Alexander Hislop's Book on The Scriptural Principles of the Solemn League and Covenant, in their Bearing on the Present State of the Episcopal Churches
[Let the reader note that the inclusion of the following book does not imply any endorsement of the author’s acceptance of the Revolution establishment of Church and State. The orthodox Reformed Presbyterian position is presented in John Graham’s Lecture on that subject found HERE.]
IN THEIR BEARING ON THE PRESENT STATE
REV. ALEX. HISLOP,
GLASGOW AND LONDON: W.R. M’PHUN.
Bookseller and Publisher to H.R.H. the Prince Consort.
SOLEMN LEAGUE AND COVENANT.
Deut. 12:32. "What thing soever I command you, observe to do it; thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it."
To some minds, it may seem little less than ridiculous, at this time of day, to speak of reviving the testimony contained in the Solemn League and Covenant. That Covenant has been so completely trampled under-foot, and has, by the vast majority of Scottish, as well as English Christians, been so long consigned to oblivion, that almost everywhere it is counted as a thing entirely obsolete and antiquated. It is the object of this discourse to show, that the great principles of that solemn deed were in entire accordance with the Word of God; and, consequently, that their obligation is as binding at this day as when the Covenant was sworn. If, in the line of argument I may employ, I shall be constrained to make statements, and adduce facts, that may bear hard upon Episcopacy, I hope it will not be supposed that it is from any harsh, unkind, or uncharitable feeling to Episcopalians. The services rendered by many, of all ranks, in the Episcopal Church of England, to the cause of Christ, entitle them to the highest respect; and the personal kindness which I have myself experienced from not a few in that communion, both clerical and lay—and that more abundantly of late than before—would make it entirely inexcusable on my part, if I were to indulge any such unworthy feeling. With the most fervent charity, however, for individuals, vital and seasonable truth must not be kept in abeyance through fear of offence being taken. The interests of pure and undefiled religion, the cause of God in this land, and even the spiritual and eternal welfare of Episcopalians themselves, imperatively require—and now more than ever they did, since this was a Protestant nation—that the inherent tendencies of the Episcopal system should be clearly set in the light of Scripture and experience. Too long has there been an astonishing indifference to this subject. Surely the events passing around us, make it impossible that that indifference should continue much longer.
In elucidating the subject of lecture, I shall endeavour to show—
I.—The extent of the principle contained in the text.
II.—That the Solemn League and Covenant was entered into with a view to the carrying out and maintenance of this principle.
III.—That the long-continued breach of this Covenant has entailed a heavy load of guilt upon the nations that have broken it. And
IV.—That Popery cannot possibly be met on any other principle than that contained in the text, and embodied in this Solemn Covenant.
THE EXTENT OF THE GREAT PRINCIPLE OF THE TEXT.
First, then, as to the extent of the principle contained in the text: "What thing soever I command you, observe to do it; thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it." Though this command occurs in the Old Testament, we have clear evidence that the principle contained in it is equally binding on the Church under the New Testament dispensation. When the Lord Jesus sent out his apostles to evangelize the world, he sent them forth with this commission—"All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe ALL THINGS WHATSOEVER I HAVE COMMANDED YOU" (Matt. 28:18-20). Here is the republication of the principle—"What thing soever I command you, observe to do it." And that this commission also contained in it, by clear implication, the other principle, "Thou shalt not add thereto," we have the decisive language of the Lord Jesus himself to prove. "In vain do they worship me," said he, quoting Isaiah, and applying it to the Pharisees, "in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men"—language which is plainly alluded to by Paul, when he impresses on the Colossians the danger of giving heed to the "commandments and doctrines of men" (Col. 2:22). Now the apostles thus commissioned, were miraculously endowed with the Holy Ghost, that they might teach the churches to observe ALL things which the Lord Jesus commanded, and to teach them to observe NOTHING ELSE. If thus the apostolic commission ran,—if they were expressly required, in their teaching, and in the institutions which they introduced into the Christian Church, to have implicit respect to the mind and will of Christ—the Church’s sole and only Head—who can plead that he may venture to act on a different principle? Now, how are we to know the mind of Christ? We can know it only from his infallible word? "To the law and to the testimony, if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" (Isaiah 8:20). Those who have recourse to tradition, as a ground either of faith or of practice, are guilty of casting away the lamp of life, that they may follow an ignis fatuus, that can only lead them astray; and bring upon themselves the withering rebuke pronounced by our Lord on the Pharisees: "Full well, ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition."
Protestants, in general, admit that the Word of God is the only foundation of doctrine, meaning thereby, the principles of faith. But, unhappily, many that bear the Protestant name, have earnestly contended that, in regard to worship, discipline, and church government, other principles altogether than those of Scripture may lawfully be brought into play. Now, if there were no worship, no discipline, no church government instituted with apostolic sanction and authority, and embodied in the Divine Record, there would be some force in such an allegation. But, is it the fact that the worship, discipline, and government of the Church have been left for men to modify and shape, as their varying whims may see fit? Clearly not.
1. The worship of the Christian Church has not been left to be determined by the mere judgments and imaginations of men. There are principles laid down, there are precepts given, there are examples recorded, which show the mind and will of Christ in this matter; and the statements of Paul, in regard to "will-worship" (Col. 2:18-23), decisively prove that those who violate the purity of Christian worship, are not only those who introduce practices which God has forbidden, but those who introduce what God has not authorised, or commanded. There can be no meaning attached to the term, "will-worship," but that such "worship" rests, not on the "will" of God, but on the mere "will" or fancy of man. Now, in opposition to the divine enunciation in regard to "will-worship," the Church of England has admitted into its articles this principle, that it belongs to "the Church," of her own authority, to "decree rites and ceremonies" (Article XX). As a matter of historical fact, this principle was never agreed to by the Convocation that adopted the Thirty-nine Articles; this sentence being found neither in the first-printed edition of the Articles, nor in the draft of them that passed the Convocation, and which is still in existence, with the autograph signatures of the members; but is believed to have been surreptitiously inserted by the hand of Queen Elizabeth herself, who had much of the overbearing spirit of her father, Henry VIII., and who, as Head of the Church, which the English Constitution made her, was determined to have a pompous worship in that church, under her ecclesiastical control. But, however that clause was introduced—once introduced, it has been the grand means of overlaying that church with ceremonies which have no foundation in the Word of God, but are of the very essence of will-worship. Where, for instance, could any warrant be found in the Word of God, for men wheeling to the east in the midst of their devotions, making the sign of the cross in baptism, or kneeling in the Lord’s Supper? Some of these things have been borrowed from the Papists, some from the Pagans, but, assuredly, none of them from the Scriptures. Where, also, in the worship of the Apostolic Church, is there the least hint of the use of instrumental music? In the Old Testament dispensation, such instrumental music was appointed in the service of God; but that was inseparably bound up with the worship of the Temple, which, says Paul, was "a worldly sanctuary" (Heb. 9:1), which, with its (Gal. 4:9) "beggarly elements" and "rudiments of this world" (Col. 2:20) was intended to last only "until the time of reformation" (Heb. 9:10). That "time of reformation" came, when the Lord Jesus appeared to abolish the "worldly sanctuary," and set up the more "spiritual" dispensation of the Gospel church. The "worldly sanctuary" of Judaism, with its sacrifices, and incense, and instrumental music, had a "glory" for the time that the wisdom of God saw fit that it should last—that is, while the Church was under age (Gal. 4:1-3). But it had "no glory in comparison of the glory that excelleth," when the Church came to its full age, when the "worldly sanctuary" was done away, and when the spiritual sanctuary, or Gospel Church, was filled with the glorious indwelling of the fulness of the Spirit. With the abrogation of the "worldly sanctuary," the instrumental music, which, as much as the offering of sacrifice, was identified with it, and which was not used in the service of the synagogue, was equally abrogated. So certain is it that the instrumental music of Judaism was identified with the Temple service, that the Jews themselves have, ever since the destruction of the Temple, till very recently, held it utterly unlawful to introduce such music into their synagogues; and when, about the beginning of the present century, an organ was, for the first time, introduced, nothing but the influential position of the individual concerned in its introduction, saved him from being summarily excommunicated. With this opinion of the Jews, in regard to the position of instrumental music, the practice of the Apostolic Church most exactly corresponded. We have reference in the New Testament, again and again, to the worship and praise of the Gospel Church—we read of "psalms and hymns, and spiritual songs," but never once do we read of these being accompanied by any instrument of music. In the Apocalypse, no doubt, we read of "harpers harping with their harps;" but the book where this occurs, is a symbolical book; and it would be absurd to understand it in any other than a symbolical sense. If the "harpers" are to be understood literally; the offering of "incense," referred to in that book, must be understood literally too. The beast with the seven heads and ten horns, must be a literal beast; and the woman that sits on the back of it, must be a literal woman. Who, in his senses, would contend for such a principle of interpretation in regard to these? But this must be contended for, and maintained, before any argument can be drawn from the "harpers" of the Book of Revelation, in favour of the use of instrumental music in the Gospel Church. We have statements from uninspired men, coming down to the end of the third century, and even later, in regard to Christian worship and psalmody; and, even till then, there is evidence that there was no such thing as instrumental accompaniments to the praise. Of course, I do not adduce the evidence of these early Christian writers, as if their authority was any proof of the right or the wrong on this question; but only as bearing testimony in regard to a matter of fact, about which they could not be mistaken; and which, once admitted to be a fact, can be accounted for only on the supposition, that the instrumental music of the Jewish worship fell with the "worldly sanctuary" of Judaism. Yet, notwithstanding of all this, the English Church, by virtue of her power to "decree rites and ceremonies," and to introduce unauthorised modes of worship, imitating the Church of Rome, has introduced the loud-pealing organ, to make her worship more attractive to the carnal mind, than the simple spiritual worship of the New Testament Church could be. This, however, was not the mind of the first Reformers, even in the English Church; for, in the Book of Homilies, they have left unequivocal evidence of their opinion on this subject; and there they characterise "piping, and playing upon organs," as well as pictures and images, as a "filthy defilement" of God’s "holy house and place of prayer." If any one says, "But what great harm, after all, can there be in this?" I answer, "There is all the harm of ‘will-worship,’ which the Lord so emphatically condemns." If there was no such thing as an organ, or any instrument of music, used in the worship of the Apostolic Church, and if it be supposed that instrumental music is really helpful to the devout feelings of a Gospel-worshipper, then see what is the inevitable inference: Either the Apostles, who were commissioned to teach the churches "ALL things whatsoever" that Christ had "commanded them," failed in their duty, and omitted a very important part of their instructions; in which case, the very men on whose testimony the truth of the Gospel narrative essentially depends, are found unfaithful, and consequently, may have been "false witnesses of God:" or, the Lord Jesus, himself, was so deficient in wisdom, or in kindness, as to omit an instruction which was indispensable to the happiness and spiritual improvement of his people, and which it was left for the Papacy, in the dark ages, to discover! In every case, "will-worship" is of a most malignant influence, and most presumptuous in its very nature. In the early days of the Church of England, the best men in that church were fully alive to the sin of "will-worship," and none could more earnestly lament, than Hooper and Coverdale, Fox and Jewell, "the dregs of Popery" and "relics of the Amorites," which, to adopt the language of the last-named bishop, were retained in it. But now, with rare exceptions, Episcopal divines, even though evangelical in their doctrine, cling to these very "dregs," and "relics of the Amorites," as if they formed a great part of the distinguishing glory of the Church of England. There are, here and there, exceptions, however, skill; and it is refreshing amid so much of an opposite kind, to find such a testimony, on this subject, as the following, borne by the late distinguished Dr. Arnold, of Rugby: "The more I think of the matter, and the more I read of the Scriptures themselves, and of the history of the Church, the more intense is my wonder at the language of admiration with which some men speak of the Church of England, which certainly retains the foundation sure, as other Christian societies do, except the Unitarians, but has overlaid it with a very sufficient quantity of hay and stubble, which I devoutly hope to see burnt one day in the fire." Such is the testimony of one of the most learned divines of the Church of England itself. If there be such a "quantity of hay and stubble overlaying" the truth in that church, does it not deeply concern its members to be aware of it? to use vigorous efforts to have it cleared away? and to return to the simplicity of worship, as practised in apostolic times, and by apostolic men, according to the commands of our Lord Jesus Christ himself?
2. But, our text refers not merely to doctrine and worship; it equally refers to discipline. The Lord Jesus, the sole Head of the Church, has appointed a discipline for the suppression of scandals, the reclaiming of transgressors, and the separation of obstinate offenders from the communion of the faithful. In the Gospels we find distinct principles, and modes of procedure, enunciated by the lips of Christ himself. In the Acts of the Apostles, and the Apostolic Epistles, we find these principles embodied and carried into effect in the primitive Church. On this subject, then, also, the command applies: "What thing soever I command you, observe to do it; thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it." The discipline which Christ hath appointed in his Word, no man, nor class of men, neither Popes nor prelates, neither Presbyteries nor General Assemblies, have power or authority to supersede or repeal. There are gross abominations everywhere, and ever and anon springing up around us in this Christian land, intemperance spreads like a deluge, "iniquity abounds, and the love of many waxeth cold." It cannot be said of any portion of the visible Church, that it "looketh forth as the morning—fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners." And why is this? Has the Gospel failed? Is the Spirit of the Lord straitened? Is his hand waxed short? No. Why, then, does not the Gospel leaven leaven the whole masses of our population? Why does heathenism increase on every side? May it not be that the discipline of Christ’s house, as Christ himself appointed it, is not faithfully applied—that sin, to a large extent, is connived at—that there are Achans in our camps—that there are spots in our feasts of charity, allowed to feast themselves without fear, sporting themselves with their own deceivings—that due pains are not taken to separate between the precious and the vile; and that therefore the Spirit of the Lord is grieved, and will not give that abundant blessing, even on the preached Word, which otherwise he would rejoice to do, and without which that Word cannot be completely efficacious. While, however, there are few, if any, of the churches, that have much reason to boast of their faithfulness in carrying out the divinely-appointed discipline of Christ’s house, the Episcopal Churches stand preeminent for their laxity in this matter. They have almost entirely cast away every appearance of discipline. In their communion, the Church and the world are openly identified. Any man, of whatever character, may have baptism for his children; any man, however scandalous, may, without let or hindrance on the part of the rulers of the Church, except in certain extreme cases, that almost never occur, come and partake of the Lord’s Supper. Now, how ruinous must this be to immortal souls—how dishonouring to the Head of the Church—how well fitted to make infidels! The thought of this, made some even of the dignitaries of the Church of England, in ancient days, who were far from being Puritans, to mourn and lament, and to complain bitterly of the opposition of the courtiers of Queen Elizabeth, to please whom, discipline was cast to the winds; and to cry out, like Cox, Bishop of Ely, that, if discipline should continue to be set at nought, as it was, "the kingdom of God would be taken from them." For centuries that discipline has been trodden under-foot; and do not the events of every day give reason to fear, that, unless the mercy of God miraculously interpose, the words of Bishop Cox may come too true; and that the "kingdom of God," in very deed, may be "taken away" from the Church of England.
3. The principle of the text applies also to church-government. If there be one thing implied in the Headship of Christ over the Church, it is this: that the Church must be governed by office-bearers appointed according to the Word and will of the great Head of the Church himself. Whatever offices of authority and power cannot be proved from the Word, must be condemned as infringements on thc royal prerogative of Zion’s only King and Lord. "Whatever plant our heavenly Father hath not planted," is found in any Christian church, "shall be rooted up." Though at the first, the Church of England was reformed from Popery by bishops, and still retained the prelatic hierarchy, with all its different ramifications and dependencies, it was not because it was pretended in any quarter that such a church-government was founded on the Word of God. It was only to please "the powers that were," that the good men in that church submitted to the Episcopacy, hoping that, by and by, they might find a more convenient season for getting it done away. Almost all the most distinguished of the bishops themselves were Presbyterian in principle. Latimer and Hooper maintained the identity of bishops and presbyters by Divine institution. Archbishop Cranmer expressed his decided disapprobation of "the glorious titles, styles, and pomps," which were come into the Church through the "working of the spirit of Diotrephes," and professed his readiness to lay them entirely aside. Parkhurst, Bishop of Norwich, writing to Gualter, a Swiss Reformer, fervently exclaims, "O! would to God, would to God, once at last, all the English people would in good earnest propound to themselves to follow the Church of Zurich, as the most absolute pattern." Now, the Church of Zurich, as well as the Swiss or Helvetic Church in general, was Presbyterian. In a letter from Hooper to Bullinger, another Swiss divine, we find the following statement in regard to the views of several of the most noted of the bishops:—"The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishops of Rochester, Ely, St David’s, Lincoln, and Bath are sincerely bent on advancing the purity of doctrine, agreeing in ALL THINGS with the Helvetic churches." Bishop Jewell was of the same mind, and publicly expressed his hope that the "bishops would become pastors, labourers, and watchmen, and that the great riches of bishoprics would be diminished and reduced to mediocrity; that being delivered from regal and courtly pomp, they might take care of the flock of Christ." Aylmer, a distinguished divine of the same period, thus addressed the right reverend bench: "Come off you bishops with your superfluities; yield up your thousands; be content with hundreds as they be in other reformed churches, where there be as great learned men as you are. Let your portion be priest-like, and not princelike." These were all indications of soundness on the part of distinguished men, from which great good might have been anticipated. But when once the evil system was submitted to, generations passed away, great damage was done to the cause of truth, and much suffering endured by faithful men, before there was the least appearance of the coming of that "convenient season," for which good men waited. Some even betrayed the cause, for which at one time they seemed so stout and zealous, and persecuted those who were only following the example they themselves had previously set. Aylmer, whose words have just quoted, who called on the bishops so loudly to lay aside their "prince-like" state, and be "content with hundreds" instead of "thousands," was raised to the Episcopal bench himself, and there appeared in a different light from that, in which he had once appeared in an humbler sphere. When reminded of his former language, he had nothing to say for himself, but in the words of Paul, though grievously misapplied: "When I was a child, I spake as a child; but when I became a man I put away childish things." From that time forward, the court divines began to teach that there was no divine form of church-government laid down in the Word; that every nation might erect whatever form of church-government it saw fit, and that the form of church-government which was in use in the fourth and fifth centuries of the Christian era, when the Emperors were professing Christians, was that which was most suitable for the church of a nation, where the people were under monarchical government. This was utterly repugnant to a large portion, both of the ministers and the people, who began to be called Puritans, who maintained, that the government of the Church, as well as faith, and everything else, must be in accordance with the Apostolic model. This was undoubtedly the principle of the early Reformers, though they gave way to evil measures, from an ill-judged expediency. This is evidently the doctrine of Scripture, where it is plainly intimated, that though apostles should cease, and prophecies, and tongues, and supernatural gifts should "vanish away" (1 Cor. 13:8), the Lord Jesus hath appointed a government in his Church, that is to last to all time, "for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ," till "the whole Church should come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (Eph. 4:11-13). In that divinely-appointed church-government, there is no such thing as diocesan bishops exercising "lordship over God’s heritage"—a lordship expressly forbidden, and that in the clearest terms (Matt. 20:25; 1 Peter 5:3). In that divinely-appointed government, there is no room either for the Erastian supremacy of an earthly sovereign, or of any Civil Courts deriving authority from such a sovereign; for nowhere, either in the Old Testament or the New, is the Sovereign or Civil power authorised to rule the Church of God. The whole theory, then, of Episcopacy, and of all its dependent offices, which have simply bees imported from the Papacy, as well as of the Erastian supremacy of the civil power, utterly falls to the ground, when brought face to face with the Word of God.
And thus we have seen, that, alike in regard to doctrine, worship, discipline, and church-government, the Word of God stands firm—"What thing soever I command you, observe to do it; thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it."
THE GRAND INTENTION AND DESIGN OF THE SOLEMN LEAGUE AND COVENANT.
I HAVE now to show that the grand intention and design of the Solemn League and Covenant was to carry out and maintain the principle of the text. To prove this, a brief historical statement may be necessary. Though Prelacy at first was submitted to in the Church of England, as a mere human expedient, by and by it came to occupy an entirely different position. When an evil principle is once established, its tendency is always from bad to worse. Prelacy—that under the first bishops was submitted to, even by them, as a thing only tolerable—assumed under their successors an attitude essentially intolerant. When the Puritans, enlightened by the Word, found it impossible to take part in a system, that in so many respects departed from the divine model, they were necessarily constrained, in self-defence, fox the justification of their own position, to hold up to public view, the contrariety between the government of the National Church, and the government established in the Scripture. To the men who occupied the Episcopal bench, and who were constrained by Queen Elizabeth, much against their own will, to enforce upon those who conscientiously resisted it, the hierarchical system she was determined to uphold, it could never be pleasing to hear themselves arraigned before the nation as persecuting their brethren in behalf of a mere human invention, for their very fidelity to the Word of God. Was it to be supposed, that these high dignitaries would tamely submit to this? But how could they meet the charge? On the principles of the Latimers, the Cranmers, the Hoopers—the martyred bishops of the Church of England—the men who were the glory of that church, it was impossible to meet it. In these circumstances a man was found, who endeavoured, not only to meet the Puritan accusation, but to hurl against the Nonconformists themselves, the charge of rebellion, not merely against an ordinance of man, but against an ordinance of God. This was Bancroft, chaplain of Whitgift, Archbishop of Canterbury, and afterwards, successively, Bishop of London, and Archbishop of Canterbury himself. In a sermon preached at Paul’s Cross, in 1588, he maintained that bishops were a distinct order from presbyters, and had authority over them by divine right, and directly from God. This was entirely new doctrine in the Church of England, and not only alarmed the Puritans, but startled the Episcopalians themselves. Whitgift, the Archbishop himself, though declaring that he believed his chaplain’s sermon had done much good, had yet the candour to confess, that for his own part, "he rather wished than believed his doctrine to be true." This doctrine once broached, was not allowed to slumber. The furnace of persecution was heated hotter and hotter, till, in the time of Laud, and Charles I., through the unholy alliance between the twin principles of the "right divine of kings to govern wrong," and the "right divine" of bishops to "lord it over God’s heritage," all liberty, civil and religious, seemed on the point of becoming extinct. Then the English nation at last became aroused, and acting on the very principle now engrafted into our constitution since the Revolution, that the Sovereign has no more right to violate the constitutional liberties of the people, and the sacred rights of conscience, than the people have to resist the lawful authority of the Sovereign, the high courts of Parliament—Lords and Commons alike—determined to make a stand against the intolerable despotism which the king and his favourite Laud were equally determined to set up. In considering what measures were necessary, to save themselves from tyranny and arbitrary power, the two Houses of Parliament soon found, that reform in the Church was absolutely indispensable. "Petitions," says Hetherington, in his History of the Westminster Assembly, "were poured into the House of Commons from every part of the country, signed by almost incredible numbers, against the hierarchy; some desiring its reformation, others praying that the whole system might be destroyed. Of the latter kind, that which attracted chief attention, was one from the city of London, signed by about 15,000 persons, and generally termed ‘The Root and Branch Petition,’ on account of one expression in its prayer, viz., ‘That the said government, with all its dependencies, roots, and branches, may be abolished.’" This, at first, met with vigorous resistance. But the subject was fairly mooted. Men, feeling the bitter effects of Prelacy, and fearing what it might still produce, were willing to listen to reason and Scripture. The hierarchy within the walls of Parliament was compared with the Scriptural model, and then it was seen that Dagon could not stand in the presence of the ark of God. Truth triumphed; Episcopacy was abolished; and this was all the more remarkable, from the character of the men who composed that Parliament, of whom Clarendon, the High Church historian himself is constrained to admit, that their original leanings were all in a contrary direction. "As to religion," says he, "they were all members of the Established Church, and almost to a man for Episcopal government." Before this measure, however, had passed both Houses, the infatuated King Charles I., had begun to make war upon his own subjects, and in prosecution of his arbitrary and despotic measures, had put himself in such a position of hostility to the Parliament, and its just and necessary efforts for liberty—civil and religious—that there was no alternative for it, but either to resist, or the last vestiges of liberty would have been extinct. In these circumstances, it applied to Scotland for help, in the grand contest that was now waged for all that was dear to freemen and to Protestants. The result of this application was the drawing up of the SOLEMN LEAGUE ANDCOVENANT. At first, some of the English commissioners sought to form only a political alliance. But as religion was foremost and paramount in all the bonds and covenants into which our ancestors had entered, they could not be prevailed upon to form any league, unless the settlement of the Church in both kingdoms, on a Scriptural basis, was made an essential element in the covenant. They had no little encouragement to plead for this, from the steps already taken by the English Parliament. Not only was Episcopacy abolished in England, but shortly before the sending of these commissioners to Scotland, the Westminster Assembly had been called, and the terms of the Ordinance summoning that Assembly expressly bore, that one grand intention was, that such a government might be settled in the Church of England, as "might be most agreeable to God’s Holy Word, and most apt to procure, and preserve the peace of the Church at home, and nearer agreement with the Church of Scotland, and other reformed churches abroad." These were the express words of the ordinance calling that celebrated Assembly. The Westminster divines were convened to bring the Church of England into the nearest agreement with the Word of God, and the Church of Scotland. There was a blessed harmony between these two objects, thus brought together. Kirkton, the historian, says that even "emulous foreigners were wont to call the Church of Scotland ‘Philadelphia and the Morning Star of the Reformation.’" What was it that gave the Church of our fathers such a beauty in the eyes of strangers, and made even England, with all its wealth and worldly superiority, propose to take the Church of Scotland as a pattern? It was just this, that God had given to our Reformers, when organising the Church in this land, at the very first, the wisdom and the grace, not to "confer with flesh and blood," but to look only to the Word and Spirit of God for guidance and direction. The way in which John Knox refers to this subject is very striking: "All others—that is realms—however sincere that ever the doctrine be that by some is taught, retain in their churches and the ministry thereof, some footsteps of Antichrist, and some dregs of Popery; but we (all praise to God alone) have nothing within our churches, that ever flowed from that Man of Sin. And this, we acknowledge to be the strength given unto us by God, because we esteemed not ourselves wise in our own eyes, but understanding our whole wisdom to be foolishness before the Lord our God, laid it aside, and followed only that which we found approved by Himself. In this point could never our enemies cause us to faint, for our first petition was, ‘That the reverend face of the Primitive and Apostolic Church should be reduced [restored] again to the eyes and knowledge of men.’ And in that point, we say, our God hath strengthened us, till that the work was finished, as the world may see." Such are the words of our great reformer. There is a moral glory—there is a spiritual sublimity here, that men should be willing to be nothing, and that God and his Word should be all in all. This was what made Scotland’s Church great in the eyes of impartial strangers. This was the foundation of all the greatness of the Church of our fathers. This was what made the English Parliament, when in earnest on the subject of religion, look to it with a reverent and wistful eye.
As the very intention of calling the Westminster Assembly was to bring the two Churches of England and Scotland nearer to one another, on the foundation of God’s Word, the English Commissioners were not difficult to persuade to agree to such an alliance as Scotland desired. The Solemn League and Covenant was then brought forward, having been drawn up by the celebrated Alexander Henderson, then, for the third time, Moderator of the General Assembly. "Henderson," says the younger M’Crie, "presented the draught of one which he had composed, to a meeting of the three Committees, from the Parliament of England, the Scottish Convention of Estates, and the General Assembly, which, after some slight alterations, they adopted. On the Moderator producing it before the Assembly, the effect was electrifying. ‘When the draught was read to the General Assembly,’ says Robert Blair, who witnessed the scene, ‘our smoking desires for uniformity did break forth into a vehement flame, and it was so heartily embraced, and with such a torrent of affectionate expressions, as none but eye and ear witnesses can conceive. When the vote of some old ministers was asked, their joy was so great, that tears did interrupt their expression.’ The covenant was received with the same cordiality by the Convention of Estates." If the circumstances in which this religious covenant was agreed to by the English Commissioners be considered, it will not seem anywise surprising that it was welcomed with such tears of joy by tile Church and nation of Scotland. Just two years before, in 1641, the Irish massacre had taken place, in which above 100,000 Protestants had been butchered in cold blood by the Irish Papists. The faithful men in the Scottish Church, who had suffered so much from the attempts of James VI., and his son Charles, to enforce Prelacy upon themselves, and who had seen, with alarm, how spiritual and temporal despotism had for long years been carrying all before it in England, now beheld the Episcopal nation of England itself, by its appointed Commissioners, expressing its desire for a firm and intimate union with them on the platform of Scriptural principle. Thus, there was the prospect of union in the truth—union such as had never been seen before, between the two nations, which might enable them to resist with success, not only the bloody attempts of Rome, of which they had just witnessed so terrible an example, but the insidious despotism of a semi-Popish Prelacy. Well, therefore, might the venerable fathers of the Scottish Church give vent to their feelings of delight—well might they say, "This is the doing of the Lord, and it is wondrous in our eyes."
Thus was it in Scotland. How was the Solemn League and Covenant received, when carried by the Commissioners to England? With equal enthusiasm and unanimity. In the Westminster Assembly, it was read over, clause by clause, and explanations given, where it appeared of doubtful import, till the whole received the sanction of the Assembly. It was then considered by the Parliament; and then by the joint authority of Parliament and the Assembly it was appointed that the Covenant should be publicly taken by these bodies, on the 25th of September. "On that day, accordingly," says Hetherington, "the House of Commons, with the Assembly of Divines, and the Scottish Commissioners, met in the Church of St. Margaret’s, Westminster, and the Rev. Mr. White of Dorchester, one of the assessors, commenced the solemnity with prayer. Mr. Nye then addressed the dignified and grave audience, in a speech of an hour’s duration, pointing out the Scripture authority of such covenants, and the advantage of which they had been productive to the Church of God in all ages. Mr. Henderson, Moderator of the Scottish Assembly, followed him, in a speech; considerably shorter, but of great dignity and power. Mr. Nye then read it (the Covenant) from the pulpit, slowly, and aloud, pausing at the close of every article, while the whole audience of statesmen and divines arose, and, with their right hands held up to heaven, worshipped the great name of God, and gave their sacred pledge. Then the Members of the House of Commons subscribed the Covenant on one roll of parchment, and the Assembly on another; and when this was done, the solemn scene was closed by praise and prayer to that omniscient God, to whom they had lifted up their hands, and made their vows." In the House of Lords, on a subsequent day, a similar scene was presented, and the congregations in and around London generally, followed the same example.
Thus was the Solemn League and Covenant entered into between the two nations. It was a great and sublime deed. Justly did Alexander Henderson say of it, in his speech in the Westminster Assembly: "Had the Pope at Rome, the knowledge of what is doing this day in England, and were this Covenant written on the plaster of the wall over against him, where he sitteth Belshazzar-like in his sacrilegious pomp, it would make his heart to tremble, his countenance to change, his head and mitre to shake, his joints to loose, and all his Cardinals and Prelates to be astonished."
When we look at the terms of the Covenant itself, and the objects it was designed to accomplish and secure, surely we may see that this language of our great divine was fully justified. The Covenant bound the contracting parties, 1.—First to do what in them lay to preserve the reformed religion in the Church of Scotland, in doctrine, worship, discipline, and government, which doctrine, discipline, government and worship that Church had sought simply and solely in the Word of God. 2.—It bound them to seek the Reformation of religion in the kingdoms of England and Ireland, not in doctrine only, but also in "worship, discipline, and government, according to the Word of God, and the example of the best Reformed Churches." After what we have seen of the extent and meaning of the text, who can doubt, but that this was dutiful and right, and that those who possessed the high privilege of a Scripturally-constituted Church-as Scotsmen did—were bound by the law of Christian love, to do what in them lay, by all lawful means, to extend the same blessing to others, and especially to those who were constituent parts of the same kingdom as themselves. In consistency with this, they were of course bound to "endeavour the extirpation of Popery and Prelacy." This by some has been perversely represented, as if they engaged to "extirpate" by violence, Papists and Prelatists. But the wording of the solemn deed is expressly framed to cut off the possibility of any such interpretation; for, after pledging themselves to "endeavour the extirpation of Popery and Prelacy," they add—"That is, church-government by Archbishops, Bishops, &c.,"clearly showing, that it was not persons, but systems, that they were to endeavour to "extirpate."' And surely, all who admit that Prelacy, as well as Popery, is a "plant that our heavenly Father hath not planted," must equally admit, that it ought by all proper means to be "rooted up." 3.—Further, in accordance with the grand design of. Scriptural reform, the Covenanters bound themselves "to seek to bring the churches of God in the three kingdoms, to the nearest conjunction and uniformity of religion, that they, and their posterity after them, might, as brethren, live in faith and love, and the Lord might delight to dwell in the midst of them." The very idea of seeking to bring the churches in these realms into any measure of uniformity in religion is now very generally thought to be utterly Quixotic and absurd. But why should it be so? We have the example of such a uniformity in the Pentecostal Church, when the "multitude of them that believed were of one heart and once soul." (Acts 4:32.) We have the express command, to seek not merely a unity of love, but a uniformity of sentiment. "I beseech you brethren," says Paul, "by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same things, and that there be no divisions among you, but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." (1 Cor. 1:10.) We have the assurance that the Great Intercessor continually pleads before the eternal throne for this very thing. Thus runs his sublime intercession—"Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word, that they all may be one." These words have often been perverted—often been misunderstood; but a glance at their connection will show their real meaning. What is the example—the standard of the unity—for which the glorious Intercessor prays? The example—the standard—is the unity among the divine persons of the Godhead. "That they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us." (John 17:20,21.) Is the union in the Godhead a mere union of affection, with a toleration of diversity of sentiment? Is it not also a union of the most perfect understanding? Such, then, is the union for which Christ pleads; and what he prays for, the infallible Word of prophecy tells us, shall be accomplished. However unlikely it may now appear, with the Church broken into fragments, it is written, that on this distracted earth, "the watchmen" on the wails of Zion shall yet "see eye to eye"—"shall lift up the voice" together, and "together shall they sing;" (Isaiah 52:8,) and that the time is coming, when through all the world, "there shall be one Lord, and his name one." (Zech. 14:9.) And is there anything really incredible in this? What is it that is the real cause of the strifes and dissentions, that so lamentably abound among professing Christians? Is it because the Bible is so obscure, and it is so difficult for an honest mind to ascertain the mind and will of God, in regard to faith and practice? No. The same cause principally operates here, as in regard to physical strife. "Whence come wars and fightings among you?" asks the apostle James; "Come they not hence, even of your lusts, that war in your members?" It is the "lusts that war in the members," that send up those steams, that darken the mental eye to the plainest truths of God’s Word, and rend the Church asunder by "emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies," which are divinely declared to be "works of the flesh." (Gal. 5:19,20.) Let these "lusts that war in the members" be subdued, by a gracious revival being vouchsafed, by the Holy Spirit being poured down in rich effusion from on high, and men would be amazed to see how soon the strifes would cease; how rapidly differences would disappear; how "in God’s light, they would see light" clearly. Now, if the Lord commands that his people should "allspeak the same things, and be perfectly joined together, in the same mind, and the same judgment"—if Christ prays for this, and "the mouth of the Lord has spoken it," that that prayer shall be fulfilled, why should it be thought Quixotic—why should it be regarded as absurd, to labour by all due and appointed means, to bring about such a conjunction and "uniformity" among the true Churches of God? 4.—The Covenant bound those who entered it, to do what in them lay "to preserve the rights and liberties of the Parliaments, and the liberties of the Kingdoms, and to preserve and defend the King’s person and authority, in the preservation and defence of the true religion, and liberties of the kingdoms." It is the command of God, that those who "fear God" should "honour the king;" but there is no command, to a people who have constitutional liberty, to allow any king to set himself above all law, to extinguish religious liberty, and to oppress his subjects. On the contrary, the whole tenor and spirit of God’s Word is, that those who have religious liberty, hold it fast, and do not let it go, let who will endeavour to wrest it from them. This part of the Covenant, then, is in perfect harmony with the Word, and this part of it is, in point of fact, the fundamental principle of the Revolution settlement—the foundation on which our national liberties at present rest.
5. There is just one other point which demands attention. The clause that speaks about "endeavouring to discover malignants," and to "bring them to condign punishment," has stumbled not a few, in modern times. But, historically viewed, why should it? The king was at that time at war with the nation; and the "malignants" were those who were illegally aiding and abetting him in overthrowing the constitution. These men were justly obnoxious to punishment. Then, there was nothing at all inquisitorial intended: for, in the oath which the English members of Parliament swore, which must be held to explain the terms used in the covenant, the words run thus: "BY ALL GOOD WAYS AND MEANS endeavour" to bring them to "condign punishment." Finally, the clause referred to in connection with the Covenant, has no practical bearing at the present moment. The civil magistrate does not now own the Covenanted Reformation, as such, and, consequently, no transgressors of it can be given up to him for punishment. When the nation again shall put itself under the Covenant, the principle, of course, will again come into force. But that principle just amounts to this—that, when that great Reformation shall be attained, when the Constitution, in Church and State, shall be brought into harmony with the Word of God, those who are bound by the Covenant shall jealously seek to hold fast what they have attained; and shall, "by all good ways and means," seek to "bring to condign punishment" those who may be found imitating the partizans of Charles I., and endeavouring illegally to overthrow that constitution.
These, then, were the ends and objects for which the Solemn League and Covenant was sworn. And who will say that these were not high and glorious ends, worthy of God-fearing nations to covenant about? If these objects were lawful and Scriptural, and of a permanent nature, then, on the principle of the permanent obligation of national covenants, which has been proved in a previous lecture, the Solemn League and Covenant is binding still. It will not do to say, that there was something wrong in the means employed for the accomplishment of these ends. If this were the case, it would only show that such means may not be employed again. But it does not show that the covenant itself is void. In its substance, that covenant was eminently Scriptural; and, if it had been faithfully observed, it tended to bring "glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth, and good will to men."
THE GUILT ENTAILED ON THE BRITISH EMPIRE BY THE BREACH OF THIS COVENANT.
I COME now to show that the long-continued breach of the Covenant has entailed a heavy load of guilt upon the nations that have broken it. You do not need to be told that the Covenant so solemnly sworn has been broken. The civil portion of the Solemn League—that which regards man—has, as I have indicated, been respected; it has been embodied in the Revolution settlement. But that which concerned the cause of God and religion, has in very essential respects been trampled under foot. The great and glorious work of reform that had been effected in the Church of England was violently thrown down. The Covenant that bound that reform on the English nation, was by authority of a deeply perjured monarch ignominiously burned in the English metropolis. The men who adhered to the principles of the Covenant, were, on Bartholomew’s day, 1662, to the number of 2000, cast out of the Church of England, and not only consigned to want, but to grievous oppression. In Scotland, the Covenanters were persecuted in the most cruel manner for eight and twenty long years. God did both speedily and heavily testify his high displeasure against the most prominent among the Covenant-breakers. As London did most signally revolt from the oath it had sworn to the Lord, and there the greatest despite was done to the Covenant, London was made to smart most severely. In two successive years, in 1665 and 1666, it was desolated, first by the great plague, and then by the great and terrible fire. The Stewarts, too, who had raged against the saints of the Most High and the Covenant by which the nation was bound, were swept, not only from the throne of Britain, but from the very face of the earth. God, in his great goodness interposed to save Britain from Popish tyranny, by the hands of William of Orange, when James VII. was labouring to restore it to Rome; but England did not remember its Covenant—did not "repent and do the first works." It clung to the Prelacy it had abjured, with all the corruptions that have adhered to it, and all the Popish elements that are so deeply interwoven with its system. And Scotland—it too forgot its Covenant; and, since the Revolution, it has never taken one earnest or effective step to seek the reform of the Church of England, as it had sworn that it would. Not only so; by the Act of Union, it formally bound itself to uphold in England, that very Episcopal system, which it had abjured, and which the majority of its people still professed to regard as inconsistent with the Word of God. This was a clear and virtual repudiation of the Solemn League and Covenant—that Covenant so solemnly taken, and in which the cause and honour of God were so deeply involved. If God be the avenger of broken Covenants, can he allow our grievous sin in this respect to pass unpunished? He has showed his heavy wrath against this sin in many ways already. Scarcely had we broken our Covenant with God, by becoming bound to uphold the Prelacy of England, than England violated its newly-formed Covenant with us. Instead of maintaining, as it engaged to do, the Church of Scotland, inviolate as it found it; five brief years had hardly elapsed, when, in opposition to the General Assembly of the day, and the all but unanimous wish of the people of Scotland, it passed the Patronage Act of Queen Anne—that Act that introduced strife into a previously united land, that caused the Secession of 1732, that for a long and dreary century banished the gospel from hundreds of the parish pulpits, left multitudes to go down in darkness to the regions of despair, and eventually issued in the great disruption.
The starting up all around us of a full-fledged Popish Prelacy, is another clear and decisive mark of Jehovah’s anger against us for the breach of this solemn Covenant. Had this nation been united to England on the foundation of God’s truth, as by covenant we were bound to be, instead of, on the condition as we are, of upholding in England a hierarchy, which God’s Word condemns, such an outburst of Popery among us could never have taken place. Though the union had been ever so close—though we had had only one Parliament, as we have—though our aristocracy, in attending that Parliament had spent half the year in London—with a truly reformed Church there, their religious character would have suffered no harm. But, as matters are, with Episcopacy, the Court and fashionable religion, they have had the strongest temptations to conform to the Episcopal system in the South. What is the consequence? When they return to their own homes in the North, the spiritual simplicity of Presbytery is repulsive to them. Like Charles II., they feel as if Presbytery were "not a religion fit for a gentleman." Their love of the pomps and forms, therefore, of the Episcopal system, naturally throws them into the arms of Scotch Episcopacy—perhaps the worst, the most Popish form of Episcopacy, except the Papacy itself—that has ever existed—a communion that inherits all, and more than all the corruptions of the Church of the Sharpes, and the Lauderdales, and the Claverhouses—that by defending, through its approved writers, has served itself heir to the persecutors, that for eight and twenty bloody years wasted Scotland, and brought the noblest of its sons to the scaffold. Let no man deceive himself. Is it only Bishop Forbes that has brought the essential elements of Popery into that Church? No. Let the Bishop underlie only that condemnation which is his due. That is heavy enough even on his own showing. Bishop Forbes, in his late charge, uses language and makes statements, which show that for nearly ten years he had been a bishop in that Church, holding all the time that the real bodily presence of the Lord Jesus in the Sacrament of the Supper is the cardinal doctrine of the gospel—the distinguishing glory of the New Testament system; and yet, till a few months ago, he never publicly avowed that essential doctrine of Christianity, as he regards it. Was this like the procedure of an upright and faithful minister of our Lord Jesus Christ? Was this like Paul, who "shunned not" to declare to those to whom he preached "the whole counsel of God?" Was it not rather like those of whom Peter speaks, who "privily brought in damnable heresies," or like the agents of the "Man of Sin," who are divinely represented as "coming with all deceivableness of unrighteousness"—in other words, was it not acting on the most approved principles of the system commonly known in modern times by the name of JESUITISM? But if this be the condemnation of Bishop Forbes, is the Scottish Episcopal Church, as a body, free from the same charge? No: the very reverse. The bishops and clergy of that Church—though the community in general, have been entirely ignorant of it—have all bound themselves to uphold essentially the same system. That Church has always been infected with the essential venom of Popery. It has long taught in its authorized catechisms, the duty of praying for the faithful departed—a doctrine only one remove from the doctrine of Purgatory. it has embodied in the Scotch Communion office, the Popish doctrine of the sacrifice of the Mass, and some of the most idolatrous forms used by Rome in celebrating it. James VI., in one of his fits of Presbyterian zeal, before he was called to the throne of England, declared the worship of the English service-book to be an "ill-said Mass without the liftings." But this could not with truth be said of the Scotch Communion office. It is "a well-said Mass," and has "the liftings" too. As the Popish priest holds up the wafer, while the people kneel and adore before it, so, in the dispensation of the Sacrament, according to the Scotch office, the Scottish Episcopal "priest," holds up the sacramental elements as a sacrifice or "OBLATION" to God, using these words;—"which we now offer unto thee;" while the people, as in Rome, are kneeling, at least in the attitude of adoration, before them. This "oblation" thus solemnly offered up unto God, is then consecrated, by the priest praying that the elements "may BECOME the body and blood" of our Lord Jesus Christ—a form of words, copied from the Popish canon of the Mass, but actually stronger on the side of transubstantiation, than the canon of the Mass itself. After this invocation, as Bishop Jolly teaches, a "WONDROUS SUPERNATURAL CHANGE" takes place on the "qualities of the elements." Finally, this office, with all its gross Popish doctrine and practice, is declared to be of "primary authority" in the Scottish Episcopal body; every one of the clergy, as well as every bishop, binds himself by his subscription to uphold this Popish office as of "primary authority;" and to show that it is of "primary authority" indeed, at every consecration of a bishop, and at the meeting of every general Episcopal Synod, the Lord’s Supper is celebrated, according to this office, and this alone. Yet, wonderful to relate, through the Jesuitical system adopted in that Church, hundreds of its private members, from the circumstance of many of the congregations beingindulged with the English service (in the very nature of the case, it is plain, it is only an "indulgence," to be withdrawn when the times are ripe for it), yet from this circumstance, hundreds of Scottish Episcopalians, till now, have had no knowledge of the rank Popery that had been established within the borders of their own communion.
Now, be it remembered, all this portentous Popery, that has so suddenly, and so boldly, raised its head among us, has come directly from the breach of the Solemn League and Covenant. As Scotland has sown, so it has reaped, and will reap, unless mercy interfere, and repentance be given us. Through intercourse with Episcopal England, two-thirds of the Scottish aristocracy are entangled in the meshes of the corrupt Episcopal Communion of Scotland, which throughout almost its whole borders is High Church in the very worst sense of the term, and therefore lies peculiarly exposed to the censure recently pronounced by a distinguished Scottish nobleman of a very different school: "As I said before, so I say again, your High Church in England and your High Church in Scotland are sappers and miners for the Church of Rome." From a Church so radically High Church—so essentially Popish, what effectual opposition can be expected to the Romanism of Bishop Forbes? None. Bishop Forbes has an entrenched position within the constitution of the Scottish Episcopal Church, and from that position it will be impossible to dislodge him. Bishops may make what declarations they please; individual clergymen may issue very staunch and vigorous protests; but unless they are prepared to revolutionize their Church, to upturn its very foundations, to cast overboard the Scotch Communion Office, which every man of them has declared to be of "primary authority," they cannot cast out Bishop Forbes. Does any one believe that they will seek to get quit of Bishop Forbes at such a cost? There is too much reason to conclude that in some cases at least, the very declarations and protests that have been sent forth, have been sent forth only to calm the excitement in the minds of the laity, till that excitement, as in the case of the Papal aggression, should cool and die away of itself. That excitement has now well nigh evaporated; and it is evident to every discerning mind, that Bishop Forbes, standing on the vantage ground of the Scotch Communion Office is master of the position, and that the train is now laid for the rapid and complete Romanizing of the Scottish Episcopal Church. As that Church is the church of the great mass of the Scottish nobility, hew serious must the consequences be! These views of Bishop Forbes, once adopted by the general body of the nobility, (and there are the strongest grounds for believing that many of the most distinguished of them have adopted them already,) will not lie dormant. Along with transubstantiation, all Popish doctrine, and that in its rankest form, must come in. Purgatory will become a living power; and when great men, whose whole lives have been devoted to the world are called to leave it, what will they not be willing to give for the repose of their souls, with Purgatory staring them in the face, if once they come to believe in the power of priestly prayers to deliver them from its pains? Wealth then will flow into the empty coffers of Scottish Episcopacy, and with wealth, power—such as it has not had in this land for many a long day. But more, such views adopted by the nobility must lead to persecution. Whatever doctrine is outrageously absurd, if it has the power, must persecute in self-defence. Transubstantiation is the absurdest doctrine it ever entered into the mind of man to conceive. It cannot stand by reason: it cannot defend itself by Scripture. But will great, and noble, and mighty men brook to hear their faith branded, as idolatry? No. We may be sure they will not. Here, then, are the elements already maturing of a persecution more stern than Scotland has ever seen. Thus have we reason to fear from the signs of the times, not less than from the sure word of prophecy, that God may yet unsheathe the sword of persecution, to avenge the quarrel of his Covenant.
THE PRINCIPLE OF THE TEXT AND OF THE SOLEMN LEAGUE, THE ONLY ONE TO WITHSTAND POPERY.
LASTLY, There is no principle on which the rankest Popery can be withstood, but the principle of the text—a principle embodied in the Covenant, "What thing soever I command you, observe to do it; thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it." Depart from Scripture as the standard of faith, or worship, or discipline, or government, and the door is opened for every corruption. The Lord has commanded that on all these subjects, the decisive appeal shall be to the law and to the testimony. If, therefore, some men, leaving apostolic times, when holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, will take the uninspired fathers of the second century as authorities, others have just as good a right to say, "We prefer the fathers of the third." But can any reason be shown why the views and opinions and practices of the fathers of the second or third centuries should be held authoritative, and those of the fourth century should not have an equal claim to regard? Thus, when you have left the ground of inspiration, there is no stopping till you come down from century to century, to the deepest midnight of the dark ages. If our faith and worship and church-government be built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone, it is built upon the Rock; but if on any thing else, it is built on the shifting sand. "The Bible, the Bible alone," in the language of Chillingworth, "is the religion of Protestants." God has given us his Word as the infallible guide of faith, of worship, of discipline, and government; and if in any one of these things we cast away the wisdom of God, and adopt the inventions of men, can the full blessing of God be expected? Surely not. This is one of the clearest deductions of enlightened reason; and this deduction is confirmed by the results of experience. For three hundred years the experiment has been made in the English Church, to reconcile a scriptural faith and an unscriptural worship and government—to amalgamate Protestant doctrines—the humbling doctrines of the Cross—with the lordliness and worldly-mindedness of a Popish hierarchy; and what has been the result? That Church, ever and anon, notwithstanding the efforts of good men in it, has brought forth the most deadly fruits. It has expelled the best and most godly of its ministers—the men of Bartholomew’s day, the Rowlandes, the Whitefields, the Howell Harrises—while Puseys and Bennets and Denisons—teaching transubstantiation, setting up nunneries, erecting the confessional, and bringing in all Popish doctrine, are allowed to retain their places as long as they please. It is to that Church we are primarily indebted for the setting up of the Maynooth College, and the fostering of open and avowed Popery both at home and abroad. Where did Pitt, who first concocted the Maynooth scheme, and Peel, who enlarged and consolidated it, get their acted in strict consistency with a principle that pervades the National Establishment of the South. Notwithstanding of the national protest that the civil constitution of England long bore against Popery, yet the essential spirit of its ecclesiastical systemhas all along, in modern times, gone decidedly to neutralize the efficacy of that protest. Few may be aware of the fact, but a fact nevertheless it is, that while every Popish priest, who seeks admission into the Church of England, is admitted without the necessity of being re-ordained, no Presbyterian or Protestant dissenting minister can find an entrance within its pale without being imperatively required to submit to re-ordination. The ordination of the Man of Sin is held to be valid and good; but the ordination communicated by a Presbyterian Church is looked upon as no ordination at all. The priests of the grand Antichrist are received as Christian ministers, of course, in consequence of having been ordained by authority derived from HIM; but Dr. Chalmers himself, had he applied for admission to the English Church, would have been treated as a mere layman, because destitute of Episcopal ordination! Now, be it observed, this is not the practice of an individual bishop here, and of another there—of Henry of Exeter, or Samuel of Oxford; it is the practice of the whole of the bench of bishops. This is inherent in the very system of the Church of England, as it is now administered. It is vain, therefore, for one class of ministers in that Church to stigmatize another class of its ministers as Puseyites. Here is the essential principle of Puseyism embodied in its ecclesiastical system. Now, what wonder, if statesmen like Pitt or Peel, familiarized with such church principles, could see no great harm in endowing the priests of Rome? If the Church of England taught them that Popish priests had so much higher a character than the most excellent Protestant dissenting minister in the land, it was impossible for them to look upon that Church, from which these priests derived their "orders," as an Antichristian church; it was impossible for them to feel that any great guilt could be contracted by setting up a college for training such priests. Thus has the unreformed Church of England naturally restored the apostate Church of Rome to that position of influence and power which it now occupies in these realms. While the English system is adhered to, Popery never can be met. Till the principles of our covenants are revived, even Presbyterians will never find their hands. What though we have a scriptural creed and church-government? What victory have we in Scotland in recent times achieved—what triumph have we gained over the Man of Sin? Instead of gaining triumphs, we are actually losing the consistency of our own Protestant character. Men who have signed our Confession of Faith, which declares the Pope to be "that Antichrist, that Man of Sin, and son of perdition," have openly laboured to uphold the Maynooth endowment, by means of which the blasphemies of "that Antichrist" are propagated at the national expense, and yet ("tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Ashkelon!") the discipline of the Church to which they belong has slumbered. The late Lord Advocate Moncrieff in special, has ostentatiously signalized his zeal in this way; and, nevertheless, he still retains his position as an elder of the Free Church. God has manifestly a controversy with us, and cannot go forth with our armies, till our national sins be confessed—till our broken covenants be acknowledged.
WHO then will come to the help of the Lord against the mighty? Who will lend a hand to bear up the fallen banner of the Covenant?—that banner that was once borne up so nobly on the hills of our native land, by men of whom the world was not worthy. The hosts of Antichrist are gathering; they are mustering for the final conflict; they are banded together as one man—with "one heart and one soul." Where is the host that is to confront them? Who can stand against them, but those who feel that necessity is laid upon them so to do, as being bound by the oath of God, and are willing, though with deepest humility, to be followers of those, who "for the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus," "loved not their lives unto the death." Oh! shall it be said, that in this crisis of the world’s history, the sons of Scotland could see "the abomination that maketh desolate" set up in the midst of them, and yet look tamely on? Shall it be told in the days to come, that your fathers have laboured, and struggled, and bled, to transmit to you a scriptural faith and a scriptural Church, and all the rich blessings of the gospel—that through your supineness you should allow your children to be deprived of these blessings? Oh! surely it shall not be. As patriots—as freemen—set for the defence of liberty in the Thermopylae of the world, I call on you to rally around the standard of "CHRIST’S CROWN AND COVENANT" under which alone true liberty can be permanently found. As the children of the martyrs—if your hearts have ever been warmed by the study of their heroic contendings—if your souls have ever been elevated by seeing the noble Argyll leaving his broad domains, and the wife of his bosom, and all that was dear to him, to lay his head for this cause meekly on the block, while the peace of God was so abundantly poured into his heart, that he was constrained to exclaim, "His goodness quite overcomes me!" If you have ever shed a tear over Margaret Wilson, when drowned at eighteen years of age, in the bay of Wigton, as a martyr to the Covenant—who, rather than compromise her testimony for the truth, firmly replied to those who had revived her, when almost half-dead, and offered her life on unscriptural terms, "I am one of Christ’s children; let me go;" and then, along with her aged companion, found a watery grave; if you have ever admired the grace given to Marion Harvey, that enabled her, on the scaffold, at Borrowstonness, at the age of twenty, to cry, "O free love, that ever He should make me feel that his love is better than life!" if you ever felt your faith invigorated by the sublime farewell that the youthful Hugh M’Kail, when standing on the fatal ladder, while the light of heaven shone in his face, and the Spirit of glory and of God. did rest upon him, bade to "sun, moon, and stars, father and mother, and all delights"—going on in a strain of seraphic rapture, till he finished with "Welcome glory; welcome eternal life; welcome death;" if you have ever felt the power of such memories as these, by which God and man alike bore testimony to this Covenant, I call on you to prove, that you are not unworthy of your sires—that you are not the degenerate plants of a strange vine. As the children of God, who know that God is a Spirit, and that they who worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth, I entreat you to arouse yourselves to stem, in the only way in which it has ever been effectually stemmed, this system of Pharisaism and Materialism, that pours contempt on every thing truly spiritual.
In fine, As the leal subjects of Zion’s King, the "Prince of the kings of the earth," I call on you to rise—not in your own might, for that is weakness—but in the might of Him who was dead, and is alive for evermore--and never to rest till you have got the Church and the nation to repent of their long-continued transgressions, to acknowledge their broken covenants, and to put themselves again under allegiance to God, and again to experience the joy which Judah and Jerusalem felt on the renewal of their broken covenant with God, when "all Judah rejoiced at the oath, because they had sworn with all their heart, and sought him with their whole desire, and he was found of them; and the Lord gave them rest round about." (2 Chron. 15:15.)
NOTE, A., p. 12.
The Instrumental Music of Judaism.
THE scriptural argument in regard to the identification of the instrumental music in the Old Testament dispensation with the temple worship, stands thus:—We find an express appointment by Divine authority of the use of musical instruments for the temple service, and in connection with the offering of sacrifice; (Numbers 10:10; 1. Chronicles 15:16, and 16:4-6,) the very families being specifically named that could alone use these musical instruments. (1 Chronicles, 25. to the end.) We find no appointment, or the least hint of the appointment, of any such instrumental music in the service of God anywhere else. In accordance, therefore, with the principle of the text, "What thing soever I command you, observe to do it; thou shalt not add thereto,"the use of instrumental music in worship, except in the temple service was excluded. Hence the significant fact already adverted to, that since the period of the destruction of the Jewish Temple, till lately, instrumental music had been universally regarded by the Jews as unlawful in the worship of God. Since the ploughshare had passed over the ruins of that temple, it was universally felt by them, that there was no place where, in God’s worship, the loud cymbals, and cornets, and harps, could be lawfully used, any more than there was a place where an altar, for burnt offering could be reared, or sacrifice could be offered.
Then, as to the special reason for the use of instrumental music in the temple service on high occasions a word may be said:—Besides the other reasons peculiar to that dispensation, as suited to the Church in its infant state, there was plainly a special reason for such music, in the very nature of the case, on the grand solemnities of Jewish worship. When the worship of God was celebrated at the tabernacle or the temple, on these occasions, it was the worship of a whole nation assembled by its representatives on one spot. All the males of all the tribes of Israel, capable of so doing, were required three times a-year to assemble in the place, where the Lord recorded his name. For such immense multitudes, congregated together in one place, to engage in united worship under the mere leadership of the human voice—or to have their devotional feeling excited, and their attention profitably kept up, while the different typical rites were performed, during the time they were assembled together, without some assistance of a peculiar nature, was plainly impossible. In the extraordinary circumstances therefore, there was need of extraordinary means for the edification of the people. These means were furnished according to the genius of that dispensation. Carrying these remarks along with him, if the reader now peruse the account of the revival of the temple worship by Hezekiah, after it had been allowed to fall into abeyance during the idolatry of his father’s reign, he will see in a very striking light, the intimate connection between the instrumental music and the sacrificial system, and peculiar typical ritual of Judaism. Chronicles 29:25-29. "And he (Hezekiah) set the Levites in the house of the Lord, with cymbals, with psalteries and with harps, according to the command of David, and Gad the king’s seer, and Nathan the prophet; for so was the commandment of the Lord by his prophet. And the Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets; and Hezekiah commanded to offer the burnt offering upon the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song of the Lord began also, with the trumpets, and the instruments ordained by David, king of Israel. And all the Congregation worshipped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded, and all this continued until the burnt offering was finished. And when they had made an end of offering, the king and all that were present with him bowed their heads and worshipped." There was doubtless something sublime in this, and being appointed by God, the sublimity was not that of mere blind sentimental feeling. In the case of every true worshipper, through the blessing of God upon his own ordinance, it brought him into holy fellowship with the King Eternal. That divinely-appointed worship had its own glory; but it has now been done away; and the Church, instead of being a loser by its abrogation, has only risen to a higher glory. Let Christians then know wherein the real glory of the Christian Church consists, even its higher spirituality, and consequent independence of mere sensuous aids to devotion, and let them stand fast in the liberty from Jewish rites and observances, from which Christ has made them free.
NOTE B., p. 44.
Jesuitical Morality of Scottish Episcopacy.
IF the Scottish Episcopal Church in the present day, has given evidence of acting on a tortuous policy, this is only in keeping with its past history. Its ministers, when accused of unsoundness in the faith, have frequently been known to appeal to their signature of the doctrinal Articles of the Church of England, as a proof of their orthodoxy. Now, the way in which the Scottish Bishops and their clergy first came to sign the Thirty-nine Articles, is the most condemning fact in the whole history of the Scottish Episcopal Church; at least, since her hands were red with the blood of the martyred Covenanters. In what sense were these articles signed? Skinner, the historian of that Church, who was present at the convocation, at which that step was resolved upon, and who took a chief part in the proceedings, tells us, that they were signed in no sense at all. Every man was left to put upon them what interpretation he chose. For twelve years the Scottish Episcopal bishops and clergy refused to sign the Articles in question, without prefixing to them a preamble explanatory of the sense in which they signed them. At last, all of a sudden, in the Synod of Laurencekirk, in 1804, they resolved to subscribe them "willingly and ex animo," without any qualifying preamble. How was this change effected? Was it because they had abandoned their popish sentiments about the Lord’s Supper? No; it was brought about in a very different way. Bishop Skinner, the Primus, received a letter from "a gentleman who had been of eminent service in advancing the interests of the Scottish Episcopal Church"—the late Sir William Forbes—in which the following advice was given, "Perhaps, therefore, it will be best (if you feel that you can do it) that the Articles be subscribed, agreeably to the Act of 1792, as they stand in the Service-Book of the Church of England, and prefaced, as they are, with the royal declaration, EVERY SUBSCRIBER EXPLAINING THEM TO HIMSELF." "This communication," says John Skinner, "had the effect of instantly inducing the Primus to abandon his intended preamble to the Articles." The Synod of Laurencekirk soon thereafter met. The bishops and clergy acted on the advice thus given them, emitted a solemn declaration of their assent to the Articles as ratified by royal authority, "IN THEIR PLAIN AND FULL MEANING," and became entitled to all the civil privileges due to an honest subscription, while all the time they privately held and expressed sentiments diametrically opposed to, those very Articles they had signed. What upright and honest mind does not revolt at such Jesuitism! Ignatius Loyola could have done nothing more disingenuous.
 See authorities in Presbyterian Review, July, 1843.
 For the Pagan origin of the so-called sign of the cross, see author’s "Two Babylons," chap. 5, sect. 6.
 See Dr. M’Caul, on the Modern Jews, p. 63.
 See an able pamphlet on the discussion of the Organ question, in the English Presbyterian Synod, published by Mr. Duncan, of Newcastle, and by Dr, Munro, of Manchester.
 M’Crie’s Life of Knox, p. 409.
 M’Crie’s Knox, p. 408.
 M’Crie’s Knox, p. 409.
 Brown’s Puseyite Episcopacy, p. 51.
 M’Crie’s Knox, p. 408.
 M’Crie’s Knox, p. 409.
 M’Crie’s Knox, p. 409. For fuller evidence on this subject, see Brown’s Puseyite Episcopacy.
 Strype’s Life of Aylmer, p. 269.
 Hetherington’s History of the Westminster Assembly, p. 48.
 Clarendon, vol. I., p. 184.
 Hetherington, p. 92.
 Knox’s History of the Reformation in Scotland, Vol. ii., p. 264.
 M’Crie’s Sketches, p. 283.
 Hetherington, pp. 125,126.
 M’Crie’s Sketches, p. 284.
 History of Westminster Assembly, p. 80.
 This lecture is not yet published, but will speedily be so.
 See Tract No. III.
 There could not have been a greater compliment paid to the Presbyterian system than this; for assuredly it is not a religion fit for such a gentleman as Charles II. was. It is worthy of the earnest consideration of godly members of the Church of England, if it reflects much credit on their Church, yea, if it does not prove that there must be something radically wrong in its system, when cue who lived openly in adultery was allowed to remain, not simply a member, but the Head of the Church, and was regularly prayed for in the words of the Liturgy, as "OUR MOST RELIGIOUS KING." The same prayer was duly offered up also in the same terms, for the late George IV., who was equally well known to live in habitual violation of the most essential laws of morality. Those who could regularly offer up such a prayer for men of such characters, must have had little of the spirit of Elihu, when he said of far better men: "Let me not accept any man’s person, neither let me give flattering titles unto man, For I know not to give flattering titles: in so doing, my Maker would soon take me away." (Job 32:21,22.)
 If any one thinks the above estimate of the Scottish Episcopal Church harsh and unduly severe, let him consult the writings of Mr. Drummond of Edinburgh, of the late Edward Bickersteth, and the present Bishop of Cashel, and he will find substantially the same estimate of it given by these distinguished divines of the Church of England itself.
 See Bishop Skinner’s Catechism, 1852, pp. 36,37; also Bishop Jelly’s "Christian Sacrifice in the Eucharist," p. 230.
 "Scotch Communion Office Examined."
 Jelly’s "Christian Sacrifice," p. 108 of edition of 1857.
 Canon XXI. of Scottish Episcopal Church.
 From the above statement, every intelligent member of the Scottish Episcopal Church must see, how vain it is for him to say, on the mere ground, that the Scotch office is not used in his own particular congregation, "I have nothing to do with it." If his minister has, by his subscription, actuallysanctioned that office, and is bound every time he attends a General Episcopal Synod, to defile himself, by communicating according to that office, no man, with the least spiritual discernment, will say, "That is nothing to me." The soundness of pastor and people stand in the most intimate relation to each other.
 Since the above was written, the Bishops have met to consider the doctrine of Bishop Forbes; but they have not ventured for a moment to hint at his case being such as can subject him to the discipline of the Church. They have sent forth a lengthened document, with all their names appended to it; but that document itself brings suspicion on the soundness of their own views on the subject to which it refers; for it very emphatically discourages all inquiry into the mode of the presence of Christ’s body in the Supper. This was precisely the kind of language used by the Bishop of Oxford while endeavouring to whitewash his brother, when that brother had avowed similar sentiments to those of Bishop Forbes, just before going over to Rome. The making of a mystery on this point was, without doubt, intended by Bishop Wilberforce to divert attention from the exceeding grossness of his brother’s Romanism. Is there not some reason to bishops, is intended to have a similar effect in favour of Bishop Forbes?
Some may be inclined to look upon the recent suspension of Mr. Cheyne of Aberdeen, as something gained to the cause of truth. But, while Bishop Forbes, the very leader of the Romanizing movement, La allowed to retain his position, to hold his head erect, and to defy all discipline, it would be folly to regard Mr. Cheyne’s suspension in any other light than as "a tub to the whole," intended to give the public the impression that Scottish Episcopacy is Protestant after all; while the work of Rome, in the hands of Bishop Forbes, is all the more effectually and securely carried on in the midst of it.
 Bishop Forbes repudiates the word "transubstantiation;" but the word is of no consequence. The doctrine is essentially the same as that implied in the term "transubstantiation." It is the actual presence of the "real body" of Christ he maintains; and that "real presence" avowedly results from the priestly prayer that the elements "may BECOME the body and blood" of the Lord.
 The spread of Popery in the Church of England is every day becoming more and more formidable; and yet the public look on with amazing supineness, with only an occasional effervescence, when some new feature in the Tractarian movement is brought to light, which, however, speedily passes away, and all is quiet again. The danger is far greater than any are aware of. Let the reader peruse the following extract, from the speech of the Hon. Charles Smyth Vereker, M.P.,—himself a member of the Church of England—who presided at the recent large open air meeting in London, in regard to the Confessional in Belgravia:—
"The Chairman said, They had arrived at a crisis in the history of the Church of England, when its friends and supporters were called upon to take some decided and stringent measures. This (Tractarianism) was a growing and gigantic evil, and was extending far beyond what was generally supposed. The seats of learning were deeply imbued with the heresy, and a vast number of the clergymen and administrators of the services of the Church throughout the kingdom were tainted with it. The revenues of the Church amounted to 7,000,000, or 8,000,000. It might be, one-third or one-half of the clergymen were tainted with the Romanizing doctrines. Every member of the Church, therefore, must be conscious that he was endowing Romanizing Christians with the revenues of their own Church. Some vigorous steps were surely necessary to be taken, to prevent, not only their religious liberties, but theircivil liberties, in the long run, being taken from them. If the Confessional were allowed to prevail, the country would by degrees be brought over to Popery."
If the above statement be any thing like correct, and those who have most studied the subject will be most ready to admit its correctness, it cannot certainly be denied that there is urgent need, as the chairman expressed it, for a "NEW REFORMATION" in the Church of. England. If that "Reformation," however, is to be of any avail, it must go to the root of the evil. The alternative is now fairly before the country—"Either reform back to the scriptural simplicity of the apostolic model, or go forward to all the abominations of Rome." Which side of the alternative do godly members of the Church of England prefer? Surely, when the Confessional is so boldly defended by English rectors, like William Gresley, and when bishops, like "Samuel Oxon," cast their shield over offending curates, who subject women to their polluting interrogatories, it is high time that the question were solemnly entertained by all whom it concerns, "How comes it, that in the Episcopal Churches, ABOVE ALL OTHER CHURCHES in Britain, so much rank Popery is being continually developed?" If the present phase of the Tractarian movement does not awaken the English mind, it must be because it is hopelessly given up to slumber. If husbands and fathers can endure that their wives and daughters should be subjected to the polluting ordeal of the Confessional, it is a sign that not the religion only, but the very MANHOOD of England is departing.
 The reader will observe that the case of Miriam at the Red Sea, with her timbrels and her dances, was an exactly analogous case to that of the worship in the solemn feasts at the temple. The full-grown men of Israel that came out of Egypt, amounted to 600,000. Consequently, the multitude assembled on that sublimely interesting occasion, including women and children, could not be short of two millions. As Miriam herself was a "prophetess," acting under the directions of Moses, the inspired servant of the Lord, the whole worship, on that occasion, must be viewed as conducted by divine authority.
On the whole question of Instrumental Music in the worship of God, see Dr. Begg’s valuable pamphlet on the Organ question; also the authentic Report of the discussion on the same subject in the United Presbyterian Synod. That Synod has done honour to itself by its firm decision.