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from time to time in such manner and sort as by both or either of the said Houses of Parliament shall be required.”
The persons summoned were 10 English Lords, 20 Commoners, and 120 Divines, all Puritans or Presbyterians. Of these, 98 attended-two only being connected with Ireland. The Scottish General Assembly supplied in addition, eight members—five Ministers and three Elders. The King forbade the Meeting ; but it nevertheless commenced its sittings on the 1st day of July, 1643, and continued them, from time to time, until it completed that wonderful monument of human presumption, known as the Westminster Confession of Faith, together with the Larger and Shorter Catechisms. Having stated the origin of this Composition, in the due order of time, I shall make no remarks upon its amazing contents until I come to the period of its adoption as the Creed of the General Synod of Ulster, in the year 1705.
The principles adopted by the English Parliament, in relation to the Westminster Assembly, paved the way for a direct application to the Scotch Parliament and General Assembly, for military aid against the King. Commissioners were accordingly despatched to Edinburgh, in the month of August, when a comprehensive Treaty, embracing both Civil and Religious Concerns, was speedily concluded between the two Nations. This compact, which also extended to Ireland, was denominated “ The Solemn League and Covenant," and laid the foundation of that effectual aid which the Scotch afforded to the English Parliament, in their protracted and sanguinary contest with their unhappy Monarch.
As this remarkable Document, though often referred to, is but little known to the general reader, I shall quote its Title, Preamble, and Principal Provisions.
Reformation and Defence of Religion, the Honour and Happiness of the
King, and the Peace and Safety of the Three Kingdoms of Scotland, England, and Ireland ; agreed upon by Commissioners from the Parliament and Assembly of Divines in England, with Commissioners of the Convention of Estates, and General Assembly in Scotland ; approved by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, and by both Houses of Parliament and Assembly of Divines in England, and taken and subscribed by them, Anno 1643 ; and thereafter, by the said authority, taken and subscribed by all Ranks in Scotland and England the same Year; and ratified by Act of the Parliament of Scotland, Anno 1644: And again renewed in Scotland, with an Acknowledgment of Sins, and Engagement to Duties, by all Ranks Anno 1648, and by Parliament 1649; and taken and subscribed by King
Charles II. at Spey, June 23, 1650 ; and at Scoon, January 1, 1651. WE Noblemen, Barons, Knights, Gentlemen, Citizens, Burgesses, Ministers of the Gospel, and Commons of all sorts, in the kingdoms of Scotland, England, and Ireland, by the providence of GOD, living under one King, and being of one reformed religion, having before our eyes the glory of GOD, and the advancement of the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the honour and happiness of the King's Majesty and his posterity, and the true publick liberty, safety, and peace of the kingdoms, wherein every one's private condition is included : And calling to mind the treacherous and bloody plots, conspiracies, attempts, and practices of the enemies of GOD, against the true religion and professors thereof in all places, especially in these three kingdoms, ever since the reformation of religion ; and how much their rage, power, and presumption are of late, and at this time, increased and exercised, whereof the deplorable state of the church and kingdom of Ireland, the distressed estate of the church and kingdom of England, and the dangerous estate of the church and kingdom of Scotland, are present and publick testimonies; we hare now at last, (after other means of supplication, remonstrance, protestation, and sufferings,) for the preservation of ourselves and our religion from utter ruin, and destruction, according to the commendable practice of these kingdoms in former times, and the example of GOD's people in other nations, after mature deliberation, resolved and determined to enter into a mutual and solemn League and Covenant, wherein we all subscribe, and each one of us for himself, with our hands lifted up to the most High GOD, do swear,
I That we shall sincerely, really, and constantly, through the grace of GOD, endeavour, in our several places and callings, the preservation of the reformed religion in the Church of Scotland, in doctrine, worship, discipline, and government, against our common enemies; the reformation of religion in the kingdoms of England and Ireland, in doctrine, worship, discipline, and government, according to the word of GOD, and the example of the best reformed Churches; and shall endeavour to bring the Churches of GOD in the three kingdoms to the nearest conjunction and uniformity in religion, confession of faith, form of church-government, directory for worship and catechising; that we, and our posterity after us, may, as brethren, live in faith and love, and the Lord may delight to dwell in the midst of us.
II. That we shall in like manner, without respect of persons, endeavour the extirpation of Popery, Prelacy, (that is church-government by Archbishops, Bishops, their Chancellors, and Commissaries, Deans, Deans and Chapters, Archdeacons, and all other ecclesiastical Officers depending on that hierarchy,) superstition, heresy, schism, profaneness, and whatsoever shall be found to be contrary to sound doctrine, and the power of godliness, lest we partake in other men's sins, and thereby be in danger to receive of their plagues ; and that the Lord may be one, and his name one, in the three kingdoms.
III. We shall, with the same sincerity, reality, and constancy, in our several vocations, endeavour with our estates and lives, mutually to preserve the rights and privileges of the Parliaments, and the liberties of the kingdoms; and to preserve and defend the King's Majesty's person and authority, in the preservation and defence of the true religion, and liberties of the kingdoms; that the world may bear witness with our consciences of our royalty, and that we have no thoughts or intentions to diminish his Majesty's just power and greatness.
IV. We shall also, with all faithfulness, endeavour the discovery of all such as have been or shall be incendiaries, malignants, or evil instruments, by hindering the reformation of religion, dividing the King from his people, or one of the kingdoms from another, or making any faction or parties amongst
the people, contrary to this League and Covenant; that they may be brought to public trial, and receive condign punishment, as the degree of their offences shall require or deserve, or the supreme judicatories of both kingdoms respectively, or others having power from them for that effect, shall judge convenient.
And this Covenant we make in the presence of ALMIGHTY GOD, the Searcher of all hearts, with a true intention to perform the same, as we shall answer at that great day, when the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed ; most humbly beseeching the LORD to strengthen us by his Holy SPIRIT for this end, and to bless our desires and proceedings with such success, as may be deliverance and safety to his people, and encouragement to other Christian churches, groaning under, or in danger of, the yoke of anti-christian tyranny, to join in the same or like association and covenant, to the glory of GOD, the enlargement of the kingdom of JESUS CHRIST, and the peace and tranquillity of Christian kingdoms and commonwealths.
I believe, it would be very difficult to find any thing in human Records, more blood-thirsty and intolerant than this Solemn League, entered into in the desecrated name of Religion, and under the plea of advancing Civil Liberty! The self-contradicting and presumptuous wretches, whilst glorying in their own assertion of the rights of concience, impiously denounce all Roman Catholics and Episcopalian Protestants, as “the enemies of God;" and solemnly pledge themselves, “ without respect of persons, to endeavour the extirpation of Popery, Prelacy, superstition, heresy, schism, or whatsoever shall be found contrary to sound doctrine”-i. e. opposed to their own opinions ! They separated from other churches, and consequently were themselves guilty of “schism ;” but none must separate from them! High or low, learned or ignorant, "without respect of persons," all must bow to their decrees, “ or be cut off by the sword of the Civil Magistrate!" Yes, that is the plain, unequivocal meaning of their language. “All malignants," (their name for Episcopalians) “all incendiaries and evil instruments,” (their names for men who were perhaps weakly loyal,) “were to be brought to public trial, and to receive condign punishment !” And then, the arch-hypocrites declared that "they desired to preserve and defend the King's Majesty's person and authority,” at the very time when they were laying plans for subverting the monarchy, and bringing their ill-fated Sovereign to the block! If any thing could be worse than this, it is the awful profanation of Sacred Names, in the conclusion of their bloody and intolerant Manifesto!
Yet this Document is always bound up with the Westminster Confession of Faith, for the edification of the rising generation! Ay, and it is lauded by grave Divines, and forms the boast of churches. And stranger still, many of the episcopal clergy fraternize with the very men who are solemnly leagued “to extirpate Prelacy,” and to bring “malignants to condign punishment."
I need not defend myself from the possible imputation of desiring to paliate civil tyranny, or to defend the conduct of Charles I. He was, beyond all controversy, a weak, obstinate, and tyrannical king, who hearkened to bad advisers and deserved to lose his throne : but, had he been ten times worse than he was, he was foully tried and barbarously executed : and no amount of guilt on his part could justify the base hypocrisies and unmanly cruelties of his executioners. There is no creature so odious as the loud-tongued champion of liberty with a scourge in his hand, except the canting Protestant who vindicates free inquiry and the rights of conscience in words, whilst, by his actions, he treads them in the dust.
(To be continued.)
NOTICES OF BOOKS.
The Sandy Foundation Shaken; or those so generally believed and applauded
Doctrines of one God subsisting in three distinct persons ; the impossibility of God's pardoning sinners without a plenary satisfaction ; the justification of impure persons by an imputative righteousness, refuted from Scripture Testimonies and right Reason. By WILLIAM Penn, a builder on that
foundation which cannot be moved.-Pp. 24. “ WILLIAM Penn may be regarded as the nursing Father of the Society of Friends.” He was born in the year 1644 ; and, through his family connexions, had the certain prospect of promotion in both the navy and the church. But, preferring truth to emolument, he cast his lot with the friends of spiritual freedom, and became a zealous nonconformist. “ Braving college fines and rustications (to quote from the preface of this little work, whence we take the substance of this notice), he stripped Christianity of the motley garb in which monks and priests had arrayed her ; fearless of imprisonment and exile, he refused his religious homage to all earthly heads of the church, and in spiritual things would recognise no lord but Jesus. Subsequently, in diffusing his doctrines of spiritual freedom and Christian friendship, he visited Ireland, France, Holland, and Germany, where his opinions were favourably regarded by various persons of high rank. Still Penn was cruelly persecuted in his own country for preaching his philanthropic principles, and found no repose until he removed to the wilds of America, where he taught kings a lesson of humanity. In America he consolidated the Society of Friends, who, to this day, have remained attached to his primitive doctrine. The case has been far otherwise in England ; there they have generally become believers in the popular doctrines of reputed orthodoxy, and thereby are totally opposed to their founder, who was a strict believer in the divine unity: he was an anti-satisfactional, an anti-Trinitarian, and abjured all substitutions for personal holiness.
The circumstances under which the “ Sandy Foundation ” was written were the following :-Two members of the Rev. Thomas Vincent's congregation, London, visited the Friends' Meeting-house,
to learn for themselves whether the Friends were such blasphemers and heretics as they were represented : they were converted by what they heard, and left Mr. V. who pronounced their new opinions as
erroneous and damnable.” This led to a public discussion, between Mr. Vincent and three others on the one side, and Mr. Penn and Mr. Whitehead on the other. But the orthodox conducted themselves so disgracefully, that the Friends were prevented from addressing the assembly. Penn and his friend were dragged down from the platform, and the light extinguished. To give the public an opportunity of judging of Friends doctrines for themselves, W. Penn published this tract. The nature of the work is so evident from the title (a recommendation which but few of the publications of the present day possess), that it is almost unnecessary to state here the subjects of which it treats: they are, Ist, The Trinity ; 2d, Satisfaction to divine justice ; and, 3d, Imputed righteousness. A perusal of the tract we would recommend.
C. D. E. Grounds for rejecting the Text of the Three Heavenly Witnesses (1 John v. 7),
with Concessions of Trinitarians upon the same. By the Rev. FREDERICK A. FARLEY. Printed for the American Unitarian Association. Boston.
1815. Pp. 24. 12mo. There is an obvious propriety in keeping the history of this now discredited text of the Three Heavenly Witnesses constantly before the public eye ; for the controversy respecting it has strengthened the hands of the advocates of Gospel Truth, and disheartened and weakened the opponents of the good cause, in every region where the merits of the question have become known. Indirectly, also, it has done good service : it has shewn the necessity of applying a faithful, sound, and rigorous criticism to the text of the sacred volume ; it has dispelled the unreasoning confidence once felt by scholars in the infallibility of certain printers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, by whom our present received text of the New Testament was modelled ; and it has excited the zeal of all intelligent Christians, who use the English version of the Bible, to effect its deliverance from the many imperfections which, amidst great general excellence, yet disfigure that translation. It was, therefore, a wise and useful measure on the part of our brethren of the American Unitarian Association to take means for the publication of a tract which should disseminate information respecting this subject, not among the learned only,--for they scarcely require to have the question argued, but among the public at large.
As Mr. Farley intimates, in the title of his essay, he chiefly considers tlie concessions made by the learned and candid Trinitarians, who have expressed themselves in opposition to the authenticity of the verse under consideration. This part of his tract is, of course, largely indebted to Mr. Wilson's “ Concessions of Trinitarians,” to which, indeed, the author very fully and justly expresses his obligations. The extracts selected from these writers form the most important and valuable portion of the tract.
We are bound, however, to add, that Mr. Farley's reading does not appear to lie in the line of textual criticism ; hence he is not read up to the present state of the controversy upon this
passage : he consequently misstates the evidence upon both sides of the question,