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Monyabroch when the battle of Kilsyth was fought. He succeeded to the benefice on the 7th June, 1637. Seeing the fate which had befallen his predecessors, and probably being of a timorous spirit, he was deterred from following their resolute example. But be this as it may, he conformed to the Episcopalian regulations, and remained minister of the parish for twenty-nine years, when he died in September, 1665, aged 54 years. His ministry was salutary, and in various ways he made his influence felt for good. Amongst other things he instituted the orderly observance of baptism and the Lord's Supper. As yet there was no Church Bible; the congregation repeated the Creed, said the Lord's Prayer, and sung the doxology after the Psalms. During his incumbency, affairs of momentous importance transpired. Six weeks after his appointment Jenny Geddes flung her stool in St. Giles. Six years later, on the istjuly, 1643, the Assembly of Divines met at Westminster. It contained 151 members, in addition to six Scottish Presbyterians, the rest being Episcopalians, Independents, and English Presbyterians. The labours of the Assembly were destined to influence the Church of Scotland much more largely than the Church of England. The Westminster Divines produced the "Confession of Faith," the "Larger and Shorter Catechisms," and the " Directory of Public Worship." That the Psalmody might be improved they called to their aid two poets, Francis Rous, of the House of Commons, afterwards of the party of Cromwell and an artful political trimmer; and William Barton, a Leicestershire clergyman, who each furnished them with a copy of the Psalms in metre. The Assembly left the Long Parliament to decide between the versions. The Commons chose Rous's copy, the Lords Barton's. Eventually Rous's was adopted, and after having received a few corrections, was issued to the Church of Scotland. Although many efforts have been made to supplant this version it still holds the field, and at this hour is as popular as it ever was. Sir Walter Scott was opposed to altering it, and pronounced it " with all its acknowledged occasional harshness, so beautiful, that any alterations must eventually prove only so many blemishes."
The ministry of James Gartshore, M.A., was of very brief duration. He was in favour with the authorities of his time. Having been minister of Penningham parish, he was admitted minister of Monyabroch in 1666. Having been minister of the parish for seven years, he was translated to Cardross.
The third and last Episcopal minister of Monyabroch was the Rev. Walter M'Gill, M.A., translated from Wigton, and admitted, April, 1675. His ministry of sixteen years' duration was marked by unobtrusive effectiveness, and illustrated in his own person by the sweetest and gentlest Christian graces. His behaviour was meekness itself, and his counsels moderation. Bad men can ruin good systems, and good men may make even obnoxious systems palatable. Although the people had little regard for prelacy, they still held in good esteem this clergyman who went out and in amongst them discharging his kindly ministrations. He was popular amongst all classes, and seems to have given himself with all diligence to the carrying out of his ministry in the spirit of the saintly Robert Leighton. In some respects this prelate was immeasurably superior to the clergy of his time. His intellectual power was acknowledged, and his piety undoubted. He possessed an unruffled temper. He seldom smiled, and was never known to laugh. He was appointed to the See of Dunblane, and afterwards to the See of Glasgow, that through the exercise of his conciliatory spirit he might persuade the stern men of the West to embrace Episcopacy. He failed, and failed disastrously. When Leighton was unsuccessful there are some who think that the reconciliation of prelacy and presbytery may well be finally abandoned. This may be, but still it is impossible not to observe whilst acknowledging his charity and devotion, that Leighton's character was too partial and one-sided to commend itself strongly to the northern mind. Leighton had no want of love to God, but he miserably lacked a real love to man. He was formed for contemplation, and stood aloof from human sympathies and ties. In the Scotland of that time there is nothing to be wondered at that Leighton was misunderstood, that the energetic ministers of the day thought, when he allowed them to hold sessions and presbyteries, "he was straking cream in their mouths," or that "they should have judged him void of any doctrinal principles, and very much indifferent to all professions which bore the name of Christian." At an earlier date Leighton might have been the Erasmus, never the Luther of the Reformation. In devotion and piety Walter M'Gill was a reflection of his bishop, but he possessed that which Leighton wanted, a sympathetic disposition, a warm heart, and of a consequence he commended Episcopacy to his parishioners with a success which his ecclesiastical superior had never known. There is undeniable testimony that, so far from being misunderstood, M'Gill was greatly appreciated. When, after a reign of twenty-eight years, Episcopacy was again thrown off, and the Presbyterians found themselves in the ascendant, they proceeded to depose the Episcopal clergy wholesale. Amongst others, sentence was passed on M'Gill, and the Presbytery of Glasgow elected one of their number to preach the
church vacant. It was, however, much easier to depose him in the presbytery than to oust him from the parish. The matter was bruited abroad, and when the eventful Sunday came, from far and near the people began to congregate in the churchyard. It soon became apparent from the eager disputations that the crowd were about equally divided into two factions. The one party was for the Presbyterian order, and the other was against the deposition as a harsh and unwarrantable step. The latter not only embracing all the Episcopalians but also those favourable to Mr. M'Gill personally, were probably the larger and stronger party. Again they were led by Lord Kilsyth's chamberlain, and animated by the presence of Lord Kilsyth himself. When the deputy of the presbytery was seen drawing near, the noise of the crowd greatly increased, and a regular hubbub immediately ensued. Those favourable to the new order cheered the advance of the delegate, those in favour of the incumbent greeted his approach with derision. In the excitement men forgot the holy associations of the church and the graveyard. When the emissary of the presbytery approached the church, it was through a lane formed by the factions grouped on either side. When he was n earing the door, Lord Kilsyth's chamberlain stepped forward and stood in front of him. The minister demanded to be allowed to go about his duty, but the chamberlain denied him access to the church. After this altercation the pent-up feelings of the crowd could be no longer restrained, and with such weapons as they could muster, they flew at each other, infuriated by the wildest passion. The shouts of the men, the screaming of the women, the rapid movements of fists and sticks, strong men wrestling together amongst the grave-stones, and all about a form of church government, may all be taken as illustrative of a peculiar but distinctive trait of the national character. The fracas continued for a considerable time, and so violent was the struggle that one man was killed and many severely injured. The strife terminated in favour of the M'Gill faction. They drove their opponents from the churchyard, and prevented the service of the edict of the presbytery.
Feeling running high, the presbytery wisely desisted from taking further action in the case, and it would have been well if Mr. M'Gill had been allowed to spend the remainder of his days in the doing of the work he loved so well, and which was so warmly appreciated by his parishioners. This, however, he was not allowed to do, or rather, could not do after a manner consistent with his own honour. The party opposed to the continuance of his ministry, smarting under the pain of their defeat, so utterly lost command of themselves as to offer him personal violence. Not being cast in the heroic mould, he demitted his charge, February, 1691, three years after the rabbling. At this crisis two hundred curates were expelled, but it is matter of regret that so faithful a pastor as Walter M'Gill should have been one of them. He retired to Edinburgh, but did not long survive the trying ordeal through which he had passed. He died on the 20th June, 1694, aged 57. He was thrice married. First, to Janet Keir, daughter of Captain W. Keir, on the 1st April, 1664. Secondly, to Janet Bell, January, 1691. And, thirdly, in the August of that same year to Janet Chein, who survived him and subsequently married the minister of Tranent.
With the resignation of Walter M'Gill, Episcopacy came to an end in Monyabroch. It not only ceased to be represented by a public minister, it became extinct altogether, and from that time until the time of the present