A brief declaration or summary of the principles maintained by the presbytery, as to doctrine, worship, discipline, and government, in agreeableness to the word of GOD, our Confession of Faith and Catechisms, and whole covenanted testimony of the Church of Scotland.—The contrary doctrines condemned.
UNTO what has been more generally laid down in the preceding pages, with respect to the principles and practice of this church and nation, both in former and present times; the presbytery proceed to subjoin a positive and explicit declaration of their principles anent the truths of our holy controverted.
I. OF GOD.—The presbytery did, and hereby do acknowledge and declare, that there is one infinite, eternal, self-existent, and independent Being; and that this only true and living GOD, absolutely all-sufficient, having all being, perfection, glory, and blessedness, in and of himself, subsists in free distinct, divine persons, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (in one and the same undivided essence and godhead), all equally the same in substance, power, and glory, although distinguished by their personal properties; according to Deut. 6:4; 1 Cor. 8:6; 1 Tim. 1:17; Acts 17:24,25; 1 John 5:7; Matth. 28:19; Confession of Faith, chap. 2; Larger Catechism, quest. 7-11; Shorter Catechism, quest. 4-6.
II OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES.—Again, they confess and declare, that although the light of nature discovers unto us that there is a GOD, yet of itself it is absolutely insufficient to teach us the saving knowledge of the invisible Being and his will; and therefore GOD of his infinite condescension has given us a most perfect revelation of himself and of his will in the scriptures of truth, contained in the sacred books of the Old and New Testament; which scriptures the presbytery assert to be of divine authority, and not to be believed and received because of any other testimony, than that of GOD their author, who is truth itself. Which Word of GOD is the alone perfect and complete rule, both of faith and practice, containing a full and ample revelation of the whole counsel of God, both respecting his own glory and the salvation of men; by which all spirits are to be tried, and to which all doctrines and controversies in religion are to be brought, as to the supreme judge, in whose sentence alone we are to acquiesce; according to Rom. 1:19, 20; 1 Cor. 2:13, 14; Heb. 1:1; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:19, 21; 2 Tim. 3:15; Gal. 1:8, 9; Eph. 2:20, and our standards, Confess chap. 1: Larger Cat. quest. 2-5; Shorter Cat. quest. 2, 3.
III. OF THE DECREES OF GOD.—Again, they assert and maintain, that JEHOVAH, according to his own most wise counsel and for his own glory, has, by one immanent act of his will from eternity, purposed and decreed all events in time; and particularly, that by his absolute sovereignty, he has unchangeably determined the final state of all intelligent beings, visible and invisible. That GOD of his mere good pleasure, abstracting from all other causes whatever, for the praise of his glorious grace to be manifested in time, has from all eternity predestinated a certain definite number of mankind sinners, in and through JESUS CHRIST, to eternal life, together with all the means leading thereunto. And also, by the same sovereign will, has passed by, and left others in their sins, foreordaining them to bear the just punishment of their own iniquities as is evident from Rom. 9:11,13,15,16,18; Eph. 1:4,6,9,11; Jude verse 4; and according to Confess. chap. 3; Larger Cat. quest. 12, 13; Shorter Catechism quest. 7.
IV. OF CREATION.—In like manner they acknowledge and declare, that as GOD, from the infinity of his being and goodness, has communicated a finite created existence to all other beings, framing them with natures wisely suited and adapted to the different ends of their creation; so by the same all-powerful word whereby they were at first created, he preserves and upholds all his creatures in their beings, and by the incessant care and invariable conduct of his divine providence, does constantly direct and overrule them, and all their actions unto his own glory; according to divine revelation; Gen. 1, throughout; Col. 1:16; Rom. 11, :46; Psal. 145:17, and 33:9; and 119:91; Heb. 1:2,3; Confess. chap. 4, 5; Larger Cat. quest. 11; Shorter Cat. quest. 8.
Likewise they profess and declare, that GOD, as the last and finishing part of his workmanship in this lower world, created man an intelligent being, endued with a living, reasonable and immortal soul, whose greatest glory consisted in his having the gracious image of his GOD and Creator drawn upon his soul, chiefly consisting in that knowledge, righteousness and inherent holiness wherewith he was created. And further, that GOD, in his favor and condescension to man, was pleased to enter into a covenant with him, as the public head and representative of all his posterity, wherein GOD promised unto him eternal life and blessedness with himself in glory, upon condition of personal, perfect and perpetual obedience; to the performance whereof, he furnished him with full power and ability, and threatened death upon the violation of his law and covenant, as is evident from the sacred text; Gen. 1:26, 27; Eccl. 7:29; Gen. 2:17; Rom. 10:5, and according to our Confess. chap. 4, sec. 2; chap. 7, sec. 1, 2; chap. 19, sec. 1; Larger Cat. quest. 20; Shorter Cat. quest. 10,12.
V. OF THE FALL OF MAN.—They again assert and maintain, that the first and common parents of mankind, being seduced by the subtility of Satan, transgressed the covenant of innocency, in eating the forbidden fruit; whereby they lost the original rectitude of their nature, were cut off from all gracious intercourse with GOD, and became both legally and spiritually dead; and therefore they being the natural root of all mankind, and the covenant being made with Adam, not as a private, but a public person, all his descendants by ordinary generation, are born under the guilt of that first sin, destitute of original righteousness, and having their nature wholly depraved and corrupted; so that they are by nature children of wrath, subjected unto all the penal evils contained in the curse of a broken law, both in this life, and in that which is to come; Gen. 3:6, 13; Eccl. 8:29; Rom. 5, from 12 to 20; Rom. 3:10-19; Eph. 2:3; Confess. chap. 6; Larger Cat. quest. 21,22; Shorter Cat. quest. 13 to 20.
In like manner they assert and declare, that all mankind, by their original apostasy from GOD, are not only become altogether filthy and abominable in the eyes of GOD’S holiness; but also, are hereby utterly indisposed, disabled, and entirely opposite to all good, the understanding become darkness, and the will enmity and rebellion itself against GOD; so that man, by his fall, having lost all ability of will to what is spiritually good, cannot in his natural state, and by his own strength, convert himself (being dead in trespasses and sins), nor can he in less or more contribute to his own salvation, or in the least prepare himself thereunto; neither is there any natural, necessary or moral connection between the most diligent and serious use of the means, and obtaining salvation thereby. Although the presbytery maintain, that as a GOD of grace has promised the converting influences of his Spirit to be showered down upon dead souls, in the use of means of his own appointment; they are therefore to be attended to with the utmost care and diligence; as appears from Rom. 5:6; John 6:44, 65; Tit. 3:3-5; Job 14:4; Confess. chap. 9, sec. 3; Larger Cat. quest. 25.
VI. OF THE COVENANT OF GRACE.—Likewise they assert and declare, that JEHOVAH, in the person of the Father, having purposed to save a certain number of the ruined family of Adam, (did from all eternity enter into a covenant transaction with JESUS CHRIST, his eternal and only begotten Son, who contracted as the second Adam, in the name of all his spiritual seed. In which covenant, the Father promising to confer eternal life upon a select number given unto CHRIST, upon condition of his fulfilling all righteousness for them; the LORD JESUS CHRIST did again stipulate and engage, as the condition of the covenant by him to be fulfilled, that in the fullness of time, assuming the human nature into a personal union with the divine, he would therein, and in the elect’s name fulfill, not only the preceptive part of the law, but also bear the whole punishment contained in the threatening thereof: which covenant, that it might be absolutely free to sinners, and that the salvation therein provided for them, might be not of debt, but of grace, was unto JESUS CHRIST a covenant of redemption, nothing being therein promised to him, but upon his paying a full price, adequate to the most extensive demands of law and justice; according to Psal. 89:2,3,28,34,35; Tit. 1:2; Isa. 43:10,11; Matth. 5:17; Confess. chap. 7, sec. 3; Larger Cat. quest. 30, 31; Shorter Cat. quest. 20.
VII. OF THE MEDIATOR.—In like manner they profess, assert, and declare, that the LORD JESUS CHRIST, the second person in the glorious and adorable Trinity, being by the Father’s appointment constituted mediator and surety of the new covenant, did, in the fullness of time, assume the human nature, consisting of a true body and reasonable soul, into a personal union with his divine; which two natures, in the one person of our IMMANUEL, GOD-man, remain distinct, without conversion, composition, or confusion. And being every way, completely qualified and furnished for executing his mediatory offices of prophet, priest, and king, was called to the exercise thereof, by GOD the Father, who put all tower and judgment into his hand, and gave him commandment to execute the same; Prov. 8:23; Heb. 2:14; 1 Tim. 2:5; John 6:27, and 5:27; Confess. chap. 8 throughout; Larger Cat. quest. 21-23; Shorter Cat. quest. 21,22.
Again, they acknowledge and declare, that the LORD JESUS CHRIST our REDEEMER, the only begotten Son of GOD, by eternal and ineffable generation, is most properly a divine person, true and very God, one in essence, equal and the same in power, eternity, glory, and all divine perfections with the FATHER and HOLY GHOST: and that therefore it is most blasphemous to assert, that the terms, necessary existence, and supreme deity, and the title of the only true GOD, do not belong to the Son equally with the Father, as the same in substance, being expressly contrary to these texts of sacred writ which assert the opposite truth; John 1:1-4; Phil. 2:6; John 10:30; 1 John 5:20, and to our standards, Confess. chap. 8, sec. 2; Larger Cat. quest. 36; Shorter Cat. 6.
They likewise further acknowledge, assert, and declare, that the LORD JESUS CHRIST, the eternal Son of GOD, and only Mediator between GOD and man, being designed from everlasting the REDEEMER of his people, and having all fullness, power, and authority lodged in him for the execution of his mediatory trust, has, ever since the fall of mankind, as the great and good shepherd of Israel, undertaken the care, government, protection, and instruction of the church of GOD, in agreeableness to the above said trust: which he did all along, under the Old Testament, and still continues faithfully to discharge in all the parts thereof; so that whatever revelation GOD made unto his church since the fall, was by JESUS CHRIST as the great prophet and preacher of righteousness. Particularly, it was he that first appeared unto lapsed man, and as the great revealer of the council of peace, called upon him in the voice of mercy, saying, “Adam, where art thou?” It was he that, pleasing himself in the forethoughts of his future incarnation, and as a prelude thereto, condescended at different times to appear in a human form, and speak unto the fathers. By him, as the messenger of the covenant, were the lively oracles delivered to the Israelitish church; and by his Spirit in the prophets, successively raised up to instruct his church in the knowledge of the divine will, was signified and foretold the grace that should come, until the fullness of the time appointed in the council of Heaven, when it was promised he should come, and by his personal presence fill his house with glory. Then did GOD in these last days speak unto men by his Son whom he has appointed heir of all things; who, not only by himself, but also, after his ascension, by his evangelists and apostles filled with the Spirit, has made known all things that he heard of his Father. And now, after the canon of scripture is completed, and no new revelation to be expected to the end of time, continues by his word and spirit to instruct sinners in the knowledge all things necessary for their sanctification and salvation; according to Acts 10:38, and 3:22; Luke 4:18, 21; John 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:10-12; Heb. 1:1,2; Eph. 4:11-13; Confess. chap. 8, sec. 1; Larger Cat. quest. 43; Shorter Cat. quest. 24.
In like manner, they profess and declare, that the LORD JESUS CHRIST, being called of him that said unto him, “Thou art my Son, this day have begotten thee,” unto the honorable office of HIGH-PRIEST over the house of GOD, and confirmed therein by all the solemnities of the oath of GOD, he did most willingly undertake this work, saying, Lo, I come to do thy will, O GOD! And that he might finish and fulfill the same, in agreeableness to his eternal engagements to the Father, to the Old Testament types and sacrifices, promises and prophecies, wherein he was foresigned and revealed to be the seed of the woman, that should bruise the serpent’s head, did, in the fullness of time, humble himself to be made of a woman, made under the law, in the form of a bond servant to JEHOVAH. In which character, he not only fulfilled the preceptive part of the law, but also, with the most unparalleled meekness, patience and resignation, submitted to the most grievous and dreadful sufferings, both in body and soul, even all that divine wrath, indignation and punishment, wrapped up in the terrible curse of a broken covenant of works. By which obedience of his unto the death, through the eternal Spirit offering himself without spot unto GOD, a proper, real and expiatory sacrifice for sin, he has fully satisfied divine justice, made reconciliation for the iniquities of his people, and purchased an eternal inheritance for them in the kingdom of glory. The saving benefits of which redemption, by the Spirit’s effectual application thereof, he does, by his intercession at the Father’s right hand, as an arisen, living, and now glorified Saviour, constantly and certainly communicate unto all those whom the Father has given him.
Further, the presbytery declare, that however they acknowledge the standing of the world, as a theater to display the riches of divine grace, the preaching of the gospel indefinitely to mankind sinners, and all the common favors of life indifferently enjoyed by them, do all result, as native, necessary and determined consequences, from the interposition of CHRIST in behalf of his spiritual seed, and have their ultimate foundation in the infinite sufficiency, fullness and perfection, of the blood and sacrifice of CHRIST, GOD-man: yet they affirm, that, as a certain elect and select number were given unto CHRIST, to be redeemed from among men, so, for their sakes alone, he engaged his heart to approach unto GOD. For their sakes, he sanctified himself; in their name, i.e., in their law-room and stead, and for their good, as the surety of the better covenant, he became obedient unto death, and endured the whole of that punishment threatened by the law, and incurred by the transgression of it. He subjected himself to that very curse, bore that wrath and died that death, which they themselves should have undergone. And hereby, by his doing and dying, he made a proper, real, full and expiatory satisfaction to the justice of GOD for their sins. Wherefore it is impossible but that to all those for whom CHRIST has purchased this complete redemption, and for whose sins he has given this full satisfaction accepted of GOD, he will certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same in the saving benefits thereof; seeing that it is his will who has merited it, that all those who are the Father’s choice by election, and his purchase by redemption, should be ever with him where he is, that they may behold his glory; and since, as he is thus willing, he is also able, to save them to the uttermost that come to GOD by him. So that all for whom CHRIST died, all that are redeemed by his blood, are, in consequence hereof, effectually called, justified, sanctified and glorified; according to Psal. 40:7, 8; Heb. 10:5-11; Phil. 2:8; Gal. 4:4, 5; Heb. 9:14, 28; Dan. 9:24; Psal. 75:3; Isa. 49:8; John 6:37, 39, chap. 10:15, l6; Eph. 1:7; Rom. 8:34, and ver. 29, 30; John 17 throughout; John 11:52; Confess. chap. 7 sec. 4,5,8; Larger Cat. quest. 44; Shorter Cat. quest 25.
They also acknowledge, assert and declare, that the LORD JESUS CHRIST is, by the appointment of GOD the Father, set as King upon his holy hill of Zion; over which, as his special kingdom, he is invested with an absolute power and supremacy, as the sole and only head thereof, to appoint offices, officers, laws and ordinances. And that accordingly, by virtue of this solemn invest it are, the same LORD JESUS CHRIST has, in all ages, called out of the world, and maintained therein, a church unto himself, which he visibly governs by a complete system of laws, officers and censures, instituted in his word, and has not left the affairs of his church, in which (as a Son over his own house) he peculiarly presides, to be regulated and modeled by the carnal policy and invention of men. Also, that, as King in Zion, he powerfully and irresistibly, in a day of efficacious grace, subdues the perverse hearts and wills of sinners unto his obedience, persuading and enabling as many as were appointed to obtain salvation through him, to believe in his name, in order thereunto. All whom he either preserves from, or supports under, the various temptations, trials and afflictions, they are liable to in this mortal life; till at last, completing a work of grace in their souls, he advances them to a state of perfection and glory.
Further, the presbytery declare and maintain, that, in subserviency to this, his special mediatory kingdom, the LORD JESUS CHRIST has a supreme and sovereign power given unto him, in heaven and in earth, and over the infernal powers of darkness—angels, authorities and powers being put in subjection to him; that he has the management of all the wheels of providence put into his hand, whereby he restrains, disappoints, and at last totally destroys, all the enemies of his interest and glory; and by which he orders and overrules all the events that fall out in time, for the accomplishment of the great and glorious ends of his incarnation, and lasting good of those that love him; according to Psal. 2:6; Isa. 9:6,7; Isa. 33:22; Matth. 21:5; Isa. 55:4,5; Gen. 49:10; Heb. 3:6; Psal. 110:1, 2; Matth. 28:18; John 7:2; l Pet. 3:22; Phil. 2:9-11; Confess. chap. 8 sec. 3; Larger Cat. quest. 45; Shorter Cat. quest. 26.
They again declare and assert, that as the light of nature is absolutely insufficient to give a just discovery, either of the grievous malady of sin, or the blessed remedy provided for sinners, so none, however diligent they may be to frame their lives ,according to the dictates of nature’s light, can possibly attain to salvation, while they remain without any objective revelation of JESUS CHRIST, as the great propitiation and peace-maker, who has abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light, by the gospel. And further, that there is no other name, doctrine and religion, whereby any can be saved, but in the name, doctrine or religion of the LORD JESUS CHRIST, of which he is the great author and institutor; in the profession and faith whereof; he leads his people through this world into the possession of endless felicity and glory in the world to come.
VIII. OF THE GOSPEL OFFER.—They further declare, that, as God the Father, out of his unbounded love, has, on the footing of the infinite sufficiency of the death and sacrifice of CHRIST, made a free and unhampered gift; and grant of him, as an all-sufficient SAVIOUR, unto sinners of mankind lost, as such, in the word: so the ministers and embassadors of CHRIST (according as they are expressly authorized and commanded by him) are to publish this gospel, these glad-tidings of great joy to all the world, wherever they may be called or cast, in the providence of GOD, and make a full, free and unhampered offer of Christ and his whole salvation to sinners, without distinction, assuring them of GOD’S mercy and grace, through CHRIST, in whom he proclaims himself well pleased; of CHRIST’S omnipotent power and ability to save to the uttermost all that come unto GOD by him; and that there are no impediments, bars or hinderances, ab extra, between JESUS CHRIST, as held forth in the offer of the gospel, unto sinners lost, why they, even every one of them, may not receive and appropriate him, as the LORD their righteousness. And the above said frank and unhampered gift of CHRIST, and him crucified, by GOD the Father, as a full and all-sufficient Saviour unto lost and ruined sinners, the presbytery view as the great and prime foundation, both of the ministerial offer, and of faith in the LORD JESUS, for life and salvation; as is clear from Rom. 10:14; 1 Cor. 1:21-25; Isa. 45:1; Mark 16:15; John 3:16; Confess. chap. 7, sec. 3; Larger Cat. ques. 67; Shorter Cat. ques. 31, &c.
IX. OF JUSTIFICATION.—Again, they profess and declare, that the active and passive obedience, or the complete mediatory righteousness, of the LORD JESUS CHRIST, is the only meritorious cause of a sinner’s justification, pardon of sin, and acceptance of his person and services with a holy GOD; and that true and saving faith, which is also the gift of GOD, is the alone instrumental cause of the sinner’s justification in his sight; or that evangelical condition, or internal mean, in and by which the soul is interested in CHRIST, and the whole of his righteousness and salvation. Which righteousness, received and rested on by faith, is the only foundation of a sinner’s title to eternal life and glory; as appears evident from Rom. 3:22-29; Rom. 5:17-20; Jer. 23:6; Gal. 2:16; Acts 10:43; Col. 1:27; Acts 8:37; Rom. 10:9; Mark 5:36; Eph. 2:8; Confess. chap. 11, 14; Larger Cat. ques, 70, 3; Shorter Cat. ques. 3.
They likewise profess and maintain, that believers, by the righteousness of CHRIST being just fled from all things, from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses, are by JESUS CHRIST perfectly delivered from the law, as a covenant of works, both as commanding and condemning; so as that thereby they are neither justified nor condemned, it being dead to them, and they to it, by the body of CHRIST, to whom they are married. However, notwithstanding of this freedom, they are still servants unto GOD; still under the moral law, as a rule of life in the hand of their glorious Mediator and new covenant Head, directing them how they are to walk, so as to please GOD; the obligation whereof, as such, remains perpetual and indissoluble; and that this privilege is peculiar to believers only, all others being still under the old covenant obligation, both as to the debt of obedience and punishment; according to Rom. 6:14, and 7:4, 6; Gal. 4:4,5, and 2:16; Rom. 8:1; Gal. 3:10; Confess. chap. 19 sec. 5,6; Larger Cat. ques. 97; Shorter Cat. ques. 43, 44.
X. OF GOOD WORKS.—Again, they assert and declare, that as no works are truly and spiritually good, but those, that are performed by a person united to the LORD JESUS CHRIST by faith, and under the influence of his Holy Spirit; and consequently, that none of the actions of the unregenerate, however in themselves materially agreeable unto the letter of the law, are either pleasing or acceptable to GOD; nor can they dispose or prepare their souls for receiving his grace, though their omission and neglect of these is still more displeasing unto GOD, and destructive unto themselves. So likewise they declare, that even the best works of obedience performed by the regenerate, can neither merit the pardon of any one sin, nor procure the smallest measure or GOD’S grace or favor, because of the manifold sins and imperfections they are still attended with, and because of the infinite distance between GOD and them, with respect to whom, when they have done all that they can, they are but unprofitable servants. Neither is their ability to do them at all of themselves, but wholly from the Spirit dwelling in them. And further, that the spring and principle motive of true love to GOD and acceptable obedience to him, is not self interest or love to our own felicity, nor yet a slavish fear of punishment; but the glorious perfections and transcendent excellencies of the Deity, manifested in the face of JESUS CHRIST, who is the brightness of the Father’s glory, and express image of his person, are the prime and chief motives both of love, fear and obedience unto GOD; all who really love GOD loving him principally for himself. As also, that all acceptable service to GOD, performed by believers, is principally influenced by the authority of a GOD of grace, stamped upon his word, springs from faith in JESUS CHRIST, as an animating and active principle in their souls, and is ultimately directed to the glory of GOD in CHRIST, as the great end thereof. Hence, therefore although GOD has graciously connected his own glory and his people’s felicity inseparably together, that yet no actions, however good in themselves or beneficial to others, which arise only from a principle of self interest, love to one’s own bliss, or fear of hell, are evidential of saving grace in the soul, or any more than what one in a state of nature may perform according to Gen. 4:5; Heb. 9:4,6; Matth. 6:2,5,16; Hag. 2:14; Amos 5:21, 22; Tit. 1:15, and 3:5; Rom. 3:20, and 4:2,4,6; Job 22:2,3; Eph. 1:6; 1 Pet. 2:5; Exod. 28: 38; Confess. chap. 16 throughout; Larger Cat. ques. 73, 101; Shorter Cat. ques. 44.
XI. OF ASSURANCE OF GRACE.—In like manner they declare and assert, that although there may be much darkness, and manifold doubts and fears, seated in the same soul where true and saving faith is: and although true believers may wait long before they know themselves to be believers, and be assured that they are really in a state of grace; and even, after they have arrived at a subjective assurance of their salvation, may have it much shaken, clouded and intermitted; that yet there is no doubting, no darkness, in the saving acts of a true and lively faith: but in all the appropriating acts of saving faith, there is an objective assurance, an assured confidence and trust in JESUS CHRIST, and the promise of life in which he is revealed to the soul; according to Isa. 50:10; Mark 9:24; 1 John 5:13; Psal. 77:1 to 11; Psal. 88, throughout; Gal. 2:20; Mark 11:24; Confess. chap. 18 throughout; Larger Cat. ques. 72, 80, 81; Shorter Cat. ques. 86.
XII. OF THE PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS.—They further assert and declare, that whosoever, of any of the children of men, in all ages, have attained salvation, did believe in, and receive the LORD JESUS CHRIST, the promised Messiah, and only Saviour from sin, to whom all the prophets bear witness, in whom all the promises and lines of salvation do center; and particularly, that however much the faith of the disciples and apostles of our LORD and SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST in him, is their only Redeemer, might be at any time overclouded, yet it was never totally subverted; and that the noble grace of faith in the souls of believers cannot be totally lost; but that such is the immutability of GOD’S decrees, and his unchangeable love; such the efficacy of their Redeemer’s merit, and constant abiding of the spirit of holiness in them; and such the nature of the new covenant, that, notwithstanding of various temptations and afflictions, the prevailing of remaining corruption in them, they must all and every one of them, certainly and infallibly persevere in a state of grace unto the end, and be at last saved with an everlasting salvation; as appears from Heb. 11:13; John 4:42; Phil. 1:6; John 10:28,29; 1 Pet. 2:9; Jer. 34:4; Confess. chap. 8, sec. 1, chap. 14, sec. 2, and chap. 17 throughout.
XIII. OF LIBERTY OF CONSCIENCE.—They further assert and declare, that the noble faculty of conscience, GOD’S deputy in the soul of man, over which alone he is absolute LORD and Sovereign, is not subjected unto the authority of man; neither are any human commands further binding upon the consciences of men, than they are agreeable unto, and founded upon the revealed will of GOD, whether in matters of faith or practice. And although the LORD JESUS CHRIST has purchased a glorious liberty unto believers from sin, and all the bitter fruits thereof, and of access to a throne of grace with boldness; and has procured unto his church freedom from the yoke of the ceremonial law, with a more abundant communication of gospel influences: yet, inasmuch as conscience is the rule ruled, not the rule ruling, none can, without manifest sin, upon pretense of conscience or Christian liberty, cherish any forbidden lust in their souls, nor are left at freedom to reject any of the divine ordinances instituted in the word, to change or corrupt their scriptural institution, by inmixing human inventions therewith, or in the least deviating from the purity thereof. And that therefore, all who vent or maintain tenets or opinions, contrary to the established principles of Christianity, whether in the matter of doctrine, divine worship, or practice in life, which are contrary to, and inconsistent with the analogy of faith, and power of true godliness, or destructive to that pure peace and good order established by CHRIST in his church, are accountable unto the church; and upon conviction, ought to be proceeded against, by inflicting ecclesiastical censures or civil pains, in a way agreeable unto the divine determination in the word concerning such offenses.
And further, they declare, that it is most wicked, and what manifestly strikes against the sovereign authority of GOD, for any power on earth to pretend to tolerate, and, by sanction of civil law, to give license to men to publish and propagate with impunity, whatever errors, heresies, and damnable doctrines, Satan, and their own corrupt and blinded understandings, may prompt them to believe and embrace; toleration being destructive of all true religion, and of that liberty wherewith CHRIST has made his people free; and the great end thereof, which is, “That being delivered out of the hands of our enemies, we may serve the Lord—in holiness and righteousness, all the days of our lives.” Agreeable to James 4:12; Rom. 9:4; Acts 4:19, and 5:29; 1 Cor. 7:23; Matth. 23:9; 2 John 10,11; 2 Cor. 1:24; Matth. 15:9; Col. 2:20,22,23; Gal. 2:4,5, and 5:1,13; Isa. 8:20; Acts 17:11; Hosea 5:11; 1 Cor. 5:1,5,11,13; Tit. 1:10,11,13, and 3:20; Matth. 18:15-17; Deut. 13:6-12; Ezek. 7:23,25,26; Zech. 13:2,3; Rev. 2:2,14,15,20; Confess. chap. 20; Larger Cat. quest. 100,103; Shorter Cat. quest. 49,50.
XIV. OF TESTIMONY BEARING.—Again, they declare and assert, that all true believers, members of the church invisible, are by the indissoluble bond of the Spirit, and true faith in CHRIST, their Head, savingly united unto, and have communion with him in grace and in glory, in this life and the life to come. In all their afflictions, he is afflicted, and shares with them in their sufferings and trials, is with them in and through death, exalteth them at last over all their enemies, receiving them into glory and blessedness with himself, that in his glory with him through eternity: and that all of them being knit and joined together in holy love and affection, do participate mutually of each others gifts and graces; and are indispensably bound to exercise themselves in the practice of all commanded duties, for preserving the love of GOD, and life of grace, in their own, and one another’s souls. And further, they declare that the visible church, and the members thereof, are externally in covenant with CHRIST their Head, have one and the same LORD, profess the same faith in doctrine and worship, receive the same seals of GOD’S covenant, baptism, and the LORD’S Supper: and are thereby bound to hold fast the Head, to be subject to his authority, keep the faith they have received, and maintain an holy communion and fellowship in the worship of GOD; closely abiding by the standard of CHRIST, their captain and leader, and lifting up the banner of divine truth, in opposition unto, and holy contempt of all their enemies of every kind. And further, they affirm, that as the visible church in general, is bound to be faithful to CHRIST, their Head and LORD, and to preserve, inviolate, the whole of that sacred depositum of truth wherewith she is entrusted by him, not quitting with, nor willfully apostatizing from the same, in profession or practice: so no particular subject of this spiritual kingdom of CHRIST can recede from any part of divine truth, which they have received, and whereof they have made profession, without lese-majesty unto the SON of GOD, and violation of their obligations they have come under, at receiving the seals of the covenant, with whatever other lawful vows they have made unto the Most High; according to 1 John 1:2,3; Eph. 3:16-19; John 1:6; Heb. 10:24,25; Acts 2:42,46; Eph. 4:4-6; Phil. 3:16; Rev. 2:25, and 3:3; Confess. chap. 2, 6; Larger Cat. quest. 63; Shorter Cat. quest. 50.
XV. OF CHURCH GOVERNMENT.—They likewise affirm and declare, that the LORD JESUS CHRIST, our exalted IMMANUEL, the sole and supreme Head, Lawgiver and King of his church, which is his spiritual and absolutely free and independent kingdom, has herein warranted, instituted and appointed certain office bearers (who derive their mission and authority from him alone) to regulate, administer, judge and determine in all the affairs of his house, to whom alone the keys of the kingdom of heaven are by him committed. Particularly, they are entrusted with the key of doctrine, to discover the mind of GOD, and preach CHRIST crucified unto sinners; the key of government for preserving that beauty of order, purity and power in the house of God, which he has enjoined should take place thereof; the key of discipline, to inflict ecclesiastical censures upon such as turn aside after their crooked ways, or continue obstinate in their offenses; the key of ordination and mediate mission, in ordinary circumstances of the church, solemnly to set apart and semi forth church officers unto that sacred function and official trust in the house of GOD, on the regular trial of the suitableness of their gifts and qualifications for that spiritual service and ministration; according to 1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11; Matth. 18:19; John 20:28; Matth. 18:18; Acts 15, throughout, and 16:4; Matth. 28:19,20; Mark 16:15; Acts 6:6; 1 Tim. 4:14, and 3:10; Confess. chap. 30, sec. 2,3 and 31; sec. 3. Form of church government, [1st and 2nd] books of discipline, and the several laudable acts and constitutions of this church; particularly, Act of Assem. at Edinburgh, August 4th 1649, Sess. 4, entitled, Directory for electing of ministers.
They likewise assert and maintain, that the LORD JESUS CHRIST, the church’s glorious Head, hath appointed a certain form of government therein, distinct from civil government, and not at all subordinate to civil rulers. And that the only ecclesiastical government warranted by CHRIST in his word, and to continue in his church unalterable, is presbyterial church government, exclusive of all superior dignity above a teaching presbyter, and consisting in her judicative capacity of kirk sessions, in subordination to presbyteries; of presbyteries in subordination to provincial synods; of provincial synods, in subordination to national; and national to ecumenical assemblies, or general councils.
And further, they assert, that the office-bearers of the LORD’S house, are, according to the command, and in the name and authority of the LORD JESUS CHRIST, the only Lawgiver and King of his church, and by virtue of the church’s intrinsic power derived from CHRIST, to assemble, constitute and adjourn these several courts of his house, nominate the fixed or occasional times of their subsequent meetings, as the church’s condition or exigencies require; although they grant that the Christian magistrate may, in extraordinary cases, or otherwise, call together a synod of ministers, and other fit persons, for consultation and advice in religious matters: but in which they have no power to judge or determine in matters of faith; but only discretively to examine, whether the synod’s determinations and decisions consonant and agreeable to scripture, and accordingly to acquiesce therein: Isa. 19:6,7; Ezek. 43:10,11; Acts 15:2,4,6; 1 Tim. 5:17; Heb. 13:17; 2 Chron. 19:8-11; Acts 17:11; Confess. chap. 30, sec. 1 and chap. 31, sec. 1,2, and conform to act of assembly, anno 1647; sec. 2,3; 2d book of discipline, and propositions for church government.
They likewise assert and maintain, that the office-bearers in the church of CHRIST, according to their different places and stations therein, must give evidence of their being possessed in some suitable measure of the qualifications which GOD in his word requires to be in any that are to be placed in such stations or offices, particularly that of devotedness to the cause and honor of CHRIST. And they further assert, that ministers of the gospel, and other church officers, must enter into the exercise of their office, at the door CHRIST’S appointment, by the call and choice of the Christian people, who are capable with judgment to give their consent; 1 Tim. 3, from verse 2 to 12; Tit. 1:5,67; Acts 6:2 to 6; Chap. 14:23 John 10:4,5, and agreeable to the laudable acts and ordinances of this church and state, in favor of reformation principles, books of discipline, &c.
XVI. OF CIVIL GOVERNMENT.—In like manner they assert and maintain, that GOD Almighty, the Sovereign LORD of all things, and special protector and preserver of his professed subjects in this lower world, hath for his own glory and the public good, authorized and instituted in his word the office and ordinance of civil government and governors, for the preservation of external peace and concord, administration of justice, defense and encouragement of such as are, and do good, and punishment of evil doers, who transgress either table of the law. For all which ends, subordinate unto that of his own glory, GOD, the alone supreme fountain of all power, has instituted and appointed this ordinance. And further they maintain, that a due measure of those qualifications which GOD, the great lawgiver requires in his word, together with what other stipulations according to the same unerring rule, a Christian people, who are blessed with the light of divine revelation, have made the fundamental conditions of civil government among them, are essentially necessary to the constitution and investiture of lawful authority over such people. No other but such a constitution or investiture, can either be approves of by GOD, or answer the ends, ultimate or subordinate, of this ordinance, unto the honor of the great institutor, appears from Prov. 7:15,16; Psa. 142:19,20, and 149:6,7,8,9; Isa. 49:28; Rom. 13:1,2,8,4; Deut. 17:14,15; 2 Sam. 23:2,3,4; Exod. 18:21. Confess. chap. 23, sec. 1. Seasonable warning by the general assembly, July 27, 1649. Act 15, Sess. 2, Parl. 1, 1640.
They further assert and maintain, that the constituting of the relation betwixt rulers and ruled, is voluntary and mutual; and that the lawful constitution of civil magistrates, is, by the mutual election of the people (in whom is the radical right, or intermediate voice of GOD, of choosing and appointing such as are to sway the scepter of government over them) and consent of those who are elated and chosen for the exercise of that office, with certain stipulations according to scripture and right reason, obliging each other unto the duty of their different stations and relations. And further they affirm that when magistrates are so constituted, Christians are bound by the law of GOD to pray for the divine blessing upon their persons and government, reverence and highly esteem them, yield a conscientious subjection and obedience to their lawful commands, defend and support then in the due exercise of their power; which power magistrates are especially to exert for the outward defense of the church of GOD, against all her external enemies, restraining or otherwise punishing, as the case may require, all open blasphemers, idolaters, false-worshipers, heretics, with all avowed contemners of the worship and discipline of the house of GOD; and by his civil sanction to corroborate all the laws and ordinances of CHRIST’S house, providing and enjoining that every thing in the house of the GOD of heaven, be done according to the law of the GOD of heaven; Deut. 17:14; 2 Kings 11:17; 1 Sam. 11:15; 1 Tim. 2:1,2; 1 Peter 2:17; Rom. 13:2 to 8; 2 Kings 18:4, and 23:1 to 26; 2 Chron. 29, and 30, chapter throughout; Ezra 7:28. Confess. chap. 23, sec. 3, coronation oath of Scotland, sworn and subscribed by Charles II. at Scone, January 1st, 1651, and oath of fidelity by the people.
XVII. OF CORRUPTIONS IN THE TWO PRECEDING ORDINANCES.—But, with respect to these two great ordinances of divine institution, the magistracy and ministry, with the qualifications of the persons and duty of the people, as before asserted, the presbytery reject, like as they did, and hereby do reject and condemn, the following contrary errors, tenets and opinions, whether of older or later date, vented either by open enemies or professed friends to the reformation cause. And,
1. They reject and condemn that loose latitudinarian tenet and opinion of opening the door of communion with the church in her judicative capacity, or sealing ordinances, unto the grossly ignorant, loose, careless, profane and scandalous: and to the antichristian deist, blasphemous heretic, or any who maintain doctrines, principles and opinions contrary to, and eversive of the cardinal and fundamental doctrines of Christianity, or such principles and practices as oppose, obscure or darken the church’s beauty and purity, and spoil her of her power, and particularly that of the church of Scotland, in her attainments in reformation; this being evidently destructive and ruinous to truth and holiness, the only foundation and basis of external union and concord in the church, and consequently of all durable, harmonious and comfortable communion among the ministers and members of CHRIST’S mystical body: See Eph. 5:11; Isa. 8:20; Amos 3:3; 1 Cor. 6:10; Heb. 12:14; Rev. 22:14,15; 2 Cor. 6:17,18; and conform to the acts and practice of this church, in her best, and purest times, in excluding from her communion, and refusing to unite with any chargeable as above.
Again, they hereby reject that false and ungodly principle and opinion, That a GOD of infinite wisdom has left his professing people destitute of any declaration of his will (which they are absolutely bound to regard) concerning both the institution, administration and qualifications of such persons as should administer these two distinct ordinances, government, civil and ecclesiastical; or that these two different species of government have not their foundation and institution, as the ordinances of GOD, in his revealed will; but that either (with the corrupt revolution church) he hath left the government of his house a matter of indifference, and the pattern thereof to be moulded by the discretion of the wise men of this world, and according to the corrupt will and fluctuating inclination of the people; or, with their public resolution-brethren, the Seceders, exchanging the clear scriptural and covenant basis of civil government, with the obscure foundation of the law and light of nature, or the more dissolute basis of mere election and acknowledgment of whomsoever the primores regni, though never so wicked and licentious, choose and set up as magistrates. Which notion contains an injurious and impious impeachment of divine revelation, as a rule imperfect and insufficient to guide Christians into the knowledge of the will of GOD, and their duty, as the peculiar and professed subjects of the King of kings, and supreme lawgiver, concerning all his ordinances; and is contrary to 2 Tim. 3:16; Rom. 2:14; Ezek. 43:11; and 44:5; Lev. 18:2,3,4,5; Matt. 28:20. Confess. chap. 23, sec. 3.
They in like manner reject and condemn the ecclesiastical headship, of the church, blasphemously arrogated by that man of sin, and son of perdition the Pope of Rome; with all that superiority of dignity and office in the house of GOD, claimed by antichristian prelates, together with the whole of their hierarchical order, and the civil places and power of churchmen, by both usurped; which is a most wicked attempt to overturn GOD the Father’s deed, constituting his Son CHRIST, sole King and Head of his church, an exauctorating of JESUS CHRIST from his throne, and headship in his church, an elevation of his ministers, contrary to his will, and the nature and ends of their office; and all anti-scriptural and confused blending together of different and distinct ordinances. Psa. 2:6; Isa. 9:6, and 22:24; Col. 1:18; Mark 10:42,43; Luke 22:25,26; 1 Pet. 5:3; 2 Chron. 19:12; 1 Cor. 7:2. Confess. chap. 25, sec. 6, and contrary to our solemn covenants, and many acts and ordinances of both church and state, in times of reformation.
They likewise reject and condemn that gross Erastian principle, That the civil magistrate is supreme head over all persons, and in all causes, ecclesiastical as well as civil, whether in more ancient and later times of tyranny and persecution, openly and blasphemously usurped, or at and since the Revolution, more craftily yet too manifestly claimed; as appears from the 37th article of the Church of England, and king’s declaration prefixed to the said articles: and is further evident front the many encroachments made upon the royal dignity and headship of CHRIST, by the usurpers of his throne, practically vesting themselves with power and authority to convene and adjourn at their pleasure, and give laws and ordinances to the church, which is a daring attack on the prerogative, sovereignty; wisdom and power of her absolute King and Lord, on whom, as a nail fastened in a sure place, his Father has hung all the glory of his house, and vested hint with the sole supremacy over the same, being filled abundantly with the spirit of wisdom and understanding, with the spirit of counsel and of might, to direct and preside in the management of all her concerns, and to preserve from and overcome all her enemies; Isa. 22:24, and 11:2,8, and 9:6; Col. 1:18; Eph. 1:22; 2 Chr. 26:18; Heb. 5:4; Confess. chap. 25, sec. 6.
They also reject and condemn that Erastian tenet and opinion, that the whole or any part of the power, mission qualifications, or administration of eccelesiastical officers, or ministers of the church of CHRIST, depends upon the authority and dictation of the civil magistrate, because it is manifestly destructive of the church’s power and authority, under CHRIST her head, and derived from him, and likewise of the ministerial freedom and faithfulness of CHRIST’S ambassadors: and particularly they reject and condemn, as gross Erastianism (whether practiced before or since the Revolution, and especially since the incorporating union with England, on terms diametrically opposite to our covenant union), the civil magistrate’s limiting the mission of office-bearers in the church, according to his will; prescribing certain qualifications, and restricting to certain limitations; such as the test, indulgences, allegiance, assurance, and abjuration oaths, act restoring patronages, and the act anent Porteous together with the threatened deprivation of office and benefice, upon non-compliance; 1 Cor. 12:28; Matt. 18:17,18; John 20:23.
They further reject and condemn that Erastian opinion, that the external government of CHRIST’S house is left unto the precarious determination of sinful men, or hath either its immediate or mediate dependence upon the will and pleasure of the civil magistrate, according to the import of the claim of right, the anti-scriptural basis of the revolution settlement. This being evidently an impious reflection on the perfect wisdom of the church’s Head, subversive of the beauty of his house, and fertile of disorder therein, laying the kingdom of CHRIST obnoxious to spiritual tyranny and oppression, when strangers, enemies, or such as have no call or warrant to build the house of the LORD, put to their hand to model the form of her government as best suits their perverse inclinations and secular views, in express contradiction to the will and law of the GOD of heaven, Exod. 25:40, and 26:30; Ezek. 43:11; 1 Chron. 15:12,13; Neh. 2:20, with many other texts above cited.
Again they reject and condemn the latitudinarian tenet, That the LORD JESUS CHRIST, the alone head of the church, hath left his house void of any particular form of government, of divine institution exclusive of all other, under the New Testament dispensation: which is a manifest reflection upon his fidelity to him who appointed him, and most absurd to suppose of him who is true and faithful, as a Son over his own house, and contrary to Isa. 9:6,7; 1 Tim. 5:17; Heb. 3:2,3,5; 1 Cor. 12:28; Rom. 12:6,7,8; Acts 20:17,28; Matt. 28:20. Confess. chap. 30, sec. 1, and to the propositions for church government. They further reject and condemn that sectarian principle and tenet, whether in former or latter times maintained, that a kirk session, or particular congregational eldership, is vested with equal ecclesiastical power and authority, with any superior judicatory, and is neither subordinate nor accountable to them (in the LORD) in their determinations.
They likewise reject as sectarian, That the community of the faithful or professing Christians, in a private station hath any scriptural warrant for public teaching, or judicative determination in the church; both which opinions are not only expressly contrary to scripture, Acts 15, throughout, and 16:4; 1 Cor. 5:4; 1 Tim. 5:17; Heb. 5:4, and 13:17, &c., but also have been found hitherto most hurtful and dangerous to the church of GOD, depriving her ministers and members of just and necessary recourse to superior judgment and decision in matters difficult, discrediting and prostituting the sacred office of the ministry, and tending to overthrow standing ministry in the church of CHRIST, and subvert that comely and beautiful order he hath prescribed therein.
In like manner they reject and condemn that gross invasion and encroachment upon the church’s liberties, by the intrusion of popish patronages, whether imposed as a law by civil, or executed by ecclesiastical powers. Of the latter of these, the ministers and judicatories of the now corrupt, harlot Church of Scotland, cannot but be inure egregiously guilty. The nature of their sacred function and trust obliges them to preserve inviolate the church’s freedom and liberties: but in place of this their hands are chief in the trespass, in an authoritative and active enforcement of this wicked act—an act evidently destructive of the very nature and essence of that mutual relation between pastor and people, and which has the native and necessary tendency to schism in the church, spiritual leanness, and starving of the flock, by thrusting in idle, idol shepherds upon them, such as serve not our LORD JESUS CHRIST, but their own bellies; feed themselves, but not the flock; and seek not them, but theirs, contrary to John 10:2,9; Heb. 5:4; 1 Tim. 3:3; 1 Cor. 12:14; with many more; and to acts of both church and state, in times of reformation in these covenanted lands.
But, on the other hand, that the presbytery, when thus condescending on particulars, pass not over in sinful silence, what stands opposite to the word of GOD and their declared principles, as above concerning civil authority, the administrators thereof, and subjection of the people thereto: they reject, likeas they hereby reject and condemn that anti-scriptural principle and opinion, that the divine scriptural ordinance of magistracy has not its foundation in the moral preceptive law of GOD (wherein alone his will is revealed and declared unto his people, concerning the nature, use, and ends of all his ordinances), but in the subjective light of nature (even as corrupted), so confused and dark in its discoveries, so gross and selfish in its principles, motives and ends, that neither the true nature of this, nor any other of the ordinances of JEHOVAH, as revealed in his word, can hereby be known, or the true use and ends thereof sufficiently discovered or obtained.
They likewise testify against, and reject that equally absurd opinion, as a stream flowing from the foresaid corrupt fountain, that the office, authority, and constitution of lawful magistrates, does not solely belong to professing Christians, in a Christian reformed land, but that the election and choice of any one whosoever, made by the civil body (whether Pagan, Papist, Atheist, Deist, or other enemy to GOD, to man, and to true religion), makes up the whole of what is essential to the constitution of a lawful magistrate according to GOD’S ordinance. A tenet contrary to the light and dictates both of reason and scripture. And they hereby also disclaim that corrupt notion, that all providential magistrates, who are, and while they are acknowledged by any civil society, especially in an apostate backsliding land and people from the scriptural standard (in respect to the origin of their office), are also preceptive; and that the office and authority of all so constituted and acknowledged, in itself considered, does equally arise from, and agree unto the preceptive will of GOD, contrary to scriptural precepts, Deut. 17:18; what falls under scriptural reproof, Hos. 8:4; and what greatly depreciates the valiant contendings of our honored ancestors for civil reformation, and tends to invalidate their deeds of constitution thereanent.
Again the presbytery testifies against, and condemns that principle, that the Christian people of GOD ought to give explicit acknowledgment of, implicit subjection and obedience to, whatever civil authority (though most wicked and unlawful) the LORD in his holy providence, may, for the trial and punishment of his church, permit a backsliding people to constitute and set up, without regard to the precept of his word. And they hereby reject whatever in opposition to the covenanted principles of the Church of Scotland, does justly, and in its own nature imply a voluntary and real acknowledgment of the lawfulness of the title and authority of an anti-scriptural, anti-covenanted, and Erastian government, constituted upon the ruins of our scriptural covenanted reformation. Particularly, they testify against praying for success and prosperity to such, in their stated opposition to the LORD and his Anointed, or in any form implying a homologation of their title as lawful, swearing oaths of fidelity and allegiance to such, accepting any office front such, and executing these in their name and authority under them, military associations with such, by a voluntary enlisting under their banner, and fighting for their support and establishment. And that in regard these are actions, as they express a proper and explicit owning of the lawfulness of that authority, which they immediately respect, so they are such as cannot be obtained without the actual consent of the party performing, and must therefore imply a deliberate approbation of foresaid iniquitous authority.
Further, they testify against a direct and active, free and voluntary paying of tribute and other dues, unto such, and that for conscience sake, as unto the ordinance of GOD, according to his precept; and particularly, when these dues are required as a tessera of loyalty to such; or when required, as an evidence of a person’s active contributing to the accomplishment of some wicked action, expressly declared to be the immediate end of the imposition. Thus the case was in the time of persecution, when the declared end of the additional cess, was the immediate suppression of the pure preaching of the gospel in the fields. As also, not only against professed witnesses for reformation principles, their prosecuting of their witnessing brethren at law before the courts of anti-scriptural, unqualified judges; but generally, against all law processes, in a way of direct counteracting any part of reformation attainments, or express homologating the authority of an unlawful judge. And, in fine, against all voluntary subjection for conscience sake, unto such powers as are not the ordinance of GOD, according to his revealed preceptive will, as contrary to scripture; 2 Sam. 2:10; 2 Kings 11:4,17; 2 Chron. 9:2; Isa. 8:12 and 65:11; Rom. 13:3 to 8; 1 Cor. 6:1 to 8, contrary to the act of this church approving, and ordinances of the state, establishing the civil authority upon its scriptural foundation, and thereby discovering the proper object of a Christian people’s voluntary and conscientious subjection; and particularly, to the act of classes. While in the meantime, it must be acknowledged, that the state and condition of Presbyterian Covenanters in these lands, continuing, as a community, to witness and contend for reformation of both church and state, that obtained, and was established, between 1638 and 1650, cannot be regarded as that of a free people enjoying their ancient privileges and liberties, but as that of an oppressed people, brought under the power of a conqueror, and no better than captive in their own land. As this was evidently the state of the suffering remnant under the persecuting period, when, by the force of the sword, they were robbed of their former liberties, and reduced to the most deplorable condition so, however the Revolution did alter some circumstances in the condition of Covenanters; yet, in regard it was established upon, and did homologate the overthrow of the reformation, to which that people do still adhere, it could make no substantial change in their condition, from what it formerly was. And moreover, as it is necessarily requisite to the constituting of the relation between magistrate and people, that there be a mutual and voluntary consent; and as the community of Presbyterian Covenanters did never, at or since the Revolution give such consent; but, on the contrary, have, in the most public manner, protested against the constitution and installment of rulers in agreeableness thereto, as being contrary to the word of GOD, covenanted constitution, and fundamental laws of the nations; as is evident front their printed testimonies and declarations, it follows, that their state is that of an oppressed people, in passive subjection to a conquering power, whose duty is, to wait with patience upon Israel’s GOD for his return to revive his work, and recall the bondage of his Zion. And while they are to take care to do nothing that justly implies their consent to the continued opposition made unto the covenanted reformation, yet they ought to observe a proper difference between such actions and things as are necessary, and in themselves just and lawful, by a moral obligation, and those that are not so. As also, between that which cannot be had, nor the value or equivalent of it, unless the person actually give it; and that which may be obtained, whether he actually contribute to it or not. Most applicable to this our present condition, are the words of the Levites, expressing the distressed state of Israel, which they had brought themselves into by their sins, as recorded by Neh. 9:36, 37: “Behold, we are servants this day; and for the land thou gavest unto our fathers, to eat the fruit thereof, and the good thereof, behold we are servants in it; and it yieldeth much increase unto the kings which thou hast set over us, because of our sins; also, they have dominion over our bodies, and over our cattle, at their pleasure, and we are in great distress.” Likewise the presbytery testify, against all ministerial or Church communion with such, who, though they may occupy the place of office-bearing the church of CHRIST, yet are destitute of those qualifications indispensably required by the church’s Head, or enter not into their office by the door he has appointed in his word, own another head than CHRIST, or apostatize and fall front the truth and cause of Christ, formerly espoused and sworn to by them in a church capacity; against all active owning and countenancing of such, by attending upon any of their corrupt ministrations, or receiving any ordinances from such, to whom the LORD has denied his blessing. Against all voluntary contracting with prelates, curates, or such officers of human invention in the church, for paying tithes or other dues unto them, as unto lawful, scriptural parish ministers. For besides that there is nothing due unto them, their office having no divine authority; so there being under the New Testament a change of the priesthood, there is also a change of the law, respecting tithes; according to 1 Cor. 6:17; Rev. 2:20, &c.
By all which it appears from what is above asserted and declared concerning these two divine distinct ordinances, the ministry and magistracy, that the principles maintained thereanent by the presbytery, are nothing else than an endeavor, as a judicatory of the LORD JESUS CHRIST, constituted in his name, to hold fast the church of Scotland’s testimony, agreeable to the scriptures of truth, her confession and covenants, fundamental acts and constitutions both of church and state; and this, according to the command of the church’s sole King and head; Rev. 2:25, and 3:11. And what is testified against, is, in the nature of it, an homologation of the church’s faithful opposition to backsliders, in their course of defection, from the national attainments in religion and reformation, resisting even unto blood, striving against sin.
XVIII. OF OATHS AND VOWS.—The presbytery further assert and declare, that oaths and vows are a part of religious worship, warranted in the word of GOD, and under the New Testament dispensation, and may be lawfully taken and entered into by the LORD’S people. That such oaths and vows only are warrantable, as are lawful both for the matter and the manner of them; and those that are so, when once engaged in, must not be violated on any consideration, and that, because of the authority of the awful name of GOD interposed in them. And further, they declare, that the right of administering oaths is competent only to those vested with such authority as is agreeable to the word of truth. As also, that it is the incumbent duty of Christians, by solemn oath to bind themselves to maintain and defend the persons of righteous ruler’s, in the lawful exercise of their authority; and to such only, it is lawful to swear oaths of allegiance and fidelity. And hereby, they disapprove the principle of refusing allegiance to lawful authority. At the same time, the presbytery testify, against, as above, all the oaths of allegiance in being, to an Erastian prelatical government. And further, they reject and detest that sinful, idolatrous and superstitious form of swearing, in laying the hand. upon, and kissing the gospels, practiced by the prelatical churches of England and Ireland, and even introduced into Scotland, as a gross profanation of that holy ordinance, and contrary to the scripture examples thereof. Hereby they also testify against all sinful swearing, whereby the name of GOD, his titles, perfections, or graces of his Holy Spirit, are profaned in ordinary discourse. As also, the unnecessary oaths of customhouse, trade, &c., as a reiterated and fearful profanation of the name of GOD. And moreover, they testify against, and condemn that ungodly and superstitious oath, against by that unhallowed club, called Free Masons: according to Deut. 10:20; Exod. 20:7; Neh. 13:21; Ezra 10:5; Deut. 6:13; Matth. 4:35,36; Ezek. 17:16,17,18,19; Rev. 10:5,6; Jer. 4:2, and 5:2; Confess. chap. 22.
Again, they testify and declare, that the work of solemn covenanting with a GOD in CHRIST, is a duly warranted in the scriptures of the Old and New Testament, and by the examples of the godly, agreeable thereto; and that not only to individuals in particular, but to churches, and nations in general. Which covenants once entered into, and being for the matter of them lawful, are most sacred, and therefore inviolably binding; and what cannot be broken or transgressed, without manifest guilt, and incurring the dreadful resentment of a holy and jealous GOD, who has severely threatened to punish covenant-breakers. And hence they assert, that the National Covenant of Scotland, and the Solemn League and Covenant entered into by the three nations, for reformation and defense of religion, and for the maintenance and preservation of the truths and ordinances of GOD in purity, and sworn by our honored ancestors, not only for themselves, but including also their posterity, are of divine authority, as having their foundation upon the word of GOD; therefore moral, and so perpetually binding upon the nations, and every individual of them to the latest posterity. Wherefore, the presbytery testify against the principle of refusing the lawfulness of national covenanting, particularly, under the New Testament dispensation, and all principles and practices that strike against the moral obligation of these covenants; see Deut. 6:13; Isa. 9:18, and 44: 5; Jer. 50:5; Deut. 29:12 to 16, 24,25; Lev. 26:25,26; Josh. 9:14,15,18,19; 2 Sam. 21:1; Ezek. 16:59, and 17:15,16,18,19; Hos. 10:4; Gal. 3:15; 2 Cor. 8:5. See also acts and ordinances both of church and state in times of reformation, respecting the taking, and binding obligation, of the covenants.
Again, the presbytery hereby testify and declare their approbation of, and adherence unto, all the different steps of reformation, that ever, in any period, were attained unto in this church and land: particularly, besides what has been mentioned above, they declare their adherence to the Westminster Confession of Faith, as it was approven by act of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, anno 1647; Catechisms, larger and shorter; Form of church government, Directory for worship, and Books of Discipline, as agreeable to, and extracted from the sacred oracles.
And with respect to the fourth article of the 23d chapter of our Confession, the presbytery hereby declare, that they reject that corrupt sense and gloss which has been imposed upon it, whether by open enemies, or false friends to our covenanted reformation in former or latter times, viz: That a reformed Christian people, having generally received, and publicly professing the true religion; and more especially, having expressly and solemnly bound themselves by public national vows to the Most High, for the preservation of it, may warrantably set over them an infidel, or one of a religion differing from the true religion, and thereupon acknowledge and submit themselves unto him, as their lawful civil ruler for conscience sake. And moreover, they declare that they understand said article, as principally relating to the condition of a people emerging out of the darkness and superstition of Paganism or Popery, &c., before that religion has obtained the sanction of civil authority; when, although the major part or bulk of a people should embrace the true religion, yet that does not dissolve or loose the relation subsisting between them and their civil rulers, prior to their conversion, agreeable to, and founded upon the just and reasonable laws of the realm. In this case only, it is granted, that an infidel, or one of a different religion, may have authority just and legal over a people partly converted to the knowledge and gospel of CHRIST. Thus it was with the primitive Christians, and thus it was particularly with our ancestors in Scotland, at the beginning of the reformation; and this perfectly well agrees to the apostolic precept and determination in a case similar to the above; 1 Cor. 7:12,13 and 39, and 2 Cor. 6:14.
As also, they further declare their approbation of and adherence to all the faithful testimonies, declarations and protestations, emitted by the witnesses for the work of reformation, whether before or under the late times of tyranny and persecution, in prisons, scaffolds, or in the fields, by land or sea; or by such, as since that time have succeeded them in the self same testimony, as they are founded upon, and agreeable to the word of truth, and as a just and proper vindication of foresaid covenanted cause. And particularly with the above proviso and limitation, they declare their adherence to the Rutherglen, Sanquhar and Lanark declarations, annis 1679, 1680, 1682; as also to the declarations published at Sanquhar, 1683, 1684, 1692, and 1695, 1703 1707; to the informatory vindication, and cloud of witnesses; to the covenants national and solemn league, sworn at Auchensaugh, near Douglas in the year 1712, at Crawfordjohn 1745; with the additional acknowledgments of sins, and engagements to duties at these times; to the declarations published at Sanquhar, 1718, and at Montherrick, 1740, 1741. And in like manner, they testify their adherence to the Act formerly emitted by this presbytery, in condemnation of the universal scheme [of atonement; i.e., hypothetical redemption]. And they do hereby testify against, and disapprove all partiality and unfaithfulness, whether in respect of right or left hand extremes, in any testimonies, published in a way of professed adherence to reformation principles; particularly, they reject the testimony published by those designated the Associate Presbytery, as no adequate testimony for truth, because of the partiality and unfaithfulness, both to GOD and the generation, discovered therein; being, instead of a faithful vindication, no better than a burial of some of the most important attainments in reformation of this church and land. And they likewise reject, detest and abhor that spurious brat, stuffed with gross error, blasphemy and nonsense, most falsely and unjustly designated, “A testimony for the word of CHRIST’S patience,” by that sacrilegious usurper of the ministry, William Dunnet who, being once plunged into the depths of enthusiasm, such is his madness, that under pretense of an immediate mission from heaven, he not only daringly usuries the whole of the ministerial function, but it also wickedly claims an Erastian exercise of the office of the civil magistrate, in a stupid unaccountable declaration of war, offensive and defensive, against all mankind, himself, and his blind-folded confederates only excepted; having probably had these anti-scriptural notions instilled into him by the industry of some unstable heads, who, after they had made a professed subjection to this presbytery, in the LORD, did, with some others of the same stamp, in a most unwarrantable and schismatical manner, break off from their communion, without so much as discovering any shadow of reason, in justification of their rash, ungrounded and precipitate separation.
Upon the whole, the presbytery, protesting that they have been influenced to this necessary work of displaying a judicial banner for the covenanted cause and interest of our exalted REDEEMER, purely out of a regard to the glory of GOD, a desire that CHRIST’S kingdom may be advanced, and his buried truths revived, as also a concern for the welfare and happiness of the present and succeeding generations, do earnestly, in the bowels of our LORD JESUS CHRIST, beseech and obtest all and every one, into whose hands this testimony may come, that, without considering the insignificancy of the instruments, and laying aside prejudice and carnal selfish considerations, they receive the truth as it is in JESUS, not only in the notion, but in the love and power of it; that they take with the many just and highly-aggravated grounds of the LORD’S controversy, and causes of his wrath against us, not only on account of private and personal wickedness come to a very great height, but particularly on account of the general opposition to the public concerns of his glory, in what resisters the doctrine, worship, government and discipline of his house. Alas! our public abominations are both obstinately persisted in and publicly justified. That they lay to heart the great and terrible wickedness of the day and generation, with deep humiliation before the LORD, while he waits to be gracious, and is calling all ranks to tremble themselves, and saying, “Rend your heart and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your GOD, for he is gracious and merciful;” Joel 2:18. That, in the way of flying under the covert of the atoning blood of the SON of GOD, by faith in his name, for the remission of sins, and endeavoring after personal reformation, as to all the impiety and irreligion, all the detestable indifferency, lukewarmness and hypocrisy, in the matters of GOD, which universally prevail; they also study and set about public reformation, every one in their several stations, according to our solemn national engagements, concurring to restore the LORD’S ruined and buried work, and rebuild his house, which is now lying as a desolate heap, covered over with the rubbish of manifold errors, corruptions and human inventions. If we still hold fast our abominations, and will not, by repentance and reformation, return and give glory to the LORD our GOD before he cause darkness, then, when he returns for the salvation of Zion, “He will come treading down the people in his anger, and making them drunk in his fury, and bringing down their strength to the earth;” Isa. 63:6. “But is there no hope in Israel concerning this thing? is there no balm in Gilead? Is there not a physician there?” Is there not virtue in CHRIST’S blood for the most desperate cases, that churches, as well as particular persons, can be in? Is there not ground to hope, that the LORD will not altogether forsake these sinful lands, which were given to hint of old for an inheritance, and wherein he has so long maintained his possession, but that he will yet build up our Zion, and appear in his glory therein, will plead his own cause, revive his own work, a covenanted work of reformation, and remove all the contempt and ignominy which it presently lies under? Sure the continuance of his gracious calls and invitations to return to him, gives ground to hope, that our “Israel hath not been forsaken, nor Judah of his GOD, of the LORD of Hosts, though their land was filled with sin against the holy One of Israel;” Jer. 51:5. And though, while so much of error, prejudice and tarred interest, lie as impassable mountains in the way, there is little appearance of the nations taking this course; yet their LORD seems still to bespeak us in that endearing language, Jer. 3:12, “Go and proclaim these words towards the north, and say. Return thou backsliding Israel, saith the LORD, and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you; for I am merciful, saith the LORD, and I will not keels anger forever.” Though we have nationally torn our marriage contract with heaven, and taken away our names, yet the LORD has not. Turn, O backsliding children saith LORD, for I am married unto you. Let all, then, repent, and turn themselves from all their transgressions, so iniquity shall not be their ruin; but if not, then let all the impenitent despisers of the repeated calls of mercy know, that abused patience will at length turn into fury, and the LORD JEHOVAH, who has already furbished his sword, and prepared the instruments of death, will speedily give that dreadful commission to the executioners of his wrath: “Put ye it, the sickle, for the harvest is ripe; come, get you down, for the press is full, the fats overflow, for their wickedness is great;” Joel 3:18. “But because GOD will do this to Israel, let us prepare to meet our GOD.” Further, the presbytery invite and entreat all who tender the glory of GOD, the removal of the causes of his wrath and indignation, and who desire the continuance of his tabernacle and gracious presence among us, to come and join in a harmonious, zealous and faithful testimony for the precious truths and interest of Zion’s glorious King, and against every course that has a tendency to, heighten, and at last to lay on the copestone of our defections. Consider it is the LORD’S call and commanded to every one, even in their most private station, Contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. It is the burden he, at this day, lays on his church and people: Hold fast what thou hast till I come, that no man take thy crown; hold fast by our former attainments in reformation. And finally, the presbytery exhort all with whom they are more particularly connected, To stand fast in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith the gospel, and in nothing terrified by your adversaries. Let the flame of fervent and truelove to God, his truths, and to one another, prevent and extinguish the wild fire of unnecessary and hurtful mutual animosities; and endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace, study oneness in promoting the LORD’S opposed work, and in walking in the good old way, without turning aside to the right hand or to the left, because of the lion that is therein, and without laying other foundations than what were laid. Let none of CHRIST’S true and faithful witnesses suffer their hearts to sink into despondency; the cause is the LORD’S, and assuredly he will thoroughly plead that cause which is his own. It will outlive all its enemies, and yet have a glorious resurrection; and this will be the crown and comfort of all such as continue, amidst all trials and sufferings, contending for him, in the blessed expectation of the conqueror’s everlasting reward. Therefore, lift up the hands that hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees; greater afflictions have been accomplished is those that are gone before, and are now inheriting the promises, than any wherewtth the Lord is presently trying his church. And as the GOD of all grace, after they had suffered awhile, made them perfect, and put them in possession of that eternal glory to which they were called by JESUS CHRIST, so shall be establish, strengthen and keep his people still from falling, and, after all their sorrows and sufferings, present them faultless before the presence of his glory, with exceeding joy. “Return, we beseech thee, O GOD of Hosts; look down from heaven, and behold and visit this vine; and the vineyard which thy right hand hath planted, and the branch that thou madest strong for thyself, it is burnt with tire, it is cut down, they perish at the rebuke of thy countenance. Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, upon the Son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself, so will not we go back from thee; quicken us, and we will call upon thy name; turn us again, O LORD of Hosts cause thy face to shine, and we shall be saved: Let GOD arise, let Zion’s immortal and omnipotent King JESUS reign, and let all his enemies be scattered; but let them that love him be as the sun, when he goeth forth in his might.”
Extracted by JO[HN]. THORBURN, Pr[esbytery]. Cl[er]k.
 It has been complained by some, that the sense of both the members of this particular paragraph is obscure, and not so intelligible as it should be to many readers; but this complaint seems rather to arise from the want of proper attention and consideration, than from any other cause. As to the first branch of the sentence, Among—“Such actions and things as are necessary, and in themselves just and lawful by a moral obligation”—may be reckoned the payment of county tolls on highways and bridges, for the benefit of an easy and commodious passage—keeping watch in cities which have no settled or regular guard, to prevent public damage by fire or otherwise. In like manner the payment of custom in public markets or fairs, or of town dues, all of which, being intended for the benefit of public corporations, are given or paid as the price of liberty and privilege of trade and commerce. And to this may be added, such necessary instances of self-defense as a person may be obliged to, when maliciously and villainously attacked in his character or goods, by persons perhaps designedly taking advantage of his Christian temper, or profession. Or when perhaps a person may be maliciously charged with, and prosecuted for crimes not only peculiarly dishonorable to religion, but even capital, as has been the case with some individuals. In all such cases, self defense at law becomes necessary before the ordinary courts and judges of any nation, or place of the world whatever, when such defenses are admitted without the formal and explicit acknowledgment of the lawfulness of unjust or usurped authority (when such happens to be in place, us in the instance of Paul’s appeal to Cæsar, Acts 25), or acting any otherwise contrary to justice and charity.
And with regard to the other branch of the sentence, where it is observed—“That a difference ought to be made between those things that be had, nor yet the value and equivalent of them, unless the person actually give it,” &c. This is sufficiently explained in a paragraph beginning page 258. Prayers for God’s blessing on any government—enlisting and bearing arms in their service—accepting offices and places of power from them—swearing oaths of fidelity to them, &c.—are such things as can by no means be got, nor yet the equivalent of them, unless the party actually consents and grants them. These, therefore, and such like, are the only instances of action which, the presbytery judge, do, in their own nature, contain and express a proper and explicit acknowledgment of the lawfulness of that authority which they immediately respect.