Imágenes de páginas

came to agree with wonderful harmony, to condemn. and aunul fix pretended corrupt afsemblies who had changed the government and corrupted the worship of this church, together with the high commission court, the service book, the book of canons, and the book of ordination, as also the unlawful oaths imposed upon entrants into the ministry: they likewise deposed and excommunicated the Prelates (except two) for oppreffion and gross fcandals. They approved the national cove. siant, and declared Prelacy, with the Five Articles of Perth to be adjured by it ; and made sundry other wor. thy acts for purging the church, and promoting reformation ; and appointed the time of their next meeting, for carrying on what was fo happily begun. And though the Prelates with their abertors made great opposition to their godly intentions, yea, run to court, and ftirred up the king to make war against Scotland; yet the Lord was pleased fo to countenance his servants and people, that the begun reformation was carried on, and at lait ratified both by king and parliament in July 1641. Thereby Prelacy was abolished, and Presbytery established by law; and the king being personally present, he for himself and his fucceffors promised in verbo principis never to come on the contrary of that settie ment, which occasioned great joy through all the land, and was followed with much of the Lord's power and presence in his ordinance : So that the land, that formerly was like a wilderness, was now by the divine blelling turned into a fruitful field.

The Lord having thus profpered the nation of Score land in her reforming work, lier neighbours in England professed a desire to join with chem for carrying on the like work of reformation through the whole three king. doms; and the English parliament sent their commif. fioners to Scotland for that eitud. And accordingly here was a folemn league and covenant agreed upou, and sworn in the vear 1643, for maintaining, adPancing and carrying on a work of reformation in the three kingdoms of Scotland, England, and Ireland. In this covenant, all ranks engaging bound themselves io personal reformation, and in their several stations to

endeavour endeavour national reformation ; to preserve the Pro testant religion, abolish Popery, Prelacy, fuperftition, schism, profaneness, and whatsoever shall be found con. trary to sound doctrine and the power of godlinefs ; and to endeavour to bring the three kingdoms to the nearest conjunction and 'uniformity in religion, as to doctrine, worship, and government, according to the word of God, and the example of the best reformed churches; that so they and their posterity after them might as brethren, live in faith and love, that the Lord might be one, and his name one, through the three kingdoms. This indeed was a glorious design, had the English parliament and people been truly and heartily fincere in it, as the Scoté nation both Parliament and General Assembly were, who with one voice approved and swore this covenant themselves, and did recommend it to all others through the land, who generally received it with great enlargements of heart, and expressions of gladness, as they had done the national covenant in the year 1638. It is true, the Parliament of England took the covenant, as did the city of London, the Westminster Assembly, and many others in England, though there were but few of them who seemed to mind it much afterwards. Some good things, indeed, were thereupon done; for, in consequence of this covenant, and the uniformity in religion engaged unto therein, the English hierarchy and liturgy were laid afide for a time, our present confeffion of faith was agreed upon by the assembly of divines at Westminster with comsüillioners from this church, together with the larger and shorter catechisms, the directory for worship, with a directory for church government, church censures, and ordination of minifters. As all these were agreed upon by the Westminster Affenbly, as a part of the covenanted uniformity in religion which was to be settled through the three kingdoms, so they were received aiter examination, and approven by our General Alfemblies and Parliaments in Scotlard. It is true, there were several acts and ordinances of the English Parlia. ment for establishing these in England: but they took dizue effect, because of the opposition which was made


to the form of Presbyterial government by the Independents and Sectaries there.

Notwithstanding of this defection in England, the nation and church of Scotland pursued reformation according to their covenant engagements, and got several laws enacted both by church and state, for carrying on the same; and particularly, they got an excellent Act past by the Parliament, for abolishing the patronages of kirks, which is worthy to be written in letters of gold, a part whereof we shall here transcribe. “At Edinburgh, March oth 1649. The Estates of Parliament being sensible of the great obligation that lyes upon them by the national covenant, and by the folemn league and covenant, and by many deliverances and mercies from God, and by the late folemn engagement unto duties, to preserve the doctrine, and maintain and vindicate the liberties of the kirk of Scotland, and to ad. vance the work of reformation therein to the utmost of their power : 'and considering that patronages and presentations of kirks, is an evil and bondage under which the Lord's people and ministers of this land have long groaned, and that it hath no warrant in God's word, but is founded only on the common law, and is a cultom Popish, and brought into the kirk in time of ignorance and superstition; and that the same is contrary to the second book of discipline, in which, upon solid and good ground, it is reckoned among abuses that are desired to be reformed, and unto the free calling and entry of ministers unto their charge: and the said estates, being willing and desirous to promote and advance the reformation foresaid, that every thing in the house of God may be ordered according to his word and commandment; do therefore, from the sense of the former obligations, and upon the former grounds and reafons, discharge for ever hereafter all patronages and presentations of kirks, whether belonging to the king, or to any laick patron, Presbyteries, or others within this kingdom, as being unlawful and unwarrantable by God's word, and contrary to the doctrine and liberties of this kirk.” Afterwards they say, “And it is further declared and crdained, That if any presentation shall VOL. IV.


[ocr errors]

hereafter be given, procured or received, that the same is null and of sone effect; and that it is lawful for Pres yteries to reject the same, and to refuse to admit any to trials thereupon ; and, notwithstanding thereof, to proceed to the planting of the kirk, upon the suit and calling, or with the consent of the congregation, on whom none is to be obtruded against their will," &c. By ahich excellent act it is evident, that our reforming robility and gentry, many whereof were patrons themselves, looked upon themselves as under strong obligations, both from the word of God and their covenant engagemenis, to abolish patronages, and restore the liberty of congregations in calling of their ministers.

Thus our reforming ancestors were helped to many excellent things from 16:8 to 1650, for promoting reformation in the land, though at the same time (it must le owned) they were not free of mistakes and wrong steps in their management. There is no period here, the church can be faid to be without spot or wrinkle.

After this a mournful scene opened, by the breaking divifion that entered into the church, which tended to stop the progress of reformation-work, and make way at length for restoring of Prelacy. This was occasioned by some ensnaring questions put to the commission in December 1650, by the king and parliament, (which they had better declined to answer) concerning the admiffion of persons into places of public truft, civil and military, who formerly had been opposers of the cove. nanted reformation, upon their making public profesfion of their repentance; those who were for admitting them, being called public resolutioners, and those against it being called protestors. There were many eminently good and great men upon both fides, and some as eminent who joined neither lide. The point seemed narrow for the church to carry the difference to such a height, as to supend and depofe one another upon it as they did, according as parties had the upper hand in Synods and Presbyteries : for Cromwell the usurper, would not then allow them to meet in General atien biies, by which the divifion poflibiy might hare been healed. But this fatal diviữon looked like a judicial stroke from heaven upon the church for their ane : the Lord's “ judgments are a great deep." Poliibly there might be too great compliances in this matter with court-measures, and the humours of.great men, as there were afterwards in the matter of indulgences, tolerations, and other ensnaring things brought in by the court upon the church. It is certain, that the greatest number of the Itrict and zealous ministers were on the protestors lide, who afterwards made a noble stand against Prelacy. And it appeared afterwards, the protestors fears which they expressed, that these men, when taken into places of trust, would soon act the old game, were but too well founded. It must also be acknowleged, that though the most part of the public resolu. tioners submitted to Prelacy, yet several worthy men among them did not, and were exposed to sufferings for it as well as others.

At the time of the breaking out of these fatal divifions among us, an army of Sectaries under Croniwell invaded and opprefled us. These Sectaries had grown to such a height in the English army, that they invaded the Parliament of England their masters, put away the House of Peers, modelled the House of Commons according to their pleasure, and erected a new court called the High Court of Justice, before which they im. panelled king Charles I. and violently took away his life, January 30th 1649 ; against which our commis. fioners both from church and state in Scotland, then at London, dirt proteit, and were therefore hardly used, Immediately thereupon, Scotlind proclaimed his son Charles II. their king, and out of conscience to their covenant, sent for hins, and crowned him at Scoon, where he folemnly swore the covenant, Janu:ry ift 1651. All which drew down the wrath of the Sectarian army upon us, who invaded the land, thed much blood, conquéred us, and kept us in bondage teil years. During which time, a fintul toleration of Sectarian errors was granted by Cromwell and his council in Scotland, which brought in great looseness both in prin. ciple and practice; which toleration was faitnfully wit. nefled againit both by the Presbytery of Edinburgh, Y y 2


« AnteriorContinuar »