General Demands concerning the late Covenant : Propounded
by the Ministers and Professors of Divinity in Aberdene to some reverend
Brethren, who came thither to recommend the late Covenant to them, and
to those who are committed to their charge : Together with the Answeres
of those reverend Brethren to the said Demands : As also the Replyes of
the foresayd Ministers and Professors to their Answeres. Aberdene.
Reprinted by John Forbes, Anno
Some copies of the same edition have a different title-page and the date
1663 (see Irving's Lives
of Scottish Writers, vol.
ii. p. 49; and Gordon's Scots
i. p. 97 note). The papers by the Doctors are subscribed by John Forbes,
Alexander Scragie, William Leslie, Robert Baron, James Sibbald, and
Alexander Ross. The Answers to the Demands of the reverend Doctors are
subscribed by Alexander Henderson, David Dickson, and Andrew Cant. The
second paper by the Brethern bears the signatures only of Henderson and
A brief abstract of the fourteen demands is given by Dr.
Grub (Hist., vol.
iii. p. 14) :
" The doctors asked, What warrant there was for requiring
subscription to the Covenant and enforcing a particular interpretation
of the Negative Confession, since the Commissioners were not sent by the
King or his Council, or a national Synod, or any other lawful
judicatory? Whether they ought to subscribe the Covenant, when all
Covenants of mutual defence by force of arms among the King's subjects,
without his consent, were expressly forbidden by the parliament of 1585?
Whether even if acts of parliament might be contravened in extreme
cases, such a case had now arisen? By whom was the Negative Confession
to be interpreted? Whether they would subscribe the Negative Confession
with a good conscience, seeing that, as interpreted by the framers of
the Covenant, it made a perpetual law concerning external rites of the
Church which God had not made? Whether it was fit to subscribe an
interpretation in matters of faith which was opposed to the judgment of
many eminent Reformed divines, and to that of the ancient Church?
Whether it was agreeable to charity and piety, to require them to abjure
those rites as Popish, which in the sincerity of their hearts they had
hitherto practised as lawful and laudable? Whether it was fit to swear
to defend the King's person and authority only under limitations?
Whether they could swear to maintain the King's authority, and at the
same time swear' disobedience to those articles which were authorised by
his standing laws? Whether they ought to swear to a Covenant which took
away all hopes of a free assembly and parliament by making persons to
swear beforehand to adhere to one side of the question? Whether full
satisfaction would be given by their subscribing the National Confession
ratified by parliament in 1567, which they were ready to do ? Whether
the outrages sustained against all form of law by those of their
brethren, in the holy ministry, who continued in obedience to the laws
of the Church and Kingdom, were allowed by the Commissioners, and if
not, why the actors had not been censured ? Whether they could subscribe
the Covenant without the scandal of dissenting from other Reformed
Churches, and from Antiquity, and also the scandal of perjury in regard
to those who at their admission to the ministry had sworn obedience to
the Articles of Perth and to their Ordinary ? And, lastly, seeing they
had all these scruples, and they were assured of the lawfulness of the
Articles of Perth and of the lawfulness and venerable antiquity of
Episcopal Government, how could they, with a safe conscience, allow
those to preach in their pulpits, who came professedly to withdraw their
people from that which in the inmost thought of their souls they
embraced as lawful, and from obedience to their gracious and pious
sovereign, whose late proclamation had given them entire satisfaction?
"In their answers the Covenanting ministers adopted a
tone for the most part moderate and conciliatory. They drew a
distinction between innovatives sought to be introduced, such as the
Service Book, Canons and High Commission, which were specially abjured
as points of Popery, and those already introduced, like Episcopacy and
the Perth Articles, of which the practice was only to be forborne till
their lawfulness was tried by a free General^ Assembly.''