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duty itself; No: I approve of covenanting work, whether it be national, presbyterial or congregational, when rightly managed and gone about ; and I pray ear. nestly for a covenanting frame and disposition to the whole land. I likewise own, there are several excellent things in the brethrens covenant, which we are all bound to by the word of God and our national engage ments ; and also in their Confession of fins, there are many evils enumerate, which all ranks amongst us ought to be deeply humbled for before the Lord : but, alas ! they have marred their Confeffion, by throwing into it feveral things which either are doubtful, or else plain mistakes or falshoods ; and yet all these muft be collfeffed and condemned as fins and evils, as if they were the most plain and undoubted facts, and that by a folemn oath: For their confession of fins (which is very long) is adopted and sworn to in their covenant. Yea, the Associate Brethren have carried this matter to a prodigious height, by making an act, dated at Edinburgh, February 14th 1744, wherein they agree and determine, that the swearing the foresaid covenant shall be the term of ministerial communion with them, and likewise the term of Christian communion to the people, with respect to their partaking of the feals of God's covenant. A surprising act indeed! This now oath and covenant of theirs is called in it, not a term, but the term of Christian communion, as if it were the only qualification for admission required, and as if it answered for the want of others; and indeed there is not another qualification besides swearing this covenant, mentioned in their act. Now, by this new act, let a man be never so well qualified according to the terms Christ hath determined in his word, yet, if he have not freedom to go in to this term of the brethrens making, he must be excluded both from ministerial and Chrii. tian communion ; that is, he must neither be owned as a minister of Christ, nor allowed any of the Childrens bread, fo far as their authority can go. Wherefore I cannot but teftify against this act, as framing new terms and conditions of access to the benefits of Christ's pur.
chase, for which the framers have no warrant in God's word : and therefore it must be a manifest ufurpation and incroachment upon the Headship of the King of Zion, and an infringement upon that precious article of our Creed, the Communion of Saints : which is too much for any judicatory or power on earth to adventure upon. Though the foresaid oath were in things indifferent or lawful, yet it were unwarrantable to impofe it as a term of communion, but much more when it is in things finful, doubtful or false. · Quest. How do you make it appear that the brethrens new oath and covenant (which they make the term of communion) is in itfeif Gnful ? . .
Ans. Because by this oath they adopt and approve a Confession of fins prefixed to it, and swear by the great name of the Lord our God, with their right hand lifted up to the Lord, that they shall testify against the evils named in that confefsion, sundry of which are false in fact, calumnious, unjust and uncharitable; and yet, by the foresaid folemn oath, the takers own them to be real, juft and true. As for instance, they swear that the General Assembly dismissed Profeffor Simfon without any censure or express testimony against his er. rors, p. 104. which is false. Also, they swear that the taking the oath of abjuration is a national fin, p. 103 which they cannot make out. They swear that al fembly 1736 adopted Professor Campbell's error against felf love, p. 106. which is false: They swear that Are sembly 1738 condemned the brethrens testimony in bulk, p. 107. which is not fact. They swear that Ar. sembly 1739 condemned their Declinature, as containing nothing but groundless prejudices, p. 107. which is not fact. They swear that the kind reception of Mr. Whitefield hath increased the fins of the land, and is a denying any particular from of church-government as being of Divine institution, p. 109. which is falfe. They swear that a scheme is now laid for uniting parries of all denominations in church-communion, in a way destructive of any testimony for Christ's declarative glory, p. 110. which they can never make appear.
that They swear that the blessed work in the West of Scotland is a delusion, p. 110. though it hath been demonstrate to have the plain Scripture tokens of a glorious work of the Spirit of God. They also by their oath condemn all the old persecuted Presbyterian minifters, who accepted of the liberty of preaching the gospel, under king James's toleration, as involving the land in heinous guilt: Which is a most rash and uncharitable censure of these worthies, who were honoured to be great sufferers for truth, were men of eminent piety and tenderness of conscience, were signally owned of God in their ministry during that liberty, and never saw cause to repent of their accepting of it to their dying hour. And now, after these glorified saints and sufferers have for many years been triumphing before the throne of the Lamb, a heavy blot and slur must be cast upon their memory by a solemn oath ;, and they, who have not freedom to join in that calumnious oath, must be denied Christian communion : This indeed seems to be an act exceeding hard and tyrannical. Alas! there are thousands who are appointed to swear this path, and the things above-mentioned, besides, many other things in it, who cannot say they know any thing of the truth of them from their own proper knowledge, but only have them by hearsay, or by information from others i and yet they must swear to the truth of them as fully as if they had been eye or ear-witnesses of them, or had read all the histories concerning them. Now, what is this but to make people swear rashly or inconsiderately, or upon implicit faith? which is contrary to the Bible, that requires us to “swear in truth, judge ment, and righteousness," Jer. iv. 2. and also contrary to our Confellion of Faith, which declareth, chap. 22. " That whosoever taketh an oath, must avouch nothing therein, but what he is fully persuaded is the truth.”. O that God in mercy would open the eyes of those who impose this oath, and those who are drawn in or intend to take it, that they may bethink them. selves, repent and proceed no further! For “because of swearing the land mourneth” already, and there is no need to add to the grounds of this mourning.
Likewise, in the foresaid oath and covenant, there are some things ambiguoue, obscure and doubtful, which great numbers of the takers know not the meaning of, and so cannot swear them “in judgment and righteousnefs ;” as, for instance, when they abjure Inje dependency and Latitudinarian Tenets, these are words very general, dark and dubious, to which the impofers may affix any meaning they think proper. Now, feeing it is commonly granted that the words of an oath ought to be very clear and plain, and these which are dubious may be refused; what a cruel thing must it be to excommunicate all these sincere Christians and tender consciences who may scruple to swear either to or against what they know not! I am sure there are many valuable ministers of Jesus Christ, and precious fons of Zion, whom Christ doth honour and admit to near communion with himself, who will not adventure to fwear such an oath; and will our brethren, notwithftanding, take it on them to reject them as earthen pitchers, and refuse all communion with them? Oh, where have they their Masters warrant to act fo, or to exclude his redeemed ones from his table, and the food he hath provided for them, for refusing an oath of their framing, containing so many things false, uncharitable and dark? when in the mean time these excluded perJons appear evidently to be the Friends of Christ, whom he himself invites most heartily, saying to them, Cant. v. 1. “ Eat, О friends ; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved."
I acknowledge that our brethren appear and declare for many things valuable and excellent, for which I with there were a true universal zeal throughout the land; but, when they mix so many other things choking with these in their Testimonies and Covenants, how can they expect that people of tender consciences thould swallow them? Nay, by this way they give oce calon to many to flight and speak evil of the precious things they ftand up for. My reverend brethren may belicve (if they please) that I write not these things with any ill-will against them, but out of love to them 3:d others, to prevent more fin in the land, and to
bring them, if possible, to a more moderate, charitable and Christ like temper, that they may be willing to break down these partition walls they are setting up be
tween themselves and others of Christ's ministers and · people, O how lamentable a thing is it, that orthodox
and zealous preachers of Christ should be carried away to such extravagant heights, by the intemperate zeal and headftrong humours of others who join with them! that they should go about in this manner to divide and distract the flock of Christ, and to rend and tear the members of his body one from another, yea, and to rear áp partition-walls in the midst of his church so high, that these upon one fide cannot get over them to hold communion with the other! Is this good fervice to the Lord Jesus Christ ! Is this the way to promote his cause and interest in the world? Is this the way to heal breaches and promote union among the true friends and lovers of Christ, which he makes the duty of all faithful gospel ministers? Is not our glorious Master “ the Prince of peace ? Hath he not said, « Blessed are the peace-makers ?” Was it not he that prayed for the union and peace of his church? Was it not he that recommended peace to us, and injoined us to " pray for the peace of Jerusalem?" Let none mistake me, as if I were for peace, on any terms; for they may see by the foregoing Testimony I am for truth as well as peace, and desire through grace to be zealous for both. .
Some, who have seen this Testimony, object, That it is not impartial with respect to Mr Whitefield's success while he was in Scotland. The plain truth is, several. things were said relative to it, where he is mentiona ed, which were dropped to gratify some of the subscribers, 'who were not then satisfied as to the facts narrated. But, since that time I am well informed, of the lasting good effects of his ministry upon not a few in and about Edinburgh and elsewhere, who once were careless and profane, but now are wonderfully changed and reformed, and still living as becometh Christians, persevering in the ways of the Lord; though at the same time I know no reaVOL.IV.