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September 29 , 2009

Act, Declaration & Testimony for the Whole of our Covenanted Reformation as Attained to and Established in Britain and Ireland; Particularly Betwixt the Years 1638 and 1649, Inclusive


The Presbytery, soon after their erection, being convinced of the expediency and necessity of emitting a judicial testimony, to discover to the world the principles upon which, as a judicatory of the Lord Jesus Christ, they stood, in opposition to the different, so called, judicatories in the land; together with the agreeableness of these principles to the Word of God, the only rule of faith and practice, and to the covenanted constitution of the church of Scotland in her purest periods; did therefore, after a proposal for said effect, agree in appointing one of their number to prepare a draft of this kind to be laid before them, who, after sundry delays, to their grief of mind, at once cut off their hopes of all assistance from him, in that or any other particular, by laying himself obnoxious to the censures of the church; which the presbytery, in duty both to him, to God, and to his people, were obliged to put in execution against him, while he, in contempt of that ordinance, and other means used for his conviction and recovery, obstinately persists in his impenitency and defection. And although the presbytery, few in number, were thus diminished, yet, being still resolved to prosecute their former design, they renewed their appointment upon another brother, who, in consequence of his undertaking, was allowed a cessation from his other public work, in order to expedite the proposed draft: and now, when nothing was expected that should retard the finishing of such a necessary work, the lamentable fire of division, that had long been smothered, unhappily broke forth into a violent flame, whereby the presbytery was rent asunder, and that brother, on whom the appointment was formerly laid, happening to be of the separating party, a second stop was not only put to the publication of this testimony, but the presbytery, from the absence of a brother removed to a distant part of the world, together with the paucity of their number, were almost wholly discouraged from attempting again what they had been oftener than once disappointed in. But notwithstanding of the above, with many other difficulties which we shall not at present take notice of, the presbytery, still considering, that, even in their present circumstances, when their number is few and despicable, their adversaries many, and such as are in repute in the world, whereby the opposition made to them, and the conspiracy formed against the covenanted testimony of the church of Scotland maintained by them, must needs be strong; there is yet a gracious door of opportunity left open for them to attempt, in their judicative capacity, the prosecution and accomplishment of the necessary work formerly proposed; and which they could not but judge the Lord still called them unto, while after all the above-mentioned breaches made upon them, he still continued to give them a nail in his holy place, and a wall in Judah and Jerusalem, Ezra ix, 8, 9, they therefore again laid their appointments upon some others to prepare a draft of An Act, Declaration, and Testimony, &c., and which, under the favor of Divine Providence, has at length been finished and laid before the presbytery. We only need to observe further with reference to this, that the long delay of what is now agreed upon did not proceed from any design in the presbytery, of depriving either the people of their particular inspection, or the generation, of any benefit that might be obtained by a work of this nature, but partly from the fewness of their number, and great extent of their charge, and partly from the great distance of members' residence from each other, whereby they can seldom have access to meet all together, for expediting this or any other work of public concern they have in hand. It is, therefore, with an eye to the Wonderful Counselor (when Zion's faithful counselors are so few) for light and direction in the management of this great and important work, that the presbytery have resolved upon the publication hereof at this time, for the reasons which follow: 1. Because this duty of bearing witness for truth, and declaring against all error, and defection from it, and transmitting the same uncorrupted to posterity, is expressly enjoined on the church by the Spirit of God in the Scriptures of truth. Psal. lxxviii, 5: "For he hath established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers that they should make them known to their children
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