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His declinator or
at the utmost hazard. Pursuant to this rash resolution, a Abp. Cant. declinator was put into Blake's hand to exhibit at his appear
The instrument set forth,
That, notwithstanding his innocence put him in a condiplea against
tion of bearing up against calumny and misreport, and that he the jurisdic- was ready to justify his sermon with respect either to the first temporal meaning, or application; yet since his majesty and the council
had undertaken to make themselves judges of his doctrine, and that his pleading to the information might disserve the liberties of the Church, and be construed as an acknowledgment of his majesty's jurisdiction in matters purely spiritual, he was obliged in all humility to demur to the authority of the court for the reasons following:
“ First. Because the Lord Jesus, from whom he had the honour of a commission, had given him a rule in the holy Scriptures for the management of his office; and that he could not fail in his regards to the civil government, unless he had exceeded his instructions. Now whether he had been thus
unhappy or not, belonged to the sole cognizance of the prophets 1 Cor. xiv. and pastors; ‘for the spirits of the prophets are subject only
to the prophets.
Secondly. In regard the liberties of the Church, and the discipline established was confirmed by several acts of parliament, and the office-bearers peaceably possessed of the trial of doctrine, he ought to be remitted to the ecclesiastical senate, as his competent judges in the first instance. For these and other weighty considerations, particularly for preventing the inconveniences which might happen to religion and his majesty, in case any alienation of his majesty's mind from the ministry and the cause of God should appear ;-to prevent the inconveniences, he, both for himself and in the name of the commissioners of the general assembly, who had signed his declinator, humbly beseeched his majesty not to overbear the liberties of
the Church, but rather discover his inclination to support it." Blake's plea When the trial came on, and he was required to plead to the formatim. information, he told the court, that, “though it was in his
power to object to the legality of the forms, yet he should wave that advantage, apply to the customary remedy, and desire to be remitted to his proper ordinary.” Being asked his meaning, he told them, “his ordinary was the presbytery within whose precinct the sermon was preached." And whereas he had
to the in
alleged the charge was general, and contrary to the provisions ELIZAof parliament; to this when the king replied, the general terms of the information were qualified to a particular reference produced by the English ambassador ;-—to this his answer was, that, “since the matter of the charge was delivered in the pulpit, he ought to be judged by the Church in the first instance.” Being farther demanded, “whether the king was not as competent a judge of treason, as the Church was of heresy?” he replied, that “words spoken in the pulpit, though alleged to be treasonable, could not be judged by the king, till the Church took first cognition thereof. But he was not come thither (he said) to argue and disentangle questions ;” and then exhibited his declinator. Now the solemnity of the princess's christening drawing near, the trial was put off to the last of November.
The commissioners in the mean time sent a copy of Blake's A copy of declinator to all the presbyteries. They wrote to them at the nator sent to same time to sign the instrument; to recommend the cause in
byteries. their private and public prayers; to use their interest with their parishioners; and exert themselves with all imaginable vigour. The king, looking upon these motions as preparatory to mutiny and rebellion, published a proclamation to forbid the Church-commissioners meeting together; censured their pro- The Churchceedings as tending to an insurrection; and ordered them to sioners return to their respective parishes within twenty-four hours,
quit under the penalty of being prosecuted for rebels.
burgh. This proclamation shocked the commissioners, and put them to a stand; but they quickly re-collected their spirits, and resolved to risk the event. However, to embarrass themselves as little as might be, they sent some of their members to the king to represent the inconveniences likely to follow this hard usage upon the Church; to entreat the prosecution against Blake might be superseded; and that all other controversies of this nature might be referred to a general assembly. The king answered, these disputes were no less unacceptable to him than to themselves ; and that if they would either withdraw the declinator, or declare it was no more than a personal remonstrance ; that only Blake was concerned in the instrument; and that, being matter of defamation, it belonged to the decision 651. of the Church ;-provided this was done, his majesty was contented to wave the prosecution. Men of thought and ballast looked upon this proposal as a
WHIT- gracious overture, and advised the closing with it. Thus they Abp. Cant. moved strongly for acquiescence : “ For,” said they, “ if we
stand off from good terms, and grapple with the crown, we shall certainly sink in the contest. At present the court has some reverential regard for the Church : we had best therefore compound with them while this deference lasts : for unless we relax in our demands, we shall lose their good opinion. And when they are once exasperated, and exert their strength upon us, our weakness will quickly be discovered. Stiffness and overgrasping seldom succeed, and those who are so strong in their will, commonly suffer in their power.” Thus it was
argued by the more thinking and moderate division : but these The minis- were over-ruled by a rash majority, who insisted, " That the comerciale only way to gain their point, was to stand their ground; that tlement with God would maintain his own cause; that they ought not to be
overawed by secular considerations; that the hearts of princes were in the hand of God; and that they had an instance of his turning them to their advantage in the present business.” In short, they resolved to stand by the declinator, unless the king would supersede the process, remit the cause to ecclesiastical judges, and make an act of council, that no minister should be prosecuted for preaching ; at least not before the meeting of the general assembly.
The king, finding himself slighted in so condescending an offer, was very angry, and told those sent to wait on him, “ That he would hear no more proposals from the Church, unless they recalled the declinatory;" and ordered Blake to appear, and acknowledge the court. This being refused, the commissioners were charged to depart the town, and Blake had a new summons for the last of November.
Upon this the commissioners presented a petition to the king and the nobility; they entreated the king to refer the decision of the controversy to a general assembly, and not gratify the common enemy by engaging in an intricate dispute: a dispute which seemed to be pressed only to create a misunderstanding between his majesty and the ministers. They desired the nobility to represent the tendency of this affair to his majesty; to give frank and impartial advice, not to be sur
prised by those who are disaffected to religion, or suffer themSpotswood's selves to be drawn into a party against the Church. Mr.
David Lindesay, Mr. Robert Bruce, and Mr. Robert Rollock,
were sent with the address, and had orders, in case it was ELIZArejected, to protest against the proceedings of the council.
The king having perused the paper, laid it aside, as not de- The Church serving an answer. And now Blake being called into court, ers' petition the summons, or information, was read. He was charged with The charge affirming in the pulpit, that the popish lords were returned against home with his majesty's knowledge and assurance of protection; and that by giving this countenance, his highness “ had discovered the treachery of his heart.” Secondly, The information set forth, that Blake had called all kings the “devil's bairns ;" and that the “ devil was in the court, and in those who directed it.” Thirdly, That in his prayer for the queen, he used this expression, “ We must pray for her for the fashion, but we have no cause ; she will never do us good.” Fourthly, That he had called the queen of England an atheist. Fifthly, That he had argued in the pulpit against the proceedings of the lords of the session, and called them miscreants and bribers. Sixthly, That speaking of the nobility, he reproached them by saying, “they were degenerated, godless dissemblers, and enemies to the Church :” and that, mentioning the council, he had called them “holliglasses, cormorants, and men of no religion.” Lastly, That in June 1594, he had drawn together several noblemen, barons, and others, in the town of St. Andrew's, incited them to run to arms, and form themselves into troops and companies; and that by so doing he had usurped the regal authority, and insulted the government !.
After the information was read, Mr. Robert Pont made a Protestation protestation for saving the authority of the Church in deter- against the mining matters of doctrine. The king answered, he had no of the king,
and council. intention to decide any points of doctrine; but that himself and his council would proceed to censure treasonable expressions in a sermon, unless they could prove by clear Scripture, that ministers in these cases were exempted from the jurisdiction of the civil magistracy.
And now Blake being ordered to make his defence, alleged the information was drawn upon false suggestions. And here he produced two testimonials in his behalf: the one was from the provost, bailiffs, and common council of St. Andrew's; the
1 It is remarkable, that those Presbyterians who most boasted their zeal towards God most violated his laws of civil obedience. Such was the opposition between their faith and works, that they cannot be reconciled : “a good tree cannot bring forth corrupt fruit."
WHIT- other from the rector, dean of the faculty, professors and reAbp. Cant. gents of the university. This evidence, he urged, ought to be
preferred to any other report whatever. Having premised this, he pleaded, in the next place, that the lords of the council were not proper judges of the first six articles charged upon him ; that these pretended criminal expressions being delivered in a pulpit, ought to be tried by a presbytery, for the reasons abovementioned; and then repeating his former declinator, he exhibited a new one of the same tenor. As to the charge of raising the nobility and barons, he submitted himself to the trial of the king and council. Being ordered to withdraw, the question was put to the board, whether Churchmen, in all matters, either criminal or civil, were not within the jurisdiction of the king's courts? This question was resolved affirmatively. Upon this the council broke up, and the evidence
against Blake was postponed to the next day. The king
In the mean time, the king being of a gentle temper, and offers an ac
disposed to accommodate the matter, dispatched the prior of Blantire, treasurer; and Alexander Hume, provost of Edinburgh, to the ministers. The message was to acquaint them his majesty had no intention to proceed to extremities; that if Blake came to him, and declared his conscience concerning the articles charged upon him, the king would take his word, and give him leave to return to his parish. It being night when these gentlemen were sent, most of the commissioners were gone to their lodgings. However, they found four of them, Bruce, Rollock, Nicholson, and James Melvil. These being acquainted with the king's message, Bruce answered in the name of the rest : “ That if none but Blake had been concerned, the offer might be accepted; but the liberty of Christ's kingdom had received such a wound by the late proclamations, and by usurping the spiritual jurisdiction, that if Mr. Blake and twenty others had suffered death by the government, it would
have been a less affliction to the good brethren than these in652. jurious proceedings: and that unless these things were re
tracted, they would continue their opposition as long as they
The next morning, he sent for two or three of the Expostulates ministers, argued with them, and had the goodness to acquaint
them that he was so far from any design of lessening the spiri
with the ministers.