What follows is a summary outline of an historical address delivered at a meeting of the Ulster Scots Society in Ballyrobert, Northern Ireland. It demonstrates within an historical context our duty and obligation as individuals, churches and nations to acknowledge and submit to the Kingly Rights of Jesus Christ. There is no area of life which is not to be lived without an eye to his glory or regard for his will. We have all heard people say that religion and politics don't mix, but the truth is they do and they must, that is as Christ's exclusive claims are upheld, and as the judges of the earth do obeisance to this King and to him alone, Psalm 2:10-12. The Covenanters of the 1600's had more understanding than we do today of the outworking of this principle, and their example has much to teach us.
Outline: 1. The General Background from the Reformation. John Knox and the reformation in Scotland – The Monarchys' endeavour's to reverse the work and oppose Presbyterianism – impositions by the Episcopal clergy under Archbishop Laud provoked many Presbyterians, and led to the signing of the National Covenant of Scotland in 1638.
2. The National Covenant of Scotland. 1637-1651 period known as the second Reformation in Scotland saw the climax of the mounting conflict and the signing of the Covenant at Greyfriars – the covenant detailed the obligation of all to submit to Christ as King individually, as a church and in the state – a summary of the different views held on the relationship between church and state – the Covenanters view – the Covenant itself a legal and constitutional document signed by multitudes in Scotland enraging the Episcopal party – Covenanters forced to take up arms to defend the constitution of the nation against Episcopalian attacks upon it.
3. The Solemn League and Covenant of 1643. The formation of the Westminster Assembly set up to establish church order and practice in the Church of England – the Civil War in England and the signing of the Solemn League and Covenant by subjects, parliamentarians and dignitaries including Charles II - the Westminster Assebly's wider remit for reform and unity – the content of the Covenant* – the scriptural basis for covenanting and descending obligation of national covenants:- Joshua 24: 16, 18, 21, 24-25 (whole people obligated by leaders' action); 2 Chron 15:12-15; 2 Kings 11:17 & 23:1-3, 2 Chron 34:31-32; Neh 9:32 & 38. Obligation of Covenants. Psalm 15:4; Joshua 9:18-19 and to subsequent generations 2 Samuel 21:1-2; Deut 29:10-15. Coerced or insincere covenants still obligatory. 2 Chron 36:13; Ezekiel 17:12-19.
4. The Solemn League and Covenant in Ireland. The spiritual revival under the ministry of the Word – the signing of the Covenant – the blessings of church unity.
5. The time from the Solemn League and Covenant to the Revolution Settlement. 1643/44-1688 Persecution of the church in Scotland and Ireland – Charles II regarded as an outlaw for breach of Covenant - the division within Presbyterianism – the content of the Revolution Settlement and the Covenanters dissatisfaction with it.
6. The Relevance today. The truth of Christ's Kingship still relevant and these national covenants binding upon us – the honour of Christ paramount – all areas of life to be in submission to Christ the King of Princes and Head of the church. Deficiencies of the Revolution Settlement still unchanged in a worsening situation.
*follow the link for further details of the Solemn League and Covenant.