Our Duty with a National Covenant, The Covenanters Looking-Glasse

“Now there is a double Covenant, Personall, and Nationall, Personall, is that which is presupposed and sealed in Baptism, and reneued in the Lord’s Supper. The Articles whereof, are these two; 1. Faith in God through our Lord Jesus Christ; and 2. Obedience to His Commandments (The Summe of which, is contained in the Decalogue, or Ten Commandments) as a fruit of that our Faith in God. Nationall is, when a whole Nation, at least the generality, do thus engage themselves to the Lord, and such is the Protestation lately taken. Thus much of the first thing propounded, …

Touching this Nationall Covenant or Protestation, we may here observe and consider,

1. What we here promise, and bow to maintaine, and so what we have here renounce.

2. What is it to maintaine and defend the true Protestant Religion.

3. Why & for what ends, we entered into this Protestation.

4. How far this promise and protestation doth bind us.

First, is to maintaine and defend with our lives, power and estate, The True Reformed Protestant Religion, expressed in the in the Doctrine of the Church of England, against all Popery and Popish Innovations, within this Realme, contrary to the same doctrine. I will not set downe the principall doctrines of the true Reformed Protestant Religion, and Anti-protestant or Popish Doctrines and Innovations, which we here protest against.

I will only set downe some arguments and reasons, why we should with our lives, power and estate, maintaine and defend the True Reformed Protestant Religion in the generall, and consequently, every particular branch and part of it against all Popery and Popish innovations, and every part and parcell of Popery, and they are these:

1. Because of God hath commanded it, and every one ought to make conscience of the commands of God, and to his uttermost power observe and keep them, Jude v. 3. It was needfull for men to write unto you, and exhort you, that ye should earnestly contend for the faith, vix. The doctrine of faith, which was once delivered to the saints: Not only contend, but contend earnestly, with all vehemency and intention of the Spirit, with all our might. To this purpose also is that of the Apostle to Timothy, 2 Tim. 1. 13. Hold fast the forme of sound words which thou hast heard of me, and 1 Cor. 16:13. Stand fast in the faith, that is, both in the doctrine and grace of faith. And no less is pressed on us, Levit. 18. 4,5. Deut. 4:40. and 5. 32, 33. and 6. 3, 17. and in very many other places. Ye shall keep my statues, my judgments, my ordinances and commandments. And if we cannot without drawing guilt on our soules break the lawfull, just and good commands of superiours, how much less may we break the righteous laws of God.

2. Our eternal salvation is built upon this. There is no other Religion, no other way of means in the world by which we can be saved, Acts 4.12, 1. Cor. 15. 2. By which also ye are saved if ye keep in memory (or hold fast) what I preached unto you If we deny, renounce, or forsake this, never looke to goe to heaven, never hope to see the face of God with joy.

3. God glory is greatly promoted and advanced hereby, as by the deny all of the true faith or religion, he is greatly dishonoured, it confirms others in their idolatrous, false or superstitious wayes, and open the mouth of the adversaries and wicked men to speake evill of, and blaspheme the truth and good wayes of God.

4. The true Reformed Protestant Religion is the badge of the true Christian, and true servant of God, their livery and coguisance whereby they are distinguished from all idolaters, pagans, Mahumetans, Papist and Jewes that still cleave to the Mosaicall Rights, long since Abolished by Christ: Yea, by the sincere embracing and profession on hereof, the true Christians and servants of God are distinguished from all hypocrites.

5. The Gospell (upon which the True Reformed Protestant Religion, which we profess, and is established as the publick doctrine of this Church of England, is undoubtedly built) was confirmed by many miracles from heaven, and truly divine. Look throughout the whole book of God, and see how many divine ratifications there have been of the Gospell, and consequently of the true Religion, which we doe now publickly, through Gods great mercy, profess: It is the same with that of the Apostles and people of God in those first primitive times, and which our blessed savior Himself taught, professed and sealed with his blood, and this should be a great indugement to us to embrace, maintaine and defend it to the death.

6. This hath been recommended to us by the blood of all the Martyrs, of our blessed Saviour Himself, of his Apostles and Disciples, they all suffered for this, they loved not their lives unto the death, they willingly suffered the lose of all for and in the defence of it, and sealed it with their blood, stucke to it to the death, and so recommended it to us as a most previous jewell and rich treasure, much better then life itself, and surely this should much animate us to sticke close to our religion, the true Reformed Protestant Religion to the death, seeing we have so many thousands, yea hundred thousands that have dyed in the defence and cause of it.

7. This hath hitherto, and will ever preserve us. As it is our religion for which we are maligned, hated and lotted against by the Papists and other adversaries of the truth; so it is that (or rather God, because of that) that hath hitherto preserved us insight of all the Devils in hell, and wicked men on earth, and all their hellbred desperate plots and malignant designes against it and us, that we have been and still are preserved, to the admiration even of the enemies themselves. And this will ever preserve and protect us if we sticke close unto it, we have Gods word for it, Rev. 3. 10. Because thou hast kept the Word of my patience, I also keep thee from the houre of temptation, which shall come upon all the earth, to try them that dwell upon the earth. And if we deny or forsake this, never look to prosper, the promises even of temproall blessings are made on this condition, that we sticke close to it. See. Deutr. 5:32, 33. and 6.17. and Chap. 28. Rev. 1.3.

So that if either we regard the command of God, or the glory of God, or our owne temporall or eternall good of soule or body, we must maintaine the true Reformed Protestant Religion against all Popery and Popish innovations, we must stick close to it, and maintaine our Religion, unless we will lose soule, body, our estates, and all, at least the true comfort of all.

And what doe we protest against? It is not Popery and Antichristianism, a doctrine containing many positions blasphemous against God and Jesus Christ, and destructive to all Christian Magistrates, Kingdomes & Common-wealths; a doctrine (to use the word of the learned Master Bolton in his sermon preached at Pauls Cross) most false and accursed from heaven, and is ever attended with this inseparable curses, that it will plague the Kingdome that nourishes it, and pay it home at length with a witness, except some right, round and resolute course be taken in the mean time to root it out as in conscience, policy, reason and religion it ought to be, which if once effected, would cut the thread of the Papist hopes forever, making a party or faction here, cut the throat of all the plots against the kings person, crush the Popes heart for any probability or possibility of ever reestablishing , or erecting his accursed tyranny in this island again, and preventing such most bloody, barbarous, and unheard of usage (or butchery rather) as there hath been of late, and still is in Ireland. …

Yea in case of seducing from the true to false religion, or worship of God (as is well observed by a godly Divine) it is cleare that we must bring any to punishment, how neare or deare so ever unto us. See Deut. 13. 6,7,8,9,10. If they brother the sonne of they mother, or they sonne, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosome entice thee, saying let us goe and serve another gods. Thou shalt not consent unto them, nor hearken unto them, neither shall they eye pity them. Our love to God and the true Religion, ought to over-rule our affections to our friends and naturall parents in the flesh, much more our affections towards others, which our saviour confirms, Mat. 10, 37, He that loveth Father or Mother more then me, is not worthy of me, and he that loveth Son or Daughter more then me is not worthy of me.

And in case of the publicke-weale, if any person be an enemy to it, and will not be reclaimed, our affections or our country, and the Common-wealth must over-rule naturall and private affections even to such as are neare and deare unto us and Cicero an heathen determines this among other cases, that if a mans owne Father would betray his country, and do anything that tends to the apparent ruine of the Common-wealth, he must not keepe silence, but preferre the safety of his country before a father, and endeavor to hinder him, or complaine of him. This is just and reasonable, for a publiske good of such convernment ought to be preferred before a private. …

Thirdly, The grounds and reasons of making and entering into this Protestation or National Covenant included in the preamble to the Protestation, to which I referre you for fuller satisfaction, only thus much here in a few words, I conceive it may be of use.

1. To binde all true Protestants more firmly to God, his truth, wayes and worship, and to prevent the growth of Popery and Popish Innovations, and in time to root out both, as in conscience, reason, religion and policy we should, And this is a very speciall meanes to effect it; for this binds us not only to embrace, maintaine, and defend the true Religion, but also to reject Popery, yeah to ppose it, and all such as seeke to advance or uphold it.

2. To discover all Popish persons, and such as stand disaffected to the true Religion, and the peace and welfare of the king and kingdom, Church or State, that they may be dealt with according as to justice doth appertaine.

3. Thereby also the better to disappoint all the adversaries plots and designes against true Religion, the king, kingdom, Church and State, And

4. To continue and increase the honour, peace and welfare of the same, to all which purposes this bond may be of special use, and the most effectuall means to accomplish such blessed ends. Now,

Fourthly, How far and how firmly this bond or Covenant bindeth us?

1. How far, in respect of the wayes and meanes to be used and that is only to lawfull wayes, to do all these things as far as lawfully may, and by all good wayes and meanes, that is, by such wayes and meanes as are warrantable by the Law of God, and the wholesome and good lawes and statues of this realme. …

2. But how firmly doth this binde us?

Answ. In binds us to keep it to the uttermost of our [power, estate and lives] even to the death, so as no law of man, or power of any wordly prince or pontentate whatsoever can absolve us from it. And we promise and protest in the close, that neither hope, feare, or any wordly respect, neither favour nor frowne of men, neither promises nor threats, neither hpe of gaine, profit, pleasures or preferment, or feare of any worldly losse, trouble or the like (for all these as I humbly conceive are included) that make us relinquish this promise, bow and protestation.

And this solemne engagement is made in expressed terms in the presence of Almighty God, and so implicitly calling the Almighty God of Heaven and Earth, who heares what we protest, and doth see our intentions and purpose, and will narrowly observe our future actions, how we keep our solemne promises with his majesty, to reward or take vengeance on us if we do not really, and for the future carefully endeavour by all lawfull means and wayes to performe our promise, vow and protestation.

And which yet further added weight to this engagement, it is made in the presence of the Congregation (yea and I may say of the Angels also) who are witnesses, and will testify against us one day if we willingly and wittingly break this our Covenant.

And this, our owne hands or mauke (which is equivalent) is subscribed and stands on record as a witness to God and men against that man that shall wittingly and willingly break his Protestation, so solemnly made, yea, and this Church, and these walls and pewes will one day rise up to condemn that man.

Hear what God himself saith, or ordinary vows and promises, which are of a far inferiour nature to this. Deut. 23. 21, 23. When thou shalt vow a vow unto the Lord thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it, for the Lord thy God will surely require it of thee, and it would be sin in thee; That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt keep and performe, according as thou hast vowed unto the Lord thy God, Which thou hast promised with thy mouth: As for instance, if the Jew under the law vowed unto God to offer a Lamb, or a bullocke, or a sheep or goate, etc. So now if any should vow or promise to God, That if such a business succeed well, if such a ship in which he hath a venture returne home well and safe; if such a field of corne prosper and come well in, or the like, he will give so much to the poore members of Christ, or the like in way of thankfulness to God for his goodness: toward him. Or if God doe indeed deliver him out of such a trouble, sickness, misery, or affliction, or the like, he will give so much to such a pious use, etc. Keep a private day of solemne thanksgiving to God, the like, he may neither omit nor delay to do according to his promise, saith Moses from God, Thou Salt not slack to pay (or performe) it, The Lord they God will require of thee, So againe, Numb. 30. 1.2. This is the thing which the Lord hath commanded, If a man vow a vow unto the Lord, or sweare an oath to bind his soule with a bond he shall not breake his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth. And if promises and bows touching things voluntary, and of a far less and inferiour nature, made only by a mans self alone, do so strongly binde, that God may justly, and will require it of him, and punish him accordingly for the breach of promise, in case he performe not; how much more doth such a solemne vow and Protestation as this is, made to God, in a thing of this nature (which Religion and reason binds us to observe, though there were no Protestation made nor ever thought of) how much more (I say) doth this binde us, and will God punish the wilfull contemners of breakers of it?

Wherefore brethren, you who have taken this Protestation or Nationall Covenant, and have therein implicitly called God to witness, and be your Judge to take vengeance on you, if you performe not your vow and Covenant to God, be sure the hand of God will follow you, if (which I hope I shall never see and heare of you) endeavour not to performe your Protestation and Covenant according to promise, but wilfully breake it, and much more if also any should wittingly and willingly endeavour to hinder others that endeavour to keep their Covenant, and do willfully disturb them in their duty of maintaining the true Reformed Protestant Religion, or opposing and removing in a legal way any part of Popery or Popish innovations protested against, suppose images, and scandalous Popish pictures, Crucifixes, and the like.

And let a man be sure, that if he performe not his part, but willfully breake it, oppose and hinder others, yet God will performe his part, God will bring the curse upon him which he hath implicitly wished in his protestation in the presence of Almighty God, as he did bring on the Jews the curse which they wished to themselves, Mat. 27.25. And we know it hath layne heavily upon that Nation above sixteen hundred years. When Zedekiah had broken his Covenant with the king of Babylon, see what the Lord saith of him, Ezek. 17. 15, 16. Shall he prosper? Or shall he escape that doth such things? Or shall he break the Covenant and be delivered? As I live, saith the Lord God, surely mine oath which he hath despised, and my Covenant which he hath broken, even it will I recompence upon his own head, v. 19. We have solemnely covenanted and promised, vowed and protested to God the King of heaven, to mataine the true Religion, oppose all Popery and Popish Innovations; to the king on earth, to maintaine his royal person, honour and estate; to the parliament, to maintaine and defend their power and privileges, etc. And we may be sure that man shall not escape, that willfully breaketh his Covenant but the hand of God will find him out, either here to his conversion, repentance and salvation, or hereafter to his condemnation.

Wherefore brethren I beseech you all (and I hope and persuade myself you will) consider what you have promised in the presence of Almighty God, and do your best and heartiest endeavour to keep your Protestation. Oh let not any person draw guilt on his own soule by a wilfull breach or careless neglect of his Protestation, I could therefore with that every good subject would have and set up a copy of the protestation in his own house, to mind himself, so often as he goes in and out of his solemn vow and Covenant made to maintaine and defend with his life, power and estate, the true Reformed Protestation Religion against all Popery and Popish Innovations, the kings majesty person, the power and privileges of parliament, etc.

Yeah all of you have in Baptism solemnely engaged yourselves to God to believe in him, love him, fear him, serve and obey him and in all his righteous commands, to defend his blessed truth, and the professors of it, and consequently to oppose what in you lyeth by all lawfull meanes, all Popery, and Popish Rites and Ceremonies, and whatsoever is contrary to his blessed word and will; Thus every mothers childe of us stands engaged to God, and be sure thou canst not willfully breake Covenant with God, and escape unpunished.”

Thomas Mocket, The Covenanters Looking-Glasse

 

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