consciences, demonstrate the unlawfulnesse of the undertaking;" where we can see no reason why it should seem so very strange to the Honourable Committee, that the Generall Assembly hath so proceeded to a declaration of their judgement concerning this businesse; for as it hath been no unusuall thing, but very ordinary, that approved Synods, both Provinciall, Nationall, and Oecumenicall, have declared their judgement, without publishing the particular grounds and reasons thereof from Scripture, (a work more proper for full tractates, then for synodicall decrees or cannons;) so if their Lordships had been pleased to attend (for many attended not) the late Parliament sermons, mainly intended for their Lordships' information, and had, with mindes unprejudiced, hearkened thereunto, and searched into all the papers lately published in print by the commission of the last Assembly, they might have been, by the blessing of God, convinced from the Word of God of the unlawfullnesse of the present Engagement.
There are three things which may justly seem to us more strange; one is, that the Declaration of Parliament having given assurance in this manner, "we are resolved not to engage in any war, before the necessity and lawfulnesse thereof be cleared, so as all who are well-affected may be satisfied therewith;" yet now they have engaged in war without any such clearing of the necessity and lawfulnesse thereof, or satisfaction given to the well-affected.
Another is, that although there are so great professions and offers in the generall to satisfie what can be desired for the security of religion, yet none of those particulars desired by the late commission of the Kirk for the security of religion have been granted. We shall here only give instance in one of those desires, which was, that his Majesty's concessions and offers concerning religion, sent home from the Isle of Wight, having been found by the said commission unsatisfactory and destructive to the Covenant, might be by the Parliament declared unsatisfactory to their Lordships.
In this great point, there hath been no satisfaction given, only it was lightly touched in one clause of the Parliament's Declaration, and so ambiguously expressed as might suffer many interpretations; and although this ambiguity was clearly laid open by the commissioners of the last Generall Assembly in their representation, yet to this day there hath been nothing published, neither by the Parliament nor Committee of Estates, to give any clearer satisfaction, by disclaiming those offers and concessions as unsatisfactory to the Parliament; so that this (if there were no more) gives us great cause to apprehend that there is a greater mystery latent in that businesse then yet appeareth.
A third thing which seemeth strange to us is, that their Lordships' desire of arguments from Scripture to prove the unlawfulnesse of this Engagement, was not propounded to the commissioners of the last Assembly, before the emitting of the Declaration of Parliament, and before the levies, (when it had been most orderly and seasonable,) but is now propounded after publick resolutions and declarations, yea, not till those resolutions are put in actuall execution.
However, seeing their Lordships do now desire proofs from Scripture for the unlawfulnesse of the Engagement—
We answer, that as joyning and concurring in this Engagement is unlawfull to all the well-affected in this kingdom, their consciences being altogether unsatisfied in the lawfulnesse thereof; and as it is unlawfull in the manner of putting it in execution, being accompanied with so many injuries, oppressions, and crying abominations, and with so much persecution of piety; so it is unlawfull in the own nature of it, and as it is stated upon the grounds of the Declarations of Parliament and Committee of Estates. And this unlawfulnesse of the Engagement in itself we have demonstrate in the declaration herewith communicate to their Lordships, unto which we remit them for satisfaction in that point, and do not doubt but their Lordships may be convinced thereby of the evill of their way, and that it is so far from being a pious and necessary Engagement, (as their Lordships are pleased to call it,) that it is a most unlawfull and sinfull Engagement, to be repented of and forsaken by all that have any hand in it, as they desire to make their peace with God. And we heartily wish that their Lordships' subsequent proceedings may be reall testimonies that their calling for Scripture proofs was from a reall desire to be informed and edified.
As to their Lordships' other desire, of our demonstrating from the Word of God that the Kirk hath interest in the undertakings and engagements in war, and what that interest is, we had thought this point to be without controversie in this kingdom, not only in respect of Kirk and State, their joyning and co-operating (each in their proper sphere) in the former expeditions of this kingdom into England, but also because the very conferences which have been between committees of Kirk and State, concerning this undertaking and Engagement, doth plainly suppose an interest of the Kirk in such affairs.
If their Lordships mean any politick interest in such undertakings, we claim no such thing; if the meaning be of a spirituall interest, and so far as concerneth the point of conscience, there can be no doubt thereof made by such as do, with David, make the testimonies of the Lord their counsellers, Psalm cxix.24; and consult with God as he used to do in undertaking war. It is also to be remembred, that Joshua and all the congregation of Israel were commanded to go out and in at the word of Eliezer the Priest, who was to aske councell of the Lord for them, Numb. xxvii. 28. Hath not the Word of God prescribed to the Christian magistrate the rules of a lawfull war; and doth it not belong to particular ministers, much more to the Assemblies of the Kirk, to declare the minde of God from Scripture for all sorts of duties, and against all sorts of sins? And if the present war be a case of conscience, and alledged to be the most fit and necessary means for preservation of religion, who seeth not that the Kirk hath an undoubted interest in resolving and determining such a case of conscience from the Word of God ? This we shall only adde, that whereas in the Parliament's Letter to the Presbyteries three instances were adduced, by way of reflection upon the proceedings of the late commission, as medling with civill matters, in which they had no interest, the commission did, in their printed vindication, so clear from scripturall grounds their interest in such things, as their Lordships might have been easily satisfied in that point. We shall here only mention one passage containing a good and safe rule for such cases. The duties of the Second Table, as well as of the First, as, namely, the duties between king and subject, parents and children, husbands and wives, masters and servants; and the like being contained in, and to be taught and cleared from the Word of God, are in that respect, and so far as concerneth the point of conscience, a subject of ministeriall doctrine, and in difficult cases a subject of cognizance and judgement to the Assemblies of the Kirk.
Sess. 23, Eodem die, post meridiem.—A Declaration and Exhortation of the Generall Assembly of the Church of Scotland to their Brethren of England. (fn. 2)
As the necessity of preserving a right understanding and mutuall confidence betwixt the churches of Christ in both kingdoms constrains us, so the good acceptance and the suitable affections that the declaration of the last Generall Assembly met with in England from the lovers of the Covenant and present reformation, together with the many testimonies that have of late been given unto the truth in that land, invites and incourages us to make known unto our brethren there our sense of the present condition of publick affairs, so far as concerns religion and the point of conscience.
The dispensation of God, in ruling of the nations, and in the revolutions of his providence towards them, is full of wonder in all the earth; and we, who live in this island, have cause to look upon it with speciall observation in regard of that which concerns our selves. For many generations these two kingdoms stood at odds, and were the instruments of many sufferings and calamities one to another, untill at last the Lord, having compassion upon both, did unite them under one king; which great and long desired blessing hath received such increase from our being united together in one League and Covenant, as doth adde much to the good and happinesse of both nations; therefore is it to be looked upon by all the lovers of truth and peace in these lands as a just ground of much thanksgiving and many praises unto God, even in the day of our greatest calamity and affliction, what ever befall, as we know no cause why we should forget so great a mercy or repent of so good a work.
But as the common enemies of these kingdoms studied by all means to keep them from entring into that Covenant, so hath all their power and policy now, for five years past, been imployed to bring it to nought. As soon as it had being, the Popish, Prelaticall, and Malignant party, did bend all their forces against it; and when, by the mighty hand of God, they were scattered and brought to confusion, in their stead stood up in England a generation who have perverted the truth, and, by turning aside into errour, have obstructed the work of reformation; and, by forsaking of the Covenant and forgetting of the oath of God, have brought a great reproach upon his name, and made the enemy to blaspheme; whose unthankfulnesse and unstedfastnesse, with the many provocations of these lands, hath provoked the Lord again to raise out of the dust the horn of Malignants, and to arm them with such power as is terrible to his people, and threatens his work with ruine. And, albeit we acknowledge our selves bound, and are still resolved to preserve and defend his Majesty's person and authority in the preservation and defence of the true religion and liberties of the kingdoms; yet it is unto us matter of very great sorrow and grief that so many in our land should so far joyn in Malignant designes, and that there should be found amongst us who have undertaken, and are now putting in execution, an unlawfull war for promoving their ends, and opposing and making void (so far as in them lies) the ends of the Covenant; neverthelesse, in this we cannot but rejoyce that they went not without a witnesse and a warning disswading them to go.
And we desire our brethren of England to know, that as a very considerable number of the members of the Parliament did dissent from and protest against the proceedings of the major part in reference to this Engagement, so all the particular Synods and Presbyteries in this kingdom, excepting some few, who, by reason of their remotenesse and shortnesse of time, had not the opportunity, have most harmoniously joyned with and seconded the desires of the commissioners of the Generall Assembly, for preventing so unlawfull a war. And now the commissioners out of all the provinces conveened in this Nationall Assembly, as after an exact examination they have unanimously approved the proceedings of the commissioners of the former Assembly against that Engagement, so have they emitted a declaration to all the people of God in this land, shewing it to be contrary to God's Word and to the Solemn League and Covenant. Neither have ministers only, by their preaching, and kirk judicatories, by their petitions and declarations, given testimony against it; but many others in this land also, by supplicating the High and Honourable Court of Parliament, for satisfaction to their consciences thereanent; and when it could not be obtained, many have chosen rather to suffer the spoiling of their goods with joy, then to sin against God by complying with an evil course. And many of the officers of our former army, who are of speciall note for their good carriage and deserving in the cause of God, have rather choosed to quit their charges then to joyn in it; nay, the well-affected, both ministers and people, as they do bear testimony against it before men, so groan under it before God. So that this character may justly be put upon it by all who shall speak of it now or in after ages:—that as it is a foul breach of the Covenant, under a pretence and profession of being for the ends of the Covenant, so, being carried on against the consciences of the people, and contrary to the most harmonious and universall testimonies of many Presbyteries and Synods, that have been given against it, it is a sinning with many witnesses. A paralell will hardly be found in this or in any other land, wherein a publick sinfull course hath been carried on with so high a hand, against the consciences of the people of God, and against so many warnings of the servants of God, and generall opposition from the judicatories of the Kirk; which yet is the less to be wondered at, because the greatest part of those who have been most active in contriving and carrying on of the same were either once open enemies, or always secret underminers, or indifferent and neutrall in the cause of God.
But, whatsoever be the falling away of such, we shall desire and do expect that our brethren in England, who continue faithfull, may rest confident of the generality of all such of this kingdom as were at first active in promoting the Covenant and work of reformation, that they are also still faithfull in adhering thereunto, and walking after their former principles, do resolve to abide stedfast, and to hold fast the bands of brotherhood and union between these kingdoms. Neither are we lesse confident of the like resolutions and affections of our brethren in England. The many testimonies which the truth and cause of Christ, the Covenant, and Presbyteriall Government, have lately received from that cloud of witnesses of the ministery in severall provinces and counties of that kingdom, after the example of the worthy ministery of the city of London, against the errours of Independency, Anabaptism, Antinomianism, Arminianism, Socinianism, Familism, Libertinism, Sceptism, Erastianism, and other new and dangerous doctrines, spred and received amongst many in that nation; as they are unto us matter of great praise and hearty thanksgiving unto God, so also an evidence of the stedfastness of many in England, and a token for good, and a wide door of hope that the Lord will perfect his work, and bring forth the headstone of his house in that land. It shall be the wisdom of each nation to keep the golden path of truth and righteousnesse, betwixt the crooked and corrupt wayes of Malignants, upon the one hand, and Sectaries upon the other; and for each of the nations so to look upon another as to distinguish betwixt the prevalent part and the better part, and betwixt friends and foes.
We conceive it to be high time for both nations to search and try their ways, and turn again to the Lord, that he who hath wounded us may heal us, and he who hath broken us may binde us up. The sin of both hath been the departing from the rule of the Covenant, and that we did not trust God for the perfecting of his work, walking by the rule of piety, but took our selves to human policies, and endeavoured to carry it on by carnall and worldly means. For as Scotland did too much connive at and comply with Malignants, which is the immediate and neerest cause of all our present troubles and distractions; so England, neglecting to hold fast the truth, and to submit themselves to the government of Jesus Christ, so clearly held forth by the pious and learned Assembly of Divines, did connive at many abominable blasphemies and errours, and, complying with Sectaries, gave way to their wicked toleration. Neither is it the least part of the sin of both lands that they have more minded the outward then the inward reformation, the erecting of the outward fabrick of God's house, then the providing furniture for it, by advancing the power of the Gospel, that his glory may be seen in his temple. Because of these things is there great wrath from the Lord against these kingdoms, and his controversie shall be continued untill we really turn away from our crooked paths. Therefore, as we wish that none of this land may flatter themselves in their evill wayes, but repent and amend, so we desire our brethren of England to consider what hath been the bitter fruits of their slow progresse in and neglect of the work of reformation, and of their connivance at and complying with Sectaries, and to do no more so, but that whatsoever is commanded by the God of heaven it be diligently done for the house of the God of heaven.
We trust that the Parliament of England will be wise to remember and consider the great mercies of God towards them, in delivering them from all their enemies, and the many opportunities put into their hands for advancing and establishing the work of reformation; for neglect whereof God hath now again threatened to lift up their enemies above them, that he may once more prove what they will do for his name, and for setling the order of his house. God forbid that they should run from one extream to another, from compliance with Sectaries to compliance with Malignants, and hearken to terms of an unsafe and sinfull peace. We cannot but abhor the purposes of any who minde the subversion of monarchical government, which we heartily wish to be preserved and continued in his Majesty's person and posterity; and we do no lesse dislike the practises of those who deal so hardly with his Majesty's person, earnestly desiring that he were in the condition he was into by the advice of both kingdoms, before he was taken away by a party of Sir Thomas Fairfax army; nor are we against the restoring of the King to the exercise of his power in a right order and way. Yet, considering what great expence of blood and pains these kingdoms have been at for maintaining their just liberties, and bringing the work of reformation this length; and considering his Majesty's great aversnesse from setling reformation of religion, and his adhering still to Episcopacy, we trust that security will be demanded and had from his Majesty for religion, before he be brought to one of his houses in or neer about London, with honour, freedom, and safety. And considering of what importance the Solemn League and Covenant is unto all the interests of both kingdoms, concerning their religion, liberties, and peace, to make an agreement without establishing of it, were not only to rob these nations of the blessings they have already attained by it, but to open a door to let in all the corruptions that have been formerly in the Kirks of God in these lands, and all the abuses and usurpations that have been in the civill government, and again to divide these two kingdoms that are now so happily united and conjoyned; and, therefore, as we wish that all misunderstandings betwixt the nations, and betwixt the King and his people, may be removed, that there may be a happy and lasting peace, so that there may be no agreement without establishing and enjoyning the Covenant in all these three kingdoms; and that for this end God would give wisdom to all that are intrusted in the managing of publick affairs, that they may seasonably discover, and carefully avoid, all snares which may be laid either by Sectaries or Malignants, or both, under colour of a treaty of peace. And we are confident, through the Lord, that all the obstructions and oppositions by which his work has been retarded and interrupted in this island, shall not only be taken out of the way, but shall turn to the advantage and furtherance of it at last. The only wise God can and will bring about his holy purposes by unlikely, yea, by contrary means; and God forbid that either our brethren of England or our selves should give way to despondency of spirit, and cast away the hopes of that so much prayed-for and so much wished-for reformation of religion, and uniformity in all the parts thereof, according to the Covenant. And now it is our heart's desire and prayer to God, that amidst the many trials and tentations of these times, none of the servants of God and witnesses of Jesus Christ may be deserted or left to themselves, to comply either with the Malignant party upon the one hand, or with Sectaries upon the other. Brethren, pray for us, and the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, and settle you.
Sess. 24, August 2, 1648, ante meridiem.—Answer to the Letter of the Reverend Assembly of Divines in England.
Right Honourable, Right Reverend, and well-beloved in our Lord,
We cease not to give thanks to the Father of our Lord Jesus, by whose strength you keep the word of his patience now in these times, when many depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits; as also, that he who hath founded Zion hath been pleased, by our Covenant sworn to the Most High God, to lay the hopefull foundation of a glorious work in these three kingdoms, to unite his people therein, as one stick in the hand of the Lord.
We cannot but acknowledge, to the honour and glory of the Lord, wonderfull in counsell and excellent in working, that he hath strongly united the spirits of all the godly in this kingdom, and of his servants in the ministery, first, in the severall Presbyteries and Synods, and now in this nationall Assembly, in an unanimous and constant adhering to our first principles, and the Solemn League and Covenant; and, particularly, in giving a testimony against the present unlawfull Engagement in war; yet it seemeth good to the Lord, who hath his fire in Zion and furnace in Jerusalem, for the purging of the vessels of his house, to suffer many adversaries to arise, with violence to obstruct and stop this great and effectuall door which the Lord hath opened unto us. But we know that he openeth, and no man shutteth, and shutteth, and no man openeth; yea, he will cause them who say they are for the Covenant and are not, but are enemies thereto, and do associate with Malignants and Sectaries, to acknowledge that God hath loved us, and that his truth is in us and with us. And now, dearly beloved, seeing the Lord hath kept you together so many years, when the battel of the warriour hath been with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood, the Lord also sitting as a refiner to purifie the sons of Levi, and blessing you with unity and soundnesse in the faith, we are confident you will not cease to give a publick testimony for Christ, both against sectaries and all seducers, who prophecie lies in the name of the Lord, and against Malignants and incendiaries, (the Prelaticall and Popish faction,) who now again bestir themselves to hold up the rotten and tottering throne of Antichrist, and are (whatever they pretend) the reall enemies of reformation; as also, that as the embassadors of Jesus Christ, and his watchmen, you will give seasonable warning to the Honourable Houses of Parliament, that now (after the losse of the opportunity of so many years) they would, in their places, repair the house of the Lord, that lyeth so long desolate, and promove the work of reformation and uniformity according to the Covenant.
For if the Honourable Houses of Parliament had timely made use of that power which God had put in their hands for suppressing of sectaries, and had taken a speedy course for setling of Presbyteriall government, (a speciall and effectuall means appointed by God to purge his Church from all scandals in doctrine and practise,) then had not the insolencie of that party arisen to such a height, as to give occasion to the Malignants of both kingdoms to justifie and blesse themselves in their old opposition to the work of reformation, and to encourage one another to new and more dangerous attempts; neither had the Malignant party ever grown so strong in this kingdom if the sectaries had not been connived at in England, for their prime pretence (for their present rising in armes) is, that they may suppress the sectaries, and vindicate the King from that base condition unto which he is brought by that party. Yet these do not wisely nor well, who, avoiding or opposing sectarisme, split themselves upon the rock of Malignancy, and by taking that party by the hand now, do own all the cruelty, bloodshed, and other ungodly and unjust acts, which they have done since the beginning of this reformation. And as we take thankfully your testimony of our steiring so steady and even a course between the dangerous rocks of Prophanesse and Malignancy on the one hand, and of errour, schisme, heresie, and blasphemie on the other hand; so we trust ye will not cease to give testimony against both these evils, and represent the same to the Honourable Houses of Parliament, as you shall have fit occasion; and that you will gravely warne your dissenting brethren what a door they keep open for errors and heresies, by their tenet of Independency, whereby they leave no means of authoritative ecclesiastick suppression of errours, if an Independent congregation will please to own them. We also are confident that you will be remembrancers to that famous city of London, and the whole kingdom, of their engagement to the Lord, in the Solemn League and Covenant. Nor will we suffer our selves to believe that the well-affected in the Houses of Parliament, in the city of London, and throughout that whole kingdom, will agree or hearken to the motions of any such treaty of peace, as leaves out the best security for religion, the cause of God, and the Solemn League and Covenant. Thus desiring the continuance of your prayers to God for us, in this hour of temptation; and promising (through his grace and strength) to continue in prayers for you, we commit you to the infinite wisdom, power, goodnesse, and faithfulnesse of our blessed God and Father in Christ, in whom we are,
Your very loving and affectionate Brethen to serve you,
The Ministers and Elders conveened in the Generall Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland.
August 2, 1648.
Direct.—To the Right Honourable and Right Reverend the Assembly of Divines in England now assembled at Westminster.
Sess. 25, Eodem die, post meridiem.—The humble Supplication of the Generall Assembly to the Right Honourable the Committee of Estates.
Whereas the High and Honourable Court of Parliament and your Lordships were pleased to injoyn the subscription of a declaration and band, of the date June 10, 1648; and we having found, after such examination and tryall as is competent to the servants of God in an ecclesiastick way, that the same is a snare to the consciences of the people of God in this land, to involve them in guiltinesse, and to draw them from their former principles and vows in the Solemn League and Covenant, as doth more fully appear in our act concerning the same, herewith presented unto your Lordships: Therefore, from our zeal to the glory of God, and tender care of the souls committed unto us, and for our exoneration, as we do seriously exhort that your Lordships would be sensible of the guilt that you have already brought upon your selves and others, by injoyning and urging that subscription, so we do earnestly, and in the bowels of Jesus Christ, intreat that your Lordships would take such order and course as that it may be no further pressed upon the people of God throughout the land.
And because the people groan under the violence and oppression of officers and souldiers in their quarterings, or otherwise, throughout all the corners of the countrey, (which, as it hath ascended into the ears of the Lord of Hosts, so we doubt not but it is come to your knowledge,) we conceive it to be incumbent to us to represent the same to your Lordships, beseeching and obtesting you, that, as you would not desire that the Lord should visit because of these things, you would think upon an effectuall remedy for punishing and redressing what is past, and preventing the like in time coming.
And whereas, by an act and inhibition of your Lordships, the liberty of printing, being one of the Kirk's priviledges confirmed by Parliament, is restrained, therefore we intreat that the inhibition upon the printers may be taken off.
And now, having condescended upon a declaration to all the members of this Kirk, concerning present dangers and duties, we do, in all humility, offer the same to your Lordships, (together with our answer to the paper last sent to us from your Lordships,) professing in the sight of God (whose servants we are) that we have walked herein according to the rule of his Word, and have nothing before our eyes but his glory and the well of his people; and, therefore, intreat your Lordships, that you would seriously ponder the same without prejudice, and as you desire to be comforted in the day of your accompts, to make right use of the light that is holden forth therein from God's Word.
Sess. 26, August 3, 1648, ante merdiem.—Act for censuring Ministers for their Silence, and not Speaking to the Corruptions of the Time.
The Generall Assembly, taking to their serious consideration the great scandals which have lately encreased, partly through some ministers, their reserving and not declaring of themselves against the prevalent sins of the times, partly through the spite, malignity, and insolency of others, against such ministers as have faithfully and freely reproved the sins of the times without respect of persons; do, therefore, for preventing and removing such scandals hereafter, appoint and ordain, that every minister do, by the word of wisdom, apply his doctrine faithfully against the publick sins and corruptions of these times, and particularly against the sins and scandals in that congregation wherein he lives, according to the act of the Generall Assembly, 1596, revived by the Assembly at Glasgow, 1638; appointing that such as shall be found not applying their doctrine to corruptions, which is the pastorall gift—cold, and wanting of spirituall zeal—flatterers, and dissembling of publick sins, and especially of great personages in their congregations—that all such persons be censured according to the degree of their faults, and continuing therein be deprived; and, according to the Act of the Generall Assembly, 1646, Sess. 10, that, beside all other scandals, silence, or ambiguous speaking in the publike cause, much more detracting and disaffected speeches, be seasonably censured. As, therefore, the errours and exorbitancies of sectaries in England are not to be passed in silence, but plain warning to be given of the danger of so near a contagion, that people may beware of it, and such as neglect this duty to be censured by their Presbyteries; so it is thought fit and appointed by the Assembly, conform to the foresaid acts, that the main current of applications in sermons may run along against the evils that prevail at home, and namely, against the contempt of the Word—against all profanesse—against the present defection from the League and Covenant—against the unlawfull Engagement in war—against the unlawfull Band and Declaration of the date of the 10th of June, ordained to be subscribed by all the subjects, and other unjust decrees established by law—against the plots and practises of Malignants—and against the principles and tenets of Erastianism, which spread among divers in this kingdom: for the better confutation whereof, it is hereby recommended to the ministery to study that point of controversie well, that they may be the more able to stop the mouths of gainsayers. 'Tis also hereby recommended to the severall Presbyteries and Provinciall Synods, that they make speciall enquiry and triall concerning all the ministery in their bounds; and if any be found too sparing, generall, or ambiguous, in the foresaid applications and reproofs, that they be sharply rebuked, dealt with, and warned to amend, under the pain of suspension from their ministery; and if, after such warning given, they amend not, that such be suspended by Presbyteries, and in case of their negligence, by the Synods, till the next Generall Assembly; but if there be any who do neglect and omit such applications and reproofs, and continue in such negligence after admonition and dealing with them, they are to be cited, and, after due triall of the offence, to be deposed—for be ing pleasers of men rather then servants of Christ—for giving themselves to a detestable indifferency or neutrality in the cause of God, and for defrauding the souls of people; yea, for being highly guilty of the blood of souls, in not giving them warning. Much more are such ministers to be censured with deposition from their ministry, who preach for the lawfulnes, or pray for the success of the present unlawfull Engagement—or that go along with the army themselves—or who subscribe any bands, or take any oaths not approved by the Generall Assembly or their Commissioners—or by their counsel, countenance, or approbation, make themselves accessory to the taking of such bands and oaths by others. It is to be understood, that if any minister preach in defence of, or pray for successe to the sectaries in England, he is likewayes to be censured by deposition; and this we adde, as a generall rule to be observed on both hands, but not as if we had found any of the ministry of this kingdom to be favourers of the sectaries in England.
And in case any minister, for his freedom in preaching, and faithfull discharge of his conscience, shall be, in the face of the congregation or elsewhere, upbraided, railed at, mocked, or threatened—or if any injury or violence be done to his person—or any stop and disturbance made to him in the exercise of his ministeriall calling, the Presbyterie of the bounds shall forthwith enter in processe with the offender, and whoever he be, charge him to satisfie the discipline of the Kirk by publick repentance; which if any do not, or refuse to do, that then the Presbyterie proceed to excommunication against him; in all which, Presbyteries and Synods are to give an account of their diligence, and the Assembly appoints this Act to be intimate in the several congregations of this Kirk.
Sess. 29, August 4, 1648, post meridiem.—Overtures concerning the Education of the Hieland Boys in the Province of Argyle.
This day, the Report following being made from the Committee concerning the Education of Hieland Boys in Argyle, viz.:—
The Committee, considering the Bill remitted by the Generall Assembly to us, concerning the Hieland Boys, (who are given up to be fourty in number, of good spirits, and approven by the Province of Argyle,) do humbly think that four of them, who are ready for the colledge, should be recommended to the Universities to get burses one in every colledge. As for the rest of the fourty, who are to be brought up at grammar schools, the Committee thinks that if the said boys should be scattered through the kingdom, they should lose the Irish language, and so the Assembly shall fail of their purpose to make them usefull for the Hielands. And, therefore, do humbly conceive that it were fitting that every congregation pay yearly fourty shillings Scots for maintaining the said boys at schools in Glasgow, or in other places, where many of them may be together accepted of, and that the money be brought in yearly to the Generall Assembly by the commissioners of Presbyteries, and that Presbyteries augment or diminish the said proportion according to the ability of every congregation.
The Assembly, having considered the foresaid Report, approves the first overture, and recommends Colin Campbell to the University of Aberdeen, Duncan Campbell to Edinburgh, Patrick Campbell to Glasgow, Zachary Maccullum to St Leonard's Colledge in St Andrews: As also, approves the second overture, seriously recommending to Presbyteries that the said fourty shillings be collected carefully and sent to Glasgow; and the ministers of Glasgow shall appoint some sufficient man in that town to receive the said collection from Presbyteries, and to take charge of the boording and entertainment of the saids boys in Glasgow, at schooles, and they shall send in the names of the boys, with a certificate of their proficiency, yearly to the Generall Assembly; and this collection shall only endure for the space of twelve years.
Sess. 30, August 5, 1648, ante meridiem.—Explanation of the Fifth Article of the Overtures concerning Appeals past in the Assembly, 1643.
The Generall Assembly, for clearing the sense of the fifth article of the overtures concerning appeals in the Assembly, 1643, Sess. 2, do declare, that if appellations post latam sententiam be not presented to the judicatory when the sentence is pronounced, the party shall then immediately after the sentence protest for liberty of appeal, as he shall see cause; and, accordingly, within ten days, shall give in his appeal in writ, under his hand, either to the judicatory or the Moderator thereof, otherwise the appeal is not to be respected.
Sess. 30, Eodem die, 1648, ante meridiem.—Act discharging Deposed or Suspended Ministers from any exercise of the Ministery, or meddling with the Stipend.
The Generall Assembly, considering that, according to the ancient practice and order of this Kirk, the censure of suspension and deposition of ministers is both ab officio and â beneficio, as is also acknowledged by the 20th Act of the Parliament, anno 1644; and that the continuance of suspended or deposed ministers in the exercise of the ministery, or in the possession of their stipend, hath been, and ought to be, accompted and censured as a great contempt of the authority and censures of the Kirk; considering also, that the continuance of deposed ministers in the possession of the stipend is a great prejudice and obstruction to the planting of the vaiking kirk, and to the service of God there: Therefore, do declare and ordain, that whosoever, after the sentence of deposition pronounced against them, do either exercise any part of the ministeriall calling in the places they formerly served in, or elsewhere, or do possesse, meddle, or intromit with the stipend or other benefits whatsoever, belonging to these kirks they served at, they shall be proceeded against with excommunication; and if any suspended minister, during his suspension, either exercise any part of the ministeriall calling, or intromit with the stipend, that he be deposed, and after deposition, continuing in either of these faults, that he be processed with excommunication; but prejudice always to them of their stipend resting for bygone service, and of any recompence due for building or repairing of the manse, according to the ordinary practise. And the Assembly recommends to Presbyteries seriously to be carefull of the putting of this Act in execution.
Sess. 31, August 7, 1648, ante meridiem.—The Assemblie's Declaration of the Falshood and Forgerie of a lying scandalous Pamphlet, put forth under the name of their Reverend Brother, Master Alexander Henderson, after his Death.
The Generall Assembly of this Kirk, having seen a printed paper, intituled, "The Declaration of Mr Alexander Henderson, principall minister of the Word of God at Edinburgh, and chief Commissioner from the Kirk of Scotland to the Parliament and Synod of England, made upon his deathbed;" and taking into their serious consideration how many grosse lies and impudent calumnies are herein contained; out of the tender respect which they do bear to his name, (which ought to be very precious to them and all posterity, for his faithfull service in the great work of reformation in these kingdoms, wherein the Lord was pleased to make him eminently instrumentall;) and lest through the malice of some, and ignorance of others, the said pamphlet should gain belief among the weaker sort, they have thought fit to make known and declare concerning the same as followeth:—
That after due search and tryall, they do finde, that their worthy brother, Master Alexander Henderson, did, from the time of his coming from London to Newcastle, till the last moment of his departure out of this life, upon all occasions, manifest the constancy of his judgement touching the work of reformation in these kingdoms; namely, in all his discourses and conferences with his Majesty, and with his brethren who were employed with him in the same trust at Newcastle; in his letters to the commissioners at London, and particularly in his last discourse to his Majesty, at his departing from Newcastle, being very weak and greatly decayed in his naturall strength. When he was come from Newcastle by sea to this kingdom, he was in such a weak, worn, and failed condition, as it was evident to all who saw him that he was not able to frame any such declaration, for he was so spent that he died within eight dayes after his arrivall; and all that he was able to speak in that time did clearly shew his judgement of and affection to the work of reformation and cause of God, to be every way the same then that it was in the beginning and progresse thereof, as divers reverend brethren who visited him have declared to this Assembly, and particularly two brethren who constantly attended him, from the time he came home till his breath expired. A further testimony may be brought from a short Confession of Faith under his hand, found amongst his papers, which is expressed as his last words, wherein, among other mercies, he declareth himself "most of all obliged to the grace and goodnesse of God, for calling him to believe the promises of the Gospel, and for exalting him to be a preacher of them to others, and to be a willing though weak instrument in this great and wonderfull work of reformation, which he earnestly beseecheth the Lord to bring to a happy conclusion." Other reasons may be added from the levity of the stile and manifest absurdities contained in that paper. Upon consideration of all which, this Assembly doth condemn the said pamphlet, as forged, scandalous, and false; and further declare the author and contriver of the same to be void of charity and a good conscience, and a grosse lyar and calumniator, led by the spirit of the accuser of the brethren.
Act for taking the Covenant at the first receiving of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, and for the receiving of it also by all Students at their first entry to Colledges.
The Generall Assembly, according to former recommendations, doth ordain, that all young students take the Covenant at their first entry to colledges; and that hereafter, all persons whatsoever take the Covenant at their first receiving the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper; requiring hereby Provinciall Assemblies, Presbyteries, and Universities, to be carefull that this act be observed, and accompt thereof taken in the visitation of Universities and particular Kirks, and in the tryall of Presbyteries.
Sess. 32, Eodem die, post meridiem.—Act concerning Presbyteries maintaining of Bursars.
The Generall Assembly, understanding that the frequent recommendation of preceding Assemblies for maintaining bursars is by many Presbyteries neglected; do, therefore, ordain Synods to crave accompt thereof from Presbyteries at every Provinciall meeting, which, with the Presbyteries' answer, shall be put upon record, that so the part both of Presbyteries and Synods, and their negligence or diligence in so pious a work, may be known, by the examination of the Provinciall books, to each Generall Assembly.
Sess. 35, August 9, 1648, ante meridiem.—Act for disjoyning the Presbytery of Zetland from the Provinciall Synod of Orkney and Cathnes.
The Generall Assembly, now, after exact tryal, finding that the Presbytery of Zetland cannot meet with the Provincial of Cathnes and Orkney, to which it was adjoyned by an act of the Assembly, 1646, Sess. 2; and that the allowance and dispensation granted in the preceding Assembly, for the halfe of their number to keep the meetings of the said Provinciall, cannot be observed in respect of the great distance of that isle by sea from the land, and the dangerousness of the seas there, and of the passage through them: Therefore, after hearing the parties interested, and serious deliberation of the matter, the Assembly doth hereby disjoyn the Presbytery of Zetland from the Provincial of Cathnes and Orkney, and declares, for these reasons, that the said Presbytery is to be hereafter subordinate immediately to the Generall Assembly; for which cause, their commissioners are to be sent to each Generall Assembly the more carefully, and it is hereby recommended to them, that they send to the next Assembly a particular information of the quality and condition of all their Kirks, according to the direction of the act of the preceding Assembly, Sess. 27, entituled, An Act for Pressing and Furthering the Planting of Kirks.
Sess. 38, Aug. 10, 1648, post meridiem.—Overtures for the Remedies of the grievous and common Sins of the Land in this present time.
The sins of the land, and the causes and occasions thereof, being considered, the following remedies of these sins were propounded:—
For the present, untill the overtures are prepared to be presented to the Parliament, it is to be recommended to every congregation to make use of the 9th Act of the Parliament, 1645, at Perth, for having magistrates and justices in every congregation; and of the 8th Act of the said Parliament, against swearing, drinking, and mocking of piety, and all other Acts of Parliament for restraining or punishing of vice; particularly, for the better restraining of the sin of whoredom, that each magistrate in every congregation exact and make compt to the Session of fourty pounds for each fornicatour and fornicatrix, of an hundreth merks for each one of their relapse in fornication, of an hundreth pounds for each adulterer and adulteress, according to express Acts of Parliament, which is to be exacted of those who may pay it, and the discretion of the magistrate is to modifie it according to the ability or inability of each delinquent.
1. Let care be taken of conscionable receiving of servants, that they have testimonials of their honest behaviour; and let all such as give testimonials take heed that these to whom they give them be free of scolding, swearing, lying, and such like more common sins, as well as fornication, adultery, drunkenness, and other grosse and hainous evils. Let the ordinary time of giving testimonials be in face of Session; and if an extraordinary exigent be, let it be given by the minister, with consent of the elder of the bounds wherein the person craving the testimoniall hath resided; if they have fallen or relapsed in scandalous sins, let their testimoniall bear both their fall and repentance.
2. Let care be had that the worship of God be practised, and discipline exercised in families, according to the Directory for Family Worship in all things, as was appointed in the Generall Assembly, 1647, especially in the minister's constant catechizing of the family, and in the performance of the duties of the Sabbath by all the members thereof.
3. Let persons to be married, and who have children to be baptized, who are very rude and ignorant, be stirred up and exhorted, as at all times, so especially at that time, to attain some measure of Christian knowledge in the grounds of religion, that they may give to the minister, before the elder of the bounds wherein they live, some accompt of their knowledge, that so they may the better teach their family and train up their children.
4. Let every family that hath any in it that can read have a Bible and a PsalmBook, and make use of them; and where none can read, let them be stirred up to traine up their children in reading, and use any other good remedie the minister and session can fall on.
GENERALL ECCLESIASTICK REMEDIES.
1. Let the remedies which were given at Perth, 1645, and are mentioned in the Generall Assembly, 1646, anent the sins of ministers, be put in execution.
2. Let suspension from the Lord's Sacrament be more carefully executed.
3. Let persons relapse in adultery, (or above,) quadrilapse in fornication, (or above,) or often guilty of other grosser scandals, be excommunicat somewhat more summarly nor in an ordinary processe, (except there be more nor ordinary signes, and an eminent measure of repentance made known to the Session and Presbyterie,) both for the hainousness of the sins, and continuance therein, and also for terrour to others; and these not to be relaxed from the sentence of excommunication without evidence and undeniable signes of repentance.
4. Let unpartiall proceeding be used against men of all quality, for their scandalous walking; and, in particular, for drunkennesse, swearing, and other scandalous sins. And this to be tryed at the visitation of kirks.
PARTICULAR ECCLESIASTICK REMEDIES.
AND, I. AGAINST IGNORANCE.
1. Let ministers catechise one day every week, (whereon also they may baptize and lecture or preach,) and let them preach every Lord's Day both before and after noon, according to former Acts of Generall Assemblies; let Presbyteries and Synods be very carefull of this, and let every Provinciall book contain an exact accompt thereof.
2. Let ministers examine all of every quality of whose knowledge they have no certain notice.
3. Let young persons be catechized by the minister from the time they are capable of instruction, and let them not be delayed till they be of age to communicat.
4. Let persons grosly ignorant be debarred from the communion; for the first and second time let them be debarred, suppressing their names; for the third time, expressing their names; for the fourth time, bring them to publick repentance; all this is to be understood of those that profit nothing, and labours not for knowledge; but if they be profiting in any measure, or labouring that they may profit, their case is very considerable, they ought to have more forbearance.
II. ECCLESIASTICK REMEDIES AGAINST PROPHANESSE.
1. Let ignorant and scandalous persons be put off, and kept off kirk-sessions.
2. Let every elder have a certain bounds assigned to him, that he may visit the same every moneth at least, and report to the session what scandalls and abuses are therein, or what persons have entered without testimonials.
3. Let all scandalous persons be suspended from the Lord's Supper.
4. Let the minister deal in private with them that are professing publick repentance before the elder of the bounds, thus to try the evidence of their repentance.
5. Let these who have fallen in fornication make publick profession of repentance three severall Sabbaths; who is guilty of relapse in fornication, six Sabbaths; who is guilty of trelapse in fornication, or hath once fallen in adultery, twenty-six Sabbaths; and these sins to be confessed both in one habite, viz., in sackcloth; quadrilapse in ornication and relapse in adultery, three quarters of a year; incest or murder, a year, or fifty-two Sabbaths, in case the magistrate do not his duty in punishing such crimes capitally. They that fall in fornication, or relapses therein, are first to confesse their in before the session, and thereafter before the congregation; they that are guilty of greater degrees of that sin, and of the other sins mentioned in this article, are to coness their sin both before the Session and Presbyterie, and there to shew some signes of repentance before they be brought to the congregation.
6. Some are to be rebuked at the time of catechizing, who deserve more nor a private reproof, and yet needs not to be brought to publick repentance.
7. It will be a good remedie against Sabbath-breaking by carriers and travellers, that the ministers where they dwell cause them to bring testimonials from the place where they rested on these Lord's Dayes wherein they were from home.
8. Let all persons who flit from one paroch to another have sufficient testimonials. This is to be extended to all gentlemen and persons of quality, and all their followers, who come to reside with their families at Edinburgh, or elsewhere; and let the mini ster from whom they flit advertise the minister to whom they flit if (to his knowledge) they be lying under any scandall.
9. Let ministers be free with persons of quality for amendment of their faults, and (if need shall be) let them take help thereto of some of the brethren of the Presbyterie.
10. Let the Presbyteries take speciall notice of ministers who do converse frequently and familiarly with Malignants, and with scandalous and prophane persons, especially such as belong to other paroches.
11. Let privie censures of Presbyteries and Synods be performed with more accuracie, diligence, and zeal.
12. For better keeping of the Sabbath, let every elder take notice of such as are within his bounds how they keep the kirk, how the time is spent before, betwixt, and after the time of publick worship.
13. Let no minister resort to any excommunicate person, without license from the Presbyterie nisi in extremis; and let ministers take speciall notice of such persons as haunt with excommunicats, and processe them.
14. Frequent correspondence betwixt Presbyteries is a good remedie.
15. At the visitation of each congregation let the session-book be well visited; and, for that effect, let it be delivered to two or three brethren seven or eight dayes before the visitation, that their report of it may be in readinesse against the day of visitation.
The Assembly allows of all these overtures and remedies of the sins of the land; and ordains all of them to be carefully and conscionably put in practice.
Act for examining the Paraphrase of the Psalms and other Scripturall Songs.
The Generall Assembly appoints Rouse' Paraphrase of the Psalms, with the corrections thereof, now given in by the persons appointed by the last Assembly for that purpose, to be sent to Presbyteries, that they may carefully revise and examine the same, and thereafter send them with their corrections to the Commission of this Assembly to be appointed for Publick Affairs, who are to have a care to cause reexamine the animadversions of Presbyteries, and prepare a report to the next Generall Assembly; intimating hereby, that if Presbyteries be negligent hereof, the next Generall Assembly is to go on and take the same Paraphrase to their consideration without more delay: And the Assembly recommends to Master John Adamson and Mr Thomas Crafurd, to revise the labours of Mr Zachary Boyd, upon the other Scripturall songs, and to prepare a report thereof to the said Commission for Publick Affairs, that after their examination the same may be also reported to the next Generall Assembly.
Overtures concerning Papists, their Children, and Excommunicate Persons.
The Generall Assembly, considering the manifold inconveniences that follow upon the sending of the children of noblemen and others of quality to forraign countries wherein Popery is professed, especially that thereby such children are in perill to be corrupted with Popery, and so corrupt these families and persons to which they belong, whereby that wicked root of damnable idolatry, errour, and heresie, may again be occasioned to spring up and trouble many, and provoke the Most High God to wrath, and to cause his Majesty to leave this land to strong delusions to believe lies; therefore, they do, in the name of God, charge and require all the Presbyteries of this kingdom to observe and practise the rules and directions which are made in former Generall Assemblies, for preventing of the said fearfull inconveniences, and, namely the overtures against Papists, non-communicants, and profaners of the Sabbath, approven in the Generall Assembly held at St Andrews, in the year of God 1642, and the act anent children sent without the kingdom, made in the Generall Assembly at Edinburgh, anno 1646. And that they use all diligence for putting in execution the Acts of Parliament and Secret Councell made against Papists and excommunicate persons; and that they register their diligences there anent in their Presbytery books, which are summarily to be recorded in the Synod books from time to time, that the Generall Assembly may see how these laudable acts are put in execution; which here are presented, with some necessary additions, in one view:—
1. That every Presbytery give a list of all excommunicate Papists they know to be within their bounds to the Commissioners of the Generall Assembly, and of all Papists, yea, of them also who professe to have renounced Popery, but yet have their children educated abroad, with the names of these children that are abroad, according to the fifth overture of the Generall Assembly, 1642.
2. That every Presbytery conveen at their first meeting all known Papists within their bounds, and such as having professed to renounce Popery have their children abroad, and cause them finde sufficient caution for bringing home within three moneths such of their children as are without the kingdom, to be educated in schools and colledges at the Presbytery's sight, if they be minors: and to be wrought upon by gracious conference, and other means of instruction, to be reclaimed from Popery, if they be come to perfect age.
3. The parents, tutors, or friends of children and minors shall, before they send them without the kingdom, first acquaint the Presbytery where they reside, that they may have their testimoniall directed to the Presbytery or classe within the kingdom or dominion beyond seas whither they intend to send their children; and at the time of these children's return, that they report a testimoniall from the Presbytery or Synod where they lived without the kingdom, to the Presbytery who gave them a testimoniall at their going away, according to the act anent children sent without the kingdom, anno 1646.
4. That all Presbyteries give the names of such pædagogs as were abroad with the children of noblemen within their bounds, and diligently enquire whether these pædagogs do continue steadfast in the true religion, and continue in their service, or whither these pædagogs do either become corrupt in religion, or (continuing constant) are removed from their charge, and by whom they are removed; and that they signifie these things to the Generall Assembly from time to time, or their commissioners, that they may represent the same to the High Court of Parliament, Lords of Secret Counsell, or Committee of Estates, for such remedie as shall seem expedient to their Honours, for preventing of and purging the land from the plague of idolatrie.
5. That such parents, tutors, or friends, as either send away children to forraign parts infected with idolatry, without such testimonialls as aforesaid, or do not recall them who are already abroad within such time as is above prefixed, or do remove from them their Protestant pædagogs, (that they may the more easily be infected with Popery,) be processed, and, in case of not amending these things, be excommunicated.
6. That the names of such as are excommunicated for these or any other causes be sent in to the Generall Assembly from year to year, that (from thence) their names may be notified in all the kingdom, and that the Acts of Parliament and Secret Counsell may be put to execution against them, and all diligence used for that effect; and that by the effectuall dealing of the Generall Assembly, with the Parliament, Lords of Secret Counsell, or Committee of Estates, their Lordships may enact such further just and severe civill punishment on such excommunicants, for terror to others, as shall be found necessary for purging this covenanted land from all abominations.
Because persons addicted to idolatry will use all means for their own hardening in their superstitious and idolatrous way, even within the countrey; therefore, all known Papists, or persons suspect of Poperie upon probable grounds, are to finde caution before their Presbyteries for their abstinence from masse, and from the company of all Jesuits and priests, according to the second overture against Papists, made anno 1642; also Presbyteries are to presse them to finde such caution; and to observe what persons put their sons or daughters to such families as are tainted with Popery within the land, the same being a speciall mean to corrupt them with idolatry; and to cause such parents recall their children, or else proceed with the censures of the Kirk against them.
All which overtures, Presbyteries are seriously required and ordained to observe diligently, with certification, that they shall be severely censured, if they shall be found remisse or negligent in any of these points, which are so necessary for keeping of the Lord's house and people unpoluted with error, idolatry, or superstition.
Sess. 39, Aug. 11, 1648, ante meridiem.—Act for Prosecuting the Treaty for the Uniformity in Religion in the Kingdom of England.
The Generall Assembly, taking to their consideration that the treaty of uniformity in religion in all his Majestie's dominions is not yet perfected; therefore, renews the power and commission granted by preceding Assemblies, for prosecuting that treaty, unto these persons afternamed, viz., Mr Robert Dowglas, Mr Samuel Rutherford, Mr Robert Baillie, Mr George Gillespie, ministers; and John Earle of Cassills, John Lord Balmerinoch, and Sir Archibald Johnston of Wariston, elders; authorizing them with full power to prosecute the said treaty of uniformity with the Honourable Houses of the Parliament of England, and the Reverend Assembly of Divines there, or any committees appointed by them; and to do all and every thing which may advance, perfect, and bring that treaty to an happie conclusion, conform to the commissions given thereanent.
Act Renewing the Commission for the Publick Affairs of this Kirk.
The Generall Assembly, taking to their consideration that, in respect the great
work of uniformity in religion in all his Majestie's dominions is not yet perfected,
(though by the Lord's blessing there is a good progress made in the same,) there is
a necessity of renewing the Commissions granted formerly for prosecuting and perfecting that great work; do, therefore, renew the power and Commission granted for
the Publick Affairs of the Kirk, by the Generall Assemblies held at Saint Andrews,
1642, and at Edinburgh, 1643, 1644, 1645, 1646, and 1647, unto the persons following, viz.: Masters John Lawder, Andrew Wood, David Calderwood, Robert Ker,
John Mackghie, John Knox, John Sinclair, John Adamson, Robert Dowglas, George
Gillespie, James Hamilton, Mungo Law, John Smith, Robert Lawrie, George Lesly,
John Weir, Robert Eliot, Alexander Dickson, Patrick Fleeming, Thomas Vassie,
Ephraim Melvill, Hew Kennedie, Kenneth Logie, Alexander Levistoun, George
Bennet, David Weems, William Row, Robert Young, William Menzies, John Friebairne, John Givan, Harie Guthrie, Andrew Rind, David Auchterlony, Samuel
Ousteen, Thomas Henderson, Charles Archibald, Andrew Lawder, John Leviston,
John Macklellan, Alexander Turnbull, William Foullerton, George Hutcheson, John
Genell, Patrick Colvill, James Ferguson, Hew Peebles, John Hamilton, Alexander
Dunlope, David Ephiston, David Dickson, Robert Baillie, Robert Ramsay, Patrick
Gillespie, Patrick Sharpe, James Nasmith, John Home, Evan Camron, Robert
Blair, Samuel Rutherfurd, David Forret, Robert Traill, Andrew Bennett, Walther
Greg, John Macgill, younger, John Moncreiff, Fredrick Carmichaell, John Chalmers,
John Duncan, Andrew Donaldson, William Oliphant, George Simmer, Andrew
Affleck, Arthur Granger, David Strachen, Andrew Cant, John Row, John Paterson,
Alexander Cant, John Young, John Seaton, David Lindsay at Belhelvie, Nathaniel
Martine, John Annand, William Falconer, Joseph Brodie, Alexander Summer,
William Chalmer, Gilbert Anderson, David Rosse, George Gray, Robert Knox,
William Penman, James Guthrie, Thomas Donaldson, William Jameson, Thomas
Wilkie, James Ker, John Knox, Andrew Duncanson, Ministers; Archibald Marques of Argile, Alexander Earle of Eglintoun, John Earle of Cassils, William Earle
of Lothian, Archibald Lord Angus, William Lord Borthwick, John Lord Torphichen,
John Lord Balmerino, Robert Lord Burly, James Lord Couper, Lord Kilcudbright, Alexander Lord Elcho, Sir Archibald Johnston of Wariston, Sir John
Hope of Craighall, Arthur Erskin of Scotscraig, Sir John Moncreiff of that Ilk,
Beaton of Creigh, Sir John Wauchhope of Nidrie, Sir Thomas Ruthven of Frieland, Sir George Maxwell of Netherpollock, Sir James Fraser of Brae, Sir James Hackact of Pitfirren, Sir William Carmichaell, younger of that Ilk, Walter Dundas, younger of that Ilk, Thomas Craigs of Ricarton, Mr George Winrain of Liberton, Sir Alexander Inglis of Ingliston, Alexander Brodie of that Ilk, Forbes of Eight, William Moore of Glanderston, John Ker of Lochtour, Alexander Pringill of Whitbank, Walther Scot of Whitslaid, John Crafurd of Crafurdland, Sir John Chisly of Carswell, Robert Monroe of Obsteall, Cornwall of Bonhard, George Dundas of Dudingston, Sir James Stewart of Kirkfield, Mr Alexander Colvill of Blair, Mr Alexander Peirson, Mr Robert Burnet, younger, Mr Thomas Murray, George Potterfield, Mr James Campbell, James Hamilton, Lawrence Henderson, Mr Robert Barclay, Mr William More, Dr William Glendoning, Dowglas, James Sword, Gideon Jack, Mr Dougall Campbell, John Boswall, John Brown, William Brown, Robert Brown, and William Russell, Elders; giving unto them full power and commission to do all and every thing for preservation of the established doctrine, discipline, worship, and government, of this Kirk, against all who shall endeavour to introduce any thing contrary thereunto; and for prosecuting, advancing, perfecting, and bringing the said work of uniformity in religion in all his Majestie's dominions to a happy conclusion, conform to the former commissions granted by preceding Assemblies thereanent; and to that effect, appoints them, or any seventeen of them, whereof thirteen shall be ministers, to meet here in this city to-morrow, the 12th of this moneth, and thereafter upon the last Wednesday of November, February, and May next, and upon any other day, and in any other place, they shall think fit. Renewing also, to the persons before named, the power contained in the act of the Assembly, 1643, intituled, "A Reference to the Commission anent the Persons designed to repair to the Kingdom of England." And, further, 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 such power of censuring complyers 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 quarterly meetings of this commission; and, further, authorises them, as formerly, with full power to make supplications, 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 interupt this commission, or any other Church judicatory—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 Assembly, as fully and freely 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 authority of this commission in matters intrusted to them, shall be holden as opposers of the authority of the Generall Assembly; and this commission, in their whole proceedings, are comptable to and censurable by the next Generall Assembly.
Sess. 40, August 11, 1648, post meridiem.—Exemption of Murray, Rosse, and Caithnesse, from the Contribution granted to the Boyes of Argyle, with a Recommendation to Presbyteries to make up what is taken of them by that exemption.
Concerning the overture and desire of the Commissioners of the Presbyteries of Murray, Rosse, and Caithnesse, for an exemption from that contribution of fourty shillings, recommended for entertainment of the Irish boyes in Argyle; the Assembly, having considered thereof, and of their offer, in the name of the said Presbyteries, if that exemption be granted, do approve their offer; and, therefore, hereby exoners the said Presbyteries of the said contribution of fourty shillings toward the entertainment of the boyes in Argyle; and ordains, for that exemption, according to the offer of the said Commissioners, that each Presbyterie of the said provinces entertaine one of the Irish language at schooles; and if any be found already fit for colledges, they shall maintain them at philosophie, and so forward, untill they be fit for the ministry. And because, by this exemption, the contribution for the boyes in Argyle will be so much lessened, therefore, the Assembly recommends to all other Presbyteries to think upon some way, how, by the charitable supply, that may be made up unto them.
Act concerning Collection for the Poor.
The Assembly, understanding that the collections for the poor in some kirks in the countrey are taken in the time of divine service, which being a very great and unseemly disturbance of divine worship, do, therefore, hereby inhibit and discharge the same; and ordains that the minister and session appoint some other way and time for receiving the said collections.
Recommendation for securing Provisions to Ministers in Burghs.
In regard that the stipends of many ministers in burghs are not secured unto them and their successors; therefore, the Assembly do seriously recommend to the honourable Commission of Parliament for Planting of Kirks to provide reall and valide security of competent and honest meanes to the present ministers of burghs and their successors, where they are not sufficiently provided or secured already; ordaining Presbyteries to use all necessary diligence for prosecuting thereof before the said Commission for Planting Kirks.
The humble Supplication of the Generall Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland, met at Edinburgh, August 12, unto the King's Most Excellent Majesty.
Albeit your Majesty, through the suggestions of evil men, may haply entertain hard thoughts of us and our proceedings, yet the Searcher of hearts knows, and our consciences bear record unto us, that we bear in our spirits these humble and dutifull respects to your Majesty that loyall subjects owe to their native Sovereigne, and that it would be one of our greatest contentments upon earth to see your Majesty reigning for the Lord, in righteousnesse and peace, over these nations: And, therefore, as we do bow our knees daily before the throne of grace on your behalf, and the behalf of your posterity, so we finde our selves, as heretofore, obliged faithfully and freely to warn your Majesty of your danger and dutie; wishing and hoping that the Lord will incline your royall heart, from the sence of the evil which hath befallen you through the slighting of former warning, to be more attentive unto this. We are very sensible of your Majesty's sufferings and low condition, and do not in the least measure approve, but from our hearts abhorre, any thing that hath been done to your Majesty's person, contrary to the common resolutions of both kingdoms: Yet it shall be your Majesty's wisdom in this, as in all that hath befallen you these years past, to read the righteous hand of the Lord, writing bitter things against you, as for all your provocations, so especially for resisting his work, and authorising by your commissions the shedding of the blood of his people, for which it is high time to repent, that there be no more wrath against you and your realms.
The commission of the preceding Assembly, whose proceedings are unanimously approven by this Assembly, having read your Majesty's letter of the date at Carisbrook Castle, December 27th, and perused your concessions, did finde some of these concessions destructive to the Covenant, and all of them unsatisfactorie; and did therefore emit a declaration concerning the same, least your Majesty's subjects in this kingdom should have unawares imbarked themselves in an Engagement upon grounds not consisting with the good of religion, and the Solemn League and Covenant. For preventing whereof, they did also present most just and necessary desires unto the High and Honourable Court of Parliament of this kingdom; which, if they had been granted, might have through the blessing of God, either procured (upon treaty) your Majesty's re-establishment and a solide peace, or laid open the expediencie and necessity of a lawfull war, and have united this kingdom therein for the good of religion, of your Majesty, and of your kingdoms. When the Parliament was pleased, without satisfaction to any of these desires, to go on towards the determining of a war upon the grounds contained in their declaration, as many of their own members, who have been faithfull in the cause of God from the beginning, did dissent from their proceedings, so most of all the Presbyteries and Synods of this kingdom, and the committees of war in severall shires, did, by humble sup plication, represent to the Parliament how unsatisfied they were in their consciences concerning the present Engagement; notwithstanding of all which, the Engagement hath been carried on without clearing either of the lawfulnesse or necessity thereof. Therefore, we, having now examined the same by the rule of God's Word, and having found it unlawfull, as we have warned the whole kingdom of the danger thereof, so we hold it our duty also to warne your Majesty, as the servants of the Most High God, and in name of the Lord Jesus Christ, who must judge the quick and dead, earnestly beseeching your Majesty that as ye would not draw new guilt upon your Majesty's throne, and make these kingdoms again a field of blood, you would be far from owning or having any hand in this so unlawfull an Engagement, which, as it hath already been the cause of so much sorrow and many sufferings to the people of God in this land, who choose affliction rather then sin, so it tendeth to the undoing of the Covenant and work of reformation. As we do not oppose the restitution of your Majesty to the exercise of your royall power, so we must needs desire that that which is God's be given unto him in the first place, and that religion may be secured before the setling of any humane interest; being confident that this way is not only most for the honour of God, but also for your Majesty's honor and safety. And, therefore, as it was one of our desires to the High and Honourable Court of Parliament, that they would solicite your Majesty for securing of religion, and establishing the Solemn League and Covenant in all your dominions, that your Majesty might know that what they intend on your behalf was with a subordination to religion; so we do now from our selves make this humble address unto your Majesty, intreating your Majesty, as you tender truth and peace, you would be pleased to suffer your self to be possessed with right thoughts of the League and Covenant, and of the proceedings of your Majesty's loyall subjects in relation thereunto, and give your royall assent for injoyning of it in all your dominions. If your Majesty had been pleased to hearken to our counsell hereanent some years ago, the blood of many thousands, which now lyes upon your Majesty's throne, might have been spared; Popery, Prelacy, idolatry, superstition, prophanesse, heresie, errour, sects, and schismes, which are now grown to so great a height in England, might have been extirpate; and your Majesty sitting in peace in your own house, reigning over your subjects with much mutuall contentment and confidence. And if your Majesty shall yet search out and repent of all your secret and open sins, and after so many dear-bought experiences of the danger of evil counsell, be now so wise as to avoid it, and to hearken to us speaking unto you in the name of the Lord, we are confident by this means your Majesty may yet be restored, and a sure and firme peace procured. We take it as a great mercy, and as a door of hope, that God still inclines the hearts of all his servants to pray for your Majesty, and we would not have your Majesty to look upon it as a light thing, that you have been preserved alive, when many thousands have, by your means and procurement, fallen on your right hand and on your left hand. God forbid that your Majesty should any longer despise the word of exhortation, the riches of his goodnesse, forbearance, and long-suffering, not knowing that the goodnesse of God leads you unto repentance; for if your Majesty do so, as we are afraid, all counsels and endeavours for your Majesty's re-establishment shall be in vain and without successe, because of the wrath of the Lord of Hosts, who brings down the mighty from his throne, and scatters the proud in the imaginations of their hearts; so we shall mourn in secret for it, and for all the miseries that are like to come upon your throne and your dominions, and comfort our selves in this, that we have delivered our own souls. But we desire to hope better things, and that your Majesty will humble your self under the mighty hand of God, and be inclined to hearken to the faithfull advise of his servants, be willing to secure religion, and imploy your royall power for advancing the Kingdom of the Son of God, which will turn as well to the honour and happinesse of your Majesty, as to the peace and safety of your subjects.
Sess. Ult. August 12, 1648.—Act Discharging Duels.
The Generall Assembly, taking in consideration the many duels and combats that have been fought, and challenges that have been made, and carried and received, in this land of late; and, being sensible of the exceeding great offence that comes by so horrible and hainous a sin, which is a grosse preferring of the supposed credit of the creature unto the honour of the Most High God, and an usurpation upon the office of the magistrate, by private men's taking of the sword, and a high degree of murther both of body and soul, by shedding the blood of the one, and cutting off the other from time of repenting, and which doth ordinarily produce many wofull consequents; therefore, doth enact and ordain, that all persons, of whatsoever quality, who shall either fight duels, or make, or write, or receive, or with their knowledge carry challenges, or go to the fields, either as principals or as seconds, to fight duels and combats, that they shall, without respect of persons, be processed with the censures of the Kirk, and brought before the congregation two severall Lord's dayes; in the first whereof, they are sharply to be rebuked and convinced of the hainousnesse of their sin and offence; and on the next, to make a solemn publick confession thereof, and profession of their unfained humiliation and repentance for the same. And if the person guilty of any of the former offences be an elder or deacon, he is to be removed from his office; and whatsoever person, guilty of any of these offences, shall refuse to give obedience according to the tenour of this act, shall be processed to excommunication: Declaring always, that if any be killed at such duels, the killer shall be proceeded against by the Kirk as other murtherers.
Act concerning Deposed Ministers.
The Assembly, considering that divers ministers deposed for Malignancy, and complying with the enemies of this Kirk and cause of God, may be suited by, and hope to get entry in some congregation where a minister deposed for Malignancy hath been, and may be supposed to have put on the people a stamp and impression of Malignancy, and being by the act of the Generall Assembly, in anno 1645, past all hope of being restored to the place out of whilk he was cast; now also ordains and enacts, that no minister deposed for Malignancy and complyance foresaid, (when it shall fall out that he be put in a capacity of admission to the ministry,) shall enter in to the congregation of any other minister who also hath been deposed for Malignancy and complyance, as said is.
The General 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 again 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 meeting of the next Generall Assembly is hereby appointed to be at Edinburgh, the first Wednesday of July 1649.