September 25: The Solemn League and Covenant (1643) by Wayne Sparkman

The Solemn League and Covenant Ascribed
by Rev. David T. Myers

Solomon
reminds us in Proverbs 22:1 that “a good name is to be more desired
that great wealth.” Our names are important because they are part of our
identity. These posts go out to those whose convictions identify them
as belonging to the name “Presbyterian.”  As part of their name, there
are various events which took place in the past which help identify us.
They educate us, inspire us, and challenge us to live our own Christian
lives more fully and completely. Our topic this day in Presbyterian
history is one of those events, namely, the Solemn League and Covenant.

The
Solemn League and Covenant was written by the Rev. Alexander Henderson,
a minister in the Church of Scotland. That Church approved this
document on August 17, 1643.  It then was received by both the Englishh
Parliament and the Westminster Assembly on this day, September 25, 1643. Why
was it important that the English Parliament approved it? The answer is
that looming in the background was an English Civil War between King
Charles I and the English Parliament. The Parliament realized that
unless they had help from the Scottish church and nation, they would not
be victorious in this war. So they signed it as well.

We
reproduce it here, in a paraphrased edition, copied from the book “Our
Covenant Heritage,” written by T.E. Edwin Nisbet Moore (and used by
permission).  With uplifted hand, the two nations pledged that they
would endeavor:—

(1)
. . . the preservation of the Reformed religion in the Church of
England . . . [and} the reformation of religion in the kingdoms of
England and Ireland . .  according to the Word of God and the example of
the best Reformed churches: And shall endeavor to bring the churches of
God in the three kingdoms, to the nearest conjunction and  uniformity
of religion . . . .

(2)
. . . the extirpation of popery, prelacy, . . . superstition, heresy,
schism, Profanity, and whatsoever shall be found to be contrary to sound
doctrine and the power of godliness . . .

(3)
. . . [the] preservation and defense of the rights and privileges of
the Parliaments, . . . the king’s majesty’s persons and authority, .  . .
the true religions and liberties of the kingdoms. . .

(4)
. . . this 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 fashion, or parties amongst the
people contrary to this league and covenant . . .

(5) . . . [the conjoining] in a firm peace and union to all posterity . . .

(6)
. . . [the assistance and defense of] all those that enter into this
league and covenant . . . And [we] shall not suffer ourselves . . . to
be divided and withdrawn from this blessed union. . .

And
because these kingdoms are guilty of many sins, and provocations
against God, and his Son Jesus Christ . . . we profess and declare
before God, and the world, our unfeigned desires to be humbled for our
sins . . . to amend our lives, and each to go before another in the
example of a real reformation, that the Lord may turn away his wrath . .
. . Most  humbly beseeching the Lord to strengthen us by His Holy
Spirit . . . to the glory of God, the enlargement of the kingdom of
Jesus Christ, and the peace and tranquility of the Christian kingdoms
and commonwealths.”

How
this covenant was put into practice however was less than desirable.
Rather than allowing the Christian citizens of the kingdom voluntarily
to sign it, as had been done with previous covenants, they required the
ministers to report anyone who either disapproved or would not swear to
the covenantal words.  The late J.G. Vos points out that this compulsory
requirement ended up debasing the covenant.  Many, like Charles II,
signed it for reasons other than genuine acceptance. It should have been
left to a voluntary response by the people.

Words to Live By:
Moses in Deuteronomy 5:29 writes, “Oh 
that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me and keep
all My commands always, that it may be well with them and with their
sons forever
!”  This is a worthy prayer to be prayed by all of
God’s people in any age.  It is to be prayed for our families, our
church families, and the citizens of our nation. Will you pray it today,
this week, this month, and this year?Wayne Sparkman | September 25, 2018 at 12:05 am | URL: http://www.thisday.pcahistory.org/?p=20197

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