« السابقةمتابعة »
get the victory over them. Consolations they have, but these are derived from something apart from death, and beyond it, by which it is deprived of its venomous sting. But the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ to rescue his people from the grave, and take them, soul and body, to be ever with him, is in itself a joyous event. Hence it is not by a view of their death, although then believers are made perfect in holiness, and do immediately pass into glory; it is by the prospect of the resurrection that they are comforted in their present troubles. • We ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. It was to this that our Lord directed the minds of the disciples at the prospect of his leaving them : • Let not your heart be troubled; I go to prepare a place for you. I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am there ye may be also. Nothing will satisfy love but this. The reader will recognise in the following extract the words of Samuel Rutherford—the apostle John of the Scottish Reformation--in illustration of the statement here made :
-Woe, woe, is me that he and I are so far asunder! I hope we shall be in one country and one house together. Truly pain of love-sickness for him maketh me to think it long, long, long to the dawning of the day. Oh that he would cut short years
, and months, and hours, and overleap time, that we might meet! Stand fast in the hope ye are called unto: our Master will rend the clouds and be upon us quickly, and bring us all out in our blacks and whites. Clean, clean, garments in the Bridegroom's eye are of great worth. O day, dawn! O time, run fast! O Bridegroom, post, post fast, that we may meet! O heavens, cleave in two, that that bright face and head may set itself through the clouds! O that the corn were ripe, and this world prepared for his hook! Letter 194.
Premillennialists maintain that the system of their opponents is inconsistent with our Lord's frequent intimations that he will come quickly, and that the expectation of a long æra to elapse before his advent, is incompatible with the attitude of waiting, looking, watching for it, which is everywhere assigned to the church. Mr Brown devotes his third chapter to this point.
There are various reasons for dwelling a little on this : 1. In this day of darkness, it may help to counteract in our own minds our native tendency to take the position of the wicked servant, and say, My Lord delayeth his coming. 2. We owe it to scripture to show how its announcements of the second advent as quickly to take place, are consistent with the long æra which has already elapsed, and by harmonising its predictions and its precepts, to show that the Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness.' 3. To Turretine and other divines in the Augustan age of theology,' this seemed so formidable a difficulty, that he will not admit of any future millennium at all; and rather than allow that such a period has to elapse before the second advent, he is willing to date the 1000 years of Satan's binding either from the incarnation or the destruction of Jerusalem, or the conversion of Constantine, in which case the binding of Satan, and the reign of the saints, would synchronise with the darkest ages of popery. Locus x8., q. iii., sect. 18th.
To obviate this difficulty, the following things are to be considered: First. The corporate unity and continuous identity of the church. In all these passages where the church's privileges and duties are spoken of in connection with long periods of time, she is viewed in her corporate capacity—a body consisting of many members, the contiguity of which space does not break, and the continuous identity of which no lapse of time can destroy. Thus the church keeps up one prolonged vigil for her Lord's coming, watching his progress and preparing his way. When individual believers are call to their rest, they finish their watch; but new relays of watchers are ready to take their place on the walls of Zion, who, for her sake, shall not hold their peace, and for Jerusalem's sake, shall not rest, until the righteousness thereof go
forth as brightness. All the soldiers of Christ are not always on duty. No, after a while they are relieved from their irksome post, and they enter into peace, and rest in their beds. Duty is required of each of his people while here, without prying into the times and seasons which the Father hath kept in his own power. So that whether he come in the first or second watch, at cock-crowing, or in the morning, he will find some watching—the church watching. Here is the faith and patience of the saints. Secondly. As the event has shown, the announcement of our Lord—Behold I come quickly, and the duty of the church in connection with it, must, from the very first, have been understood to be consistent with a series of events to intervene. A feverish excitement was occasioned in the Thessalonian church by the supposition that this coming was imminent. But this excitement, instead of being fostered, is, with great earnestness, checked by the apostle as full of danger to their spirituality. 'I beseech you, brethren, by (concerning) the coming of our Lord Jesus, and our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, that the day of Christ is at hand.' In no part of the scriptures are the exhortations to watchfulness more frequent or urgent than in the epistles to the Thessalonians; but such a watchfulness as is compatible with the knowledge that that day shall not come except there come a falling away first. To arrive at the true sense in which the announcements of our Lord's speedy advent were intended to be taken, we must remember that they stand in the very book which is occupied with symbolic anticipations of the varied and eventful history of the militant church ; and in which, by the loosing of seven seals, the sounding of seven trumpets, and the pouring out of seven vials, long periods antecedent to the second advent are chronologically detailed, in which the church is to be harassed by protracted conflict, and have her faith and patience tried by continued apostacy. He that testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly;' and in this connection does the church respond, ‘Amen. Even 80, come, Lord Jesus.' Fourthly. These announcements were taken by the church in the light of His divine perfections to whose coming they refer—the Alpha and the Omega—which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. His necessary existence had no origin, and shall have no end. There is no such thing as past or future placing the National Covenant of Scotland before you, that, after having perused it together, and ascertained its proper place in the constitution of the Church of Scotland, we may be the better prepared to estimate the force of your objections :
THE NATIONAL COVENANT;
THE CONFESSION OF FAITH:
Subscribed at first by the King's Majesty and his household in the year 1580,
thereafter by persons of all ranks in the year 1581, by ordinance of the Lords of secret council, and acts of the General Assembly: Subscribed again by all sorts of persons in the year 1590, by a new ordinance of council, at the desire of the General Assembly: with a general bond for the maintaining of the true Christian religion, and the king's person : and, together with a resolution and promise, for the causes after expressed, to maintain the true religion, and the king's Majesty, according to the foresaid Confession and acts of parliament, subscribed by barons, nobles, gentlemen, burgesses, ministers and commons, in the year 1638: Approven by the General Assembly 1638 and 1639: and subscribed again by persons of all ranks and qualities in the year 1639, by an ordinance of council
, upon the supplication of the General Assembly, and act of the General Assembly: ratijied by an act of Parliament 1640; and subscribed by King Charles II., at Spey, June 23d,
1650; and Scoon, Jan. 1st, 1651. We all and every one of us under written, protest, That, after long and due examination of our own consciences in matters of true and false religion, we are now thoroughly resolved in the truth by the word and Spirit of God: and therefore we believe with our hearts, confess with our mouths, subscribe with our hands, and constantly affirm before God and the whole world, that this only is the true christain faith and religion, pleasing God, and bringing salvation to man, which now is, by the mercy of God, revealed to the world by the preaching of the blessed evangel; and is received, believed, and defended by many and sundry notable kirks and realms, but chiefly by the kirk of Scotland, the king's majesty and three estates of this realm, as God's eternal truth, and only ground of our salvation ; as more particularly is expressed in the Confession of our Faith, established and publickly confirmed by sundry acts of parliaments, and now of along time have been openly professed by the king's majesty, and whole body of this realm both in burgh and land. "To the which confession and form of religion we willingly agree in our conscience in all points, as unto God's undoubted truth and verity, grounded only upon his written word. And therefore we abhor and detest all contrary religion and doctrine ; but chiefly all kind of papistry in general and particular heads, even as they are now damned and confuted by the word of God and kirk of Scotland. But in special we detest and refuse the usurped authority of that Roman antichrist upon the scriptures of God, upon the kirk, the civil magistrate, and consciences of men; all his tyrannous laws made upon indifferent things against our christian liberty: his erroneous doctrine against the sufficiency of the written word, the perfection of the law, the office of Christ, and bis blessed evangel: his corrupted doctrine concerning original sin, our natural inability and rebellion to God's law, our justification by faith only, our imperfect sanctification and obedience to the law; the nature, number, and use of the holy sacraments : his five bastard sacraments; with all his rites, ceremonies and false doctrine, added to the ministration of the true sacraments without the word of God: his cruel judgment against infants departing without the sacrament: his absolute
necessity of baptism; his blasphemous opinion of transubstantiation, or real presence of Christ's body in the elements, and receiving of the same by the wicked, or bodies of men; his dispensations with solemn oaths, perjuries, and degrees of marriage forbidden in the word : his cruelty against the innocent divorced : his devilish mass : his blasphemous priesthood : his prophane sacrifice for sins of the dead and the quick; his canonization of men; calling upon angels or saints departed ; worshipping of imagery, relicks and crosses ; dèdicating of kirks, altars, days; vows to creatures : his purgatory, prayers for the dead; praying or speaking in a strange language; with his processions and blasphemous litany, and multitude of advocates or mediators : his manifold orders; auricular confession: his dseperate and uncertain repentance: his general and doubtsome faith ; his satisfaction of men for their sins; his justification by works, Opus operatum, works of supererogation, merits, pardons, peregrinations, and stations; his holy water, baptizing of bells, conjuring of spirits, crossings, sayning, anointing, conjuring, hallowing of God's good creatures, with the superstitious opinion joined therewith: his worldly monarchy, and wicked hirerarchy: his three solemn vows, with all his shavellings of sundry sorts : his erroneous and bloody decrees made at Trent, with all the subscribers or approvers of that cruel and bloody band, conjured against the kirk of God. And finally, we detest all his vain allegories, rites, signs and traditions brought in the kirk, without or against the work of God, and doctrine of his true reformed kirk: to the which we join ourselves willingly, in doctrine, faith, religion, discipline, and use of the holy sacraments, as lively members of the same in Christ our Head : promising and swearing by the great name of the LORD our God, that we shall continue in the obedience of the doctrine and discipline of this kirk,* and shall defend the same, according to our vocation and power, all the days of our lives ; under the pains contained in the law, and danger both of body and soul in the day of God's fearful judgment.
And seeing that many are stirred up of Satan and the Roman antichrist, to promise, swear, subscribe, and for a time use the holy sacraments in the kirk deceitfully, against their own conscience; minding hereby, first, under the external cloke of religion, to corrupt and subvert secretly God's true religion within the kirk; and afterwards, when time may serve, to become open enemies and persecutors of the same, under vain hope of the pope's dispensation, devised against the word of God to his greater confusion, and their double condemnation, in the day of the Lord Jesus: we therefore, willing to take away all suspicion of hypocrisy, and of such double dealing with God and his kirk, protest, and call the Searcher of all hearts for witness, That our minds and hearts do fully agree with this our confession, promise, oath and subscription; so that we are not moved with any worldly respect, but are persuaded only in our conscience, through the knowledge and love of God's true religion imprinted in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, as we shall answer to him in the day when the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed.
And because we perceive, that the quietness and stability of our religion and kirk both depend upon the safety and good behaviour of the king's majesty, as upon a comfortable instrument of God's mercy granted to this country for the maintaining of his kirk, and ministration of justice amongst us: we protest and promise with our hearts, under the same oath, hand-writ, and pains, that we shall defend his person and authority with our goods, bodies and lives, in the defence of Christ, his evangel, liberties of our country, ministration of justice, and punishment of iniquity, against all enemies within this realm or without, as we desire our God to be a strong and merciful
The Confession which was subscribed at Halyrade house, the 25th of February, 1587-8, by the King, Lennox, Huntly, the Chancellor, and about 95 other Persons, hath bere added,' agreeing to the word,' Sir John Maxwel of Pollock hath the original parchment.
Defender to us in the day of our death, and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: to whom, with the Father, and the Holy Spirit, be all honour and glory eternally. Amen.
This is the National Covenant of Scotland as originally sworn. The Solemn League and Covenant was simply an extension and application of the same principles to the church and nation of England. Many persons speak as if "The Confession of Faith' contained the whole matter of the Covenants, and as if the Covenants were nothing else than an oath, or solemn engagement, to adhere to the principles of the Church of Scotland as laid down in her acknowledged standards. This is a complete misapprehension. It can be substantiated, by the clearest and most undeniable evidence, that the Covenants were regarded by the men of the Second Reformation as an integral portion of the constitution of the church, containing a part of the national profession, distinct from that which is contained in the Doctrinal Confession of Faith; and nothing is more certain than that these venerable bonds held the rank and possessed all the authority of a separate ecclesiastical standard. In the first place, they have always been bound up with the authorised standards of the Church of Scotland, which never would have been the case, if that church had not regarded them as possessing the authority of standards. In the second place, what is now called the National Covenant, or Confession of Faith of the Kirk of Scotland,' originally bore the simple and expressive title, “The Confession of Faith of the Church of Scotland: and surely such a document, if at all corresponding to the title, must have been one of the standards of the Church of Scotland. In the third place, this is evident from the fact that the members and officebearers of the church, and all to whom ecclesiastical authority extended, were required to sign the Covenants equally with the Confession of Faith, and persons who opposed the former, were dealt with in the same manner as persons who opposed the latter. In proof of this I refer you to the acts of Assembly 1639, 1640, 1543; session 6 and also 17, 1644, 1647, 1648. For example, the Assembly 1639 ordains of new, under all ecclesiastical censure, that all the masters of universities, colleges, and schools; all scholars at the passing of their degrees; all persons suspected of papistry, or any other error, and finally all the members of this Kirk and Kingdom, subscribe the same.' To give another instance, the Assembly 1648 appointed that all young students take the Covenants at their first entry to colleges; and that all persons whatsoever take the Covenants at their first receiving the sacrament of the Lord's Supper ; and that all provincial assemblies, presbyteries, and universities, be careful that the act be observed and that account thereof be taken in the visitation of universities and particular kirks, and in the trial of presbyteries. The other laws, referred to above, place the matter in a light equally strong, Those now quoted, render it impossible for any candid mind to entertain the slighest doubt that the Covenants were one of the standards of the Church of Scotland, to which she demanded the adherence of all her ministers and members, equally with the Confes