« AnteriorContinuar »
cause of religion they should present an united front, the National Covenant was signed in Greyfriars Churchyard, on the ist March, 1638, and the Solemn League and Covenant was formulated five years later. One of the most notable incidents was the riot which took place in St. Giles' Church, Edinburgh, on the 23rd July, 1637. The time having come when Archbishop Laud had determined to foist his liturgy on the Scotch people, at eight in the morning on the day on which it was to be introduced, there was a Presbyterian service, and the minister, with tears in his eyes, took farewell of his flock. When the Dean of Edinburgh entered to perform the service there was an immense crowd, and the excitement was intense. There was considerable clamour amongst the people when the dean began, and the service had not proceeded far when an old woman, named Janet Geddes, who kept a vegetable stall in the High Street, unable further to restrain her wrath, seized the stool on which she was sitting, and hurled it at the head of Episcopalian authority with the words, “Out, thou false thief! dost thou say mass at my lug?” The lawless act was like putting a match to gunpowder. There was a fierce riot, the bishop was nearly torn to pieces, and the influences that radiated from Jenny's strong arm stimulated the Presbyterian cause throughout the whole country. • Amid these scenes and men, William Livingston acted his great part, and resisting alike threats and flatteries, stood true to the national interest and the cause of the Reformed Church. He was born at Monyabroch, in the year 1576. He was educated at Glasgow University, and laureated in 1595. According to the custom of the time, he was ordained at first to preach privately on the 13th January, 1596. He received public license on the 27th January, institution on the roth July, and ordination on the 13th July—all of the year 1596. His father neither disputed his deposition nor appealed from the verdict of the presbytery. This acquiescence, on his part, was no doubt because he had good reason to believe that his son would become his successor in Monyabroch. But be this as it may, when his father was deposed, William received temporary charge of the parish. Having fulfilled his duties both to the satisfaction of the people and the presbytery, the former body recommended him to the patron as worthy to be appointed permanent minister for the reasons stated, and “his having the kirk these two years by-gone." In the circumstances Alexander, seventh Lord Livingston, and shortly afterwards created Earl of Linlithgow, issued a presentation in his favour, and he was ordained to Monyabroch, 15th July, 1599.
William Livingston was a strong man, and he had not been half a dozen years minister of Monyabroch, when his influence began to be felt as a power throughout the whole country. James had ascended the throne of England, but even in that elevated situation he thought with concern of the doings of the young minister. Livingston had a tremendous voice, and in denouncing the inroads of Episcopacy, he used it to the best purpose. It was intolerable to the author of the “ Basilicon Doron” to have a young rude Scotsman rising out of the obscurity of his native mosses and confronting him after this fashion. The King bit his nails with vexation, not knowing what to do with him. Then having well pondered the matter, on the 18th October, 1607, at his Southern Court at Royston, he fulminated against him his first decree. “Understanding,” the King wrote, “ of the unquiet and turbulent disposition of Maister William Livingstoun, professing himself rather a fire-brand of discord then, according to his dewtie and function, a good instrument for the unity and peace of the Church ... oure pleasure and will is that, by our speciall command, in our name, you do confyne the said Maister William Livingstoun within the bounds of his own paroche, quhair he is preacher, inhibiting him to transcend or come forth out of the boundis thairof without our special licence had and obtenit, and that under pane of rebellion.” There was much more to the same effect. The Royal mandate was addressed to the Scottish Privy Council, and was most carefully composed. There is a touch of humour in it. The tenor simply runs, “ Let this wild, young minister keep to his mosses and his badgers. They are his native place, and the best place for him.” The Privy Council carried out to the letter the Royal behest, and Livingston was for six years kept a close prisoner within the bounds of his parish. His fame had been growing; he had made himself in a short space a power in the land; it is easy to understand, consequently, how his proud spirit would chafe under the abhorrent decree. It was certainly an artful and awkward log placed across the path of a young man conscious of a career before him. It was evident he could, in the very nature of things, get no sympathy from the honest farmers and shepherds of his flock. How could they believe or see that, to be compelled to live amongst them was a sore indignity for him ?
William Livingston thus early felt the weight of the King's hand. But he was not cowed. He nursed his wrath to keep it warm. In 1612 the King wrote the Archbishop of Glasgow that he had heard good accounts of William Livingston of Monyabroch, and that he be released from his confinement. The King was under a complete mistake. The brave spirit he was six years before that, he was still, and when his tether was cut, he was tooth and nail at his old work again. The King was evidently incensed, for in the autumn of 1613, he deposed Livingston from the ministry of Monyabroch for opposing the restoration of Episcopacy, and not submitting to the canons and ceremonies. This action left the Sovereign as perplexed as before. He had deposed Livingston as far as he was able to depose him, but his mind was ill at ease. William Livingston was the hot chestnut in his hand which he could not hold and which he disliked to throw away. It may be the King remembered the loyalty of the Livingston family to his unfortunate mother. Anyhow, whether it was vacillation, or the recollection of past favours, the King gave substantial proofs of his change of mind. Not many weeks after William Livingston's deposition from the charge of Monyabroch, on the ist October 1613, he was presented by the King to Lanark parish. But if Livingston had shown he was not to be cowed, he was also to show he could not be cozened. In Lanark he was as true a man, as faithful a pastor, as fearless a preacher, and as greatly beloved of the people as he ever was in Monyabroch.
Amongst the denunciators of the Perth Assembly and the five prelatic Articles there were none to compare with William Livingston. Authority accordingly decreed that further indulgence was vain, and that his mouth must be shut at all hazards. He was accordingly summoned to appear before the Court of High Commission, at Edinburgh, on Tuesday, the 28th March, 1620. Livingston put in two pleas. The first was that he had not been lawfully summoned, too little time having been allowed him to prepare his case. This plea the commissioners overruled. His second plea was that “the Commission was neither free, nor full, nor formal," and was incompetent in the case. When sentence of deposition and imprisonment had been pronounced, Livingston spoke his mind freely. He held that the accusation against him was such as could only be tried by a commissioner sitting under the authority of the General Assembly, and not under the authority of the King. His speaking, of course, was of no avail. The court, before apprehending him, allowed him to pay a visit to his friends, thereafter he was imprisoned in Minin Abbey. There are, however, some who say that the place of banishment or confinement was his former parish of Monyabroch.
William Livingston was kept a close prisoner for nearly three years. It was a sore trial to his parishioners. By 1623 he was again, however, restored to their affections. This was the year in which he had his famous dream. It opens up a curious feature in the religious beliefs of the time. Mr. Livingston was lying in bed one winter night fast asleep in his house at Lanark. In his sleep he was awakened by hearing the words“ Arise, go and help Crossriggs, for he is in great hazard.” Crossriggs was the name of a little estate four miles distant in Lesmahagow parish, and the laird went by the same name. The proprietor was a gentleman of respectability, and for some time had been in great concern about his soul's salvation. Thinking his own fancy had deceived him, Livingston fell asleep again. In a little, however, he was once more awakened by the voice, which, while it spoke the same words, spoke them far more emphatically. Again he mused over the matter, and again he fell asleep. But soon, receiving a powerful stroke on the side, he awoke the third time to hear the mysterious voice calling to him with great