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Art. II. The History of the Church of Scotland; from the Estab
lishment of the Reformation to the Revolution : illustrating a most interesting Period of the Political History of Britain. By George Cook, D.D. Minister of Laurencekirk. 3 Vols. 8vo. pp. 1457. Longman and Co. 1815. HISTORY, while, in its exhibition of the origin aud
progress of human society, the successive improvements in the arts of government and living, the workings of human interests, passions, vices, and virtues, it offers to the mind an entertaining and truly magnificent spectacle, is also the easiest, the most agreeable, and a certain mode of acquiriny useful knowledge. Experience instructs at great expeuse, sometimes of virtue, usually of enjoyment. The inost extensive observation is comparatively narrow, and affords not examples sufficiently numerous to prevent erroneous conclusions. quiring knowledge by the means of history, we do vot expose even the most delicate moral sentiments to rudeness, while wc multiply innocent pleasures. The ficlit under view is amply cxtensive; so many examples occur as to prevent the groundless inferences that might be drawn from a tew; and a multitude of useful observations that would never otherwise have been suggested, arise from the varying aspect of human affairs, human society, and human manners.
The subject of the present volumes abounds with various and striking incidents, which are intimately connected with the inost signal revolutions in British bistory, and are pregnant with salutary lessons. Valuable and copious materials are accessible. To counterbalance these advantages, however, the whole period exbibits a scene of controversy; the events of it baving been differently represented by parties still in existence, who imagine that their own reputation is concerned in the colouring assumed by the transactions of past ages. On this account, we own, we are glad that Dr. Cook has undertaken to narrate the affairs of the Scottish Church, during the time of its greatest convulsions. llis qualifications for this delicate task, were fully displayed in bis llistory of the Reformation in Scotland ;* of which the present work may properly be deemed the sequel. With dibigence and accuracy, the fundamental virtues of an historian, judgement in coinbining the events that he records, and peneiration in tricing them to their proper causes, Dr. Cook discovers a singular superiority to the prejudices of faction. He bas treated all parties with most exemplary candour and mode. ration ; doing ample justice to their merits and virtues, and exposing with becoming severity their follies, vices, and crimes.
* Sce Eclectic Review: Old Scries : Jan. and Feb. 1812.
Throughout the work, which is written in a style at once clear, elegant, and flowing, are diffused sentiments of huroanity, freedom, and piety.
Although the doctrine introduced into Scotland by the Reformers, has, with little variation, continued to be the national faith the polity of the Scottish Church has been subject to great mutations. Of these changes, which it is the object of the present bistory to detail, we shall endeavour to present our readers a succinct account. "When the Parliament of 1560, gave its sanction to the Confession of Faith drawn up by the reformed teachers, the most eininent of them were requested to frame a plan for the government of the new church. Knox and his associates, thinking that the Scriptures had in a great measure left the form and discipline of the Church to be determined by circumstances, deséribed, in the first Book of Discipline, a platform of ecclesiastical polity, holding a middle place between episcopacy and presbytery. According to this plan, every parish was to be provided with a pastor to instruct the people, and administer the sacraments; ruling elders to assist the pastor in exercising church discipline; and deacons to manage the revenues of the church and the poor. These offices were generally conferred by the suffrages of the people, and persons were admitted to them, after examination, by prayer and exhortation. The kingdom was divided into provinces, which were entrusted to the care of superintendants authorized to preach in any part of them, to establish new churches, and to inspect the conduct of the ecclesiastical officers in their respective districts. The affairs of separate congregations were conducted by the ministers, elders, and deacons, wlio constituted the church session, and those of the provinces by the superintendants with a delegation from the pastors and elders within their jurisdiction; while the General Assembly, consisting of pastors and elders from all parts of the kingilom, exercised control over the whole national church. A plan was likewise proposed, for enlightening the community, by establishing schools in every parish, and colleges in the large towns, and appropriating the riches of the hierarchy to the surport of the new teachers, the educatiou of youth, and the relief of the poor. As this last part of the Book of Discipline was peculiarly offensive to the nobles and gentry who had seized on the spoils of the religious foundations, or expected to share the revenues of the church that were untouched, when the work was presented for the sanction of the nobility and barons, they contemptuously rejected it as altogether visionary. The mercenary motives which, they perceived, actuated their adherents, filled the ministers with indignation and regret; but though they were disappointed, and were without any regular provision for
their support, they diligently discharged the duties of their office, and proceeded with alacrity to carry into effect so much of their religious polity, as depended on themselves. They ap. pointed superintendants, beld general assemblies, and took vigorous measures to extirpate entirely the remains of the ancient superstition,
Meanwhile, they ceased not to urge their claims to provision for their maintenance, which, as they were so evidently founded in justice, it was impossible decently to disregard. It was accordingly determined that the ecclesiastical revenues should be divided into three parts, two parts to be retained by the Popish incumbents, the third to be assigned to the queen, on condition of affording a sufficient subsistence to the reformed teachers. This arrangeinent, though highly advantageous to the Catholic incumbents, who, as their offices were abolished, were likely to be entirely stripped of their revenues, was little adapted to satisfy the ministers; since the stipends in consequence allotted them, were extremely scanty, and irregularly paid. The remonstrances of the General Assembly, in June 1566, induced the Court to grant money and grain to supply the urgent necessities of the preacbers. On the accession of Murray to the regency, in the subsequent year, and the final establishinent of the reformed faith, they conceived hopes of meliorating their condition, but the difficulties with which Murray had at first to struggle, and his unfortunate assassination when he bad composed the distractions of the nation, frustrated their expectations. To gain the concurrence of the reforiners to the elevation of James to the throne, it had been stipulated to restore the patrimony of the church. As the most powerful of the king's party shewed no disposition to fulfil this condition, tbe General Assembly of August, 1571, appointed several of the most respectable of the clergy, to represent their grievances to Parliament. The regent Lenox favoured the claims of the ministers; but Morton, who shared largely in the plunder of the church, and anticipated new acquisitions, defeated their application. Though this indecent and impolitic treatment of the preachers, was adapted to alienate their minds from the Government, as they considered the preservation of the king's authority to be essential to the security of the national liberty as well as the reformed religion, they discovered a zealous and unskaken loyalty. Far from attempting to better their circuinstances by means incompatible with the discharge of their duty, they enacted that no minister should bold a plurality of benefices, or engage in secular employment.
The pecuniary difficulties which harassed the reformed teachers, concurred, with other causes, to suggest the expediency of modifying the ecclesiastical constitution. From an early period the ecclesiastical state bad formed a part of the national
council, and though Catholic bishops were prohibited the exercise of their clerical functions, they still retained their seats in parliament. The decease of many of them, made it likely that the spiritual branch of the legislature would become extinct; and it was apprehended that, if this were the case, those acts which had, during the minority of the kivg, been passed to secure both the religion and the liberty of the nation, might be deemed illegal. An attempt to obviate this inconvenience, by appointing to the vacant sees nominal prelates, with the privilege of meeting with the states, as it was subversive of ecclesiastical rights, excited such opposition as to induce the regent Mar to think of a different arrangement.
More interested motives swayed a number of the nobility, and rendered them eager for new modelling the ecclesiastical polity. The Earl of Morton had succeeded in obtaining from the Regent the ample revenues which had been enjoyed by the archbishops of St. Andrews, and many of his order anticipated similar grants. This gift, however, it was evident, was illegal. The patrimony of the see could in no sense be considered as having been forfeited; and it was apparent that if, from any change of affairs, episcopacy should be restored, the prelates would have an undoubted claim, not only to recover the annual rents of the benefice, but to prosecute those by whom the revenue had, without the authority of a regular Parliament, been appropriated. To guard against this, the most effectual expedient seemed to be to restore the order of bishops; to appropriate, with their concurrence, a certain part of the original patrimony to each of the sees, and to convey, by a formal statute, the remainder to the nobility by whom it had been seized. In this way, the best possible right that, in the circumstances of the case, could exist, · would be created; and, what probably had still more force, it was not unnaturally imagined, that, if the bishops were satisfied with what was assigned to them, no new investigation into the state of ecclesi.. astical wealth would be instituted, but the church would, in all time coming, be considered as having received an ample provision, and as having abandoned its claim to the immense possessions of the popish hierarchy. To these mercenary considerations, on the part of the nobility, the zealous ministers ascribed the change of polity which soon was introduced, and a contemptuous appellation, originating from this opinion, was applied to the bishops who were first appointed.
The clergy were, upon different grounds, equally desirous with the nobles, that there should be some modification of the form of church government. The original form, admirable as it in many respects was, had never been universally acceptable. Deviating very far from what had long been the general sentiments with regard to ecclesiastical polity, there were not wanting some who wished that it should be calmly revised, and the expediency of such a revisal was increased by the opposition which the council had uniformly made to a great part of the first book of discipline. But the chief objection to the scheme proposed in that book, arose from the conviction that
it presented the most formidable obstacles to the comfort and the independence which the ministers were naturally anxious to secure. The poverty which shackled their efforts and harassed their feelings, far from being removed, continued to press upon them with unabated severity; and venerable as were the superintendants, no hope could be entertained that men, struggling with want, would be willing to succeed to an office which required the most arduous exertion, and was attended with expence, which could be defrayed only from the private fortunes of those by whom it was filled. There was even some reason for apprehending that the little which they had hitherto received would be diminished or taken away. If the possessions of convents, and of the different orders of the regular clergy, had been vested in the crown, because these convents and these orders no longer existed, the same argument might be urged with equal force for assigning to the laity the revenues of the prelates under the Popish establishment; for as they had not been succeeded by men vested with the episcopal character, there were none entitled to what had been appropriated to the bishops of the Romish communion.
" There was another consideration which also had great weight with the Protestant clergy. It was impossible for them not to be sensible how important it was to their interest to be represented in Parliament. Without this they could not directly influence the decisions of that Assembly, ard in the unsettled state of the church, measures in the highest degree prejudicial to its welfare might be adopted. From these causes, although they were sensible that the lords entertained views not favourable to a liberal provision for the ministers, they were anxious that the expediency of introducing a new system of polity should be maturely weighed, trusting that the independence of the clergy would thus be secured, and that they might rely upon the representatives of their own order obtaining enough to remove the apprehension or the experience of pecuniary embarrassment.' pp. 170–173.
As all parties so generally concurred in favour of revising the ecclesiastical constitution, a convention having the force of a general assembly, met at Leith, Jan. 12th, 1572, and after mature deliberation agreed
•"1. That the names and titles of the archbishops and bishops be not altered, or the bounds of the dioceses confounded, but that they continue, in time coming, as they did before the reformation of religion, at least till the King's Majesty's minority, or consent of parliament. 2. That the archbishoprics and bishoprics vacant should be conferred on men endowed, as far as may be, with the qualities specified in the examples of Paul to Timothy and Titus. 3. That, 'to all archbishoprics and bishoprics that should become vacant, qualified persons should be presented within a year and day after the vacancy took place, and those nominated to be thirty years of age at the least. 4. That the spiritual jurisdiction should be exercised by the bishops in their dioceses. 5. That abbots, priors, and inferior prelates, presented to benefices, should be tried as to their qualification and their aptncss to give voice in parliament by the bishop or superintendant of