The Covenants, Sermons, and Papers in this volume carry the readers back to some of the brightest periods of Scottish history. They mark important events in that great struggle by which these three kingdoms were emancipated from the despotisms of Pope, Prince, and Prelate, and an inheritance of liberty secured for these Islands of the Sea. The whole achievements of the heroes of the battlefields are comprehended under that phrase of Reformers and Martyrs, "The Covenanted Work of Reformation." The attainments of those stirring times were bound together by the Covenants, as by rings of gold.
The Sermons here were the product of the ripe thought of the main actors in the various scenes—men of piety, learning, and renown. Hence, the nature, objects, and benefits of personal and national Covenanting are exhibited in a manner fitted to attract to that ordinance the minds and hearts of men. The readers can well believe the statement of Livingstone, who was present at several ceremonies of covenant-renovation: "I never saw such motions from the Spirit of God. I have seen more than a thousand persons all at once lifting up their hands, and the tears falling down from their eyes." In the presence of the defences of the Covenants as deeds, by these preachers, the baseless aspersions of novelists and theologues fade out into oblivion.
True Christians must, as they ponder these productions, be convinced that the Covenanters were men of intense faith and seraphic fervour, and their own hearts will burn as they catch the heavenly flame. Members of the Church of Christ will be stirred to nobler efforts for the Kingdom of their Lord as they meditate on the heroism of those who were the "chariots of Israel and the horsemen thereof;" and they will behold with wonder that "to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the face of the serpent." And Statesmen will discover how Princes, Parliaments, and Peoples united in the hearty surrender of themselves to the Prince of the kings and kingdoms of the earth; and will be aroused to promote that policy of Christian Statesmanship which, illustrating the purpose and will of God, the Father, shall liberate Parliaments and nations from the bonds of false religions, and assert for them those liberties and honours which spring from the enthronement of the Son of Man, as King of kings and Lord of lords.
This volume of documents of olden times is sent out on a mission of Revival of Religion, personal and national, in the present times. It would do a noble work if it helped to humble classes and masses, and led them to return as one man to that God in covenant from Whom all have gone so far away. A national movement, in penitence and faith, for the repeal of the Acts Rescissory and the recognition of the National Covenants would be as life from the dead throughout the British Empire. The people and rulers of these dominions shall yet behold the brilliancy of the Redeemer's crowns; and shall, by universal consent, exalt Him who rules in imperial majesty over the entire universe of God. For, "The seventh angel sounded, and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the Kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ."
GLASGOW, December, 1895.
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