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The Aberdeen Doctors
Appendix V - The General Demands


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 Dom. 1662. 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 Affairs, vol. 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 Dickson.

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.''


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