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hey had suffered than by any change of their sentiments. They beheld with aversion the episcopal order, and their zeal for the establishment of Presbytery, was unabated. Events favoured their persevering efforts. While Philip of Spain prepared what was called the invincible armada for the invasion of England, he sent a number of jesuits and priests to spread lisaf. fection in the sister kingdom. In counteracting the efforts of these cinissaries, who siicceeded in exciting rebellion, the mi. nisters discovered a most ardent zeal. Their exertions contributed gratly to frustrate the designs of the Popish faction, as well as to preserve the tranquillity of the kingdom, during the romantic voyage of the king to bring home is royal consort, a princess of Denmark. By the activity of the ministrs in supporting government, James was so much mollified, that in answer to a prayer of the General Assembly for the confirmation of the liberties of the church, he was pleased to conclude a speech, tending to conciliate the members, in the following singular terms.
6“ I praise God that I was born in such a time as in the time of the light of the Gospel,to such a place as to be King of such a kirk, , the sincerest kirk of the world. The kirk of Geneva kecp Pasch and Yule, What have they for them? They have no institution. As for our neighbour kirk in England; their service is an evil said mass in English - they want nothing of the mass but the liftings I charge you, my good people, ministers, doctors, elders, nobles gentlemen, and barons, to stand to your purity, and to exhort the people to do the same; and I, forsooth, so long as I brook my life and crown, shall maintain the same against all deadly." " Vol. I. p. 456.
This speech was heard with extreme delight. The ministers, in high expectation of success, embraced every opportunity of urging the king w establish their discipline by legislative authority. Though it is not probable that James was reconciled to the Presbyterian polity, the dangers to which he perceived longer opposition to the petitions of the clergy Inight expose his governinent, induced him to allow an act of parliainent to pass, June 5, 1592, which not only abrogated all laws hostile to the Presbyterians, but ratified, in the most ample manner, their form of ecclesiastical government by general assemblies, synods, presbyteries, and sessions. It may be proper to suhjoin the reflections in which Dr. Cook indulges on this occasion, both because they seem just, and afford an example of his manner.
• Amidst all the intemperate zeal which occasionally marked the conduct of Melvil, and of the other active supporters of the discipline of Geneva, they displayed consummate talent, and admirable dexterity, in influencing the minds of men, and in taking advantage of whatever was calculated to promote the objecis which they were solicitous to accomplish. Opposed by the executive power, which at
one stage in the progress of the Reformation might probably have permanently established a modified system of episcopacy, they prepared for the contest which awaited them, by ingratiating themselves with the people, by professing what they really felt,--for it was the natural effect of their principles,—the warmest zeal for political freedom, and by unwearied efforts to impress upon those who listened to them the infinite importance, and the awful truths of religion. Still recollecting with horror the persecution of the Popish church, they shrunk from whatever seemed in the most distant manner allied to it; they preserved or disseminated the dread of Popery, with an effect which the former feelings of the community alone could have enabled them to produce; and being actually called to oppose the intrigues of men, who would have imposed on the kingdom the yoke of spiritual bondage, they procured full credit for their repeated and fervent assertions, that, unless the presbyterian discipline was sanctioned, the purity of the Protestant faith couid not be preserved. The violence which they sometimes displayed was the natural consequence of opposition upon minds deeply impressed with the sacred nature of the cause for which they were struggling, and actuated by the zeal which their peculiar circumstances were powerfully calculated to excite ; but far from striking at the foundations of the throne, they rallied round it when they could conscientiously do so, and they occasionally extorted the gratitude of the monarch for the support which, in seasons of difficulty, he derived from their exertions.
• The parliamentary sanction now given to the Book of Discipline was in the highest degree satisfactory to the ministers. It placed them in the situation which they had long been desirous to occupy; it gave them reason to hope, that, secured against opposition, they might now devote themselves to the spiritual concerns of the community; and it afforded to the King an opportunity of gaining their confidence, and, through this, the best wishes, and the steady loyalty of his people. Had he followed this gracious act, as he was prudently advised to do, by such a provision to the clergy as would have exempted them from the hardships of poverty; had he been careful to evince to them that he was sincerely attached to the Protestant religion, and that, whilst they laboured to defend it, they might depend upon his countenance, he would have identified their duty and their interest with the just exercise of his prerogative ; he would have perceived that rough and severe censure, by which the ministers in their pulpits shocked his feelings and irritated his passions, daily softening; he would soon have heard inculcated manly and rational sentiments respecting what was due te the person and the office of the sovereign ; and he might have anticipated, by nearly a century, that state of the presbyterian church which has existed since the revolution, a state no less favourable to the constitutional rights of the King, than to the liberties of the subject. : A deviation from this policy, he might have discerned, would, from the circumstances which had attended the triumph of the presbyterians, be followed by opposition much more formidable than that which he had yet experienced. He had, in a solemn address to heaven, in presence of the clergy, and of the most earnest of their
adherents, professed his veneratiou for the church, as modelled by these reformers, and consequently every action inconsistent with this appeal to the Almighty must have sunk him in the estimation of men abhorring the looseness of impiety, and must have led them to regard him as a prince destitute of honour, whose promises or concessions, dictated by necessity, might the next moment be revoked or forgotten. And it was apparent that presbytery had been interwoven with the religious principles of the great body of the people. Hence ar attempt to subvert it could not fail to excite popular indignation, which no virtue in the members of a new establishment, or no excellence in that establishment itself, would be sufficient to remove, but which, cherished by those who were revered as the defenders of truth, might be expected to produce the most deplorable convulsions." Vol. I. pp. 467–471.
Though the Presbyterians, after a struggle of sixteen years, had procured the sanction of the states to their religious polity, their acquisitions were far from secure. The Presbyterian discipline, as it strongly encouraged the spirit of freedom, appeared to the king to be incompatible with the prerogatives of royalty, and the unceremonious manner in which the clergy contradicted his opinions and censured bis conduct, by mortifying his vanity as a prince and a divine, provoked his hatred. The ministers suspected that though he had acceded to their wishes, he would embrace opportunities to abridge their privileges and introduce a mode of ecclesiastical government more agreeable to his mind. It soon appeared that their suspicions were well founded. By his commissioner, who presented to the General Assembly the act ratifying the Presbyterian discipline, the king, while he expressed his resolution to observe the clause that authorized him to convene general assemblies, made several proposals for re straining the liberty of the ministers in their public discourses. The Assembly agreed to abide by the clause of the act respecting the calling of that judicatory, and ordained that no minister should utter any irreverent speeches against his majesty, and council, or their proceedings, or public admonitions, except on sufficient and necessary grounds. In thus retaining the liberty essential to preserve them froin tyranny and oppression, they did not satisfy James, who wished to be absolute. To this ground of opposition between the king and the clergy, the state of the country added others.
Through the feebleness of the king's government, crimes of a most atrocious nature were committed, and multiplied rapidly. The laws were contemned and the royal authority was set at defiance. A plot was formed by the emissaries of the Spanish monarch, for the subversion of the reformed religion, and several Catbolic nobles concurred in the scheme. This design was however detected by the vigilance of a clergyman, and the ministers discovered a most laudable zeal for the support of the govern
ment and the prosecution of the traitors. But the king, who, on the first alarm, shewed symptoms of vigour, treated the of -fenders with so culpable a lenity, that they became more bold in the commission of crimes, and thus he drew upon himself the hatred of the people.
• The ministers, whose zeal against popery conspired with other causes in deciding their sentiments and conduct, did not hesitate to avow and inculcate that there was in the king himself and those who surrounded Irim, some desire to pardon men whom every
consideration should have led them to punish. The synod of Fife, which hap pened to assemble when these representations were exerting their full effect, deliberated upon the state of the kingdom; and after declaring that the king was slow in repressing popery and planting the true religion; after resolving to tell him plainly what all his true subjects thought concerning his favouring and countenancing papistical traitors, and to intimate that they would sacrifice their lives rather than suffer the country to be polluted by id latry, and overrun by blood-thirsty adherents of popery; they solemnly excommunicated the earls of Huntly, Angus, and Errol, the laird of Achindown, Sir James Chisholm, and all
who supported them, and corresponded with the neighbouring provinces that the sentence might be as extensively as possible published through the nation. The cordiality with which the resolutions of the synod were every where approved, convinced James, that if the sentence were published, the people would be irri. tated against the lords to whom it related, and obstacles would be thrown in the way of that weak and timid policy which he was inclined to follow. To prevent what he dreaded, he urged Robert Bruce who was held in the highest estimation by the ministers, to suspend the publication, pointing out the irregularity of the sentence, and the evils which might result, if such interference on the part of ecclesiastical assemblies were not repressed. Although Bruce had every disposition to preserve harmony, and had deservedly, by his prudence ingratiated himself with the king, he did not dissemble his sentiments, He refused to do what was asked of him, and the conversation terminated by an insinuation from the monarch against the discipline and polity under which such measures were sanctioned.'Vol. II. p. 28.
The king having, in compliance with an humble petition from the Popish lords, appointed a day for their trial, a convention of ecclesiastics and nobles, held at Edinburgh, addressed his majesty, lamenting that the nobles had been allowed to coine into his presence, and requesting that the trial might be delayed till their accusers could conveniently appear. Though the king, who was irritated by this application, refused to acknowledge a convention assembled without his permission, he judged it expedient to defer the day of trial. As the lords, meanwhile, offered to satisfy the church and the king, an act was passed in conformity with the wishes of the prince, called the Act of Abolition, which, though designed to be extremely favourable to the lords,
they rejected, while, on the other hand, it excited the displeasure of the church. By ad aet of parliament, the lords were declared traitors; but having received a small supply of money from Spain, they took arms agaiost the government. Provoked by this bold step, the king took the field against them, which compelled them to disperse. They implored permission to withdraw from the kingdom, and James, as well from the easiness of bis nature as from a scheme which he had formed, but which he was not at all qualified to execute, of keeping the clergy in check by means of the Popish faction, granted their request. Though the ministers were pleased that the lords were banished, and anticipated the exercise of their ecclesiastical polity in all its vigour, the vacillating policy of James soon embroiled them with the court. The nation was alarmed by the report of an invasion from Spain, and the king sharing in the common fear, issued a manifesto, exhorting his subjects to prepare for vigorous resistance. When the assembly met in March, 1596, considering that the terms granted to the Popish lords were inconsistent with wise policy, among other remedies for the present exigencies, they proposed to appropriate the estates of the exiled nobles to the defence of the kingdom. Nothing could have been more inconsistent than this proposition, with the deceitful and dangerous politics of the king, who, it was known to the ministers, had determined to restore the banished lords.
Believing that they could not expect the co-operation of government in the complete extirpation of the Popish faction, which they judged essential both to civil and religious freedom, they resolved to trust to their influence over the minds of the people. Afraid that the ardent zeal which they had once excited might become weak, they conceived it necessary to give it a new impulse, by renewing the covenant, and by enjoining the clergy throughout the kingdom to do so likewise : whilst, by the most solemn professions of anxiety to reform all classes of men, and to promote their spiritual edification, they deeply impressed upon those by whom they were revered, that if the most decisive conduct was not followed, all which had been hitherto done to produce and to secure the Reformation would prove totally unavailing. Having appointed commissioners to enumerate the corruptions of the ministry, and to suggest in what manner these might be removed, a report upon this subject was presented, in consequence of which it was required that all faithful pastors should seriously examine into the motives by which they had been influenced, in entering upon the sacred office; should carefully ascertain the state of those who wished to partake of the sacrament; and should, with the sessions over which they presided, exercise ecclesiastical discipline, not only in cases of enormous wickedness, but even where slight deviations from the strictness of Christian duty had been discovered. In their own deportment, they were to avoid every approach to levity of behaviour, to gaiety of apparel, or to those prac.