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the acts rescissory were included among the acts, statutes and proclamations mentioned in that clause; and materially rescinded, so far as any of them were contrary to the religion and church government established by this act; an act, which Mr. Willison says, rescinded all the unrighteous acts of the preceding reigns against the church.*
Ruf. But such general clauses, in any act of parliament, must be understood according to the particulars specified in that act; and, therefore, the general clauses in this act of settlement, must be understood consistently with the parliament's leaving the acts rescissory
before mentioned unrepealed; and consistently with the account which the parliament made of the proceedings of the church and state in the period between 1638 and 1650, as illegal and treasonable. The manner in which presbyterial church government is restored in the act of settlement shews, that the parliament purposely overlooked the acts of the period now mentioned, or rather considered them as annulled by the act rescissory. In that act of settlement, the parliament say, they ratify the Presbyterian church government and discipline established by an act in the year 1592, and thereafter received by the general consent of the nation, while no notice is taken of the legal securities that had been given to Presbyterian church government and discipline in the period between 1638 and 1650. That the parliament, in that act, did not consider the acts of parliament in the covenanting period as in force, appears also, from their reserving the part of the act in 1592 which related to patronages for farther consideration; for, they could not have done so, if they had considered patronages as abolished by the act of parliament passed in 1649. In short, it is unreasonable to pretend that these acts rescissory were repealed on account of general clauses in an act of parliament, such as, that in the act authorising the confession of faith and books of discipline: (hereby reviving, ratifying and confirming all laws against popery and papists, and for the maintenance and preservation of the true reformed protestant religion, and for the true church of Christ;] while such general expressions could not be justly understood as extending to laws that were annulled by acts rescissory, which were left untouched by that act; and while these acts rescissory are retained in the body of the standing laws of Scotland; and while it is well known that in the law books and in the practice of civil courts, neither the parliaments of Scotland in the period between 1638 and 1650, nor the Jaws passed by them, are considered as of any authority.
Alex. If presbyterial church government was established, it seems not material to enquire what preceding acts of parliament were referred to in the settlement of it.
Ruf. It is, however, material to observe, that the settlement of presbytery by the act of parliament in 1592, was by no means to be so much approved, as the settlement of it in the covenanting period between 1638 and 1650. First, because by the act in 1592, the general assembly was not allowed, when the king or his commissioner was present, to exercise the right of nominating and appointing the time and place of their next meeting; in which restriction there was & manifest encroachment on the intrinsic power and independence of the church of Christ. Secondly, because there was no reference in
Imp. Test. page 54.
the parliament's settlement of presbytery in 1592, as there was in the period between 1638 and 1650, to preceding acts of the general assembly, determining it to be of Divine right and institution, and condemning prelacy as contrary to the word of God.
Alex. The Westminster confession of faith was authorized by that parliament.
Ruf. There were, however, two evils in the parliament's manner of authorizing the Westminster confession. One was, the omission of any reference to the adoption of the confession by the act of the general assembly in 1647, rendering the confession less clear and explicit with regard to the church's intrinsic power which is asserted in that act. The other evil was, the parliament's taking upon them to prescribe, by their own sole authority, what the church was to receive as her confession of faith. They say, in the act of settlement, “ They “ ratify the confession of faith now read in their presence, as the public « and avowed confession of this church;" without taking any notice of the act of the assembly in 1647; a manner of ratifying the confession highly Erastian. It may not at all detract from the independence of two nations, for the constituted authority of the one to ratify a commendable act already passed into a law by the constituted authority of the other; such ratification being no more in effect than a sort of recommendation of that act. But it would be inconsistent with such independence, for one of these nations to pass such an act binding on the other, without referring to any former act of that other. was contrary to the independence of the church, for the parliament to establish the confession of faith, without referring to the former act of the general assembly receiving and approving it.
Alex. The associate presbytery represent the taking of the oath of abjuration* as a national sin, which, Mr. Willison says, they cannot make out.t
Ruf. He does not venture, however, to say, that the taking of it was no sin: and, if it was a sin at all, it must have been a national sin; because the oath was imposed by the civil government upon all in civil and military trust; and afterwards, upon the ministers of the church of Scotland. It was objected to this oath, that it was an acknowledgment of the whole constitution as it was settled at the union between the two nations, and as it included the legal securities given to the establishment of prelacy in England; and that it bore a reference to some acts of the English parliament, wherein it was required,
The part of the oath of abjuration which was the subject of controversy, runs in the following terms. “I do faithfülly promise to the utmost of my power to support, main-- tain and defend the succession of the crown against him (that is the Pretender) and all “other persons whatsoever, as the same is and stands settled, by an act entitled an act “declaring the rights and liberties of the subject, and settling the succession of the crown “to her present Majesty, and the heirs of her body, being protestants: and as the same, “ by another act entitled an act for the farther limitation of the crown, and better se« curing the rights and liberties of the subject, is and stands settled and entailed to the “ Princess Sophia Electress and Dutchess Dowager of Hanover, and the heirs of her “body, being protestants.”-By the change which king George the first got the parliament to make in the terms of this outh, which was substituted for as; so as to run thus: “I promise to defend the succession of the crown, which succession is and stands settled si by an act entitled an act for the further limitation of the crown,” &c. Bnt this change makes no real alteration in the sense of the oath.
✓ Impart. Test. page 221.
as a qualification in the successor to the crown, that he should be of the communion of the church of England, and should maintain that church, as by law established. Other objections were offered, and answers given to them; but that which I have now mentioned with gard to prelacy, could never be resolved to the satisfaction of such as had a due regard to the obligation, which the whole land was under from the solenn league and covenant, to seek by all scriptural means the extirpation of prelacy.
Mr. Willison could not be ignorant, that, in general, the most judi. cious and faithful ministers in Scotland refused to take this oath; and that, on the other hand, the takers of it were mostly such as afterwards fell in with other corrupt measures. Mr. Boston, in his Memoirs, informs us, that, when the assembly met in the year 1712, the lawfulness of the oath of abjuration was debated pro and con in a committee of the whole house. 66 All I had thereby,” says he, “ was, that the “ principles on which the answers to the objections against taking that 6 bath were founded, seemed to be of such latitude, that by them any “ oath might pass.”-“ Being come home,” adds he, “ I did this day “ spend some time in prayer for light from the Lord about that oath. “ And thereafter entering on to read the prints I had on it, in order " to form a judgement about it, I immediately fell on the act, whereby “ it was first of all framed and imposed, and finding thereby the de6 clared intent of the oath to be to preserve the act inviolable, or 6 which the security of the church of England depends, I was surprised 6 and astonished; and, upon the shocking discovery, my heart was “ turned to loath that oath which I had before scrupled."* He also relates, that, after this, he took the aforesaid act, along with him, te a meeting of synod; and when he produced it there, the members seemed to be struck with it. But Mr. James Ramsay of Kelso, a man of great influence in the judicatories, answered by distinguishing between the church of England as a protestant church, and as a church having such a government and worship; and admitting the intent of the oath in the first sense, but not in the second. 66 This,” says Mr. Boston," was truly stumbling to me, and served to confirm me against “ the oath. I plainly saw, that some were resolute to answer, when “ it seemed to me, they hardly knew what to answer:”
Alex. Mr. Willison tells us, that the most strict and zealous minis. ters in Scotland, were brought to declare, both from the pulpit, and press, that the embracing or refusing the oath of abjuration did not afford the least ground for separation.
Ruf. We do not find the associate presbytery saying, that this evil alone was a sufficient ground for separation. But they acknowledge it to be a moral evil, involving the nation in guilt, particularly, in that of covenant-breaking; and judge, that it is one ground of deep humiliation before the Lord. And is it not to be lamented, that they, whose office it is, to show the Lord's people their transgressions, should be employed in covering sin, with such frivolous excuses, as those which Mr. Willison tells us, were used by such as attempted to justify the swearing of this insnaring oath.
$ 22. Alex. The oath of abjuration brings to my mind the form of swearing by laying the hand upon and kissing the gospels. The arti
* Memoirs of Mr. Boston, page 274 and 275.
cle concerning this matter in the testimony of the assosiate presbytery, some think, might have been omitted; as it was not among the evils, about which they had to deal with the judicatories of the church.
Ruf. The associate presbytery speaking of the consequences of the incorporating union between Scotland and England, observe, that this superstitious form of swearing was then introduced into Scotland; which is a very corrupt innovation in that part of Divine worship. It is contrary to the scripture pattern, which ought alone to direct us, as in every other part, so in this solemn act of worship. Abraham said to the king of Sodom, I have lifted up mine hand unto the Lord, the most High God, the Possessor of heaven and earth, that I will not take any thing which is thine.* The uncreated angel of the covenant, is represented by Daniel and John as lifting up his hand to heaven, and swearing by him that liveth for ever and ever.t
When God, speaking of himself after the manner of men, represents himself as swearing, he expresses it by saying, that he had lifted up his hand; a phrase which is used, six times, in this sense, in the 20th chapter of Ezekiel.
The moral worship of God, to which swearing by his name belongs, ought to be performed in such a manner as is conformable to the examples of it recorded in scripture.
Alex. This is not the only form of swearing mentioned in scripture. Putting the hand under the thigh of the administrator was the manner in which Abraham made bis servant Eliezer swear to him concerning the affair of taking a wife for his son Isaac, and in which Jacob made Joseph swear to bury him in Canaan.
Ruf. The act of putting the hand under the thigh of the administrator is far from being of the same consideration in this matter with the form of lifting up the hand. The former does not appear to have been used, like the latter, as a sign of the appeal made to God in an oath. Lifting up the hand, as was just now mentioned, is, in scripture phraseology, put for swearing. Exod. vi. 8, I will bring you into the land concerning which I did swear, in the Heb. I lifted up my hand : so the same phrase is rendered in Numb. xiv. 30: But the expression, Putting the hand under the thigh of another man is never used to signify swearing in the scripture ; nor as far as I have heard in the language nation in the world. Judicious commentators think, that, in the instances to which you refer, putting the hand under the thigh is to be considered as a token of homage or subjection, or of a belief that Abraham and Jacob had of the Messiah, who was to descend from them according to the flesh; the posterity of the patriarchs being de. scribed as coming out of the thigh, Gen. xlvi. 26, The souls that came out of Jacob's loins ; in the Heb. out of his thigh. Judg. viii. 30, Gideon had seventy sons of his body begotten; in Heb.going out of his thigh. Nor do I know any just exception to the opinion suggested by a late ingenious writer, Mr. Harmer, who thinks, that Abraham's ser. vant might swear with one hand under his master's thigh, and the other stretched out to heaven.
* Gen xiv. 22. + Dan. xii. 7. Revel. x. 5, 6. Archbishop Tillotson, in his sermon on Heb. vi. 16, says, that, as to the form of swear. ing by lifting up the hand, “there is not the least intimation in scripture, that it was pre“ scribed and appointed by God, but voluntarily instituted and taken up by men.” But, surely, in other cases, an approved example of an usage in the worship of God, when it is neither singular nor disagreeable to what is taught in any other part of scripture, is justly considered as an intimation of God's-appointment of that usage. So Abel's offering of sacrifice being acceptable to God, was in intimation, that God had appointed that rite after the fall. So the examples recorded in scripture of the assembling of christians on the first day of the week for the hearing of the word preached and for the celebration of the Lord's supper, are an intimation that God had appointed that day to be the christian sabbath. In like manner, the uniform use of lifting up the hand, in the examples recorded in scripture, intimates, that God appointed this gesture to be used in swearing. As to putting the hand under the thigh, it is shewn to be yo exceptions
Alex. Swearing being an ordinance not peculiar to the church, but cominon to mankind, is to be performed by every one in such a form as is authorized by the law or usage of his country. It is the solemn appeal to God; it is engaging to speak the truth, and calling upon him to witness our sincerity, that constitute the oath and obligation. If this be done, it is immaterial, whether any, or what form be used.
Ruf. As swearing is an act of natural worship, not peculiar to the church, but common to mankind; so is lifting up the hand a natural sign of that worship. Men are naturally led to use this gesture to sig. nify, that the God by whom we swear, dwells in heaven, from whence he beholds the children of men, that he
may render to every one accord. ing to his works.* This impression seems to have led the heathens to use this gesture both in prayer and in swearing: Thus when Virgil's hero addresses the gods, he lifts up his hands to heaven:
Tendens ad sidera palmas.
Suspiciens cælum, tendit ad sidera dextram,
Hæc eadem, Enea, terram, mare, sidera, juro.* Hence I could never see, that the civil establishment of this form of swearing (as in Scotland) could be justly considered as an imposition on the conscience of any, because it is not a right of any arbitrary in. stitution: it is no peculiarity of any religious society; but a natural sign which conscience leads men to use in expressing their regard to the Deity. It is the language not of any human convention, but of nature, Neither heathen nor Mahomedan could object to it as contrary to their religious opinions.
With regard to such as bear the christian name, their opposition to it is most absurd, while it is both agreeable to the light of nature, and recommended by the approved examples of scripture.
It is true, that inconsideration and the violence of party spirit have led some to such an absurdity as to reject what is abundantly authoriz. ed by the light of nature and the consent of mankind in all ages.
Thus some have denied,
that there ought to be any use of oaths, or even of the magistrate's office. Such opinions are not to be countenanced, but censured by those appointed to be guardians of the welfare of civil society.
* Psalm xxxü. 13, 14. Prov. xxiv. 12.
Latinus upward turned his suppliant eyes,
Æneid, Lib. xii.