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consult upon the danger with which the kingdom seemed to be ELIZA
BETH. threatened : for now a Spanish invasion was the general discourse, and here the inquiry turned upon two points. First, burgh, A.D. what might be the cause of so black a prospect: and, secondly,
1596. they deliberated
the means to resist the common enemy. As to the causes, they concluded them the sins of the nation, and more especially of the ministry : and, to give the better direction to a remedy, they ordered a committee to draw up the failings of the Churchmen under several heads, both with respect to their office and private life. Thus within a day or two several articles of the ministers' misbehaviour were laid before the assembly. And, to discharge their commission more effectually, they brought in a lay-list of the disorders in the king's family; the mal-administration in the courts of justice, and the failings common to all degrees, together with the proper remedies. This performance being well received, and the assembly ac- They ap
point a pubknowledging that part of the charge which concerned them-lic fast. selves, appointed a day of humiliation for making a new covenant, as they called it, to awaken their consciences to a better discharge of their duty. This is the covenant which the paritymen object was broken at the settling episcopacy: but this, as archbishop Spotswood observes, is a great mistake: for this humiliation-covenant has not so much as a syllable sounding to this sense : nothing that relates either to the confirming the Presbyterian government, or renouncing the ancient hierarchy: they only obliged themselves, in general, to continue in “ the profession of the truth,” and live answerably: but as to any regulations of ceremony, or ecclesiastical polity, there is no mention of that in the records. As to the expedients for opposing the common enemy, they addressed the court, that all those who had abetted the insurrection of the popish lords, should surrender themselves, and be confined till they had given security not to hold any correspondence with those noblemen, in case they returned into the country: and that the revenues of the banished lords' estates should be seized for raising and paying troops for the defence of the kingdom, with some other suggestions of this kind, not necessary to be mentioned. Spotswood,
This address was by no means acceptable to the king ; he P. 416. considered the queen of England was far advanced in years ; for this reason, besides others, he desired to live easy at home,
WHIT- and give general satisfaction to his subjects: for that otherAbp. Cant. wise his right to the English crown might probably be disturbed.
To this purpose, some time before this meeting of the Kirk, he sent for Mr. Robert Bruce, a leading man in the assembly, opened the design of recalling the Roman Catholic lords, with the good effect it might have upon the public repose. Bruce excepted only against the earl of Huntley, whom the king seemed to favour above the rest. The king condescended to argue the point, and offered several reasons to justify the mo
tion. To this Bruce replied, with a surprising assurance, I to the king. see, sir,” says he,
says he, “that your resolution is to take Huntley into favour; which if you do, I will oppose, and you shall 1d. p. 417. choose whether you will lose Huntley or me; for us both you 649.
cannot keep.” By the way, notwithstanding this size of confidence, this minister was reputed one of the most modest unbigoted men of the whole party!
There were two conventions of the estates this summer, one at Falkland, and the other at Dunfermline ; in both of which, the return of the Roman Catholic lords, who had been banished for holding a correspondence with the Spaniards, was agreed. Now, notwithstanding the conditions required of these noblemen were a sufficient guard to the Scotch Reformation, the
commissioners for the Kirk were much disturbed at this permissioners of mission. To alarm their party, and fill the country with take check at jealousies and fears, they ordered a public humiliation should agreed by be kept on the first Sunday of December ; that, upon that day, tion of the
the ministers should enlarge upon the danger religion was in by the return of the excommunicated lords; that the presbyteries should convent those who entertained or kept any correspondence with these exiles, and proceed summarily upon one citation with the censures of the Church,“ quia periclitatur salus ecclesiæ et reipublicæ;" and, lastly, it was resolved that a selected number of commissioners, picked out of the country, should come up to town, sit with the presbytery of Edinburgh, and conclude upon measures proper for the juncture.
This new body, called “ The Council of the Church,” sat every day, and gave out such orders as they thought proper upon every emergency. By the direction of this board, the lord Alexander Seaton, president of the session, was called before the synod of Lothian, for holding intelligence with the
1 One of Collier's shrewdest sarcasms.
earl of Huntley. This synod referred him back to the council, ELIZAwhere, after having solemnly purged himself from the imputation, and engaged against any such correspondence for the future, he had the favour of being dismissed.
The king, being apprehensive of farther disturbances, and willing to keep fair with the Kirk, ordered his council to enter upon a conference with some of the most moderate ministers, and endeavour giving them satisfaction touching the return of the banished lords. To this purpose, David Lindsay, Patrick Galaway, James Nicholson, and James Melvil, were sent for to court, and desired to answer this question : 6. Whether the A conference banished lords, after having given the Church proper satisfac- of the privytion,-for, without this condition, the king intended them no tle ministers , favour,---might not be pardoned, and restored to their estates ?" but without To this the ministers replied, "they came only to hear propo
effect. sals, but could give no answer to a business of that importance till they had made a report to their brethren." Upon this the conference was postponed till the afternoon, when they promised to return with the opinion of their principals. They kept their time, and reported, “ that the brethren were glad of the respect his majesty had shown the Church; but in their judgment, the popish lords having deserved death by the law of God, and forfeited their estates by the sentence of the highest court in the kingdom, they could not be lawfully pardoned or restored. And if the king and council would undertake so far in their favour, they must answer it to God and the country; but as for themselves, they could give no concurrence, but must solemnly protest against such proceedings."
After this answer, made up of passion and ignorance, they were asked, in the next place, “Whether, in case the Roman Catholic lords moved to be reconciled to the Reformation, they could reasonably be rejected ? it being a received maxim, that the arms of the Church are always open to recollection and repentance.” To this the ministers replied, “ that, though the Church could not refuse their satisfaction, if sincerely offered, the king was obliged to do justice.” The king's council finding no reasoning could reach them, or disengage them from the extravagance of their demands, broke off the conference, and gave an account to the king of what passed. His majesty was extremely displeased at the ministers' behaviour, and spoke out his resentment upon all occasions. Some of the more prudent, foreseeing the ill effects which might be conse
with the Church-com
WHIT- quent upon this provocation, advised the ministers to send some
sion. They were to offer his majesty satisfaction, to represent
And here they found the king more decretory and correcting expostulates
in his answers than they expected; for being intreated to acmissioners.
quaint them with the reasons of his displeasure, with a promise
The ministers, not wishing the king should declare farther
While things were thus perplexed betwixt the king and the
Church, David Blake, a minister at St. Andrew's, made the Blake rails breach wider. This man in one of his sermons had run an in the pulpit extravagant length of satire and ill manners against the king, king, the the queen, the council, and lords of the session; and that his
England an atheist, and a woman of no religion. The English
came along with Blake to Edinburgh, and solicited strongly for appear ber him. He endeavoured to persuade the ministers that the com
mon cause was concerned; that the jurisdiction of the Kirk
Nov. 10. He is summoned to
1 King James could not convince them of the supremacy of the crown; and the spirit of ecclesiastical rebellion so thoroughly possessed the Presbyterians, that they hurried on to the blackest catastrophe the constitution has ever sustained.
was struck at in Blake's prosecution: and that the king and ELIZAcouncil designed to make a precedent of the case. Melvil's heat and rhetoric prevailed so far upon the Church-commissioners, that they sent some of their number to address the king the process might be stopped, suggesting, that the prosecuting the ministers upon trifling informations would be ill interpreted, especially since the enemies of the truth were connived at. Some little time before these commissioners waited upon the 650. king, his majesty had published the conditions upon which the earl of Huntley and the other popish lords were to be received into his protection. The king asked these commissioners if they had seen this paper? adding, withal, that both Huntley and the rest in his circumstances should satisfy the Church in every point, or be prosecuted to the utmost rigour ; and that nobody should have reason to complain of the partiality of the government with respect to the Roman Catholics. As for Blake, that matter should not go very near him, only he expected his appearance, and that some expedient might be thought on for satisfying the English ambassador. “But," continued the king, “ have a care you do not decline the judicature; for if you do, it will be of worse consequence
any thing that has yet happened.”
Notwithstanding the conduct of the court with the Roman Catholics was clear and unexceptionable, yet nothing was enough to stop the clamours of the people. This ill-founded jealousy against the government was fomented by the preachers, who were perpetually haranguing upon this subject. The audience were generally made to believe that the Papists were caressed, and the ministers called in question for doing their duty and reproving sin ; and that the sceptre of Christ's kingdom was plainly grasped at. As for the process against Blake, it was only a piece of finesse in the court to divert the ministers from urging the prosecution of the popish lords ; and that if Blake should submit his doctrine to the cognizance of the council, “ the liberties of the Church and the spiritual government of the house of God would be wholly lost and subverted." In fine, therefore, they concluded a declinator the only remedy, and that there was a necessity of protesting against the present proceedings. This was a bold expedient, and strongly dissuaded by some of the more sober and dispassionate. But these were quickly overvoted by a majority, who cried out, it was the cause of God, and that they ought to stand the event