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Solemn League And Covenant

1643. Drawn up by Alexander Henderson,* this was approved by the general assembly of the Church of Scotland and transmitted to the English Parliament for ratification. After slight changes, the English legislators publicly swore to maintain the provisions of the League, jointly signing it along with the members of the Westminster Assembly* of Divines. The document was for a religious alliance between England and Scotland, rather than either a military or civil agreement. It guaranteed the maintenance of the Reformed Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) and promised to reform the churches of England and Ireland according to the Scriptures and the examples of the “best Reformed churches,” without identifying the latter. It also promised loyalty to both Parliament and Crown. Thus it prepared the way for the establishment of Presbyterianism in England and Ireland in place of the churches of England and Ireland as then constituted. As a consequence of its acceptance by the English Parliament, Scottish commissioners attended the Westminster Assembly, taking in it a prominent and influential part.

The reason for the signing of this bond of mutual agreement was that in the spring and summer of 1643, the parliamentary forces fighting Charles I were in serious difficulties. Thus Parliament wished to have the assistance of the effective Scottish army led by experienced soldiers such as the Leslie brothers. Some of the English leaders were opposed to the League, but had to agree for military reasons. Charles II later signed the League in 1650, but never kept it.