Social Covenanting

“So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem.”

Josh. 24:25

“And Jehoiada made a covenant between the Lord and the king and the people, that they should be the Lord‘s people; between the king also and the people.”

2 Kings 11:17

“They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten.”

Jer. 50:5



The preamble to the Solemn League and Covenant (1643), a godly example of social covenanting made between the Long Parliament of England and Scotland, in order to  

“endeavor, in our several places and callings, the preservation of the reformed religion… in doctrine, worship, discipline, and government… according to the Word of GOD, and the example of the best reformed Churches; and shall endeavour to bring the Churches of GOD in the three kingdoms to the nearest conjunction and uniformity in religion, Confession of Faith, Form of Church Government, Directory for Worship and Catechising; that… the Lord may delight to dwell in the midst of us.”




The Westminster Divines on Social Covenanting

Defenses of Scottish Covenanting and the Indulgence and Occasional Hearing Controversies, 1661-1688



Order of Contents

Is the SL&C Binding Today?
History of the SL&C
Against Separation From Impure Churches & Civil Governments



Is the Solemn League & Covenant (1643) Binding Today?


Rouse, Francis – ‘That this obedience to the present Government, is not contrary to, but consistent with our Solemn League and Covenant’  1649  27 pp.  being part 2 of The Bounds and Bonds of Public Obedience

Rouse was a Westminster divine and argues that while the SL&C was still binding in its moral principles, yet it formally ceased in England as a civil ‘league’, with its original circumstances, when Oliver Cromwell (who was not in the line of kings) took over in 1649.

Crofton, Zachary

Analepsis, or, Saint Peter’s Bonds Abide: for Rhetoric Worketh no Release, is evidenced in a serious and sober consideration of Dr. John Gauden’s sense and solution of the Solemn League and Covenant: so far as it relates to the government of the church by episcopacy  1660

This was written at the Restoration of Charles II who civilly rescinded the SL&C, and other puritan legislation, in England.  Dr. Gauden, a reformed Anglican, strangely, had argued that the SL&C was consistent with Episcopacy.  Crofton refutes this notion.

Crofton (1626-1672) was reformed, a presbyterian and a puritan who was born and raised in Ireland.  He came to England in 1646.  He was ejected from the Church of England at the Restoration.

Berith Anti-Baal, or Zachary Crofton’s Appearance before the Prelate-Justice of Peace, vainly pretending to bind the Covenant and Covenanters to their Good Behavior. By way of Rejoinder to, and Animadversion on Doctor John Gauden’s Reply or Vindication of his Analysis, from the (by him reputed) pitiful cavils and objections; but really proved powerful and convincing exceptions of Mr. Zachary Crofton’s Analepsis. By the author of the Analepsis, and (not by the Dr observed) Analepsis Anelephthe, to the continuing of St. Peter’s bonds, and fastening his fetters against papal and prelatical power  ToC  1660

Dr. Gauden had responded to Croften’s Analepsis above with Anti Baal-Berith; or The Binding of the Covenant and all Covenanters to their Good Behaviors, by a Just Vindication of Dr. Gauden’s Analysis.  Crofton responds to this work.

The Covenant Newly Revived: In a Conference Between Mr. Crofton and a Converted Scotch Parson. Discovering all the Whole Mystery of Iniquity carried on by hair-brained faction under pretense of reformation  ToC  1661



Boston, Thomas – Doctrine 2, ‘That Professors ought to beware of Schism and Division’, pp. 602-610  in ‘The Evil, Nature and Danger of Schism, a Sermon’ on 1 Cor. 1:10  1708

Boston argues against those in the United Societies who remained separate from the Church and State of Scotland in his own day upon pretence of the Solemn League and Covenant and other impurities in the Church and State, post-1690.

Boston argues (rightly) three points: (1) that the separatists are not the strictest party according to Scriptural principles, (2) that there is not just grounds for separation from the post-1690 Church of Scotland, and (3) that their principles are not the principles of ‘our covenanted Reformation’.

Gib, Adam – ‘Concerning the Presbytery’s Manner of Renewing our Covenants’, pp. 259-274 of The Present Truth, a Display of the Secession Testimony, vol. 1  1774

The Scottish Seceders held that the Scottish national covenants’ moral and spiritual principles bound perpetually, though historical circumstances change.  Hence in the mid-1700’s, the covenants could not be taken in their original form, but were renewed by the Presbytery as adapted to their situation, still affirming all of the moral and spiritual principles of them.

A minister who had recently joined the Secession, Thomas Nairn (1680-1764), objected to this, reflecting the influence of the United Societies.  He insisted the covenants be renewed as to their original form and words, and to do otherwise was not to be faithful to them.  He was, after 3 years of instruction and admonition, deposed from the Seceders.  He then joined John Macmillan and shortly formed the Reformed Presbytery, though he would secede from them as well.

Gib demonstrates from Scripture that it is proper for women to personally vow to public covenants in vol. 1, p. 256.



M’Crie, the elder, Thomas – Section 9: Of the Difference with Respect to Religious Covenants  in Statement of the Difference… particularly on the Power of Civil Magistrates Respecting Religion, National Reformation, National Churches, and National Covenants  1807 

M’Crie, ‘The Defender of the Covenanters’, describes the difference between the new constitutional documents of the Scottish Seceders moving in a New Light (and diluted) direction versus the older position of the Scottish Seceders, which he held to.  The first half of the article analyzes the inadequacy of the New Light definition of covenanting.  The second half touches on the Solemn League and Covenant, holding that it continues to bind Scotland in its moral principles, though circumstances have changed from some of its original wording.

“When the Associate Presbytery [the Seceders] engaged in the renovation of the National Covenant of Scotland, and the Solemn League and Covenant of the three kingdoms, they did this in a bond suited to their circumstances. And they did so with the greatest propriety…”



Fentiman, Travis

A Brief Summary of the Majority Opinion in the Free Church of Scotland on Covenanting, summarized in 13 concise points, 20 paragraphs

Here is the Biblically principled, majority historic view on the subject, with special reference to Scotland and her churches

A Defense of the Majority Opinion in the Free Church of Scotland on Covenanting, 36 points, 135 paragraphs, with a select annotated bibliography

This is an extensive articulation and defense of the majority historic view on the Solemn League and Covenant, argued from scripture, history and the reformation in Scotland.



The History of the Solemn League & Covenant

MacKenzie, Kirsteen

Presbyterian Church Government and the ‘Covenanted Interest’ in the Three Kingdoms, 1649-1660  2008  PhD Thesis, Aberdeen Univ When on the page, click on the top of the two links and then hit ‘continue’

The Solemn League and Covenant of the Three Kingdoms and the Cromwellian Union, 1643-1663  Pre  2017

Frazier, Nathan – Maintaining the Covenant idea: the preservation of federal theology’s corporate dimensions among Scotland’s eighteenth-century evangelical Presbyterians  PhD diss., Edinburgh, 2010




Against Separation from Impure Churches and Civil Governments

Against Separation




“And all Judah rejoiced at the oath: for they had sworn with all their heart, and sought him with their whole desire; and he was found of them: and theLord gave them rest round about.”

2 Chron. 15:15




Related Pages

The Westminster Divines on Social Covenanting

Against Separatism

Unity of the Church