Miller's Church History

Chapter 53

The Reformation in the British Isles

Ireland

Although we can scarcely speak of a Reformation in Ireland, we may briefly notice the changes in her ecclesiastical history. The connection of Ireland with the crown of England originated, as we have already seen,* in a compact with Henry II., Pope Adrian IV., and the Irish prelates of the day. "This treaty," says Dr. Phelan, "would be memorable, if it had no other claim to the consideration of posterity than the hypocrisy, the injustice, and the mutual treachery of the parties; but their views and pretensions, descending regularly to their successors, and exerting a constant influence on Irish affairs, make it an object of nearer interest. Without attention to these, it is impossible either to unravel the history of Ireland, or to judge correctly of its state at the present crisis." "The acquisition of a superiority by Henry over Ireland was greatly aided," says Mosheim, "by a desire of the national hierarchy to attain that independent and prosperous condition, which was then common to all clerical communities closely connected with Rome." Thus was the position of the bishops greatly improved, and their revenues increased, though at the high price of the independence of their nation.

{*See p. 594.}

In 1172 Henry completed his conquest of the country; the clergy submitted to the papal dictation, agreed to pay Peter's pence to Rome, proclaimed Henry's title to the sovereign dominion of Ireland, and took the oath of fidelity to himself and his successors. "Adrian's sentence," says a friend of Romanism, "violated the rights of nations, and the most sacred laws of men, under the special pretext of religion and Reformation. Ireland was blotted out from the map of nations, and consigned to the loss of freedom without a tribunal and without a crime." The hierarch, however, did not regret the change. Hitherto, the native chieftains had exercised a power over the church, which tended to keep its clergy poor and subservient; so that they welcomed the sovereignty of England and the power of Rome as protection against the ravages of their lay-lords.

"Under the ancient system, an Irish prince was as absolute master of the priesthood as of any other class among his followers. But a new order of things was introduced by Henry II., and thenceforward kept regular pace with the advance of British and papal power. All the privileges of the English church, and all those vexatious pretensions, which had just attained a temporary triumph in the canonization of Thomas-a-Becket, were communicated to the Irish clergy and maintained by them with more pertinacity, in proportion to the weakness of the civil power." From this period the Irish church came to be essentially Romish, the papal encroachments were tamely submitted to, and both the civil and spiritual rights of the Irish prelates were at the entire disposal of the Roman pontiff. Henry, in order to maintain his sovereignty over the Irish clergy, filled up the vacant sees mostly with Englishmen, and the consequence was, that a spirit of jealousy and bitter hostility began to be manifested between the English and the Irish ecclesiastics. Disputes arose; the English sovereign asserted his privilege in nominating whom he would; the Irish clergy, meanwhile appealed to Rome to decide the question, or rather, to confirm their nomination. The mitre usually prevailed over the crown, and the pope's authority steadily increased.*

{*For minute and most reliable details, see Dr. Phelan's History of the Policy of the Church of Rome in Ireland.}

Thus the contest between the English sovereigns and the Irish clergy commenced; the latter sought to transfer their allegiance as churchmen from the sovereign of England to the pope of Rome, so that the struggle for supremacy lasted for centuries, even until the era of the Reformation.

Henry VIII. and the Irish Church

When Henry had secured the cordial compliance of his English subjects with the principles of the Reformation, he resolved to obtain, if possible, a like reception for the new doctrines in Ireland also; but to his deep mortification, his proposal was treated with the greatest indifference and neglect. The advocates of the pope's supremacy in opposition to the king's were zealous and determined. George Cromer, a prelate of ability and learning-who, being primate of all Ireland, filled also, at one time, the high office of chancellor-headed the opposition to Henry's proposed assumption of papal privileges, defeated his purpose for a time, and retarded the progress of what might be called the Reformation in Ireland.

The chief agent in forwarding the royal designs was George Brown, the first Protestant prelate that held a see in Ireland, having been appointed by Henry, archbishop of Dublin. His zeal for the doctrines of the Reformation in opposition to the dogmas of the Romish church, met with the most violent opposition from the bigoted Catholics, and his life was frequently in imminent danger from the zealots of that party. At the suggestion of Brown an Irish parliament was convened at Dublin in 1536, by which all opposition was silenced, and the national religion was formally changed, the Reformed faith being established as the recognized religion of the country. "Various statutes were enacted with the view of carrying out this great object. The king was declared supreme earthly head of the church in Ireland: he was invested with the first-fruits of bishoprics, and other secular promotions in the Irish church, as well as the first-fruits of abbeys, priories, colleges, and hospitals; all appeals to Rome in spiritual causes were forbidden; the authority of the pope was solemnly renounced, and all who should dare to acknowledge it in Ireland were made subject to praemunire-a heavy penalty: all officers of every kind and degree were required to take the oath of supremacy, and the refusal to take it was pronounced, as in England, to be high treason. Thus was Protestantism declared to be the religion of Ireland by law established. The religious houses were suppressed, and their lands vested for ever in the crown."*

{*Faiths of the World, vol. 2, p. 153; Mosheim, vol. 3, p. 491.}

The popish party in Ireland was very indignant at the assumption of such spiritual authority by the king of England. Numbers of the Irish chieftains avowed their readiness to take up arms in defence of the old religion. Special emissaries were secretly despatched to Rome to express the devotion of Cromer and his party to the holy father, and to implore his interposition in behalf of his spiritual authority in Ireland. Papal commissioners were immediately despatched to encourage those who were opposing the recent enactments, to rouse the chieftains of the north, and more particularly O'Neill, to rally round the sacred standard of their forefathers, and draw the sword in defence of the papal supremacy. O'Neill joyfully accepted the part assigned him by his papal majesty. A confederacy was formed for the suppression of heresy; an army was raised; O'Neill had himself proclaimed head of the northern Irish on the ancient hill of royalty, according to the custom of the native monarchs of Ireland. But this idle display and pomp was soon brought to an end. The deputy suspected a rising, and was prepared to meet it. The victory of Bellahoe, on the borders of Meath, broke the power of the northern chiefs: struck with an unaccountable panic, they all gave way and fled.

Several attempts were afterwards made to do battle in defence of the pope's authority, but the prompt measures of the government frustrated every new scheme at insurrection, and the chieftains with their tumultuous bands were dispersed in all directions. These repeated defeats weakened the influence of the Ulster nobles, rendered the cause of the pope more hopeless, and led some of the most turbulent of the chiefs to profess reconciliation to the king's government.

Henry, King of Ireland

The act of supremacy, which was passed in 1537, was followed in 1542 by another to recognize the sovereign as king of Ireland, instead of lord. Hitherto the only title which the pope had allowed the sovereigns of England to assume was the subordinate one of lord; but this term was now changed by act of parliament into that of king. The alteration was commemorated by conferring peerages on several of the heads of the great families, thereby sinking the chieftain in the peer; and some of inferior note were created barons. Thus was peace restored to Ireland in so far as the great laymen were concerned, but the priesthood was not so easily won over to the cause of Reform.

After the death of Henry, and the accession of Edward VI. to the throne, the lord-deputy of Ireland received a royal order to see that the Romish ritual was superseded by the new English liturgy. This fresh innovation roused the clergy to a bold and determined opposition. An assembly of the prelacy and inferior clergy was immediately convened; the new liturgy was treated with the utmost scorn; Dowdale, the primate, was as violent in his opposition to Edward's liturgy, as Cromer had been to Henry's supremacy. This opposition, however, was not allowed to prevail; by order of the government the English service was used in the cathedral of Christ Church, Dublin, on Easter Day, 1551.

A new revolution, occasioned by the early death of Edward, and the accession of Mary, added to this state of distraction and confusion. The religion of the country was again changed. Dowdale, who had withdrawn to the continent during the reign of Edward, was recalled to the primacy; the most violent of his opponents fled the country, and many of the clergy returned to their former faith. Liberty was given for the celebration of mass without penalty or compulsion; and the Roman Catholic faith was once more established in Ireland. The profession of Protestantism was made penal by an Irish parliament in 1556, and the sanguinary spirit of intolerance spoke of trampling down all opposition to the papacy by fire and sword; but happily the slow pace of colonial business long delayed the transmission of authority for commencing an active persecution. "At length, however," says Mosheim, "a commission for that purpose was prepared, and Dr. Cole, one of the commissioners, left London with it for Dublin. Exulting over the prospect of this crushing Irish Protestantism, he indiscreetly boasted of his charge before a woman at Chester, who was a staunch adherent of the Reformation and had a brother in the Irish metropolis. She managed to steal the commission, and to place in its room a pack of cards with the knave of clubs uppermost. Unsuspicious of his loss, the talkative messenger went on to Dublin, where he landed, October the 7th, 1558, and there looking for his credentials, was confounded by finding them so ridiculously supplanted.... A new commission was, after some delay, obtained, but before it reached Dublin, Queen Mary was dead."*

{*Mosheim, vol. 3, p. 496.}

On the accession of Elizabeth at her sister's death, the queen's well-known adherence to the cause of the Reformation, revived the hearts of Protestants throughout her dominions, gave a new impulse to Irish affairs, and set the whole country, lay and clerical, once more in motion. The whole ecclesiastical system of Mary was reversed; Protestantism was restored, and proclaimed to be henceforth the established religion of Ireland.

Irish Presbyterian Church

Having said thus much about the establishment of episcopacy in Ireland, we must briefly notice the origin of Presbyterianism in that country.

When Elizabeth ascended the throne, she found the whole island, from the restless ambition and jealousy of the chieftains, in a state of petty warfare. During the latter part of her reign, as well as the early part of the reign of her successor, James I., the northern provinces had been the scene of incessant conspiracies and insurrections. One rebellion after another kept the country in a state of commotion, fomented always by the popes of Rome, sometimes aided by Philip II. of Spain, and Cardinal Richelieu of France. Bull after bull was issued, calling upon the princes, prelates, nobles, and people of Ireland to contend for the recovery of their liberty, and the defence of the holy church; and rather to lose their lives than take that wicked and pestilent oath of supremacy, whereby the sceptre of the Catholic church was wrested from the hand of the vicar of God. Such appeals, coming from the pope himself, could not fail to exert a powerful influence upon an ignorant and superstitious people.

Details of these long continued civil wars, the extinction of titles, and the confiscation of property, fall not within the limits of our "Short Papers;" but we may just add, that by the death of some of the leaders of the rebellion, and by the flight of others, nearly the whole of Ulster was forfeited to the crown, and fell into the hands of King James. This vast tract of land comprehended six northern counties, and spread over five hundred thousand acres. The king resolved to remodel the province by removing the ancient possessors, and introducing a colony of Scotch and English settlers in their stead. This led to the plantation of Ulster, the benefits of which are felt to this day. Industry, in a short time, changed the face of the country. The lands were cultivated and improved, a number of flourishing towns were established, and the province of Ulster became the most prosperous district in Ireland. But that evil spirit of popish hatred towards every aspect of Protestantism and England never ceased to plot, until it burst forth in the great rebellion and the revolting massacre of 1641. On the 23rd of October, the carnage began; on the 30th, the order for a general massacre was issued from the camp of Sir Phelim O'Neill, and, shortly after, the manifesto of the bishop MacMahon proclaimed the commencement of a WAR OF REBELLION.*

{*Dr. Phelan's History, p. 332; Faiths of the World, vol. 2, p. 158. For lengthy and minute details see Froude's History of Ireland.}

William, prince of Orange, after the battle of the Boyne, commenced his reign by assuring the Irish Protestants that he had come to Ireland to free them from popish tyranny, and he doubted not, by the divine assistance, that he would complete his design. The war was brought to a close, peace was restored, and the Presbyterian church, being reinstated in all its privileges, addressed itself to the great work of preaching the gospel and spreading the truth to the blessing of many precious souls.

Scotland

Having already noticed the religious condition of Scotland from the earliest times down to the dawn of the Reformation,* we may commence our present sketch with the effects of that great revolution on the people of that country; but we must retrace our steps for a moment, and renew our acquaintance with the existing state of things.

{*See p. 305; p. 596.}

Before the Reformation, which commenced in Germany had found its way to the distant shores of Scotland, a spirit of religious Reform had begun to display itself in several districts, especially in the Lowlands. Many of the Lollards, or disciples of Wycliffe, who had fled from the persecution in England, found a refuge in Scotland and there remained. These, meeting with the descendants of the ancient Culdees may have quietly formed a little missionary band, maintained unbroken the chain of God's witnesses, and kept the lamp of His testimony burning in that benighted land. They denied the dogma of transubstantiation and the power of the priesthood; affirming, "That there is a universal priesthood, of which every man and woman who believes in the Saviour is a member; that the pope, who exalts himself above God, is against God; that it is not permissible to take up arms for the things of faith, and that priests may marry."

Among the protectors of these enlightened Christians- compared with many of the Reformers, especially as to universal priesthood and arms-was John Campbell, laird of Cessnock, a man well versed in the scriptures, but not equal to his wife, who could "set the dogmas of the priests face to face with the holy scriptures, and show their falsehood." "On the testimony of both friend and foe," says another historian, "there were few counties in the Lowlands of Scotland where these Lollards were not to be found. They were numerous in Fife; they were still more numerous in the districts of Cunningham and Kyle; hence their name, The Lollards of Kyle. In the reign of James IV. about 1494, some thirty Lollards were summoned before the archiepiscopal tribunal of Glasgow on a charge of heresy. They were almost all gentlemen of landed property in the districts already named; and were charged with denying the mass, purgatory, the worshipping of images, the praying to saints, the pope's vicarship, his power to pardon sin-in short, all the peculiar doctrines of Romanism. Their defence appears to have been so spirited that the king, before whom they argued their cause, shielded them from the doom that the archbishop, Blackadder, would undoubtedly have pronounced upon them."*

{*D'Aubigne's Calvin, vol. 6, p. 7; Wylie, vol. 3, p. 468.}

The flames of martyrdom had not yet been kindled, we may say, and the spirit of burning had not yet taken full hold of the priesthood, or such heretics would not have escaped. But such witnesses plainly prove, what we have found in different countries, that the Spirit of God was working and preparing a people in all parts of Europe for the great revolution in the sixteenth century.

The Progress of the Reformation

As early as the year 1526, the doctrines of the Reformation had made considerable progress in Scotland. Vessels from the continent were arriving at Aberdeen, Montrose, Dundee, and Leith, bringing fresh tidings of the progress of Protestantism, and secretly discharging packages of pamphlets and sermons of the Reformers. In this way the shores of the Firth of Forth were broad cast with the seeds of Lutheranism. When Tyndale had translated the New Testament into English, large numbers were imported from Flanders, and industriously circulated among the people. The Reformation on a divine basis now began. The darkness that had so long brooded over that country was being rolled away by the light of heaven. Almost every person had a New Testament in his hand, and God was using it in much blessing.

This was God's great mercy to Scotland, for the clergy had become so violent, that the living voice would have been instantly suppressed, though this too was needed for the great work, but the people must first be prepared by the teaching of the word of God. The Bible was Scotland's only missionary and Reformer at that moment. "With silent foot," says one, "it began to traverse the land; it came to the castle gates of the primate, yet he heard not its steps; it preached in cities, but its voice fell not on the ear of bishops; it passed along the highways and byways unobserved by the spy. To the churchman's eye all seemed calm . . . but in the stillness of the midnight hour, men welcomed this new instructor, and opened their hearts to its comforting and beneficent teaching. The Bible was emphatically the nation's one great teacher. It was stamping its own ineffaceable character upon the Scottish Reformation, and the place the Bible thus early made for itself in the people's affections, and the authority it acquired over their judgments, it was destined never to lose."* But however sacredly and firmly we believe this noble testimony of a most reliable witness, the living voice, the confessor and martyr, were all needed to arouse the nation from the deadly sleep of popery in which it had been so long and so fatally sunk.

{*History of Protestantism, vol. 3, p. 169.}

First Martyrs of the Scottish Reformation

Few martyrdoms have had such a place in the human mind as Patrick Hamilton's. His youth, his accomplishments, his refinement, his learning, his blameless life, his noble and gentle spirit, all united to make him an object of universal pity. But he was guilty of Rome's unpardonable sin. On him was the honour conferred by his divine Lord and Master, to be the first preacher of the glad tidings of salvation to his countrymen, and the first to seal his testimony with his blood. But more, the cruel death of this royal youth was made a great blessing to many, among both the learned and the common people.

He was the son of Sir Patrick Hamilton, of Kincavil, and the great-grandson, by both the father's and the mother's side, of James II. He was born in the year 1504, and being designed for the church, the abbacy of Ferne was conferred upon him in his childhood according to a custom which prevailed at that time. He received his early education at St. Andrew's; and about the year 1517, he left Scotland, to pursue a course of study in the University of Paris, where he acquired his degree of Master of Arts. He may also have learnt something of the truth in the school of Lefevre and Farel. In 1523, he returned to his native country, and entered himself at St. Andrew's University. From the character of his conversation, and the free language which he used in speaking of the corruptions of the church, he drew down upon himself the suspicions of the clergy, and inquisition was made into his opinions. Under these circumstances he again left Scotland, and, attracted by the fame of Luther, repaired to Wittemberg. Having spent some time with Luther and Melancthon, he went to pursue his studies at the University of Marburg, then newly opened by the Landgrave of Hesse. There he had the advantage of the friendship and instructions of the learned and pious Francis Lambert of Avignon. The ex-Franciscan-whom we have met with before at Marburg-conceived a strong attachment to the young Scotsman, and had a powerful influence in moulding his character. But while he was daily advancing in the knowledge of the scriptures, he became increasingly desirous of imparting to his countrymen the knowledge of Christ and salvation, which he found to be so precious to himself. "This young man," said Lambert to Philip, "has come from the end of the world to your academy, in order to be fully established in God's truth. I have hardly ever met a man who expresses himself with so much spirituality and truth on the word of the Lord."

In 1527 he was in Scotland once more, and not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. He proceeded to the family mansion of Kincavil, near Linlithgow, and preached the gospel to his kinsfolk and neighbours. Many of the nobility and the common people seem to have embraced the new religion. He next resolved to carry the gospel to the church of St. Michael's, Linlithgow, termed by historians "the Versailles of Scotland." The palace was also a fortress and a prison; it was the pleasure house to which the court used to retire for relaxation, and within its walls the unfortunate Mary Stuart was born. Here the young evangelist brought the gospel within the hearing of the priests of St. Michael's and the members of the royal family. The simplicity and elegance of his style were fitted to win the hearts of his hearers, but the gospel he preached did not suit the priests. He maintained that there was no salvation for the guilty but through the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for the chief of sinners; and that it is the anointing of the Holy Spirit that replenishes the soul with grace, not the chrism of the church. He was denounced as a pestilent Lutheran to archbishop Beaton of St. Andrew's; and Beaton was too zealous a churchman to let Lutheranism escape with impunity.

Still there were difficulties in the way. He was not a heretic of low degree, but of royal lineage; and would no doubt be protected by the Hamilton family and other nobility, and perhaps by the king himself. What was to be done? Pretending to wish a free conference with him on some points of church Reform, the cruel and crafty archbishop decoyed him to St. Andrew's. Both Hamilton and his friends suspected treachery, but he thought it his duty to go. He had only been married to a lady of noble birth a few weeks, who, with others besought him with tears to keep out of Beaton's way; but he seemed to feel that the Lord might make his death of more service to his country than his life and labours, and so set out for St. Andrew's.

On his arrival he was received with every mark of consideration and respect, the archbishop smiling on the youth he had resolved to sacrifice. Knowing the difficulties which surrounded this case, Beaton required time to prepare the way for success, and so allowed Patrick something like liberty in the castle. Questions were freely discussed by the young Reformer with the doctors, students, and priests, as if he had been on equal terms with them; but Beaton was only biding his time, for the opposition was great and powerful. The court in which he was tried and condemned was surrounded by some thousands of armed men, which showed the fears of the priesthood. He was found infected with divers heresies of Martin Luther, condemned as a heretic, deprived of all dignities, orders, and benefices, and delivered over to the secular arm to be burnt alive. The priests decided that the sentence should be executed the same day, as his brother, Sir James, was not far distant with a military force, determined to rescue him. The condemnation had hardly been pronounced, when the executioners' servants were seen before the gates of St. Salvator's college, raising the pile on which the royal youth was to be burnt.

The Martyrdom of Patrick Hamilton

At noon, on the last day of February, 1528, the noble confessor stood before the pile. He uncovered his head, and, lifting up his eyes to heaven, remained motionless for some time in prayer. He then turned to his friends, and handed to one of them his copy of the Gospels-the volume he so much loved. Next, calling his servant, he took off his gown, and gave it to him, with his coat and cap-"Take these garments; they can do me no service in the fire, and they may still be of use to thee. It is the last gift thou wilt receive from me, except the example of my death, the remembrance of which I pray thee to bear in mind. For albeit it be bitter to the flesh and fearful before man, yet is it the entrance to eternal life which none shall possess that deny Christ Jesus before this wicked generation." As the executioners passed the iron chain round his body, and fastened him to the stake, he again exclaimed, "In the name of Jesus I give up my body to the fire, and commit my soul into the hands of the Father." By the ignorance and awkwardness of his executioners, his sufferings were protracted for nearly six hours. The details are too harrowing to be transferred to our pages. Three times the pile was kindled, and three times the fire went out because the wood was green. Gunpowder was then placed among the faggots, which, when it exploded, shot up a faggot in the martyr's face, which wounded him severely. Turning to the deathsman, he mildly said, "Have you no dry wood?" Dry wood was brought from the castle, but it was six o'clock in the evening before his body was reduced to ashes; "but during these six hours," says an eye-witness, "the martyr never gave one sign of impatience or anger, never called to heaven for vengeance on his persecutors: so great was his faith, so strong his confidence in God." His last words that were heard were, "How long, O Lord, shall darkness cover this realm? How long wilt thou suffer this tyranny of man? Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!"

So died the proto-martyr of the Lutheran Reformation. The rumour of his death ran speedily over the whole land, and all heard it with a shudder. People everywhere wanted to know the cause for which the young man had suffered such a cruel death. All turned to the side of the victim. It was, no doubt, around his funeral pile that the first decided movement of the Scottish Reformation took place. His gracious manners, and the mildness, patience, and fortitude which he displayed at the stake, combined to give unusual interest to his martyrdom, and were well fitted to touch the heart of the nation. "The murder of Hamilton," says a modern historian, "was afterwards avenged in the death of the nephew and successor of his persecutor; and the flames in which he expired were, in the course of one generation, to enlighten all Scotland, and to consume with avenging fury, the Catholic superstition, the papal power, and the prelacy itself."*

{*See Dr. McCrie's Life of Knox, p. 14; D'Aubigne's Calvin, vol. 6; History of Protestantism, vol. 3.}

The overruling hand of the Lord is most distinctly seen in the whole history of Patrick Hamilton. So far as we are able to judge, a life, long and laborious, would not have served the cause of the Reformation so much as his trial, condemnation, and death, all accomplished in one day. Nothing less than the fiery stake of the confessor would have aroused the nation from that sleep of death into which popery had lulled it. It began to bear fruit immediately. Henry Forrest, a Benedictine in the monastery of Linlithgow, was brought to a knowledge of the truth by the preaching of Hamilton, and he is the first to come forward and repeat his martyrdom. It was told the archbishop that Forrest had said that "Hamilton was a martyr, and no heretic," and that he had a New Testament. "He is as bad as Master Patrick," said Beaton: "we must burn him." James Lindsay, a wit, standing by, ventured to say, "My lord, let him be burned in a hollow; for the reek of Patrick Hamilton's fire has infected everyone it blew upon." The archbishop, not heeding the satire, had the stake of Forrest planted on the highest ground in the neighbourhood, that the population of Angus and Forfar might see the flames, and thus learn the danger of falling into Protestantism. Henry Forrest was Scotland's second martyr.

Many of the Clergy and Nobles Embrace the Reformation

It is a remarkable feature of the Scottish Reformation that it began among the clergy, and was early embraced by the nobility and landed gentry. Almost all her first martyrs and confessors were monks or parish priests. Alesius, canon of St. Augustine at St. Andrew's, was brought to the knowledge of the truth, and confirmed in the faith of the gospel by the testimony which Hamilton had borne to the truth during his trial, and by the simple and heroic beauty of his death, which he had witnessed. The death of Hamilton being the subject of much conversation among the canons at that time, Alesius could not refrain from expressing what he now felt and believed. He spoke of the wretched state of the church, her destitution of men competent to teach her, and that she was kept from the knowledge of the holy scriptures. This was enough; the canons could not endure it. He was denounced to prior Hepburn, a base immoral man; he was treated with the most brutal violence, and thrown into a foul and unwholesome dungeon. When this was noised abroad, it excited great interest both among citizens and nobles. The king was appealed to; but the archbishop and the prior succeeded in detaining him in prison for about a year, when the canons, who were friendly to him, opened his prison door, and urged him to leave the country immediately, without saying a word to anybody. This he did, though most reluctantly, and found a refuge on the continent.

Alexander Seaton, a monk of the Dominican order, and confessor to the king, was also brought to see that salvation is through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, without deeds of law. In 1532, having been appointed to preach in the cathedral of St. Andrew's in Lent, he resolved courageously to avow the heavenly doctrine which was making exiles and martyrs. "A living faith," he said, "which lays hold on the mercy of God in Christ, can alone obtain for the sinner the remission of sins. Christ is the end of the law for righteousness, and no one is able by his works to satisfy divine justice. But for how many years has God's law, instead of being faithfully taught, been darkened by the tradition of men!" The people wondered at his doctrine, and why he did not speak about pilgrimages and meritorious works; and the priests were afraid to say much, as he was the king's confessor, and a great favourite. But Beaton was not the man to hesitate. "This bold preacher is evidently putting to his mouth the trumpet of Hamilton and Alesius. Proceedings must be taken against him." The archbishop succeeded in turning the king's mind against Seaton, so that he saved his life by taking flight, went to London where he became chaplain to the duke of Suffolk, and had the opportunity of preaching a full gospel to large congregations.

Many of the students of the college and noviciates of the abbey, under the teaching of Gawin Logie, principal of St. Leonard's college, and John Winram, sub-prior of the abbey, were convinced of the truth for which Hamilton suffered, and embraced the doctrines of the Reformation. But the blessed results of Patrick's martyrdom were not confined to St. Andrew's. Everywhere persons were to be found who held that the young abbot of Ferne had died a martyr, being no heretic, and that they believed as he did. Alarmed at the progress of the new opinions, the clergy adopted the most rigorous measures for their extirpation. David Straiton, a Forfarshire gentleman, and Norman Gourlay, who had been a student at St. Andrew's and was in priest's orders, were tried at Edinburgh in Holyrood house, condemned, and taken to the rood of Greenside, and burned alive as heretics. About this time a change took place in the see of St. Andrew's, but not for the better. James Beaton died, and was succeeded by his nephew, David Beaton-a more cruel and bloodthirsty tyrant than his uncle-whom the pope made a cardinal for his zeal, and to increase his power.

The Fiery Zeal of Cardinal Beaton

Strict inquisition was now made after heretics. The flames of persecution were kindled in all quarters of the country. From the year 1534, when Straiton and Gourlay were burned, till the year 1538, the spirit of persecution had greatly subsided, and the number of those who confessed Christ as their only Saviour and Lord, had greatly increased. This prosperity of the gospel was most irritating to the new cardinal, who resolved to suppress it by fire and sword. Dean Thomas Forrest, vicar of Dollar, Sir Duncan Simpson, a priest, Keillor and Beveridge, black friars, and Forrester, a notary, in Stirling, were immediately apprehended and tried for heresy before a council held by cardinal Beaton, and were condemned to the flames. A huge blazing pile was raised the same day on the Castle hill of Edinburgh, and there five faithful men were seen in the midst of it-serenely suffering, and rejoicing. To faith the fire had no terror, because death had no sting. Other names might be given, who soon followed the five martyrs on the Castle hill, and whose faith, confession, and sufferings deserve a more prominent place than can be given in our limited space; but their names are in the Lamb's book of life, their record is on high, and duly enrolled in the noble army of martyrs, and they will receive, on the morning of the first resurrection, that crown of life promised to all who are faithful unto death, with their Lord's eternal approving smile. In that day of His glory and theirs, all these sufferings will be completely forgotten, save as the remembrance of His grace which sustained them, and gave them the distinguished honour of suffering for His sake. Already they have been "with Christ," in the calm repose of paradise for three hundred years, but then, in their bodies of glory, fashioned like unto His own body of glory, what praise can they offer for the grace that honoured them with the crown of martyrdom? Heaven's estimate of Rome's heretics and their persecutions will then be made manifest; for all murderers shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. (Rev. 21: 8)

The fury of the clergy, now presided over by the tyrant David Beaton, daily waxed greater and greater; and numbers, to escape the stake, fled to England and the continent. Some of these were men illustrious for their genius and learning, of whom were John Macbee, John Fife, John Macdowal, John Macbray, James Harrison, Robert Richardson, and the celebrated George Buchanan, who was surely helped by the Lord to escape from prison, and saved his life by a speedy flight. He is well known as the author of the metrical version of the Psalms, as used in Scotland, and bound with their Bibles. A few, whose constancy was overcome by the terrors of the stake, professedly returned to the old religion, but the confessors of the truth rapidly increased. By the year 1540, many eminent men had received the evangelical doctrines. The earls of Errol and of Glencairn, Lord Ruthven, Lord Kelmains, Sir David Lindsay, Sir James Sandilands, Melville of Raith, and a large number of other influential persons, appeared to be attached to the gospel by genuine conviction.

Cardinal Beaton's Proscription-Roll

The circumstances of the Scottish king, James V., about this period were peculiar and embarrassing. He was overwhelmed with sorrow at the loss of his only children, Arthur and James; he was in debt, and much in need of money; he had offended his uncle, Henry VIII. of England, by refusing to make Scotland independent of Rome, as he had made England; he also urged him to confiscate the property of the church, and in this way fill his empty exchequer. But the influence of the hierarchy-Henry's deadly enemies-under whose power James had fallen, succeeded in producing a rupture between the uncle and the nephew, which led to war and the death of James.

Cardinal Beaton, on the other hand, proposed that the property of the heretic nobles should be confiscated for the king's benefit, and not the sacred revenues of the holy church. "He drew out a list," says Cunningham, "of three hundred and sixty persons of property who were suspected of heresy, and whose possessions, if confiscated, would amply supply all the requirements of royalty." Dr. McCrie, in his Life of Knox, referring to the same period, says, "Twice did the clergy attempt to cut off the Reformed party by a desperate blow. They presented to the king a list containing the names of some hundreds, possessed of property and wealth, whom they denounced as heretics; and endeavoured to procure his consent to their condemnation, by flattering him with the immense riches which would accrue to him from the forfeiture of their estates." D'Aubigne and Wylie speak of a list, "compiled by Beaton, containing over a hundred names, and among those marked for slaughter were Lord Hamilton, the first peer in the realm, the Earls of Cassillis and Glencairn, and the Earl Marischall. "*

{*Cunningham's Church History of Scotland, vol. 1, p. 237; McCrie's Life of Knox, p. 17; D'Aubigne's Calvin, vol. 6, p. 168; Wylie's Protestantism, vol. 3, p. 479.}

This last list may be one of the two spoken of by Dr. McCrie, and may have been revised and reduced to those who were intended for immediate slaughter as well as plunder. As the statements of the different historians vary, we have given all, but we have no doubt they are substantially correct. Here the reader may pause for a moment: can he take in the appalling thought? The alleged head of the church in Scotland, the chief shepherd of the flock of Christ-who should be ready to lay down his life for the brethren-a priest, in holy orders, coolly writes out a list containing the names of some hundreds of the nobles and gentry of the land, and endeavours to tempt the king to sanction their condemnation by flattering him with the wealth of their possessions. Was ever plot more deeply laid in hell, or more diabolical in its character? But it was not to supply the king with money that hell moved in this matter, but to cut off by violence all who were known to favour the Reformed opinions, quench the light of truth for ever in Scotland, maintain the authority of the clergy, and preserve inviolate those debasing corruptions from which they derived their wealth.

When this proposal was first made to the king, he is said to have driven the messengers from his presence with marks of strong displeasure. But so violent was the dislike which he at last conceived against his nobility especially after their meeting on Fala Muir, and so much had he fallen under the influence of the clergy, that but for the watchful hand of an over-ruling providence, it is highly probable he would have yielded to the latter, and executed the deed of blood. Instead however, of the nobility and gentry, it was the poor king himself whom the clergy brought to an early grave.

The Perplexity and Death of the King

Henry VIII. had been at great pains to bring about a personal interview with James; and had obtained a promise that he should meet him at York. Henry arrived according to appointment, and remained there during six days, but no James appeared. The priests, dreading Henry's influence with James on the subject of the Reformation, prevailed upon him to remain at home; which he did, but sent a courteous apology. But the haughty revengeful English king was not to be so easily pacified. He conceived himself slighted and insulted, and vented threatenings and curses against the Scotch. A border war was the result. The priests instigated James to go to war without summoning to his banner the proscribed nobles. Bishops, priests, and their partisans were to form the army; and when the king returned in triumph from the defeat of Henry, all those suspected of heresy should be seized and executed as a thank-offering for victory. But alas! when James was waiting in Lochmaben castle for the news of triumph, some of the fugitives arriving made known the total rout of his army on Solway Moss. His distress was unbounded. So great was his agony of mind, he could hardly breathe, and only muttered some vague cries. The high-spirited monarch could bear no more. He had been deceived by that despicable man in whom he trusted, which disturbed him as much as the victory of the English.

In this state of despair he shut himself up in Falkland palace, and the violence of his grief soon induced a slow fever. While rapidly sinking, intelligence was brought that his queen, who was at Linlithgow, had been delivered of a girl, afterwards Queen Mary. This was a fresh wound as he had no son; and feeling as if his family was extinct and his crown lost, he muttered an old saying, "It cam wi' a lass, and it will gang wi' a lass." Seven days afterwards the king died, on December 14th, 1542. When disrobing him, the dreadful proscription roll was found in his pocket. The nation then saw what a merciful providence had saved them from, and how narrow its escape had been from so fearful a catastrophe. The discovery helped not a little to increase the number of the Reformed, and to prepare the way for the downfall of a religion which was capable of conceiving such plans of cruelty and avarice.

The throne was now vacant, and "Cardinal Beaton lost no time in producing a document purporting to be the will of the deceased monarch, appointing him regent of the kingdom during the minority of the infant queen;" but it was generally believed to be forged, and the Earl of Arran was peaceably established in the regency by the nobles. Thus it was, by the gracious overruling hand of God, the man whose name was first on the list of nobles marked for slaughter, was now at the head of the government, and used by the same providence to place the Bible in every Scotchman's hand. The change produced in the political state of the kingdom by the death of James and the regency of Arran was favourable to the Reformation.

The earl having formerly professed faith in the Reformed doctrines, was now surrounded with counsellors of the same opinions. It is deeply interesting to observe that, at this early stage of the Scottish Reformation, the very flower of the nobility and gentry were on its side. Not that we think of them all as true Christians, but at that time the prospect of overturning the ancient religion was distant and uncertain, and they were taking a step which exposed their lives and fortunes to the most imminent hazard, so that we cannot attribute to them a lower motive than their personal convictions.

The Bible Restored to the Nation

In the month of March, 1543, an important step was taken by the parliament toward the Reformation of the church, by making it lawful for every subject in the realm to read the holy scriptures in his mother tongue. Lord Maxwell, who brought the matter before the lords of the articles, proposed that "It should be statute and ordained that it shall be lawful for all our sovereign lady's lieges to have the Holy Writ, to wit, the New Testament and Old, in the vulgar tongue, English or Scotch, of a good and true translation, and that they shall incur no crime for the having and reading the same." The bishops, as we may suppose, protested loudly against this measure, but it was passed notwithstanding, and instructions given to the Clerk of Register to have it duly proclaimed at the market-cross; and sent into all parts of the kingdom by order of the regent. This public act in favour of religious liberty was a signal triumph of truth over error. The priests began to cry out with one voice: Heresy! heresy! and that the regent was the promoter of heresy.

"The victory," says Knox, "which Jesus Christ then won over the enemies of the truth was of no little importance. The trumpet of the gospel gave at once a certain sound, from Wigton to Inverness, from south to north. No small comfort was given to the souls, to the families, who till then durst not read the Lord's prayer or the ten commandments in English through fear of being accused of heresy. The Bible, which had long lain hidden in some out of the way corner, was now openly placed on the tables of pious and well-informed men. The New Testament was indeed already widely circulated, but many of those who possessed it had shown themselves unworthy of it, never having read ten sentences in it through fear of man. Now they brought it, and would chop their familiars on the cheek with it. The knowledge of God was wonderfully increased by the reading of the sacred writings and the Holy Spirit was given in great abundance to simple men." This important act of the Scottish parliament was never repealed.*

{*D'Aubigne's Calvin, vol. 6, p. 194; Cunningham, vol. 1, p. 242; McCrie, p. 20.}

Hitherto the Reformation had been advanced in Scotland by books imported from England and the Continent, but now the truth was disseminated, and the errors of popery were exposed by books which issued from the Scottish press. The poets and satirists were also busy. With the poet's usual license, they employed themselves in writing ballads, plays, and satires, o, the ignorance and immoralities of the clergy, and the absurdities and superstitions of the popish religion. Such compositions in the Scottish language were recta with great avidity by the people, and operated powerfully in alienating the public mind from the Catholic religion.

George Wishart

In the summer of 1544, shortly after Scotland had received the inestimable blessing of a free Bible, one of the most remarkable characters we meet with in ecclesiastical history appeared on the troubled scene. We refer to George Wishart. He was the son of Sir James Wishart of Pitarrow, an ancient and honourable family of the Mearns. He had fled from the persecuting spirit of the bishop of Brechin in 1538, and spent about six years on the continent and at Cambridge, as a learner and a teacher. When he returned, he is said to have excelled all his countrymen in learning, especially in his knowledge of the Greek tongue. As a preacher, his eloquence was most persuasive; his life irreproachable, he was courteous and affable in manners; his piety fervent; his zeal and courage in the cause of truth were tempered with uncommon meekness, modesty, patience, and charity.

He immediately commenced preaching the doctrines of the Reformation in Montrose and Dundee. But his reputation had gone before him, and great crowds gathered to hear him. Following the Swiss method, he expounded in a connected series of discourses the doctrine of salvation, according to the epistle to the Romans; and his knowledge of scripture, his eloquence, and his invectives against the falsehoods of popery, moved the populace so mightily, that in Dundee they attacked and destroyed the convents of the Franciscan and Dominican friars. So great was the excitement with the clamour of the priests and monks, and the tumultuous state of the people, that the magistrates had to interfere, and Wishart prudently retired to the western counties, where his friends were all-powerful. Lennox, Cassillis, and Glencairn were able to protect him, and secure him an entrance into every parish church. But Wishart, being essentially a man of peace, when any opposition was made to his preaching in the church, he refused to allow force to be used, and retired to the market cross or the fields. But it was a needless precaution to shut the church doors against Wishart, for no church could have contained the thousands that flocked to hear him. He preached at Barr, Galston, Manchline, and Ayr; but as the hired assassins of Beaton were constantly on the watch for his life, he was generally surrounded with armed men.

The Plague in Dundee

Not long after Wishart had been driven from Dundee, the plague entered the town. Hearing of this, with great devotedness, he hurried thither, was unwearied in preaching the gospel, visiting the sick, and seeking to prepare the dying for death. Those who were plague-stricken were kept outside the east gate, while the healthy were inside. To reach his audience on both sides, he mounted the gate-called the Cowgate, and, opening his Bible, read from Psalm. 107, "He sent his word and healed them." The mercy of God in Christ, he assured them, was free to all, and whosoever turned to Him truly would receive the blessing-a blessing which the malice of men could neither eik nor pair, add to nor diminish. Some of his hearers assured him-they were so comforted by his sermon-that they were ready to depart, and counted it more happy to go to Jesus than to remain behind. The people were greatly troubled, lest "the mouth from which such sweetness flowed should be closed." They seemed to have a presentiment that danger was near, and so it was.

A priest named Wigton, hired by cardinal Beaton to assassinate him, stood waiting at the foot of the steps by which Wishart must come down. A cloak thrown over him concealed the naked dagger which he held in his hand; but the keen eye of the evangelist, as he came down the steps noticed the priest with his hand kept carefully under his gown, and read murder in his face. "My friend," said Wishart, "what would you do?" at the same moment grasping the priest's hand, and snatching the weapon from him. The assassin fell at his feet and confessed his intention. "Deliver the traitor to us," cried the people, and they rushed on him; but Wishart put his arms round the assassin, and said, "Whosoever troubles him troubles me, for he has hurt me in nothing;" and thus saved the life of him who sought his.*

{*See Knox's History of the Reformation, folio ed, p. 49.}

Through the Lord's mercy the plague began to abate, a new life was soon felt in the stricken city; and Wishart exerted himself for the afflicted in organizing measures for the distribution of food and medicine. While thus employed, he received a message from the Earl of Cassillis to meet him and some other friends from the west at Edinburgh for the purpose of having a public disputation with the bishop. He obeyed the summons, although he knew that cardinal Beaton was bent upon his destruction, and that a cruel death awaited him. He arrived at Leith; but as that town is near Edinburgh, his friends entreated him to conceal himself for a day or two. This he could not endure. "What differ I from a dead man," he said, "except that I eat and drink? To this time God has used my labours to the disclosing of darkness and now I lurk as a man that was ashamed, and durst not show himself before men." "You know," said his friends "the danger wherein you stand." "Let my God," he replied "provide for me as best pleases Him."

Wishart began at once to preach in Leith; and afterwards proceeded to East Lothian, where he was entertained by the lairds of Brunston, Longniddry, and Ormiston. While here, he preached at Musselburgh, Inveresk, Tranent, and Haddington. On these occasions, he was surrounded by the armed retainers of his friends, and a sword was borne before him. It was here that John Knox-who was then a tutor in the family of Douglas of Longniddry-joined him. Previously to this, he had openly professed the evangelical doctrine, now he attached himself to Wishart, waited constantly on his person, and bore the sword before him. Wishart was highly pleased with the spirit and zeal of Knox, and seems to have presaged his future usefulness. After preaching at Haddington, he proceeded to Ormiston House, where he was to lodge. Knox insisted for liberty to accompany him, but the martyr dismissed him with this reply: "Nay, nay; return to your bairns"-meaning his pupils-"and God bless you. One is sufficient for a sacrifice."*

{*McCrie, p. 21. Cunningham, vol. 1, p. 248.}

The Apprehension and Martyrdom of Wishart

Meantime Beaton had come to Edinburgh; and, hearing that Wishart was in the neighbourhood, resolved upon his instant apprehension. At midnight, Ormiston House was surrounded by a troop of cavalry, under the command of the earl of Bothwell, who demanded Wishart. But neither promises nor threatenings could induce the laird to deliver up his guest. Bothwell assured him on his honour, that he would be perfectly safe with him, and that no power of the cardinal would be allowed to harm him. Ormiston was disposed to confide in this solemn promise, and told Wishart what had occurred. "Open the gates," he replied, "the blessed will of my God be done." But alas! Bothwell violated his pledge. and the victim of a faithless earl and a bloodthirsty priest was hurried from Edinburgh to St. Andrew's, and thrown into prison.

The zeal of Arran in the cause of the Reformation by this time had greatly declined; and the cardinal, who had great influence over the mind of the weak and timid earl, was dominant in the nation. As it was contrary to the canon law for clergymen to meddle in matters of blood, Beaton asked the governor to appoint a lay judge, who might pronounce sentence of death upon Wishart, if found guilty of heresy. But Arran, irresolute as he was, refused to do this, and strongly urged delay. But Beaton was not a man to be hindered by canon law, or by the expostulations of the regent. Wishart was arraigned before a clerical tribunal, was found guilty of heresy, and condemned to the flames.

On the 1st of March, 1546, a scaffold was erected before the castle of St. Andrew's, and faggots of dried wood were piled around it. As the civil power refused to take part in the proceedings, the cardinal acted instead. His men were equipped with lances, swords, axes, and other warlike array; and the guns of the castle were brought to bear upon the spot, lest Wishart's many friends should attempt to rescue him. Meanwhile the balcony of the castle was adorned with silken draperies and velvet cushions, that Beaton and other prelates might enjoy at their ease the spectacle of the pile, and the tortures of the holy sufferer. When all was ready, two deathsmen brought Wishart from his prison. He was dressed in black; small bags of gunpowder were tied to various parts of his body; his hands were firmly tied behind him; a rope round his neck, and an iron chain round his waist to fasten him to the stake. He knelt down and prayed before the pile; then he exhorted the people to love the word of God, and suffer patiently and with a comfortable heart for the word's sake, which was their undoubted salvation and everlasting comfort. "For the true gospel," he added, "which was given to me by the grace of God, I suffer this day by men, not sorrowfully, but with a glad heart and mind. For this cause I was sent, that I should suffer this fire for Christ's sake. This grim fire I fear not; I know surely that I shall sup with my Saviour Christ this night, for whom I suffer." And many other beautiful words did he say-according to Knox, Buchanan, and others.

When bound to the stake, he said, "Saviour of the world, have mercy on me! Father of heaven, into Thy hands I commit my spirit." The fire was lighted. The cardinal Dunbar, and other prelates were on the balcony watching the progress of the fire, and the sufferings of the martyr. Wishart, catching sight of the cardinal and his courtiers, fixed his eyes on the cardinal, and said, "He who in such state, from that high place, feedeth his eyes with my torments, within a few days shall be hanged out at the same window, to be seen with as much ignominy as he now leaneth there with pride. " The rope round his neck was now tightened, so that he spoke no more, and the fire reduced his body to ashes.

The Death of Cardinal Beaton

The death of Wishart produced a powerful impression all over Scotland, and excited feelings of the most diverse character. Churchmen extolled Beaton as the great champion of Rome, and the defender of the priesthood. Piety wept over the ashes of the martyr without a thought of revenge. But there were men of birth, without sharing Wishart's views who declared openly there must be life for life: the liberties of the subject were in danger when the tyrant could set aside the authority of the regent, and suppress the voice of the people. A conspiracy was formed against his life, and a small, but determined band-some of whom were instigated by resentment for private injuries; others were animated by a desire to revenge his cruelties, and deliver their country from his oppression-broke into the cardinal's apartments in the castle of St. Andrew's, beat down the barricades with which he had attempted to defend his bedroom door, and putting him instantly to death, hung out his naked and mangled body over the window, as Wishart had predicted. They then seized the castle, dismissed the household servants unharmed, and sent off a messenger to the English court to inform Henry of their success. It is well known that there was nothing for which the English monarch was more anxious than the death of Beaton. He had been the great obstacle to the accomplishment of Henry's favourite project-the uniting of the two crowns by a marriage between the infant queen and his son, Prince Edward. Some say the conspirators were in the pay of England.*

{*See Encycl. Brit., vol. 19, p. 731. Cunningham, vol. 1, p. 251. Tytler's History of Scotland, vol. 4, p. 372.}

The Results of Cardinal Beaton's Death

The murder of the cardinal-primate was followed by results the most important. It removed from the head of affairs the most powerful and unscrupulous enemy of the Reformation, and the greatest defender of Romanism in Scotland. Like Wolsey, he was all but a king. His government was characterized by political intrigue, energy, and resolution; but his one main object was the persecution of the saints, the extinguishing of the Reformation, and the definitive triumph of Rome. But the work of God's Spirit needed not the assistance of the assassin. The christian life and martyrdom of Patrick Hamilton and George Wishart contributed far more powerfully to the advancement of the work of God in Scotland than the violent death of its enemy. The faith, the constancy, and the serenity of the martyrs, rose far above the ferocity of their persecutors, and through that instinct, which impels the human conscience to rise against injustice, and incline to the side of the oppressed, numbers were added to the ranks of the Reformed. One of the mistakes of the early Reformers, to which we have repeatedly referred, was their trusting to the protection of princes; but the Scotch Reformers had to learn through a long period of suffering that their strength lay in an arm mightier far than the kings of the earth, which alone could give victory to the weak and defenceless. Hence their great idea was Christ as King, and the motto on the banners of the Covenanters was, Christ's Crown and Covenant.

"The new life," says D'Aubigne, "which sprang up in the sixteenth century, was everywhere the same, but nevertheless it bore a certain special character in each of the countries in which it appeared. At Wittemberg, it was to man that christian thought especially attached itself-to man fallen, but regenerated and justified by faith. At Geneva it was to God, to His sovereignty and His grace. In Scotland it was to Christ-Christ as Saviour through death, but above all as king, who governs and keeps His people, independently of human power." While we think the Genevese historian very correct in his estimate of the character of the new life in the different countries, we must also add, that Christ is nowhere spoken of in scripture as the King of the church, but everywhere as the King of the Jews. He is spoken of as the Head of the church-of His body the church, and as Head over all things to the church. A king gives the idea of subjects, but as the church is One with Christ,-His body and His bride, He is never spoken of as her King. He is a King, of course and as such He will reign when "the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ." There are three ways in which the glory of God will be revealed by Christ: 1. In grace, as when on earth and since then. 2. In government-this will be in the millennium, when the saints will reign with Christ a thousand years. 3. In glory-also connected with government-this will be for ever, "for all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him amen, unto the glory of God by us." (2 Cor. 1: 20; John 1: 17; Rev. 20: 6; 21: 1-8)

John Knox

The vacant see of St. Andrew's was soon filled by John Hamilton, abbot of Paisley, and brother to the regent. But although he did not equal his predecessor in vigour of mind, he equalled him in the unrelenting zeal with which he pursued all who favoured the Reformation; so that the persecution did not abate in the absence of Beaton. The conspirators who had seized and held the castle, welcomed within its walls all who were in danger of their lives from having embraced the new doctrines. They were soon joined by many adherents, both political and religious; and the place was garrisoned by a band of determined men, who bade defiance to the regent and his brother the archbishop. Among those to whom they opened their gates, the most noted was John Knox, the great advocate and supporter of the Reformation.

This remarkable man, whose name has long been a household word in Scotland, and whose future career was connected with so many great events, was now forty years old. He was born, according to the prevailing opinion, at the village of Giffard, near Haddington, in 1505. It seems his parents were in the middle rank of rural life, and wealthy enough to give him a learned education; and had probably destined their son for the church. From the grammar school of his native town, he passed at the age of sixteen to the University of Glasgow, where the celebrated John Mair was then principal. It is said that he distinguished himself in philosophy and scholastic theology, and took priest's orders, previous to his having attained the regular canonical age. After leaving college, he passes out of view, and little is known of his history till we find him in the company of Wishart, immediately before his martyrdom.*

{*McCrie's Life of Knox. Tytler's History of Scotland, vol. 4, p. 374.}

Knox's Call to the Ministry

The Reformer was no doubt warmly welcomed by the party inside the castle, and earnestly entreated to become one of their preachers. These solicitations he stedfastly resisted, "alleging that he could not run where God had not sent him." When he received a unanimous invitation from the whole congregation, and was solemnly pressed by Mr. Rough, a preacher, not to refuse God's call as he would avoid His heavy displeasure, Knox burst into tears, and withdrew himself to his chamber. He had now very different thoughts as to the importance of the ministerial office, from what he had entertained when invested with priest's orders. The charge of declaring "the whole counsel of God, keeping nothing back," however ungrateful it might be to his hearers, with all the consequences to which the preachers of the Protestant doctrines were then exposed, filled his mind with anxiety and fear. He evidently passed through much conflict of mind on this occasion, for though he possessed great strength of character, being naturally bold, upright, and independent, he was thoroughly honest, conscientious, and modest. But when he felt satisfied that he had the call of God to engage in His work, he resolved to undertake it with all its responsibilities, and say with the apostle, "But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God." (Acts 20: 24)

He commenced his labours as a preacher with his characteristic boldness, and was greatly blessed both to the garrison and to the inhabitants of the town. In his first sermon in the parish church of St. Andrew's, he undertook to prove that the pope of Rome was the man of sin, the Antichrist, the Babylonish harlot spoken of in scripture. He struck at the root of popery that they might destroy the whole system. During the few months that he preached at St. Andrew's, a great number of the inhabitants, besides the garrison in the castle, renounced popery, and made profession of the Protestant faith, by partaking of the Lord's supper after the Reformed mode in Scotland. But his useful labours were soon interrupted.

Mary of Guise and the French Fleet

After the death of Beaton, the queen-dowager, Mary of Guise, sister to Henry, the cruel duke, who fought against the Huguenots and directed the massacre on St. Bartholomew's Eve, was openly opposed to the Reformation, and like her family, was entirely devoted to France and Rome. Soon after the regent had completely failed to reduce the castle of St. Andrew's, a French fleet of sixteen armed galleys, commanded by Leo Strozzi, appeared in the bay. The vessels took up their line, so as at full tide completely to command the outworks towards the sea, while the forces of Arran besieged it by land. A breach was soon affected; and, within less than a week, a flag of truce was seen approaching. Thus fell the castle of St. Andrew's, and all in it including Knox, were put on board the galleys and conveyed to France. The terms of capitulation, it is said, were violated; and at the solicitations of the pope, the Scottish queen, and clergy, the principal gentlemen were incarcerated in Rouen Cherbourg, Brest, and Mont St. Michel. Knox, with a few others, was confined on board the galleys, loaded with chains, and exposed to all the indignities with which papists were accustomed to treat those whom they regarded as heretics.

During their captivity, threatenings and violence were employed to induce the prisoners to change their religion, or at least to countenance the popish worship. But so great was their abhorrence of that system, that not a single person of the whole company, on land or water, could be induced in the smallest degree to join them. Mass was frequently said within their hearing, and on such occasions they were threatened with torture if they did not give the usual signs of reverence; but instead of complying, they covered their heads as soon as the service began. One day a fine painted image of the Virgin was brought into one of the galleys, and a Scottish prisoner-probably Knox-was desired to give it the kiss of adoration. He refused, saying, that such idols were accursed, and he would not touch it. "But you shall," replied one of the officers, at the same time forcing it towards his mouth. Upon this the prisoner seized the image, and throwing it into the water, said, "Let oor Ledie noo save herself sche is licht aneuche, let hir leirne to swyme." The officers with some difficulty saved their goddess from the waves; and the prisoners were not again troubled with such importunities. *

{*Knox's History, folio, p. 83; McCrie, p. 34.}

The Lord had no doubt important lessons to teach His beloved servant and his associates by their rigorous confinement. To escape the persecution of Hamilton, he was obliged to conceal himself, and to remove from place to place, to provide for his safety. Under these circumstances we need not be surprised that he took refuge in the castle. Nevertheless, it was like casting in his lot with the assassins of the cardinal, and with them he reaped the consequences. He was detained nineteen months a galley-slave in French waters. Not one of his associates suffered death!

By what means the prisoners obtained their liberty, historians are not agreed. Dr. McCrie very reasonably concludes, "That the French court having procured the consent of the parliament of Scotland to the marriage of Queen Mary to the Dauphin, and obtained possession of her person, felt no longer any inclination to avenge the quarrels of the Scottish clergy."

Knox Regains His Liberty

Upon regaining his liberty, Knox repaired to England; emaciated in body, but vigorous and unshaken in mind. The reputation which he had gained by his preaching, and his late sufferings, recommended him to the English court, and he was chosen one of the chaplains to Edward VI. He was offered the living of All-hallows in London, which he refused as he did not agree with the English liturgy. The early death of Edward, and the accession of Mary compelled him to flee for his life. He travelled through France to Switzerland, and after visiting the most noted divines of the Helvetic church, he settled in Geneva.

The celebrated John Calvin was then in the zenith of his reputation and usefulness. Knox was affectionately received by him as a refugee from Scotland, and an intimate friendship was soon formed between them. The two great Reformers of that day were now together, nearly of the same age, very similar in their sentiments as to doctrine and the government of the church, and not unlike as to the more prominent features of their character. "Knox was a rough, unbending, impassioned, impetuous man, but full of humour: Calvin was calm, severe, often irritable, but never impassioned; rising in pure intellect above all his compeers, like Mont Blanc among the mountains, touching the very heavens, yet shrouded in eternal snows. There is no doubt but that Calvin exercised a great influence upon the mind of his fellow-Reformer. Knox was but beginning his work; Calvin's work was done; Knox was but rising into fame; Calvin was giving laws to a large section of Christendom."*

{*Cunningham, vol. 1, p. 308.}

But no friendships, no prospect of personal safety, no sphere of usefulness, could banish from his mind the thoughts of his persecuted countrymen. He was constantly writing letters to encourage, and papers to strengthen them, in the truth of God; and he was no doubt well supplied with information as to all that was going on.

Knox Returns to Scotland

In the year 1555, after an absence of eight years, Knox again visited his native land. He was entertained by James Syme, a respectable burgess of Edinburgh, in whose house the friends of the Reformation assembled to talk over their prospects and plans. Up till this time many of the warm friends of Reform had attended mass, and were not outwardly separate from the communion of the Romish church; but the earnest uncompromising discourses of Knox convinced them of their error, and decided them to participate no longer in the Romish worship. Soon after this the Lord's supper was celebrated according to the Protestant form; and in this united act the foundations were laid of the coming Reformed Church of Scotland.

Among the nobles who now gathered round the Protestant standard, were Lord Lorne, Lord Erskine, Lord James Stewart, the Earl of Marischall, the Earl of Glencairn, John Erskine of Dun, and William Maitland of Lithington. These were diligent in attending the sermons of Knox, and helping him in his work. With such a body-guard the Reformer became free and indefatigable in preaching, not only in the capital, but in the provinces. In the winter of 1555-6 he preached in Kyle, Cunningham, Angusshire, and other places, imparting with God's blessing, new life to the Reform movement, and powerfully consolidating the good work in many souls. Rumours of all this work flew through the country, the clergy were alarmed, his apprehension was determined upon, and Knox perceiving that his continued presence in the country would draw down a fresh storm of persecution on the infant community, prudently withdrew to Geneva.

The First Covenant

From this period the progress of the Reformation in many parts of Scotland was rapid and decisive. The brief visit of the Reformer proved to be of immense service to the cause of Reform. Nobles, barons, burgesses, and peasants, separated from the communion of Rome, and assembled for the reading of the word and prayer. According to the Presbyterian form, they could not have the sacraments administered without a duly ordained minister; but these small meetings paved the way for the more complete organization. The next step of the nobles was the framing of what is known in church history as the First Covenant, and the framers are called the "lords of the congregation." In this covenant they promised before "the majesty of God and His congregation, to apply their whole power, substance, and their very lives, to maintain, set forward, and establish the most blessed word of God and his congregation," etc., etc. This third day of December, 1557. God called to witness-Earls of Argyle, Glencairn, Morton, Lord of Lorne, Erskine of Dun.

These measures alarmed the clergy. They saw that their downfall was near, unless strong and decided means were taken to prevent it. But they had only one weapon-the flames of martyrdom; and these were speedily kindled. Walter Mill, a godly old man, was accused of heresy, and burnt alive at St. Andrew's, August 28th, 1558. As he stood at the stake, he addressed the people in these words: "As for me, I am fourscore and two years old, and could not live long by course of nature; but a hundred better shall rise out of the ashes of my bones. I trust in God that I shall be the last that shall suffer death in Scotland for this cause." He had been a parish priest near Montrose, but suffered as a true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The clergy were at their wits' end. Martyrdoms only increased the number of Protestants. The people were rapidly leaving the mass, and openly uniting with the Reformers. It was now perfectly clear, that unless the papists could strike a decisive blow, they must surrender. The friars appealed to the bishops, and the bishops to the civil power. The queen dowager, the bigoted catholic of the House of Lorraine, now openly avowed herself on the side of Romanism. Hitherto she had been playing a part between the bishops and the lords of the congregation. Now she issued a proclamation prohibiting all persons from preaching or dispensing the sacraments without authority from the bishops. The Reformed preachers disobeyed the proclamation. They were summoned to appear before her at Stirling, and answer to a charge of heresy and rebellion. The Lords of the congregation interfered, and the queen, amazed at their firmness, agreed to delay the prosecution until she had examined the affair more seriously.

Knox's Final Return to Scotland

In the midst of these stirring and threatening times a powerful leader was wanted. A deputation was sent to Geneva, to entreat Knox to return; and on May 2nd, 1559, he arrived at Leith. The news of his arrival fell like a thunderbolt on the papal party. A royal proclamation was immediately issued, declaring Knox a rebel and an outlaw. But these proclamations were now little heeded. Chancing to pass through Perth soon after, he preached one of his vehement sermons against the idolatry of the mass, and the worship of images. The people were ripe for such a discourse, and greatly moved by it, but quietly dispersed when it was over. A priest, remaining behind, to show his contempt for the doctrine which had just been delivered, uncovered a rich altar-piece, decorated with images, began to say mass. A boy standing near, shouted, "Idolatry!" The priest in anger struck the boy, and he retaliated by throwing a stone, which, missing the priest, broke one of the images. A few idle persons who were loitering in the church, sympathized with the boy, and in the course of a few moments, the altar, images, crucifixes, and all the church ornaments were torn down and trampled under foot. The noise soon collected a mob; the excitement became great, and some one shouted, "To the monasteries," and in a short time the monasteries of the Black and Grey Friars were in ruins. The excited mob next bent their way to the abbey of the Charterhouse; and soon nothing was left of that magnificent structure but the bare walls. The magistrates of the town and the preachers hastened to the scene of the riot as soon as they heard of it, but neither the persuasion of the one nor the authority of the other could calm the tempest.*

{*McCrie, p. 127. Wylie, vol. 3, p. 491.}

Popular Tumults

The work of demolition, which was begun in a frenzy of popular rage at Perth, rapidly extended to St. Andrew's, Cupar, and other places in Fife; and to Scone, Cambaskenneth, Linlithgow, Stirling, Edinburgh etc., etc. It was upon the monasteries, chiefly, that the violence of the popular hatred expended itself. They were in evil repute among the people, as nests of idleness, gluttony, and wickedness. Tradition has ascribed to Knox the party-cry-"Pull down the nests, and the rooks will flee away." And in a single day, those nests of impurity and hypocrisy, which had stood for ages, were ravaged and swept away.

The queen, violently incensed at these outrages, vowed that she would raze the city of Perth to the ground, and sow its foundations with salt, in sign of perpetual desolation. She collected an army of considerable force, and appeared in its neighbourhood in a few days. The citizens shut the gates, and sent letters to the queen regent, the nobility, and "to the generation of Anti-Christ, the pestilent prelates, and their shavelings within Scotland." These letters proved that the lords of the congregation were prepared to meet her. Seeing the determination and force of the people, she was artful enough to come to terms of peace, and accomplish what she could by dissimulation.

A war of religion now began. It is always distressing, and deeply to be deplored, to see Reformers taking up the carnal weapons of the world in their defence, and for the moment laying aside the sword of the Spirit. But the cry to arms by the queen led the Reformers to utter the same cry in self-defense; and in that age they thought that it was as lawful to follow the example of Joshua and David as of Peter and Paul. But the Lord in mercy interposed and removed the queen dowager by death. This took place in the castle of Edinburgh on the 10th of June 1560. Her decease was the death-blow to French influence in Scottish affairs, and happily resulted in the emancipation of the nation from a foreign yoke. The way was now fully open for the establishment of the Reformation. The nation, through the wonderful preaching of Knox during the previous fifteen months was ready to throw off the papal yoke, and abolish its jurisdiction in the land.

The Papacy Abolished by Act of Parliament

Parliament was convened early in the month of August 1560, and the voice of the three estates assembled, was to determine the question of religion. All men looked forward to this convention as one of the most important that had ever been held since Scotland became a nation. We can only give the results. The estates of the realm authoritatively decreed the suppression of the Roman hierarchy, and the establishment of the Protestant faith. A short confession, or summary, of christian doctrine, had been drawn up by Knox and his associates, which was read in audience of the whole parliament, and by the estates thereof ratified and approved, "as wholesome and sound doctrine, grounded on the infallible word of God." The great victory was won. The enthusiasm of the assembly was at the highest, and the venerable Lord Lindsay rose and declared that he could say with Simeon of old, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, . . . for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation."

Immediately after the ground had been cleared for the erection of a new ecclesiastical edifice, Knox was ready with the plan of the Reformed church in what is known as "The First Book of Discipline." The constitution of the church, as set forth in this symbolic book, is strictly Presbyterian. It recognizes four classes of ordinary and permanent office bearers-the minister, the doctor, the elder, and the deacon. 1. Ministers, who preach to the congregation. 2. Doctors who expound scripture to students in seminaries and universities. 3. Elders, who are associated with the ministers in ruling the congregation. 4. Deacons, who manage money matters, and care for the poor. Then there are four courts- the Kirk-session, the Presbytery, the Provincial Synod, and the General Assembly.

The success of the Reform movement was now decided. Parliament had declared Protestantism to be the national faith, and Knox was ready with the fashion of the new church, and the creed of its members. But he entirely overlooks-like all the other Reformers-the doctrine of the church of God, as taught by our Lord and His apostles, and frames a constitution according to human wisdom, though he no doubt thought it was in accordance with the word of God. The consequences of this mistake, as we have already seen, are set forth in the Lord's address to the church in Sardis. But we cannot speak too highly of those thirty-four years of faithful testimony to the truth at an immense expense of suffering and blood. And the Lord greatly blessed the preaching of the gospel. Nearly the whole national mind was gained over to the new teaching during that period, and the altars and the idols of superstition were destroyed throughout the land amidst the acclamations of the people.*

{*For many interesting details of this period, see Dr. Lorimer's History of the Scottish Reformation; Spottiswood's History, 3 vols.; Wylie's Protestantism; McCrie's Life of Knox; Knox's Original History.}

From this time, down to the Revolution in 1688, the Presbyterians were greatly oppressed and persecuted by the faithless and deceitful Stuarts, who wished to establish Episcopacy instead of Presbytery in Scotland. But the history of these stirring times falls not within our plan.

We must now briefly glance at the effects of the Reformation in England.