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time than they had hitherto done; and, for this purpose, they resolved upon a solemn renewal of the national covenants. Great pains were accordingly taken throughout the various societies, belonging to the general correspondence, to have every member properly enlightened upon the subject, and to bring them cordially and universally to join in an act, which, whether as it regarded the cause of truth and holiness, their own exoneration, or the best interests of present and future generations, they considered as of the last importance. Draughts of an acknowledgment of sins, and an engagement to duties were prepared, and, at various meetings of committees, carefully corrected; conferences were held for reconciling all differences and disagreements, existing between the societies themselves, or between individual members of the societies, and on the twenty-sixth of May, 1712, the general meeting at Crawfor:) John approved of all these previous preparations, and finding it to be the mind of the greater part of the societies, “ that the work of renewing the covenants shall presently be fallen about,” proceeded to appoint the time and place for its performance. Accordingly, after days of fasting had been observed, more privately by the several societies, and more publicly by congregations assembled in the fields, they met at Auchinsaugh, near Douglas, in one great body, on Wednesday the twentythird of July, 1712, when Mr. Mackmillan “ began the work with prayer, for special assistance to attain due preparation for, and a suitable frame throughout the whole solemnity.” After giving a prefatory exhortation, Mr. Mackmillan was followed by Mr. Macniel, with a sermon suitable to the occasion, which being closed with prayer, the covenants were read, and there. after the acknowledgment of sins, the general heads of which were summed up in an extempore prayer; psalms were then sung, and the congregation was dismissed with a reproof from Mr. Mackmillan, “ for their unconcerned carriage and behaviour during the reading of the acknowledgment of the breaches of these covenants.”
On Thursday, July 24th, after a sermon by Mr. Mackmillan,
* Conclusions of the General Meeting, Ms. in the possession of the Reformed Presbyterian Synod.
the acknowledgment of sins was again read, and all such as were guilty of any such public steps of defection as are confessed therein, admonished “to make full and free confession thereof, before the congregation, with such a due sense of, and sorrow for these public sins, as might evidence a hearty design of abandoning them.” Of this, the minister himself set an example, and was followed by many others. The “engagement to duties was also read in the audience of the congregation, where it was showed, that the design of these engagements was to accommodate the covenants to our case and circumstances."*
* The following is the engagement to duties come under by the Covenanters at Auchinsaugh, 1712:
Because it is requisite, in order to obtain mercy, not only to confess, but also to forsake our sios, and to do the contrary duties; therefore, that the sincerity and reality of our repentance may appear, we resolve, and solemnly engage before God, in the strength, and through the assistance of Christ, that we shall carefully endeavour, in all time coming, to avoid all these offences, whereof we have now made solemn public acknowledgment, and all the snares and temptations tending thereunto; and to testify this sincerity of our rcsolution, and that we may be the better enabled, in the power of the Lord's might, to perform the same, we do again renew our covenants, both national and solemn league, promising to make conscience of a more exact performance of all the duties thercin contained, so far as we in our stations, and present deplorable circumstances, are capable, particularly such as follow:
Because religion is of all things the most excellent and precious in its own nature, and therefore most to be desired by the children of men, and the knowledge of the great truths of the gospel, so generally decreased in this land, is so absolutely necessary to salvation; therefore, in order to attain it, we shall labour to be better acquainted with the written word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and manners; and shall (according to our capacity) study more than formerly, the doctrine of the reformed church of Scotland, summed up in our Confession of Faith, Catechismis, Larger and Shorter, Sum of Christian Doctrine, and Practical use of saving Knowledge, Directory for Worship, (as the same was received and observed by this church in her purest times, viz. in the year 1649) Propositions concerning Church Government and ordination of Ministers, andexed to the Confession of Faith, and other writings, clearing and confirming these truths, approven by this church, and agreeable to the word of God.
We shall likewise endeavour the advancing and promoting the power of this true reformed religion, against all ungodliness and profanity, and the securing and preserving the purity thereof, against all kind of error, heresy, and schism, as namely, Independency, Brownism, Anabaptism, Antinomianism, Arminianism, Socinianism, Libertinism, Familism, Scepticism, Quakerism, Deism, Burignonism, and Erastianism; and as we declare, that we willingly agree in
Having again “ prayed for the gracious presence and assistance of the Divine Spirit, the minister proceeded to the administration of the oath, causing the people to stand up, and to elevate their bands at the end of each article.” After suitable exhortations, the congregation was dismissed in the usual form.
our consciences unto the doctrine of the church of Scotland, in all points, as unto God's undoubted truth and verity, grounded only upon his written word, so we resolve constantly to adhere unto, maintain and defend, profess and confess, and (when called of God) to yield ourselves sufferers for the said doctrine, as we shall desire to be approven and confessed by Jesus Christ, before God and his holy angels. 2dly, We shall also study more sincerity, uprightness, and heart-integrity in the worship of God, and shall not satisfy ourselves with the form of it, without the power and spirituality, which God, the alone object of religious worship, doth require; and shall endeavour the due performance of all the duties of religious worship, which God hath in his most holy word required; and shall (if providence offer occasion) endeavour to recover, and labour to preserve the purity thereof, from all corruptions, mixtures, innovations, and inventions of men, popish, prelatical, or any others; and while we are not able, by reason of the prevailing power of the abettors and maintainers of them, to get them removed, we shall labour (through grace) to keep ourselves free from all sinful communion, and participation with them, and shall in our stations testify against these corruptions and perversions of God's worship, by all competent means. 3dly, We shall likewise, by all lawful means, endeavour, that presbyterian church government, in kirk sessions, presbyteries, synods, and general assemblies, may be recovered in its former purity, established upon its proper basis and foundation, the word of God; and that it may be freed from all encroachments and invasions made thereupon, by the powers of the earth; and that the discipline of the church, may be impartially exercised against all scandalous offenders, great or small; and when the ministers of this church, or any of them, shall sincerely and conscientiously endeavour the restoration of the government, in all its privileges, and freedom from all erastian encroachments, and to have the discipline, duly and impartially exercised, then we promise to be obedient, and subject thereunto as becomes the flock of Christ, but shall always testify our dislike of all encroachments, made and yielded to, prejudicial to the privileges which Christ hath bestowed upon his church.
4thly, We shall always desire and pray for the reviving of the work of uniformity in the three kingdoms, and (if the Lord in his providence shall offer opportunity) shall seek and endeavour it by other means, possible, lawful, expedient, and competent to us in our capacities; and shall never cordially 'consent unto, nor cease to testify against whatsoever doth obstruct and hinder that work of uniformity; and shall detest and abhor all multiformity, introduced by erastianism, prelacy, and sectarianism, now so prevalent, and confirmed by this late Union with England.
According to the 2nd Article, we shall do our utmost endeavour to have
This transaction, as might naturally have been expected, excited much speculation at the time, and has been the subject of no little controversy, even among the friends of covenanting, since. It seems, however, to have been followed up by the
the land purged of popish idolatry, and the monuments thereof destroyed, particularly the abomination of the mass, and so far as lies in our power, shall never suffer the same to be re-introduced, or erected again, nor favour any attempts tending thereunto. We shall never make any conjunction with these abominable popish idolaters, at home or abroad, in armies or otherwise, and shall, according to our national covenant, detest and abhor all their wicked, superstitious rites and ceremonies. We shall never consent, for any reason whatsoever, that the penal statutes made against papists should be annulled; but shall, when opportunity offers, be ready to concur in putting them to a due and vigorous execution. 2dly, We shall by all approven means, in our stations and vocations, endeavour the extirpation of prelacy, and shall never submit to that wicked hierarchy of bishops, archbishops, &c. having superiority of order and jurisdiction, above preaching presbyters, whether erastian or only diocesan, in any form or degree, howsoever reformed, accommodated, limited, or restricted, by cautions and provisions of men, seeing that all such superiority is flatly condemned in the word of God, and hath proven many times fatal to the church of Christ. We shall detest and abhor, and in our stations witness against whatsoever courses, tending to the establishment of that abominable hierarchy, and particularly, the oaths of allegiance, with the assurance, and oath of abjuration, lately imposed on the persons of public trust in these realms, in regard they may justly be interpreted, to strengthen that hierarchy, by upholding the persons that maintain the same. We shall not submit to any orders issued forth by bishops, nor own them as our lawgivers, nor acknowledge any title they have to be members of parliament or council. 3dly, We shall, in like manner, detest and abhor, and labour to extirpate all kinds of superstition, all rites and ceremonies, superadded by human invention to the worship of God, not enjoined and required in his word, together with all heresy and false doctrine, and all profaneness and immoralities of every kind, and whatsoever is contrary to sound religion, and shall, in the strength, and through the help of Christ, endeavour to deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and from henceforth, to live righteously towards our neighbour, soberly in ourselves, and to walk humbly with our God.
We shall, upon the one hand, endeavour to keep ourselves, as far as we can, from all partaking in other men's sins, by consenting unto, association, incorporation, combination, compliance with, or conniving at their sins, and upon the other, to guard against all schism, and sinful separation, or unjust, rash, and disorderly withdrawing from societies, congregations, or families, or any part of the communion of the true reformed church of Scotland, holding purely and entirely the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government of the same, in principle and exercise, according to the rules of Christ, and standing
societies with great zeal; for, at a general meeting, held at Crawfordjohn in the succeeding November, we find the following conclusions agreed to :-Ist, That such, in each correspondence, as have not subscribed the covenants, do appoint, in
acts and constitutions of this church, consonant thereunto, as far as the Lord gives light therein. And as we look not upon our practice, in withdrawing from the backslidden ministers of the present erastian church, for reasons valid and sufficient, to be a gathering and setting up formed separated churches, under other ordinances and ministry, distinct from the presbyterian church of Scotland (although we be falsely aspersed as doing it), so we purpose and resolve, always to adhere to that standard of doctrine, discipline, and government, and that purity and form of worship, which, during our reforming times, were established, and to enibrace such ordinances, and such a ministry, as are of divine appointment, and that we shall not presume to withdraw from minister or member of that body, for any offence, in any case, where either the offence may be legally removed, without withdrawing, or cannot be in. structed to be condemned by the word of God, and constitutions of this church, or is in itself an insufficient ground of withdrawing, or where it is not defended, or obstinately persisted in, or is a thing to be condescended upon, forborne, or forgiven, but shall study to maintain union and christian communion with all, and every one, whether minister or private christian, who adheres unto the purity of the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government of the church of Scotland, and to the whole word of Christ's patience, in the sufferings and contendings of his people, in opposition to his enemies' encroachments, and shall join in the way of truth and duty, with all who do, and in so far as they do adhere to the institutions of Christ. And because many have laboured to supplant the liberties of the true kirk, and have, in a great measure, of late, by indulgencies and toleration, and now by oaths of allegiance and abjuration, and encroaching on the freedom of Christ's courls, obtained their design; we shall therefore, to our power, withstand and witness against all these encroachments, made upon the liberties of Christ's church in our land, and when we can do no more, shall withdraw our countenance and concurrence from such as hold their freedom from, and are modified by such usurpations, and shall neither hear their sermons, nor pay them stipends, while they continue unfaithful; and shall, whenever God gives us opportunity, endeavour to recover, and when recovered, to maintain and defend the liberties and privileges of the church of Scotland, against all who shall oppose and undermine the same, or encroach thereupon, under any pretext whatsoever.
With reference to the 3d article, wherein we are bound to defend the privileges of the parliament, liberties of the kingdoms, and the king's majesty's person and authority, in the defence of the true reformed religion; albeit God, in his righteous judgment, hath left the nation so far to the counsels of their own hearts, as to suffer them to set up magistrates, wanting the qualifications requisite, and to fill places of power and trust, with insufficient and disaffected persons, who have no respect to the interests of religion, and this