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well as an act ratifying all the ecclesiastical innovations which his father had introduced during his reign, was passed in spite of a strenuous opposition on the part of many members of the Scottish Parliament-a plain indication that the king had some other ends in view in the measures which he succeeded in carrying through affecting the Church, than the mere comfort and well-being of the community, else he would surely have foregone a point of such trifling moment, in accordance with the feelings of the nation, expressed by a large and independent minority (if minority it was *) of their legislators. Accordingly, it was soon made apparent what the king's designs really were ; and that all he had at this time accomplished was but the feeble commencement of his enterprise – the mere apoyvuvaopata, as it were, that preluded his more deadly onset. On his return to London, guided,' to use Mr. Napier's words, by the policy of Laud, Charles at length determined to effect the long-meditated scheme of ecclesiastical uniformity throughout his dominions.'— Vol. i. p. 131. First came the Book of Canons, enacting many things highly offensive to the religious feelings and detrimental to the civil immunities of the nation, and which was promulgated (in the year 1636) under the sanction of the royal prerogative alone ; the concurrence of the constituted authorities of the Scottish Church having, contrary to all precedent and law, been not so much as asked. Hardly had the first burst of popular indignation to which this rash step gave rise, found vent, when it was followed up by one still more calculated to irritate the minds of the nation, and goad them on to deeds of violent resistance. This was the appointment, by royal authority, of a new liturgy to be
* This is still a doubtful point. Burnet asserts, that almost the whole Commons voted in the negative, so that the Act was indeed rejected by the majority, which the king knew, for he had called for a list of the members, and with his own pen had marked every man's vote; yet the clerk of the register, who gathers and declares the votes, said it was carried in the affirmative. The Earl of Rothes affirmed it went in the negative. So the king said the Clerk of Register's declaration must be held good, unless the Earl of Rothes would go to the bar and accuse him of falsifying the record of Parliament, which was capital; and in that case, if he should fail in the proof, he was liable to the same punishment, so he would not venture on that.' Mr. Napier argues against this explicit testimony with all the zeal of a keen and able lawyer, but he does not, in our opinion, materially shake the evidence of Burnet. There can be no doubt that Burnet only repeats what was matter of public talk at the time it happened, and it is not very probable that this would have been the case had there been no truth in the report, as there were so many who could have disproved it. Besides, it is little in the king's favour, that he should have sought to shelter bis Clerk Registrar under the terrors of a barbarous law, instead of following the obvious expedient of repeating the vote. Few men in Rothes's circuinstances would have perilled their heads upon such a 'venture.'
used in all the churches, the joint production of the Bishops of Ross and Dunblane, under the direction of Laud. The model on which this was formed, was the English Book of Common Prayer; but so many alterations were introduced, chiefly through the influence of Laud, upon that model, that a work much more Popish in its character, and pernicious in its tendency was the result. A proceeding more repugnant to Scottish feeling at that time, than the compulsory introduction of such a book into the order of public worship, can hardly be conceived. But Charles, urged on by that dark spirit which then ruled his ecclesiastical councils, and whom an eloquent writer has not inaptly described as “a lower kind of Saint Dominic—differing from the fierce and
gloomy enthusiast who founded the Inquisition, as we might • imagine the familiar imp of a spiteful witch to differ from an • archangel of darkness *-determined to run all risks in favour of his cherished scheme of uniformity. Every warning was disregarded by him; every entreaty to waive his mad pretensions scouted as an insult.
In vain the nation remonstrated; in vain his most valuable and prudent counsellors exhorted him to desist; in vain the majority even of the Scottish bishops themselves implored him to proceed with greater deliberation. The king was obstinate; and accordingly, after some unavoidable delay, the order was made imperative, that on the 23rd of July, 1637, the liturgy should be used in all the churches. The attempt to carry this into effect was the signal for an universal and overwhelming outbreak of the long pent up fury of the nation. The mass of the clergy refused to use the obnoxious book, and those of them who ventured to read it were with few exceptions, unable to proceed from the violent opposition which they encountered from their audiences. In Edinburgh, scenes of disgraceful tumult were repeated with each new attempt to proceed with the reading of the liturgy; and it was with difficulty that some of the conforming clergy escaped with their lives. X paroxysm of wrath and zeal had seized all classes of the community. Petitions and remonstrances of every kind were poured in upon the Council from all parts of the kingdom. The people assembled in various places in large masses, and in not a few cases gave way to proceedings of a very tumultuous character in their ardour against the obnoxious innovations. This led to the formation, in the early part of 1638, of a sort of representative council of the nation, consisting of four · Tables,' as they were called, each of which represented one of the four great classes into which the community was supposed to be divided-the nobility, the gentry, the clergy, and the burghers. By this body
• Edin. Review, vol. liv. p. 321.
the public feeling was concentrated and directed; measures were concocted and regulations issued by it with all the authority of law; until it gradually superseded in effect the entire government and legislature of the country. Such were the first results of what Mr. Napier calls, Charles's rational and praiseworthy
scheme of uniformity in the Protestant worship of the kingdom; but which may be more justly designated his insane and impious attempt to trample upon the rights of conscience, and invade the prerogative of the Almighty.
Mr. Napier would fain make it out that all this excitement and hostility to the liturgy, was the result of strenuous and factious agitation on the part of the clergy, and what he calls the Rothes and Balmerino faction,'-in other words, the disaffected nobility and gentry, whom Charles had offended by his measures respecting the settlement of the tithes. He repeatedly insinuates that a design existed on the part of this faction, to deprive Charles of his hereditary crown in Scotland, and to restore to that country its ancient dignity, by placing the sceptre in the hands of a resident as well as a native prince. As the most likely means of success in this design, he supposes that they prevailed upon the ministers, who, according to his account, were generally speaking a set of ignorant hot-headed bigots, to use their influence with the people against the king, by insinuating or asserting, that the latter was aiming at nothing less than the re-establishment of Popery in all its former power; and the ministers being, as he affirms, quite as factious as the nobility, went cheerfully into the scheme, and chiefly through their influence over the weaker sex, raised a popular prejudice against the king and the bishops, which expressed itself in the first instance by the tumults that occurred in the cathedral of Edinburgh, and was afterwards carefully fomented into a cause of implacable discord throughout the kingdom. This theory hangs so loosely together, and is dependant upon so many mere suppositions, that it is hardly worth while deliberately to set about refuting it. Where, we may be permitted to ask, is the evidence that any such design as that attributed by Mr. Napier to the insurgent nobility, at this time really existed ? or, supposing that it did exist, is it at all credible that it should have been so readily espoused by the clergy? The latter were, generally speaking, attached to Charles; and their attachment must have been naturally not a little increased by the very measures which had so grievously offended the nobility, inasmuch as they were direct gainers by those measures. they such illiterate and semi-civilized barbarians, as Mr. Napier, repeating the unfounded calumnies of his party, affirms that they were. Measured, indeed, by the standard of a Walton, a Taylor, or a Barrow, they must be pronounced deficient in learning, in eloquence, in richness of language, and comprehensiveness of
thought; but of how many hundreds in the very church of which these men were the ornaments, may not the same thing be affirmed? or who that knows any thing of the history of the times would so much as think of applying such a standard to the Scottish clergy of that day? Opportunities of acquiring large stores of literature, or of cultivating to a great extent powers of graceful or elaborate disquisition, were but sparingly furnished at that time to candidates for the sacred office in Scotland. Nor was the temper of the times favourable to the indulgence of that quiet plodding and academic repose by which the great divines of the English church amassed their treasures and nurtured their faculties. The public mind was unsettled ; questions of mighty moment, both in theology and in politics, were under general discussion; interests of the deepest value were at stake. It was a time for decision, not for contemplation ; for the energetic use of what a man had, not for the quiet and composed ai assing of resources, which however valuable in themselves, their possessor might never have any occasion to call forth. Such learning and eloquence as times like these require—the learning that fits for rapidly taking a firm and discriminating grasp of a complicated question, and the eloquence that is adapted to guide the opinions and sway the feelings of a people deeply in earnest, the Scottish clergy at that time sufficiently possessed. In all matters of scholastic and controversial theology, they were accurately, if not profoundly, versed; of the original languages of the Scriptures they all knew something, and of some it might be justly said, that they were learned in those tongues; with points connected with the civil law, or with ecclesiastical and general politics, they were more than conversant; and their eloquence, though neither of the most refined nor of the most elevated order, was of that vehement, compact, and business-like character which is best suited to affect a people, shrewd, determined, and impassioned, like those to whom it was addressed.* That such men could, as a body, have been cajoled by a set of revolutionary nobles is not to be supposed for a moment; still less can we suppose them to have sided with those men from sinister and factious motives. Had they adopted this latter course, they would have been, in a temporal point of view,
* It is doing Mr. Napier no injustice to prefer, in a question respecting pulpit oratory, the opinion of such a man as Dr. Mc Crie to his. We have read,' says that eminent man, 'not one, but a number of sermons preached by Henderson, Gillespie, and Baillie, and we are sure we do not go too far when we say, that they may bear a comparison with any sermon at that time delivered in London ; and that they might have been heard, and indeed were heard, by the most refined members of Parliament of England, without the sliglitest feeling of disgust or ridicule.'-- Review of Tales of My Lundlord, in the Edinburgh Christian Instructor, for 1817, p. 175.
deeply and insanely injuring themselves. What had they to gain by such a course, supposing it successful? If they sought worldly honour and wealth, the surer, the safer, and the shorter path was to have sided with Charles, and have lent the weight of their influence to his schemes. There were some of the clerical leaders in this movement-Henderson, for instance—whom the king and Laud would have purchased at any price. Had they given in to the royal scheme—had they consented to acknowledge their temporal sovereign as their ecclesiastical head—had they, in opposition to their conscientious convictions, assumed the sacerdotal robes, and engaged to observe what they justly deemed the unscriptural and deceptive ritual of the Episcopal Church-and had they used their vast influence with the community to induce them to remain quiet under those changes, and to receive as inoffensive and scriptural the principles which they involved ; there can be no doubt that their unprincipled conformity would have been rewarded by a shower of benefits from the gratified monarch. It is inconceivable how, had they been such selfseeking, evil-minded men as Mr. Napier says they were, they should have foregone all the advantages which were thus spread before them, for the uncertain chance of bettering their condition by a civil war. The supposition is monstrous, and carries its own refutation on its front. Nor will any theory serve to account for their conduct, on the ordinary principles of human nature, which denies the validity of that plea which they themselves urged, when they rested their defence upon the obligation under which God had laid them to prefer truth to emolument, and to obey him rather than man.
As to the charge of being agitators, it is not to be denied, that the ministers made the utmost use of their influence with the people for the purpose of exciting them against the measures of the king, and that some of them forgot, in the excess of their zeal, what was altogether due to the sacredness of their office. At the same time, it is to be borne in mind, that their position was somewhat peculiar, and greatly different from that of a clergyman in the present day. Of 'them may be said, what Lord Brougham has said of the orators of ancient Greece : each was for his own district the parliamentary debater, the speaker at ‘public meetings, the preacher, the newspaper, the published
sermon, the pamphlet, the volume all in one."* To them the people looked for information and advice in regard to all their affairs, both public and private, temporal and spiritual. They were thus constrained at times to transgress the strict limit of
Dissertation on the Eloquence of the Ancients, appended to the fourth volume of his Speeches, p. 380.