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of God, would sit still and continue, till after the final settling and conclusion of all matters, the assembly were dissolved by common consent of all the members thereof. And this resolution they justified by the original constitution of the Scottish church, which they asserted his majesty had revived and recognised, by subscribing the confession of faith made in the years 1580-90; and also by early precedent, when the assemblies had exercised a similar right. "The king's.majesty, his commissioner, and privy council," said they, "have urged numbers in this kingdom to subscribe the confession of faith made in the years 1580-90, and so to return to the doctrine and discipline of the church as it was then professed; but it is clear, by the doctrine and discipline of this church, contained in the book of policy, then registrated in the books of assembly, and subscribed by the presbyteries of this church, that it was most unlawful in itself, and prejudicial to those privileges which Christ in his word hath left to his church to dissolve or break up the assembly of this church, or to stop their proceedings, in making acts for the welfare of the church, or execution of discipline against offenders, and so to make it appear that religion and church government should depend absolutely upon the pleasure of the prince." "The assemblies of this church," it was farther contended, "had enjoyed the freedom of uninterrupted sitting, notwithstanding any countermand, as was evident by their records, particularly by the register of the general assembly holden 1582, which being charged with letters of horning, by the king's majesty's commissioner and council, to stay their process against Mr. Robert Montgomery, pretended bishop of Glasgow, or otherwise to dissolve and rise, did, notwithstanding, show their liberty and freedom, by continuing to sit still, and going on in that process to the end thereof; and thereafter, by letter to his majesty, did show clearly how far his majesty had, upon misinformation, prejudged the prerogative of Jesus Christ, and the liberties of this church, and did enact and ordain that none should procure any such warrant or charge, under the pain of excommunication. And now," it was added, "to dissolve, after so many supplications and complaints, after so many reiterated Promises, such long attendance and
expectation, and so many references of processes from presbyteries, when the assembly had been publicly indicted, formally constituted, and had sat seven days, were to offend God, contemn the subjects' petitions, deceive the hopes which had been raised of a redress of the calamities of the church and kingdom, multiply the combustions of the church, make every man hereafter despair of ever seeing religion established, innovations removed, the subjects' complaints respected, or the offenders punished with consent of authority, and thus, by casting the church loose and desolate, abandon all to ruin.
Placed in a very trying situation, the marquis of Hamilton's conduct was exposed, as all unsuccessful statesmen's in troublous times is, to blame, both from those he attempted to support, and they whom he opposed. The Scottish Episcopalians accused him of holding intelligence with the opposite party, and of encouraging them in their opposition. This charge was evidently groundless. Perhaps it would not be equally easy to acquit him of having been a party with the king, in attempting to deceive the covenanters. Moderate men, who were not then acquainted with his secret instructions, blamed his precipitancy in urging the bishops' declinature, and forcing the assembly to proceed at so early a period to consider the question respecting their powers to sit in judgment upon them, which, they thought, he ought to have
Guthrie has, besides, a charge against Hamilton, that, at his first interview with the covenanters, he behaved distantly and harshly; but when they returned to him on the morrow, they found him more plausible in treating with them, even before the privy council; and having conveyed them through the public room, he drew them into a private gallery, where he expressed himself as follows:-" My lords and gentlemen, I spoke to you before those lords of council, as the king's commissioner, now, there being none present but yourselves, I speak to you as a kindly Scottishman. If you go on with courage and resolution, you will carry what you please; but if you faint, and give ground in the least, you are undone. A word is enough to wise men." The whole of Hamilton's proceedings, whatever opinion may be formed of them in other respects, evince unshaken loyalty to his master; and if he erred in any thing, it was in being too devoted to his will. This alone would render the accuracy of the bishop's anecdote doubtful; but when we see him afterward vigorously opposing men, in whose hands his life must have been placed, if the story had been true, it renders it more than doubtful.—Guthrie's Mem. p. 48. Baillie's Letters, vol. i. p. 116.
delayed as long as possible, and could have done with little difficulty, if he had only at first allowed them to examine freely the books of common prayer, the canons, and the doctrinal points of Arminianism, where, although all were agreed, yet protracted discussion might have been encouraged, and their final condemnation would have soothed the minds of the most violent ministers, prevented that exasperation against the prelates which their declinature produced; and if it had not averted, might at least have softened the fall of the hierarchy.
As nothing could prevail upon Hamilton to remain in the assembly, the moderator, with admirable dexterity, turned his conduct, in leaving them, into a strong motive for their continuing to go forward, and not desert the cause of their master. "Seeing," said he, as the marquis left the room, we perceived his grace, my lord commissioner, to be zealous of his royal master's commands, have we not good reason to be zealous toward our Lord, and to maintain the privileges of his kingdom? You all know that the work in hand hath had many difficulties, and yet hitherto the Lord hath helped and borne us through them all; therefore it becometh not us to be discouraged at our being deprived of human authority; but rather that ought to be a powerful motive to us to double our courage in answering the end for which we are convened." When he had spoken, lord Loudon, and a number of the members encouraged each other, by mutual exhortations, to remain firm. Their purpose was fixed, by what appeared to them as an evidence of the divine favour, and what certainly operated in securing the countenance of man. At a moment when they were afraid lest several would have turned back, and when the defection of any one leading member might have been ruinous, numbers were induced to declare themselves, and join openly with them.
At a momentous crisis, sometimes a little incident has a wonderful effect, and one such on this occasion produced the most lively sensations of joy. Lord Erskine, son of the earl of Marr, a young nobleman of great promise, deeply affected with the addresses he had heard, came into the midst of the assembly, and with tears besought that he might be admitted
to subscribe the covenant, lamenting that he had so long omitted this sacred duty, and his example was followed by several others. But what confirmed, if it did not originate, their resolution not to disperse, was the approbation of a considerable part of the privy council, and the open accession of the earl of Argyle, the most powerful nobleman in the west, who was imagined at the time to stand high in the king's confidence, and whose presence, after the commissioner had left them, some affected to consider as an oblique hint, that the meeting had the secret approval, although not the public sanction of government—a presumption which satisfied the loyal scruples of a few, half hesitating brethren.
The departure of the commissioner, was followed by a free and unrestrained examination of all the evils of which they complained, and of all their causes. The six assemblies, since the accession of James to the English crown, which were considered the sources of the whole dissensions in the church and state, were declared null and void, upon reasons which even Hume is constrained to allow were "pretty reasonable." + From the assembly held at Linlithgow, 1606, eight of the most able ministers of the church, had been forcibly detained. The acts were sent down framed from court, and one, ordaining bishops to be constant modera-, tors of general assemblies, which never was voted, was inserted among them. In that held at Glasgow, 1608, nobles and barons were sent thither to vote by the simple mandate of the king, besides four or five members from several presbyteries, and thirteen bishops who had no commission. Against the assembly of 1616, at Aberdeen, notorious bribery was urged, and a shameful substitution by the primate, of sixteen of his own creatures, in the room of sixteen lawfully chosen commissioners. For the meeting at St. Andrews, no one contended, its illegality stood undisputed. But the objections brought against that of Perth, 1618, were the most numerous, as it had been the most noxious. Its indiction was pronounced informal. The archbishop of St. Andrews assumed the chair as moderator without election. Members
Baillie, vol. i. p. 119.
+ History of England, vol. vi.
regularly chosen, but suspected of being opposed to court measures, were struck out, to make room for others who were expected to be more pliable, and the manner of putting the vote, in which an improper use was made of the king's name, to influence the members, was of itself oppressive, and sufficient to annul their proceedings.
The moderator, in pronouncing the decree of the assembly against the six corrupt convocations, expressed his hope that they would now only remain as so many beacons, that the church might not again strike on such rocks. As a natural consequence of these assemblies being declared illegal, and their proceedings annulled, all the oaths of conformity imposed by the bishops became also illegal, and the ministers from whom they had been exacted at their admission, were released from their obligation. Presbyteries, and other church judicatures, who had been unjustly and violently obstructed by the bishops, were restored to their original rights. The articles of Perth, and whatever these assemblies had enacted, were rescinded, as contrary to the original Confession of Faith, by which they were held to have been abjured; but as this confession had been taken in three different senses, they ordered it to be subscribed anew, with an explanatory clause, in which the abjuration was expressly affirmed, and the meaning in which the covenanters understood it, unambiguously expres→ sed. The liturgy and canons were condemned, as imposed without warrant from the church; the forms of ordination and consecration, as introduced and practised without warrant either of civil or ecclesiastical authority; and the high court of commission, as having neither act of assembly nor of parliament in its favour, and regulated by no law, human or divine.
Episcopacy thus abolished, and the crooked, oppressive, false, and disingenuous policy of two reigns entirely subverted, the pillars of the divine hierarchy were tried and disposed of. Two archbishops, and six bishops were excommunicated, four were deposed, and two, upon making humble submis
* The bishop of Argyle had his sentence mitigated by an opportune witticism. When it came to the voting, Mr. Alexander Carse, who was first called on, answered, "It is said of one of the Roman consuls, that he was so vigil