The Covenanters in Scotland’s struggle for liberty carried a significant banner. Letters of gold, on a field of blue, displayed the soul-stirring motto: “FOR CHRIST’S CROWN AND COVENANT.”
The men of the Covenant unfurled their colors with dauntless spirit, and went forth in the name of the Lord, conquering and to conquer. And this is the victory by which they overcame the world, even their faith.
The Covenanters carried their banner as an emblem of the truth in Jesus Christ. The Bible focussed its light in the burning words that flashed on their ensign. These fathers accepted the Bible without reservation or apology, as God’s Book, inspired, inerrable, authoritative, the rock foundation of faith, and the supreme law of life. They grasped the wondrous system of redeeming truth, as bearing on their own lives, on the Church, on the world, and on all generations to come. They embodied it in their Covenant, and wove it into their flag. They saw all Bible truth converge in Christ, the Only Begotten of the Father, the Mediator of the Covenant of grace, the crucified and risen Redeemer, the exalted Prince and Saviour; and on their banner they emblazoned their faith. But while their profession was embroidered on their colors, their creed was pulsating in their veins. This standard they carried boldly into the battle in defence of Christ and His Church. The deadly missiles that tattered its folds, and plowed through their flesh, could not subdue their spirit. Their blood often stained it, but it was never surrendered. One standard-bearer fell, and the flag-staff was grasped by another. Thus the Old Blue Banner, in all its significance, has come down through the ages; it is the Covenanter’s banner yet.
THE COVENANTERS’ STANDARD OF RELIGION.
The standard of truth is the real banner of the Covenant. The standard of religion in the Covenanted Church exalts the truth of Christ, and makes it most conspicuous. Nothing in a nation so public as her colors. Where the flag flies, the power, honor, and greatness of the country are represented by the folds that flap on the winds. The Covenant commits the Covenanted Church to the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth of God’s Word. This obligation, when honored, carries the Covenanter into all truth, and all truth into the Covenanter. The doctrines of grace will throb in his heart, flow in his veins, illumine his mind, dominate his thoughts, deepen his life, enlarge his capacities, control his actions, and purify all the fountains of his being. To all such the truth is concrete, not abstract; it has form, color, action, energy, atmosphere, horizon, immensity: To the true Covenanter, knowledge is experience; he deals with God, worships in spirit, battles with sin, glories in Jesus, and listens to the Eternal Spirit. His faith is power; his love is life; his hope is realization. The invisible world looms up with awful visibility before him. Such is the life that is distinguished by Covenant fidelity; in it the truth of God has grandest publicity. It shines like the sun. The voice of that life has the majesty of thunder, testifying for Christ. They who are thus animated with the truth cannot hide the great principles of the Church. They will glory in her Covenant and publish the truth. Behold the martyrs, how they witnessed for Jesus Christ, while fire and sword had no more power over their faith than over the stars. The truth demands publicity. Our poor, deceived, demon-ridden world needs the truth, Gospel truth shining like the sun, convicting truth pointed like lightning; the sweet truth of love and the fiery truth of wrath; truth that reveals life, death, immortality, judgment, heaven, hell, and eternity. The world needs the truth that will rend the heavens with prayer, and make the earth quake with fear.
THE HIGHEST TYPE OF CHRISTIAN LIFE.
The standard of religion adopted by the Covenanted Church demands that Covenanters possess the noblest spirit. They, who rally in earnest under this banner, will be men after God’s own heart. Such were the martyrs: kind, patient, self-sacrificing, passionately in love with Christ, and laboring diligently to bring others into the same sphere of blessedness. They were strong, heroic, and unconquerable; affectionate, intelligent, filled with veneration for God, and aflame with zeal for His House. Those Covenanters knew that they were redeemed, and gloried in their relation and obligation to the Lord Jesus Christ, their Almighty Redeemer. They flew into every service at His command. Their obedience was accompanied with much assurance of salvation. They had heaven on earth. The heaven of glory was merely an extension of their vista, an enlargement of their horizon, higher up the mountain that they were climbing, more spiritual ozone in the air they were breathing. They dwelt with God, lived in Jesus Christ, felt the raptures of the Holy Spirit; they knew the mystery of the cross, the value of the Blood, and the power of the spiritual resurrection. Therefore were they swallowed up in love to God and man. Are we amazed at the divine beauty of the martyr’s life? Let us have the same heartiness, the same vision of God, the same joy in the Holy Spirit, and we will have the key to the nobleness of the martyr. The Covenant with God, when kept, produces holiness, tenderness, charitableness, and divinest sympathy; turns life into an overflowing fountain of goodness. They, who follow the Banner of the Covenant in spirit and in truth, will aim at the very climax of Christian character, moral culture, and heroic service through Jesus Christ.
THE EMBLEM OF WAR.
The standard of religion in the Covenanted Church recognizes an uncompromising conflict in the world. Where hostile forces are encamped, the banner means battle. The martyrs were carried into this conflict, by their zeal for God’s House and love to Jesus Christ. Their fight was against the tyranny of Civil government and the corruption of the Church. They fought well, resisting the aggressor at every point of attack.
We must open our eyes wide, to see the forces on either side. The persecution was merely the crimson line, along which the kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of Satan came into collision. These kingdoms stretch beyond our vision, far away into the spiritual world, each having immense resources and innumerable battalions for the war. The firing lines are merely the visible places that project themselves upon our horizon. The human struggle, the din of battle, the blood, the groans, the graves, are merely the evidence of the momentum of these tremendous powers, grinding each other at the points of contact. It is Satan against Christ, in his effort to waste the Church, suppress the truth, crush mankind, and despoil Jesus of His crown, people, and kingdom. It is Christ against Satan, determined to resist, defeat, enchain, and imprison that old dragon.
This war still rages. The powers are the same as in the days of old, though the methods of warfare be changed. Christ still calls for soldiers of the Covenant, men of spirit, courage, and unshaken faith. He needs consecrated men, to hurl them against the organized powers, and inbreaking hordes, that are desecrating the Sabbath, corrupting the Church, maiming the truth, debauching morality, bribing conscience, licensing drunkenness, desolating the home, adulterating religion, worshiping wealth, crushing the poor, chaining manhood to secrecy, denying God in government, and the Lord Jesus Christ on His throne. Men are needed, men of the martyr type, men who count not heads, but principles. Men are in demand, men who find victory in defeat, men who see the mountains filled with horses and chariots, the mighty host of God.
THE GREAT INHERITANCE.
The Church of the Covenanters has a precious inheritance. The achievements of the past, the privileges of the present, and the victories of the future—all, all are hers, if she be faithful. The Old Blue Banner leads to the world-wide triumph of the principles it represents. This is no presumption; it is a foregone conclusion, the very language of logic. The certainty is based on God’s revealed purpose, and glows in the richest hues of prophecy. Humility forbids boasting; we have not said that the Covenanted Church shall have this honor. But the Banner of the Covenant, by whomsoever borne, will surely be glorified with victory, as Jesus Christ, the great Captain, leads His conquerors to universal conquest.
The Covenant contains all Bible principles that apply to Church and State; it is neither sectarian nor sectional. The Covenant abhors sectarianism. It contains the universal principles which must become universal in practice ere the world bask in Millennial glory. The true Covenanter is no sectarian. He occupies the center of a circle that contains all revealed truth, and he is pledged to all known duty.
The martyrs died in the assurance of the triumph of the cause for which they suffered. “Do not weary to maintain the present testimony,” said dying Renwick. “When Christ goeth forth to defeat anti-Christ, with that name written on His vesture and on His thigh, KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS, He will make it glorious in the earth.”
Marriage with the Son of God awaits the Church. Covenanting with the King of glory awaits the nations.
“And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
“Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready.
“Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.”
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