'It was in vain that [King of England] Charles sent down repeated and severe messages, blaming the Privy Council, the Magistrates, and all who did not punish the rioters, and enforce the reading of the Service-book. The resistance to the measure, which was at first tumultuous, and the work of the lower orders, had now assumed quality and consistency. More than thirty peers, and a very great proportion of the gentry of Scotland, together with the greater part of the royal burghs, had, before the month of December, agreed not merely to oppose the Service-book, but to act together in resisting the further intrusions of Prelacy. They were kept in union and directed by representatives appointed from among themselves, and forming separate Committees, or, as they were termed, Tables or Boards of management.
Under the auspices of these Tables, or Committees, a species of engagement, or declaration, was drawn up, the principal object of which was, the eradication of Prelacy in all its modifications, and the establishment of presbytery on its purest and most simple basis. This engagement was called the National Covenant, as resembling those covenants which, in the Old Testament, God is said to have made with the people of Israel. The terms of this memorable league professed the Reformed faith, and abjured the rites and doctrines of the Romish Church, with which were classed the newly imposed Liturgy and Canons. This covenant, which had for its object to annul all of prelatic innovation that James's policy, and his son's violence, had been able to introduce into the Presbyterian Church, was sworn to by hundreds, thousands, and hundreds of thousands, of every age and description, vowing, with uplifted hands and weeping eyes, that, with the Divine assistance, they would dedicate life and fortune to maintain the object of their solemn engagement. (1st March, 1638)...'
In "Tales of a Grandfather", Sir Walter Scott discusses the signing of the Second National Covenant at a ceremony in Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh, which occurred on February 28, 1638.