By that Reverend and Worthy Servant of JESUS CHRIST,
Mr. John Guthrie,
sometime Minister of the Gospel at Tarboltoun, 1663.
2 CHRON: 15.12.
And they entered into a Covenant to seek the Lord God of their fathers, with all their heart, and with all their soul.
And all Judah rejoiced at the Oath: for 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.
DEUT: 29.14, 15.
Neither with you only do I make this Covenant and this Oath; but with him that standeth here with us this day before the Lord our God, and also with him that is not here with us this day.
And because of all this, we make a sure Covenant, and write it, and our Princes, Levites, and Priests seal unto it.
DEUT: 29. 24, 25.
All nations shall say, Wherefore hath the Lord done thus unto this land? what meaneth the heat of this great anger? Then men shall say, Because they have forsaken the Covenant of the Lord God of their fathers which he made with them.
TO THE READER.
THE Design of Publishing this Treatise, especially at this time, is to evince to the World, what have been the Principles of the Church of Scotland, and Her Faithful and Constant Wrestlings against abjured Prelacy, that bitter Root of Human Invention, obtruded upon this Church, contrary to Her Received Reformation, and diametrically opposite to the Word of GOD, and our Covenants, both National and Solemn League. The Scope and Design of this Treatise, consists in these Two; First, In asserting and proving from Scripture, the irrevocable Tie and Obligation, this Land lies under to prosecute the Ends, and Designs of these solemn Sworn Covenants. Secondly, In answering some Objections adduced for debilitating their Obligations. This Treatise, by the Blessing of GOD upon the Conscientious Perusal, may be a Mean to discover our Ancient and Received Principles, and Practices in adhering to these Covenants, even to the Effusion of much Blood; and also, how far we are degenerated from our First Love and Wonted Zeal to, and Apostacy from our Covenant-Engagements, so as the Sense of our Covenant-Obligations, is not only slipped out of the Memories of some, but also out of the Judgments of not a few. If the Reader find any thing not so well connected, let it not be imputed to the Author, but to the Pen of him who gathered it from the Author’s Mouth.
EZEKIEL, 17 Chap. 19 Ver.
Therefore thus saith the Lord God, as I live, surely mine Oath that he hath despised, and my Covenant that he hath broken, even it will I recompense upon his own head.
I Conceive in the Verse that I have read, there is more solid Truth delivered by the Spirit of God, which cannot lye, than I am able to declare, when I have fallen to the Explication and Enlargement of if; yet the very first words in the 11 and 12 Verses, speak as much to the Truth contained in the rest of the Sermons of Ezekiel, as that it is not laid before the People, neither left unto them in any confused way, which is not plain: But the Prophet gets a Commission to show them plainly, what the mind of the Lord was to them. This will more clearly appear, if you take notice of the former part of the Chapter, wherein these things are delivered plainly to the People by a Similitude, the Prophet having shewed to his Hearers the same things that he comes to speak plainly of unto them, so that any Man might have thought this with himself, What needs so plain Preaching, and Application? Will not any Man that hears the Words take them up without any Application? You find the Lord in his Commission to Ezekiel, after he Points out the Similitude of two Eagles taking away the Branches, he tells (now says he) Go to the City of Jerusalem and say, Do ye understand these things, that God will avenge his broken Covenant against the King of Jerusalem? And if they understand not these things, go and make them plain to them, and apply it to them; spare neither King nor Prince, but tell them this is my Message; Thou hast broken my Covenant, therefore by this Message which I send to you, the Plague and the Vengeance of God shall come upon you, As I live, saith the Lord.
And lest any of you who sometime have heard us press the Oath of the Covenant in these Lands, should now a-days think it alterable, and look upon it as a thing that may be dispensed with; therefore, we are through God’s strength from Scripture, to make out the indissolvable Tie of the Covenant; and that we bear not upon the Air in speaking to that purpose, according to the Faithfulness of the Prophet’s Commission by the Lord, We intend to follow this Rule, as we shall be answerable to our Lord and Master; and to be free of your Blood, whose Souls are committed to our Charge, to lay it before you; and if you sin against the Lord, then your Blood will be upon your own head; this we intend not to speak in general but in particular; and if any Man will justle himself against the Lord, then he will break himself for ever.
And for making the words more clear, consider, that the King of Babylon as you read 2 Kings 24.17. did change Mattaniah‘s Name to Zedekiah, and made him King of Jerusalem, and afterward Zedekiah entered into Covenant with the King of Babylon, that he should abide Tributary to him; and for the Confirmation of it, he puts the King Zedekiah to Swear by the Lord. But after he had sent him home to Jerusalem, Zedekiah upon some supposed Advantage which he saw not at that time, did break his Covenant with the King of Babylon; therefore the Lord sends the Prophet to him, and says, Since thou hast broken Covenant with the King of Babylon and has not keeped it, as I live saith the Lord, thou shall not prosper. Yea the Lord noticeth and owns it so much, that he makes the Covenant sworn to the King of Babylon, his Covenant; and therefore says in that Verse, As I live, my Oath which he hath despised, and my Covenant, &c. This is the History, and we have it clearly set down in the Prophet’s Commission, which he must not dare to sit, but faithfully doth deliver the same, as it is in the 33. Chap. of this Prophecy, Ver. 7, 8. wherein the Prophet tells the Duty of the Watchmen of Israel, Son of Man, I have set thee a Watchman unto the House of Israel: Therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me. When I say unto the wicked, O wicked Man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the Wicked from his way, that wicked Man shall dye in his iniquity; but his Blood will I require at thy hand; that is, whenever a Land or Kingdom is found guilty of such and such things for which the Lord’s Wrath uses to come upon a People; if that be made known to the Prophets, they are bound to Preach and declare it, or else resolve that the Blood of all those, that are taken away with the Stroke, shall be charged on them as unfaithful Men in the House of God. And it were to be desired, that there were many to give warning; I fear there shall not the blood of a few in Scotland be required at the hands of Ministers for not giving faithful and timeous Warning; for as every Man that shall be taken away in his iniquity, and for his Defection shall be made to smart for it: so it shall be no Excuse to you the People, that the Ministers did not tell you; O but dreadful shall be the Account that Ministers must give for not telling the People!
In the words there is 1st. a threatning for Breach of Covenant, and 2dly. There is the Thing for which he doth threaten, and that’s for despising the Oath, and breaking the Covenant of God. 3dly. The Confirmation that’s fixed to the Threatning; would it not have been thought that this was enough, Thus saith the Lord, I will punish thee for breaking my Covenant? Now this is extraordinary, that it must have this put to it twice, As I live saith the Lord, shall he break my Covenant and escape? All this put together, speaks the certainty of the Threatning, ver. 16 and 19. and also the greatness of the Matter, and the weightiness of it, and how the Lord looks upon breach of Oaths and Covenants.
The Doctrine from the Words, is, That the Oath is indissolvable, the Breach whereof God recompenseth upon the heads of those that break it. It’s inviolable, it’s in the words not framed by my Mouth; the Holy Ghost framed them in the mouth of Ezekiel the Prophet long ago, As I live saith the Lord God, surely mine Oath, &c. As applicable to our Case, consider, the Doctrine supposeth something that is not plainly spoken, and that is, That every Oath and Covenant of God is a thing that is inviolable, that is, may not nor can not be broken; For the better understanding whereof, there is something that is needful to an Oath and Covenant of the Lord. I am not to speak here in relation to the Covenant of Works between God and Man in his Integrity; neither am I to speak to the Covenant of Grace, either in the way of it’s Dispensation on Mount Sinai, or as to the fulness of it under the New Testament, though all these are more properly called Covenants, because they are of his own devising: But we take the Covenant here in this place, to be of Men’s Duties in the Land; and for keeping them the better, we take an Oath upon us in things that are neither Morally evil or good, but indifferent; but a Man once engaged by Oath cannot retract, though they be not commanded Duties, yet once entered into they must stand; for when we open our mouths to the Lord, we cannot go back. But I say, for clearing this,
Consider what makes an Oath and Covenant of God: 1st. It must be a thing in it self lawful; there is no Man that warrantably according to the word of God, may swear the thing which in it self is unlawful, 2dly. It must be a thing in it self possible, within the Man’s power; no Man is warranted to swear that which he cannot perform. 3dly. When we take the Vows and Oath of God upon us, we interpose the Name of the Lord to it; we swear by the Lord; this is the thing here, that makes this Covenant the Covenant of the Lord; the King of Babylon made Zedekiah King of Jerusalem swear by the Lord. And it is more the Covenant of the Lord, when the King is Religious, and the thing commanded of the Lord which we are bound to obey, though we had never sworn it: Therefore it must stand, once entered into, lest we make enquiry after Vows, and so destroy that which is holy.
Now for further clearing of the words consider, 1st. That in Deut. 23.21. you may see, how much the Lord counts an Oath binding, When thou shalt vow a Vow unto the Lord thy God, thou shall not slack to pay it; for it will be sin to thee not to perform it; but if thou shalt forbear to Vow, it shall be no sin in thee. Numb. 30. The Lord gives out Laws to Moses for Vows, and will have them declared, v. 2. If a Man vow a Vow to the Lord, or swear an Oath, to bind his Soul, he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth. The Scripture is very full, so that a Man once engaged in Duty, if he break, the Vengeance of God shall be upon him.
2dly. The Inviolableness of the Oath of God, is founded upon the Law of Nature and Nations. Wherefore is it that there is such an Order in Ordinances to swear by the Name of the Lord? Is it not for this, think you, to make the Thing stand sure? For the very Law of Nature teaches, That if a Man swear, he must swear by his God, and must keep it; and in like manner the Law of Nations for the Matter of Offensive and Defensive Arms, and as to the Matter of Cessation and Peace. Is not all this to hold out, that they design to secure themselves by interposing the Name of God to it? Now once allow this, that Men may retract and break Covenant with God, then we break the Law of Nature and Nations too: and so there is not a Nation under the Sun secure, because the way of continuing Peace (which is by the Name of the Lord being interposed) is broken, so that neither the Law of Nature or Nations (if it be broken) can stand; if that be granted, then it may be retracted.
The 3d Confirmation for the Truth of this Doctrine; The Lord himself in his Word hath declared a Man’s tender keeping of the Covenant, Vow or Oath, that it is exceedingly well pleasing to him; and that he has declared such a Man blessed, Ps. 15.1. compared with the last words of the 4th Verse, Who shall dwell in thy holy hill? Would not any Man think they are foolish that would not dwell in Heaven? Then look through, He shall dwell that sweareth to his own hurt and changeth not. A Body that swears any thing, must keep it though it be to his hurt.
The 4th Thing for Confirmation of the Doctrine, as to the inviolableness of the Oath of God, it appears and is established, as the Lord hath commanded the thing in his Word, and as it is founded upon the Law of Nature and Nations, and has the Promises; so the Lord has appeared an eminent Revenger upon the Breakers of this Oath and Covenant; that is to say, when Folk hath taken a Lawful Covenant upon them and has broken it, God will appear eminently in sending Plagues upon them. And for proving this, we are not here to speak of the Covenant given upon Mount Sinai, of which see the Ten Commands, how he threatens eminently to punish the Breakers thereof; or for not receiving Christ offered in the Gospel-Covenant, without Question he punisheth his People for the Breach thereof; but we mean these Oaths and Covenants we enter into, whether they be commanded or not; yet once being entered into we must keep them, or else he will punish us, as is clear from these three following Instances.
The first Instance you have Jos: 9. compared with 2 Sam: 21. where it will be found clearly, that the Covenant being broken by Saul, many Generations after it was made, he and his House and the People must be eminently punished for the Breach of it, by three years Famine: For the Princes and all the People of Israel are said to have sworn to the Gibeonites, (wherein many a black Face was seen among them) now this Covenant was merely Civil, and the Oath could not be very well warranted, but yet when it was made, it was binding.
2d Instance to prove the Judgments on them, &c. Consider Jer. 34.8, &c. where you read, after the People had broken the covenant they had made with the Servants, whom they had liberated, and yet brought them into Bondage afterwards; that the Lord sayeth, Since you have done so, I proclaim a liberty for you, &c. that is, I shall pay you home in your own Coin, I will proclaim a Liberty to you for the Sword, Pestilence and Famine.
3d Instance is in that place of the Text, Shall he break and shall he escape, saith the Lord? Though the Oath was given to an Usurper, and Zedekiah being his Prisoner at the time, yet it was required at his hand. I shall say no more to it, but consider how Covenant-breaches are reckoned among the Deeds of the flesh, Rom. 1.31. 2 Tim. 3.3. without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers. And, also I read of the great War betwixt the Turks and Christians, the Christians entering into Covenant with the Turks, the Pope gives the Christians a Dispensation to break it before the day come: Upon this Ʋladislaus the King of Hungary came forth against Amurath, and when he came to the Field, he did first beat the Turks; then Amurath having the Covenant in his bosom, took it out, and lift up his eyes and said, If thou, crucified Christ, be a God as the Christians profess thee to be, then take vengeance on them for this broken Covenant, and for the wrongs they have done to me. And presently the Turks fell upon the Christians, and gave them a fatal Stroke, and gained the day, notwithstanding the Christians had scattered them before. A most remarkable Instance; this, I think, except People be more than curious, will satisfy them.
From all which you may see, that the inviolableness of Oaths and Covenants is founded upon the Law of Nature and Nations; and Scripture and History is clear for it, that Covenants cannot be broken, except Folk resolve to meet with the Deluge of God’s Wrath.
For Ʋse of this, 1. If it be so, that the Oath and Covenant of God once engaged into, cannot be broken, then let no Man despise the Oath and Covenant of God; let Folk be endeavouring to secure themselves in this Truth, according to the Word of God.
2. If it be so, then know this, that all who venture on the Breach of it, do sin against the Lord, against Precept, Promises, Law of Nature and Nations, and against Threatnings.
3. Since it’s so, that every one doth sin that makes void the Covenant of God, then let all that are under that Sin expect, that the Wrath and Vengeance of God will be upon them, which is the second thing in the Text; because of my Oath and Covenant which he hath despised, I will recompense it upon his own head. Understand now what I have been saying, and what I am driving at, lest it be to you as the Similitude in the preceding Verses was to this People: For I declare plainly to you, That these three Kingdoms have despised the Oath and Covenant of God; and therefore according to the Word of God these 3 Kingdoms are to expect his dreadful Wrath and Vengeance, if he in Mercy prevent it not; let no Man or Woman be ignorant of these things afterward; remember I have told you that it shall be so.
But now I shall speak to some things which Folk may have for excusing themselves about the Solemn League and Covenant: and for understanding of them, consider, the Parliament of Scotland, England and Ireland entered into a Covenant for maintaining the Word of God and the Purity thereof, and putting away Profanity; and engaged themselves against Schism, Heresy, Error, Popery and Prelacy; and there was an Oath of God taken for this End upon us; and our King took it at his Coronation; this Oath again is broken by our King and Parliament, and is despised: For which, according to the Word of God, Wrath will be upon the heads of these that have broken it, if God do not mercifully prevent it.
Now there are many that have many Excuses and many Objections about this Solemn League and Covenant; I shall therefore speak to some of them, and I take you to record this day, I intend not to preach Rebellion against King or Parliament, but according to the Word of God: and if it be Rebellion, we must take our hazard of it.
Objection 1. We are not bound to a Covenant and Oath which is not Lawful, &c. but this is such. Ergo. Prob. Minor. Because it wanted the Consent of the King the Supreme Magistrate. Ergo. I dare say, many of you have this Objection, which is no Ground for it; but to strengthen your Argument, look Numbers 30, compare 3d and 5th Verses; the Argument runs thus: The Subjects of a Land taking upon them to covenant with God, they can do no more in it than a Woman in her Father’s House, &c. but so is it with these Lands: For seeing the King who is Supreme, did disallow it, therefore it is not binding.
Answer I. The Place alleged doth not speak directly to the thing; for though the King be a Civil Parent, he is not a Natural Parent.
II. This Place cannot be alleged to prove the thing; for the Matter is only spoken of a Woman in her Father’s House, or subject to her Husband, &c. It is true that a Parent or Husband may disannul her Vows, being made without his Consent anent these things, wherein she is subject to her Parent or to her Husband; but that Place doth speak nothing of annulling the Man’s Vow or the Widows, as vers. 2. for their Vows must stand.
III. God makes no Exception here but this first; and therefore it must stand. Will any of you who has this Argument say, that the King’s taking or not taking the Covenant made the Covenant Lawful or Unlawful? Yet, though the King was not consenting to it, (which I will not grant, for there was at that time a Power for it; I will not take upon me to dispute the Power that Parliaments have without a King, it’s far above my hand, yet I say) the Parliament has Power to put Folk to Duty, nill they, will they.
IV. For making the Covenant valid and lawful, something may be added to it afterward, though not at the present time, (yet seeing it is afterwards added, it is enough) but so was it with our Covenant, there was a frequent Consent given to it by our King; and also it was subscribed by him, which is sufficient to make our Vows stand. Numb. 30. we see, if a Husband or Parent hold their Peace when they heard a Woman vow, the Vow did stand; much more if the Husband or Parent take the Vow upon themselves. I know no shadow imaginable of Excuse for them, the Word of God, which stands sure, makes against them: and since it is so, our King and Parliament cannot retract what they have done.
Objection 2d. Some will say, there is no Man but knows that the King has taken the Covenant, for it was not done in a Corner▪ but he may break, because he was forced to it, and he was not absolutely free.
Answ: I. We did not hear tell of this before now; if any Man would have said at that time, that he was constrained to take it, he would be counted a very uncharitable Constructer.
II. Suppose that he was not free, which I will never grant, and suppose he was forced to the Oath, yet Scripture makes it out, that a Man’s Swearing, though he was not free, must stand to it; Though it was not a spontaneous Act, yet at was a most voluntary Act. Again, Consider this in Zedekiah, he was a Captive, to whom? To a Heathen: (now no Man will say a Captive is a free Man, and a liberate Man) yet he swearing to the King of Babylon a Heathen, and breaking his Oath afterwards, God’s Vengeance came upon him, for there is no dallying with God in these Matters; for all Casuists say, If a Man swear to a Robber to give him so much to spare his Life, he must keep his Oath, if it be in his power, though it be to his hurt. I shall say no more on this, but I am hopeful, if you will receive the Word in Love, ye shall have wherewith to answer your Adversaries in the Gate.
Objection 3d. The solemn League and Covenant must be broken, because we are not bound to keep with them that brake to us first: but it is so betwixt Us and England. Ergo. Ans: Is there not many make this Objection, which, I dare say, never read the Covenant: Thou poor blind Creature, how dare thou speak of it? These that will say so, it seems they never understood the League and Covenant, because it is not a Bargain betwixt two Parties on Earth, the one whereof breaking, the other is free; but these 3 Lands is one Party, and the God of Heaven is the other Party; therefore, though England should break, should Scotland break also the Covenant? It is not after this Tenor; We will endeavour Reformation in these Lands, but if you break, we will break also: No, it’s each Man swearing for himself, that he shall in his Place and Station endeavour Reformation; so that if it were left all to one Man, he must endeavour Reformation. For, consider the last words of the Article, each of them for themselves did lift up their hands to the Most High; and so these 3 Lands are one Party, and the other Party is the God of Heaven. Consider seriously upon it; for it’s the thing you must either suffer for or sin, ere it be long without Remedy. Whatever England and Ireland have done in breaking the Covenant, we say, they justly must smart for it, according to the Word of God, if God in mercy prevent it not: nevertheless as long as there is in these Lands any who keep the Covenant, we are bound to keep it; and suppose there are many who had rather suffer for it than sin, as Witness the many scattered Flocks and Shepherds in these Lands; and supposing this were not, though both England and Ireland should quit it, yet Scotland is bound to it.
Objection 4th. We swear in the League and Covenant to that which is impossible and therefore it cannot be keeped.
Answer. If all these 3 Kingdoms, who have taken the Oath upon them, would sincerely stand to it, I hope there should be no need to stand out against it. The Objection is in this, We have sworn to reform England; now for Answer, We are not sworn to reform England, neither is England sworn to reform Scotland; but that which is sworn is this, Each of them are to endeavour in their Places and Callings the Reformation of Religion in Doctrine, Worship, Discipline and Government in these Lands, and to reform England, according to the Word of God and the best Reformed Churches: For though we had never sworn an Oath, we are bound to promote the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. So that the Objection is rather out of Malice against the Word of God, than any conscionable Principle; he is not worth the Name of a Christian, that condemns this, for it is contrary to the Petition, Thy Kingdom come: So that we should study all Kingdoms Reformation, that they may become the Kingdoms of our Lord. If the King and Parliament were studying to reform as much as they are studying to deface and deform, there should be no need of this Objection.
Objection 5th. The Covenant which these Kingdoms entered into, as to their own Reformation, and as to the Reformation of all the rest, it was too rashly and inconsiderately gone about.
Answer I. I question if any of you who moves the Objection, knows what Consideration is; was there not Deliberation when there was Protestants and Remonstrators for the poor Lands? and at last they came to this with it, to enter into Covenant: wherefore it seems it was not indeliberate.
II. There was more Deliberation in it than many other Oaths in Scripture, and yet they did stand, as Judges 11.35. the Vow of Jephthah when he met his Daughter, who will deny but that was a rash Oath, to vow whatsoever came out of his door first, he should offer it up to the God of heaven? And yet it did bind him, while he says, Alace, my daughter, thou hast brought me very low! And might not his Daughter have said, Father, it’s but a rash Vow, break it? Nay, says he, I have opened my mouth unto the Lord, and I cannot go back.
III. To confirm it more, What would you think of a Covenant made between the People of the Lord and Heathens, and no Counsel sought from the Lord? Jos. 9. The Covenant is made there with the People of Israel and the Gibeonites; there you will see a Vow very rashly taken, yea not so much as to seek Counsel from the Lord; and Israel made Peace with them, The Princes of the Congregation swore unto them. Now I hope none of you will deny, but God’s Counsel was sought to our Covenants, which was not sought in that Covenant, and yet for the Breach of it, all the Land did smart, as you may see 2 Sam. 21. Therefore, I conclude, Though a Covenant be entered into rashly, and want many things for making it complete, yet opening the Mouth to the Lord, we cannot go back, or else we must expect the Wrath and Vengeance of God.
Objection 6th. The Covenant cannot be binding, because the Parties dealt craftily with us.
Answer I. England is not our Party that we covenanted with, but all the 3 Lands together, as one Party, and God the other Party with whom they covenanted.
II. Consider Josh: 9. and you will find how little weight this Objection hath in Matter of Covenanting: It’s said in the 4th Verse, They did work wilily, and went as if they had been Ambassadors, yet Joshua & the Princes entered into Covenant with them, and when it was broken, the Land of Israel did smart for it.
Objection 7th. The Covenant binds us to things that are not particularly set down, but are so general as keep us in doubt; the Ground whereof is this, because we swear in general to endeavour the Reformation of England, according to the best Reformed Churches; but these Churches were not particularly set down and pitched upon: therefore it cannot stand.
Answer I. If there be any Man that would have a more particular Rule than the Word of God for Reformation, he must be sent to another Land to seek another Gospel from Jews or Turks; and if it be so, then there is not a Rule among us.
II. Comparing one part of the Covenant with another, its most particularly set down and determined; As (1st.) the Covenant is clear, the Reformation must not be Popery. (2dly.) The Bishops, Prelates, Arch-Bishops, Deans, Chapters, Curates, &c. I say, the Covenant is clear in chief, if it lays aside all these things; what, I pray you, remains in Debate then? I know nothing, except you make it either a Presbyterian or Independent Covenant, and at that time Independency was to be brought to Presbytery; now since they pass by all these things, I hope the Matter is not left in the dark, as some think it is.
Objection 8th. Supposing the Covenant binds the Land, yet it binds none but these that took it.
Answ: Now I perceive there are many of you young and ranting Blades that think your selves happy Youths, because ye never took the Covenant; But I have a word to speak to such from the Scriptures, and therefore take it with you: Where ever a King and the Princes of a Land take a Covenant, the rest of the Land are bound to it, as you may see in that Covenant with the Gibeonites: The People there did not swear, yea they murmured against the Oath; but though the People did not swear, yet the Princes say, We have sworn to the Lord, we cannot touch them. Therefore do not beguile your selves, ye stand as surely engaged to it as I or he, who did subscribe it with our hands: Therefore the Breach of it shall be required at your hands, be you young or old, Men or Women; and therefore remember the 9. of Joshua, The Children of Israel did not smite them, because the Princes had sworn the Oath. Might not the People have said, Let them keep it, who did swear it? But it is not so, for they say, We have all sworn it, therefore we must not touch them.
Object. 9. Suppose it binds this Generation yet it cannot bind our Posterity. Answer, This same Generation that did swear it, hath broken it, and I fear the same Generation shall be punished for it. 2dly. The Covenant doth directly bind all following Generations, That our Children after us be found walking in Faith and Love, that the Lord may dwell among us; these are the very words of the Covenant. For what end was these words put in? Was it nor to bind our Posterity, and to keep Conformity and Unity, and to bind them to the Word of God? But you’ll say, There is no mention of the Posterity. Ans. There was no Mention made of the Posterity of Israel, when the People of Israel made that Covenant with the Gibeonites, neither was there mention made of the Gibeonites Posterity, yet you may see the Covenant binding to their Posterity, as is clear Josh. 9. compared with 2 Sam. 21. so then you must understand, that the Covenant is absolute; therefore I conclude, that as sure as Sun and Moon endures in the Firmament, if there be any Generation in these Three Lands, God will require the Breach of His Covenant at their hands, and his Vengeance shall be upon them, if they repent not.
Object. 10. The King and Estates of the Land found hurt in keeping it. Ans. Ay but read Psalm 15.1, 4. He that sweareth to his hurt and changeth not.
Object. 11. There will be eminent Advantages by the breaking of it, Ergo. Answer. For my self I do not understand any Advantage to these Three Lands comparable to the Solemn League; this is my Judgment: But will you consider the Covenant betwixt Joshua and the Gibeonites, it was a Covenant contrary to God’s Command, yet His Name being taken in it, could not he retracted, they dealt wilily with him, and they sought no Counsel from the Lord, and they were suspecting it in the mean time, and they knew it within 3 days afterward; yet because of the Breach of it, though it was broken out of Zeal to the Children of Israel, yet the People did smart for it by 3 Years Famine, and when it was broken, it was not the same Generation that broke it; I believe, and set all the Three Kingdoms Wit together, they will not get as many Excuses for the Breaches of the Covenant of our Kingdom as Zedekiah had for his Covenant: For first, his was contrary to God and his People; for he had promised to the People within 70 Years to be delivered; now the Covenant was, to keep them in Captivity, and to keep the Kingdom in Subjection. 2dly. He was a Captive, and so forced to it. 3dly. The Covenant was made with a Heathenish King, it was the direct Intent of the Covenant to make the Kingdom base as it is in the 14 verse, that it might not lift up it self. Now what could have been a greater Excuse to have broken the Covenant, than for him to have said, I cannot keep this Covenant because I will prove false to my People, for I was a Captive when he made me swear, &c? Therefore might he say, I will break it: But saith God, It is my Covenant, therefore I will recompense it upon his own head. And therefore I conclude, That whoever enters into Covenant, be what he will, especially when he is commanded, he must keep it: For he that breaks it, God’s Vengeance shall be upon him. Now seeing it is so, we are to expect, he will avenge his Broken Covenant upon these Lands, according to His Word.
Now the next thing in the Text is, That the Breakers of Covenant with God, God will recompense it upon their own heads; this is the words of the Text, My Oath that he hath despised, &c. Now to clear it to you, who they are that are Despisers of the Covenant; consider, First. That it is a Covenanter in Opinion and not in Practice, that is to say, There is not a Man that reforms not in his heart according to the Covenant, but he is a Breaker of the same; for this is the Articles of the Covenant. Therefore know assuredly, O ye Drunkards, Adulterers, Despisers of Ordinances, and the People of God, Sabbath Breakers, Covetous Persons and Civilians, who care for no more than an outward Profession; if ye be not endeavouring Reformation, and to keep the Covenant, God’s Vengeance shall be upon you. Indeed we will hear many Folk who pretend to keep the Covenant: But they will let an Oath flee when they like, thou by so doing art a good Keeper of the Covenant indeed, thou art guilty before God, for thou never Covenanted in Heart and Affection.
2dly. All those despise the Covenant that care not for it; for there is no Indifferency here: Therefore all the Three Kingdoms may expect Wrath from the Lord, except they repent.
3dly. These are Despisers of the Covenant, who are Fathers of Lies and Seditions, and find out Shifts to shun it; but whoever they be that are seeking Wiles to be freed of the Covenant, whether King or Parliament, God will send Vengeance on them. We are not here to Preach Rebellion or Treason, but what we shall warrant from the Lord’s Word. Zedekiah was a King, and yet you find Vengeance came upon him; and so did it upon Saul’s House and Posterity for his Breach of Covenant; therefore let all take head to it.
But what would you have us to do, say ye? 1st. Consider what Case these Lands stand in? And what it is they lie under? Is it not the Breach of Covenant? and the Judgment of God will come upon them, if he in mercy prevent it not: Because we have sworn the Covenant, and broken it; therefore God has sworn, That we shall not prosper. O! Is there none among the Tribes of Israel, to lament these things this day, this sad Condition of these Three Lands, that they are guilty of breach of Covenant, and are under the threatening of most severe Judgments! Will you then bewail it, if you have any tenderness of heart, each Man for himself and for his Family. I know some Folk will say, Let it even be so, for we will never lift it up again; but of this afterward, now I would entreat you to beware of partaking of other Men’s Sins, lest ye partake of their Plagues and Judgments. Wilt thou Vote with the King in Parliament to sin? then thou must Vote for Judgments. And I shall only say this, Endeavour to cover your selves now, with that which you would cover your selves with at the Day of Judgment. There will never a Man come in and say, The King must answer for me; no, no, the King must answer for himself. If you be not studying to keep these things, the Covering will be too narrow for you that Day. Again I would advise you to lay your thoughts aside from getting much of the World, but see if ye can get this that’s in Rev. 3.4. Thou hast a few Names, even in Sardis which have not defiled their Garments, and they shall walk with me in white; for they are worthy. It was a time then of great Defection, and these of them that continued steadfast, were as Signs and Wonders. O then walk now as you would desire to walk afterward! for surely these that lie down with sin unpardoned in the Grave, must resolve to ly in an eternal Bed of sorrow; and these that keep themselves clean, shall walk with the Lamb in white.
Now a word to that which I mentioned before, What shall we do, since these Lands have broken Covenant with God? I tell you that Scotland is bound to keep it, although England and Ireland have broken it; and although Scotland broke, yet Ireland and England are bound to stand to it. Hos. 4.15. Though thou Israel play the Harlot, yet let not Judah offend; that is to say. As for you at this present time, though England and Ireland have broken, yet let not Scotland do so too. Suppose, there were but one Family in these Lands that would stand to it, and if all that Family should turn their back upon it except one Person; truly that Person is bound to stand to it, Josh. 24.15. Choose you whom you will serve; but as for me and my House, we will serve the Lord. Here is but a Family; so that if all the Kingdom should forswear the Covenant, yet so long as I am Master of a Family, I must serve the Lord, I must not serve other gods, that is to say, We should not serve Popes nor Prelates, &c.
But what if it come to this, That there be no Man to abide by it at all but one Man? That Man is bound to keep it according to Scripture, read 1 Kings 19.14. I have been very jealous, &c. from which I conclude according to the Scriptures, though England has forsaken, yet Scotland is bound; and tho’ Scotland should forsake, yet England is bound; and tho’ both should forsake, yet one Family is bound to stand to it. Therefore study to know your Duty, lest the Wrath of God come upon you and your Posterity; believe these things, for our King and Princes, Nobles and Ministers, and all the People, and our Posterity, is bound to it: So I leave it to you with this word, Happy is that Man that shall be steadfast in the Covenant, though all the rest should forsake it. But as to the Persons who they are that shall continue steadfast, God has reserved that to himself as a piece of his Sovereignty. Again, we hear not tell of a Public Covenant ever sworn and broken, but God visibly plagued the Breakers thereof. There is no sin God would have Folk laying more to heart than the Breach of Covenant: As I live saith the Lord, surely mine Oath that he hath despised, and my Covenant that he hath broken, even it will I recompense upon his own head. God useth not to trust Folk long, that break Covenant, without some visible Stroke, as it was in Saul’s Days and Zedekiah’s. If you would have a Mark upon your Foreheads, and be kept free from these things, be sighing for the Abominations of these Lands, Ezek. 9. Wo to the Man that’s rejoicing at this day. Is there no Family found sighing for these thing? if not, all the World shall hear tell of their Punishment. This we recommend to you, and do not say, that we did not give you warning: For we have told you this from the Word of the Lord, therefore receive it in love.
As for my self, I know not what I may do, yet though I should shrink from the Faith by my weakness, which God forbid, I offtimes remember the words of Nehemiah and Jeremiah when they did testify against the People’s sins; and I do Protest against the Breach of Covenant, that I may not be made accessary to other Folks sins, and lest I be found guilty before the Lord, and be made Partaker of other Men’s Judgments. This is the way, that the Prophets did use; this is no Rebellion or Treason: For if they think it Rebellion or Treason, and think it Censurable, I commit them to the Prophets who are gone to their Place, who did these things; and first punish them and then me. I commit all these things to you, Lord engrave them on your Hearts, Amen.