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Samuel Rutherford, the Solemn League & Covenant, and his testimony

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  • Edgar A. Ibarra Jr.
    Hear what Rev. Samuel Rutherford states about the SLC and how he does not state that the WCF abrogated the SLC, but that it is our duty to own it...Remember he
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 5, 2005
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      Hear what Rev. Samuel Rutherford states about the SLC and how he
      does not state that the WCF abrogated the SLC, but that it is our
      duty to own it...Remember he was a Commissioner to the Assembly and
      an active participant...

      A
      TESTIMONY
      to the
      COVENANTED WORK OF REFORMATION,
      (From 1638, to 1649,)
      IN
      BRITAIN & IRELAND.

      By Samuel Rutherford.
      THOUGH the Lord needeth not a testimony from such a wretched man as
      I, if I, and all the world should be silent, the very stones would
      cry: it is more than debt, that I should confess Christ before men
      and angels. It would satisfy me not a little, that the throne of my
      Lord Jesus were exalted above the clouds, the heaven of heavens, and
      on both sides of the sun; and that all possible praise and glory
      were ascribed to him; that, by his grace, I might put my seal, such
      as it is, unto that song, even the new song of these who, with a
      loud voice, sing, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to
      open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to
      God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and
      nation: and hast made us unto our God kings and priests; and we
      shall reign on earth, Rev. 5.9,10. And blessed were I, could I lay
      to my ear of faith, and say Amen to that psalm of the many angels
      round about the throne, and the beasts, and elders: whose number is
      ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands: saying,
      with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive
      power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory,
      and blessing. And if I heard every creature, which is in heaven, and
      on earth, and under the earth; and such as are in the sea; and all
      that are in them; (as John heard them,) saying, Blessing, and
      honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the
      throne, and to the Lamb, for ever and ever. I mean not any such
      visible reign of Christ on earth, as the Millenaries
      [premillenialists] fancy; I believe (Lord help my unbelief,) the
      doctrine of the holy prophets, and the apostles of our Lord Jesus
      Christ, contained in the books of the Old and New Testament, to be
      the undoubted truth of God, and a perfect rule {520} of faith, and
      the only way of salvation. ***And I do acknowledge the sum of the
      Christian religion, exhibited in the Confessions and Catechisms of
      the reformed protestant churches: and in the National Covenant,
      divers times sworn by the king's majesty, the state, and Church of
      Scotland; and sealed by the testimony and subscription of the
      nobles, barons, gentlemen, citizens, ministers, and professors of
      all ranks. As also, in the Solemn League and Covenant in the three
      kingdoms of Scotland, England, and Ireland. And I do judge, and in
      conscience believe, that no power on earth can absolve, and liberate
      the people of God from the bonds and sacred ties of the oath of
      God.*** I am persuaded that Asa acted warrantably, in making a law,
      that the people should stand to the covenant; and in receiving into
      the covenant such as were not of his kingdom, 2 Chron. 15.9,10. As
      did also Hezekiah, in sending a proclamation thro' all the tribes,
      from Dan to Beersheba, That they should come and keep the Passover
      unto the Lord at Jerusalem, 2 Chron. 30.6,7, though their own
      princes did not go along with them; yea, and it is nature's law,
      warranted by the word, that nations should encourage and stir up one
      another to seek the true God. It is also prophesied, That divers
      nations should excite one another in this way, Isa. 2.3, Many people
      shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up unto the mountain of the
      Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will teach us his
      ways. Zech. 8.21,22, And the inhabitants of one city shall go to
      another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the Lord of
      hosts: I will go also. Yea, many people and strong nations shall
      come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the
      Lord. There is also a clear prophecy to be accomplished under the
      New Testament, Jer. 50.4,5, That Israel and Judah shall go together,
      and seek the Lord. They shall ask the way to Zion, with their faces
      thitherward, saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the Lord, in
      a perpetual covenant, that shall not be forgotten. It is also
      foretold, that different nations shall confederate with the Lord,
      and with one another, Isa. 19.23,24,25, In that day there shall be
      an high-way out of Egypt to Assyria; and the Assyrian shall come to
      Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians shall serve
      with the Assyrians. In that day shall Israel be the third with
      Egypt, and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land;
      whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my
      people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine
      inheritance.

      The Church of Scotland had once as much of the presence of Christ,
      as to the power and purity of doctrine, worship, discipline, and
      government, as any we read of, since the Lord took his ancient
      people to be his covenanted church. The Lord stirred {521} up our
      nobles to attempt a reformation in the last age, thro' many
      difficulties, and against much opposition from those in supreme
      authority: he made bare his holy arm, and carried on the work
      gloriously, like himself; his right hand getting him the victory,
      until the idolatry of Rome, and her cursed mass were dashed: a
      hopeful reformation was in some measure settled, and a sound
      Confession of Faith was agreed upon, by the lords of the
      congregation. The people of God, according to the laudable custom of
      other ancient churches, the Protestants in France and Holland, and
      the renowned princes in Germany, did carry on the work in an
      innocent, self-defensive war, which the Lord did abundantly bless.
      When our land and church were thus contending for that begun
      reformation, those in authority did still oppose the work; and there
      was not then wanting men from among ourselves, men of prelatical
      spirits, who, with some other time-serving courtiers, did not a
      little undermine the building; and we, doting too much upon sound
      parliaments, and lawful general assemblies, fell from our first
      love, to self-seeking, secret banding, and little fearing the oath
      of God.

      Afterwards, our work in public was too much in sequestration of
      estates, fining, and imprisoning, more than in a compassionate
      mournfulness of spirit toward those whom we saw to oppose the work.
      In our assemblies, we were more to set up a state opposite to a
      state; more upon forms, citations, leading of witnesses, suspensions
      from benefices, than spiritually to persuade, and work upon the
      conscience, with the meekness and gentleness of Christ. The glory
      and royalty of our princely Redeemer and King was trampled on, as
      any might have seen in our assemblies. What way the army and the
      sword, and the countenance of nobles and officers seemed to sway,
      that way were the censures carried. It had been better, had there
      been more days of humiliation and fasting in assemblies, synods,
      presbyteries, congregations, families; and far less adjourning
      commissions, new peremptory summons, and new drawn-up processes. And
      if the meekness and gentleness of our Master had got so much place
      in our hearts, that we might have waited on gainsayers, and parties
      contrary minded; and we might have driven gently, as our Master
      Christ, who loves not to over-drive, but carries the lambs in his
      bosom.

      If the word of truth, in the Old and New Testaments, be a sufficient
      rule, holding forth what is a Christian army, whether offensive or
      defensive, whether clean or sinfully mixed, then must we leave the
      question betwixt our public brethren and us, to be determined by
      that rule; but if there be no such rule in the word, then the
      confederacies and associations of the people of God, with the
      idolatrous apostate Israelites, with the {522} Egyptians and
      Assyrians, as that of Jehoshaphat with Ahab, and those of Israel and
      Judah, with Egypt and Assyria, are not to be condemned. But they are
      often reproved and condemned in scripture. To deny the scripture to
      be a sufficient rule in this case, were to accuse it of being
      imperfect and defective:—An high and unjust reflection on the holy
      word of God. Beyond all question, the written word doth teach what
      is a right constituted court, and what not, Psalm 10. What is a
      right constituted house, and what not, Josh. 24.15. What is a true
      church, and what is a false one: what is a true church, and what is
      a synagogue of Satan, Rev. 2. What is a clean camp, and what is an
      unclean. We are not for an army of saints, and free of all mixture
      of ill affected men: but it seems a high prevarication: for
      churchmen to counsel and teach, that the weight and trust of the
      affairs of Christ, and his kingdom, should be laid upon the whole
      party of such as have been enemies to our cause, contrary to the
      word of God, and the declarations, remonstrances, solemn warnings,
      and serious exhortations of his church, whose public protestations
      the Lord did admirably bless, to the encouragement of the godly, and
      the terror of all the opposers of the work.

      Since we are very shortly to appear before our dreadful Master and
      Sovereign, we cannot pass from our protestation, trusting we are
      therein accepted of him; though we should lie under the imputation
      of dividing spirits, and unpeaceable men. We acknowledge all due
      obedience in the Lord, to the king's majesty; but we disown that
      ecclesiastical supremacy in, and over, the church, which some
      ascribe to him: ****that power of commanding external worship, not
      appointed in the word; and laying bonds upon the consciences of men,
      where Christ has made them free. We disown antichristian prelacy,
      bowing at the name of Jesus, saints' days, canonizing of the dead,
      and other such corrupt inventions of men, and look on them as the
      high-way to popery. Alas! now there is no need of a spirit of
      prophecy, to declare what shall be the woeful condition of a land
      that hath broken covenant, first practically, and then legally, with
      the Lord our God; and what shall be the day of the silent and dumb
      watchmen of Scotland? Where will we leave our glory, and what if
      Christ depart out of our land? We verily judge they are most loyal
      to the king's majesty, who desire the dross may be separated from
      the silver, and the throne established in righteousness and
      judgment.**** We are not (our witness is in heaven) against his
      majesty's title by birth to the kingdom, and the right of the royal
      family: but that the controversy of wrath against the royal family
      may be removed; that the huge guilt of the throne may be mourned for
      before the Lord: and that his majesty may stand constantly, all the
      days of his life, to the covenant of God, by oath, seal, and
      subscription, known to {523} the world; that so peace, and the
      blessings of heaven, may follow his government: that the Lord may be
      his rock and shield; that the just may flourish in his time, that
      men fearing God, hating covetousness, and of known integrity and
      godliness, may be judges and rulers under his majesty. And they are
      not really loyal and faithful to the supreme magistrate, who wish
      not such qualifications in him: we are not, in this particular,
      contending, that a prince who is not a convert, or a sound believer,
      falls from his royal dominion: the scriptures of God warrant us to
      pray for, and obey in the Lord, princes and supreme magistrates,
      that are otherwise wicked: and to render all due obedience to them,
      Rom. 13.2,5; 2 Tim. 2.12,13; 1 Pet. 2.18. Our souls should be
      afflicted before the Lord for the burning of the causes of God's
      wrath: a sad practice, too like the burning of the roll by
      Jehoiakim, Jer. 36.25. In these controversies, we should take
      special heed to this, that Christ is a free, independent Sovereign,
      King, and Lawgiver. The Father hath appointed him his own King in
      mount Zion; and he cannot endure that the powers of the world should
      encroach upon his royal prerogative, and prescribe laws to him; this
      presumption is not far from that of the citizens, that hated him,
      Luke 19.14, He shall not rule over us; and from the intolerable
      pride of those who are for breaking asunder the bands of the Lord,
      and his anointed; and for casting away their cords from them, Psalm
      2.2: Especially seeing the man Christ would not take the office of a
      judge upon him, Luke 12.14, and discharged his disciples to exercise
      a civil-lordship over their brethren. True it is, the godly
      magistrate may command the ministers of the gospel to do their duty,
      but not under the penalty of ecclesiastical censures, as if it were
      proper to him to call and uncall, depose and suspend from the holy
      ministry. The lordly spiritual government, in and over the church,
      is given unto Christ, and none else; he is the sole ecclesiastic
      Lawgiver. It is proper to him to smite with the rod of his mouth;
      nor is there any other shoulder, in heaven or on earth, that is able
      to bear the government. As this hath been the great controversy
      betwixt our Lord Jesus and the powers of the world, from the
      beginning; so it has ruined all that coped [contended] with him.
      Christ has proven a rock of offence to them; they have been dashed
      in pieces by the stone that was cut out of the mountain without
      hands, Dan. 2.34,35. And the other powers that enter the lists with
      him, shall have the same dismal exit. Whosoever shall fall upon this
      stone, shall be broken; and on whomsoever it shall fall, it shall
      grind him to powder, Matth. 21.44. As the blessed prophets and
      apostles of our Lord, contended not a little with the rulers of the
      earth, that Christ should be the Head Corner Stone; that Christ is
      the only Head of the church, is {524} as sure as that he died, was
      buried, and rose again. It is a most victorious and prevailing
      truth; not only preached and attested by the ambassadors of the Lord
      of hosts, but confirmed by blood, martyrdom, and suffering.

      Many precious saints, have thought it their honour and dignity to
      suffer shame and reproach for the name of Jesus. And it is beyond
      doubt, that passive suffering for the name of Christ, comes nearest
      to that noble sampler, wherein Christ, though a Son, learned
      obedience by the things which he suffered, Heb 5.8. Now blessed is
      the soul who loves not his life to death, Rev. 12.11, for on such
      rests the Spirit of glory and of God, 1 Pet. 4.14. We cannot but say
      it is a sad time to this land at present, it is a day of darkness,
      and rebuke, and blasphemy. The Lord hath covered himself with a
      cloud in his anger; we looked for peace, but behold evil: our souls
      rejoiced when his majesty did swear the covenant of God, and put
      thereto his seal and subscription, and after confirmed it by his
      royal promise; so that the subjects' hearts blessed the Lord and
      rested upon the healing word of a prince. ***But now, alas! the
      contrary is enacted by law, the carved work broken down, ordinances
      are defaced, and we are brought into the former bondage and chaos of
      prelatical confusions. The royal prerogative of Christ is pulled
      from his head, and after all the days of sorrow we have seen, we
      have just cause to fear we shall be made to read and eat that book
      wherein is written, Mourning, and Lamentation, and Woe. [Ezek.
      2.9,10.] Yet we are to believe, Christ will not so depart from the
      land, but a remnant shall be saved; and he shall reign a victorious
      conquering King, to the ends of the earth.*** O that there were
      nations, kindreds, tongues, and all the people of Christ's habitable
      world, encompassing his throne with cries and tears for the Spirit
      of supplication, to be poured down upon the inhabitants of Judah for
      that effect.

      Emphasis mine,
      -Edgar
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