ページの画像
PDF
ePub

place in the religious opinions and habits of the people, the manner in which they had themselves effected that change, not only without the countenance of those to whom they had been accustomed to yield unquestioning obedience, but in the face of their most strenuous opposition, had taught them a lesson of self-respect, and imbued them with a consciousness of their own power which materially affected the relations in which they had hitherto stood to their hereditary superiors. For the first time they had exercised the right of thinking for themselves, and having succeeded in constraining their rulers to admit that right, they were not likely to return speedily to the state of vassallage and passivity from which that effort had roused them. They had swallowed the first draught from the fountain of freedom, and had found it too pleasant and refreshing to allow the stone which had so long covered that fountain, again to be rolled upon it. It was not, however, for civil freedom so much as for the rights of conscience that they were concerned. They had arisen to cast from them the bonds not of a political, but of a spiritual despotism. They were, consequently, less disposed to quarrel about matters of policy, than to maintain to the last, every jot and tittle of that ecclesiastical system for which they had already dared and done so much. Their religion was to them not merely the basis of their hopes for eternity, and the source of their comfort and direction in life, it was also associated with all that was spirit-stirring in the recollection of the hour when they first burst from the thraldom of centuries. They felt that in being the objects of a divine message, they occupied a place which rendered it an invasion of the divine prerogative to withhold from them the right of studying that message for themselves, without respect to any authority but that of the Almighty. Whilst, therefore, they offered no resistance to the temporal claims of their sovereignwhilst, on the contrary, they seemed prepared for almost any degree of sacrifice or service which loyalty in temporal matters was thought to demand ; their religion was a sacred inclosure within which they would permit no profane foot to enter, and the integrity and purity of which they were ready to defend with the last drop of their blood. Amidst poverty and insecurity they felt this to be a treasure of certain and unsearchable riches; under the grinding oppression and incessant exactions of their feudal superiors, they gloried in the consciousness that this at least was their own. It was the pearl of great price for which they were ready to part with all that they had, but which they would exchange for nothing, short of those unseen glories of which it was the foretaste and the pledge.

Under these circumstances, nothing more strikingly shows the utter infatuation which seems to have seized upon the princes of the house of Stuart, than that they should have selected this point

-the only one on which the mass of the people were peculiarly sensitive, -as that through which to probe most painfully and cruelly the patience and loyalty of their hereditary subjects. From the very first the Presbyterian faith had been distasteful to them, and in allowing it to become the established religion of the country they had yielded, unwillingly and with bad grace, only to a stern necessity. They accordingly were ready, on the first opportunity, to endeavour its destruction, and at this favourite object they laboured until they had severed every tie of loyalty and custom by which the Scottish nation was bound; and had kindled the flames of a civil war, in which, after it had raged for the greater part of a century, and licked up some of the best blood of the kingdom, their own ancient line was at last consumed and lost. So long as James remained in possession only of the Scottish throne, the contest seems to have proceeded with little virulence or zeal on either side. No sooner, however, had he ascended that of England, and got over his never very deeply seated horror of · Pasche and Yule,' and the evil-said mass of the Liturgy;* no sooner had he tasted the sweets of being surrounded by obsequious bishops, who did him reverence as the acknowledged head of the Church, and flattered him into the belief, that on him the mantle of Solomon had descended, than he learned to adopt for his motto, No bishop, no king, and commenced with resolute vigor to assail the constitution which had been conceded to the Kirk of Scotland, by attempting to subvert the Presbyterian parity of its ministers, and to enforce upon its members a conformity in matters of faith and order to the Episcopal church of England. The success which attended his exertions is almost incredible, considering the state of feeling among the majority of the clergy and the great mass of the people in Scotland; and can only be satisfactorily accounted for by the romantic loyalty of the nation, and their unwillingness to believe that one of their own Stuarts could be deliberately and intentionally seeking their personal injury and national disgrace. Not only did James succeed in engrafting bishops upon the stock of the Presbyterian Establishment, but he gradually accomplished the restoration to these functionaries of much of the wealth, power, and dignity which had been enjoyed by the Scottish bishops previous to the Reformation. Large innovations were made also in the ritual and discipline of the church ; an uniform Liturgy was enforced; the eucharist was appointed to be received in a kneeling posture; the holy communion' to be administered to sick persons who could declare upon their conscience, that they considered their sickness to be deadly; all children to be baptized

* See Price's History of Protestant Nonconformity, vol. i. P.

449.

in the church, and a declaration to be made after the ceremony by the minister, that the child ought therefore to be received as one

of the true flock of Christ's fold; all young persons to be instructed in the catechism, and to be in due time presented to the bishop, that he might bless them with prayer for the increase of their knowledge, and the continuance of God's heavenly graces with every one of them;' and the festivals of Christmas, GoodFriday, Easter, Ascension-day, and Whit-Sunday to be observed. * The means by which James succeeded in introducing these innovations were sufficiently discreditable. Bribery, craft, and force were unsparingly employed for the purpose. The royal prerogative was stretched to its utmost extent for the protection of those who favoured his designs, and for the punishment of those who opposed them. Some of the basest men were exalted both to civic and ecclesiastical dignity; some of the worthiest and most respected were treated as criminals, deprived of their civil or ecclesiastical status, fined, imprisoned, or banished from the kingdom. Still it was only after repeated attempts, and a considerable lapse of time, that the triumph was attained; and the difficulties James had to encounter seem to have effectually deterred him from making any further encroachments upon the Scottish Kirk, though perseveringly urged to it by the restless and malignant bigotry of Laud.t Nor was his success in reality so great as it appeared. A large proportion even of those who had

supported his innovations, or tacitly acquiesced in them, were in heart averse from them; while not a few of the more zealous of the Presbyterian party were fearlessly and openly opposing them. A strong feeling had been excited throughout the country in favour of the deposed and banished clergy, of which several of the latter availed themselves, and returned to their former spheres of labour. The 'too-fervid genius ’ of the nation had, moreover, been rudely stirred, and was venting its effervescent wrath in murmurs and moody threats, which if they fell short of the monarch, lighted with full weight upon the unlucky men on whose behalf he had violated the civil and ecclesiastical immunities of the people. A ntemporary Latin epigram upon Nicholson, Bishop of Dunkeld, from the pen of one who himself subsequently sustained the burden of a mitre, David Lindsay, successively

* Cook's History of the Church of Scotland, vol. ii. pp. 291–294. The above form the famous Articles of Perth ;' they were agreed to by a General Assembly of the Church held at that city in 1618, and were enacted by Parliament three

years

afterwards. + See a curious passage in proof of this in Hackett's Life of Williams, part i. p. 64; quoted also by Dr. Price, History of Nonconformity, vol. č. p. 46, note.

# Perfervidum ingenium Scotorum.' Buchanan.

Bishop of Brechin and of Edinburgh, sets forth not inelegantly, the penitential anxiety with which that prelate, at least, longed to be relieved of the uneasy honours with which his sovereign had invested him. Of this epigram we venture to submit to our readers the following version ; the original is given in the Historia Rerum nuper Regno Scotiæ Gestarum-(ascribed to Lewis du Moulin, and composed from contemporary documents).

In vain my wife, in vain my friends console,

In vain they bid me seek the Leech's skill ;
None can me comfort, nought can make me whole,

Nought, save an act, my sovereign, of thy will :-
Oh! from my throbbing brow this mitre lift ;
Resume thy soul-and-body-killing gift.

Among the more pious part of the community a feeling of sadness and of deep regret prevailed; in their eyes a grievous wrong had been done to the prerogative of Christ, the sole Head of the Church, and the way opened for the return of all the Antichristian abominations of which Scotland had been purged at the Reformation; in their own expressive words, they felt that they had ‘lost

the sap, and blood, and warmth of the pristine church—that “every-thing was retrograding and becoming worse—and that the

whole Antichristian hierarchy, which had been formerly rejected, "was, to the extreme grief and lamentation of all good men, about to be recalled from the lower regions to the light.'I Amid the follies and absurdities of his court, James might make himself merry with the remonstrances and sorrows of his injured and insulted countrymen; but a spirit had been evoked by his bungling tyranny which it passed his craft to lay, and which in the bosoms of a stern and inflexible people, was even then brooding over purposes of retaliation when the day of vengeance should arrive.

The work which James had so far succeeded in accomplishing,

* This appears to have been but a poetical paraphrase of what Nicholson declared on his death-bed; for Calderwood tells us he assigned as the cause of his illness, that 'the digesting of the bishopric had wracked his stomach.' Hist. p. 570. See also Mc Crie's Life of Melville, ü. pp. 105, 251.

+ Tunc succum, sanguinem et calorum pristinæ Ecclesico amisimus; binc omnia in pejus reure et retro sublapsa, referri, adeo ut Antichristiana omnis Hierarchia ante ejerata, bonorum summo cum gemitu et mærore ab inferis in lucem revocaretur.—Epist. ab Ecclesiis Scoticis ad Helveticas, &c., appended to the Hist. Rerum Gestarum, above referred to. It is interesting to observe from this letter how anxiously the Scottish clergy labour to excuse both James and Charles, and to cast the blame of their sufferings upon Laud and some of their own bishops. There is some justice in this ; but more of a mere morbid loyalty

his unhappy son determined at all hazards to complete. Haughty, resolute, and deeply bigoted, Charles espoused the ecclesiastical views of his father only to carry them out with a firmer purpose, and by a more open and avowed course of procedure. His first measures with respect to the Scottish Church, while they brought him into direct collision with some of the most powerful of his nobility, and were accomplished by means more arbitrary than honourable, were nevertheless productive of real benefit to the clergy and to the country generally. By revoking the gifts which his predecessors had made of thie teinds or tithes to certain lay impropriators, and settling them upon their present basis, he conferred a boon at once upon the peasantry, by relieving them from a most oppressive and ruinous vassalage; upon the nation at large by the encouragement thereby afforded to agriculture, and the facilities furnished for extending education through all classes of the community; and upon the clergy, by supplying them with moderate, but certain and easily collected stipends.* Had he been contented with this, we should willingly have accorded the praise which Mr. Napier claims for him of having been actuated solely by a desire for the happiness of his people and the prosperity of his kingdom ; but we fear the pertinacity with which he sought to couple with these acts certain regulations respecting clerical vestments, as well as his subsequent proceedings, too clearly shows, that the charge brought against him by Laing and Brodie, of intending by them rather the aggrandisement of the episcopal party in the Church, than the good of the community, is well-founded. It is plain from the extracts which Mr. Napier has furnished in the work before us, from the contemporary papers of Lord Napier, that the moderate party, as represented by that nobleman, viewed with deep regret the indications which the king's conduct upon this occasion furnished of his pertinacious determination to carry through his designs respecting the establishment of Episcopacy in all its fulness of prelatic pomp and power in Scotland; and our author has himself admitted, that if Charles did not push matters to an extremity at this time, it was only because he had paused in his favorite and pious

scheme of arranging a uniformity of worship throughout his • kingdoms, and determined to conquer more gradually and with as little violence as possible, the selfish obstinacy of the tithe. holders, which, he had every reason to believe, was the only

obstacle to his ameliorations of the Episcopal Church in Scot• land.'— Vol. i. p. 94. In the king's own account of his conduct it is admitted, that the act relating to the vestures of the clergy, as

* See Heylin's Life of Laud, and Cook's History of the Church of Scolland, vol. ii. p. 342.

« 前へ次へ »